The major renovation of a pool structure is never an easy undertaking. Determining the quality of the in-place concrete is an art in and of itself. The question of when and where to use proper concrete applications on the pool adds to the face that pool renovation is not for the faint of heart.
Now, admittedly, the pool industry propagates, breeds, and promotes self-proclaimed contractors who are experts without any expertise or quality experience for that matter. Countless times we see concrete pool renovations where a “licensed” (I use this term lightly) contractor will place new concrete walls or sections to areas of an older pool where original concrete was removed. This replacement of material is set without proper substrate preparation, required bond characteristics, proper reinforcement placement, or an understanding of cold joints. A year or two later the owner is left with a crack from debonding at the interface between the old and new work. This crack permeates through the pool plaster cementitious finish, often showing leaching or efflorescence, and the client becomes irate with the repair contractor after spending a good sum of money only to experience the same cracking issues they probably had before.
UNDERSTANDING THE SHOTCRETE PROCESS
Understanding the use of shotcrete placement and its benefits will enhance the quality and durability of pool structural renovation. Even contractors who don’t necessarily grasp the fine details of marrying two concrete installations together can benefit from using shotcrete placement and its inherent monolithic properties.
THE CONNECTICUT PROJECT
Shotcrete was the only answer to a renovation proposition we received from a client in an affluent Connecticut neighborhood, bordering the State Capitol. The streets are populated with historic homes featuring grand architecture and design that have stood the test of time. With a homestead steeped in history, our client’s back yard featured a pool that was at one time considered a jewel in the neighborhood. The structure was an outdated kidney shape with a leaking tile line and structural cracking. The renovation approach with the homeowner was to review the condition of the pool; test the hydraulic lines; assess turnover and functionality of the water in transit to determine water, electrical, and fuel consumptions; and compare this to a new sustainable and energy efficient water shape. We also proposed removal of all the finished masonry materials to examine the core concrete structure. The goal was to have the information and data necessary to make a recommendation to the owners regarding one simple question—“is the pool concrete structure worth building and renovating or is it too deteriorated to put money into?”
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