How to Know When a Concrete Pool Deck Needs Replacement

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For years, your concrete pool has stood up to regular use and changes of the seasons. But now, it’s begun to show some visible signs of wear and tear. Up to a certain point, the damage you notice may have no practical effect. However, over time, your deck may develop issues that call for professional concrete repair or replacement. Let’s look more closely at this issue and identify the serious problems that can make replacement a preferred scenario.

Cracked Concrete

Almost any concrete surface exposed to the elements will eventually start to crack. In colder climates, cracking tends to be the result of natural freeze/thaw cycles. In the warmer weather of Southern California, cracks in concrete pool decks typically have other sources. A short list of possible scenarios includes:

  • Improper mixing or pouring of the concrete during installation
  • Use of substandard concrete
  • Instability in the soil under the deck
  • Infiltration of nearby tree roots (especially common with fast-growing tree species)

As a rule, small, isolated cracks in poolside concrete don’t cause any major problems. You can address them with a concrete sealer that prevents further cracking (sealers also have the added advantage of keeping moisture out). However, you’ll need to consider a more extensive solution for larger cracks. The same rule applies for cracking that affects multiple parts of your pool deck.

Improper Deck Draining

A properly installed concrete deck should slope away from your pool at a grade of at least 2 percent. This degree of slope is required to allow for proper drainage of any water. If you notice puddles that remain on your deck hours after you swim or experience rain, suspect a drainage problem. Puddles on an intact concrete surface won’t cause any structural damage. However, the presence of standing water can potentially worsen existing cracks. And even on crack-free surfaces, frequent puddling encourages the growth of mold and algae. In turn, these tiny invaders can leave your decking discolored. They can also create a severe slipping hazard.

Lack of an adequate deck slope can sometimes be traced all the way back to deck installation. In this scenario, it occurs when the installers fail to create a sufficient slope while smoothing out the deck surface. Poor draining can also stem from decking that settles when unstable soil shifts under the concrete.

In combination with cracking, improper draining can also lead to damage in your pool itself. This happens when water seeping through large cracks builds up behind the pool’s walls. Pressure from this buildup can lead to significant shifting of the soil. This shifting can then trigger cracking in the main pool structure. It can also lead to leaking caused by cracks in the vinyl pool liner.

Is Repair an Option?

In many cases, you can deal with cracks in your deck through repair, not a replacement. Ambitious do-it-yourselfers may decide to undertake this task on their own. However, to ensure good results, it’s best to leave major crack repairs to the experts. A professional can either patch individual cracks or resurface the entire deck.

A reliable concrete expert can also potentially repair a deck with an improper slope. This process, known as mudjacking or slab jacking, requires the use of multiple specialized tools. It also requires plenty of hands-on experience.

When to Choose Replacement Over Repair

Sometimes, it makes more long-term sense to replace a damaged concrete pool deck. This is especially true if you have cracking and/or slope-related issues triggered by problems in the underlying soil. Replacement of the existing concrete gives the technicians you hire the chance to correct these problems. That way, you can avoid any repeated episodes of cracking or puddling.

The first step in replacement is removal of the decking now in place. After any required corrections are made, a new deck is then poured and graded. In the end, you’ll have a properly installed surface that stands up to the heaviest use for years to come.

With this information in mind, you’ll be able to make a quick assessment of your current deck’s condition. This will allow you to estimate the true extent of any issues you notice. It will also help you decide when it’s time to give a call to your local concrete experts. These seasoned technicians can provide you with a professional opinion on how best to proceed. They can also perform any required repairs or concrete replacement. Instead of waiting until the damage grows worse, you can take effective action today.