The Problem with One Piece Fiberglass In Ground Pools

The one piece fiberglass pool is becoming more popular each year, but I think that there are some things that you should know before having one of them installed in your backyard.  The following are aspects of the one piece fiberglass pool that they don’t want you to know.

– The Structure – 

As water is drained, the pressure outside the pool causes the pool wall to cave in

This is an aspect that I feel often gets overlooked, unless of course you are an installer in which case you are probable well aware of it.  Being that they are made of fiberglass, they have some flex to them and they are not a self supportive structure.  If fact if you have one of these pools, you may have noticed that during the build the builder was filling the pool with water as they were backfilling the pool.  The reason they do this is to equalize the pressure.  Many people don’t even think about the fact that the water in the pool weighs a tremendous amount.  That weight pushes out against the sides of the pool, and if there is nothing around the pool to support the weight of the water in it then you could potentially face the very real potential for the pool walls to collapse, causing irreparable damage to the structure.  On the other hand If the pool were to be backfilled without any water in it, then it could collapse in on itself or at the very least not hold its shape.  Either way it is something that should be considered during the installation process.  The best way to avoid this issue is to backfill the pool and add water at the same rate.  This will help prevent the structure from failing.

– Limited Sizes and shapes – 

As the name suggests, this type of pool is made entirely out of one piece of material.  This type of pool is molded in a factory somewhere.  This means that the size of pools available is limited to the amount of space available in the factory.  The shape of the pool is also limited to the molds that the factory has to work with.  This basically means that there is no customization.  You choose from what is available and that is that.  It is essentially a cookie cutter process.  The factory produces these pools over and over again.  You will not get to add your personal touch and design tastes to the pool.  You get what you get and that may also be what your neighbor has.  If you are looking to get a large extravagant pool then you may want to consider going a different route because even the largest one piece fiberglass pool is still relatively small.

– Don’t dare drain the pool –

This comes back to the issue with structural integrity.  Some say that there would never be any reason to drain this type of pool, but I strongly disagree.  There is always the potential for something to happen where the repair would require that the pool be drained.  For instance, what if there is a leak at the main drain, or a crack shows up on the bottom.  There are also situations that could cause the pool to lose water unintentionally.  Perhaps your filter cracks and you lose the majority of the water through it.  This has happened in the past.  A family left their home for a few days and upon their return they saw a mess in their backyard.  The pool had lost water from the plumbing failing at the filter pad.  As a result their pool popped out of the ground which in turn destroyed the concrete around it.  In my opinion that is the worst case scenario.  Another thing that could have happened stems back to the difference of pressure.  When the pool drains the pressure inside the pool becomes less and less, and the pressure outside the pool stays the same.  This could lead to the collapsing of the walls of the pool.  In the case I just mentioned the pressure from ground water under the pool was great enough to force the pool out of the ground.  Without the weight of the water inside the pool there was nothing holding it down.

– Problems with the finish – 

Blemish remains after repair is made

As I said before these pools are made primarily of fiberglass that is eventually coated with a smooth gel coat finish.  One issue that I have heard of is that this finish is susceptible to fading, leaving behind an eye soar.  If that were to happen on the bottom, then there is yet another reason the pool would need to be drained.  From what I have come to find out this type of repair is not cheap, and in many cases does not last.

– Location Location Location – 

I have built some pools in some pretty isolated or hard to get to locations.  This leaves me wondering how a one piece fiberglass pool would be delivered to a similar location.  Typically these pools are brought in on the back of a semi truck and crane lifted around the house or in some cases over the house to the back yard.  So from that alone I can’t imagine that having one delivered would be cheap. So how much would it be to have one delivered to a place where a semi truck can’t gain access to? How would they even get it there then?  I once attended a series of training seminars at a company that manufactures one piece fiberglass pools.  This question was brought up at that meeting.

We were told that this company in particular could deliver the pools a number of ways including by helicopter and boat.  So now you have to pay for helicopter delivery?  $$CHA-CHING$$  So all that being said, the location of the install and the amount of money the customer is willing to spend plays a huge role in the practicality of this pool.

These are some of the issues associated with one piece fiberglass pools.  Some say that there is no way that they will pop out of the ground,  some say that there will never be any reason to drain the pool, and some even say that they are structurally sound.  However the old adage remains true.  A picture is worth 1000 words.  All the pictures shown in this post suggest that they do in fact pop out of the ground, they are not structurally sound, and they are not the easiest pools to work with in general.

For more information on in ground swimming pools, specifically vinyl liner in ground pools check out my other blog posts.