Our newly constructed gunite pool has shifted!

Sarah_K

Member
Jan 11, 2023
10
Houston, Texas
We had a new in-ground/gunite pool installed in July 2022. (The depth is 3.5', 5', 3.5' with attached spa, approx 15,500 gallons, chlorine). Last month, December 2022, we noticed some concerning issues developing with our pool, and contacted our pool contractor right away. The water level has become uneven across the pool, to the point that there is now a 1" difference in the water level from one side of the pool to the other. This has caused our spa spillway to spill unevenly over to one side, and is also affecting the functioning of the skimmer on the "low water" end of the pool. Further, a 6' crack has developed in the concrete/pool deck on this same side. Most recently, the vacuum has failed. Whenever we try to run the vacuum, it pulls air into the pump, so our best guess is that the shifting of the pool has caused the vacuum line to crack underneath the ground. A month later and our pool contractor is still dragging their feet to get these issues resolved. They finally sent someone out yesterday to take a look at the pool, and his solution was to give it time and keep an eye on it for any further shifting. We told him this was not acceptable, and that the issues needed to be addressed immediately, although I have little confidence of this happening. Our contract states that the contractor guarantees all materials and workmanship for one year after the pool is plastered (which was in July 2022), plus an additional lifetime warranty on the gunite.

Has anyone had a similar experience with a new gunite pool? What is the best way to fix this issue? From what I have read online, the best solution seems to be installing helical piers/piles under the pool, however I was hoping to get advice from someone more knowledgeable on the subject. Will this lift the pool back to the proper depth, or will it simply prevent further shifting? What is an acceptable solution for the pool company to offer at this point??? Thanks for any advice you can provide!

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JohnT

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Welcome to TFP!

Sorry about your problems. This is a problem probably beyond the capabilities of most pool installers. You are going to need an engineer involved to figure out what is going on. Construction wrong for the soil conditions or whatever the issue is. If the entire pool is settling there really isn't going to be a fix that doesn't involve mostly replacing the pool.

What is the history of the land?

You could get a laser level and measure heights of the deck and the various parts of the pool to try to see what's moving, but that's not going to fix it.

I'm afraid this is likely to eventually involve lawyers. Don't mention that to the builder yet until you see what they will do. But document everything as well as you possibly can.
 

ajw22

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Welcome to TFP.

Here is what needed to be done to fix an Austin, TX pool…


There are a bunch of other threads about pools cracking in TX. Use the search bar on the top.

Best thing is for you to get your own engineering assessment of your situation.
 
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HermanTX

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Welcome to TFP.
This is a very unfortunate issue that you are dealing with. Was there any engineering done by the PB? Did they do any soil sampling or uncover any issues at time of the excavation?
I would document everything that you have noticed and also review any pictures of the excavation and construction.
You may should start searching for a private engineering firm to do an analysis.

I am requesting @AQUA~HOLICS and @JamesW to bestow any wisdom they can provide to you.
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
33,997
Did you get a structural engineering plan?

What is the history of the soil?

Is there a lot of backfill?

What is the ground water situation?

Did you get a geotechnical engineering plan?

You probably need a geotechnical engineering company that can come onsite and do soils testing to figure out a remediation plan to stop and reverse the settling before it gets too bad.

Found the below company on a Google search.

Do your due diligence on finding a geotechnical engineering company.

 

kimkats

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Jul 10, 2012
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I am in to learn from this one. I bet your heart sank when you realized the level difference :(

Get EVERYTHING in writing. If they do a phone call then follow up with an email..............On ?date? at ?time? we spoke about ???? and use the open receipt to make sure they did get it and open it.
 
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Sarah_K

Member
Jan 11, 2023
10
Houston, Texas
Welcome to TFP!

Sorry about your problems. This is a problem probably beyond the capabilities of most pool installers. You are going to need an engineer involved to figure out what is going on. Construction wrong for the soil conditions or whatever the issue is. If the entire pool is settling there really isn't going to be a fix that doesn't involve mostly replacing the pool.

What is the history of the land?

You could get a laser level and measure heights of the deck and the various parts of the pool to try to see what's moving, but that's not going to fix it.

I'm afraid this is likely to eventually involve lawyers. Don't mention that to the builder yet until you see what they will do. But document everything as well as you possibly can.
Thank you for the advice. We live in an older neighborhood (1960s construction) but our lot was vacant until the early 2000s, when our home was built. The backyard has been untouched (no excavation or major projects) until we installed our pool in July.
 

Sarah_K

Member
Jan 11, 2023
10
Houston, Texas
Welcome to TFP.
This is a very unfortunate issue that you are dealing with. Was there any engineering done by the PB? Did they do any soil sampling or uncover any issues at time of the excavation?
I would document everything that you have noticed and also review any pictures of the excavation and construction.
You may should start searching for a private engineering firm to do an analysis.

I am requesting @AQUA~HOLICS and @JamesW to bestow any wisdom they can provide to you.
To my knowledge, no soil sampling was done at the time of the excavation. Thanks for the advice about private engineering analysis!
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
33,997
The engineers should survey everything to benchmark the elevations of everything so that you can track the movement over time until this is fixed.

The survey should be redone again in a week or two to get an idea about how fast the pool is settling.

Periodic surveys can help assess if the settling is getting worse, slowing down or if it has stopped.

The engineering company can decide on an appropriate schedule for surveys.

Hopefully, they can get a diagnosis and a solution figured out and implemented before the pool is a complete loss.
 

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Sarah_K

Member
Jan 11, 2023
10
Houston, Texas
The engineers should survey everything to benchmark the elevations of everything so that you can track the movement over time until this is fixed.

The survey should be redone again in a week or two to get an idea about how fast the pool is settling.

Periodic surveys can help assess if the settling is getting worse, slowing down or if it has stopped.

The engineering company can decide on an appropriate schedule for surveys.

Hopefully, they can get a diagnosis and a solution figured out and implemented before the pool is a complete loss.
Thank you James, I'm going to start looking into this today!
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
33,997
You probably need an attorney to review the contract and advise you of the best course of action.

Check the contract to see if it specifies arbitration and possibly contact the specified arbitration organization to open a case if you feel like the contractor will fight any remediation costs or deny liability.

Getting an opinion from an engineering company will probably be required first so you have a professional diagnosis of what the problem is, why it is happening, what defects are in the design, engineering, architecture and installation and what the recommended remediation plans are as well as the costs.
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
33,997
Check the bottom of the floor and walls for cracks.

As a pool settles, cracks will begin to develop between the high and low spots as the stress of the settling cracks the gunite.

The cracks will most likely develop in the pattern shown by the black lines.

They will go across the floor and up the walls.

They will be difficult to see at first and progressively get bigger.

Monitor for any water loss as the cracks can begin to leak.

1673462440427.png
 
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Sarah_K

Member
Jan 11, 2023
10
Houston, Texas
You probably need an attorney to review the contract and advise you of the best course of action.

Check the contract to see if it specifies arbitration and possibly contact the specified arbitration organization to open a case if you feel like the contractor will fight any remediation costs or deny liability.

Getting an opinion from an engineering company will probably be required first so you have a professional diagnosis of what the problem is, why it is happening, what defects are in the design, engineering, architecture and installation and what the recommended remediation plans are as well as the costs.
Thanks James, per you advice, I've already contacted several engineering companies. Next steps will be finding an attorney :confused:
 
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Sarah_K

Member
Jan 11, 2023
10
Houston, Texas
Check the bottom of the floor and walls for cracks.

As a pool settles, cracks will begin to develop between the high and low spots as the stress of the settling cracks the gunite.

The cracks will most likely develop in the pattern shown by the black lines.

They will go across the floor and up the walls.

They will be difficult to see at first and progressively get bigger.

Monitor for any water loss as the cracks can begin to leak.

View attachment 468667
Thanks for the tips. We've turned off the auto-fill, and started monitoring for leaks today.
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
33,997
A month later and our pool contractor is still dragging their feet to get these issues resolved. They finally sent someone out yesterday to take a look at the pool, and his solution was to give it time and keep an eye on it for any further shifting. We told him this was not acceptable, and that the issues needed to be addressed immediately, although I have little confidence of this happening.
It seems like they're going to try to avoid responsibility.

In my opinion, the owner of the company should have been out the same day that you called or the next day.

Sending out some low level person to look at it a month later is a cavalier attitude and indicative of someone not wanting to deal with the problem.

Telling you to “Keep an eye on it” is just a way to run out the clock to get past the 1 year warranty period.

They should at least give some idea about what an appropriate fix is and when it can be done.

The pool has to be releveled and structurally supported to prevent and further settling.
 
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Sarah_K

Member
Jan 11, 2023
10
Houston, Texas
It seems like they're going to try to avoid responsibility.

In my opinion, the owner of the company should have been out the same day that you called or the next day.

Sending out some low level person to look at it a month later is a cavalier attitude and indicative of someone not wanting to deal with the problem.

Telling you to “Keep an eye on it” is just a way to run out the clock to get past the 1 year warranty period.

They should at least give some idea about what an appropriate fix is and when it can be done.

The pool has to be releveled and structurally supported to prevent and further settling.
James, I completely agree, owner should have been on our doorstep with solutions the first week we contacted them. What methods could be used to relevel a pool? I'm trying to better understand our options, since our pool contractor has unfortunately not been forthcoming with solutions. Obviously there are a lot of variables at play. Are we looking at the pool needed to be completely ripped out and constructed again from scratch, or are there solutions that can keep the current pool but ensure structural integrity moving forward? Just trying to wrap my mind around the situation.
 

ajw22

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are there solutions that can keep the current pool but ensure structural integrity moving forward? Just trying to wrap my mind around the situation.
Did you read through what was done to fix this pool?

 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
33,997
The earlier you catch the problem and apply a fix, the better it is.

The farther the pool gets out of level, the harder it is to fix easily.

At this point, they might be able to relevel by redoing the coping and tile, but it is hard to tell.

The stability needs to be assessed and addressed and some sort of engineered supports might be indicated.

I don't think a full demo and redo is going to be necessary, but you really need a qualified engineer to assess and advise.

It's always more difficult to engineer a solution to fix a problem than it would be to engineer the structure correctly in the first place.
 
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