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Do It Yourself
The installation of a Fiberglass pool is a much simpler task than most people think. What is important to understand is that each portion of the job must be carefully thought out in advance of actually doing the work. Remember that it is much easier to do the job right the first time.

Please read this manual completely through prior to starting the installation of your fiberglass swimming pool.

STEP #1 - Selection of the Pool Site
Selection of the pool site will determine how much grading will have to be accomplished prior to the actual dig for the pool. Naturally, a level area is best because it will require the least amount of preparation for the dig, but in many cases there is no level area, therefore, the site must be prepared to accept the pool prior to dig. The pool site should be elevated slightly higher than the surrounding area. It is most important that drainage from the surrounding area does not run into the pool. When dealing with slopes, the severity of the slope will determine if retaining walls must be built in order to have a level area for the pool. If the slope is relatively minor, a simple wall built from railroad ties or landscaping timbers may be all that is needed, but if the slopes are severe you may be forced to construct a major load bearing retaining wall. If you are not certain, consult a local civil engineer. Poor planning at this portion of the job can cause real problems later on, so make certain you are dealing with your grade properly.

NOTE: After you have selected your pool site area and before any earth moving, contact your local utility companies and have your gas line and any underground power lines marked prior to digging. This is most important.

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STEP #2 - Preparation for the Excavation
With the area for the pool properly graded to accept the pool, we are now ready for the excavation. You should have a "dig diagram" for the pool you are installing. Each pool is different, so make certain you have the correct diagram. A good way to start is to set up grade stakes and string or 2x4s outlining the area for the excavation.

The grade stake at the string level should designate the top of the pool, and all dig dimensions are from that point down. Remember to consider the type of decking you are going to use, as this will make a difference. With a cantilevered deck, the top of the pool will actually be 3 1/2" below the top of the concrete. This measurement may change due to the type of form you are using. If your deck is going to come to the top of the pool shell only, not cantilevered, than the top of the pool is your string, remember to consider this for your finished elevation. "Cantilevered decks are recommended."

NOTE: Your finished elevation, the top of your concrete decking, should be 4" to 6" above the surrounding area for proper drainage away from the pool.

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STEP #3 - The Excavation
With the pool area and all elevations planned including your decided type of decking, you are now ready to proceed with the dig. An ideal excavation is one that is as close as possible to the dimensions of the pool shell, but with the following rules in mind. The excavation should be 2" to 4" deeper than the actual pool for your sand bed. The sand bed is to level the pool shell and provide a perfect support base with no voids when the pool is lowered into the hole. Your excavation should be approximately one foot longer and one foot wider than the pool shell. This will allow for a six inch over dig all the way around the pool once it is in place. Additional hand excavation will be required to insure the skimmer when attached to the pool will fit in the excavation. A transit and story pole, when used properly, will insure an accurate dig. Remember to double-check all measurements in the excavation for accuracy prior to letting your excavator leave.

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STEP #4 - Preparing the Hole for the Pool Shell
Sand or rock dust must be used to bed the shell into the excavation and for backfill. In no event is dirt to be used. One of the easiest ways to know how much sand is needed to be placed on the bottom of the excavation is to set a grade stake at all four corners, and one on each side of the center line in the bottom of the hole. If you are installing our deeper models with breaks for deep ends, than each individual depth change must be noted. By using the transit and shooting down from your grade stakes indicating the top of the pool, you will know exactly where on the bottom stakes the pool should be to maintain an exact level for the pool. With each stake marked where the bottom of the pool will rest, a taut nylon string can be tied around each of these bottom stakes which will than outline the entire pools bottom at its various depths. Ideally, if your excavation was perfect the string would be the same two to four inches off the bottom of the excavation as planned, but don't be concerned unless there are areas of the holes dirt bottom than come above your strings. If this is the case, your hole is not deep enough in these areas and additional excavation must be done. If there are areas that are deeper than the 2 to 4", these can be filled with sand and are of no consequence.

An area approximately 4'-6' long, 2'-3' wide and 12" deep should be dug out at the middle of the deepest end of the pool. , If the pool is going to have a drain in the bottom it could end up in this area and the sump hole will need to accommodate the drain as well. This area is for a dry well sump, which has a gravel bottom, 2" perforated PVC pipe with an end cap attached to a 1 1/2" or 2" PVC line that is run under the pool and up and out of the excavation under the deck. This line can than be attached to a pump. The remainder of the sump hole, after the pipe is installed, should be filled with1/2" or larger gravel. This will allow for underground water that may accumulate under the pool during and after the installation to be removed, and is a permanent part of the installation.
Do It Yourself - Hole for Pool

NOTE: Failure to install a dry sump well could cause hydro-static water pressure to build up under the pool during the washed sand backfill along with long term water build up during the life of the pool.

You are now ready to put the sand base into the pool hole.

A level 2x4 as long as the width of the pool will provide for an excellent screeting device to level the sand to the top of the string. The objective is to compact the sand into a smooth level bed to the depth of the string outline of the pool bottom. When finished you should have a perfect bottom for the pool shell to rest on. When you have double-checked your measurements and are confident this portion is correct you may remove the stakes and string at this point. Be very careful not to allow any sharp objects or loose clumps of dirt to fall onto or disturb the sand bed. A stake left unnoticed or a large clump or rock could pierce your pool shell when it is filled. With all areas checked and double-checked, you are ready to proceed to the next step.

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STEP #5 - Preparing the Pool for Placement
Your pool is delivered to the site with most of the fittings in place. You may have to mount supplemental items not ordered with your pool, such as additional inlets or jets. It is easiest to drill and install these items while the pool is out of the ground. Most of the pool's plumbing should wait until the pool is in the ground, except for the main drain line. This line should be stubbed up and tied to the pool prior to setting the pool in the hole. There won't be room to do this once the pool is in place. If any additional plumbing is attached to the pool prior to setting, extreme care must be used to insure these pipes are not damaged while setting the pool. It is best to leave additional plumbing lines until after the shell is inserted.
Do It Yourself - Pool Layout

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STEP #6 - Setting the Pool in Place
With the hole properly prepared, all measurements double checked, and making certain that there is nothing in the bottom of the hole except a compacted level bed of sand, and your sump installed, you are now ready to set the pool.

A suitable sized crane is recommended for this job. Although certain size backhoes and trackhoes are capable to do this job, a crane is the safest and most suitable piece of equipment to use. It is designed for this purpose and can easily lift the pool back out of the hole for corrections in the sand bottom if necessary. Your Pool has four lifting areas, PVC pipe reinforced with fiberglass, under the coping at each corner of the pool shell. Chains are usually shipped with the pool to attach lifting straps to be attached to the crane.

Make certain these straps, usually supplied by the crane company are in good condition and long enough not to bind or pull the pool in when lifted, and double check al1 chains to insure they are properly secured to the pool shell.Do It Yourself - Crane

Most pool models are shipped with spanner bars bolted across the center line of the pool shell. These spanner bars are there to prevent the pool from buckling during the setting procedure and should not be removed at this time.
If the pool has a drain on the bottom of the shell, careful measurements must be made at this time, directly off the pool, to determine exactly where the hole must be dug in the bottom to accept the drain. This hole should be carefully hand dug and a proper fit is imperative. (This is a most important area of installation, and exact measurements are required.) Remember your gravel sump may be in this area and if so, should be deep enough to accommodate the drain and the PVC line running from it to the pump.

Rope lines should now be attached to the pool to help guide it when lifted by the crane. Carefully and slowly lift the pool slightly off the ground or trailer and double check all chains and straps. Insure everything is properly rigged before proceeding. It is not advisable to lift the pool during any type of wind. The pool will act as a giant kite. Make certain wind is at a minimum. Very slowly lift and move the pool to the excavation. It is recommended to keep the pool as low to the ground as possible, this will help in handling and lower the effects of wind movement. Once over the hole, line up the shell, make certain no debris has fallen into the hole and slowly lower the pool into the excavation. If any area of the shell is binding, stop and correct the problem before proceeding. Make certain the bottom drain, if your pool has one, fits correctly into the hole you have dug for it. It must fit perfectly, so go slowly and carefully. It must fit completely flush to allow the pool bottom to set directly on the sand with no strain on the drain. Most models have been molded with a recess in the center of the back wall at the deep end to accept the drain and pipe. These models require little preparation for the drain. Check your pool for this feature, but in any case the drain must not bind or be subject to pressures that may crack it.

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STEP #7 - Leveling the Shell in the Excavation
With the shell setting in the hole and the main drain and attached pipe double checked to insure it is not damaged, it is time to check your level. Standing and jumping on all four corners will help settle the pool in place to insure it is not hung up. When you are certain the pool is all the way in the hole, measurements should now be taken with your transit. Set your story pole on the top of the coping at each corner, staying away from seating areas and steps, and take your measurement at each corner. Remember to sit your pole on the same place at each corner. Particular attention must be made on all 8' or deeper models to insure the break points are setting where they were planned without voids or binds.

If everything was properly measured your pool should be level. If not, don't let the crane go, as you will have to correct it by lifting the pool from the hole and either adding or raking away sand from the low or high areas to allow the pool to set level. With this completed, lower the shell and follow the same instructions as before for checking the level. It is not uncommon to have to lift and set the shell several times prior to getting the pool level. Take the time, whatever it takes, to insure the pool is level before letting the crane go.

It is possible to correct for slight variations of 1" or less on a low corner simple by lifting the pool at the low corner with a fulcrum and lever and washing additional sand under the low area until it is level. If a comer of the pool is too high, the shell will have to be lifted from the hole in order to remove the required sand. With the pool properly leveled in the excavation, all lines and drains checked and re-checked, you are now ready to proceed with fill and backfill.

NOTE: Do not leave the pool at this point if rain is in the forecast. Heavy rain now would float the pool, ruin the bottom and destroy all your work. Weather planning is extremely important when starting your excavation.

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STEP #8 - Filling and Backfilling
The important thing to remember is that Fiberglass Pools are flexible, and equal amounts of pressure on each side of the pools walls must be maintained at all times.

Start by filling the pool with one-foot (1') of water. This will securely anchor the pool into the excavation. Now recheck your measurements with your transit. You may find that the corners are level, but the step and seating areas are slightly lower. This is because these areas may sag and will required additional reinforcement.

Start by adding sand or rock dust around the pool. Dirt is totally unsuitable for this portion of the backfill and will void your warranty. You want the sand to fill all voids as your backfill. The best way to do this is to wash the sand with water under and around all areas of the shell. A "sand wand", a 1" piece of PVC pipe approximately 6' - 8' long attached to a garden hose is the preferred method.

By ramming the wand into the sand and removing it slowly, the water from the wand will wash the sand into the areas required. Too much water is not good, so common sense should be used for the proper balance. Areas under steps, seats, and the main drain must he completely filled in with washed sand and compacted to prevent settling.

The amounts of sand or rock dust required for each pool is different, and the amount will also be effected by how close your hole is to the dig specs. In genera a 12' wide pool will take 20-30 tons, 14' wide 30-40 tons and 16' 40 tons +. In any event, ordering 20 tons to be delivered to the site initially will bed in all pools and allow some sand for the backfill. After that, you can order as needed, but remember, dirt cannot be used.

The water in the pool should be added at a rate equal to the rate of backfill. The water should maintain a level one-foot higher than the sand backfill throughout the entire fill and backfill procedure. It is very important to keep equal1 amounts of pressure on the pools walls. Too much water could bow and even break the pool outward, and to much sand could bow the walls inward. A bowed wall inward means you have added too much sand and it must be dug out until the wall is straight and a bowed wall outward means your water is too high in the pool and the sand must be brought up.

The jobs water pressure determines the time this procedure takes. Remember, you cannot fill the pool any faster than you can backfill it, so if you are using hydrants or water trucks, this same fill and backfill rule applies.

While the pool is being filled and backfilled, this is the ideal time to start you plumbing runs. When your backfill is up approximately one third of the pool, this is the time to remove the spanner bar if your pool came with one. Removing the spanner bar may cause the pools walls to bow out, but by adding additional sand without adding additional water will cause the walls to bow back in. A proper balance of sand backfill and water fill in the pool will keep the walls true throughout the entire installation.

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STEP #9 - -Plumbing the Pool to the Equipment
This manual will assume the installer understands basic pool plumbing, if not, it is recommended that a professional pool service company is contracted with to do this portion of the job, but we will cover some basics.

All plumbing should be 1 1/2" PVC schedule 40 pipe or 2" if the pump and filter is over 30' feet from the equipment. The lines around the pool should not go in until the sand backfill is up high enough to allow setting these lines, at the height of the returns and skimmer, on top of the backfill. This will prevent the lines from sagging and possible cracking. After they are run, the balance of the backfill can continue over these lines. You should have separate lines from the pool to the equipment for the skimmer, main drain and pool returns. You may have additional lines if you are planning a pressure side pool cleaner, spa jets or fountain/waterfall.

NOTE: All plumbing should be pressure tested prior to pouring your concrete decking.

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Step #10 - Pouring the Deck
It is recommended that all electrical hook ups be completed before pouring the concrete. Make certain all electrical inspections on lights, bonding and all other electrical work have been completed and checked off by the local inspectors prior to proceeding with your concrete. It is a good idea to run the pool for at least 24 hours before pouring the concrete to insure there are no leaks.

As previously discussed in this manual, the type of decking you have selected will have determined the grade of the pool. If you are going to use cantilevered forms as recommended, the top of the pools coping should be level with your surrounding grade. If you are pouring a regular deck up to the pools coping, than the top of the coping should be 4" above the surrounding area. In either event, it is recommended to dig out an area around the pool exposing the flange of the coping and just under it. This is important, as concrete should be packed under and over the flange of the pool, as the deck is poured. This will lock the pool into the concrete and provide for a much stronger bond of the pool to the deck. It will also eliminate cracking of the deck where it meets the pool.

When setting your outside forms, remember you want any water from rain or splash out to run off the deck, not into the pool. Plan for a slope of 1/4" per foot away from the pool. If your deck is going to tie into an existing deck, than some type of drain system should be planned to handle the run off. Proper drainage planning is very important.

An experience concrete finisher should always be used when pouring pool decks, especially when you are doing a cantilevered deck, as the forms must be taken off at the proper time to allow finishing of the inside of the form. Fiberglass pools are different from Vinyl or concrete in that the pools are full when the concrete is poured. Make certain your concrete man is aware of this because getting into the pool in the winter is a chilling experience. Sporting goods stores offer a floating ring with built in waders for fisherman. This is a perfect item to have on hand for this job. A poor quality concrete job will ruin the most beautiful pool, and is very expensive to correct.

Congratulations! You have now successfully installed your fiberglass Pool.

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