The Wrong Way to Abate a Swimming Pool
It was mid spring 2022, I had provided a Maryland property owner with a detailed proposal to perform his swimming pool demolition. A couple weeks later he calls me and says that he’s ready to proceed with using my pool removal company to perform the pool demolition of his pool. We set up a day and time for us to get together to ratify the agreement. As we’re chatting on the phone the man says to me “I want you to leave the concrete patio in place”. I wanted to make sure I understood what he was saying, so I asked him some questions to confirm that I fully understood what he wanted. And yes, he didn’t want any of the concrete decking, sometimes referred to as ‘patio’ or ‘apron’, to be removed. My heart sank, this changed everything. As in, it rendered a job that we as competent professionals could not undertake.
I could tell by his tone that this man was dead set on leaving the concrete decking intact. I had to explain why leaving the decking isn’t a good idea, and I had to do it without sounding like an over-zealous salesman. My heart sank because as a professional contractor I have seen so many swimming pool fill-in jobs done by others, where the concrete decking was left intact, that have turned out to be disasters. And the irony behind all this is that we just completed a job where we had to excavate their filled-in swimming pool and abate it properly! See, not only do property owners call me to remove swimming pools, but I also get called to come in end excavate swimming pools that were improperly abated by others.
The success of a pool removal job is contingent to drainage
When an in-ground swimming pool is constructed, the top of the pool structure, regardless of the type of structure, is set dead level. The top of the structure is of the same grade all the way around, from side to side, and end to end. The concrete apron, or decking, is then pitched so water rolls away from the pool.
When a swimming pool is removed or demolished, it’s vital that the ground be graded so that the water can flow away from the cavity. If the water cannot flow away from the cavity, it will go straight down into the cavity. Ok, so now you’re probably thinking “if the floor is broken up, or the vinyl liner has been removed, then what’s the big deal?”. Most of the soil in Maryland and Northern Virginia is typically high in clay content. Therefore, the ground doesn’t exactly percolate like most would imagine. Especially after there’s been a pool there for the last 25+ years with the weight of 25,000 gallons of water bearing down on it.
The name of the game is to grade the area where the pool once was so that water can “sheet away” from the cavity. And to accomplish this, the decking, or the apron, must be removed. When water cannot flow away from the cavity, it filtrates down to the bottom of the cavity, and creates what I call a ‘super saturated bowl’, and the soil becomes rather swampy.
IT MATTERS WHO YOU HIRE TO DEMOLISH / REMOVE YOUR SWIMMING POOL. I have extensive knowledge in general construction, soil compaction, and grading and drainage. Please let us help you with your swimming pool removal project. We serve nearly all of Maryland and northern Virginia with our expert swimming pool demolition services! Click here and lets get to work!
Below are photos of a filled-in swimming pool excavation that we did in Spring 2022. The weather was overcast for most of the week that we worked there, some of the pictures are dark and dreary.