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Project 505 underway in Southern California

The backyard pool at the San Clemente, Calif., home of former Service Industry News editor and publisher David Dickman is not a horrible sight, exactly. It just needs help. A lot of help. 

Suffering from leaks and serious damage to the plaster finish, the SIN team made contact with Bill Campbell, owner of County Leak Services, in Anaheim, Calif., as well as Alan Smith, of Alan Smith Pool Plastering, in Orange, Calif.

What emerged was a plan to repair and refinish Dickman’s disastrous swimming pool and deck, in what we’ve entitled Project 505.

Dickman’s pool sits atop a tall but unassuming hill overlooking the I-5 Freeway. The cracks in the pool mark the onset of the pool’s potential home on the highway.

Campbell began Phase 1 of the project with an investigation of the problem by hiring a civil engineer.

According to George Tindall, of Tindall Engineering in Corona Del Mar, the hill has what is called “slope creep,” a description of movement occurring deep in the ground. Though the hill is lush with tree and shrubs, such movement is far deeper than what vegetation could prevent.

The slope creep is literally pulling the pool in half. Tindall believes that while the pool was built to code by the standards of its time, 1978, it couldn’t have been positioned a worse location. The damage is not due to earthquakes, which generally result in cracks in pool corners. He found that the soil is relatively moist, indicating that the damage is also not related to drought conditions. 

The damage to the pool is from the natural soil movement of a declining slope, as it make its inexorable descent due to gravity.

The initial steps taken to restore the pool to its former beauty and integrity commenced over the first weekend in April. They began by draining the pool, a process that took three days. After washing away the debris on the walls and floor, they were able to locate the numerous cracks. 

Next, using a core sample drill, they obtained five core samples of the cracked plaster and cement, as well as the shallow and deep ends of the floor to determine the depth of the gunite.

Most of the samples revealed that the pool shell was cracked all the way through the cement.

The next step brought with it an $8,000 question. Would the shell need footers to prevent it from sinking?

To determine if the pool was sinking, they probed the holes created by the core samples taken from the shallow and deep end floor. 

Bad news: The shallow end was one inch lower than the deep end.

Needing footers requires a lot more work. It will require an additional $8,000 worth of work, in fact. 

According to Tindall, “There are four signs of soil movement in this yard: The stress and cracks in the masting material around the pool; the deck is slipping away from the pool down the hill; the pool is not level by one inch; and the cracks in the pool.

Campbell agrees with this assessment, noting that the proper placement of the rebar in the core samples is an indication of good workmanship.

Campbell’s next steps will include a full investigation of the plumbing to discover if there are also plumbing leaks, standard protocol when cracks are present.

Look forward to hearing about both Bill Campbell and Alan Smith’s work in future editions as we chronicle what it takes to both restore a pool and keep the traffic moving on the busy I-5.

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