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What are my options to fix a leaky baptistry?

We share David’s advice from on his many years working out solutions for our customers. This advice covers common problems encountered with concrete and tile pools. If you have a lead-lined pool, it’s better to get in touch directly.

Most of the older baptisteries that we come across are tiled concrete. They do look impressive when installed, but eventually they begin to leak and they aren’t easy to fix. That’s why we use a more reliable glass reinforced plastic (GRP) liner.

Some of your options are determined by what conditions you currently have. Does the existing pool have steps? Can they be removed? Is there any access to the outer or undersides of the tank? The dimensions of the existing pool are also important as they can limit the scope for repair and replacements.

Other decisions need to be based on your best understanding of the urgency of the situation. Water leaking from a baptistry may be minor, or it may be causing damp and starting to undermine your building. We have options to suit different budgets and, because our team has years of experience, we will always give you options to keep costs down.

What are your options?

Option one

The cleanest solution is to demolish the existing pool. We can make new insulated GRP tank to fit. You may be able to reuse elements of the old tank, such as the floor as a firm base, or the water supply and drainage.

Option two

It’s not always possible to demolish an old baptistry but, if the steps can be removed, then a GRP liner the size of the pool can slip inside the existing space. However this obviously does shrink the space in the pool because the sides of the pool will be between 35 and 60mm thick. This option needs:

  • An existing baptistry that retains its original shape
  • A way to get the new pool liner into place: an entrance that is as wide and tall as your existing baptistry

Option three

We can reline your pool in place, which is useful if there’s no large entranceway for a new liner. We would recommend that any steps are removed by a local builder first as lining around them costs more and risks leaks. We would prefabricate sheets of GRP (with a tile pattern if preferred), make new steps and then bring them to your chuch and install. The advantage with this method is that you keep the shape of the old baptistry, reuse existing plumbing, and don’t need a large access point. It’s quite labour-intensive and costs around the same as option one.

Option four

In some churches, it is easier just to close up the leaking pool altogether and begin to use a baptistry that can be dismantled when not in use. The former pool could be used as storage space for the new flat-pack pool. We offer a variety of models, depending on the size and depth that you prefer, and you can choose to purchase or to hire baptisteries from us as you need them. This is much more cost-effective and you flexible on where you place the pool. This option needs:

  • Someone willing to put together and dismantle the baptistry when needed.

Option five

It is worth understanding the options available to you to repair the existing baptistry – while we would suggest that specialist paints aren’t likely to be reliable long term, rubber paints and pond paints will make a temporary repair. Also, do speak to a local tradesperson about retiling and grouting. Sometimes it is possible to create additional water-holding features between the new tiles and the concrete.

Speaking as a church treasurer, David recommends that you factor into your options the fact that a repaired concrete and tiled pool needs an ongoing maintenance budget in a way that a GRP lined pool doesn’t.

What next?

Having read through the options, do get in touch with some photos and measurements and we can talk through how to help: +44345 230 1381

In conversation with… Steve Haskett

We ask Steve from All Saints Anchorsholme about their experience with the Galilee baptistry.

Did you like the pool?

“Yes, we loved it, the size was great and I really loved the way it was assembled – I managed to do it myself in a reasonable length of time. The heater was a brilliant addition. Loved the double layer liner and the floor pads too.”

Did you find the pool easy to assemble and disassemble?

“Yes. The water pump was particularly useful – it emptied the pool in no time.”

Did the instructions make sense?

“Yes it was very straightforward, thank you”

How was delivery and collection?

“Colleagues collected and returned the pool. It easily fitted into an average family sized hatchback. One thing of note – we managed to do this for the cost of the courier one way!” [That’s a really good point, as courier charges can look high, until you work out your own costs to do it…]

Any last thoughts?

“Thank you! We felt that the cost of the kit was very reasonable taking into account it was complete with absolutely everything that was required!”

Special offer – wooden hexagonal pool

clip_image002_0000We have one of the wooden hexagonal baptistry pools for sale. Made with beech-veneered wood, these are very much in keeping with church interiors, as the picture of it in Bradford Cathedral shows. The pool is approximately 5′ across and 2’2″ deep. It slots together in a very neat way and needs no tools for assembly. The pool will come with new equipment, new liner but no heater.

Price £650+£50 delivery +VAT


Fibreglass Pools over Concrete and Tiles

A fibreglass baptistry tank has many advantages over a concrete and tile pit. Usually, it is cheaper in terms of building costs but where it shows its superiority is in its zero-maintenance.

Installation of a single-piece tank is quicker nor is it always necessary to have plumbing for drains or even filling – there are a range of options to suit the needs, budget and situation of the church.

Further savings can be made because our tanks are insulated as standard.

And you can choose your colour! And we make reinforced lids.

Lids (Part 2)

We’ve had another design break-through, one that saves you money. Once a baptistry gets above 1.75m in width, the lids need extra reinforcement if there is to be no flex in the lids. Up to now this has been done by using thicker timbers (which might use up valuable space) or by using stainless steel box-section tubes, which are expensive. Both options get heavy too. Now we can use box-section tubes of compressed GRP. The cost falls between timber and steel and the weight issues are avoided.

The Croydon – A New 10-sided Baptismal

Croydon 10 sided baptistry

We put the nonagon up recently and, when we came to put the liner on we found the liner too big and a side too many – we’d accidentally forgotten a panel and made an octagon. As the panels went together just as well with one missing, we tried it with one extra. Ten sides worked too and it gave a pool that is catching on. It is wider than our ‘workhorse’ pool the nonagon but not any deeper. As the first church to try it and buy it was in Croydon, the name stuck. It is a cost-effective way to get a large baptistry tank (nearly 7′ across) that can be stored easily and doesn’t required the larger steps of our deeper baptistry (The Apostle).

Baptistries Insulated as Standard

Insulated baptistry tank

The new range of our baptistries have insulation as standard – this saves £400 on the price and a lot in heating costs in the long run. Insulation is difficult to do with concrete and tile baptismals.

Elim style simply means the steps are an integral part of the baptistry and not a separate unit fixed in place afterward, so a whole range of dimensions, depths and configurations are possible. And, as we make timber moulds for each job, you can have bespoke at the price of ‘off-the-peg’.

How to Lose Your Bond #1 An Occasional Series…

The photos below are taken of the pool as it had arrived back. The two boxes with panels in had not been taped up and were open as seen. The green kit box was unsealed too. The other taped-together blob contained the two foam mats (which should have been protecting the side panels) and the liner (which was wet and had leaves on it). The crate contained all the other kit chucked in pel-mel. The pipes were still full of water and there was 1cm of water sloshing about the bottom. Aside from being cavalier, it loses the bond. The bond cheque gets presented and the extra time taken in drying, cleaning and checking the kit is deducted.

Badly packed baptistry 20120925_113245 20120925_113644 20120925_113835

Please repack the pool and equipment carefully, not only is it the decent thing to do, it might mean that the next church has no pool because it has been damaged in transit. It is a very good idea to delegate a couple of people to unpack, set-up, take down and repack. Problems are most commonly encountered in large churches where there is no person taking responsibility.

There is a one page guide, with pictures, on repacking. There is a number to ring. Please take care of the baptistry and your bond.

Ultra-flat Baptistry – A Very Affordable Baptistry

A new baptistry is born and what better way to test it than to let three kids loose on it during the heatwave!A new cheap portable baptistery The UltraFlat baptismal comprises four flat but flexible GRP panels that bend and bolt together to form a rigid circular frame. A very quick and very cheap portable baptistry. This four panel version is 150cm (5′) across. You could add a fifth panel and the pool would be 188cm in diameter (just over 6’3″). This baptistry dismantles into flat panels that can be easily stored. And what’s more this baptistry costs less than £400. You can buy extra pieces of equipment but a lot of the additonal kit can be easily sourced locally from a hardware shop. A very tough, simple, flat, storable, flexible and cheap baptistry!

Let’s Talk Drains!

This is the one topic that churches, architects and builders ignore at their peril. It is very often an ‘Oh, by the way…’BaptistryUK Elim Baptistry with part-width steps

The phrase ‘can of worms’ often gets used. Anyway, there are two options (assuming not emptying the pool ever is discounted):

  • a small sump into which a submerisble pump is dropped to pump the water out to a drain or toilet;
  • or a plughole.

And with the plughole waste there is the option of a plug and chain, an upstand waste (a metal tube stuck into the plug hole to act as both plug and overflow), and a valve (which would be on the outside bottom of the baptistry. Pop up wastes don’t work simply because of the weight of water. Upstand wastes can get in the way a bit as they need to be over a metre tall. Valves mean that permanent, easy access is needed to the lower part of the outside of the baptistry, which needs to be planned in. Another thing that needs to be understood is that a plumber needs to be able to get to the underside of the baptistry to physically connect the screwthread of the waste from the baptistry to the pipe work that will take the waste water away. To this end, a concrete pit can be cast overlong so that there is an access pit beside the baptistry for the installing plumber. This can be closed up if it is not needed thereafter. Or, we also make a baptistry with part-width steps. This means that there is an ’empty corner’, which again allows the plumber to get down to get a hand under the baptistry to screw the pipe to the waste thread. If a wooden stage is being built around then baptistry, then access issues are much easier to solve.

There are ways of dropping the baptistry on to existing pipework without having to get a hand under the baptistry (it involves a shower waste) but this requires some pretty accurate measuring to get the pipework and waste to line up exactly!

It doesn’t bother us which way you go just so long as it has been considered. Just over half of our customers opt for a sump and pump. This is sometimes because gravity drainage just isn’t possible in their case (not because gravity is absent you understand), sometimes because it seems to be too much faff, and othertimes because people do have an aversion to putting holes in water-bearing containers. In older baptistries that are leaking, it is generally the tiles/grouting that has packed up or the existing plumbing. It is perhaps natural, therefore, that churches would chose an option that does away with the need for plumbing.

This, along with such matters as colour choice, is something that needs to be explored and settled by or with the church members at an early stage. These blog entries can alway be a bit ‘over-summarized’ so do please feel free to get in touch to discuss anything with me either via the website, email (david@baptistryuk.com) or via twitter (@baptistry)