To ensure that there are no leaks, every penetration that enters a vessel should be pressure tested. This includes all parts of the circulation system and underwater lights & conduits (niches and led lights). Pressure tests should be maintained throughout construction and until the decks have been completed. Yes, this may require frequent retesting and pressurization.
APSP-5 (2012) Residential In-ground Pools states that the circulation system shall be pressure tested for 30 minutes at 15 PSI, before the decks are started and maintained until the decks are completed [APSP-5(2012) 9.1.5].
The ISPSC requires all parts of the circulation system be pressure tested for 30 minutes at 30 PSI (ISPSC 810.2).
Lighting conduits are often ignored and their integrity never verified. A leak in a light conduit may go unnoticed for decades, as it seeps water into the soil.
Swimming Pool Expert Witness
Cementitious Water Damping Products Help Prevent Failures
Let’s talk about tile and why it’s important to install a flexible cementitious water dampening product behind it. Concrete cracks including shotcrete whether dry or wet. Dry is less likely to crack because of the low water to cement ratio but it will at some point crack. Most cracks are due to shrinkage because as concrete cures it expels moisture and changes volume and gets smaller and something has to give. Shrinkage cracks in pools are not an issue.
The American Shotcrete Association addresses shrinkage cracks in pools and the proper way to fix them. There are damp proofing manufacturers that have specific protocols to fix them. When it comes to tile especially glass tile there is a reason why manufacturers require a cementitious flexible membrane.
After waiting the 28 day cure time before applying tile the concrete is still curing and changing volume. In addition to allowing the tile to flex a membrane allows flexibility so if you incur a crack it will not affect the tile. Take for example the pool in the pictures attached to this post. I was called out to look at water dampening this pool because the owner felt the shrinkage cracks in her negative edge wall was a signal the pool was failing and needed extra help.
This was the least of her problems. Besides the abhorrent shotcrete job and hydraulics the tile was popping off on the edge wall right where the shrinkage cracks were due to the tile installer not installing a membrane to allow the tile to flex as the shell was losing volume. Concrete can take decades to fully cure which is even more reason to install products that will make your tile installation counteract the curing process. As the pool sat and cured with the tile installed and shrinkage cracks appeared it popped off the tile and led to a failure of the tile.
It’s important to follow TCNA protocols and those from the manufacturer.
Best Practices to Prevent Water Intrusion
There always seem to be a discussion on here about proper coverage behind tile and why the TCNA specs at least 95%. Water intrusion is one the key reasons. Over time water will work it’s way into the hollow spots or grooves and slowly work on emulsifying the remaining thin set that is behind the tile which brings out efflorescence and will eventually make the tile fail and come off.
When you apply the dotting method or leave grooves behind the tile from the trowel it allows water behind the tile. As you can see in some of the pictures presented here the large format tile fell off one day because of a combination of dotting and leaving grooves.
In the picture of the blue translucent glass tile you can see the grooves behind the tile and there is now mold growing in the grooves.
This pool had many other issues which I will post later about. If you back butter the tile and then knock down the grooves that the tile trowel makes this will ensure you have the proper coverage and it doesn’t allow water in those channels. This is especially important in translucent glass.
When you install the tile thin set should be squeezing out of the joints and you will spend time cleaning the joints out. It is typical that I will use twice as much thin set on a project than what the coverage rate says on the bag.
Structural Foam Plays a Big Role
Structural foam is used in many applications in the pool industry. Whether to lighten a load in a structural coffer, fill in voids or to insulate. It can be time consuming to cut each piece to fit the exact dimensions of your void. Make sure you don’t underbid this part of the project as it can take twice as long as you think to cut each piece. It comes in different densities and can be molded into different sizes to fit your project. It should always be specified by an structural engineer as to the density and type.
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