Polaris Robotic Pool Cleaners


When you hear the words robotic cleaner what comes to mind?  No not Rosie.  I am referring to robotic pool cleaners.  First be aware that there is a difference between a robotic cleaner and a suction side cleaner.  The main difference is that robotic cleaner creates its own cleaning power, where a suction side cleaner depends on the pools pump to create the power to clean the pool.  The easiest way to spot this is by looking at the skimmer of the pool.  If it is a suction side cleaner then you will see a line going into the skimmer.  This is what is doing the cleaning.  With a robotic cleaner you will see no such line.  Instead you will see a line going from the cleaner to its “caddy”.  The caddy supplies the power and acts as storage for the robot when it is not in use.  Lets take a look at the actual mechanics of each of these types of cleaners for a moment.

Suction Side Cleaner

A suction side cleaner utilizes the power of the pump to clean the pool.  It basically crawls around the pool sucking up dirt and debris and depositing it into the skimmer basket or pump basket.  Without the suction of the pump then the cleaner would just sit at the bottom of the pool doing nothing.  A robotic cleaner does not require the use of the pump to clean the pool.  It gets power from the caddy and uses a brush or brush like component to clean the pool.  Any debris or dirt that it stirs up gets deposited into a net that is built into the robot itself.  This aspect of the robot is enough to peak the interest of pool owners across the country.  It is a major selling point for the robot due to the fact that pool owners won’t have the task of cleaning out their skimmer baskets, pump baskets, or backwashing their filters after cleaning the pool.  You now see that there is an obvious difference between a robotic cleaner and a suction side cleaner.  Now you should know that there are differences from one robotic cleaner to another.  For me there is one brand of robotic cleaner that stands out from the rest.  Polaris robotic cleaners are in my opinion at the top of the game when it comes to innovation.  One reason is that they have redesigned the debris containment basket so that the cleaner remains highly effective even as the basket fills up.  Polaris has developed a new line of robotic cleaners that I want to briefly talk about.  These are the 9350 Sport, the 9450 Sport, and the 9550 Sport models.  Obviously, being that there are three different models available you can assume that the higher the number the more features the robot will have.  So lets look at the 9350 Sport.

9350 Sport – This model offers the fewest options.  It is kind of like the base model with no bells or whistles.  However it still utilizes the new design as far as the Vortex Vacuum Technology.  This basically allows this line of robots to have 25% more vacuum power than other robots on the market.  In addition to that this model offers dual cleaning cycles, which allow users to choose from a cycle of 1.5 hours, or 2.5 hours.  Basically, if your pool is extra dirty then you can set the robot to clean for a longer period of time to remove more debris.  It also offers floor, wall, and tile line cleaning.  Out of the three new models this is the only one that has two wheel drive.  To me this means that this model is ideal for smaller pools, shallower pools in which the robot will not have to work too hard to access all areas of the pool, and pools with gradual turns.  The amount of cord you get with this model will accommodate a 50′ pool.  Another feature that should be noted is that the brush on this model is pleated rather that a solid blade.  The last thing is that the caddy is included.  I am not sure why this point would need to be stressed so much unless with other brands you would have to buy the caddy separately.  I just don’t know for sure.  Anyway lets move on to the next one.

9450 Sport – This model is the next step up.  It still offers the Vortex Vacuum Technology, but it also comes with a few upgrades.  For instance instead of the dual cleaning cycles, you get a seven day programable timer.  This model also offers the floor, wall, and tile line cleaning.  Another difference is that this model is four wheel drive.  This feature would be ideal for larger pools or pools with sharp corners.  Again this model comes with enough cord to accommodate a 50′ pool.

9550 Sport – This model is like the fully loaded Cadillac of cleaning robots.  It has options that are unique to this particular brand and model.  One of which is a motion sensing handheld remote.  Yes motion sensing!  This is basically like the remote of a popular video game system in which the robot will move in the direction that you hold the remote.  With just the tilt of your hand you can get you robotic cleaner to turn left, right, or up, and down.  No other robotic cleaner has this technology to my knowledge.  This basically changes cleaning the pool from a chore to a fun way to relax or interact with the kids.  Another feature that is unique to this model is the dirty canister indicator light.  This light will come on when it is time to empty the robots debris basket.  In addition to that you can program the robot with cleaning patterns that are unique and specific to your pool.  This makes for a very efficient cleaner.  It is also four wheel drive and comes with a seven day programable timer.  The caddy is again included.  However this model is the only one of the three that comes with enough cord to accommodate a 60′ pool.  It is also the only one of the three that has a solid blade brush, which means that there will be no debris escaping.

These are the features available with each model.  I wanted you to know in case you happen to be thinking about getting a robotic cleaner for your pool and are unsure of which one to get.  I would recommend getting a Polaris robotic cleaner, however it will be up to you to determine which model best suites your needs.  One thing that I forgot to mention about all of these models is that they are equipped with an easy lift system.  When you are ready to remove the robot from the pool you simply have to press and hold a button on the caddy and your robot will come to the surface and make its way to the edge of the pool where it will wait for you to remove it.  Another thing is that each of these models is equipped to deal with being overturned.  If your robot ever flips over then it will shut itself down and float itself upright again.  For more information on swimming pool basics, please check out my other blog posts.  If you have a specific topic in mind that I have not yet covered please feel free to mention it in the space provided for questions and comments.

Only Alpha’s Evolution Pool

In today’s world people are always wanting the latest and greatest products available.  This is why there are lines going out the door of cell phone stores every time a new phone comes out.  The problem is that with some of this technology it is replaced within months and then the new phone you just got becomes old news.  That is not always the case.  In some instances a product can remain “hot” for quite a long stent.  This is what we have found with our Only Alpha Evolution system of swimming pool.  This new style of pool is revolutionizing the way people are building pools.

The Only Alpha Evolution swimming pool is a way of building a swimming pool using all the same components of an in ground vinyl liner pool except the liner.  You may be wondering how this can be done.  One reason is due to the use of non-corrosive building material.  For some time now the swimming pool industry has seen an increase in the use of non-corrosive building material.  Traditionally vinyl liner in ground pools are composed of steel walls.  The problem with this is that over time the steel begins to corrode.  The corrosion process may take quite some time or it can happen very fast.  There are a lot of things that can contribute to the corrosion process.  One of the biggest concerns is the fact that over the last few years there has been a increase in “salt water pools”.  I think that one of the biggest contributors to this is the way our country is becoming more health conscious, and always looking to find ways to stay healthy.  This has crossed over to the swimming pool industry.  I think that there is a misconception when it comes to these salt water pools.  People seem to think that they do not use chlorine to keep them clean.  I am sorry to burst your bubble but let me inform you that a salt water pool still uses chlorine just like any other pool.  The difference is that instead of adding chlorine to the water you are adding salt and allowing the pools’ salt cell to break down the salt into sodium and chlorine which allows the chlorine to treat the water and then convert back to salt.  If you are wanting more information regarding salt water pools please see my post related to salt water pools and how they work.  The reason that I bring this up is because the salt in those pools has a very negative effect on the steel walls that they are made of.  This is why there has been an increase in the use of non-corrosive material.  Now we get to the fact that not all non-corrosive pools walls are the same.  In fact there is only one that has the upper hand.  While other manufacturers were scrambling to quickly produce a non-corrosive pool system in an effort to get out ahead of the pack, Only Alpha Pool Products were taking a different approach.  They understood that while there is a need for these non-corrosive pool walls, they also had to be strong enough to withstand the elements.  This is where they jumped out ahead of the pack.  It has been proven that Only Alpha’s non-corrosive pool walls are not only a true composite material but they are also stronger than any other non-corrosive pool wall on the market.

Another added bonus is the fact that Only Alpha’s composite pool walls are more efficient than any other vinyl liner building material.  Basically they are far better at keeping the heat in the pool and the cold out.

It is with these panels that builders are able to build a swimming pool without a liner.  You might ask yourself “haven’t they been building pools without liners longer than they have with liners?”  The answer is yes, however with the use of Only Alpha’s pool panels this is the first time that they are able to do it at a fraction of the cost.  Traditionally for a non-liner pool, builders would build the entire thing out of concrete.  This results in a much more expensive pool that will eventually crack and require expensive repairs.  With Only Alpha’s composite panel builders are able to provide the same look and strength of a concrete pool but at a fraction of the cost to the customer.  So what makes this material better than the rest.

To begin Only Alpha’s composite pool panels are created from a single sheet of SMC (sheet molding compound)  this is a thermally set material that will not warp, change shape or become structurally altered by the elements in the swimming pool environment.  In addition to that it is infused with what we refer to as a fused fiber matrix.  This basically means that there are 8 to 12 inch fibers running throughout the material.  What this does is it makes the material extra strong and unparalleled by any competitor.  The proof is in the tests.  These tests can be seen on youtube and show a side by side comparison between Only Alpha’s composite pool panel and the non-corrosive pool panels of two of their competitors.  Just check out the website and follow the Youtube link to see the tests http://www.onlyevolution.com.  This type of material is unique to Only Alpha Pool Products, meaning that no other manufacturer has this.  When we look at other manufacturers’ non-corrosive material we find that the majority of it is what is known as structural foam.  When you look at structural foam you will see that it is like a laminated foam.  Almost as if you were to take a piece of styrofoam and glue some thin plastic sheets on either side of it.  I don’t know the exact process of how it is made.  I am just going off of what I have observed.  Here, take a look at this.

To the right you will see a cross section view of a structural foam panel.  Notice how it is riddled with tiny voids.  This is from the way the panel is made.  Rather than using a single sheet of material they use a whole bunch of tiny pieces of material that get injected into a mold.  This process leaves the end product with these small pockets of air.  You can also see that “laminate” type material I was talking about.  Basically there is no structural integrity associated with this type of panel.  This can become a huge problem after the pool is installed.

Now take a look at the picture on the left.  This is Only Alpha’s composite material.  You can see the fibers right away, and notice that the material has none of those tiny air bubbles.  This is because the process of making this type of panel is far different than that of structural foam.  Only Alpha’s panels are not only made from a single sheet of SMC, but they are also made by utilizing heat and immense pressure.  The pressure ensures that there are no air pockets while the heat activates the thermosetting properties of the material ensuring that it will never change shape due to temperature.

Only Alpha Pool Products has taken this awesome material and and created something that is totally unique in the pool industry.  A vinyl liner pool without the liner.  Basically the pool would be built with their composite pool walls.  However, utilizing a specially formulated liquid gasket system and a specific type of coating, the entire pool becomes a water proof structure and no liner is required.  This is beneficial for several reasons.  One is that it allows vinyl liner pool builder the ability to compete in the commercial market.  Another is that this allows homeowners to have the classic look of a concrete pool without having the excruciating cost of one.  Another ideal aspect of this type of pool is the fact that you won’t ever have to replace a liner.  So if you are thinking about getting a pool then you may want to consider the Only Alpha Evolution pool.  For more information related to Only Alpha Pool Products, or in ground vinyl liner swimming pools in general, please check out my other blog posts.  I have written a post on just about every topic related to in ground swimming pools.

Why have a professional close your pool?

Why so sad?  Is it because pool season is coming to  a close?  Or is it because you didn’t want to pay a company to close your pool and now you are concerned that you may not be closing your pool properly?  You may have thought that it can’t be that difficult, or maybe you are thinking that since you saw how the pool professional closed your pool last year, then you know exactly what to do.   Unfortunately for you now that it has come time to close the pool you are second guessing everything.  Perhaps you are wondering what the worst thing that can happen is.  Well allow me to shed some light on this.

What could happen if a pool is not closed properly?

There are several things that can happen if your in ground pool is not closed properly for the winter.  One thing that can happen is something very unlikely and that is nothing.  In very rare instances your pool could go the entire winter without being damaged.  Unfortunately if you live in a northern state that will probably not happen.  Instead, what will likely happen is that you will find that one or more of the plumbing lines running to your pool has froze and ruptured.  This is not a very easy fix.  For instance if it your main drain line freezes and busts, then you are looking at a quite expensive repair.  This is due to the fact that the main drain line runs the deepest and it is very difficult to determine where in the line the rupture is.  It may come down to running a new line to the main drains.

That would mean that to repair it you would have to bring in some heavy equipment to run the line.  In addition to that, the bottom of your pool would have to be busted up so that the new line could be hooked up to the main drains.  Then the bottom of the pool would have to be repaired, and you would more than likely have to purchase a new liner.  On top of that you would have to pay for the water, chemicals, and the cost of heating the pool back up.

If the line that breaks is a return line or skimmer line then the repair may be a bit easier.  It really all depends on the sidewalks around your pool.  If you have 4′ walks around the pool then it wouldn’t take to much effort to dig underneath them to expose the line.  If you have an enormous amount of concrete around the pool then you are looking at a more expensive repair.

These are the reasons why pool professionals typically blow out the lines and then dump antifreeze into them.  When closing a pool the goal is to get the water out of each line and get at least a gallon of antifreeze in.  By doing this it will ensure that the lines won’t freeze a rupture over the winter.  In addition to that it is important that your equipment also be free of water.  I also tend to tell folks that they may want to keep certain equipment components inside their garage or pool house to make sure it stays safe over the winter.  I always take out the o rings and all the small parts associated with the equipment and store them in the pump basket for safe keeping.  I will also make sure that the heater and filter are free of water.  The filter is a bit more difficult to do this with but I have found that if you take the plug off the bottom of the filter it will allow the majority of water to drain out.  This will give any water left over room to freeze and expand without damaging anything.  However when it comes to the multi port valve I always make sure I blow it out.  There is not a lot of room in it already so it is important to make sure it is free of water.  To do this I hook my blower up to the inlet side and go through each setting except for closed and filter.  The closed setting will not let the air flow through and the filter setting will cause any water in the tank to come through the valve and out.  Obviously if you are trying to rid the multi port of water then it is counter productive to put water into it.  Also, if the equipment is inside a room then I wouldn’t want to make a mess.  If the valve is free of water and the drain plug is off then the filter is good to go for the winter.  When I am finished blowing out the valve I will turn it to winterize, or closed depending on the valve.  This will prevent any water from getting into the valve over the winter.

As I said before, the main drains are another part of what I would consider a vital element of your pool.  Obviously they are on the bottom of your pool.  This makes it somewhat difficult to ensure that the line is free of water.  There is a trick to this that I will get to shortly but first you must realize that when closing a pool there are a couple of ways to do things.  You can either drain your pool down to below the returns or you can leave the water in the pool and take a couple extra steps of precaution.  Either way, the main drains will remain under the water.  So how does one ensure that the main drain line is free of water.  This is where that little trick comes into play.  First you have to realize that there is a lot of weight pushing down on the main drains.  That being said, it will allow you to achieve an air lock.  To do this I would blow through the main drain line until both main drains begin to bubble.  I usually allow them to bubble for a good ten seconds or so to ensure that all of the water is out of them.  At this point I very quickly remove the blower and plug the line.  This is how an air lock is achieved.  The weight of the water pushing down will not allow the air to come out and the air in the line trying to get out will not allow the water from the pool to come into the line.  This is called air lock.  At this point the main drain is properly closed.  Even though there is no antifreeze in the line, there is also no water so there is nothing that can freeze and cause the line to rupture.

When it comes down to it, closing a pool is not all that difficult.  However it is something that requires a lot of care and attention to make sure that it is done properly.  Nobody wants to deal with expensive repairs in the spring so if there is any doubt about it at all, then it may be best to leave it up to the professionals to close the pool.  One reason is that they generally have the experience and the know how to get it done right and another very important reason is that they will usually take responsibility if something does happen and repairs are needed.  So before you close your own pool you need to first ask yourself these questions.


Before closing the pool.

1. Do I know what needs to be done?
2. Am I confident that I can do it?
3. Do I have the materials that I need to get it done?

After closing the pool.

1. Do the return lines and skimmer lines have at least a gallon of antifreeze in each of them?
2. Did I get an adequate amount of bubbles coming through the main drains?
3. Am I confident that I have properly closed down all components of the pool and can rest assured that no damage will be occur over the winter?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions then maybe you need to consider allowing the professionals to close your pool.  The information in this post is just a reminder of what can happen if your pool is not properly closed.  It is not to be taken as instructions to close your own pool.  In my opinion it is always better to have a pool professional work on your pool.  They will generally have the experience and know how to get done what needs to be done, and do it with confidence to ensure that there won’t be a problem.  In addition to that, if for some reason there is a problem, then they will be responsible for taking care of it.

Backfilling With Dirt – Pros and Cons


It is not all that uncommon for a builder to use dirt to backfill a pool.  Traditionally this is not the best material to use for backfilling a pool.  The reason being is that the dirt will settle over time.  Typically when the pool is dug, it will be dug about three feet wider than the actual width of the finished pool.  The over dig is what allows the builders to run the plumbing and electrical around the pool to the proper locations.  This over dig will be the same depth as the shallow end of the pool.  When the pool is backfilled with dirt, that over dig area around the pool is very susceptible to settling.  In fact it is almost definitely going to settle.  So what happens to the concrete deck or pavers around the pool when that dirt settles?  Well the worst case scenario would be that it too will settle, leaving you, the homeowner with a huge mess.  The other outcome, depending on if the builders used deck supports, will be large voids underneath the concrete that will have to be filled in.  That means that it will be up to you, the homeowner to either fill it in yourself at a small cost, or pay someone to come in and do it at a higher cost.  Either way you will have some extra work to do or have done after your pool is complete.  So what is the best material to backfill with.

I have found that when a pool is backfilled with a non-compressible stone, like pea gravel or stone chips then the over dig area is far less likely to settle, and if it does it will probably be so minuscule that you won’t be able to see it.  Now you may be asking yourself, “why would a builder backfill with dirt over stone?”  It really just comes down to cost.  Obviously using the dirt that came out of the ground when they dug the pool won’t cost them anything, whereas bringing in a couple dump truck loads of stone will cost much more.  In my opinion this is something that should be made clear in the planning part of the build process.  Many builders will use this as a selling point.  For instance lets say you have been talking to a couple different builders, and the first one gives you a quote for the cost of your pool and installation. This will allow the second builder to quote you a better price by using dirt to backfill.  It may not be a whole lot but a pool builder is in the business of getting business.  If by telling you that they can build the same pool for a few hundred dollars cheaper and you accept it then they have done what they set out to do.  They can choose to let you know how they can do it cheaper or not, that part is up to them.

Deck Supports Around Pool

On the other hand some builders may argue that backfilling the pool with dirt is a perfectly acceptable way of backfilling as long as they take the proper precautions.  By proper precautions I am referring to support.  Most in ground vinyl liner pool manufacturers make deck supports and other bracing that is designed to assist in supporting the weight of the concrete decking around the pool.  Some builders rely solely on those supports to hold up the concrete.  Another possibility is that the builder has the mindset that they are doing exactly what needs to be done to build the pool.  They understand that the deck supports are designed to support the weight of the concrete and if they use them on the pool then there is no need to backfill with stone.  At that point they have successfully done their job and if the dirt under the deck settles after the completion of the pool then it is not their responsibility to add more dirt.

The reason I bring this up is just to make you aware of it.  If you are thinking about having an in ground vinyl liner pool built then I want you to know what to expect.  That way you can ask questions before hand and possibly prevent a unexpected surprise after the pool is complete.  You can always insist that the builder backfill with stone.  It may cost you a bit more money but that is money that you would be spending anyway after the dirt settles to fix the grade around the pool.  Most builders will be happy to accommodate your request.  After all if it gets them your business, and adds a little more cost to the project then I don’t see why they wouldn’t.  However if a builder tries to tell you that the dirt will not settle then you may want to look into having another company build your pool.  They may say that they are going to compact the dirt so that it will not settle, but in reality there is no guarantee that compacting will absolutely, 100% prevent the dirt from settling.

This is just something that I want my readers to be aware of.  If you are having a pool built it is important to understand what is going on.  That way you will know if something “fishy” going on.  I have heard of builders not coming through on what they said they would do.  In fact I personally know a guy that gave his builder a large sum of money up front only to have the builder dig part of a hole in his backyard and then take off to florida.  Unfortunately this type of thing happens all too often.  That is why you want to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable pool builder.  For more information on how to make sure you get the right builder check out my other posts with “builder” in the title.

Too much emphasis on pool safety?

The question has been asked.  Is there too much emphasis on swimming pool safety?  I know that over the past few months I have written several posts about how to stay safe around the swimming pool.  In all my efforts to pass on information to my readers I never really stopped to ask myself if I am putting too much stress on staying safe.  Some people may feel that this “over emphasis” on swimming pool safety may be causing  to be overly worried about swimming in their pools, or buying pools in the first place.  Is this really the case though?

It is my personal opinion that there is no such thing as being overly cautious around a pool.  I think that any tips that people may not know are absolutely worth sharing.  The fact is that these tips I give are meant to help people, not scare them away.  I know that when it comes to my family and friends, I will do anything to ensure that they remain safe.  If part of that anything is researching ways to stay safe in the pool then so be it.  I don’t think that putting emphasis on safety is going to scare people away from getting a pool much like how “Shark Week” doesn’t scare people away from swimming in the ocean.  The fact that there is an inherent risk involved with swimming and that is the only reason there is so much emphasis on safety in the first place.  If anything what is going to scare people away from getting pools is all of this media attention on people getting shocked in their pools.
So why are people getting shocked and electrocuted in their pools.  I am willing to go out on a limb here and say that it could be due to the fact that they do not know that they should get their pool lights inspected each year.  Most people would also not even think twice about it, being under the impression that the lights are made for this purpose so they couldn’t possible cause harm.  Just this scenario alone is enough to make me think that there is not enough stress on swimming pool safety.  Unfortunately that is not where the issue stops.  Every year people experience unfortunate events around swimming pools.  This is an ongoing problem, and it is going to continue until people wise up.  The idea that too much emphasis on swimming pool safety is a bad thing is absurd.  That is like saying that we should stop crash testing cars because it makes people too afraid to buy them.  No, we should continue to crash test cars so that people know which cars are better suited in the event of an accident.  We need to apply that same mindset to the way we deal with swimming pools, and I feel that some have already started.  There are many companies out there that are trying to better our swimming pool experience through various safety measures.  We have companies that manufacture safety covers, we have companies that make low voltage lighting for swimming pools.  We even have local building codes requiring fences around swimming pools.  These are all steps toward the right direction.  It is very unlikely that everyone is just going to stop swimming because people like myself are trying to make their swimming pool experience safer and more enjoyable.  However, what is more likely to stop people from swimming is faulty equipment, not knowing what to do in certain situations, and the higher risk of something bad happening because they don’t know how to prevent it.  Don’t put too much stress on safety because it makes people afraid of swimming pools… Give me a break already.  That is like saying don’t put too much emphasis on stretching out before exercising because then people will be afraid to exercise.  What? Exactly.  It just doesn’t make much sense when you stop to think about it.
It is important for people to be safe around their pools.  Likewise people want to be safe around their pools.  People are researching the topic everyday.  Why?  Because people love their pools and want to swim in them, but they also want to make sure that they are safe while doing it.  The only thing that reducing the emphasis on safety will do is cause people to wonder what they can do to stay safe or cause people to stop being as safe.  In any situation it is important to get the facts ahead of time.  That is the only way to make an educated decision about something.  I would venture to say that people, especially in today’s tech savvy world, are already researching the pros and cons of owning a swimming pool before they buy one.
On the other hand, perhaps it’s not the message that is over emphasized, but the way in which that message is delivered that needs to be altered a bit.  After inserting the pictures on this page I realized that many of them seem to use statistical data as a scare tactic.  That is what may need to change.  However I would be interested to get some feedback from my readers as to where they stand on this issue.  Do you think that there is too much emphasis on swimming pool safety?  Do you think that the emphasis on safety is having a negative effect on swimming pool sales?  Seriously let me know what you think.  There are no wrong answers.  I have just expressed my opinion on the matter, and now I would like to read yours.

Landscaping – Swimming pool builder – Working together

I have recently read an article in “the Edge” magazine about how to achieve a successful collaboration between a pool builder and a landscape designer.  This article can be found in the 2014 first quarter copy.  I found it to be very informative and would like to offer my readers the gist of what it is about.  We all know that with the internet we can obtain information in a matter of seconds.  We have the luxury of researching things with far more ease than the generations that came before us.  That being said when it comes to building your pool or doing your landscaping around the pool, you should first look into what has been done and what company you should hire to do these things.  More often than not you will have to hire two different companies to do both of these things.  There are few companies that build pools and do landscape designs.  Today I just want to give you some insight on how to get your pool and landscaping done efficiently while working with two different companies.

First off you will want to research the companies you hire.  Look on line and see if there are any reviews available that were written by their previous clients.  This will give you some pretty good insight as to weather or not to hire them.  After all, when someone has spent a good chunk of money on something they will not be too reluctant to share their experience.  Especially if they can do it on line, in written form.  If they are unhappy with the outcome then they will not hesitate to share it with others.  That is the beauty of the internet.  You can use the experience of others to make an educated decision about your own project.  I also want to stress that while you may have an idea in your head about how you want things to look in the end, it is important to remember that the landscape architect is there to do the designing.  However it is acceptable for you to come to the designer with some ideas that you like and ask that they incorporate them into their design.  Most designers will be happy to accommodate you.  That is another nice thing about the internet, it has Pintrest.

Pintrest is a good resource for researching landscaping and pool ideas.  Another important key to a successful pool/landscaping project is having a pool builder and landscape architect that see eye to eye.  If your builder and landscaper are constantly butting heads then you will likely have a not so desirable experience and the outcome will reflect that.

Conversely if your pool builder and landscaper work well together then you will likely have a positive experience and the outcome will reflect that.  A few things happen when the builder and landscaper are on the same page.  First is that any problems that may arise during the process will be solved effectively and in a timely manner.  Second is that they will likely be in good spirits which will show in the end.  Third is that they will likely learn from one another.  In many instances when a builder and landscaper work well together they can both make suggestions and take them to heart.  You will not find that kind of interaction with a landscaper and builder who don’t see eye to eye.  This will not only benefit you by having your backyard be the result of people who work well together, but it will also help others because that builder and landscaper will likely remember the suggestions for their next job.  So you may be wondering how to ensure that your landscaper and pool builder work well together.

There are some things that you can do to help them out.  One thing that you can do is make sure that their roles in the project are clearly defined.  If you have two different companies working in the same backyard then you want to make sure that the pool builder understands that the design that the landscape architect created, and you signed off on, is the plan you want.  Sometimes when situations arise during the build, the best solution may conflict with the overall design.  This is where a good working relationship between the builder and landscaper is key.  Obviously in this type of situation something will need to be done.  With a good working relationship the builder and landscaper can talk about what needs to be done, and what is the best way to do it.  If it comes down to changing the design a touch, then it will be up to the landscaper to do so and bring it to your attention.  This way everybody is on the same page and there will be no surprises in the end.  After all you are the customer, and ultimately if you are not happy then they are not happy.  These are some things that can help ensure that your backyard project turns out beautifully.

Fiberglass Swimming Pool Steps – Not Created Equal

In the swimming pool industry today there are several different types of entry systems that one could choose from when having a pool built.  They are all a little different from one another and they all offer something different than the others.  So how do you know which is best for you?  In my opinion the best way to go about solving this question is to ask yourself a few more questions.  First which style has the most appeal?  Then decide which is the most practical for your family.  Finally determine how much you want to spend on your entry system.  These are some of the things that you will have to consider in your decision making.  In addition to that it may be a good idea to talk to your builder and see what they recommend.  They will be able to tell you which type is their best seller and may even be able to tell you something about the structural integrity of the different steps.  For instance I know that the thermo plastic steps may eventually warp and not look the best.  Another thing that should be considered is the manufacturer of the steps.  Not all manufacturers make the steps the same way and in some cases the way the steps are made makes a big difference.  Today I want to take the time to explain to my readers why all acrylic fiberglass steps are not created equal.

Only Alpha’s Fiberglass Steps

In the past I have gone into great detail about the differences between Only Alpha Pool Products and other manufacturers.  Basically the difference is that while Only Alpha strives to be the best and create new and better swimming pool components, their competition seems to only be doing what is necessary to get by.  This is also true when it comes to the acrylic fiberglass steps.  The steps made by Only Alpha are made with the highest quality material available.  In addition to that the up most care is taken to ensure that everything that leaves their facility is free of defects and blemishes.

Other step manufacturers use a filler material like talc in their steps to cut down on their cost of material.  What this means is that the steps bought from them are not made with quality in mind.  Instead they are thinking about how they can increase profits by using filler material in their steps and charging the same amount for them as if they were a high quality product.  In my opinion this is wrong.  Nobody should ever buy anything under false pretenses.  Most consumers will never realize that their expensive acrylic fiberglass steps are made poorly until it is too late.  At that point they will have a large eye sore in their beautiful swimming pool.  So what makes Only Alpha so different?  They use only the best material in their acrylic fiberglass steps.  In addition to that they don’t use cheap filler material to help cut costs.  So their customers receive the highest quality step on the market every time.

For more information regarding in ground swimming pool products and general swimming pool information please check out my other blog posts.  Also please take the time to check out Only Alpha’s website at www.onlyalpha.com and really see what makes them better than the rest.  From there you will have access to different links and information pertaining to their products and get side by side comparisons of different products so you can actually see why their products are superior.

The Best Gas Heater for Your Pool – Features and Benefits

I would venture to say that most of the time, when someone has a brand new inground vinyl liner pool installed they typically also have a heating device installed.  There are several different types of heating devices that

one could choose from.  Today I am going to spend a few minutes to talk about gas heaters.  Specifically the Jandy LXI heater.  However before I get to that I want to talk about the differences between a gas heater and a heat pump.  I would say that these are probably the two main sources of heat that people choose for their pools.  So what is the difference?

To start it is important to understand that the initial costs of these two are a bit different.  You will be spending more on a heat pump up front than you would on a gas heater.  However the heat pump will likely save you money in the long run.  A heat pump is a very efficient way to heat your pool.  You will save money due to the fact that you won’t have to pay for the natural gas or LP that you would if you had a gas heater.  The downside comes from the fact that a heat pump is limited to what it can do.  A heat pump will only work well when the air temperature around it is 65 or above.  Generally anything below that will cause the heat pump to struggle.  This is because the heat pump uses the air around it to heat the pool.  Conversely a gas heater will work well in any climate.  This could potentially prolong the pool season.  Another con for the gas heater is that they will have to be turned on and off to get the temperature that is desired.  A heat pump on the other hand controls more like the air conditioning in a home.  You would just set the desired temperature and the heat pump will bring the pool water to that temp and shut off.  If the water drops below the desired temp then the heat pump will again turn on and adjust the temp to where it needs to be.  Another downside of the heat pump is that this adjustment may take days depending on the difference between the current pool temp and the desired temp.  For instance if a pool was just installed and filled with cold water, and the heat pump is set to 80 degrees F then it will likely take a few days for the pool water to reach that temp.  On the other hand a gas heater could have that water to the desired temp in a matter of hours.

Before deciding on what type of heating device to get, it would be wise to do some research before committing to one over the other.  Not everybody can comfortably afford the higher cost of running a gas or LP heater, and the features may be different depending on the brands of equipment you may be looking into.  This brings me to the title of this post.  Jandy LXI Heater – Features and Benefits.  If you are already doing some research then I want to give you some facts about the LXI Heater so that you can make an informed decision.  I also want to point out that the information you are about to read can be found at http://www.zodiacpoolsystems.com along with information on their entire line of equipment.

Things to know about the Jandy LXI Heater 

* Exceeds environmental standards for low NOx emissions – this will allow you to enjoy your pool more, knowing that the heater was designed with the environment in mind.

* Automation ready – easy integration with Jandy’s AquaLink controller as well as other control systems.

* Built in freeze protection

* Exclusive maintain temperature function available – this will keep the pool temperature where you want it without having to manually turn the heater on and off.

* High efficiency heat exchanger is standard – this will lower the operating costs to provide greater savings.

* Feature rich control panel is standard – equipped with a user friendly, back lit display and simplified menu for ease of operation.

* Low NOx combustion and hot surface ignition system – provides maximum performance in any weather conditions.

* Built in one touch automation – allows for easy switching from pool to spa.

* Available in 250K and 400K BTU sizes – There is a heater for any size pool.

* Smallest equipment pad footprint – takes up the smallest amount of room on the pad out of any heater on the market.

These are some of the benefits and features of the LXI heater.  I provided this information to show my readers what is leading the pack in regard to gas heaters and their capabilities.  In case you read this and are wondering about the automation aspect of the heater you should know that with the AquaLink automation system the heat can be adjusted with the touch of a button from the comfort of your home.  The days of manually adjusting your heater are over.

For more information on heaters and heat pumps please check out my other blog posts related to heating.  You can also check out my other posts to gain more information on vinyl liner in ground swimming pools and products related to them.