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How Level Should A Fiberglass Pool Be?

By: Jason Hughes on March 7th, 2011

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How Level Should A Fiberglass Pool Be?

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This is a great question!....and one that needs addressing.

The first thing that any potential fiberglass pool owner needs to is this:

Your pool will not be perfectly level.

I’m sure you probably have a lot of questions about this...that’s great, because we’ll try to answer them all here.  We have his conversation with every single customer before the project begins, so we thought we’d have it with you too.

Questions About Fiberglass Pool Level

Why Aren’t Fiberglass Pools Perfectly Level?

Have you ever seen someone try to level a pool table?....it’s dang tough, and those things are only about 8’ long and extremely rigid.  Imagine trying to level a 30’-40’ structure that twists, bends, and flexes like crazy.  To take this huge malleable vessel, set it in a hole, backfill it, and fill it with thousands of gallons of water, and have it turn out perfectly level is not within the realm of possibility (well, maybe one in a thousand).  When it comes to leveling a fiberglass pool, we’re shooting for an acceptable tolerance, not perfection. 

 

What is the Acceptable range?  How Out of Level can a Fiberglass Pool Be?

The industry standard states that a pool can be up to 1” out of level in 40’.  At River Pools and Spas, we shoot for ½” or less.  Sometimes we do far better, but occasionally we fall short….just trying to keep it real:)

There’s some common logic that comes into play here as well.  For example, if you have a pool that’s out of level, let’s say ¾”, you have to consider where the high and low spots are on the pool, and from what angle people will be looking at the pool.  If the main patio is on the shallow end of the pool (where people congregate), and there’s ¾” difference between the two deep end corners, that will be far more conspicuous than if the ¾” difference is between opposite corners on the deep/shallow ends.  It’s a matter of perspective.  All that being said, the pool can be out ¾” anywhere and still be well within industry standards. 

 

What Factors Impact The Level of a Fiberglass Pool?

There are two factors that impact the levelness of a fiberglass pool.

1.        The Mold the Pool was built from-  Some pools are just build out of level….some are build waaaaaay out of level.  It’s not uncommon to receive pools from certain manufacturers that are as much as 2 ½” out of level from what their specs show.  At that point it’s up to the installers to just do the best they can.  Frankly speaking, to get some pools within the 1” standard requires a miracle, but hey, we pool guys just do the best we can.  In contrast, some pool designs are dead on, like within a ¼” or so….those make for a good day on the job site!

2.       The Installer- By and large, it IS very possible to level most fiberglass pools within the 1” standard.  This is where the experience and attention to detail of the installer comes into play.  There are two key points to leveling a fiberglass pool: the initial set, and leveling as the pool as it’s filled with water.  The pivotal point of leveling is the initial set.  Although minor leveling adjustments can be made during the backfilling process, the bottom of the pool really needs to be right from jump.  Monitoring the pool level during the backfilling/water filling process is also imperative to insure the weight of the water doesn’t alter the level of the pool in a way the installer doesn’t want.

 

What are the Consequences of a Fiberglass Pool Being out of Level?

This is a very complicated question because there are many variables that influence exactly how the problem will affect the pool…..but I’ll give it a whirl.

Any time a pool is more than an inch out of level the questions need to be asked…Why and How?

If it was just a ‘bad set’ or if the pool mold was way out, and the rest of the installation went ok, then the pool will probably be fine.  If the pool moved, shifted, or settled at any point during or after the initial installation, then there could be major implications like structural damage to the pool.  If the pool has any abrupt changes in level, i.e. one place that ‘humps up’ or drops down, the pool could be twisted or manipulated in a way that could cause structural damage.  These statements apply to pools that are less than 2” out of level….anything over that’s a different ball game.  And like I said, there are many variables, so each pool needs to be considered independently. 

If there’s no concern for structural damage, the only other real consequence to a fiberglass pool being out of level is aesthetics.  But by and large, the average person cannot see a ¾” or even a 1” difference in pool level. 

 

What Options are there to Remedy an Out of Level Fiberglass Pool?

If the pool appears to be structurally sound and the parties involved don’t want to go through hassle of re-setting the pool, there is something you can do to mask the issue.

If you’re fortunate enough to address this before the concrete patio has been poured, waterline tile can be installed level with the water in the pool.  This will hide the discrepancy in level and is really the best solution.  If the deck has been poured, unfortunately there aren’t many options for you with the exception of removing the concrete, installing the tile, and re-pouring it.   

Well, there you go!...more than you could possibly want to know about the level of a fiberglass pool.  If you have other questions, or if there’ something I forgot to address in this post, please leave a comment below.

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