Pro Tips with Jamie Snyder

Subscribe via E-mail

Why do fiberglass pools crack?

Posted by James Snyder on Sat, Feb 02, 2013 @ 43:03 AM

Well, we all know everything has a breaking point. The trick is getting a product where the breaking point is so far out of reach that you will never get near it. But the question stands – Why do fiberglass pools crack? There are a few different ways that a fiberglass pool will crack. I will attempt to give you my honest professional opinion here as to what I have witnessed. If you have seen something I missed please leave it in the comments. The more we all know the better off we all will be.

My top 7 reasons fiberglass pools crack.

  1. Improper shipping support.  I have seen this on a pool before and there is not much I can do about it once it gets to me but send it back from where it came from. Travelling down the road can place huge stresses on a fiberglass shell because of the bumps in the road. What happens sometimes is that a pool will be strapped improperly and this will allow significant distortion of the pool shell.   Leisure pools are able to flex over one foot without damage, but they also let you know any more is not good. The cracks that form are sometimes referred to as spider cracking of the gel coat. This is unsightly and should be rejected although it poses no threat to the overall structural integrity and is only on the surface.

  2. Improper gel coat thickness. Now this one is a strange phenomenon. Gel coat applied to thin will crack just as easily as gel coat applied to thick. I’m not a scientist, I don’t know exactly why this happens, it just does. There is a very small margin for error here so the factory must have quality control factors in place when manufacturing your pool.

  3. Accidental Damage. Well that can be just about anything. The most common although almost nonexistent would be the run of the mill car accident. In the past 5 years I know of only one pool where the driver hit a low bridge. That will straight destroy anything so a pool is no different.

  4. Pool shell too thin or just too weak. Some manufacturers build weak shells, it’s bad for the industry as a whole. But unfortunately that’s just how it is. If the shell is too thin or flexible it will flex past the ability of the gel coat to flex and cause a spider crack.

  5. Low quality gel coat or even worse a gel coat alternative. Placing plastic on the inside of the pool and calling it a high end finish is getting more and more popular. Be wary of any pool that calls the inside of the pool “xyz finish”. That is not a true gel coat and has a been known to fade and just plain delaminate.

  6. Pool not made level to begin with. If a pool shell is produced off a wood framed mold most likely that mold has warped over time. With varying humidity and temperatures this is unavoidable for these cheaper molds. The problem with that is that the factory gives the installer a set of dig plans and we dig the hole to exacting specifications. If the pool is not the shape it was designed to be the hole will be off and the pool will not be level. Once water is placed in the shell the pool will most likely find level because of the tremendous weight. This forcing of the pool into level will stress the shell and cause spider cracking at best and giant wall cracks and bulges at worst. Rumor is that one manufacturers shells are so far off that they recommend the installer use the excavator to push the uneven corners down then fill it.

  7. Improper backfill and or installation. If you use sand you will come to regret it. Thing is, sand just is a pain to compact fully, especially 8' deep around a corner you can't see. Gravel comes out of a shovel 95% compacted and the rule is if you get to 98% you can build just about anything you want on it. Sand besides being hard to compact can wash away in wet conditions. If your pool builder says they will be using sand - run!

Notice I didn't say temprature. Cold temps have little to no affect under normal. Every fiberglass pool builder in the northeast has installed a pool in below freezing temps and they never have a problem. I remember at the end of 2010 just before Christmas breaking over 1000 pounds of ice that froze inside a pool that was waiting to get installed. I needed to get the ice out because it was too heavy to lift with it in and there was no problems smashing the ice with a sledge hammer.  Thats because the gel coats and fiberglass itself have great cold weather properties. And that's why fiberglass pools are a great choice for upstate NY.

Got comments. Lets hear em!

Low Quality gelcoatDon't get stuck with low quality gel coat like this! Buy from people with integrity.

Get a Quote NOW !

Are fiberglass swimming pools any good?

Posted by James Snyder on Fri, Feb 01, 2013 @ 44:02 AM

As a fiberglass pool installer in Orange County NY ,this is a question that I hear pretty often. For the longest time I would have had to say no. See, in the early days of fiberglass they had some obvious drawbacks. The 4 biggest drawbacks of fiberglass pools of old were.

  • The shapes often resembled that of a bath tub.

  • The gel coat colors were either white or some close variant to white like sky blue.

  • The mold technology was pretty lacking.

  • The Resins used actually absorbed water.

Fiberglass Pools Chester NYFiberglass Pools Orange County NY

Can you believe that the pool on the left is still in production and has to compete with the pool on the right?

To be honest not every manufacturer has gotten all of these things fixed as of today. So let’s see what’s new in the fiberglass pool industry.

Shape: 

                Now I know that some of you are thinking that shape is something that cannot be graded and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And I would have to agree on some level, but when it comes to a pool shape is a little more important than that. Shape can affect how well a pool performs as well as how good it looks. For instance Leisure Pools adds a convenience ledge about two feet down from the coping on all of it’s pools. This simple change in shape allows children to easily move about the pool while providing a much stronger pool wall than the competition. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and you can now see Barrier Reef adding this feature in their pools as well.

 

Gel Coat Colors:

                First a little definition – the gel coat of a pool is the part that you actually feel inside. Now color is another purely subjective topic. If you want a white pool plenty of guys make that and you will have no problem finding one. That being said who really wants a white pool anymore? No one I’ve spoken with in the past 5 years. Now why is it that so many fiberglass manufacturers only offer white or charge extra for colors thereby convincing you white is a better (cheaper) option. Simply because they have found it difficult to build a colored pool that will not fade. Now barrier reef which I liked above had some interesting language in their warranty.

“Barrier Reef Pools finish coat or gelcoat is warranted against blistering for a total of 15 years. This Warranty excludes discoloration, staining, fading, hairline cracks, blistering, surface yellowing or roughness after manufacture , where the cause is algae infestation, calcium scale or other mineral or vegetation deposits or faults arising from misuse or abuse of the surface or the maintenance of incorrect water balances.”

Now right there they excluded just about everything that can happen to a surface of a pool. Read that again, The first sentence warrants blisters and the second takes it away. That’s pretty fancy wording if you ask me. They go on to say that this applies only if your water balance is off. Well folks I have never tested pool water from a homeowner that maintained it themselves and had it come out “perfect” every single time.

 

Mold Technology:

                This is where Leisure Pools has really set the pace so to speak. Industry standard is to build a fiberglass pool mold on a wood frame. The problem with this type of manufacturer is that wood warps, plain and simple. For instance here in the Hudson Valley, NY we have weather extremes and I see decks all the time that look good one year and look like crap the next. The handrails don’t look straight anymore, the floor looks uneven etc. This is because the wood warped from month to month. A real good deck builder can help prevent this by placing the “cupping” in a certain direction but that’s some next level stuff, and I don’t build decks. This guy does build decks and he does a great job. Back on track, you can see how a wood frame will warp. Leisure Pools uses only steel frames on all of their fiberglass pool molds, it costs more but you end up with a perfect pool.

 

Resin:

                Now we are getting into the science of things here. This is the stuff that gets me excited. Well that and riding my Harley. But seriously - resin is extremely important. Except for the gel coat layer of the pool every other layer will contain resin. Some companies use multiple types of resin depending on the layer. The key thing to remember is that Vinyl Ester resins do not absorb water and most other resins do. That being said Leisure Pools is the only company that uses Vinyl Ester resins in every layer of their pool. The reason you want a resin that does not absorb water is simple. If your pool shell absorbs water the surface will probably blister. Knowing this some companies will use Vinyl Ester resin on the first inside layer but polyester resin on the subsequent layers. In theory that’s great, this stops the pool water from getting in the other layers. The problem is if you have ground water. If the back of the pool is not protected as well, then you have the risk of groundwater entering the shell and causing a blister.

 

So now that that’s done. Are Fiberglass Swimming Pools any Good? As you can see, it depends on the manufacturer. While some like Leisure Pools are excellent some others are not as good.  Leave your comments and sign up for our blog.

 

Get a Quote NOW !

 

 

Download the FREE eBook

The Ultimate Buyer's Guide for Fiberglass Pools

ebooks-banner-pools-101.jpg

Everything you need to know when buying a fiberglass pool. From the best time of year to buy and picking a contractor, to pricing, options, and add-ons!

DOWNLOAD

Most Popular Posts