Fiberglass pools in Canada appear to be the simplest form of the pool to install in theory. Isn’t it as simple as digging a hole and dropping it in? That is right in theory, but it is not that straightforward. Installers make mistakes, and a badly installed pool results in a dissatisfied pool customer. So, if you’re thinking about buying a fiberglass pool, you are lucky. Here are five keys to a successful fiberglass pool installation. Let’s get started!
The First Step: Establish a Firm Foundation
This may appear to be a no-brainer, yet it is the cause of many pool construction failures. So here are a few things to keep an eye out for:
Placing the pool casing on disturbed soil: If the excavator delves too deep when digging the hole, the excavator tends to fill the region with the same soil. That is unacceptable! A compactable base material must be used to bring the area up to code. If this is not done correctly, the ground and pool will eventually settle. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what that means.
After the hole has been excavated, a leveling material such as sand or gravel is poured into the hole. And leveled to serve as a base for the pool shell to rest on. The pool will settle if this material is not compacted adequately.
These issues can be readily avoided if the contractor takes the time to ensure that the pool is properly supported. It is suggested to clean crushed gravel as a foundation material.
Key #2: Effective Pool Leveling Techniques
Because a fiberglass pool is a one-piece unit, expecting it to be completely level is unrealistic. According to industry standards, the pool can be one inch out of level in forty feet. Therefore, it is best if the contractor aims for a quarter-inch accuracy, although a half-inch will suffice.
Installers have been known to utilize any means necessary to level the pool shell, and while some methods are acceptable, others are downright terrifying.
The best technique to level a fiberglass pool is to lift it entirely out of the hole and add or subtract material until it reaches the desired level. Then, after the shell has been installed, walk the pool floor to ensure that the entire pool is resting on the solid base material. These two procedures will ensure that the pool is not only level but also resting in its natural state and free of undue tension.
Sound Plumbing is the third key. The “L” word is what we’re talking about here: leaks! Yes, it is a derogatory term, particularly in the pool industry. To prevent leaks, an installer should do the following three things:
Secure the piping: Because fiberglass pools in Canada have a lot of backfill material that settles over time, it’s important to secure the plumbing to keep it from moving. Unfortunately, plumbing settlement causes leaky pool fittings, a significant nuisance to fix. To protect against settling, it is best to tie our plumbing with cable.
Use rigid PVC pipe: Flexi and rigid PVC pipe are the two most common forms of PVC pipe used around inground pools. As its name says, flexible PVC will easily curve to the shape of the pool, allowing for a quicker installation. The issue with flex pipe is that, according to the producers, it is not appropriate for underground use. They claim this because the material is vulnerable to termite damage. Moreover, the pipe is prone to collapse under pressure, and the glue joints are not as strong.
On the other hand, Rigid pipe is far more robust and can be molded to follow the shape of the fiberglass swimming pool shell using a technique called heat bending. This combines the flexibility of flex pipe with the strength and durability of rigid tubing. You must be willing to devote the necessary time.
Pressure testing is something that should never be overlooked. It’s preferable to discover a leak early rather than later, especially if later is after the concrete patio has been built! Unfortunately, even though this is pool installation 101, many companies still fail to test their piping.
Key #4: Good Backfill Procedure
Backfilling the pool shell is a technique that, if done incorrectly, can result in significant consequences. Here are some guidelines for backfilling:
Bring the backfill material up to the water level on the pool’s interior on the outside. This maintains nearly equal pressure on the pool’s walls.
To ensure minimal movement, compact the backfill material. Every six to twelve inches of lift, sand backfill must be saturated with water. Clean gravel backfill compacts naturally and does not require any further compaction.
To eliminate voids as much as feasible, backfill the steps and chairs with backfill material. This is done by going under the pool and using a board or other item to stuff backfill material into the area. To avoid the entire pool being raised from the ground, make sure there is at least a foot of water in the pool before starting this process.
To prevent drooping, use blocks from bracing broad steps and benches.
The excessive settlement, bulged and crooked walls, and sagging steps and benches are some of the effects of incorrect backfilling. Clean crushed gravel is a great proponent as a backfill material.
Key#5: Cantilevered Coping of High Quality
A flawless pool installation might be undone if the pool coping is low quality. Coping, in many ways, may make or break the entire project. Cantilevered concrete coping is poured on top of the pool and is a talent that takes a lot of practice to master. The following are the two main steps in making successful cantilevered concrete:
1. Proper form installation- Styrofoam is the preferred material for the forms because they must conform to the pool. The forms must be installed so that they are both secure and true enough to sustain the forces exerted by the concrete.
2. Proper concrete placement- As the concrete is laid against the form, air pockets must be removed by vigorous tapping against the form’s outside.
The surface of a good cantilevered coping project will be homogeneous and generally smooth, with no substantial air pockets or exposed gravel.
There’s some food for thought for those of you considering purchasing a fiberglass pool. Our experience has shown us that finding the proper pool contractor is as important as finding the correct pool manufacturer.