06 February, 2012

It's All Done... Till The Next Project

This latest project actually started as something, well, not small, but certainly, in my mind anyway, not major. We had a leak in the swimming pool just under the skimmer. Well, there was a crack above the skimmer as well, but being above water didn't amount to much other than cosmetics.
The Original Crack - Before Draining
I should digress for a bit here. This all started around the first of last week. We noticed the water level in the pool was slowly going down. There was no leak in the pump house, no spider gasket (a gasket on the filter) problem either. I had just replaced that in trying to trouble-shoot the cause. I had had problems before with the gasket before allowing water to leak out the back-flush setting. But, that wasn't the case here. We finally narrowed it down to either the skimmer was leaking or possibly the piping returning from the skimmer back to the pump house.

Carlos, having younger knees than me, was sent down the deck hatch to see if he could determine about where the leak was actually occurring. It took him about 10 seconds to find the source - right under the skimmer.

After a bit of head-scratching and hemming and hawing, about whether I had the skills and/or tools necessary to repair it, we decided to call John Harris, who built the pool in the first place for us about three or so years ago.

He came over within the hour, (this was on Monday) bringing Agusto, his foreman, with him. They checked it out, said it really wasn't that bad and we talked about some other minor dings and surface cracks we wanted to get fixed.
How Much of an Opening Do We Need?
A big question for us was timing, as we have some friends coming in about a week from the US and from the UK. John figured they could get started Wednesday morning.

So, about 7:15 AM, Wednesday morning, John and his crew showed up and started figuring how to open the deck to get positioned to fix the leak.
Opening Up The Deck
From there, things moved rather quickly. The deck was opened and they started digging around the base of the skimmer pipe.
Digging Around Skimmer
Here's a view of the skimmer and crack area. Work is already progressing on filling behind the skimmer with concrete. Draining the pool took about two hours.
The Original Crack Exposed
Wood forms appeared as if by magic and were soon in place and filled with concrete. Below, the woodwork of the deck is being re-installed.
Concrete Form Around Skimmer
Somewhere around this time, we were talking to John about our BBQ/Palapa area and what we wanted to do for a floor. He had done something similar to this at a neighbor's house, He took me over to see. It looked good to me and I knew Dianna would just love it.

 I could just visualize it with me doing the work. We would have been unprepared for such a project and I certainly wouldn't have considered attempting it right before our visitors from afar came.

John thought that he and his crew could be finished by Friday or Saturday with both the pool and the patio projects. And, I haven't mentioned that the pool project had grown by this time to include re-plastering the entire pool with Diamond Brite and raising the spa seat by four inches!

We talked some more. It really appealed to Dianna and me to have both parts done before our visitors showed up, if we could afford it. We talked with John about price and finally came up with a deal that made it very attractive to us, It was easy to say, "Go ahead."

So, now we had two large (for us) projects underway. Totally re-doing our pool surfaces, raising the spa seating four inches, patching cracks, and laying about one thousand square feet of concrete, staining it and stamping an old brick pattern into the barely wet concrete. All to be finished by Friday or Saturday.

Same number of guys and work commenced on both simultaneously. It got kind of intense for a while. A lot going on.

In no time, the crack under the skimmer was tackled. Using hydraulic cement (the package says you have about a fifteen minute working time. Three to four minutes is more like it. It sets and cures very fast, and continues to harden even under water.
Chiseling Out The Crack
Hydraulic Cement Patch Completed
Pretty soon John and Agusto were 'on the horn' with their cell phones and calling for supplies like additional bags of cement, steel Diamond Brite (which would arrive from San Pedro via the Thunderbolt). First thing I remember showing up was the concrete stamps. The heavy rubber mold pieces that gave us a very nice pattern
Stamps Showing Pattern
Right away, the crew began setting levels on the patio to gauge how thick the pour would be in various parts. It became evident right away that the area right around the door to the pump house was too low to be part of same pour. In other words it was going to have to be a step down from the patio level. But that created an additional problem. There would be no way for water collecting there to move anywhere except into the pump house itself. Not a good thing.

The thought was that a drain needed to be installed right there to handle that problem. Luckily, the backwash drain pipe runs right through that very area so it was easy to add a drain into the system.
Digging Out Drain Pipe
I had a spare 4" drain fixture, so with the addition of a couple of other fittings, we were on our way with that problem being solved.
Completed Drain Addition
So work continued at a steady pace on the pool and the patio. If it seems I jump around between the two, it just because that's how it was happening in real time. There was a lot going on.

Here's a shot of work just beginning on the spa seats - the first of the tile being removed. This was an ideal time for me to bring out my new air chisel, which I've had for months, but hadn't used yet. I bought it to bore a hole in the utility room wall to vent the water heater, but just hadn't gotten to it yet. It turned out to be a great tool for removing not only the tiles, but the Thinset under the tiles.
Removing Old Tile
Removing Last of the Seat Tile
Once all the old tile was knocked out, forms were set to add the additional four inches of concrete. Here the pour is in progress.
Filling Seat Form in Spa
As soon as the concrete set for the seat, the guys could begin setting the new tile in place. Naturally, Creative Tile in town didn't have the same 3" blue tile they had when we originally did the pool. They had 4" tile instead. So, you go with what you have. It looks fine. There's enough separation that it looks as though we had done it on purpose.
Tiling Layout Almost Done
Redone Seats Being Diamond Brited
And, here's the final result for the spa. During the Diamond Briting process, the spa jet adjustable outer bezels that control the amount of bubbles and velocity of water coming through them got cemented in place so that they no longer turned. I asked John to have his guys free those up for us.

A surprise result of that was, apparently, chiseling the bezels free must have knocked something inside the jets (there are three of them) loose that had been seized up before, virtually since we installed them during the pool construction. Now the jets work great where before, it was disappointing to say the least. Now the spa works like you'd expect - it's fantastic.

Part of the project was to re-Diamond Brite the whole pool - about 10 bags of Diamond Brite went into that.
Diamond Briting the Pool
This even included covering the concrete bit that holds the railing, making it all a unified piece.
Diamond Briting Rail Base
Of course, once it's done, then all the tile needed to be cleaned. Probably the slowest part of the project. Here's Dianna doing her part in the cleanup.
Dianna Helping Clean Tiles
A quick view of the completed Diamond Brite job.
Completed Spa
  As soon as it set, we started filling the pool - a nine-hour process.
Finally Adding Water
 Here you can see just how well the jets function. Sometimes 'hitting something upside the head with a 2x4' works wonders.
The Jets Are Perfect
By now, John's crew has covered the patio area with plastic sheeting, laid 1/4" steel all around (to help keep the concrete from cracking).
Plastic Sheeting and Tying Steel
Now the pour commences. It's a big pour and was done in two parts. This was necessary because of the way the concrete stamping has to be done. It's critical that the concrete not be too soft to stamp nor can it be too firm.
First Barrow-Load Being Poured
Here you can see the first part of the pour coming along nicely. The whole patio consumed 56 bags of cement. It's funny. With just the dirt surface, the patio didn't seem all that large. Once it's all covered with concrete, it seems huge.
First Half Pour Well Underway
And now, here the first half pour is completed. It still takes some time before the stamping can begin as the concrete needs to set up fairly firmly to be successful.
First Half Pour Completed
And here, looking through the palm fronds, the stamping process has begun. First the powdered concrete dye is cast over the concrete.
Spreading Dye
 The dye as well as the release agent are both powders, about the consistency of talcum powder. Here's John stirring some dye to do away with any clumps before it's cast over the concrete.
John Stirring Up The Dye
Then, a mold release agent, which is impervious to water, is added. Otherwise, when the stamps are applied, when you remove them, there'd be bits of concrete sticking to the stamps, completely ruining the effect you want.
Adding Release Agent
The stamp, a large heavy rubberish (silicone?) thing with handles, is applied, walked on to set the design and then after the dye and release agent is applied for the next stamp, it can be pulled back out and reused.
Placing First Stamp
As you might guess, there's a fair amount of technique involved to achieving an even coat of the dye and the release agent. As they say...
It's All In The Wrist
 Below, you can see the design imprinted into the concrete.
Showing the Pattern
And here you get an idea of how it progresses through the whole area.
Whole Lotta Stamping Going On

Around 11:00 AM or so, the process developed a glitch. Agusto had gone to Orange Walk to pick up more dye and release agent. The store there was slow with the goods. Consequently, he was delayed getting back to Corozal.

With the critical nature of the project timing as far as the concrete hardening, the inevitable happened. the last bit of the first pour hardened off too much by the time he got back. It had to be chipped out and disposed of. More concrete then had to be mixed and poured. With the time necessary for it to harden to the proper consistency, the guys day just became that much longer.
A Minor Glitch
In the end, the repair job was successful. It's near impossible to tell where the concrete was removed and replaced.

I had mentioned the difference in heights between the patio proper and the immediate entry area of the pump house. This photo shows how that was handled and shows the drain in place.
Pump House Entry and Drain
Here's a couple of shots showing the very last of the stamping process.
Almost Done
Applying Last Stamp
Now, it's all done, with the exception of for Saturday morning, a couple of workers will return to paint a final coat of the dye over the entire surface to give it a uniform color. This will wear and give a weathered look, but it will all start out evenly.
The stamping is all done
The painted application has begun. It'll take them about three hours to paint the whole thing.
Painting On Second Dye Coat
They're almost done with the painting part of the project.
Painting Dye Almost Done
The job is finished. John will return on Monday to pick up leftover bits and pieces and that the end of the project.
Second Dye Coat Done
Sunday, the pool was full. We had let Huey run over night. The water was crystal clear and 80 degrees. Dianna and I spent several hours in the pool. We've used the patio. It works as advertised.

We've sat in the spa and enjoyed the invigorating massage. Everything has come together. We love it!

Interestingly, none of the dogs would go onto the patio until I had walked out on it. Once I did that, they were right behind me and have been all over it since.
Secret Approves


Wilma said...

looks perfect!

JRinSC said...

Well, one thing I've noticed... when you guys go a step or two backwards then you tend to jump forward at least 3 or 4 places... and you did a great job here.

One question: Why the 4" rise in the seats? My first guess is that it will make it harder for a person to just slide under when the effects of the warm water and/or the Belik1ns take full effect.

Great job as always but be sure to let Dianna know that I "saw" her actually working while someone else was notably missing again.



Dave Rider said...

Hi Wilma,

Works pretty darned good too. Thanks.


Hi Julian,

The 4" rise was necessary because those folks who are 'shortness enhanced' or 'height challenged' were close to drowning if they sat in the spa. Combined with the jets not working worth a damn at the time, the spa was just not very much fun. Hmmm, I hadn't thought about it before, maybe you're right about the Belikin effect.

Shhhh. I can't tell her that. She'll begin to suspect something.


JRinSC said...

You know, you guys always talk about the Belikins but almost NEVER the rum.

I know most people tend to like the One Barrel dark rum, but I don't care for the "caramel" flavor myself, so we drank the Caribbean Silver, with lime and Coke Light.

All this to ask: is their a good, local, dark rum that isn't spiced or flavored... just dark rum??

I hope so, as my future plans involve not having to import run in quantity...

Regards, and I know you were busy taking pictures and planning the blog post so you weren't able to help Dianna with the clean-up on the pool tile, darn it.


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

I don't know. You might want to try 5-Barrel Aged Rum, a more upscale version of Traveler's rum offerings. Other than that, I don't know. I'm more a Belikin person than a rum person.