Above Ground Pool Deep End Problem

by William
(Bonneau, SC)

Thanks for answering questions about pool installation. I have read every page here at least twice to make my install go smooth, but alas, I have a dilemma right out the gate.

I am installing a 16x32 above ground Doughboy pool in the ground about 30". It will have a deep end of about 6'. I had a friend come over with a backhoe and dig the hole 20'x40' to give me plenty of working room. I pointed out the depth and how important it was not to go to deep especially on the edges because I needed to set my buttresses on firm ground.

Well, the backhoe bucket had teeth on it that ripped the ground under it. The operator also went down about 3 1/2' in the middle all the way across. The hole looks horrible and is mostly clay. I live near the coast in SC. I need to clean the hole out and build up parts of it.

A friend of mine has installed many pools in his lifetime suggested removing the high areas and putting down a nice base of pea gravel to compress and build on.

He suggested pea gravel because it was rounded and wouldn't puncture the liner. I read the page on putting crusher run and how great that would work. Would the pea gravel work as good? If not, does the sand over the crusher run protect the liner from the sharp pointy edges of the crusher run?

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. One day after digging the hole it began to rain and has rained here ever day for three days. I almost have a swimming pool with out the pool. HA HA. Thanks for your help.

Unlevel in SC



Hi William, or Un-level in SC. My heart goes out to you, I know just where you are at. I can not count the number of times I have gone to do an install after a backhoe, or a bobcat, has dug the deep end and it is way to big. In many cases this was for pools being set in the ground with an expandable liner, like your situation.

I would tell my customers before hand. The hole needs to be three feet bigger than the pool all the way around, it seldom was. I would also tell them that if the operator wanted to take a couple of scoops out of the center that was fine, but no more, it would have to be hand done.

So, we get there and take measurements. We need thirty inches on each side of ledge to work with and we have maybe a foot. The deep part looks great, saved us a lot of hand work. The only problem is now we have to go outside the pool, shovel in several tons of dirt, shape it, water it, pack it, and then wait several days for it to set.

The only times a backhoe or a bobcat have ever done me any good is if I was operating them or if I was there telling them what to do. The operators normally do not have a clue. So, you are not alone, but you do have a problem.

Pea gravel might work for leveling top areas, but it would be my last choice. I would definitely not use it for filling in areas where the hole is too wide. Crushed granite or crusher run is much better for this. I will pack solid without shifting. The little stones are not a problem, the will get packed flat and then covered with sand.

I have a picture of one of daughters swimming in the deep end of one of our pools. The thing was it was just a mud hole. I started digging, the rains came, and she went swimming. I know just what you mean about almost having a pool.

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Apr 30, 2011
Unlevel in SC
by: William

Thanks for the help. I'll use crusher run instead of pea gravel. We've had several dry days lately and the bottom of the hole is beginning to reappear.

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