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Why Do Pools Crack?

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One of the first things that home buyers ask about in Southern California and Arizona is “Does the house have a pool?”  Speaking from personal experience, it was easily in the top 3 reasons on why we purchased our house.  

Pools are an amazing asset to have on a home where you can entertain outdoors year round.  Having the capability of gaining additional living and entertainment space is a huge plus when you are purchasing a home.  Plus with the introduction of salt water pools, the ease of maintenance is extremely simple to even if you have never had the opportunity of servicing a pool before.

But what happens when you notice a crack in your pool or you notice that you are constantly having to add water to your pool?  Well, if you are like most people you do one of 2 things, either A) pretend it is not there and don’t worry about it, or B) freak out and panic and start to think your pool is falling apart.  2 extremes we know, but you would be surprised how accurately those 2 extremes capture people’s reactions!  However you react the fact still remains that your pool has developed a crack.  Let’s dive in to what that crack actually is a representation of.

First, let’s dive into how a pool is designed and made.  Pools are made up of a pretty simple design utilizing rebar of various sizes and shapes along with high strength gunite or concrete.  After the pool has been dug and the plumbing has been added throughout the bottom and sides of the pool the steel and is finalized into place and then gunite is shot onto the sides and base of the pool, creating the pool shell.  The gunite is finished like regular concrete you would find in your driveway or sidewalk and then allowed to cure.  Once it has cured, people can then add simple colored coatings, tile, or pebble tec finish to provide the more eye pleasing look to the pool.  The pool is filled and then fun begins….Until that crack shows up.

Now, cracks can form in the shell of the pool due to a variety of reasons.  It can range from the pool’s concrete not being properly cured or not having the proper tensile strength.  It can also be caused by the soils that support the pool are starting to become compromised.  This compromise can be from a leak in one of the pipes, causing the soils to be washed away or soft.  If your pool is located on the side of a hill or slope, it can also be caused by the hillside or slope moving and the pool not being properly secured to the native soils deep below.  Many of the times we run across the soils supporting the pool as the primary culprit as to why the pool has moved and caused this crack to appear.

If you ant to get a visual as to what usually happens when the soils start to become compromised, think of a styrofoam plate.  You hold just one side of the plate with one hand and then load up the other side of the plate with some food.  What happens to that plate when you load up the plate with more food than you need?  The plate bends and cracks and your food is now all over the floor!  Your pool acts in a similar way when a portion of it is not supported, it will start to bend and when it gets to a point where it can’t bend anymore, it cracks to relieve the pressure.

Just like a crack on a home’s foundation or your concrete driveway, these situations can be fixed.  Whether the repair is a simple crack repair or if your pool is in need of additonal pile supporting and anchoring, the pool can always be fixed.  The last resort option:  Filling your pool up with dirt and forgetting you ever had one!


Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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