Swimming Pool Blog
by Rob, January 23, 2017
In a recent news story in Houston, a homeowner of a home under reconstruction found that skateboarders had hopped the fence, drained his pool with a portable pump, and then began to skate in his pool. Houston and surrounding areas have a strong skateboard culture, and a long history of skating swimming pools. A new documentary highlighting Houston skaters was released just a few months ago.
Skaters like certain pool shapes, specifically Kidney shaped pools with large deep end bowls. Blue Haven pools are said to be popular, due to a larger bowl with a gentle floor to wall transition. If your pool is small or shallow, it may not appeal to skaters. Skaters also prefer smooth pre-cast bullnose coping, not irregular or jagged stone coping, or brick coping with so many grout joints.
But most importantly, skateboarders look for pools that are unattended, in vacant homes. Bonus points if the pool has already been drained, or is half drained, but not green. Skaters have the power of the internet, to find homes for sale with pools, or can even use recent satellite photography to spot pools that look like good targets.
So, what about skateboarding in pools? Is it damaging to the tile, coping, plaster or other parts of the pool? And are there no skateparks?
Skateboarding in a concrete pool could possibly damage the pool, but not just from skaters, but from an empty pool.
- Empty pools must have hydrostatic relief valves opened to prevent 'popping' the pool from high water tables.
- Leaving pool plaster exposed to air for longer than a few days causes plaster to dry and shrink.
- Pool lights, tile and coping stones could be knocked loose or cracked if hit hard enough.
- Pool plaster can wear thin from skateboard wheel friction, when skated heavily and aggressively.
The larger arguments against skating pools really have nothing to do with skating the pool. The biggest fear is that an empty pool could possibly shift, and that after a few days empty, especially in hot, dry weather, pool plaster begins to dry out and will eventually crack and delaminate after several weeks or months. As for tile and coping damage, most skaters won't reach the tile and lip of the coping stones, only the best can actually do it (skating a pool is not easy!).
There are pools known as 'Permission Pools', local pools where skaters have owner's permission to skate a pool that has been emptied for repairs, or is perhaps being renovated, with new tile and plaster. In such a case, as long as the hydrostatic relief plugs are opened on the floor of the pool and in the main drain pot, you may deem your pool acceptable for skating by yourself or friends.There are also pools built specifically for skating, without plumbing or equipment, just a specially designed and formed pool.
However, be aware that your home insurance policy likely does not cover accidents to skaters riding your pool. Sure, you could have them sign 'Hold-Harmless' agreements, and make sure they all have health insurance coverage, and set some rules to prevent stunts like out-of-pool entry, or more than one rider at a time, and of course require pads and helmets, but that's your call to make. In the end, a homeowner who allow skaters to use their pool with a wink and a nod, could be found negligent if something very unfortunate happened.
Empty pools are hazardous all by themselves, due to the danger of falling into an empty pool, but if such things don't worry you, and it's your pool or a pool with permission, go ahead and knock yourself out! :-)
Yeah, I Tried skating a pool once..., Once!