There are countless reasons why homeowners choose to remove their old swimming pool. Filling in your in-ground pool saves you time and money on pool maintenance, and eliminates certain hazards and liabilities that come with pool ownership. It also gives you more yard space for landscaping or activities. While pool removal is a fairly straightforward process, there are some risks to consider. When homeowners fail to properly fill back in the ground, sinkholes can develop. Learn how you can prevent pool removal sinkholes by using fill dirt.
The Pool Demolition and Removal Process
Proper pool removal can be accomplished in two main ways. For a more cost-effective and less time-consuming option, homeowners may choose to undergo a partial pool demolition. During a partial pool removal, the pool is drained of water and multiple holes are drilled at the bottom of the pool to prevent water from collecting underneath. The top two to three feet of the pool walls are then demolished while the rest of the pool remains intact. The pool area is then backfilled and compacted to prevent sinking in the future.
For a more extensive pool removal, a complete pool demolition can be used. This involves fully breaking up the pool structure. Once broken down, the concrete, tiles, and other components are hauled away and disposed of, as opposed to being buried in the backfill as with a partial pool removal. Complete pool removal is recommended if you plan on building a new structure on the area in the future as some sinkage or shifting may occur. However, it is important to understand that complete pool demolitions cost significantly more than partial pool removals as more materials will need to be broken up and disposed of.
Potential Sinkholes After Pool Removal
Sinkholes are most common in terrains where limestone, salt beds, gypsum, or carbonate rock may dissolve. Over time, water eats away at rock until a pit is formed. The overlying sediment layer then loses its support and collapses into the pit. There are two main types of pool removal sinkholes that can develop on residential property. The first is called a cover-subsidence hole. This type of sinkhole occurs when thick, permeable sediment lies over limestone or another soluble rock. As the rock dissolves, the sediment gradually sinks, creating a depression in the ground.
A cover-collapse is the other type of sinkhole that can develop. As this type of sinkhole is more hazardous, it is important to be vigilant when performing pool removals. Cover-collapse sinkholes typically occur in minutes and are often triggered by a weather-related event, such as heavy rainfall. When these weather events occur, the sediment that covers the void underneath can suddenly collapse leaving behind a hole. Sinkholes are more common in areas where there is soluble rock. However, they can develop anywhere, especially if you fail to take the proper precautions when filling in a pool.
Preventing Pool Removal Sinkholes
A reputable pool removal contractor will take the necessary steps to reduce the possibility of settlement. These precautions may include laying down commercial-grade geo-textile fabric over the rubble to prevent the fill soil from falling through into the rubble. The fill material should also be compacted into the pool cavity using a vibratory trench roller. Some contractors choose to drive the skid loader over the fill material to compact it but this is not the proper method. Using the proper equipment to compact the fill dirt is crucial to prevent settling problems such as sinkholes.
Choosing A Quality Pool Removal Contractor
Choosing a qualified pool removal contractor can make a big difference in the project results. The contractor should be thorough and take the time to break up the pool materials. If concrete and other pool surfaces are not properly broken up, there is a high risk of trapped moisture that could eventually push the pool up to the surface. This can be an expensive fix. Once the components are properly broken up, they can be pushed into the pool to help fill the cavity if you choose to undergo a partial pool removal. This also reduces the amount of soil filler and gravel needed which saves you money.
Adding a Layer of Gravel
Once the debris is thoroughly crushed and tamped down, a layer of gravel should be added to the pool cavity in one foot layers. Each layer should be compacted down before another layer is added. This gravel foundation helps contain the pool debris underground and provides a foundation for the soil to sit upon. While soil shrinks as it decompresses over time, gravel does not. Optionally, you can choose to have your pool removal contractor add a perforated PVC pipe along the length of the pool for drainage. This helps prevent water underground from creating a mudslide.
Adding Top Soil
Once the gravel is placed, top soil can be added for aesthetics and landscaping purposes. Soil should be a minimum of three feet deep if you wish to plant grass, flowers, or crops in the area. You may need it even deeper if you plan to plant trees. If properly executed, your yard should appear as if a swimming pool never existed. However, it is still important to be aware of possible warning signs of impending sinkholes. This may include the sagging, slumping, or slanting of trees or fence posts, cracks in the floors, walls, or pavements, or doors or windows that fail to close property.
Speak to a Pool Removal Contractor
If you have made the decision to fill in your in-ground swimming pool, you may be worried about the stability of the ground once the pool is gone. Whether you choose to undergo a partial or full pool removal, it is important to consider the risk of settlement over time, as well as more extensive issues like sinkholes. An experienced pool removal contractor, coupled with the right materials such as gravel and fill dirt, can drastically reduce the likelihood of pool removal sinkholes. For more information or to schedule a pool removal, contact a pool removal contractor at Dirt Connections today.