Friday, October 24, 2014

Floor tile crack control waterproof membrane - Proper Application

To achieve the full benefit of a floor tile waterproofing and crack control membrane, it must be installed in adherence with the manufacturer's instructions.

Cleanliness

The substrate needs to be clean and free of foreign matter: dirt, oil, grease, dust, moisture.  These create a layer between the substrate and the membrane that prevent complete adhesion.
Improperly applied TEC Hydraflex Membrane - click on image to enlarge

Thickness

For the membrane to be effective, it must be installed to the thickness specified by the manufacturer.  To achieve these thicknesses oftentimes requires 3 to 4 coats.  One layer is usually insufficient.

Good rule of thumb: If the substrate can be seen through the membrane, the membrane is too thin.  Better yet, buy a tester and measure the membrane thickness to verify the minimum thickness has been achieved.

Traffic

The membrane must be cleaned of dirt, dust and debris that collects on top of it.  Thinsets and mortars will not adhere to a dirty membrane.

When in doubt - READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!

Contact the author, Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa at: info@aquatictechnology.com or 408-776-8220. Visit his website at: www.aquatictechnology.com. All Contents © Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, 2013. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

APSP NPC ANSI ICC ANSI/APSP-12 Pool Plaster Standard

ANSI/APSP-12 Swimming Pool Plaster Workmanship Standards

How bad can it get and still be defensible?


On July 28, 2014, the APSP and the NPC announced a “joint” committee to write a new plaster workmanship standard, under the guise of APSP/ANSI-12.  The alignment of APSP with ANSI, would in effect cause the resulting standards to become “statute” in many regions of the country.  Through ANSI's affiliation with the ICC (International Code Counsel, who ironically published the International Building Code, which has been adopted across the US), this may just become law in your state. 

You can see where this is going.  It is a end around run on consumer rights, forcing them to settle with inferior workmanship, just because it meets the industry's own minimum acceptable level.  

In other words, "how bad can it get and still be defensible?" 

Their proposals for this standard include defining acceptable "deviations" and explanations as to why pool plaster cannot achieve the levels of performance delivered by other plaster trades.  These deviations will be governed by "accepted trade practices" and not the BEST AVAILABLE PRACTICES.  Again, locate and identify the lowest common level of performance and make that acceptable.


Fox in the Hen House


Trade associations writing their own workmanship standards is self-serving and against the general interest of the American public.  Even if a standard is written with the absolute lack of personal biases and interests, the end result will still be a self-serving document.   

This is what I take offense with… putting the fox in charge of the hen house.



The pool builders association will continue to refuse to hold their members responsible for delivering properly constructed and prepared shells, watertight, trimmed and prepared to precise tolerances.  Due to the generous workmanship tolerances provided pool builders, plasters are relegated to dealing with the issues and variables you described.  Almost every one you describe is the result of a poorly constructed shell.



There is absolutely no reason why a plaster pool finish cannot be delivered with a smooth, even finish that is color consistent from batch to batch.  Many of these issues are a direct result of the human tendency to avoid conflict or extra effort:



·      Plastering in adverse conditions (e.g. high winds, extreme heat/cold)

·      Staffing difficulties (e.g. insufficient time allotted, inadequate staffing levels, poor training)

·      Improperly prepared shells (e.g. leaking, seeping, voids, dry, hot)

·      Shells with poor tolerances (e.g. wavy surfaces, penetrations trimmed at incorrect elevations, improper radii)

·      Poor quality control measures (e.g. failure to measure/weigh batch contents or water)

·      Failing to perform pre-site visits, preparations or inspections

·      Refusal to hold builders responsible for making shell corrections

No one wants to tell the pool owner that their pool will not be plastered due to any issue.  Nor is it cost effective to have to leave and return.  Most pools should never be plastered in their state of readiness, as delivered to a plaster company.  Yet the plaster company wants to satisfy their customer - not the pool owner, but the pool builder who brings them steady business. 


I find the lack of a quantifiable maximum water to cement ratio for a cementitious finish audacious.  Pre-packaged materials should contain maximum allowances for water or approved admixes.  Yet the loose NPC standards allow the crews to add water to extend its workability due to weather, short staffing or mere laziness or refusal to measure the water (they just add water from a hose until it looks good ).


Too much water is bad


It has been scientifically proven that excess water in cementitious products compromises it’s strength, causes discolorations, increases porosity, encourages shrinkage and promotes check cracking.  The NPC should not be allowing carte blanche with the water to cement ratio and then attempt to justify the errant results. 



To advocate the unfettered use of water by untrained personnel is irresponsible, especially when there are inexpensive and viable alternatives and techniques.  Instead, the NPC should be promoting improved quality through the use of various admixes – additional water, not being one of them.  Set accelerators, retarders and plasticizers should be the norm, instead of the exception.  The workability and plasticity of the product would improve, as would the durability and quality.  Archaic practices, such as the addition of calcium chloride and the re-tempering of finishes would no longer be required or acceptable. 


Acceptable Alternatives


These advanced methodologies and admix practices should be advocated and promoted.  Calcium chloride alternatives and set timing admixes are utilized in every other plaster trade, in compliance with the requirements of the pigment manufacturers.  Steel troweled plaster finishes are applied multi-stories in the air, delivered by the bucket, on scaffolding, in the hot sun and in windy conditions.  Their substrates are wavy and irregular.  These trades even lack the luxury of flood curing their finishes.  Yet the results are often far superior to the results seen in the pool plaster industry – even without remedial work. 



Cement chemistry is nothing new.  It dates back centuries to the Roman’s use of volcanic ash as pozzolans and animal fats and milks as plasticizers.  Yet, the swimming pool industry is always the last to embrace decades old and proven methodologies and technologies that are utilized in other related construction trades.  When these practices are “discovered” by our industry, their revelations appear as a sudden rapture (recent case in point – penetrating sodium silicate curing compounds for shotcrete & concrete).



Virtually flawless pool plaster finishes are achievable.  I consider myself very lucky to have plaster sub-contractors who understand the idiosyncrasies of their trade.  I take pride in delivering a high tolerance and quality watertight shell upon which they can ply their trade.  Pre-site inspections with my sub-contractors identify concerns that can be addressed prior to plaster day (pressure washing & surface prep, local water quality, staffing requirements, weather forecasts, access, etc.). 



My favorite sub-contractor (Adams Pool Specialties) brings their own water supply, which is measured as it is metered into the batch.  This is not rocket science – just an expressed concern with craftsmanship.  The end results are that my clients receive a virtually flawless hand troweled plaster finish, free of the issues that plague the industry.



Through this new joint APSP/ANSI-12 standards committee, the NPC has the opportunity to establish shell tolerances and standards, which will allow their members to execute higher quality finishes.  NPC members should no longer accept shells that fail to meet defensible workmanship standards and design tolerances, which affect their end product.  The American public needs to be given cosmetically acceptable standards, not minimums that are barely acceptable.  The need to defend the resultant questionable workmanship and cosmetic blemishes will become a thing of the past.

Let's see who takes the high road...

Contact the author, Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa at: info@aquatictechnology.com or 408-776-8220. Visit his website at: www.aquatictechnology.com. All Contents © Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, 2013. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Swimming Pool Expert Witness - How Structural Engineers Compromise themselves


Swimming pools can be designed utilizing 2,500 PSI concrete.  
However, the American Concrete Institute - Standard 318 (ACI-318), the International Building Code (IBC), and the California Building Codes (CBC) all specify and require 4,500 PSI as the minimum, with 5,000 PSI required, for most swimming pools.  This standard actually applies to all concrete structures in constant contact with water (fountains, pools spas, watershapes, dams, storage tanks, docks, pilings, breakwaters, etc.).

Expert Witness - Structural Engineer ?

So, if the codes and LAWS require higher PSI concrete, then why do many structural engineers specify 2,500 PSI for swimming pools?

They think that they are doing everyone a favor.
Specifications above 2,500 PSI require special inspections, quality assurance lab testing, and many other minor additional expenses and double checks.  Something most budget conscience swimming pool contractors would rather not deal with.

Though these structural engineers can show on paper that 2,500 PSI is sufficient, they cannot justify their non-compliance with the laws, codes and statutes.

Compromised as an Expert Witness

If a structural engineer has delivered thousands of plans in violation of these laws, codes and standards, does that compromise their integrity as an Expert Witness?

If they continue to deliver plans in violation of these regulations, even after they have been made aware that they are not compliant, do they even have any value as an Expert Witness?

How do they justify such behavior and blatant disregard for the laws and building codes?

Do you really want one of these clowns as your Expert Witnesses?

Wait until the opposing attorney gets them on the stand and asks them under oath !

Contact the author, Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa at: info@aquatictechnology.com or 408-776-8220. Visit his website at: www.aquatictechnology.com. All Contents © Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, 2013. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 22, 2014

East Hamptons - Preventing Swimming Pool Deck Frost Heave Damage


What is Frost Heave?

More precisely it should be called "freeze heave."  When the wet soils become frozen, they expand.  These expansive forces usually go horizontally and vertically.

If the soils are constrained (surrounded by immovable objects) by a building foundation, retaining wall or swimming pool, they will push against those structures.  The weakest structure loses, and may experience structural distress.

Usually these forces  push upward, causing the concrete pool decks to heave or buckle.

An Ounce of Prevention

Proper preparation of the materials that underlie the concrete is key in preventing frost heave.

Preventing the underlying soils from becoming saturated, prior to a hard freeze is key.  Replacing the soils with drain rock, to a depth below the frost zone will greatly reduce soil saturation.

However, the water must be given a way to escape.  Perforated drain pipes, sump wells and daylight drains can assist as well.

Preventing water from running off of the decks and into the surrounding planters or lawns will also eliminate a lot of the ground water.  An 18-24 inch deep (or deeper) footing around the perimeter of the deck will also prevent irrigation water from seeping back under the pool decks.

Keep it Dry & Warm

Basically, the key is to keep the soils under the pool decks from becoming saturated.  Dry soils will freeze, but will expand minimally.  

Saturated soils will expand exponentially, causing cracked concrete (allowing water to seep under the slab), loose stone work and heaved pavement.  Well drained soils or gravel will not retain water & thereby not expanding sufficiently to cause damage.

Some success has been achieved with the heating of slabs and insulating the underside of the slabs.

Contact the author, Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa at: info@aquatictechnology.com or 408-776-8220. Visit his website at: www.aquatictechnology.com. 

All Contents © Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, 2013. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

International Aqua Design and Watershapes Consulting


With a background in swimming pool construction, design and operations, we deliver thoughtful designs with an emphasis on reducing reoccurring maintenance, operating and labor expenses.  A focus on the ROI drives our design decisions.... the REAL definition of VALUE ENGINEERING.

A few extra dollars spent upfront can bring a significant savings in maintenance, operating expenses, labor, downtime and ease future expansion.


Experience PLUS EDUCATION
 

Combining 20+ years of actual construction experience, watershape consulting, owner's representation, quality assurance, construction defects expert witness, a formal business degree and graduate courses in watershape and aquatic design - our background is unparalleled in the swimming pool design industry. 

We are not "self-trained," but are rather one of a few firms uniquely educated trained and qualified to design and engineer complex hydraulic systems and concrete pool structures. With a background in international consulting and as the owner's representative, makes us uniquely qualified in the entire world.

Educator and Published Author

Our founder has authored 100+ articles on such topics as swimming pool design, watershape consulting and construction defects.

He has taught courses on pool construction, waterproofing and aqua design to international audiences.

Uniquely qualified in all of the world - personal enough to be yours.

Contact the author, Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa at: info@aquatictechnology.com or 408-776-8220. Visit his website at: www.aquatictechnology.com. All Contents © Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, 2013. 
All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Aqua International Swimming Pool Design Consultants and Engineering

Whether your project is in Arizona, New York, Florida or California, the National Electric Code applies to your project.  And service disconnects are the most frequently omitted item on swimming pool projects and plan specifications.

NEC 680

Most people involved with the design or construction of swimming pools, merely focus on NEC Section 680, because it deals specifically with swimming pools and spas.  However by law, they are equally responsible for the entire contents of the NEC.

NEC 430.109(B)-(D)

The NEC requires a permanent means of disconnecting equipment for service purposes. 
The disconnect must be located on the equipment itself or within the line of sight of the equipment. 

Circuit breakers are referred to in the NEC as a branch circuit over-current protection device
According to the NEC 430.109(B),
branch circuit over-current protection devices shall not be used as the disconnection means for motors greater than ½ horsepower. 

For motors between ½ and 2 horsepower you cannot rely on the breaker.  Per NEC 430.109(C) you need a separate means to disconnect the power.

Variable speed pumps are a perfect example why we need service disconnects - they are wired so that they constantly have live power running to them - 24/7.
They are signaled to turned on and off via a data cable and not by way of switching the power on or off.  As is, the only way to turn off the power to the pump is at the circuit breaker.   But their nameplate rating is greater than 1/2 horsepower.
Therefore, that would be in violation of NEC 430.109(C).

The solution is to install an approved means of disconnection between the circuit breaker panel and the equipment.    

Section 680 of the NEC is not the only section that applies to swimming pools....  


Time to break out the NEC code and do some reading, isn't it ?!


Contact the author, Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa at: info@aquatictechnology.com or 408-776-8220. Visit his website at: www.aquatictechnology.com. All Contents © Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, 2013. 
All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Miami, Florida Watershape Aquatic Consultant Swimming Pool Designer and Expert Witness

Smooth dowels should be utilized to transfer loads between adjacent concrete slabs.  This typically occurs where a pool deck abuts a building's foundation.

Required by Codes and Standards

The standards set forth by the American Concrete Institute (ACI) are incorporated in and adopted by almost every building code in the United States.

ACI 302.1R goes into great detail about the proper installation and requirements for doweling adjacent concrete slabs and foundations.

Freedom of Movement

Allowing the dowels to move freely within the slabs is one key requirement.  This is why greasing, smooth bars and sleeving are key elements.

Smooth dowels are similar in dimensions to typical deformed reinforcement steel (rebar), except that smooth bars do not have any ridges (deformations) along their length.  They are smooth...

Sleeving and greasing are two common methods to ensure that the dowels can slip freely within their cavities (when installed after one slab has hardened).

Dowel chairs (dowels supported on wire baskets) are commonly used when foresight allows their installation prior to the first concrete pour.

Cracking

The improper installation of dowels can lead to transfer cracking of either slab.

These are usually caused by the use of deformed bars, whose ridges grab within the drilled holes.
The transfer of stress, causes the bars to crack one or both slabs.  Not a serious problem on a patio, but it can be a problem with building foundations, slab floors, highways and bridge decks. Cracks allow water intrusion and possible corrosion of the reinforcement steel.  This is why most smooth bar dowels are epoxy coated.

Following the standard industry accepted methods and practices will prevent a lot of repair expenses later.

Contact the author, Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa at: info@aquatictechnology.com or 408-776-8220. Visit his website at: www.aquatictechnology.com. All Contents © Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, 2013. 
All rights reserved.

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