Coleman Pool Installation Problems
by Kaisa Kynaston
Full view, unicorn is on the high end.
I recently purchased my first pool, a Coleman Sierra Vista 2 18' x 48" porthole window pool. I've spent all summer prepping this foundation by myself. It took longer than I anticipated which I guess is normal. But since I don't have a truck I spent the time cutting the grass, knocking off the dirt and using my recycle green garbage can. After six or seven weeks of filling the garbage can, the next step was to dig out the excess dirt around the area where the pool cuts into the small hill in my yard. While digging out the grass I had already gone down about three or four inches removing as much of the rocks and tree roots as I possibly could. But with my fibromyalgia I knew I couldn't dig and manipulate the dirt by myself.
At this point I hired a couple of men who do this stuff regularly and who had done pools before. When they arrived I asked them which was better a to dig out the dirt from the hill at the highest point down to the lowest point (which is my preferred method and the way I planned on doing it all along) or two, to move the dirt from the highest point to the lowest point, building up the foundation as my family and I had attempted to start doing the night before? The men said this would be the best way. I think they meant it would be the easiest way. My being tired of the project and wanting to get it done so I could actually enjoy the pool before it got too cold I gave them the go ahead to start. Looking back I think that was mistake number one, I should have gone with my original plan.
Once the men finished the basics and started the leveling I completed it off and on throughout the next day, sprinkling it and letting it settle multiple times. Once I was confident that it was fairly firm I started bringing my sand over and leveling it, repeating the sprinkling and settling process.
The day I intended to set up the pool I noticed the four baby skunks that live under my shed had decided to investigate the sand. I didn't mind the cute little footprints even though they sunk down and ruined my perfectly leveled ground, but I did mind the few places where they decided to stop drop and roll to investigate. I sprinkled some of my remaining sand over the area and continue to level until I felt it was close enough to level as before.
Here comes my second mistake. Not sprinkling it and letting it sit a little longer to make sure it was settled, whether or not this would have made much of a difference I'm not sure but I believe it may have helped. But since I was eager to get it done and I planned on spending the day setting up and filling the pool so we could hopefully swim the next day, I decided to go ahead. While my ex-husband was at the house I had him help me carry over the pool so I could roll it out and begin setting it up. Otherwise I would have had to have dragged it over myself doing the best I could not to mess up my sand and my leveling which would have been impossible. As I mentioned I believe this may have been mistake number two.
Up to this point I feel I did everything right I still don't think I did anything too wrong but I definitely could have done things better and different. I completed the setup of the pool and started the filling process. As l watched the pool fill, I noticed that it wasn't as level as I first thought, there was about a 2-inch or so difference maybe 3-inches at the most dipping from the hill. It didn't look to be too much of an issue so I continued to let it fill. All was good until about 10 hours later when the water reached above the outlet valve. That's when I learned that I had a leak around the valve. First I learned that I didn't put it on correctly, once I put it on correctly I learned that I was missing a gasket and it was continually streaming down the outside and into my foundation.
I made a quick jump over to Lowe's to get a new gasket and some plumbers tape. I didn't realize it before I went to Lowe's but I didn't have a plug for that particular outlet. So I spent at least a half an hour or more trying to hold the tube in place while placing the gasket and wrapping plumbers tape around the threads while water was gushing out onto my chest and down into the foundation of the pool. This is what sucks about doing projects alone. Once this leak was sufficiently taken care of I discovered another leak around my chlorinator outtake valve. Luckily I just needed to replace that gasket and added plumbers tape for extra security. All set ready to go, pools looking good... Except now more of the foundation had been washed away and or sunk farther
on the side where it was already a tiny bit low.
I walked around the frame making sure all legs were in place and everything was straight. Everything looked good, there were a few that were leaning a tiny bit but not too much, I figured I would continue to watch it. Obviously by now you figured out my mistake number three which at this point still hadn't occurred to me because it was never in my original plans, it just didn't pop in my head. I did not put up a retaining wall around the foundation since we built it above ground.
Within 24 hours of having the pool completely filled and after the leak fiasco my pool is leaning downhill. The poles are all straight but they are at an angle in some areas and higher in other areas. I've looked at it and checked it, there's some bulges, nothing serious since I figure there's only a little over a month left of potential swimming days left. I may need to take down the whole pool, sigh, this is me crying. My whole intent this whole time taking all this time to do everything perfect in the right way is so I could have it all set up correctly and not have to worry about it again for a while. I even started with the salt water system from the beginning even though it costs more to start up. Bottom line is I did my best to do it right from the beginning. The idea of draining the pool and losing all the startup money I put into it with the cost of the water, salt and chemicals to balance everything out, just makes me sick. For now I've just decided to take it easy and be extra careful around the areas where the pool is leaning and slightly bulging for the next month and a half at most that we have left for the swimming season.
With my original intent being to dig out the ground and level it to ground level. Install plastic landscape dividers to edge the 20 ft area with the 18-ft pool centered inside. Placing pavers down for my stair and entry system and two hold my pump and chlorinator. Between the edging and the pool I have rubber mulch to be placed down in between. After raising the foundation I thought this might still be something that would work, but it won't substitute as a retaining wall.
When the season's over I'll drain and clean the pool then have people help me lift it off the foundation and onto the grass so I can repair the foundation.
So I have two options to do this. The first is not something I relish in doing given all the money and time I've already put into this foundation, but is to remove all of the sand and the excess dirt and go back to my original plan digging down and making a more stable foundation. The second option is moving as much of the sand to the high side as possible repairing the low side by bringing in more dirt clay mud whatever to use as filler and building up the foundation. Then building a retaining wall around 75-90% of the pool (which has the raised foundation) in order to secure it in place. At the same time I'll add my planned pavers and additional pavers to the area where the legs will sit. My intention would be to complete this before the winter months and place the pool back on top along with a partial amount of water and winterizing the pool so when spring comes it's ready to go and just be opened up. This will give the winter to help the ground settle and the foundation to firm up more. Or take the pool down and find a place to store everything without lugging it all the way through my house and still letting the winter firm up the foundation and setting the whole thing up again from scratch in the spring.
I know this was a long and drawn out story, but I gave as much detail as possible because I would like some legitimate input on what you guys think I should do. As I mentioned before I was doing my best to do it right the first time and I still consider this part of the first time. I don't have to do this again year after year cuz I was too lazy to do it right the first time. Any tips or suggestions are welcome, but please be nice and remember this is my first time. I've done it all by myself with the exception of the few people helping me with small parts. So overall, I'm pretty damn proud of myself even though I hurt all over and every time I look at my pool and see it swaying more and more my heart sinks and I feel sick but I know it can be fixed.Hi Kaisa
It looks like you did just about everything right. We laser level the sand as close to perfect as possible, add a little water to the pool while smoothing out any wrinkles, and then laser level a patio block under each post.