Imploding an In-Ground Pool
Pool School: Get a Bigger Hammer.
This story is mostly about knowing when to bring in the heavy equipment. From the start, Andy Martin and Dan Allsup figured they’d need to use Dan’s backhoe to demolish Andy’s in-ground pool. In the end they added an important piece of equipment to the arsenal: a heavy-duty, tractor-mounted jackhammer.
The decision to restore the pool area to a backyard came partly because the owners were now empty-nesters. With their youngest finally off to college, what had been for many summers a very busy pool had become unused and in dis-repair. Bids for repairs ran into the thousands. The idea of having a backyard was looking more appealing all the time.
Tearing out a well-built, in-ground pool would prove to be no picnic, but the guys came armed with a willingness to rent enough hardware to do the job.
Disconnecting and digging up the piping between the pool house and pool was pretty straightforward. Digging up the concrete deck around the pool didn’t pose much of a challenge either. It was when they hit the wall that they, well, hit a wall.
No amount of pulling, pushing, scraping or digging was going to get this done. There was talk about a 90-pound jackhammer, which would have worked but would have been a lot of work. If you’ve ever used one on flat ground, you know they are a load to handle. If you’ve ever used one on vertical work, you can probably still feel it.
That’s when Dan suggested they bring in a piece of equipment with a hydraulic hammer attachment. It was a pretty tight area, but having the jackhammer on a backhoe boom was well worth the hassles of removing some fencing to get the machine into position.
Getting a bigger hammer is not the only thing the guys learned about busting up pools. The jackhammer bit needed to be nearly perpendicular to the very hard, old concrete walls. This presented a challenge for the machine-mounted jackhammer because of maneuverability. They solved this dilemma by filling one end of the pool as a support for the tractor, which produced the angles needed.
Here’s how they got the job done.
Demolition, Step by Step
Using the backhoe to dig out the backfill from around the outside of the pool proved to be a good strategy for getting the right angles for the jackhammer once the tractor was inside the pool. Operator Dan Allsup stockpiled the topsoil at one end of the yard to be used later.
Breaking up the concrete deck around the pool was fairly straightforward. Using a standard backhoe, they broke up the 4-inch thick concrete deck and dumped it into the center of the pool as part of the fill. The problem arose when they tried to break down the walls of the pool. They were burning diesel and making a lot of noise, but the walls stood virtually unscathed.
It was time to change tactics. The crew rented a piece of equipment with a useful implement: a hydraulic jackhammer attached to the end of a backhoe boom.
Using the big jackhammer was a smashing idea. The walls came tumbling down.
Although the jackhammer did a great job of breaking up the concrete, it was no match for the rebar reinforcements found throughout the swimming pool walls. For the rebar, they rented a gas-powered saw equipped with a cutoff wheel.
The basic task for the operator was to touch large pieces of concrete with the tip of the jackhammer and let the tool do the work.
Andy cut rebar at intervals to release larger sections of the pool walls.
Dan’s biggest challenge was that the pool continually presented different angles to the machine, because of the curves in the pool design. Attempts to break into the concrete from angles that were not nearly perpendicular resulted only in glancing blows.