Adding a Waterfall -- Help

mboganSeptember 9, 2009

Hi all,

We are looking to add a waterfall to our existing gunite pool. I am trying to get some ideas, as well as, determine if the pricing I am getting is in the right ballpark.

The goal will be to add as much water noise as possible to help mask some road noise that can be heard from the pool area.

We had a pool company come to price it up for us. They recommended between a 3-5 ton waterfall (leaning more to the 3 ton side). They priced it up at appx $4700 which included 3 tons rock, reconfiguring plumbing (no extra pump needed - just adding new valves), pouring concrete foundation, and any required escavation and backfilling to install the new pipe to the waterfall.

Does this sound about right? We are in the northeast.

Also, does anyone have any pictures of waterfalls between 3-5 tons?

Any help or direction would be appreciated


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I can't help with price - but I can tell you we had a raised wall (24 inches) with a 48" sheer descent running off it's own pump. It was so loud you couldn't hold a conversation outside without yelling. It would cover up the noise of a truck convoy!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 3:27PM
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We are definately looking to cover up the "truck convey" or better yet the occasional Harley. :)

Basically, they want to build it up to about 24" and drop it down off a couple flat rocks.

I just cannot seem to gage how big 3-4 ton waterfall is.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 5:04PM
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Rock size and layout play the big part. You might visit a garden center that sells rocks and large stone. That may help you to extrapolate what your budget will get you.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 7:13PM
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By the ton seems like a strange way to sell it.
I would want to know what the aprox finished diminsions of the falls would be.
Now your other issue is that you are adding 3 tons of load to your pool wall. I doubt it is designed for that.
(What they didnt mention that)

You get water noise with water falling from height.
Simple deck jets that send water eight feet or more in the air make alot of noise for $100 or so each.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 10:11PM
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tfons1219 is correct with the noise from their sheer descent. We have a 2ft sheer descent and it is 15 inches high. We also have a shower feature and a mermaid/ dolphin statue and these 3 water features put our a lot of noise. Look at our thread "Our New Pool Build in Jacksonville, FL" to get addition ideas. Thanks in advance for allowing me to share my opinion.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 6:17AM
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I personally expect the weight to be spread over at least 5 or 6 feet and back several feet. Weight on the bond beam is not likely be a factor. Most of the weight will be behind it on the ground.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 6:40AM
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Thanks for all if the input. Deck jets and sheer decents are definatley viable options. They would still require some plumbing alterations. Have a waterfall would definately be the preferred option as it will fit in to our landscaping.

As for the support, the price that I received included a concrete pad to be poured on the backside of the bond beam to hold the weight. There shouldnt be any excessive weight on the bond beam.

Going to a garden center is definately an option to get a feel for the size. Hopefully, someone on the board can share pics of smaller falls relative to 3-5 tons.

Thanks again!!


    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 10:10AM
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Just a clarification,
unless when he pours his concrete pad, it has pilons that go into the ground the same depth of the pool you will be putting a very large load on the side of your pool. Maybe it is designed for this, and maybe not, maybe you dont really care.

Glad your not an engineer :)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 10:05PM
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True, I am not an engineer. But the waterfall's weight will be spread over at least an area of 12 to 15 square feet. Much of the weight will on the ground, not on the bond beam, Here in NJ, most the gunite pools have a 12" bond beam. Pretty strong.

Footers under a poured base will help spread the load on the ground so as to no extend to much lateral pressure towards the pool shell. Two or three 12" sonnets three feet down, I would exoect, should help to provide additional support and prevent frost heaving.

While some additional weight will be born on the bond beam, I can't see it the layer of rock on the bond beam exerting more than 200 lbs per square foot on top and the rest of the waterfall's weight being spread on the ground, over the poured base. I can;t see the outside of the shell receiving too much in the way of lateral pressure being exerted.

I may be very wrong. Like I admitted, I am not an mechanical or structural engineer. I am teachable.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 2:43AM
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I hope this will help my waterfall is 2 1/2 tons and makes a lovely sound..

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 1:42AM
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quote" By the ton seems like a strange way to sell it. "quote

I've always sold my waterfalls by the ton.

I'm curious, how do you determine the prices on your waterfalls?

Adding a waterfall to an existing pool is a piece of cake.
Drill some 4 to 6 inch deep, 12 inches apart 1/2" holes into the gunite about 3" down from the top of the beam. Set your form, excavate the total waterfall area to 6" deep, Dig a beam a shovelhead wide a few inches deeper around the outer edge including behind the pool shell, take some post hole diggers and dig down into the beam about 18 inches every 4 or 5 feet apart. Now use a two part epoxy to set some #4 rebar into the holes in the pool shell and out into the waterfall pad, this bond will be stronger than the gunite itself, tie your steel on 12" centers, then pour with 3000psi redimix.
Plumb in a 3-way valve into your pool return pipe and send that pipe to the fall.

It's a walk in the park.

The most important part is the fastening of the steel into the existing gunite, DON'T let your contractor just pour a concrete pad behind the pool and then build a waterfall on top of it.

See ya,

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 9:03PM
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Our waterfall was built as part of our pool, am I'm just a homeowner/pool owner, so I can't even presume to make suggestions about how to build it.

The comment I wanted to make, though, is that our waterfall has its own pump. That way, we can have the waterfall on without having to run the pool pump, too. So, when we're out on the deck at night, we can just have the waterfall going...

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 2:06AM
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Here is mine, I think we are close to 3 ton. I have six valves that cascade the water over it, which I adjusted to reduce the noise. If need be, it could be loud enough for what you wanted!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 10:56AM
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I am not a pool builder or structural engineer... but here is my novice concern with a waterfall pad that is attached to the pool... if the pad settles or heaves and settles with freezing/thawing, it would seem that the leverage would crack the pool beam easily.

Would it not be better to reinforce the main pool wall and floor in that area with additional rebar and thickness, and then have the waterfall pad freestanding, with footings down to at least 36"? I can see the drawback as being settlement of the pad shifting any rocks overlying the pool beam, but I would think it would be minimal, and not noticeable. May be I am wrong...

I am looking to do a large waterfall with a slide through it... and based on the weights of the small ones pictured here, mine would be extremely heave with real rock. Are there any synthetic options that are lighter and still look as real as real rock?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 12:05AM
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Waterfalls need to be attached just as Husky described. If a pad is poured separately and not attached; it will leak causing more problems, more earth movement, more settling. Biggest problem with add on waterfalls (by DIYer's) is usually leakage.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 9:39AM
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Are you referring to erosion under the pad/footings caused by leaking as being the biggest problem with add-on waterfalls?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 10:03PM
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If you pour a foundation for a waterfall next to the pool the joint will leak while the waterfall is running. Concrete expands and contracts. This is a fact. Leaks cause soil saturation and makes the weight of the rock a bigger issue with regard to movement.
I like to put the rock in the waterline. On remodels, I break out the pool beam, tie the existing steel in a beam around the waterfall and use a footing behind the pool wall to support the pool wall.
There a lot of ways to build waterfalls, but my pet peeve are waterfalls that leak. A good, solid, well sealed concrete bowl is the best defense.
I haven't seen any artificial rock that looks as good as real rock. But, you can do things with fake rock that you can't with real such as large, deep grotto's or sometimes space is a factor. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 12:08PM
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just-a-pb, I hope you aren't a physicist. The column of earth will suffice, so long as it is as undisturbed as the pool is. Although it might not be a project for Joe six pack, there is no point scaring people.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 4:25AM
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