Home & Garden

Ask Angie: The cost of filling in an in-ground swimming pool

Dear Angie: We want to get rid of our in-ground pool. What's involved? — Harvey S., Barre City, Vt.

Answer: If you're certain you wouldn't rather repair or restore your pool, which pros say can cost the same or even less than removal, there are key points to consider when filling in a swimming pool.

Most important, a pool taken out of service should be properly disconnected from the plumbing and electrical equipment serving it. Many heated pools have electrical and gas or propane equipment, which must be decommissioned by licensed electricians and plumbers.

Also, if you have a fiberglass pool, be sure your contractor removes the shell before filling it with dirt, sand, gravel or a mix. If you have a concrete or gunite pool, the contractor must demolish the rim and sides as much as 4 feet below ground level. Pros say the broken-up material can help fill the hole and weigh down the vessel.

To prevent future problems, it's important to drill holes in the vessel's bottom and side or in the vacant pool cavity. This allows any water that gathers after a rainfall to escape. Without weep holes, pros say, the pool vessel will pop out of the ground when the water table rises.

What it costs to fill in a pool

Depending on your pool's size, you can easily spend $10,000 to $15,000 to prep and fill it in. Local demolition requirements may increase your costs. Some towns require you to remove the pool completely, or that you fill it in with a specific mix of dirt, sand and gravel. Other locations let you break the concrete into small pieces and use as backfill.

It can take workers several days to hammer out and excavate a concrete or gunite pool, which can be 12 inches thick, with steel reinforcing. Liner pools, which last about eight to 12 years, are much simpler to remove.

After the pool is removed or filled in, you'll need to do something with the cleared space, so you may incur landscaping costs. The use of heavy equipment for pool removal may also cause damage to existing landscaping.

Hire an experienced contractor

If you choose to remove the pool, hire a pool construction and service contractor or excavator who has experience removing and filling in pools. Confirm that they're appropriately licensed and insured.

If you'd like to save money by doing some of the work yourself, pros say you could pump out the pool. However, make sure you don't flood the neighbors. You can also scrap all the pool heat and pump equipment once it has been removed or made safe.

Research your local rules about pool demolition to be sure your contractor doesn't cut corners, leaving you exposed to fines or legal problems if the fill-in isn't done to code.

Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at askangie@angieslist.com.