The decision to remove an inground swimming pool can be difficult. It's a costly process that requires a lot of preparation, heavy equipment and hard work. There is probably a local government approval and permit process to follow, and there may be long-term legal and disclosure issues to consider if you decide to sell the property later. Nevertheless, removing the pool may be the best solution for safety reasons or if upkeep, repairs and renovation become too much to bear.
Check with your local planning department to determine what permission, permits and inspections you need in order to remove a swimming pool. If you don't follow the local requirements and get the required permits, you could face future lawsuits from neighbours and make it impossible to sell your property at a fair price in the future. Understand that, even if you follow all the requirements completely, you will have to disclose the pool removal to a potential buyer if you decide to sell the property later.
Locate an excavation contractor who will allow you to do as much of the work as you can to save money on the project. A full-service contractor who specialises in complete pool removal may cost as much or more than the original price of installing the pool. Decide which work you are willing and able to do and what you should leave to the heavy-equipment operators.
Consider the work you can do with a jackhammer, sledge hammer, pick and shovel. Begin by breaking up the decking around the pool. Remove any equipment on the deck, such as fencing, a slide, hand rails and diving board. Break out the pool coping and water level tile. Dig up and remove the plumbing lines running from the pool to the equipment pad. Disconnect and remove electrical conduit and lines running to the pool equipment and the pool light.
Break up the sidewalls and bottom of the pool's concrete shell. The pool shell is built as a single unit, like a concrete bath or boat in the ground. The shell is reinforced throughout with rebar, and the top perimeter, called the bond beam, is especially thick and reinforced to hold the shell together. Breaking all this up into removable chunks requires either several people and several days with hand-operated jackhammers or heavy equipment and specially designed breaker attachments.
Remove all the debris and have it hauled away. In some instances, the rubble is pushed into the deepest part of the pool and used as fill. However, this may present a problem later if you or a new owner want to build any additional structure or feature on that part of the property. Consider the potential future use of the area before deciding what to do with the demolition rubble.
Haul in medium-sized rock and gravel to fill the excavated hole about halfway up. This will ensure proper drainage of the area once it's planted later. Level and allow the rocks and gravel to settle for a day or two, then cover this layer with a 60 cm (2 feet) layer of clean fill soil. Tamp and roll this layer to a rough level. Add 30 cm (1 foot) of top soil at a time, tamping and rolling each layer, until the surface matches the surrounding ground. Allow the area to sit for at least a week before planting to be sure it is well settled.
Remember to call for inspections at each required stage of the work before beginning the next phase of the project. Try to salvage any equipment that is still usable, like the filter, pool pump and heater. You might be able to sell these to help defray the cost of the project.
When draining the water from the pool before demolition, be sure to check local statutes. In most cases, you'll need to neutralise the water with chlorine-removing chemicals and drain directly to a P trap that carries the water to your domestic waste water system.