A client contacted a pool contractor, wanting a bid to perform repair work on a job completed by another contractor. The client said they were not pursuing litigation or making an insurance claim – they just want the project fixed correctly.
Avoid Making Statements That May Come Back To Haunt You
If you find yourself in this situation – tread carefully. ONLY provide a written estimate of your proposed repairs and your installation specifications. Oftentimes, once the client receives the estimated cost of repairs, they will change their mind about litigation or filing an insurance claim against the original contractor. If you made statements about the cause of a failure, quality of the workmanship or code compliance, it will come back to haunt you.
The pool contractor was subpoenaed to appear in court, to repeat the verbal & written statements he made about the causation and workmanship. And he was only compensated at a rate predetermined by the court – less than minimum wage, like a juror. He was also sued by the original contractor for slander & libel, due to some false assumptions he made and had expressed about the failure.
How do you avoid being drawn into litigation as a witness for the plaintiff?
Simple…It is human nature to want to impress people with our knowledge. But, this is the time to “bite your lip.”
It is best to listen to the client’s complaint, take diligent notes & copious pictures and prepare a repair estimate back in the office. Limit your comments to the weather & sports. If you see things they are not aware of, merely include them in your cost of repairs. Do not discuss the workmanship or the suspected cause of any failure.
Remember – They already know the project is screwed up… that’s why they called you. If they want to know WHY it’s screwed up, then they should hire someone who will perform a thorough inspection, forensic evaluation or testing and render a written opinion – for a fee. Stay out of the courtroom, by learning what not to say.
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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