Inground Gunite Repair Types (which is best)?

chrisivc

Member
Jun 10, 2013
8
So we have a 1970's in-ground gunite Kidney (18k gallons) located in NW Dallas, TX. I got it replastered in 2011 and it has been ok but sometimes a pain in the neck. For a number of years it started to develop cosmetic cracking from the shallow end to the deep end. Within the first year, visible cracks developed but the plaster contractor said they were structural, not related to plaster failure (not covered under any warranty). Over time those have expanded and started leaking over the years. The pool guy I used at the time suggested filling the cracks with epoxy putty (Pool Putty). It stopped the leaks but did not stop the shell movement, so for the past 4 years, it has been an annual ritual to fill the cracks with Pool Putty before the end of swim season. While this stops the leaking for about a year, the cracks are getting bigger and we are at a point where we need to spend money for repairs (I have been saving up for this day).

Today. I have about a 50 foot crack from my shallow end to deep end that is filled with Pool Putty as well as 2 smaller cracks that connect my wall to the main crack down the center. The wall cracks are not currently leaking from what I can tell (I do a monthly dye test if my bucket test shows potential leaking during swimming season). I keep the pool maintainted all 12 months but only swim in summer.

Before I get bids for repair, I am researching the different methods the contractors use. I am confused and need input as to what is good, bad and ugly. I want this fixed and done once. If we repair and it is unsuccessful, I will be very angry. If it boils down to it, I will fill this thing in if this repair fails or if the repair is cost prohibitive compared to a demolition. I dont want false hope or bad repairs that dont fix this. If this thing is beyond repair, I would rather spend my money filling it in than to have this thing be a money hole.

Repair Methods - I notice a pattern here - no guarantees.
  1. Torque Lock - Strongest looking but most expensive product.
  2. Steel Staples - Seem good but seem like they might move
  3. Carbon Fiber Staples - Seem flimsy to me
  4. Epoxy Injection - Similar to what I am doing now but looks like it could reopen if the soil has any movement
  5. Aquabond AquaFLEX - Flexible Sealant that gets injected in the crack.
Any other products to look for? Any input is appreciated!
-Chris
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,418
Chapel Hill, NC
Well, 4 and 5 aren't going to work. If you're going to do it, do it right with a tried and tested system - 1 or 2. Not familiar with 3 so I won't comment further on that, other that to say I wouldn't be the guinea pig!
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
10,562
Northern NJ
If I were you I would want to find out why the shell is structurally failing? If you patch these cracks and others will appear then it is a losing proposition. If you can patch the cracks and regain structural integrity of the shell then it may be worthwhile repairing and replastering the pool.

Only 1, 2 or 3 will improve the structural integrity of the pool. Simply filling the cracks to prevent leaking does not fix your structural problems.

I think you need to find a structural engineer to assess your pool and soil situation and talk with contractors experienced with repairs.

There are a bunch of YouTube videos about "concrete staples". This is one of them:


@bdavis466 thoughts?
 

JJ_Tex

Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
399
Prosper, TX (DFW)
If I were you I would want to find out why the shell is structurally failing? If you patch these cracks and others will appear then it is a losing proposition.
+1 on this. Those are some pretty big cracks going in both directions. Is the soil moving and causing the cracks?

On our build, they put piers underneath to stabilize the pool just like you would a house. I would see if anything like that is required to stabilize the structure before you fix the cracks. Good luck.
 

chrisivc

Member
Jun 10, 2013
8
Thanks for your responses. I apologize for not replying quickly (i didnt see the notifications).

I have reached out to 3rd party "structural engineers" in my area to see if they specialize in swimming pools (their websites did not specify). I have learned long ago that when you call someone who does "free" evaluations and they usually sell repair services, of course they are going to find something wrong and sell you the "fix". I have learned that if you hire an independent engineer who only has the job to get to the root of the issue without selling repair services, is the right path.

Hopefully they have some good leads to help me out. I am losing some water at a low rate and I dont want this to become a money hole.
 

chrisivc

Member
Jun 10, 2013
8
+1 on this. Those are some pretty big cracks going in both directions. Is the soil moving and causing the cracks?
We have silty clay, so yes movement is a constant thing. Obviously the pool has leaked from time to time in certain areas, so I am sure this has cause additional movement in isolated areas. It has been 3 months since Dallas has seen any rainfall but this spring was fairly wet, so you can imagine what is happening here.

I would like to keep it if there is a solution that will fix this permanently. If not, I would rather spend the "repair money" on filling it in correctly because we dont really use it that often and it would free up money annually in water, electricity, and chemicals alone (water is $10.81/1k gallon and will likely continue to rise every year). Spending $40k to perform a full re-do is not an option.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,542
In my opinion, unless you install piers or something to stabilize the shell, the cracking will continue.

You would need a structural engineer and the total cost would probably be in the tens of thousands.