When is the best time to install a pool?
Planning for a pool is very important and it depends on whether or not you have a schedule to work to - are you building, do you want it in before Christmas or do you want to have it all ready to go fro spring/school holidays? Every situation is unique and there is not right or wrong time to put in a pool unless of course there is underground water to consider in which case you would want to put in your pool at the driest time of the year (summer) or if you have very poor draining clay soil, then you definitely do not want to be installing a pool in winter.
What are the rules that pertain to pools?
Pools have to be the depth of the pool away from any boundary, stucture (house, garage, shed) or concrete footings. Depending on how the pool will sit on your property, will determine how far away it will need to be from these. Full bench seats in a pool allow you to cheat and get up closer to boundaries, etc, as the seat area does not count. You can also get a pool closer to a boundary, structure or concrete footings, if you engineer these beforehand to accommodate a pool being up closer. It is important to pre-plan your pool when you are building a new home as that is when these changes can be made to accommodate a narrow space if need be.
How long does it take to install a pool?
A fibreglass pool is quite quick, can be installed in a week if soil conditions are good (sand dig) and access for machinery and a crane are not an issue. It also helps if there is plenty of space around the pool area for the machinery and if the water pressure for filling up the pool is good. All these factors help to speed up the process.
A concrete pool however takes a bit longer as after excavation it has to be formed, pre-plumbed, then poured and sprayed with the concrete. Concrete has to set and depending on time of year, this can vary in amount of time required. The pool is then tiled and step treads applied and plumbing completed. The last phase is the plaster finish and once plaster has been applied pool has to be filled up with water. So before plaster can go on, all fencing requirements have to be complete and inspected by the Shire. This is usually the phase that holds us up as we have to wait on clients to get the whole area finished so that fencing can be put in place and inspected. Then we can do the plaster finish, fill up the pool and turn it on.
What is the difference between a Saltwater and Chlorine Pool?
Saltwater pools are chlorine pools. The saltwater chlorinator turns the saltwater into chlorine water in order to sanitise your pool. Saltwater levels are low, very similar to salt in our bodies.
Does it matter what type of salt I use in my saltwater pool?
Good quality pool salt is important. It should almost appear like table salt as this means it has been refined to remove impurities. Using poor quality salt can lead to staining and scaling on your pool. It can also do the same to the inside of your equipment shortening its lifespan. Look for products that contain anti-scale and anti-stain agents with a saltwater pool.
How often do I need to maintain my pool?
The path to a sparkling clean, balanced and healthy pool is to follow a regular maintenance programme. I suggest weekly during the hot summer months, fortnightly in spring and autumn and monthly in winter. But the more often you look after your pool, the less problems you will encounter as you will be able to fix these before they get out of control.
The most important maintenance for a pool is keeping the water balanced and secondly keeping the pool clean. There are three very important factors that need to be in harmony for the water in your pool to be correctly balanced:
- pH is a measure of acid and alkalnity in the pool water. A pH level which is too low makes the water acidic and can irritate swimmers eyes and skin. It also corrode the pool's surface and equipment. A level that is too high can cause scale damage to pool surface and equipment and bugs love a high pH - YUK! The ideal pH level in a pool should be between 7.2-7.4 for fibreglass and 7.4-7.6 for concrete. pH is adjusted with hydrochloric aid or dry acid. I find dry acid much easier to handle.
- Alkalinity is a measure of alkaline minerals in the water. These minerals act as a buffer for pH and are responsible for reducing the impact of acidic water on the pH. Alkalinity and pH go up and down together, if you have low pH, you usually have low alkalinity and vice versa which is why it is called a balancing act. The ideal level of alkalinity in a pool is between 80 and 120ppm for concrete pools and up to 140ppm for a fibreglass pool. Alkalinity is adjusted with Sodium Bicarbonate better know as buffer. When balancing your pool, always get your alkalinity level correct, then work on your pH level. Always adjust the alkalinity to the high end if your pH is low, then wait 24 hours and check pH. If pH is still too low, then add hycrochloric or dry acid to adjust. When you adjust your pH by adding acid it will automatically bring down your alkalinity but if it is on the high end, it will have room to move and should still be at a good level when pH is corrected. Again hence why it is called a balancing act.
- Calcium Hardness is a measure of dissolved calcium in water. If pool water is low in calcium if will try to take it from the pool surface or equipment, causing corrosion. Water high in calcium may deposit it on the pool surface or in the equipment in the form of scale. As with pH and alkalinity, calcium hardness varies from pool to pool depending on the source of your water. The recommended calcium hardness is between 175 and 225ppm for fibreglass pools and 200-250ppm for concrete pools. Pool handover kits unfortunately do not allow you to test for calcium so this will have to be done regularly at a pool shop or you can purchase a test kit for this for convenience.
The above 3 factors are absolute for any type of pool, be it chlorine, saltwater, mineral or chlorine free freshwater pools.
What is stabiliser and what does it do?
If sanitising your pool with chlorine or saltwater it will also need to be stabilised to counter the loss of chlorine due to the effects of the sun's ultraviolet rays. Stabiliser or cyanuric acid is sunscreen for your pool water so that the chlorine does not get burned off by the sun which would happen very quickly on a hot day. Stabilising your pool saves money on chlorine usage. The ideal charge of stabiliser is between 25 to 50ppm with an initial charge of 50ppm. Again you will have to check with your pool shop to see how much stabiliser is required for your pool.
When and why do I have to shock my pool?
With chlorine or saltwater pools, super-chlorination otherwise known as "shocking" or "oxidising" is a periodic treatment that is required to ensure your pool water stays sparkling clear. Swimmers waste, such as perspiration, body oils, urine, cosmetics, sun lotions and other wastes from the atmosphere build up over time and cause cloudy and dull water. This is when you can smell the chlorine and eyes become irritate. Most people think this is because there is too much chlorine when in fact it means there is not enough chlorine. Chlorine combines with nitrogen in these wastes to form chloramines. Chloramines are nasty and dangerous and need to be removed by shocking the pool as this is the only way to get rid of them. Periodic super-chlorination should therefore be carried out every 3-4 weeks over summer or when pool is being used. Using a liquid or dry chlorine, chlorine levels must be high enough to break down the undesired chloramines and organics. In most cases, the chlorine level needs to be raised to 10ppm (approx 5 times the normal level) and pool should then be closed for 6-12 hours or until chlorine levels have returned to normal. 4ppm is considered safe for re-entry into the pool. I would suggest doing this in the evening when there will be no more swimming for the day. This will also eliminate any algae in the pool. Do not cover the pool when shocking it.
What exactly is algae and how do I get rid of it?
Algae are forms of plant life that are introduced into pool water by rain and wind from the atmosphere. The are 30,000 different types o algae all containing chlorophyll. They are one of the hardiest and most widespread living organism on the planet. There are three main categories of algae that affect swimming pools - green, mustard (yellow) and black algae. Green algae floats but can also cling to walls and is the fastest growing, turning a pool green and turbid in 24 hours. Mustard algae is more powdery and usually appears on shady side of pool. Black algae is 1-3cm black spots tenaciously adhering to the pool's surface. An algae bloom can turn a clean clear water into a greem swamp overnight. If you can see the algae then you have a substantial problem. This is why a proper chemical balance program for your pool water is so important to avoid any algae bloom. But should this happen to your pool, the best way to get rid of algae is by using a Polyquat algaecide. They are more costly but are effective on all three main categories of algae.