Filling in an old swimming pool


I don’t usually do landscaping. But, a long term remodling project of mine is giving me the job anyways. I’ll either find out how to do it or hire it out. (After 2 years, I have the place almost totally redone. I’m redoing the kitchen next month and that pretty much finishes the home itself. She bought it for $24 worth of beads and I’ve been piecing it together as she has the money available.)

Anyways, the pool is in the backyard and the whole yard is basically a mess. I’ll be removing a dying tree (I’ve done that before) and building a shed for her, too. The pool is small, about 10x16’, 6’ deep at the most and hasn’t been an asset to the property. It’s positioned wrong, is too small, and she just hates it altogether.

So, she wants it gone. It has that funky membrane instead of tile over the concrete of the pool itself, and the concrete extends about 5’ all around the pool. Yes, it’s a built in the ground pool, not some above ground buried conversion. It’s about 100’ away from the house (huge yard).

Non incorporated area, btw, just outside the city, so I have quite a lot of free reign as to exactly how to go about this. I’ll check in to what demo permits may still be needed before proceeding, as usual, and call the underground utes finder people. I won’t be taking chances with either the law or safety.

I was considering removing the membrane, disconnecting the power (of course), and breaking up all the concrete, leaving the debris in the hole and then filling in with gravel and dirt. Her BIL has a Bobcat he promised availability for the earth moving, and he has tonnes (literally) of dirt available from his old farm. I would have to rent a jackhammer.

Some questions: How would simply breaking it up and filling it in affect drainage? Would it become a messy mud pit? Should I remove the debris instead of burying it? All dirt or a mix of rock, gravel, and dirt? Any big things I’m overlooking here? Ideas?

Please, no guesses. I can guess. Either experience in doing it or having it done, or some qualified input from anyone in the know.

And, as I said at the start, if it’s not a good idea to handle it myself, I’ll shop around through my contracting contacts for someone else to do it. I’ve been in construction/remodling for a couple of decades now, so I am very capable of quite a few things, including concrete work and rough plumbing.

Thanks in advance for y’all’s input.

The funky membrane sounds like a vinyl liner.

Easier to clean, but, if damaged, can be a royal pain in the ass.

Yeah, the liner :smack: * is damaged. I had a pool company come out to clean it when she bought the place and they pointed out the damage and wanted a bucket of money to replace it. She didn’t like the pool in the first place and was talking about filling it in before even buying the place.

*I had never seen a vinyl liner in a real pool before. Everything around here is tiled.

I think I’d get a contractor. And unless the fill is compacted beyond what I’ve seen in other cases, expect to have to put in additional fill in a couple of years.

When I bought my house, I noticed a very wet, squishy back yard. It hadn’t rained in quite a while. Normally drainage is very good here. I was with the the guy doing the engineering home inspection and I asked him about it. He asked if there was ever a swimming pool here. He said that if you had to break through the bottom to provide drainage. If you didn’t , the pool would fill up with water and in essence become an underground swimming pool full of water and muck. It turned out that an old pool was not the problem- but makes perfect sense to me that this could happen

One person asking this question received this advice

I, of course, am a barely competent DIY-er, but this seems sound to me.

You don’t mention what the pool is made of, what it looks like now as far as water level, where the pool is in relation to groundwater, or whether there are other drainage issues here, but that will affect the answer. In-ground pools may be made of packed sand or some type of concrete, such as a vermiculite mix. These materials may vary considerably in porosity, with vermiculite being generally more porous. You should not assume that the bottom is constructed of the same material as the sides and/or aprons.

Since the liner is no good, if there is water in the pool now it may reflect the water table, not necessarily a lack of infiltration. This would be obvious, if not intuitive, if the level of water in the pool returns to “normal” quickly following a good rain.

I only point this out because you sure as hell don’t want to spend any more time than you have to breaking up the bottom. In my experience, Jack-hammering is fun for the first five miutes then it is pure hell. You’re also trying to get that thing back to the rental place before you have to pay for an extra day.

Assuming you’ve verified that the liner is totally bad and the pool still actually holds water, you could test it, similar to a perc test, by filling the pool with water (or at least trying to) once you feel you’ve made enough holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. Soil around and beneath the pool will be compacted, and this could affect how much you need to break up the bottom to achieve the necessary infiltration rate.

Aside from that, the advice given by Nametag’s link is good. Definitely use at least one layer of fabric to keep the fines intact.

Good luck!

As long as you break up the existing pool base (a breaker point attachment to a Bobcat or other skidsteer is handy), that shouldn’t interfere with drainage. Add fill in short lifts and run a jumping jack over them to minimize settling.

About half of all pools are filled in within the first 5 years. I once lived next to folks who sold theirs to the next door neighbor. They filled in the old one with the dirt from the new one.

By the way, if you’re gonna get rid of the old sofa, this might be a good time. :stuck_out_tongue: