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Planning a major house project for next spring. My wife and I decided to fill in our inground pool. Previous owners built it, but not sure when (could be anywhere from late 1970s to early 2000s, literally).

A few concerns:

  • How can I tell (right now - for planning purposes) what the walls of the pool are made of? I've heard they could be steel, polymer or even some other heavy duty composites...
  • If they are steel, ideally I'd like to scrap them for cash, which would help pay for the whole project. Any rough ideas as to what kind of steel inground pool walls are made of, and how much steel I might be looking at (ballpark)? My pool is a 20' x 30' rectangle that's 4' at the shallow end and 8' at the deep end.
  • Any rough idea as to what tools/processes safely remove these walls? I imagine they look something like the pic below, and that I'd have to jackhammer away the concrete on top of them and then dig them out on the backside. And then probably either (a) use an angle grinder (gauge/size?) to buck them up into portable chunks, or (b) perhaps they can be dismantled/unscrewed so I can avoid all that cutting. BTW, this is a DIY project, no contractors!

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Thanks in advance for any-and-all guidance/steering!

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    I don't think steel walls is likely, but look at steel prices in your area. I think you'll be disappointed with what you'll get. You might be able to pay for lunch with the money you get from recycling a heap of rusting steel. And there's no way you're going to unbolt anything that's been buried in the ground for a while. A grinder or other metal saw will be your best bet. – JPhi1618 Oct 28 '15 at 14:53
  • Older pools could be plaster-over-concrete. Probably not in this age rsnge, though. Simply filling ot in -- or cutting it down some distance before fillingin the rest -- is certainly tempting but I'm not dure what loval building codes would have to xay about that, – keshlam Oct 28 '15 at 16:07
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I'd personally be surprised if they were steel, but a magnet should be handy for verifying that they are not (or are.)

If you are in full destructo-mindset and not going to change your mind over the winter, drilling hole(s) and looking at what comes out of the drilled hole (and what you see looking in the drilled hole) can also be very diagnostic.

If, as seems far more likely to me, the pool is gunite or fiberglass, all you need to do is break up the top rim deep enough that it won't affect future uses (lawn, garden, etc) of that area, and fill it in - unless you are expanding the house into the area.

8 foot deep holes/trenches are distinctly hazardous to be in - if the dirt collapses, it can kill you. Either use digging equipment that keeps you out of the hole, or dig it very wide/sloped.

If it's actually steel, you'll want a 9" angle grinder to make short work of cutting it up, or a 4" if you find a 9" too much to handle. The 9" is faster but requires more effort to control. Investigate tool rental, and get double eye protection (facemask and goggles) and a cheap set of welding leathers so you don't set your clothes on fire. Grinder sparks hurt, and set fires if there's any fuel for them to hide in.

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    Thanks @Ecnerwal - would you mind either addressed my other concerns (so, all 3) or changing this to a comment? – smeeb Oct 28 '15 at 14:47
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    Your other concerns appear to be fundamentally based on the dubious assumption that the pool is steel. I have edited to suggest a method that might not kill you. And I'd agree with JPhi that you're unlikely to find steel scrap worth the bother of removing it from the ground, if by some odd chance, you even have steel. An excavator will get the job done in a day. – Ecnerwal Oct 28 '15 at 15:00
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Sounds like you have a vinyl pool. The walls are most likely aluminum, but might be some type of polymer - though that is unlikely as its relatively new and expensive.

The aluminum walls are bolted together. The base of the walls where the A or X frames are should be concrete, probably 6-12" deep. So to remove them, you'd first have to dig down to the concrete, breakup the concrete, and then unbolt the frames and remove them. I will tell you that by hand this is a LOT of work. Frankly, it's not realistic to do on your own without serious equipment. A backhoe would make quick work of it, but on your own with a jack hammer and a screw driver, you will be out there for weeks.

I had a pool installed this summer and one of the panels had to be replaced. It took the installer almost an entire day to do it. 99% of that time was getting it out.

I think most people would just fill it in as-is. Removing the frame doesn't really do much for you at the end of the day.

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If it is steel, rent a small track hoe. You can try cutting pieces out a bit at a time, but you will still need to dig out the structural steel behind the walls. Doing this with a hand grinder will be grueling. My dad and I ripped out my steel pool from the 80's and the track hoe saved us oodles of work. I used it to push the concrete and dirt from around the pool into the bottom as well.

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