Regarding the weather, this year has certainly been an interesting one thus far—from the record cold weather in mid-February to periods of heavy rain to not having a 100 degree day yet (with none in the forecast thru July). With that being said, there is likely hot, dry weather just around the corner—and as poolowners, we need to be prepared as soils that dry out can cause some problems.
The north Texas area tends to have pockets of fairly expansive soil—soil that contracts when is gets dry and expands when it gets wet. Therefore, extremely dry, hot periods can really dry out the soil—causing it to contract. When it finally does rain, expansion of the soil will take place. Whatever is in contact with the soil during this time of contraction and expansion also experiences movement. This movement can damage not only pool decks, but also roads, house foundations, driveways, sidewalks, and patios.
Although pool builders working in this area use cushion sand and steel rebar in the construction of their pool decks, these pool decks still require your attention to help prevent raising, settling, and cracking. In addition, this movement can also damage the expansion joint (either called the mastic joint or the deck-o-seal joint) between the deck and the pool, which needs to be checked periodically.
Pool decks are not warranted against this raising, settling, and cracking. Depending on the moisture content of the soil, this raising or settling can be up to an inch or two. Although it is next to impossible to completely avoid some movement in your pool deck, consistent soil moisture content is the key. Avoiding extremely wet or extremely dry soil conditions can help prevent movement. Following are some tips to help you avoid problems:
How to avoid having soil that is too dry
• During extremely dry times, be sure to water your yard enough to avoid the separation between the soil and the pool deck. This separation can cause movement.
How to avoid having soil that is too wet
• Do not allow drainage to fall towards the pool deck.
• Pay close attention to sprinkler heads that are up against the pool deck; they can erode the cushion saidn under the deck, causing the deck to move.