Robert Lamoureux | Potential pool problems; patio magic

Robert Lamoureux
Robert Lamoureux

Question No. 1 

Hi Robert, 

I live in Stevenson Ranch, where we have a pool that is approximately 4 years old. The concrete around it is lifting, so we thought we had a leak. We called in a leak detection company, but they are telling us that there are no leaks present. I don’t understand — the concrete is lifting, and the caulking between the concrete and the stone looks like it is literally ripping out of there. I am really perplexed but hopeful that you may be able to shed some light on this. I have called the pool company, but, of course, they don’t call back. Do you have any experience with this and, if so, what could it be? 

— Paul M. 

Answer No. 1 

Hi Paul, 

I can bet that this is due to expansive soil, which is very common here in Santa Clarita. This is when the soil has heavy clay and becomes wet from natural groundwaters, it expands and is heavier and stronger than the concrete so can move it, which is of course, upward. 

The caulking you’re referring to is Dek-O-Seal, a two-stage epoxy that is the necessary separation between the two different materials — the coping, which is the stone you referred to, and the concrete deck. It allows the two different materials to flex as necessary, without damaging either. 

I’d get back in touch with the pool contractor who did the install and see what they may be willing to do to help you out on this. The affected area needs to be saw cut and demolished, and there are measures that can be taken to remedy this prior to a new pour. 

Good luck with this, I know it can be frustrating. Hopefully the original company will be willing to at least help with the fix. 

— Robert

Question No. 2 

Hi Robert, 

With the overnight freeze we just had, I ended up with a broken pipe under my patio deck. It’s an irrigation line, which was, lucky enough, on a line that we had a shut-off valve on. We exercised that valve and shut off the irrigation, so we were able to stop a bigger mess from happening. 

Our patio is huge, and I’m not certain where the break is, I only know where the water is coming out but I am also aware that that isn’t necessarily right where the break is. 

How do I figure out where in the line the break is, without busting up the whole patio? Is there a way to do this? 

If I have to cut the patio, OK, but I’d rather be more conservative about it and not ruin the whole thing if I can troubleshoot it another way. 

— Fred M.

Answer No. 2 

Hi Fred, 

Yes, there is some magic out there that can possibly help save the patio, at least during troubleshooting. The findings may say that the patio needs some demo, but keep in mind that there are often other options, possibly going around the patio though digging would still be necessary. 

I can recommend a local leak-detection company, if you wish. They’re local and design their own equipment. I work with them often and highly value their skills. What they’ll do is pressurize the line with gas and, with their sound equipment, they can actually locate the source of the leak. 

Of course, if you are aware of the location/direction of the lines, this is valuable information for them. But, even without that, they can do the job well. 

Once they determine the source, instead of demo the entire patio, you can, as an alternative, saw-cut the necessary area for repair and then do a spot repair. It will be visible, of course, but if this is something you can live with, then it can be a huge savings, depending on the size of your patio. 

Another option for aesthetics following a spot repair is to do an overlay of a decking system to your patio. It can be a nice, finished look, even though there are seams underneath. 

Best of luck to you with this project.

— Robert

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].

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