Pool Popping Out of the Ground? Here’s What To Do

Written by Michael Dean
April 12, 2024

popped swimming pool

While pool popping is rare, every inground pool owner should be aware of this potential disaster. Popped pools usually happen during draining and can cause some costly damage. In this article, I’ll tell you everything your need to know about popped pools, including how to fix and prevent them.

Main Takeaways

  • If your pool is popped or floating, it means the pool has risen out of the ground.
  • A popped pool can be caused by a pressure imbalance after draining the pool or after a heavy rainstorm.
  • To fix a popped pool, the construction team will have to deal with pool deck damage, reconnect underground lines, lift the pool, and finally, reinstall the pool.
  • To prevent a popped pool, don’t leave your pool unfilled, don’t drain your pool after a storm, use hydrostatic pressure relief valves, and avoid draining water near the pool.

What Does It Mean When Your Pool Is “Popped” or Floating?

A popped or floating pool is a swimming pool that has risen out of the ground. Popped pools are not an everyday happening, but when they take place, they may result in irreversible damage to your pool.

What Causes a Popped Pool?

Regardless of your inground pool’s material, it runs the risk of becoming popped. That is because popped pools result from a pressure imbalance that can happen to any inground pool. For plastered pools, delamination is a similar issue.

When your pool is full of water, that water creates a hydrostatic force against the inside of your pool. Simultaneously, the fact that your pool is embedded in the earth means it may sustain a similar pressure from nearby groundwater.

Groundwater creates its own hydrostatic force on the exterior of your pool. When the strength of that pressure surpasses the power coming from inside the pool, it can lift your pool out of the ground.

The most typical way for such a pressure imbalance is during draining. When you drain your pool, the hydrostatic pressure is gone, and the pool can begin to float. But some other instances can cause a popped pool.

For example, after a heavy rainstorm, the rainwater can cause the soil to swell, resulting in a high water table. That swelling increased pressure on external hydrostatic pressure on your pool. If the water table in your area rises, that can cause a similar outcome. There are also other maintenance considerations when it rains, which you can read in my articles on what to do to your pool after it rains and how to stop groundwater seepage.

The best way to prevent a popped pool is always to hire a professional to take care of any pool draining you may need. But if your pool has already popped, there may be some hope for you to fix it.

How to Fix a Popped Pool

The process of fixing a swimming pool pop is both extensive and expensive. Because it is such an involved and costly project, many pool owners with floating pools do not have them repaired. Still, if you want to fix your popped pool, here are a few of the steps that your construction team will likely need to take:

  • Pool deck repair/replacement
  • Plumbing/utility reconnection
  • Lifting and drainage
  • Digging and reinstallation

To give you a better idea of what to expect, we’ve included the details of each of those steps in the sections below. Read on to see if repairing your floating pool is worth your while.

Dealing with Pool Deck Damage

Any force capable of moving your pool will usually cause some damage to your pool deck as well. The odds are that you will need to have your entire pool deck removed after a popped pool occurs.

Occasionally, you may have the opportunity to repair your pool deck if the damage is minimal. But in most cases, the significant shift that takes place during a popped pool will be substantial enough to render your pool deck useless.

Reconnecting Underground Lines

The movement that causes your pool to pop will also disconnect most of the lines connected to your pool underground. These lines can include drainage pipes as well as electrical cables and other forms of plumbing. Since these lines are crucial to your pool’s function, you must ensure they are working correctly as a part of your popped pool restoration.

The safest approach you can take is to disconnect your underground pool lines completely. As is the case with the pool deck, these connections are likely beyond repair. Instead, you will need to form new attachments when you reinstall your pool.

Lifting the Pool

After removing the pool deck and the underground connections, the next step is to drain the pool and lift it out of the ground. By raising the pool, the construction team will have the chance to evaluate the area below and alter the land as needed to accommodate the pool once again.

At this stage, it is vital to recognize any damage to the pool itself that might make it unsafe or unusable. If your concrete pool has large cracks, you may need to settle for purchasing a new one.

Reinstalling the Pool

With all those steps complete, it is time to return your pool to its original position. Depending on how much the earth moved while the pop occurred, the construction team may need to do some additional digging to fit the pool back in.

At this stage, they will also reconnect utility lines and attach a new or repaired pool deck. All told, the process of improving a popped pool is possible but will come with a hefty price tag. That is why so many pool owners choose to have their popped pools filled instead.

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How to Prevent a Popped Pool

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of fixing a popped pool, then you need to know how you can prevent this from happening in the first place. Most of the following tactics relate to draining your pool. While none of these methods guarantee that your pool won’t pop, they reduce the likelihood that it will happen.

Don’t Leave Your Pool Unfilled

One of the best ways to prevent a popped pool is to ensure you never leave your pool unfilled for too long. When a pool is empty, it now has hydrostatic pressure to counteract the surrounding groundwater’s stress. That makes it much easier for your pool to pop.

An empty pool can cause some other issues as well. For instance, the lack of water can lead to some damage to the pool plaster. This damage is just another reason why you should not leave your pool unfilled for too long.

Don’t Drain Your Pool After a Storm

After a heavy rain even, it is possible for the soil around your pool to be saturated. That saturation can impart significant pressure on your pool. Emptying your pool during that time may make it vulnerable to popping.

Use Hydrostatic Pressure Relief Valves

Many pools have hydrostatic pressure relief valves installed at the bottom of the pool. The valves allow a pressure release to help you avoid a popped pool. It’s important to open these valves during draining to create a balance in pressure between the remaining water in the pool and the groundwater.

When it comes time to refill the pool, take that situation as an opportunity to repair and replace your pressure relief valves. Regular replacement ensures that your relief valves are performing to their maximum capability.

Avoid Draining Water Near the Pool

When draining a pool, the water has to go somewhere. If you don’t want a popped pool, you need to make sure that it does not drain near the pool. This increased volume of water can cause the same outcome as a heavy rainstorm. The sudden increase in soil moisture can increase the pressure against your pool the same way rainwater would.

Wrapping Up

Rest assured that popped pools do not happen very often. But if they do, they can be costly to repair. While it is possible to perform that repair, it is best to avoid a floating pool in the first place.

Have questions? Drop me a line.

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