Gunite (also often called shortcrete) is a durable and highly adaptable material often used to build swimming pools. While many people believe gunite and shortcrete are different, they’re essentially the same – both being a type of sprayed concrete. Because of this, many people also refer to gunite pools as concrete pools. Pool installers make a special mix of cement, sand and water to create gunite. This mixture is then evenly applied to the foundation of the pool to line it. If you’ve noticed a leak on your pool, it might be time for some gunite pool repair at your property.
Common Gunite Pool Problems
Before looking at how to fix your gunite pool, it’s important to know about common issues for concrete swimming pools. Every type of swimming pool has its own advantages and disadvantages – gunite pools are no exception.
Cracks and Leaks
Although just about any pool can crack, some pools are prone to crack more. Most concrete pools will crack at some point – especially if the pool is old. That’s said, there are certain things that can make your pool more prone to cracking, even if it’s brand new.
I you find that your gunite pool cracks all the time, it’s probably due to poor design and installation. A pool that wasn’t designed or installed properly will be more susceptible cracks that go right through the pool shell. It’s these cracks that go right through the shell that eventually cause bad leaks.
A lot of pools can develop surface cracks – which are cracks that only go through the paint or pool finish. While surface cracks are a sore eye, they don’t typically cause any leaking. Only cracks that go right through the think layer of concrete beneath your pool finishing will cause substantial leaks.
Rough Pool Surface
Gunite pool surfaces feel more rough than fiberglass and vinyl, but not excessively. The rough pool surface of a concrete pool still offers a good compromise between slip resistance and comfort.
If you find that your concrete pool is extremely rough to the point where slightly grazing the surface with your knee while swimming leaves a nasty scratch, your pool surface is too rough.
There are many things that lead to pool surfaces becoming too rough. Calcium nodules, excessive surface cracks and delamination can all contribute to the problem.
Pool Lifting from Ground
Concrete pools can occasionally pop out of the ground. To prevent this problem in the first place, it’s recommended that pool owners ensure a hydrostatic valve is installed and properly maintained.
Plaster Flaking Off
Plaster is one of the most common finishes for gunite pools. As with cracks, improper plastering techniques during installation is often the culprit to blame. Using a highly experienced and skilled installation contractor is the best way to prevent spalling.
Concrete is porous, so it readily absorbs stains. While discoloration is a more minor issue for concrete pools, it’s one that leaves many a pool owner frustrated. Imbalanced water chemistry is often to blame for the discoloration. Hence, testing your pool pH and ensuring proper pool chemistry is maintained can prevent discoloration.
Other common problems that lead to noticeable discoloration include not having water line tiles and flawed plastering during installation. Frequent pauses when filling the pool can also lead to discoloration.
Gunite Pool Repair Methods
How you go about repairing your gunite pool will depend on what problem you have. Some common techniques for repairing gunite pools include the following:
- Acid washing
- Plumbing repairs
Replastering is highly effective for poos problems such as rough pool surfaces, flaking plaster and surface cracks. Acid wash may be used to fix an overly rough pool surface, as calcium deposits might contribute to this issue in many cases. Plumbing repairs can take a very long time, often requiring pool repair specialists to remove large parts of the pavement or concrete poolside to gain access to the plumbing leak.
A lot of gunite pool problems can be prevented by proper pool maintenance, maintaining an optimal pool pH and proper installation methods.
Fixing a Pool Shell Crack
Cracks that are deeper than the plaster surface of the pool require more intensive repair than most other issues. Assuming the crack is still reasonably small, fixing it is still a relatively simple process.
First, pool repair specialists will use a grinder or drill to widen the crack before filling it. Next, the crack must be cleaned out properly. Pool plaster will then be used to fill the crack up. Once the crack is fixed, it’s usually covered with a plastic cover and the pool can be filled up immediately after repairs are done.
In the most extreme cases, a concrete pool might crack in half. When this happens, extreme pool repair is necessary. Pool repair specialists will use either steel or carbon fiber pool staples to keep the two halves together. The pool staples are shaped like regular ones, only much larger. They are installed at approximately every foot.
First, the surface of the concrete is cut out to create an indented rectangular shape to fit the staples, then holes are drilled to fit each side of the pool staple after which it’s installed in place. The indented rectangles are then covered with pool plaster and the rest of the repair process is similar to that of fixing a more moderate crack.
Another common crack repair technique is to fill the crack using a special epoxy sealant. The advantage of this method is that the filler is ejected into the crack at a high pressure, so it fills the crack all the way through instead of only sealing off the surface.
Gunite Pool Maintenance Tips
Proper maintenance of a gunite pool can go a long way if you’re trying to prevent problems. Here are some pointers to help your stay on top of your pool maintenance:
- Regularly clean debris from your pool
- Check filter and clean out the debris
- Maintain a proper pH and chemical balance
- Allow your pump to run daily
- Acid wash your pool when the water becomes murky and full of algae growth
Most pools need an acid wash approximately every 5-7 years, so keep that in mind when deciding whether you’ll acid wash your pool. When your pool needs an acid wash, the water will typically be murky with a greenish or blackish appearance.
Why Choose Concrete Pools?
With so many problems, you might wonder why even choose a concrete pool to begin with. Gunite pools are high on maintenance and can encounter a lot of problems. Most gunite pools require more chemicals to stay clean and maintenance is costly.
One the flip side, they’re shortcrete pools quite durable and offer almost endless design possibilities. If you want to construct a pool to accommodate the exact measurements of your backyard, gunite can make your ideas a reality.
Another benefit is that concrete pools don’t have to be plastered and painted. They can also be tiled out – although this option is usually more expensive. A lot of the common problems with gunite pools has more to do with the plaster than the pool itself, so using the right tiles can prevent some issues from developing to begin with.
Gunite pools don’t have an expiry date, while pools will need major maintenance and repairs every approximately every 10-15 years, they can last longer than a lifetime, making them the perfect choice for public spaces, such as hotels and gyms.
So, while gunite pools are more pricey to install and maintain, they pay their own worth in superior design choices and extended lifespans.