Having a built-in pool in your backyard is going to do two things: Increase your home value and provide endless hours of fun for the family. As with any other type of structure on your property, you have to be proactive with your pool with regard to maintenance and repairs. Being exposed to the elements and withstanding the pressure of all that water can take its toll on the pool. These are the potential problems to watch out for:
Rough Surface Build Up
A “raw” concrete pool surface can be rough. With some pools, that surface can be so discomforting that many parents have their kids wear water shoes while swimming. Even the exposed surfaces like Pebble Tec tend to have a rougher texture than plaster. There are also other contributing factors that can increase that roughness of the concrete. A rise in pH levels or delamination can generate pitting and calcium nodules that can add to the discomfort. Fortunately, there are solutions such as sanding or shaving that can help reduce the roughness. In extreme cases, you might also want to consider replastering the surface.
When the actual concrete pool shell cracks it is referred to as a structural crack. This is different from the shallow surface cracks that might crop up. You can often attribute the cause of these structural cracks to poor construction and engineering. If the pool is built within unstable soil, then certain design elements need to be adhered to in order to reinforce the structure. Without those enhanced design elements, the concrete can crack and cause a major water leak.
Surface cracks or craze cracks can appear because of shrinkage. You might have similar cracks in some of the plaster of your home due to settling. These cracks don’t often leak water, but they still should be repaired as soon as possible. If left untreated, then the surface cracks can foster algae, staining and calcium nodules.
Scaling is just what it sounds like: An outer layer of “crud.” This phenomenon occurs when your pool’s pH levels are out of balance. There could also be excessive amounts of calcium in the water or alkalinity, which is would be a build-up of acid. All of those conditions lead to those surface deposits that look like chalk. It is important to brush your pool walls regularly to avoid this build-up.
The plaster that is on your pool surface is porous. That means it can stain frequently. The reason for that might be because the tile wasn’t installed properly or the pool is only half-filled and then paused until it is filled to the waterline. This is another issue that has to do with an improper balance of your pool’s water chemistry. Discoloration can be avoided with regular tests and treatments to the water. Any discoloration that does appear can be removed with a bout of acid washing.
Spalling is what the flaking off of plaster is referred to. This is a thin layer of the plaster that peels off like a fruit skin. The cause of spalling can be traced back to bad troweling techniques. You can get spalling repaired through sanding and replastering.
Believe it or not, an entire concrete pool can “pop up” from its surrounding soil. This is a very rare condition, but it can happen because of the water pressure pushing down on the concrete. Thankfully, this can be prevented by having a hydrostatic valve installed. That will help relieve the pressure. You just have to make sure the valve is properly maintained in the same way you’ll be maintaining your pumps and filters.
Shifting Patio Concrete
The patio around your pool will be as strong as the foundation it was built on. It helps to have a level surface for your pool. However, if there is any kind of slope involved, then you might consider the addition of a retaining wall at the base of the slope. That can help contain the soil and prevent it from shifting enough to generate cracks in the surrounding patio concrete. Just be sure to use stone or bricks for that retaining wall as opposed to soil. Remember, you want a strong base.
Leaks from Plumbing
With every pool, there will be a plumbing system. Just like your indoor plumbing, your pool’s plumbing pipes can sometimes crack or tear causing a leak. And just like your home’s plumbing, those cracks might require digging up the entire plumbing line to get at the source of the leak.
Finally, you will also have to think ahead. Even if you keep your pool properly maintained, it would probably need to be totally replastered every 10 to 15 years. None of these potential issues should dissuade you from having a pool installed. They are all easy to remedy when the first sign of trouble crops up. Keep a watch out and enjoy the pool!