A swimming pool is a great way to relax, beat the summertime heat, and enjoy time with loved ones. When you choose to add a pool to your property, you’re not only adding a coveted bonus feature to your home, but you’re also taking on a significant responsibility. Maintenance and upkeep are crucial, especially when it comes to the concrete that surrounds the pool.
Water safety and pool safety are paramount, but if the concrete pool deck has cracking and uneven slabs, this puts the safety of everyone around the pool in danger. Excited children running by the water’s edge can easily trip over the raised lip of an uneven slab, and the elderly or those with mobility issues could slip and fall into the pool while walking along the same problematic areas.
Getting ahead of these problems before anyone gets hurt is the best way to maintain the safety and longevity of your pool and pool deck. So, how do you do that? How can you fix the pool deck without ripping everything out and starting over?
There are several options for repairing a cracking and sinking pool deck, but one reliable method stands above the rest – concrete lifting with PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam injections. This is not a fast fix that you can take on yourself within a weekend. You need professional assistance in order to get the right fix the first time around. That’s where the experts at FSM come in. Our experienced team will be able to help you create a safe outdoor oasis in no time at all. Read on to learn more about this innovative installation and how it can benefit your home and your family.
Inground Swimming Pool Construction 101
Whether you’re deciding to make the move to put in a pool or you are moving into a house with one already on the property, it’s beneficial to know the basics of how this pool is installed. Above ground pools are still popular and installed today, but many are inground with easier access from the home.
Digging Out and Laying the Groundwork
While the installation process is different for each type of pool – vinyl, steel, polymer, gunite, plaster, cement – they all start the same way. It all begins by digging a large enough hole in the ground to accommodate the size and depth of the pool.
Once all the important pieces – like the walls, liner, etc. – are in place, soil is backfilled and the concrete pool deck is constructed around the pool.
Problems with the Process
This all sounds well and good, but various problems can arise. Concrete pool decks are likely to settle because of the construction process. Soil that is backfilled around the pool excavation won’t be as dense as the undisturbed soil farther away from the pool. Then when heavy concrete slabs are poured around the pool, any loose soil will compress under the slabs’ weight. This causes sections of the concrete to sink.
Pool Deck Repair Solutions
Repairing your pool deck doesn’t have to be a lengthy challenge. Instead, once you’ve connected with the right professionals, you can get a better idea of how other homeowners facing similar problems have conquered these unruly challenges.
There are a few methods you can investigate – concrete repouring, mudjacking, and polyurethane foam injections. While the latter is by far the best solution, it helps to have some knowledge around each process so you are familiar with your options.
Concrete Repouring and Replacement: Not a Problem Solver
While the sight of a few cracks here and there or a concrete slab that doesn’t match up with surrounding slabs might seem like minor cosmetic imperfections, these issues have the potential to worsen and turn into significant safety hazards. If you catch the problems in time, they can easily be fixed with a trusted solution that won’t require much, if any, excavation.
But if you neglect the concrete pool deck to the point of complete disrepair, you might have no choice but to dig up the concrete and have it completely repoured. This can be incredibly time-consuming and expensive, and it will not get to the root of the problem with the underlying soil.
Mudjacking or Slabjacking: Invasive and Ineffective
Instead of repouring and replacing all the concrete slabs, a longtime repair method that aims to lift the sunken slabs is mudjacking, also referred to as slabjacking. This involves pumping a concrete slurry mixture underneath the slabs through holes drilled into the concrete. Once enough of this mixture is pumped underneath, the pressure of the mixture is supposed to raise the concrete back up to its original level.
This might sound like a preferable installation, but it actually is quite invasive. Holes the size of soda cans have to be drilled, and the concrete mixture pumped underneath is thick and heavy. When this mixture is pumped underneath, it forms a cone rather than filling the whole void under the slab. It can be quite expensive, and it will take hours, sometimes days, for the concrete mixture to cure, leaving you without use of the pool deck. Plus, since this concrete slurry is heavy, just as the concrete slabs originally poured for the pool deck, the problematic soil underneath could continue to sink. This leads to a vicious cycle of the pool deck continuing to sink, as well.
PolyRenewal™ Polyurethane Foam Injections: Concrete Lifting the Right Way
You can still lift concrete using the same basic concept behind mudjacking, but in a more effective way. With improving technology and innovation comes the more reliable concrete lifting solution with PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam injections.
With this method, a lightweight polyurethane foam is injected underneath the concrete through very small holes approximately the size of a penny. The expansive, durable foam fills the whole of the void underneath the concrete to effectively lift it back to its original level. The foam cures within 15 minutes of its installation, so you can use your pool deck again after the installers leave. This is a more economical, environmentally friendly, waterproof, and stable concrete lifting solution.
Pool Deck Repair
Your pool deck can start to sink for a myriad of reasons. Some of the most common include:
Hydrostatic pressure is one of the most prevalent causes of concrete failure. This force refers to the effect that water can have on the state of your concrete. As this water encounters your concrete, it can cause the molecules therein to change in size. These molecules expand as they grow warmer—often when they’re not in contact with water—and shrink when they become colder.
Your pool deck can suffer from more hydrostatic pressure than many of the other concrete structures on your property merely due to the nature of its purpose. If you don’t appropriately seal off your pool, or if you lose a lot of pool water when you go swimming, the puddles that stay behind after you stop swimming for the day may contribute to localized hydrostatic pressure. Extensive exposure to this kind of pressure can cause your pool deck first to crack and then to begin sinking.
The team that initially installed your pool deck may have mistreated the concrete during the installation phase. Concrete is far more vulnerable to damage during its curing phase than its reputation suggests. For example, teams that cut concrete too early risk making the sides of your pool deck brittle. Teams that don’t keep your concrete moist while it’s curing can cause it to become brittle internally, meaning that it may fracture more deeply when environmental forces come to call.
Unfortunately, errors made during concrete’s curing phase tend to make your concrete more vulnerable to hydrostatic pressure. While it may be a pouring error that first causes your pool deck to start sinking, that sinkage can result in cracks, which can expose your pool deck to excessive hydrostatic pressure.
Tree Roots and Expanding Soil
No tree on your property is actively working against the structural integrity of your pool deck. That does not mean, however, that the tree roots near your pool deck won’t damage the concrete by accident. As they grow, tree roots can cause hollows to appear beneath your concrete structures. If you don’t act to stabilize your soil, your concrete may start to sink into these hollows.
There are some soil compositions that lend themselves to concrete damage. For example, clay soils that absorb water at a tremendous rate can expand to the point where they begin to put pressure on your pool deck. In these cases, you may start to see your pool deck sinking or the edges disappearing beneath the clay in your lawn.
The one good thing about pool deck damage is that it tends to give itself away. Even if you don’t have professional experience to guide you, you can keep an eye out for some of the following symptoms and then reach out to the professionals working in your area.
Cracks in the Concrete or Near Your Home
If you notice superficial cracks on the surface of your concrete, don’t immediately get worried. These cracks can often be so small that they don’t pose a threat to your pool deck’s structural integrity. If you notice the cracks in question start to get larger, it’s time to worry. If it appears that the cracks are only growing, you may need to address a deeper problem that might otherwise compromise the structural integrity of the structure in question.
Your pool deck may connect to the rest of your home, even if it’s not directly. With that connection in mind, you’ll want to keep an eye out for cracks that may appear in the concrete that’s poured especially close to your home. This damage can not only indicate that something is wrong with your pool deck but that something may have gone wrong with your concrete slab as well.
Cracks that appear in the concrete slab beneath your home display many of the same symptoms that cracks in your pool deck do. However, these side effects can impact the general comfort of your home. If you notice cracks appearing near the joints of your foundation, even if they’re primarily impacting your driveway or sidewalk, you’ll want to have an area professional inspect your home for signs that water damage may have started to make its way inward.
Standing or Pooling Water
Standing water on your pool deck is only a bad thing in the long term. After all, you can’t get away from seeing standing water on a pool deck right after a swim on a hot day. If that water stays on your pool deck for more than 24 hours, however, you may have some excessive moisture—and subsequently, some structural damage—on your hands.
Concrete can absorb water at a faster rate than its sturdy reputation suggests. Water that remains on its surface for an extended period of time is simultaneously an active source of hydrostatic pressure as well as an indication that the concrete may already be oversaturated. Even if you’re not actively seeing any other forms of damage around your property, you’ll want to reach out to an area contractor to address the moisture that’s been absorbed by your pool deck. The faster you’re able to act, the faster you can get ahead of the damage that may be brewing beneath the surface of your deck.
If you find yourself concerned about the cost of pool deck repair, you may be tempted to try and take on repairs on your own. DIY pool deck repair solutions, unfortunately, rarely work out in a homeowner’s favor. Instead, these endeavors can become costly and riddled with errors.
Concerns About Costs
Most of the time, homeowners who try to lift their concrete on their own are concerned about the cost of professional repairs. Little do they know that DIY work can actually cost a homeowner far more than professional help.
For starters, you’ll need to find the materials and tools you need to bring your concrete back up to its original height. If you don’t have any similar projects planned for the future, many of these tools may be of one-time use. Professionals already have many of the tools they need on hand to restore your pool deck. Similarly, they can reach out to industry peers for materials they might need, garnering industry discounts you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of.
The Dangers of Errors
Most of the time, DIY mistakes aren’t that big of a deal. Making a mistake while trying to lift your pool deck, however, can make the structure effectively unusable. For starters, you may end up leaving your pool deck more uneven than you found it, putting you and your family at risk of injuries. You may also put the other nearby concrete structures you have in place at structural risk.
Then there’s the question of your property’s value. If you fail to appropriately fix your pool deck, or if you make a mistake while trying to repair it, you can put your home’s market value at risk. You risk losing up to 30 percent of your home’s market value if you try to list it with a damaged pool deck or any other type of concrete failure on the property. If you work with professionals, you’ll be far less likely to eventually sell a home that’s lost some of its value due to damaged concrete.
The PolyRenewal™ Installation Process: A Closer Look
We just laid out the basics of how PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam injections are installed, but it might be helpful to take a closer look at this process and how it is a better option than mudjacking.
First, an inspector with FSM will come out to your home to evaluate the condition of the concrete pool deck. He will take measurements and note where cracks and settlement are and provide you with an estimate detailing the cost of repairs.
When you are ready to proceed with repairs, the project will then be scheduled with one of our installation crews. Depending on how damaged your pool deck is and how much repair it may need, the process will look something like this:
- Based on the inspector’s recommendations, the crew will map out where holes will be drilled and PolyRenewal™ will be installed.
- Penny-sized holes are drilled into the concrete.
- Injection ports will then be placed in the holes.
- After calculating how much foam is needed, the polyurethane foam is then injected underneath the concrete slabs.
- The foam expands to fill the void between the soil and the slabs to achieve lift and stabilization, and cures in 15 minutes.
- Once the slabs have been properly stabilized and lifted, the drilled holes are filled and grouted, which minimizes appearance of work.
- Any cracks and joints can be filled and repaired with a special sealant.
PolyRenewal™ Installation Is Not A DIY Project
While the installation of PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam injections sounds straightforward enough, this is not something you can take on as a quick DIY project. It takes precision, specific calculations, experience, and knowledge of the product in order to install it properly. If you do not have these necessary skills, you probably will not get the best result from the installation. While some products similar to PolyRenewal™ may be available at hardware stores, these could be costly investments. Plus, PolyRenewal™ is a specialized solution only available through certain expert contractors like FSM.
So, while it may be tempting to rush out and invest in a do-it-yourself solution, it is worth it instead to have the expertise of a concrete lifting professional on your side.
Concrete Pool Deck Repair with the Help of Area Professionals
If you’ve installed a pool and pool deck on your property, why shouldn’t you have the chance to use them? Don’t let unexpected pool deck damage get in your way. Instead, reach out to the experienced professionals at FSM.
Together you can inspect your property and determine what forces may be contributing to your pool deck’s instability. After an initial consultation with an expert from FSM, you’ll have the opportunity to look over a free services quote detailing what repairs you might need to better protect your home.