How Can You Tell If A Crack In A Pool Needs To Be Repaired?
Cracks in an in-ground pool's plaster are a common problem. In most cases, the cracks are only cosmetic and don't cause water to leak out of the pool. Unfortunately, they can also be a sign that the concrete shell of the pool underneath the plaster layer is also cracked, which is a serious issue.
Water rushing through a crack in the concrete shell will cause the crack to spread, increasing the rate at which water leaks from your pool. If the plaster in your in-ground concrete pool is beginning to crack, read on to find out how you can tell if it's a serious problem with your pool and what you can do to fix it.
Why Does the Plaster in Pools Start Cracking?
An in-ground concrete pool is constructed by spraying concrete over a rebar skeleton. The concrete hardens and forms the shell of the pool, and then plaster is applied over the concrete in order to create a smooth, water-resistant surface. The plaster layer helps to protect the concrete from being damaged by the pool water, which would otherwise slowly erode it.
Cracks in the plaster layer are extremely common, but they rarely cause a pool to leak. Hairline cracks tend to form in the plaster if it dries too quickly, but these are very shallow and don't expose the underlying concrete. The plaster layer is usually around half an inch thick, which means that cracks in the plaster layer need to be quite deep in order to open up the concrete to water damage.
However, cracked plaster can be a symptom of a crack in the shell of the pool itself. Cracks in the concrete shell cause it to become slightly unstable, which means that the plaster layer on top will crack as well. Sometimes a crack in the plaster is harmless, and other times it's a symptom of a larger structural problem within the pool.
When Is Cracked Plaster a Sign of a Problem with the Pool Structure?
Structural cracks tend to leak water fairly rapidly, as there's nothing impeding pool water from escaping into the soil. If a crack is isolated in the plaster layer, the concrete backing behind it will prevent it from leaking.
Therefore, the best way to determine whether or not a crack is a sign of a structural problem in your pool is to perform a leak test. The easiest way to do this is to purchase some dye syringes from a pool supply store. Wait for a day with no wind and then turn your pool pump off to stop water from circulating in the pool. In order for a dye test to work, the pool water needs to be as still as possible.
Inject some of the dye near suspicious cracks in the plaster and then wait to see what happens. If a crack is leaking, water will very slowly flow towards it. If the dye is pulled into the crack, then you have a good indication that the crack is leaking and the damage is structural.
How Can You Fix Cracked Pool Plaster?
If a crack isn't leaking, it's only cosmetic. It doesn't need to be fixed, although you may want to hide the crack if it's highly visible. A pool repair service can fill in cosmetic cracks using putty or more plaster in order to cover them up.
Structural cracks, on the other hand, need to be fixed before they worsen. Water moving through a crack in the concrete shell will eventually start eroding the concrete and cause the crack to widen. You'll end up with a very severe leak if it's left alone.
If you suspect that you have a structural crack, call a pool repair company and have it patched. The most common method of patching a crack in a pool is to apply epoxy to the crack, and this can be done without draining the pool. For severe structural cracks, torque staples can be inserted into the concrete before the epoxy is applied. This helps the shell hold together when the crack is subjected to pulling forces caused by the thermal expansion of concrete on a hot day. When you have the crack filled as soon as possible by a pool repair company, you'll help prevent further damage to the concrete shell.
For more information, contact a company like Clear Pools Maintenance Inc.