Removing or Backfilling a Swimming Pool

You can’t just start dumping a bunch of dirt into your old swimming pool and expect that to be the end of it. First, you should hire a reputable demolition and excavation expert to do the job for you. Then you must make sure your demolition contractor has pulled all the proper permits from your city or county, whichever is required. You must make sure to do your part in advance of the day of demolition or removal of your old swimming pool. Ask your contractor what needs to be clear out of the way and what can stay.


You can choose to either have the entire pool removed before filling in the hole, or you can have just part of the pool removed. In either case, the demolition crew starts with making sure all water is completely drained from the pool. After using a powerful pump to get out 90% of the water, the demolition team will punch holes through the concrete bottom of your old pool to make sure the final water is drained out. This also ensures that if you are only removing the first few feet of concrete before backfilling, there will be proper and efficient drainage in the future.

Whether removing all or part of the concrete that makes up your in-ground swimming pool, you should be certain that the contractor you’ve chosen will be recycling the old concrete and not dumping it in the landfill.


Once the pool is completely drained, an underground utility locator will go work locating any water, electric and gas lines for proper disconnection prior to the actual demolition. Depending on your location, you and the contractor will have to decide whether to dig out all of the plumbing first or if it is better to just disconnect the supply and cap and bury the pipes. This is mostly dependent on building code in your specific location.

If you have decided to use the “abandonment” method of pool removal, here is what will happen once the are is readied as outlined above. Using a skid loader or Bobcat, the demolition contractor will open up one end of the pool and then uses some of the available dirt to build a ramp for access in and out of the swimming pool cavity. At that point, the skid loader begins punching holes in the bottom of the pool to allow future drainage as mentioned above.  Once the holes are in place then the pool deck area is pushed into the bottom of the abandoned pool cavity.  The skid loader then hammers and removes the top 2 to 3 feet of the pool and pushes that into the cavity.  Once the primary concrete is smashed up and pushed to the center of the vacant pool,  dirt is placed into the pool using a stepping process which consists of placing about 2 feet of dirt  into the pool cavity and then machine compacting. This process is repeated until the hole is filled.


If you have chosen the “exhumation” method to have your swimming pool removed,  this means the crew will not only break up all of the concrete inside the pool as well as the decking, they will also cart it out and haul it to a recycle plant. This method is, for obvious reasons, the more costly of the two so you should confer with your demolition and excavation professional before making your decision. It usually depends on what you want to do in the area once the pool is removed and backfilled as to which method you would want to use.


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