Plaster spalling on brand new pool

May 12, 2018
5
Haydenville, MA
#1
Hi there TFP! Thanks for all the valuable information.

We had a gunite pool built last spring/summer in Western Massachusetts by Aqua Pool out of Windsor, CT. We spent a ton of money on it and thought we were going with a really reputable company that stands by their products.

We did everything right since the second the plaster was done and the water was put in it. We diligently had the water tested (both professionally and with our kit) and corrected imbalances immediately. When it was turned over to SWG at the end of the summer, we had it in balance and everything looked great and was functioning properly.

We paid aqua pool over $500 to close it in October. Fast forward to yesterday when the winter cover was removed and we were horrified to see the sun shelf flaking big pieces of plaster, all over it. It is about 40 sq ft of shelf. There are decent sized thin chunks coming off of it all over.

The technician opening our pool took pictures and said he would tell the service department.... the day went by and nobody called us. Finally, I sent an email to the manager and he wrote back this morning that "he can't see the flakes in the pictures, but will send the information to the plaster company and get back to us."

AHHHHHHH!!!!!

A brand new pool we spent over $80k on! Really more like $100k after all was said and done. And the plaster is coming off! Am I overreacting? Can this be fixed? Should we have to pay for it? From what I understand, if it is spalling, that is an application error. It's driving me crazy that Aqua Pool hasn't tried to contact us about this.

Anybody have any advice? I will attach a picture (landscaping still a work in progress!). And there is plaster dust accumulating (i think?) around all of the flaking pieces of plaster. Should we still have plaster dust at this point even?

Thank you so much!

IMG_1874.jpg IMG_1894.jpg
 

Arizonarob

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
Mar 25, 2018
1,134
Chandler Arizona
#2
Oh that stinks big time. It’s the weekend, so be patient and the plaster people will respond to your post. In the mean time, can you fill in your signature line with all your pool info, like mine, so people can better help you. :)
 
May 12, 2018
5
Haydenville, MA
#3
Thanks Rob!
I tried to fill in my signature with the info, but I forgot the names of some of our equipment. I have to go outside and write it all down. :)

Update: They are still "waiting to hear from the plaster company" and plaster flakes are still coming off...
 

SMH2

Active member
May 21, 2017
36
Southwick MA
#4
I'd be less than thrilled myself.
Pool companies out here in WMass can be trying to deal with. But it's such a short season that between just getting into opening season in our area and completing builds I'm hopeful they are slow to respond to you because they legitimately busy.
 

blakeusa

In The Industry
Jul 8, 2010
575
Ashford, CT
#5
After meeting with AP, Rizzo and another company I washed my hands as they felt dirty and decided to build my own pool.

They all use the same plaster company but I used one out of Boston and was extremely pleased with the work and assistance.

The shelf can be buffed out or wet sanded with 220 grit or a diamond wheel on a pressure washer which some companies use to polish or buff pebble pools. This will simply smooth out the area and all will be fine. The plaster is anywhere from 1/2 to 1 inch thick or more.

They will just need to lower the water below the shelf.. buff it out then refill the pool.

As far as why it happened. My guess is tiny bubbles in the plaster that cracked due to the freeze / thaw cycle. Not sure if there is any way to prevent the problem....
 
May 12, 2018
5
Haydenville, MA
#6
Hm. Thanks for the replies. The guy who opened our pool said he's seen it happen before on a sunshelf. He suggested maybe it was from freezing water left on the shelf. What's weird is that before the pieces break off, you can run your hand over them and they are raised with white dust around the edges. I can't tell if the white dust is coming out of the cracked circles or if it is just accumulating there...

You'd think if this was a frequent issue in New England related to freezing, they would dissuade people from getting sun shelfs. So, maybe it isn't from freezing. Wouldn't this happen on plastered pool stairs all the time if it was?
 
May 12, 2018
5
Haydenville, MA
#7
The plaster company came out and decided they need to re-plaster. Since we have to do this, we figured we might as well upgrade to pebble and hopefully have it last longer and be easier to maintain.... But they claim water is "not under warranty." Does this make sense that we have to come up with another $1,200 to drain and re-fill a pool that is only a year old? We will also have to keep the pool open until almost November as the finish cures! ugh!
 

rccarps2

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 6, 2015
112
PA
#9
Why don't you push the plaster off until early spring?

My pool is getting a new plaster job under warranty. Was built spring of 2016, and I have been complaining of issues since then. They said it could be done this fall or spring. I requested early spring, so I can manage the chemistry as opposed to closing the pool and having it sit all winter. We too are debating a pebble upgrade.

My PB is managing the whole job under warranty (drain, fill, chemistry, brushing, etc.). Not sure why your PB would be different? While the plaster company is doing the bulk of the work, the PB is handling everything else. All under warranty. The plaster company may not want to handle the water responsibilities, but you should push your PB to cover the extra portions.

RC
 
May 12, 2018
5
Haydenville, MA
#10
Wow, that's actually a great idea to put it off until Spring. Why didn't we think of that already? haha, they didn't even propose it as an option... Hmmm....

Also, water tanker is a good idea too, I hate wasting perfectly good water. :confused: Only issue might be that it is salt water and you may have to fill the newly pebbled pool with plain tap water?

Thanks guys. This site is the best!! :)
 

tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
1,419
Houston, TX
#11
Wow, that's actually a great idea to put it off until Spring. Why didn't we think of that already? haha, they didn't even propose it as an option... Hmmm....

Also, water tanker is a good idea too, I hate wasting perfectly good water. :confused: Only issue might be that it is salt water and you may have to fill the newly pebbled pool with plain tap water?

Thanks guys. This site is the best!! :)
Ali, once this is fixed, you'll be fine and won't think of it anymore.

If this was in Texas, you could sell all that water at a good pricing for fracking an oil well...not sure they like that type of technology in MA... :)
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
768
Chapel Hill, NC
#13
Wow, that's actually a great idea to put it off until Spring. Why didn't we think of that already? haha, they didn't even propose it as an option... Hmmm....
Don't wait - get it done as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more time the PB and plaster have to...... go out of business........... stall for more time and never follow through......... claim it's a water chemistry problem......... claim the pool wasn't started up correctly.......... blame each other and never get anything done............ etc, etc.

A bird in the hand (today) is worth 10,000 in the bush (next spring)!
 

Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
96
MA
#14
Hi there TFP! Thanks for all the valuable information.

We had a gunite pool built last spring/summer in Western Massachusetts by Aqua Pool out of Windsor, CT. We spent a ton of money on it and thought we were going with a really reputable company that stands by their products.
I certainly had a few issues with aqua pool on my build. Short list.

- extremely long response times for any issues. You really needed to be the "loud" squeaky wheel with those folks.
- improper (I should say "No") compaction on back filling so I had to hand dig out all the junk fill and replace with correct material and flood settle my self ( never had any compensation for this)
- plastered over Infloor head. This blew though new plaster mid way into next season.
- Plaster - I have a fill line, footprints in deep end and what I would consider "more then normal" mottling in the first year however that issue is highly subjective.
- very aggressive billing practices for service work. Not sure if this is a pool industry thing or not but having to pay %100 up front for work that has not been done yet is insulting as we always paid the install bills on time.

They have fixed any issues I had (except plaster) so they do stand behind their work. I would not accept the charge for the re-fill. This is clearly a install issue and should be %100 covered. Have you spoken with Gregg (construction manager) about this. He seems to be the only one there (that I dealt with) that is genuinely concerned about customer satisfaction.

Could I ask if you had large areas of mottling in your first season. Here are some pics of my plaster.

Thanks, Rich..
 

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Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
96
MA
#16
AP&P Top 50 rated builder year after and build a very strong pool and a personal friend.
I 'would' recommend them for a pool build. I have been in the excavation industry for a long time and do realize that there will always issues like these with any project of this scope. It is the company's ability to stand behind there work and correct the issues That will lead to there success. For the most part AP&P has done this.

As noted above Gregg was one the most professional individuals I have had the pleasure to work with. Unfortunately he was on vacation when I had the issue with "Digger Dan" . I had done the "pooI tour" and had noticed that every one of the pools had settlement issues. So I had previously asked the office about there compaction practices and had no response. So the day Dan showed up to backfill I had a phone conversation with him and asked him how he was going to do the compaction on the 4+' backfill areas. His exact response was " I don't do any compaction, the patio guys take care of that" With a statement like that I knew I did not want this guy doing any backfill to areas where I was planning on a $10,000 patio on. So I asked him to not backfill anything and I would take care of it when I got home that evening. He ignored this request and back filled the area with boulders, gunite slag and wood. In other words what was right next to the trench, Instead of using the mountain of screened sand I had left him 30' away. Just plain lazy and unprofessional. I was out there till midnight correcting the issue because the electrician was scheduled for the following day.


I am curious as to your professional opinion about the cost of water replacement for the OP. Do you feel the customer should have to pay for this?

Thanks, Rich.