Epoxy Putty Fail (Suggestions and Advice Much Appreciated)

calinb

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2018
121
N. Central, ID
My old Gunite pool has some chipping in the plaster around the returns so I decided to try to patch it with Leakmaster Pool Repair Putty. The problem is the putty sticks to everything better than the plaster! The instructions suggest not overworking it and just pressing it onto the damaged surface. They also suggest using the polyethylene wrapper to apply the putty to avoid putty sticking to fingers. Unfortunately, the putty is no more likely to prefer the plaster or return PVC to the polyethylene than it is to prefer it to finger skin or nitrile gloves! The putty really wants to pull off the repair areas and follow whatever is used to apply it instead. It has no "stick affinity" for plaster or PVC it seems and the only way I can get a bit of adhesion is to use a press and smear off technique but the end result is pretty sketchy with curling edge margins and I don't expect any of the putty to last through a few passes of my Aquabot pool cleaner--even where I was lucky enough to get some of the putty to stick at all.

I used steel brushes and 60 grit wet dry sandpaper to prepare the damaged sites. I have a lot of experience with "terrestrial" epoxies of various types and applications. This stuff is unworkable in this application, as far as I can tell, so I also tried JB Weld "Water Weld" and found it to perform similarly.

Is A+B putty any better?

How about this stuff that Divin Dave linked in a recent thread?
Underwater epoxy

I could drain it down, but don't have a lot of water for refills (spring water only). The drain down would cost me over 2x what closing costs in drain down / refill water and I'd have to refil it before closing too, because it would put the water level at my light housing. I drain to the 1/2 point between the tiles and light housing for closing, which leaves a lot of water over the returns still.

I sure appreciate any advice or product testimonies!
 
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calinb

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2018
121
N. Central, ID
Is the pool leaking? Why do you feel you need to patch that area?
Thanks for your help, ajw22!

A bucket test reveals that the pool is not leaking. (I recently fixed a 165 gal. / day underground leak by disconnecting some old defective solar panel pipes but that leak is unrelated to this effort.)

The plaster around the perimeter of the two PVC returns in the pool is chipping away from the returns. The gaps have been slowly getting worse during the two summer seasons that I've owned the home and pool. Notably, the pressure cleaner "return" on the opposite side of the pool looks pristine and it's where I'd suspect any soil movement, being the downhill side, if there is any. The tiles in the pool read perfectly level against the water line in this old pool, but our 1908 homestead house and roughly 30 year old pool are on a bench that interrupts a steep hillside and the bench ends right next to the pool!

Currently roughly 30 to 60 degrees or so around the perimeter of the two returns is missing. The gap is perhaps 1/4 inch wide. (I know...everything looks bigger underwater ;).) It's not like I'm seeing rebar behind it. The missing chunks are maybe 1/4" deep too. I guess my efforts are partially motivated by cosmetic concerns and partially motivated by the thought that it might get worse, which will probably occur regardless of my actions. :(

I just checked my epoxy patches with my hands from the topside and turned the pump back on. My hand test revealed that more of it stuck than I expected. Perhaps after another patch attempt or two, I might be able to fill all the gaps. I think I might need to don my SCUBA gear though. My snorkel isn't really enough for such serious patching!

Or maybe I should just try to forget about it.:rolleyes:
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,124
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
I don’t think a bit of putty will fix the old plaster getting to the end of its useful life.
 

calinb

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2018
121
N. Central, ID
I don’t think a bit of putty will fix the old plaster getting to the end of its useful life.
It would be nice if I could push out a re-plaster job with some kind of compound or temporary fix. The rest of the plaster is holding up for now. I need to learn what other items should be overhauled at the same time as a re-plaster job. I'd like to have a new concrete deck poured and an accompanying new skimmer and deep end hand rail deck anchors put in too. I pushed out the deck anchors replacement by installing new concrete expansion anchors and doing a little attachment hardware rework.The pool tiles look really good and they are staying stuck for now but where does one stop when tearing down an inground pool for serious work? At least being a very old pool, it has a good light housing so no leaks there for now.

I'll search the forums for pool renovation diaries. I've read a couple of installation diaries here but TFPers don't seem to want to talk about renovations so much. Maybe pools are like boats and airplanes; the happiest two days in an owner's life are the day they are purchased and the day they are sold!
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,124
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
There are quite a few pool renovation threads here and people rescuing long neglected pools.

If you figure out a method to add life to ading plaster, please share it. There are many folks here with similar situations.
 

calinb

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2018
121
N. Central, ID
I found something that Leakmaster Pool Putter prefers to stick to less than pool plaster. Forget about using the polyethylene wrapper or an applicator cut from an HDPE milk jug. Just like skin or nitrile gloves, the putty prefers to stick to them over plaster.

The solution was wax paper! My putty repair became viable with wax paper. The putty can be rolled into a long worm-like segment and pressed into a crack or chipped region and even worked outwards to "feather" the edges. After working the putty under the wax paper, the wax paper should be carefully peeled-back at a very acute angle so the putty will tend to stay in in place on the plaster.

I researched failing plaster symptoms on the forum and Youtube. Chipping around the returns was not listed as one of the typical symptoms. The plaster is very old but actually doing well for now, according to the information I found. The chipping is pretty small in total area and volume so maybe my plaster will last a while longer with the putty holding it in place around the returns much more securely now. The plaster is old enough to probably be the good stuff from back when they put asbestos in pool plaster to significantly increase its longevity, which doesn't worry me in the least, because I don't breath it underwater. ;) It's probably something to consider when renovating and doing a drain and "chip-out" of it though. Good masks and protection would certainly be in in order then.
 
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