LESLIE: Mark in Texas is looking for a way to fill in a pool and get his yard back. What can we do for you?
MARK: I’ve got a metal-wall pool with a vinyl bottom.
MARK: And when we bought the house, we had no desire to have a pool. The water stays about three feet deep. If I drain it the next day, it’s back.
TOM: Huh. OK.
MARK: And so what we’re going to do is jackhammer up all the concrete around it, fill it in and then about four feet of dirt on top of that and get a yard back.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Right.
MARK: But I’m afraid that the septic everywhere is what’s causing the water to come back all the time.
TOM: Hmm. Well, why don’t you do a dye test? What you can do is you can add septic dye to a sink or a toilet inside your house – and it only takes a little bit; you can probably even order some tablets online – and it’s a very, very bright green, almost fluorescent-looking dye. And then you run the water and if you see that dye show up in the pool, then you know you’ve got a serious problem. And of course, now we know why you’re not swimming in that pool. (Mark laughs)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah. At first I was kind of sad that you wanted to fill in the pool; now I’m like, "Yeah, I’m not coming over."
TOM: Now I’m thinking it’s a really good idea. (Leslie chuckles)
MARK: Well see, we’re kind of at the bottom of a hill; so everybody’s septic, I think, is running down underneath my yard probably about eight feet down.
TOM: Well no, it doesn’t work that way. The septic should be draining in each, individual yard. Now it may feel that way but that’s not the case. What I’m concerned about is if your septic is in fact draining into that pool area, there could be a problem with the septic, too. But once you’ve convinced yourself that the septic is not contributing to the water – it could just be water table – then I think your plan is fine. Just be very, very careful – especially the more you take apart, the more dangerous that area gets.
MARK: Are you talking about collapsing or …?
TOM: Yeah, collapsing. Sure. It could collapse in on you, so you’ve got to be very, very careful because you’re pretty much taking away the structure as you tear that out. And then I think filling it with clean fill dirt is fine and doing it in layers and tamping it as you go, that’s going to be important because it’s going to settle and you want to make sure it ends up nice and flush with a decent grade when you’re all said and done. And doing it now is probably a good idea because the fall is the best time to plant a new lawn.
MARK: Oh, OK. Very good. So just the dye and make sure it’s not my septic and if it is, then I’ve got bigger problems than an old, nasty pool.
TOM: Then we’ve got to tackle getting that fixed. OK, Mark?
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now we know why nobody wants to go to Mark’s house to swim.
LESLIE: Yeah, right? (Tom chuckles) "Hey, you guys want to take a dip in my poo?" (Tom laughs) "Oh, you forgot the ‘L’?" "No, I meant it."