Doughboy Pool Cave In

We had a 16x32 ft. doughboy pool professionally installed in ground on a 11/2 ft. grade to skimmer end leaving 6 inches above ground on the high side. We took the excess dirt (hard clay) and built up around the pool, making an area of a 10ft. radius, leveling around the pool to within 6 inches from the top of the pool, leaving a 1 ft. gap for the backfill area around the entire pool.

Afterwards we installed a cement deck around the pool. Approximately 1 week later the pipe going from the skimmer to the sand filter came loose, causing water to flood the back fill area all the way around the pool. This in turn caused the backfill to push in the walls (32 ft. sides).

We're being told that the build up of the excess dirt around the pool caused the issues, but the worst collapse is on the side without any build-up. They have agreed to come and fix the pool itself but will not repair any damages to the cement or dirt work, leaving us with the clean up. We could not find anything on Doughboy web site stating not to level the entire area. The pool co. did not inform us that by doing this it could cause damages either. Our feeling is that had our ground been level to start with this problem would have still occurred. We are in need of some answers from someone not associated with the

pool co. or the sub-contractor he hired.

Hi. I like to see at least a foot of wall above the level of the dirt. The dirt should never be higher than the water level. The more water you have above the dirt the better. Anytime the dirt is higher than the water you run the risk of a cave in. This could happen due to a leak in the plumbing, the liner, or for any number of other reasons. There are risks involved in putting a pool in the ground.

Doughboy, at least they used to, recommends a slurry solution for backfill. It sets up similar to concrete and will not cave in the pool walls. It is, however, a rather expensive process.

I recommend a hard packed dirt and to always keep the water level above the dirt.

It sounds like the plumbing caused the problems and that might be the responsibility of the installers. But if the installers were not responsible for the backfill, they have a point in not wanting to handle all the repairs.

I would need more details as to exactly what was contracted by the installers and how much was done after they were done.

On my installations I make no guarantees at all for pools installed in the ground. The customer is responsible for having the hole dug and for backfilling. My job is basically the same as if I were installing the pool on top of the ground. My liability in this situation would be limited also.

Comments for Doughboy Pool Cave In

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Jul 20, 2010
Back Fill
by: Anonymous

First Thanks for your comments. The back fill was the pool builders? responsibility. We only added 1.5? of dirt to the skimmer end of the pool to make the area level for the slab/deck.

My main complaint is, if they had followed the Doughboy instructions we probably would not be having these problems. They did not use a slurry mixture, instead, they used dry dirt and Portland cement layered (never once mixing or wetting) that did not become firm before the water line parted flooding the area. The builder was responsible for everything except the slab, which was on us.

Hi. You are correct, had they used the slurry mixture you should not have had a cave in.

Jun 15, 2011
Joining this discussion...
by: Karen

I just now have found this site, and I am starting the task of reading each post. As I run across one that fits into a category where I have questions, I just thought I'd tag onto the previous posts.

I just bought an oval 14 X 24 Doughboy Pool. I, too, want to bury (sink) the pool. I have read all the pros and cons. (This is a used pool - 2 years, no worry with losing a warranty.)

I have run across a lot of different opinions regarding having the pool inset. MOST installers want to go traditional *above ground* I'm not sure if it is because they have little to no experience with "sinking" an above ground pool, just want the ease of a typical install, or if there really is valid reasons NOT to bury/sink the pool - to resemble an inground pool.

So, thus far I have this. A pool (again 13 X 24, Doughboy, Oval). I have 1-2 installers....obviously will choose ONE, soon. Now, that is what I, what I want... it to sink it fully. My husband suggested putting drain tiles around the perimeter of the pool to keep as much water away from the pool walls as possible. I have googled and looked at numerous FULLY SUNKEN pools. So, I scratch my head...knowing some do it (How well it works, I don't know). Some people bury it only partially..again, is there a big difference?

I don't plan on expecting this pool to last a lifetime. I, do, however, want it to look really nice while I have it...and have a decent life duration ahead of it. My Dad said that the steel actually is more likely to rust being above ground than under (isn't that most of the concern....other than collapsing?). Regarding collapsing, my husband also suggested to build a retaining wall around the perimeter of the reduce any stress the pool walls could encounter.

Does anyone know SOMEONE with a fully buried/sunken pool? If so, I'd love to know any problems, its lifeline..and of course - any helpful tips - as we are just in the planning phases and plans can change at this point.

Lastly, I want to buy the expandable liner. Has anyone used this? I would like to make my pool either a full 5' evenly...or 4'...and gradually go to 6/7'.

So, experts, let me know what you think. As mentioned, at this point, I am most concerned with the visual outcome of the pool (yes, I want it to work, too)....but no need to plan for 20 years of life. Would certainly be happy with 5-10. By then, hopefully I can afford a FULLY BUILT IN POOL.

I'd love any and all feedback. Tips, suggestions, etc.

Please respond if you can. Thanks so much!


(PS: 2am here now. Likely to find typos easier than a seek-n-find puzzle. Sorry in advance!)

Apr 22, 2014
Dough Boy Pool built into hill side
by: Anonymous

My Doughboy drained out all the way due to a torn liner after 10 years. The contractor I hired to put a new liner in for 800.00 said he would not recommend I put a pool in the ground unless a retaining wall is being used.

May 02, 2014
Back... and Update!
by: Anonymous

Okay, I posted regarding sinking/burying an doughboy pool (2011). The update is, the next season, for whatever reason, we lost water and WA-LAH, the pool walls collapsed. I should have went with my gut and not 'SUNK' so much money in the first attempt. After $$$$$$$$, a BIG MESS, concrete around the pool that had to be cut out, etc. to get the new pool walls in, I more than paid for a fully 'inground' pool TWICE.


From my perspective, it isn't live and learn with this project, is was $$$$$$$$$$$ and learn!

Happy Spring (and soon Summer) to all!

:) Karen

Dec 26, 2015
my experience
by: Anonymous

I have had my doughboy pool for over 10 years it is buried about half way in the ground. I back filled it myself with the dirt that was dug out and have never had a problem!!!

Sep 15, 2016
Inground Doughboy
by: Anonymous

I just got done putting in a 16x32 Doughboy inground. We used the Doughboy instructions and paid for slurry around the pool. I watched the concrete guys do the work, so know they went slowly and carefully. A couple of days later, I saw large bulges in the wall. Since I basically had to subcontract each phase of the pool, no one is going to take responsibility: least of all Doughboy. I think if we would have done a block retaining wall, it would have worked better, but then Doughboy would not have honored a warranty. Sooooooo, proceed at your own risk.

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