Nothing beats jumping into some ice cold, refreshing water on a hot summer day. Having said this, pools are not something to decide on lightly, as they are a costly addition to a home, and require consistent maintenance. If you have decided to take the dive and want to add one of these fantastic summer additions to your home, here are a few things you may need to know.
Types of Pools
You have a choice between two main types of pool, which are inground and aboveground, each with it’s own subtypes. There are 3 main subtypes of inground pools which exist; concrete, vinyl and fiberglass.
Concrete pools are made with a modern process using gunite. This is a type of concrete which is sprayed over a metal frame at high velocity. The greatest attribute of a pool made this way is that it can fit any shape, so the versatility in the process of making one of these pools is quite obvious from the word go.
Fiberglass pools are also made in any shape, but there is one major difference. Fiberglass is transported as a complete pool, and installed on site. This means 2 things. Firstly, the pool is very quickly installed (sometimes in just a 2 day period!), but you will have to pay for transporting the pool as well, which becomes increasingly harder the larger the pool. Ever seen one of those big 18 wheelers with a pool on the back?
Vinyl pools are now available in a large selection of colors which a few years ago they weren’t. There are quite a few advantages to using vinyl liner, including the fact that unlike concrete or fiberglass they cannot crack, require very little maintenance outside of keeping the water clear of grit and algae, and they offer unlimited design options.
Above ground pools come in 2 major subtypes, ring pools and frame pools, neither of which is as permanent as an inground pool.
Ring pools are your least expensive option, and is named after the ring which lifts the sides of the pool as it is filled with water. These are the least permanent pools available as well, making them an easy to use and easy to pack away option if you don’t want to have a long standing pool.
Frame pools use a liner made of heavy duty vinyl supported by a metal frame to keep the water in. Most come with a warranty of a 25-30 year lifespan. You will need to purchase a ladder to get in and out, as these are actually quite large pools. You will also have to purchase freestanding cleaning equipment which need to be attached to the walls of the pool.
How to keep the pool water clean and maintained
Keeping a pool clean is not the easiest task, and requires different strategies if you have a chlorine or salt water pool, as well choosing a type of automatic pool cleaner (or kreepy krauly) to keep the bottom of the pool free from dirt and dust buildup.
Chlorine based cleaning products like can come in a variety of forms. They can be used in powder form, which should be applied to the water with regularity and dosage based on the size of the pool. It has been said that chlorine in powder form is best used in the evening as UV rays from the sun can prevent it from being 100% effective. You can also get a chlorinator which floats in the pool, usually shaped like a floating T. This little contraption will continuously release small amounts of chlorine as it floats, keeping algae from growing in the water. Be aware that chlorine is a product which has a similar effect on clothing as household bleach when not diluted in pool water, so don’t get it on your Sunday best!
Salt water pools require you to periodically throw a bag of salt into the water to create a slightly charged environment by use of titanium plates, creating the constituent parts of diluted chlorine which kills algae. Many people prefer this option because the byproducts created by chlorine use are not present. It is worth noting though, that both have the ability to sting the eyes and be uncomfortable if used incorrectly, so be sure to talk to your local pool professional before deciding, or to gain any information to assist you in better treating the swimming water.
Finally, if your pool is close to any trees or plants in your garden, you can expect to get leaves and debris in the water. While some of these will float and can be removed with a pool net, some will sink, and need to be removed by use of a kreepy krauly. There are many different models available for your pool so check your local pool store or talk to a pool professional about which would best suit your pool size and design.
Pool filters and pumps
The last part of the trifecta of choosing a pool is your pump and filtration system. These work in concert with your pool cleaner to filter out debris which lands in the water. Depending on the level of leaves and other plant matter and dirt which can land in your pool, you will have to empty the filter out every now and again. If you grow fruit trees like lemon or plum near your pool (which is ill advised but may still be something you like) then there can be young fruit or rotten fruit which falls into the pool and gets picked up. Your pool pump is what will move the water from the filter back into the pool, and keeps the cleaner working by creating pressure which it uses like a vacuum cleaner. If the cleaner has stopped, it’s time to empty the filter. (Empty this dead plant matter into the compost or back into the garden away from the pool).
Also, don’t forget to backwash your pool every two months at least. This fully cleans the filtration system of all the dirt and grime which does build up over time. You can choose a sand filter which can backwash to anywhere you choose, such as your lawn or garden. While doing this, also check your pump for any leaking valves, hard to turn knobs or cracks. O-rings often wear down too, so check these twice a year if your pump is regularly in use.
Can I install a pool myself?
Whilst above ground pools are not difficult to set up, inground pools most definitely are. There are not many tutorials online about how to create your own pool with the same kind of look as a professionally made pool, so we would warn against you trying to do this yourself. This type of job is not a simple DIY task, and requires very specific tools and sets of knowledge that only pool professionals have.
If you do decide to put in a long lasting pool to add that touch of fun for summer, talk to a professional and get some ideas about which pool type would be best for you.