One of the biggest debates you’ll come across when purchasing a pool is “which is better, Concrete or Fiberglass?” Some tend to swing the way of fiberglass and others traditional concrete. It honestly just comes down to what you prefer to have in your yard. I mean, you are paying for it after all. Since fiberglass pools are discussed at length, let’s give you some information on the other option; Concrete pools.

This might be the best option for you and your home, but like all pools, Concrete pools do come with their own unique set of problems.  This is why we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most common problems that accompany the purchase and installation of a Concrete pool and how you can avoid them.

The Most common issues with concrete pools

  1. High maintenance
  2. Plumbing leaks
  3. Excessively rough surface
  4. Structural cracks
  5. Craze (surface) cracks
  6. Popping up/floating
  7. Shifting concrete patio around pool
  8. Discoloration
  9. Spalling
  10. Scaling

High Maintenance

When compared to other types of pools (especially fiberglass), concrete pools require quite a bit of time and money to maintain. About every 10-15 years, they need to be replastered, which can cost upwards of $12,000-$20,000 on average. On top of that, concrete pools also use more chemicals and electricity on a daily basis.

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Plumbing Leaks

When a plumbing leak develops with a concrete pool, you have to tear out the whole area that the water leaks under, which could be either concrete or the patio, in order to fix the leak.

An effective way to prevent leaking is to pressure test the plumbing and ensure that it’s installed securely. It is still possible that a leak could develop if the pool or patio moves.

Excessively rough surface

The simple fact is that concrete pool surfaces are rough. And if you have kids then you may want them to wear water shoes in the pool. (Most parents think this necessary.) it’s due to the exposed surfaces like Pebble Tec that are rougher than plaster.

What makes the surface become excessively rough is the rising pH, excessive crazing, delamination or negative conditions. These create issues such as pitting and calcium nodules.

Sanding, shaving or simply acid washing can resolve this problem although the surface will need to be replastered if the roughness does return.

Structural cracks

A structural crack isn’t just any basic crack. It means that the concrete pool shell itself has cracked. The problem usually arises from incorrect design or construction. The pool needs to be engineered properly to withstand unstable or expansive soil and must also be built to specification.

If the design isn’t engineered correctly or the pool isn’t built according to design then concrete pools may structurally fail and leak water.

Craze (surface) cracks

A craze crack is just a light surface crack that is due to shrinkage.

These cracks don’t leak water but excessive crazing can cause further issues (such as staining, calcium nodules and algae) and might need to be replastered.

Popping up/floating

IMG_0329Really anything can float with the right amount of water pressure pushing on it. Of all the types of pools out there, concrete pools are the most likely to float. It’s not quite a pervasive problem, but an entire Gunite shell can lift and float.

This can easily be avoided by installing and maintaining a hydrostatic valve.

Shifting concrete patio around pool

A patio will only be as good as the base that is supporting it.

As an example, if the yard is on a slope and a patio is built where the pool is sticking up out of the ground, then they may use dirt as the base. Now it may not be good enough to withstand that load, or they might not compact it properly so that it’s structurally sound. In cases like this, if the material around the patio moves, then it causes the patio to move as well.

This can be prevented by building a retaining wall and using stone instead of dirt as the base.

Discoloration

Because plaster is porous in nature, it stains quite easily. This can occur simply because the water-line tile is not installed or there are pauses while the pool is being filled, because the plaster is incorrectly troweled, or the water chemistry is just imbalanced.

An easy way to avoid the imbalance in the water is to test it at least once a week and adjust the chemical levels if needed. Always be sure that the pool is filled continually and that you’ve installed tile along the water line.

Discoloration can be removed by acid washing although there is a chance it may return later.

Spalling

A spall is a thin layer of the plaster surface (usually about 1/8 inch or less) that flakes or peels off mainly from the bottom side. This occurs because of the over-troweling of the surface, adding too much water while troweling or improperly timed troweling.

The spalled area needs to be sanded and if it’s a large area, replastered.

Scaling

Improper levels of pH, calcium or alkalinity are what can lead to scaling, which is a buildup/deposit of calcium or other minerals. This also includes etching and calcium nodules, which weirdly enough can form in drips or mounds.

There are many ways to avoid scaling like brushing the pool walls regularly, only adding salt after 30 days of plastering, pre-diluting the acid before adding it to the water and not allowing salt to sit as a solid on fresh plaster.

Hopefully this information will help you in your decision to purchase a concrete pool. Now that you have more knowledge of concrete pool problems and how to avoid them, good luck on the next step.

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