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Scary Pool Conditions

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I had a house with a pool the week before last; I think it was the 6th pool I've seen in 13 years. The house was built in 1960 and is heated hydronically. They've been using the house boiler to heat both the pool and the house since 1960. There are three zones in the house and the fourth zone is the pool. The thermostat for the pool is removed and the pool circuit is activated by twisting a couple of wires together when one wants to heat the pool.

Large copper pipes connect the house boiler to the pool.

None of the metal pool ladders, the diving board frame, metal window frames or the steel posts supporting the roof were bonded. Beneath the diving board, a junction box for a pool light was wide open and the wires were hanging out of the box and had been capped off with a couple of plastic wire nuts. Some horse's ass with teeth had decided to replace a circulator motor between the pool and a big filter cartridge in one corner of the pool house by cobbling a motor into the system with a couple of pieces of plastic pipe.

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The motor was sitting, unbolted and ungrounded on a flat concrete paver on the pool deck less than 10ft. from the edge of the pool and was wired by a piece of NM cable that the genius had run into the side of a light fixture on the wall, run across the concrete deck and then spliced in the open, outside of the terminal recess on the motor, without any kind of strain relief.

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You can's see that in the pictures because it's out-of-frame in one corner next to a big woodpile and chopping block. Yep, they store wood in the pool house and even cut it up there with an ax.

The pool "house" was even funkier. The back yard had been notched out of a pretty steep hillside. They'd placed a high concrete retaining wall about 15ft. inside of the property line. About 8ft. from the retaining wall they'd placed a line of steel posts supporting a long 4 by 12 beam. Resting on top of the beam and running perpendicular to it are 2 by 12 rafters on 2ft. centers with a span of 25 feet 6 inches. These extend under the overhanging eaves and rest on a ledger nailed to the side of the house and there aren't any hangers. The "roof" is barely pitched at all and is covered by clear, corrugated-fiberglass panels. The space between the beam and the retaining wall is filled by a bunch of 2 by 4 "rafters" that support a plywood deck. There are 4 by 12 end rafters that also function as a header at either end of the pool house and huge sliding barn doors made of wood, that have to weigh at least a ton each, slide open on barn door tracks attached to the header and the ends of the house.

The upper yard, between the retaining wall and the property line, is filled with raised earth-filled planters and a series of sloping planters have been placed on top of that sloping roof with the 2 by 4 rafters between the retaining wall and the large beam that supports the pool house roof, end walls and doors. There aren't any fences, door handles between the pool and house are at conventional height, and there aren't any childproof locks on the doors between the pool and the house.

Here's the kicker; the house was built by the patriarch of a very large construction company that's well known in these parts, has many divisions and specializes in drainage and foundation issues. He recently passed at over 100 years of age and the house has been on the market for nearly a year.

The pool was just a small part of some of the stuff I encountered in that house.

I'm not sure which is scarier, the prospect of a wet, electrically charged pool deck or the thought of that 25 foot by 40 foot roof suddenly deciding that it's had enough and collapsing on top of everyone in the pool house. It's beyond me how it didn't collapse during the winter snowstorms when all of that extra weight was on it.

Since I only rarely see swimming pools, I punted the whole pool to a pool guy and I recommended they get an engineer in to look at the pool house construction and either condemn it or design a fix for it. I've been told that the pool guy and the electrician that were called in were both surprised that a home inspector had caught the lack of bonding and they basically declared the pool an electrocution waiting to happen. The engineer took one look at the pool house and said something like, "I dunno where to begin. Tear that sucker down."

There was so much work needed that they brought in an army of contractors to get estimates after I'd sent them the report. Once they'd gotten the estimates, they tried to renegotiate but the seller wouldn't budge so they walked. I'm kind of glad that they walked; there was just so much stuff there that I'm sure there's probably as much unseen/undiscovered stuff there as I'd reported.



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  • 1 year later...

Not many pools here in Northern Nevada either.

My question is about the bonding of the ladders and diving equipment.

Are these connections usually visible or are they buried in the concrete in/around the pool?

Few pools here and I have not done any inspections but I do not recall seeing visible bonding connections at these areas - only at the pool pumping and heating equipment.

Thank You

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You should be able to see the connection to the metal of the ladder or other equipment, and the termination point but sometimes the bonding wire goes through the deck pool material, to reduce the potential of a tripping point. In retrofits, it's not unusual for the contractor to cut a groove in the pool deck and install the bonding wire and then fill over the groove.

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  • 6 years later...

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