As many of you already know, swimming pool masonry and winters in the Northeast don’t mix well. We spend a good portion of June and all of July repairing frost damage to both the tile and coping on your pools. There are some preventative measures that can be taken to minimize damage, but first, let me explain why tile and coping are so susceptible to problems. Although it would seem that the water in the pool would generate the breakage we see in our tile line, it is not the culprit here. Wherever we see tile coming off the pool perimeter, ninety-eight percent of the time we’ll find loose coping above those areas. First the mortar bed underneath the coping begins to deteriorate over time. As water works its way through the broken down bed and freezes, it gradually lifts the stone. The water then works its way down the mesh backing that is still on the tile embedded in its mortar bed. As it freezes it pops the tile. It’s water from outside the pool working its way down through deteriorated mortar that is real problem here. One obvious preventive measure we can take here is to walk around our pool perimeter and tap each coping stone. If there is a solid sound, that’s a solid stone. If it sounds hollow, then it needs to be lifted and reset. Make sure the caulking at the pool perimeter between the coping and the deck is in relatively good shape and you should be as set for winter as you can be in the pool area.
Damage to Spa Walls
Spa walls are a different animal altogether. There is absolutely no way to prevent damage to spa walls. Attached spas are a concept that originated in the south and southwest where there is obviously little to no frost, so there was never an issue with these troublesome walls. I can honestly say that fifty percent of all of our pools that have attached spas lose the tile at spillway and the top of the wall at least every other year, some every year. The wall in question is surrounded by water and bathed in humidity all winter. The water finds its way into imperfections and micro-cracks and permeates the masonry. When it freezes it expands and again we have tile damage. This is something most of you have learned to live with. We, at Advance, have tried a number of preventative measures. None have been wholly successful, but we’ve found that putting cap stones instead of tile on top of the wall minimizes damage.
As we head into another winterizing season, think about checking your coping and your caulk joint so the season of 2013 will be free of masonry repairs.