—How high temperatures, dry conditions, and moist air can disrupt building progress
When the weather outside is unbearably hot—and in some regions, made worse by high humidity—it’s the perfect time to cool off in a new swimming pool. But in some cases, scorching conditions pose a seriously bad time for pool builders working to finish certain construction phases for your new pool.
That’s right, inordinately high temperatures can slow the completion pace on a new backyard resort; in some instances, they may even impact a pool remodel project. Fortunately, most of the time, hot weather poses no challenges and construction crews advance at normal speeds. It’s also good to know that intense heat does not pose a challenge to every phase of pool construction; only certain ones.
But when serious heat strikes and your pool is under construction, it’s helpful to understand some of the surprising ways that that high temperatures can interfere with the building process.
Understanding the heat wave ripple effect
While ripples in water are cool and refreshing, ripples during pool construction are not. Indeed, they are downright frustrating for everyone.
This kind of a ripple is more like a bottleneck; it originates from delays on someone else’s pool construction impacting the schedule on yours. Let’s say this again: A hold up on someone else’s project can throw off progress on yours.
Why? Just like a stone tossed into the water creates ripples, so does an interruption on one pool project. The reason: Most builders have multiple pools under construction—particularly in the busy spring or summer pool season when hotter days tend to hit.
So, a weather-related interruption on a pool site miles away from you can trigger a series of delays that strike other projects. While it may be lovely out at your house when you are expecting the next construction phase of your pool, the blistering heat from a week or two earlier may have slowed your builder’s pipeline. Now, it is affecting schedules for other upcoming work.
Yes, this phenomenon can be maddening for pool buyers. There you are—with a torn up backyard—awaiting the finish of your new aquatic retreat. While it’s little solace to your disappointment, understanding why such delays can occur from the ripple effect may reduce confusion as to why they’re happening.
Again, only some aspects of pool construction are affected—and typically, only during severe heat. Let’s take a look at which ones, when, and how.
Steel and concrete form the backbone of a pool shell and provide its durability. Before concrete (gunite or shotcrete) is applied, crews must lay a network of metal bars throughout the excavated pool hole.
The entire process of steel installation is manual. Crew members bend and tie each steel bar into place on the pool’s silhouette. Now, to protect their hands when manipulating the bars, crew members wear work gloves.
However, in scorching heat, some steel bars can become too hot to handle. In particular, those being placed throughout the pool floor—which may be in direct overhead sunlight—can get so hot that even gloved hands feel the heat.
So don’t be surprised if your builder postpones steel installation in sweltering weather. Or, because several other projects were delayed for this reason—the ripple effect—your job could get bumped back on the schedule.
A mixture of Portland cement, sand, and water, gunite (also known as dry mix) is integral to your pool shell. Hot weather can throw two kinds of curve balls at this phase.
First, the heat can impact the machinery involved. The application requires the use of a compressor—a device that forces air into the gunite material and pushes it out of the hose at high velocity.
Now, in high outdoor temperatures, the coolant fluid that helps keep the compressor from overheating is less effective. When the hot air is dry as well, the risk increases.
As a result, its radiator and gas- or diesel-powered motor can overheat, causing a power-cutting stall. Not only does concrete application come to a grinding halt, but valuable material is trapped inside the hose and may begin to stiffen.
When the temperature soars in dry and arid regions in the Southwestern United States, it’s a one-two punch that affects this construction phase. For example, in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and Phoenix—where humidity averages in the ultra-low range (30 to 40 percent)—the high, dry heat is particularly troublesome to gunite application.
Specifically, the arid conditions impact the curing; this is the process where fresh concrete needs moisture, a certain temperature range, and time to reach the rock-hard properties requisite for a lasting pool shell. The unforgiving desert air sucks the water out of the freshly applied material. Consequently, the lack of moisture inhibits the gunite’s ability to cure; it may crystalize before it properly cures—compromising the pool shell’s integrity!
To avoid such serious harm to a pool shell, professional builders may reschedule a gunite application for another day. Or, they may cut the schedule back; a team that typically performs two gunite applications a day may move forward with only the morning job. They start that job around 7 a.m. so they can finish before high noon and avoid the worse heat of the day. That means no afternoon work gets done.
As a result, a builder might reschedule afternoon jobs for the next morning, thereby creating some schedule delays for other projects. The ripple effect in action.
Depending on where you live and the type of decking being installed, hot weather may pose a challenge. Extreme heat can affect installation of all kinds of concrete decking, but the problem is usually limited to the same arid, desert Southwest regions listed above.
Much in the same way that hot, dry air impacts gunite application, the lack of moisture impedes the concrete’s curing process. When the material dries out too quickly before a proper curing period, small cracks in the deck can develop.
They are known as “check cracks”—tiny imperfections; most are about 1/64 of an inch. In some deck projects, they are unavoidable. However, it’s preferable to limit their potential scope by rescheduling deck installation for cooler weather. With this in mind, a pool builder may reschedule the deck installation.
Lastly, you have the human factor that comes with extreme heat or humidity. When the sun is beating down hard, it is simply not possible for construction crews to toil at outdoor physical labor for typical lengths of time.
Recall a time when it’s sweltering and you are only briefly outside—say walking to your car. You know how uncomfortable that can be. Now imagine if you were performing hours of physical labor at a construction site under those oppressive conditions!
And while intense dry heat is bad enough, if it’s humid and sticky too, the discomfort level is even worse! Muggy air is harder to breathe. Muggy air makes it difficult for sweat to evaporate on your body and cool it. Your body must work harder to cool, resulting in excessive sweating and an increased heart rate.
When it’s sizzling outdoors, it’s simply unreasonable, unsafe, an unethical to keep crews at work. In addition, when working inside a pool shell under construction, the excessive outdoor heat is magnified. Inside the shell, tradesmen may experience temperatures 10 degrees higher!
As a result, a construction phase may end early for the day or be re-scheduled for another when the thermometer readings are lower.
While blazing weather can create delays on the pool job site on several fronts, remember: It won’t stop the project’s completion.
Pool builders or remodel experts want to finish the project as much as their customers do. And when they do, you will be able to enjoy your cool, refreshing liquid retreat for many hot summer days to come.