Central Florida homeowners who want to install an in-ground swimming pool have a wide variety of choices available. Each has its pros and cons. Fiberglass pools are popular because of their durability and smooth surface. However, this type of pool is manufactured as a single piece at a factory and can’t be customized. Vinyl liner pools are budget-friendly, but the liner needs to be replaced every five to 10 years. Concrete pools are constructed on-site, and can therefore be designed specifically for the property and homeowner’s preferences. However, this type of pool has a well-deserved reputation for requiring high maintenance.
If you’re in the process of planning to add a pool, or already have a concrete pool, our Certified Leak Detection team provides this guide on proper care to get the most enjoyment and longest life from your concrete swimming pool. While we do not install or construct pools, we want you to have the knowledge to keep your pool in top shape – and to call us if you ever suspect a pool leak!
Concrete Pools – Beautiful but High-Maintenance
Think of a luxury custom pool, and you’re thinking of a concrete pool. As mentioned earlier, a concrete pool can be designed in any shape and any size that fits within the property line (and your budget). But this flexibility comes at a price – literally as well as figuratively. An American Pool article explains the situation as follows:
“First, the nature of concrete means that it contains microscopic pores that can trap bacteria. Over time, these contaminants can pose a significant threat to the chemical balance of your pool. This means that concrete pools require more chemicals and heavier filtration to keep the pH levels of your pool in check. Alternatively, you can scrub the surface of the concrete to remove large collections of bacteria and other contaminants.
“Though you may be tempted to shock your pool with enough chemicals to sterilize the entire foundation, this could actually cause more of a headache than you bargained for. Excessive chemical use can erode the concrete to the point where extensive repairs are necessary to keep the whole structure intact …
“Even if you’re careful about the chemicals you add to your concrete pool, general maintenance and use will wear down the surface of the foundation over time. Rather than producing systemic flaws, this may result in a rough and painful surface. Swimmers can injure themselves if the problem grows unchecked, which can create unsafe conditions in the water.”
Most Common Issues with Concrete Pools
Swimming pool expert Holly Jender of River Pools identifies the following common issues with concrete pools.
Rough surface – The surface of a concrete pool is, by its very nature, rough. However, the surface can become even more so over time due to rising pH, excessive crazing, delamination or negative environmental conditions. This creates issues such as pitting and calcium nodules. This can be resolved by sanding, shaving, or acid washing, but the surface will need to be replastered if the roughness returns.
Structural cracks – These are cracks in the concrete pool shell itself. This type is different from a surface crack. Structural cracks can occur due to poor design or faulty construction. The pool must be engineered properly to withstand unstable or expansive soil, and then built as specified. If the design is engineered incorrectly, or the pool is not built according to the design, concrete pools may structurally fail and leak water.
Craze cracks – These light surface cracks are caused by shrinkage. Though they don’t indicate a leak, excessive crazing can cause further problems (such as staining, algae and calcium nodules) and may need to be replastered.
Scaling – Improper levels of pH, alkalinity, or calcium may lead to scaling – that is, buildup/deposits of calcium or other minerals. This includes etching and calcium nodules, which can form in drips or mounds. To avoid scaling, brush the pool walls regularly. Browning Pools & Spas recommends brushing after adding chemicals, and to prevent algae and staining.
Discoloration – Because plaster is porous, it can stain easily. This can occur for such reasons as missing waterline tile, incorrect layering of plaster and imbalanced pool water chemistry. Test the water at least once every week and adjust pool water chemistry accordingly.
Spalling – Spalling is the removal of a thin layer of plaster from the surface of the pool. It usually peels off or flakes from the bottom side. Over-troweling the surface, improperly-timed troweling, or adding excess water while troweling can lead to spalling. The spalled area will need to be resanded or – in the case of a large area – replastered. Of course, either job is for a pool repair professional.
Popping/floating – Draining your pool can cause it to pop out of the ground due to the change in hydrostatic pressure. Our blog post – “Why You Should Never Drain Your Pool Yourself” – covers this issue in detail.
Plumbing issues – Concrete pool owners need to know about potential plumbing problems. Because pipes run under the concrete, the possibility of a leak increases. Also pay attention to the hydrostatic relief valve, which is designed to prevent the pool shell from lifting out of the ground when there is excess pressure from the surrounding groundwater. This can corrode or seize over time and need replacement. Corrosion is another reason for leaks in concrete pools – as our blog post – “How Does Pool Corrosion Lead to Pool Leaks?” – explains.
Pool skimmers can also leak. Our blog post – “What to Do About a Leaking Pool Skimmer” – covers this issue in detail. Fortunately, this is usually an easy fix that even those with moderate DIY skills can perform. Some skimmer leaks require a more extensive (and expensive) repair by a pro, however.
We’ll skip a little ahead here to remind you that recognizing the signs of a pool leak and hiring a professional leak detection company like Certified Leak Detection is essential to prevent serious damage to your pool and property. Trusted by homeowners and business owners throughout Central Florida, our team is ready to answer your call. Contact us for quick, reliable service.
Making the Investment in Maintenance Will Pay Off
Just as with your house, your concrete pool requires regular maintenance, and will develop problems if left neglected. Doing the necessary work – or hiring a reputable swimming pool service company to do it– will pay off with a beautiful asset that will provide years of relaxation and recreation for your family.