Replace or Plug Cracked Return Fitting?

lcd98

Active member
Aug 30, 2015
32
Middletown, NJ
Good Morning – I am looking for advice on whether to replace or plug a cracked return fitting on my fiberglass pool that was installed in August 2015. It was discovered by a professional leak detection company who said they have seen this before on fiberglass pools and did a temporary fix with some type of glue. Below is the exchange I had in September with the pool installer who, frankly, has been hands off no matter what I have called him about over the years. (P.S. I never said I expected him to do the repair for free.) I ended up closing the pool with the temporary fix and a special plug. We are scheduled to open the pool the week of 5/10 and I am dreading having to deal with this issue. I have someone who can remove the pavers and underlying concrete if it makes sense to repair the fitting. I do not have a spreader beam lying around to brace the pool. 😉 As always, I appreciate any advice this group can offer. Thanks, Laura

Installer: My service tech sent me some pics and said you have a cracked return. This is something we never see. Who closes your pool down for the winter? Plumbing lines if not blown out entirely I guess can crack but if it’s not our company that is winterizing the pool it’s hard to know really what happened. Having said that the pavers would need to be removed to get to that fitting. We are in the heart of pool closing season right now. Keep in touch.

Me: Given our distance from your office, we were advised to use a local pool service company. We have been using XXX to professionally close our pool and blow out the lines every year. How much of the pavers need to be pulled up and when do you expect to get here to repair the fitting?

Installer: Right now, our crews are out installing safety covers every day for the next 2 months. Your service company can’t replace the return fitting? This is not something we can get to quickly. I can send you the fitting but just can’t get anyone there on such short notice. The pavers would need to come out. Do you remember how much concrete was poured level with the coping? 18" or 3 ft?

Me: My service company does not make such repairs because they do not install fiberglass pools. My contract said 3’ of concrete so I am assuming that is what you installed. Can you repair after the pool is closed? How much a of the pavers near the return need to come out?

Installer: Are there 2 or 3 returns on the pool? If that one is a 3rd return, I would say cap it and forget about it because you only need 2 returns. But if there is only 2 then it should be fixed. I’m surprised a pool service company can’t install a return fitting. The water would need to be drained down 15 to 16 inches to get below the return. Of course, the cover cannot be on in that location because someone would need to install the fitting.

Me: There are 3 returns and the broken return is the most powerful one because it is closest to the pump. The other 2 are near each other on the far side of the pool. I want it fixed as it is a 21K gallon pool and it will be better for circulation. I can’t speak to why the other company doesn’t want to repair the fitting. I just know that they repair the pools/pool types they build. I can drain the water with a pump after it is closed. Can’t the cover be pulled back at the time of the repair and then put back?

Installer: We went to 2 returns on all of our pools about 4 years ago. I have 3 in my pool but the 3rd has been plugged for about 10 years. There’s more pressure out of 2 than 3. Like I said before we do not warranty a plastic fitting, especially when we are not involved with the winterization 5 years later. If you don’t want to plug that return and you have someone to take up the pavers, brace the walls, get the water down and expose the return I will send my service tech up there to put another fitting in for you. My suggestion would be to plug it and run the pool. You will notice a lot more movement of water. Either way let me know. But again, we are into the height of closing season right now.

Me: When you install 2 returns on a rectangular pool, where do you put them? What do you mean by brace the walls and expose the return? And again, what portion of the pavers need to be removed?

Installer: We put the 2 returns on the 16 ft wall on the shallow end shooting towards deep end. The pavers would need to be removed above the return and a couple feet back. The underlayment of concrete would need to be cut out approx. a 2 by 2 ft square maybe a little more. And anytime you remove water on a rectangular pool a spreader beam should be installed to brace the wall. Just suggested.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
25,667
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Your installer has given you the correct advice in my opinion. You can leave the return plugged and run your pool with two returns or repair it.

I have someone who can remove the pavers and underlying concrete if it makes sense to repair the fitting. I do not have a spreader beam lying around to brace the pool.

The pool can be braced with 2x4's.

Does your someone have experience working with fiberglass pools?

Does he understand that there is a risk of a FG pool popping out of the ground when you lower the water? The weight of the water is what holds the pool in the ground.
 

lcd98

Active member
Aug 30, 2015
32
Middletown, NJ
Your installer has given you the correct advice in my opinion. You can leave the return plugged and run your pool with two returns or repair it.



The pool can be braced with 2x4's.

Does your someone have experience working with fiberglass pools?

Does he understand that there is a risk of a FG pool popping out of the ground when you lower the water? The weight of the water is what holds the pool in the ground.
Thanks for your response. My installer is recommending that I plug it instead of replacing it. I am trying to ascertain if it makes sense to plug a return on a 5 1/2 year old pool and have only 2 returns on the 16 foot side (farthest from the pool equipment) of a 16 x 40 pool. It seems odd to me (e.g., will the heat and chemicals be dispersed evenly?) but I am asking the group because I am not an expert. My "someone" would only be removing the pavers/concrete to allow the installer to replace the fitting.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
25,667
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
The location of the returns makes little difference int he disbursement of the chemicals.

You can see pretty quickly after opening the pool what it does to heat.