2014 Swimming Pool Safety Topics

The information in this post can also be found at www.poolsafely.gov Well Folks it is upon us.  Pool season is making it’s appearance.  Typically people shoot for Memorial day to get their pools open for the season but it has already started.  People are opening their pools and getting things around for the summer.  Builders have already broken ground this year and started putting pools in.  It’s just a matter of time before backyards everywhere are full of kids playing, and swimming and adults cooking out and enjoying peaceful nights by the pool.  For those who have had a pool for a number of years already, they may have fallen into a routine of sorts.  It is not hard to do though.  Many of us are subject to routine.  We wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to sleep , and do it all over again the next day. This type of thing happens with swimming pool owners on a yearly basis.  They open their pools, add chemicals, swim for the summer, and close the pool again in the fall.  Most people pay little attention to the safety side of things.  Swimming pool safety is something that I am very adamant about I have written several blog posts on this topic and many have of them have similar content.  As I write them I realize that I am repeating myself but the fact is that it’s like anything else.  With repetition comes memory, the more you do something the more you will remember about it.  So this post will more than likely be similar to my others on the topic of pool safety.  If you think of your pool in terms of power you will begin to realize that having a swimming pool does in fact give you some level of power.  Your kids might want to have a pool party, your neighbors may want to have a weekend cookouts at your place instead of another neighbors.  Your friends may ask to use your pool when you go out of town.  When this happens and it usually will, you suddenly have the power to determine if and when these things will happen, who will be there, how long the event will be, who brings what, and so on.  Just like Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility” you as the pool owner should take steps in making sure that whoever comes to your cook outs, pool parties, or casual swim days are as safe as they can be.  I just want to touch on some things that you can do to help insure the safety of your swimming pool guests.

One thing that you can do is install a fence around your pool.  This is a good idea even if you have an automatic pool cover that requires a key or code to open the pool.  By installing a 4′ tall fence around the pool you will effectively deter anyone who wants to swim in your pool without your say so.  In addition to the fence you should also install the gate so that it opens away from the pool.  By doing that it will make it more difficult for those clever little kids to gain access to your pool area.  If the gate swings open away from the pool a clever little kid that grabs a chair to reach the gate latch will soon realize that they have put the chair they are standing on in the way of the gate.  You might think that this wouldn’t work but in reality anything you can do to prevent uninvited entry into your pool area will be beneficial to the safety of your pool.

Another thing that can be done is to install an alarm system in the pool area to notify you if someone enters without your say so.  These come in several different styles.  You can install alarm triggers on your gates, doors, and windows, or there are alarm systems that sense motion, in the pool.  There are even alarms that can be attached to the wrist of a child.  Again anything you can do to add to the safety of your pool will benefit everyone.

As far as just basic steps to take there are several.  First remember that alcohol and water don’t mix.  I understand that back yard cook outs often times involve alcohol but again use your best judgement and know your limits.  If children are swimming in the pool it is a good idea to designate an adult to watch them.  I don’t mean listen to them though an open window, I mean actually watch them.  The designated adult should be free from distractions like social media, texts, or t.v.  I realize that all of those things can now be done on your phone but it is important to not be distracted by such things when acting as life guard.  This brings me to my next point.  Take the time to learn CPR and get certified.  It doesn’t take that much time or effort to learn and knowing it would add to the overall safety of your pool.  Another thing that takes only a second is to have a phone somewhere near the pool.  You can take a portable phone outside or your cell phone.  You do not want this to be a distraction but you do want it there just in case you need to make an emergency phone call.  In an emergency situation time is valuable.  You don’t want to have to leave the area to get a phone to make the call.  There are some products available to purchase that will also add to the level of safety of your pool.  A shepard’s hook is a device that attaches to a pole and extends your reach.  A safety buoy or “life saver” is a circular floatation device with a rope that can be thrown to anyone who may be struggling in the water.  Life jackets are also a good idea for younger kids or those who can’t swim.  Things like boogie boards, foam noodles, and even water wings should not be confused with safety devices.  They are toys that are not designed for safety.  A major tip if you have children is teach them at an early age how to swim.  It not only increases the safety level, but it has been directly related to cognitive development.

These are just a few steps that you as the pool owner can take in an effort to increase the safety level of your swimming pool.  Remember its never too late to increase safety and you still have time to do so before this swimming pool season.

For more information on swimming pool safety check out my other blogs posts with similar titles or go to www.poolsafely.gov


Why get a pool

A swimming pool is a large investment and an even larger commitment.  If you think about it having a swimming pool is like adding another member to your family.  You have to buy things for it, you have to take care of it, you have to interact with it, and of course you have to give it water.  If it had a personality of its own or a consciousness its relationship with you would be unconditional.  No matter what you do your pool will be there doing the same thing it always does.  It can act as a place of refuge from the stresses of the outside world.  It can act as a place of entertainment for you, your loved ones, and your friends.  It can be a tool of therapy for both emotional and physical ailments.  It can act as a romantic setting to impress a date.  It be a peaceful setting for late night drinks or evening dinners.  There are many things that a swimming pool can be if you treat it with care and respect.  You can literally become the envy of your neighbors by having a beautiful inground swimming pool.  There are several different types of inground swimming pools available today.  When you have made the decision to have a pool installed this one of the first obstacles you will have to over come.  When deciding you will want to keep a few things in mind.

First you will have to look into your wallet and decide how much you are willing and able to spend on a pool.  The most expensive type of pool available is the concrete pool.  This is the type of pool that you will likely see movie stars having in their own backyards.  I think that the price is partially due to prestige that people feel when they have one.  It’s kind of like having designer clothes and high end luxury cars.  A lot of the cost is wrapped up into the name.  People buy these things because they want to feel important and powerful.  Truthfully while concrete pools, designer clothes, and luxury cars are nice, there are other lines, brands, and styles that are just as good and not nearly as expensive.  While a concrete pool might help to separate you from the rest of your neighbors, there are some drawbacks.  They might seem trivial to some but to others they may be a deal breaker.  First a concrete pool surface is the most abrasive surface of the types of pools.  You might think no big deal but you must realize that if you have children running around the pool and jumping in and out of the pool everyday you will likely spend a good amount of time playing medic, and treating scraped knees and elbows.  The other downside of this abrasive characteristic is that it provides a good place for algae and bacteria to settle and thrive.  Another drawback is that being concrete if you should ever have a problem with the plumbing of the pool you will have to have the concrete busted up to get to the plumbing and then re-poured again.  This type of repair could again result in a good amount of money leaving your wallet.

So now you might be thinking about those one piece fiberglass pools you have seen in southern states.  I have installed a few of these in the past and my honest opinion is that these pools are not the best way to go.  One thing that I don’t really like about them is that they only come in a few shapes and sizes.  That being said I wouldn’t want the same pool that my neighbor could just as easily get.  With the fact that there are only a few different options to choose from, there is not much that can be done to suit your specific wants or needs or to adjust for specific backyards.  It is what it is, and no matter how they are advertised they are not very big.  A major drawback its that this type of pool is not self supportive and if you ever need to drain the pool it could very easily collapse on itself.  Another problem with draining a one piece fiber glass pool is that if there is water underneath the pool when you drain it, there could be the possibility that the force could shove the pool out of the ground.  This is actually more common than I thought.

The best choice in my opinion is a vinyl liner inground pool.  They are cheaper than a concrete pool and cheaper to repair if something should happen.  In addition to that they can be made into virtually any shape or form to fit any backyard or personal taste.  You can also change the look of them by simply replacing the liner with a new one of a different pattern.  So if you get tired of looking at the same old pool year after year you will have the ability to drastically change the look of it by getting a new liner.  Another huge benefit is that the surface of the vinyl liner is smooth not rough so it will save your little swimmers from scrapped knees and elbows while at the same time aid in the cleaning of your pool because there are no rough areas for algae and bacteria to attach to.  With this type of pool you can achieve the same luxurious look of a concrete pool at a fraction of the cost.  With today’s technology you can have a virtually maintenance free pool and coupling that technology with a vinyl liner in ground pool you will greatly improve the possibility of having a maintenance free pool.

A swimming pool is supposed to be something that is loved and enjoyed for a long time.  Choosing the right type of swimming pool is the first step in loving it.  If you choose the wrong type then you can be looking at something that causes you unnecessary stress rather than something that offers you a care free relaxing environment.  For more information on the types of pools, the technology available for your pool, and many other topics related to swimming pools please check out my other blog posts.  I currently have 44 different posts on all sorts of topics related to inground swimming pools and specifically vinyl liner inground pools so chances are if you are curious about something, I have you covered.

How do pool professionals pour sidewalks around your vinyl liner inground swimming pool?

First of all I am going to assume that they are using  removable cantilever coping forms on the pool.  This type of coping will allow you to have a formed concrete look around the inside perimeter your pool rather than a one piece coping that would result in an aluminum inside edge to your concrete.  So assuming that is in place they will then make sure that the ground around your pool where the concrete will be is free of sod (the top few inches including the grass) loose dirt and is down to virgin soil.  This will prevent the concrete from settling.  If there was loose dirt in the area where they are planning to pour concrete than they would most likely run into an issue where the concrete decking around the pool settles resulting in it ending up lower than you want it.

The concrete should also fall about 1/8″ per foot.  That means that for every foot away from the inside edge of the pool they will want the top of the concrete to be 1/8″ lower than the top of the coping.  So for example if on one side of the pool you want the concrete deck to be 4′ wide then the outside edge of the concrete should be 1/2″ lower than the top of the coping.  The reason for this is to ensure that any rain water that lands on the deck will flow away from the pool rather than into it.  You also want to keep in mind that they will pour the concrete at a minimum of 4″ thick all the way around the pool.

That being said they will also typically want to lay a layer of stone in the area where the concrete will be poured as a base for the concrete to sit on.  So with that layer there they will need to make sure that they have 4″ available and still have the fall you need away from the pool.  The easiest way to do this is to use a transit.  If at this point the pool is still empty and without a liner, they may put the tripod for the transit in the shallow end of the pool, and set it so that it is just higher than the coping.  This will enable them to use only one stick of the story pole rather than two.  It doesn’t sound like a big deal but the longer that pole is the more difficult it is to keep it straight up and down.

Once they get all that set up they will probably use the coping measurement as a reference point.  You might see them put the story pole on the top of the coping and adjust the eye so that they get a solid tone.  This means that the eye is perfectly level with the laser on the tripod.  Next you will see them adjust for the amount of concrete which is four inches.  To do this they will move the eye up on the pole four inches.  From there they can adjust for the fall.  Keep in mind that up is down.  So in an area of the decking that is four feet away from the inside edge of the pool they will move the eye 1/2″ up on the pole.  The level of the ground including the layer of stone will give them a solid tone when setting the story pole on it.  Doing it this way you will easily be able to determine the height of the stone in any given spot.

Next they will form up the concrete deck.  There are a number of ways this is done.  They may use either 2×4’s or forms specifically made for forming concrete.  Once all of these are in place you will see them secure the forms in place and set the height using stakes and nails or screws.  To set the height of the forms they will again use the top of the coping as a reference.  This time however they will not compensate for the thickness of the concrete.  Instead once they get the solid tone on the coping you will see them just adjust for the fall of the concrete at any given point and set the height of the forms at that point to give them a solid tone with the transit.  Once they get it all formed up and set to height they will add rebar to give the concrete additional strength.

They could in fact do this before forming if they wanted, it doesn’t make difference.   It is a good idea and in most places enforced to lay the rebar forming a grid type system creating squares about 2 feet by 2 feet while cutting off the excess that may stick out passed the forms.  When they have the grid system in place they will start tying it all together using specific rebar ties and tiers.  At this point they are ready to pour.  Just before the concrete truck arrives it is a good idea for them to put oil on both the cantilever and concrete forms.  This will make it easier to remove the forms and clean them later.  Depending on how big of an area they are pouring it may require two concrete trucks to do the job.  If this is the case they will determine where they want the cold joint.

There are special tools that are used when pouring concrete including a magnesium float, a steel trowel, and an edger.  these all serve specific purposes that aid in making the concrete look nice.  In addition to those tools you might see them using a bull
float and broom to get to areas that cannot be reached from the outside of the poured area and to give it a nice textured look when They are all said and done.  Another handy tool to have is what we refer to as a  concrete vibrator.  This is used to help remove any air pockets in the concrete which is ideal for around the cantilever forms.  Because these forms will be removed they will want to make sure that there are no voids in the concrete behind them.  If any voids remain then you will definitely be able to see them when they remove the cantilever forms.  When they have the concrete poured out they will go around the edges with the edger to give it a more rounded edge rather than a sharp angle.  You will also see them go around with the magnesium float and smooth out the top of the concrete filling in any voids or really rough patches.  At this time they will have someone using the bull float to get the center of the concrete area that cannot be reached with a regular float.  When they are all finished with the floats it is time to move on to the steel trowel.  This tool gives the concrete a really smooth finish and gets even the tiniest little voids out that they may have missed.  When that is complete they will let it set up a little then go over it with the broom to give it a more textured look and feel.

They will let the concrete set up overnight and by the next day they should be able to remove the forms for cleaning.  They will also want to saw the concrete into sections to control where it will crack.

When it is all sawed up you might see them pressure spraying it to remove left over dust from the cracks and surface.  When doing this they are careful no to get to close to the surface.  The pressure sprayer is powerful enough to remove the surface of the concrete if they get too close. When that is finished you are all set to enjoy your new deck.

I realize that there is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo in this post and that some people may do things a little differently but the point remains the same and you will end up with similar results.  If there are any questions regarding this post please feel free to ask.


Zodiac Pool Products – Technology at work

I frequently talk about the technology associated with swimming pools today, and how it is far different from what was available in the past.  Today I plan on doing the same thing only this time I will focus on Zodiac products including the different things they offer to help make your pool “high tech.”  Years ago everything was basically manually operated, and very little was offered in terms of automation.  Today Zodiac offer the best of the best in terms of automation.  They have even gone to the extent of creating a device that will allow the homeowner to make changes to their pool without being anywhere near it.

Zodiac’s Aqualink RS systems and Z4 system remove the need to go out and manually change elements of the pool.  Now you can do so as easily as turning on the air conditioning in your house.  These control systems can reduce energy usage, operation costs, and chemical needs associated with your pool.  They also come with an energy smart programming capability which allows you to set the filtration run times, and chlorinator outputs to be automatically adjusted to suit your seasonal needs.  They basically provide complete control of temperature, water features, pool light settings, pump speed, filtration needs, and  chemical needs.  They can also be programmed to do certain things at certain times of day or year.  The AquaLink RS system is also fully integratable to home automation systems,  Another major part of this automation is that it can also be controlled through their iAquaLink from anywhere.  The iAquaLink is a device that allows you to control these elements of your pool from anywhere through your smart phone, or any electronic device with internet access.  This means if you leave on a trip and suddenly wonder if you remembered to turn off the pool pump, you can do so without having to call someone to go over to the house and manually shut off the pump.  You can also check the water temperature and make changes needed without having to physically be there to do so.
The Z4 is designed to control a maximum of 4 of the main functions of the pool such as the pump, filter, booster pumps, or lighting.  Basically you have 4 circuits and can choose for things to run using the Z4.  It can also control 3 valve actuators.  A valve actuator is a device that can open and close valves so you don’t have to manually do it.  So with the push of a button you can activate deck jets, waterfalls, or water slides without leaving the comfort of your chair.

The Z4 is aslo compatible with the iAquaLink so it’s automation can be controlled through your device.  This is just the beginning of what Zodiac has done with technology.

So you have all this automation to be able to fine tune certain variables of your pool but what about the fact that you sometimes might get leaves and other debris in the pool.  Well Zodiac had got you covered there as well.  They offer the best when it comes to suction side cleaners and robotic cleaners that are unrivaled by any other company.  Zodiac’s MX8 is a suction side cleaner, meaning that uses the skimmer suction to clean.  It is also a low flow cleaner so it will effectively clean your pool even if you have the pump speed set very low.  It cleans better and faster than any other cleaner and has greater vacuum power, a wider cleaning path, and the largest debris inlet available.

Zodiac’s line of Polaris robotic pool cleaners are by far superior to anything else I have seen on the market.  These cleaners will make cleaning your pool a fun activity rather than a dreadful chore.  They offer vortex vacuum technology, which provides 25% more vacuum power and 4 x the debris capacity.  It also features an easy clean filter canister allowing you to simply shake out the debris or spray it out with a hose.  You will not have to reach in with your hand to clean out debris ever again.  Another nice feature is that is has what they call an Activemotion Sensor.  This gives the cleaner the ability to automatically control its position at all times.  If it flips over then the sensor shuts it down and it will flip back over and start running again.  What I find most impressive about this line is that they offer an easy lift system on the 9550 sport, the 9450 sport, and the 9350 sport.  What this does is remove the need to pull the cleaner back to you by grabbing the line and physically pulling it in.
Instead there is a button on the caddy that you will press and hold which causes the cleaner to spiral to the surface.  When the cleaner is pointing at you simply let go of the button and the cleaner will move to the edge of the pool on the surface and stay there until you pull it out.  The other Awesome feature that is only available on the 9550 sport is a remote control capability.  Just a remote control would be awesome alone but this remote system functions like that of a Nintendo Wii.  All you have to do is tip the controller in the direction in which you want the cleaner to go.  So now cleaning the pool is something that your kids will fight over.

These are just a few products that Zodiac has to offer.  To see a larger list and get more information visit Zodiac’s website at www.zodiacpoolsystems.com.

Vinyl Liner Inground Swimming Pool Deck Supports

When I started in the field of vinyl liner inground swimming pool construction you can imagine that I had no idea what was going on.  I saw all these parts and pieces and didn’t have the slightest clue as to what they were used for.  I quickly caught on to the process and how things go together to create a beautiful inground pool.  One of the things that routinely got installed were deck supports.  Now the name of the item is also the description and is in my opinion self explanatory.

So I knew that the pools would have some concrete decking around them and that concrete is heavy thus requiring extra support.  I was taught how to assemble the deck supports and how to install them on the pool.  After that I stopped asking questions and it became common practice.  As I have progressed in my career I have learned more about inground pools and all the components that go into making them.  This includes deck supports.  I am still in the inground pool industry, however I no longer build them.  My current position is related to technical support and product specialization.  With this new position I have learned even more than I did while building pools.  I have heard of people saying that they would never use deck supports on a pool.  They say that they would rather back fill around the pool with stone little by little, layer by layer, compacting each layer of material as they go.  They might say that using deck supports around the pool is a bad idea because you don’t want to have something attached to the walls of the pool that is also attached to the concrete deck.  Why? You might ask.  The reason they say that this may not be the best idea, and it really applies to areas of the country where the ground freezes during the winter months, is because when the ground freezes and thaws it expands and contracts.  If the concrete around the pool is attached to the walls via deck supports then when the concrete moves it could possibly move the walls of the pool.  This is true, however if you install the deck support properly it will not be attached to the concrete, so when the ground moves if it moves the concrete a little it will have no effect on the structural integrity of the pool itself.  It will be able to move freely.  The idea of a deck support is to add extra support to to aid the ground in holding up the weight of the concrete.  Unfortunately if you dig a hole and then refill it, you will likely have some level of settling.

The amount that it settles can be offset by the way
you back fill.  If you back fill in layers of stone compacting as you go then you will not get much settling.  On the other hand if you back fill with dirt and don’t compact as you go then you could get a great deal of settling.  If you didn’t have deck supports and back filled with dirt then when the dirt settles it would completely ruin the decking.  Rather than having the deck supports embedded in the concrete you want the concrete to sit on top of the deck support.  What you want to do is have the stone that you lay down as a base for the concrete to be even with the top of the deck supports around the pool.  This will allow the concrete to setup on top of the deck support rather than setting up while encompassing the deck support.  This way if the ground does cause the concrete deck to move it can do so without potentially moving the walls of the pool.  This is something that I did not know while I was a builder, and never thought to ask about.  When you are trained to do something one way by your boss, and it happens to be the way they have done things for years and years, you tend not to question it, and just accept it as the proper way of doing things.  Luckily to my knowledge there have been no incidents of the walls of any of the pools I helped build moving as a result of the deck supports being attached to the concrete decking.  So all that being said, A deck support on a pool can be a very important component of the swimming pool structure depending on how it is installed.  I want to stress that they shouldn’t necessarily be cast to the side as something that is not needed.  As with many things there are certain exceptions to every rule.  If you have read this post and have any questions regarding the information within it please don’t hesitate to ask.

Only Alpha Pool Products – Technological Advanvces

Only Alpha pool products is by far the leader in innovative, technologically advanced in ground vinyl liner swimming pool building materials.  They have successfully taken something that has been done one way for decades and flipped in on end opening the door for the next generation of in ground vinyl liner swimming pools.  Their cutting edge technology coupled with their dedication to customer service and years of experience in the in ground swimming pool industry leaves the competition behind to try and play catch up.  people have been building in ground swimming pools for decades, and they have built them out of a variety of materials.  I want to take the time to go over some of these materials and explain some of the downfalls of such materials.

To begin, Lets look at the old way of building in ground swimming pools out of wood.  Yes that’s not a typographical error, they actually used to build in ground pools out of wood.  In fact if my memory serves me correctly which it usually does there are actually a few builders out there today that still do this.  As a builder myself this is shocking to me.  I mean seriously!  Have you ever seen a piece of wood that has been left outside for a number of years.  Just look at an old wooden fence and how after a number of years it starts to deteriorate.  Some might say, “well the wood being used in the in ground swimming pools is treated lumber so it lasts longer”.  That is all well and good but the fence in my backyard is somewhere around the 15 year old mark and the lumber used to build it was treated and yet it is still falling apart.  The other thing about a fence is that while it is exposed to the elements, it is not sitting in a perpetual state of dampness like a pool sitting in the ground would be.  In my professional opinion, having a wooden structure in the ground as the “backbone” of a pool is a ridiculous notion that should have passed away along with those long ago that thought a wooden in ground pool was a good idea.

Somewhere along the path of technological advancements somebody came along and decided that concrete was the way to go for the structure of in ground swimming pools.  Don’t get me wrong this was a huge step forward from the wooden pool, and is still being used today by hundreds of builders for both residential and commercial purposes.  The only problem with a concrete pool is that concrete will crack at some point.  Think about how every spring the city sends out road crews to fix cracks and potholes in the roads that appeared in a matter of months over the winter.  Or think about how every sidewalk you have ever seen is divided into sections by a worker with a saw.  The reason for that is in an effort to try and control where the sidewalk will crack, and yes i said “where the sidewalk WILL crack”.  Every Concrete workers know that the concrete will eventually crack.  Now what do you suppose will happen if that concrete pool containing a massive volume of water cracks?  You guessed it.  It will probably leak.  Not to mention that it will be an eyesore in the pool for everyone that sees it.  The other thing about a concrete pool is that they have become what people consider to be a high end pool.  After all every movie star or sports figure out in California with a pool has a concrete pool.  That alone is enough to cause the price of a concrete pool to be very high compared to other types of pools.  In addition to the initial high cost of installation, you have to understand that all of the plumbing lines and fittings in the pool are now encased in concrete.  This means if the is ever a problem with one of the lines or fitting you will have to pay someone to come out and break up the concrete to fix it.  That would be a pretty expensive repair.  The last thing I want to say about concrete pools is that once you have it there is very little that can be done in terms of changing the look of it.  In other words you could look at a thirty year old concrete pool and see that it is a thirty year old pool.

I think that at some point someone realized that concrete is not the best solution for everyone.  Considering that the majority of the population in the U.S. that might want a pool are middle class families that actually want to use a pool for recreation rather than to have one to represent their social class standing, there was a need to come up with a way to cut down on cost.  Pools started being made using steel.  This cut down the cost of swimming pools so more people could enjoy them while still offering superior structural integrity compared to that of a wooden pool.  The problem with steel is that it is corrosive.  Over time it will rust and lose some of that structural integrity.  I have seen steel walls that have have holes rusted right through them.  Granted that was on a thirty year old pool.  So if you think about it in those terms the cost is relative to the quality.  Steel is a widely used material for the building of vinyl liner in ground swimming pools.

However Only Alpha Pool Products had taken that to the next level.  They still use the common 14 gauge galvanized steel that has become the cornerstone of steel wall vinyl liner in ground pools, but what they have done is developed a proprietary clear coat that gets put on each panel after the galvanization that actually protects the steel and galvanization by actively repelling water away from the panel.
The other difference that sets their steel panel apart from the rest is their patented “Spert” riveting system.  While other manufacturers use toggle locks which can easily be broken to hold their panels together, Only Alpha Pool Products’ “Spert” technology is a superior way of locking the panel flanges together resulting in an unbreakable bond.

One of the newer types of pools on the scene is what is known as a one piece fiber glass pool.  This type of pool is just that.  It is created by a mold and is all one piece of material that gets put in the ground to give homeowners a pool.  The problem with this type is that the structure is not self supportive.  That means that it has to be back filled at the same rate that it is being filled with water to equalize the pressure of the water in the pool.  Once the pool is finished being built just hope that you don’t ever have to drain it for any reason.  Being that the pool is not self supportive, if it needs to be drained then you will lose that equilibrium of pressure.  If this happens the the pressure of the earth around the pool pushing inward could very well cause the entire structure to collapse in on itself.  In addition to that enormous flaw.  This type of pool is limited to its size and versatility.  You won’t get a lot of options in regards to personal taste and backyard needs.

Only Alpha’s Composite

Finally, my favorite building material is composite material.  Don’t mistake this material for polymer of structural foam because it is far different and far better.  This is a material that is only offered by Only Alpha Pool Products and is the envy of other manufacturers.  This type of material is 100% non-corrosive and as strong as steel.  While polymer or structural foam material is non-corrosive it is greatly lacking in strength.  The reason for that is because Only Alpha Pool Products’ composite material is made of a single sheet of SMC (sheet molding compound) that has been in reinforced with the Fused Fiber Matrix which basically means that there are 8″ to 12″ woven fibers throughout the panel giving it a greater tensile strength than steel.  Structural foam is made from a bunch of little pieces of material that get melted down and injection molded resulting in a large amount of tiny little voids throughout the panels.  In addition to all that Only Alpha Pool Products

Structural Foam Material

panels contain thermosetting properties which means that once the panels are made they won’t bend or warp from heat or cold.

Check out the website at http://www.onlyalpha.com/ for more information and videos demonstrating the strength of their superior building materials.


Pool Bracing – Fuzion2 Brace


As your in ground vinyl liner pool is being built you will notice that there are a lot of different components to it.  You will see that the pool walls consist of individual panels that can range anywhere from 2 feet wide to eight feet wide.  The panels are then bolted together to form the walls of the pool.  You will also see that the hole being dug appears much larger than the size of pool you purchased.  The reason for that is that the pool is over dug on purpose to allow for the plumbing to be ran and the support braces to be installed.  At this point you might wonder why the pool needs these braces.  What purpose do they serve?  There are several different types of braces and they do a couple things for your pool.

In general the bracing around the pool helps to support the structure itself.  If you think about how the ground expands and contracts during the different seasons of the year you will realize that if the walls just sat there by themselves there would be the potential that they too would move as the ground expands and contracts.  If the pools walls were permitted to move like this they would inevitably cause some problems.  One is that it would significantly change the look of your pool.  Another is that the shifting walls could damage the bottom that the liner sits on.  Also if the force was great enough it could actually case damage to the walls themselves.  The braces will get bolted to the walls at the panel joints and in some cases in the middle of each panel.  They are then staked down and concrete will be poured around them as the footer/collar is being poured.  This concrete footer will be poured around the entire perimeter of the pool to help stabilize it.

As I have previously mentioned, there are several different types of braces that may get used in the pool.  One is what is known as a turn buckle brace.  This type of brace is very handy when it comes time to straighten the walls of the pool.  It is important to understand that because the walls are made up of individual panels they can be a little crooked after they are bolted together.  The turnbuckle brace allows the builder to get the walls perfectly straight before the pool is back filled.

There is also another type of brace commonly referred to as a cross brace or X brace.  This type of brace does is not designed to adjust the straightness of the walls but what it is designed for is to help tie in and support the concrete deck of the pool.  Usually there is a good amount of concrete that gets poured around the pool to form the deck or “walks”.  It is very common to have them extend to about 4 feet from the waters edge around three sides of the pool, and generally you will have a larger patio area on the fourth side of the pool.  The cross brace or “X” brace will help to support the weight of the concrete “walks” around the pool, as well as tie them into the structure of the pool.  Think back to that expansion and contraction that occurs throughout the season.  If the “walks” were not tied into the structure of the pool and were instead just sitting there, you would have a strong possibility of them separating from the pool walls resulting in gaps between the walls and the side walks.

Another type of brace that I want to talk about is what is known as the standard deck support.  This type of brace is basically shaped like the number 7 the purpose of it is to basically support the weight of the concrete walks around the pool.  It will also help to tie the “walks” into the structure to some degree but the main function is support.

At this point I want to mention that at of these braces are made of galvanized steel.  They are coated in zinc to slow down the corrosion process, and as a side note they also have very sharp edges.  Just last year I had to get 12 stitches because of cross brace.  The reason I mention this is for safety purposes.  If you have kids you will want to keep them away from the pool area at least until it is back filled but ideally they should admire the pool from a far until it is ready to be swam in.

There is a new brace making an appearance this year that is created by the genius minds of those at Only Alpha Pool Products.  This brace is designed to work with their Fuzion line of pool walls.  This line is not made of galvanized steel but instead is made of true composite material.  This material is 100% non-corrosive and the brace is likewise non-corrosive.  The combination of these non-corrosive elements in the pool greatly increases the longevity of the finished product.  For more information on the superior products being manufactured by Only Alpha Pool Products see my blog post titled “Superior Vinyl Liner Pool Building Materials” or check out the website http://www.onlyalpha.com/.  This new brace offers the same support as a “deck support” or “cross brace” and also allows the concrete “walks” around the pool to be tied into the structure itself.  The difference is that instead of sharp steel that will eventually corrode over time this new brace is 100% non-corrosive so it will last a lifetime.  It is similar to the steel bracing in that it sticks out from the pool wall about 27″ so the builder will not have to change the over dig.  One benefit is that the top portion of the brace is removable so it will allow the builder to more easily maneuver around to pool to install the plumbing and do anything else that may need to be done.  Another added benefit is that the removable piece is also fully adjustable to accommodate any height of coping that the builder may put on the pool.  The brace is also hollow to allow concrete or stone to flow through it giving it added support.