View Full Version : Tearing Out a Swimming Pool

08-13-2007, 05:46 PM
I need to tear out a 20 X 40 Gunite concrete pool with approx. 6 feet of concrete deck surrounding it. My current thinking is to rent a excavator, maybe in the 6 ton class or larger if necessary, dig a 12' to 14' hole, bust up the concrete, shove it in the hole, burying the whole thing, and regrade the area.

First, I would like to know what size excavator is capable of clawing apart the walls to cave them in. I would prefer not to have to use a breaker although I know there is steel in the walls. I have a cut off saw for the rebar, but again, will an excavator with thumb pick it apart efficiently?

Any additional advice or considerations would be appreciated. This is family owned property so there is no rush to get it out profitably.

Oh, one more thing. One of the pictures shows a wooded area that has been cleared. I would like to pick up (or slide) one of the 6 X 8 slabs that makes up the concrete surround onto a leveled area within the clearance. Sort of a nature observation area. About 50' from the pool tear out. Will a thumb on a 6 ton handle a slab this size? The crete is 3.5 inches thick.




08-13-2007, 06:13 PM
Get at least an 8 ton machine with a breaker on it and do yourself a favor. Personally, I wouldn't bring in anything less than a 120 if the access is good, but that's me. The rebar is gonna be a pain and you'll want to be able to reach down into that pool a good distance otherwise you'll be maneuvering around all day with a smaller machine. Get a breaker, bust everything up good, then tear the crap out of it with the bucket. Make sure the machine you rent has a hydraulic thumb or you'll be kicking yourself again. You're right, you'll probably need to cut some of the rebar with a saw, but you may luck out and it could come in piece that are easy to handle. A 120 would just bend large grids of rebar right up, that's the advantage of having a larger machine, but if you're not in a hurry to get it out I suppose you could use a smaller machine, it'll just take you longer.

08-13-2007, 06:32 PM
Thank you Scag 48, that's good advice. When I say time is not an issue, what I mean is I would prefer this to be a one day job, not two or three. But, I don't expect (or need) to get it out in three hours.

A 120 size would be best...and more fun too :)

08-13-2007, 06:40 PM
I guess I'll offer another view. I would not be afraid of taking that on with 10-12K machine with a thumb. A breaker would make the job go faster and if you run into more concrete than expected it is the key to getting back on schedule. A demo saw with a steel cutting blade and your good to go. You could have that demoed and backfilled in a very easy day. You may also want to compact the material back with a hoe pac or roller to prevent settling. My opinion is it would hardly be worth brining in a 120 for a job like that between the additional mobilization costs, additional rental cost plus the extra cost a breaker and or hoe pac if you went that way I don't think it would be worth it. You would be done in an hour with a 120 or maybe two with 12k machine. Hardly worth bringing the bigger machine in for such a small job.

08-13-2007, 07:00 PM
Geez, two hours with a 6 ton and no breaker? Amazing. I had no idea a machine that size could be that destructive...or should I say productive:laugh:

One thing that concerns me a little is needing to climb down into the pool and cut rebar on the sides, possibly loosening sections of material to slide down and smash or cut a leg.

Obviously, common sense will be needed on a cut-by-cut basis but the less cutting the better I think.

08-13-2007, 07:48 PM
You could totally do that job with a 10-12K machine, I just think you'd run out of reach pretty quick or may have difficulty with the rebar. I dunno though, I've never demo'd a pool.

08-13-2007, 08:25 PM
If it were my job this is how I would do it with the equipment that I have.

I would use the breaker and put relief breaks in the concrete walls by sitting on top of the pool and break back toward youself. I would do that all the way around the pool. I would then remove the concrete apron around the pool and stack it. I would ramp into the pool by pulling a portion of the wall down, use onsite material and throw dirt down as a ramp. I would then move to the bottom of the pool. I would then track to the far side and pull the walls down on themselves. I would continue that until you were back to the ramp you built. Just work your way out of the hole. You don't really need to reach across the pool.

The issue I do see as a potiential problem is having more concrete than you have room for. That is why I would stack the flat concrete on the outside of the pool. After the walls are pulled in, see what kind of room you have. You may want to break the flat work up into small pieces or you may just have to haul it off to leave enough room for soil over the top. You certainly will need material to top it off with. To save on trucking I would haul off the concrete and back haul the topsoil or visa versa.

08-13-2007, 08:36 PM
I have demoed many buildings this is the way that I tear out the foundations prior to owning a 160 size excavator. I tore down two Mcdonalds buildings that the basements doubled as fallout shelters. Extremely thick reenforced concrete. Those I used a skid steer in the basement to do the breaking, but same concept. Rebar is not that big of a deal but you do need a chop saw. As far as safety, as long as the guy on the saw is competent and has safety gear it is not that dangerous. If you have a breaker will not have a problem. You may not even need it depending on the power of the excavator. I would get a zero tail machine so you don't have to worry about what you may swing into.

08-13-2007, 09:31 PM

Thanks for your suggestions. I appreciate and respect your experience doing this kind of work.

Two things I want to avoid if possible - hauling away demo material, and importing soil. My plan is to dig the hole to 12 - 14 feet next to the deep end, stack the slabs in as flat as possible, dump more rubble on top. pull all the shallow end material into the deep end and beyond, and hopefully I will have created enough space with the additional hole depth to hold it all.

Right now, its all theory. Getting it done efficiently is the trick. This will be a learning experience for sure.

08-13-2007, 10:13 PM
If i was going to bury the cement on site,i would start on the down hill side of the pool.Remove the slabs on the down hill side.

Then dig the dirt away from the wall on the down hill side moving the dirt out to both ends.Dig the hole as deep as possible.This will give you more room for the walls from the pool ,plus you will have dirt to cover up the concrete.

Start at one end and work your way across the pool pulling the wall over into your hole as you go.

Might want to work the ends in also,by digging out the dirt that is back filled up along the end walls.

Now go up on the top side of the pool .Move the slabs, then cave the walls over on too the floor.You might have to cut the rebar after you get started.Slide the slabs over on to the walls.

If things goes as planned you should have a hole full of concrete.The taller you can leave the top side of the pool.Natural ground the better it will turn out.

Figure at least a foot of cover of dirt over the wall in the hole.More would be better depends on the room,and dirt you have when done.Try to keep everything as uniform as possible..

Start working your dirt,that you removed from the bottom and ends over the hole.Starting at the top and make a slope from the top>>>> to the bottom of where the pool was.

If you could end up with at least a 6/1 would be fairly flat to mow.

Not sure if you will understand the concept or not ,but using the lay of the ground would be too you advantage.Good luck.

08-13-2007, 10:36 PM
I'm in the pool business, sort of, we fabricate and install screen enclosures for them and have been doing it 20 years. The old joke I've always heard is "it will cost even more to remove one". Not really true, but can say the dig crew I know won't take one out for under $5k using a JD 290D. Between the 8" 6000 psi gunite & steel it's a real bear and very hands on, a torch is your friend. All of it has to be removed from the site since it's illegal burry construction debris here. I'm sure the dump fee's alone are costly.

08-13-2007, 10:55 PM
In my opinion Skag48 has good advise...use a 120 or larger machine especially if you want to finish in a day. Now if you already own a smaller machine that's what I would use. I demoed a pool similar to that a couple of weeks ago with a 160.

08-13-2007, 11:31 PM
Not sure if you will understand the concept or not ,but using the lay of the ground would be too you advantage.Good luck.

I re-read your post a couple of times and believe that this may be the best approach. I better use a 120 size machine or bigger in case I am dealing with 8" concrete as suggested above.

Thank you.

Gravel Rat
08-14-2007, 02:01 PM
It is the same here you can't bury broken up concrete its illegal burying asphalt is even worse.

You will need a breaker for sure to break up that concrete I really doubt the machine alone will beable to bust up the concrete if its been rebar'ed heavily.

The other option is have a blasting contractor come in drill a few holes use some dynamite bust up the concrete. Then you start cutting the rebar with a torch or gas cut off saw.

A breaker on a mini will bust up the concrete it will take longer bust it up then bring in a bigger machine to dig the pool out. The dump trucks hauling away the material can be bringing you new clean dirt and hauling away the debris.

Good luck

08-14-2007, 09:47 PM
I build additions to home and fill pools in all the time .My guy use a small ex around 8 tone we cut holes in the bottom about 2'x2' three or four of them so the pool will not hold water and the guys push the pool in and break it up .Then we fill it in 6" lifts Ive never had to go back and re grade .Ive been doing this for 25 years .I get permits for the job but nobody ever asked what we did with the stuff. we bury concrete all the time. We finished ripping down a house today and pushed the old foundation in a big hole . (sweet deal) John

08-15-2007, 12:08 AM
I've seen a pool filled like that. Use a breaker, jackhammer, whatever you got to break holes in the bottom. Throw a little dirt in, and start peeling up the apron and dumping it into the pool. Dirt/concrete/dirt/concrete/etc... The guys I saw had a bigger track loader (Cat 953) which helped walk it in good. Round here, you can rent a slightly smaller track loader (555) for about $700-$800 for the weekend, delivered and picked up, insurance, tax and all.

I don't know if the holes in the bottom are to keep it from holding water or to keep it from floating up out of the ground, but either way, I understand they are a pretty important detail.

08-16-2007, 09:52 PM
Curious to hear how the job is going? Were you just bidding it or did you already have the job?

Gravel Rat
08-16-2007, 11:16 PM
I think he said this is his famillies property :)

Get a box of dynamite and a box of blasting caps start drilling a bunch of holes. Snap the sticks in half put a half stick in each hole wire them in to a trigger wire and a battery and watch everything go boom :laugh:

Stick Pro
09-01-2007, 07:01 PM
We remove and dig swimming pools we use a cat 320 excavator on the open jobs and the much tighter ones we have a cat 943 and a 935 track loader. Looks like you have plenty of room it would not take no more than two hours with a 320 excavator. Only way to go.

gammon landscaping
09-03-2007, 01:41 AM
if you have to rent and you are going to have all day i think i would just rent a backhoe save yourself 500 bucks maybe work a little harder at and not have to fix the hole lawn back. i have been thinking about this, if you grade the top of the pool to shed the water why would you even need to but holes in the bottom. seems to me that there should be no water getting down there if the site is properly graded... i would feel sure that burying concrete in ky. is fine. i would just take a backhoe and break the deck and the top couple of feet up and put it in the pool and cover with dirt and be done. i think it is funny how some here think that every little thing is so complicated and expensive, now i guess that have left alot of money in peoples pockets around town but i have always had plenty and always busy. you don't need a trac hoe for everything. this is a family project save them the money

09-03-2007, 05:20 AM
You would need some type of holes in the bottom. Over time you will get water in the pool even though it is full of dirt and it will have no where to go. Maybe in the winter with the freezing and thawing the bottom may crack open and allot water to escape but to me might as well fix it correct the first time.