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I have a client who is has an older inground pool that is causing some problems. Should the concrete around the pool be level with the coping or sloped out? How well does the the concrete have to be sealed to the coping? Currently there is 1-1/2" gap between the concrete and the coping that is sealed with clear silicone caulking. How do you keep the concrete from shifting do to freeze and thaw? The tile around the top edge of the pool is poping off and the coping has a hollow sound when you tap it. Any comments or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
 

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Bruce
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In FL, decks are pitched at 1/4" per foot. This provides proper runoff/drainage away from pool. Hollow sounding coping means it was not installed properly or popped up. Needs to be removed and reset with thinset mixed properly and at the right temp. If its too dry or too cold, the bond will fail as yours did. I have installed brick, stone and cast concrete coping on literally hundreds off pools from Miami to Melbourne FL. The reason your sheet tile at the top is popping off is because your coping is lifting up, even if only slightly, the bond between the grout and the coping is a better one than the bond between the tile and the wall of the pool, again suggesting improper tile installation. Looks like the deck had a major settling issue, probably due to lack of proper compaction prior to pouring deck. Concrete should be touching/bonded to the coping. The builder wasn't challenger pools (now out of business) were they? If not, this was a terribly flawed build by perhaps someone who just started back then or there were not sufficient codes in place at the time with proper inspections done during the building process. NOW THE CURE;
1) Tear up the deck where it is not stable (i.e. 1 1/2 " gap areas).
2) Remove all hollow coping (maybe all of it if can't be matched)
3) Undercut all waterline tile, remove and replace with new. If Plaster is bad as I suspect, it should be sounded for hollow spots, drained, chip away loose areas, prep, bondkote .
4) Retile and reinstall new coping, repour deck where bad areas removed then replaster if it was necessary.
Failure to do all the above will be like putting a band-aid on a cut artery, you just don't do it. You are in a northern state where there is a frost line. All the more reason to get rid of silicone and replace those deck areas. Water trickles in , freezes and expands, then lifts the deck further away, This also freezes behind the loose tile and will continue popping more off. It's a MAJOR job and will not be a cheap or quick fix. Good luck.
 

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If the proper material is used under the decking freeze/thaw movement can be all but eliminated. In the commercial pools that I build we generally use a 6" or deeper bed of washed 3/4" stone that has been compacted. This material allows the water that becomes ice to drain away from the underside of the concrete decking. A good grade of processed stone, say 1 1/2" with very little "fines" is another way to go. This material locks up tight when properly compacted and the lack of fines allows the water to drain away.

Deck joints should be sealed with a commercial caulk such as one of the "Pecora" brand products that require a primer prior to application. These products cost about the same as the garbage they sell in the "big box stores" but the quality is superb.

Changing to quality fill materials and sealants will not cost you much more, but will save you a fortune in rework and damage to your companies reputation.
 

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What's your thinking on concrete pool decks vs. the river rock/epoxy decking (I think they call it "chattahoochie" in Florida)?

The chattahoochie is like a rice krispie treat -- allows water to flow through and off to the grass...
 

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Personally I don't like the epoxy stones for pool decks/exterior use. Like any epoxy it is damaged by UV rays and requires regular re-epoxying which most homeowners don't do.
 

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Well, there are great UV resistant, non-chalking epoxies available now. I think it all depends on the manufacturer you use. And yes, the occasional recoat is recommended. But, don't colored or stained concrete also need occasional maintenance?

I'm only mentioning the epoxy/river rock option, because it handles the water drainage issue quite well. It's non-puddling, due to it's porous construction. Seems like it could eliminate a lot of construction headaches?
 

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Construction Connoissuer
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I built inground pools for a while right out of highschool, plus now own an inground. (just stating I have some experience)

With the questions you have asked, Hire it out.

I can tell you have no idea what your doing, others may want to give you advise,
I'd rather save you a huge disaster. :thumbsup:

Your in over your head. ;)
 
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