Why Only Alpha?

I want to reiterate the fact that Only Alpha is leading the field of vinyl liner in ground swimming pool manufacturing.  This means that those who build with Only Alpha’s materials are building with the absolute best materials on the market.  Regardless of if they are building with steel panels or non-corrosive panels, Only Alpha has made huge leaps forward in both lines of in ground vinyl liner pools.  To read more about what makes Only Alpha’s pool panels better than the rest please check out the rest of my blog posts.  There you will find information on not only Only Alpha’s building material, but you will also find general swimming pool information as well.

Only Alpha has also changed the way business is done by utilizing their customer’s feedback to make changes for the better.  You see, Only Alpha is completely customer oriented.  When a customer calls in, they get one on one help with someone of the Only Alpha team.  Being that Only Alpha is a smaller company, when a customer does call in, they can get to the appropriate team member in minutes rather than having to wait for a call back, or leaving a message.  Their design team is very knowledgeable and has the ability to look at the design as they are speaking with the customer right then and there.  This alleviates the confusion of talking over the phone and not being able to see exactly what the customer is talking about.  In addition to that all the pools that are designed by Only Alpha’s design team are designed on a one to one scale.  That means that there is no scaling down.  They are able to see what the builder sees in the field and make any adjustments needed right then and there to get the builder back to building.  If something is not going to work then they are able to see it right away before the builder goes through the trouble of doing it in the field.  This saves the builder time and money.

Like other manufacturers, Only Alpha’s building materials come with warranties demonstrating their confidence in what they sell.  However unlike bigger manufacturers Only Alpha does not have a traditional claims department.  Instead if there is ever a problem then their customers can simply call in and speak to someone in management and they will take the appropriate steps to resolve the issue.  There is no red tape, or bureaucratic non-sense to go through.  It’s a simple phone call and brief discussion of the problem to get things resolved.

They also have a Technical Sales Department to help answer questions related to the building material itself and the application of it in the field.  There is no “right and wrong” way to build a pool, that is up to the builder to decide.  Only Alpha does not try to tell their customers how to build pools.  However their Technical Sales associate is very experienced in building pools, specifically with Only Alpha building materials.  So if a customer asks what is the best way to do something, they will get an educated recommendation.  In addition to that, when Only Alpha gets a new customer, there will be a representative from Only Alpha on their first job site to help out and answer any questions that they may have.  This does a couple of things.  It ensures that the customer is getting that one on one experience allowing them to feel more comfortable with the materials, and it also gives Only Alpha the opportunity to see how different builders build.  This means that they can see first hand what techniques work well.  That knowledge can then be passed on and save builders time and money.

Only Alpha is not like most vinyl liner in ground pool manufacturers in that they sell on a very limited basis.  Each of their customers is hand picked by the management team, whereas bigger manufacturers will sell to anybody leaving the builders to compete head to head in a price war.  When two builders in the same area, and have the same products to sell it becomes more of a battle of cost rather than who has the better product.  In addition to that Only Alpha does not sell to the guy in a pick up truck with a spray painted logo on the side that says something like JimBoB’s Fancy Pools.  Instead Only Alpha seeks out builders with a more reputable background, and gives them an exclusive opportunity to have something that other builders in their area do not have.  That is better building materials, and a better relationship with the manufacturer.   Both of these things allow the builder to better serve their customers.

You may be wondering why this is important.  You may be saying to yourself that the building materials come second to a finished pool.  To you, maybe you think that a homeowner won’t care what materials were used as long as the finished product looks good.  Let me assure you that this is no longer the case.  With the way that technology has changed the world in the last ten years, more and more people are doing their own research online.  Think about it, what was the last big item that you purchased?  Maybe a refrigerator, maybe a new car.  Whatever it was I bet you looked online for the best one for your money.  I do the same thing every time my wife wants something new.  I go on line and find out what the best one is that we can afford.  I look at the products details.  I find out what features it has.  This is something that more and more people are doing everyday.  People can simply search the name Only Alpha online and come up with a barrage of information.  People can search pool building material and find a barrage of information.  What they will find is that Only Alpha manufactures the best vinyl liner in ground pool building material on the market and that is what they will want.

For more information regarding Only Alpha Pool Products and what makes them different please check out my other blog posts.  You will find links to their different websites, links to their YouTube videos and more.

Vinyl Liner Pool Building – Leave it to the Pros

Have you ever wondered about the best way to build an in ground swimming pool?  Have you been thinking about getting a swimming pool but are concerned about the cost involved in the build of it?  Are you really wanting an in ground swimming pool but are hesitating because you think that it will just cost too much?

Well let me be the one to tell you that the best way to go about building your very own vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is to let a professional do it.  I know that this may not be something that you want to hear or read in this case, but it is something that I think is worth really knowing.  I am aware that there are several places online where you can obtain a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool kit and build it yourself.  However, in my opinion building your own vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is never a good idea.  There are so many aspects and components that go into a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool that it would be very easy to miss a step and end up with something that you will not be happy with.
As a pool builder I am aware of all of the problems that can arise when installing  a vinyl  liner in ground swimming pool.  If you do not know what to do in order to effectively deal with these problems then they can turn into larger problems and before long you have spent far more money than you had anticipated.  At that point you might as well have just paid to have the pool professionally installed to begin with.  To make this point even clearer I want to go through the process of the build and point out areas in which problems can arise.
The Dig:
By the time I get to this point I like to have a very clear plan in place for the pool.  I will have already laid out the pool in the backyard so I know where everything will go.  You have to realize that unless you have an excavator or backhoe of your own you will need to rent one.  When renting something like that, time is money.  You don’t want to be wasting time trying to figure out what goes where while digging the pool.  Once I start that thing up I will want to just power through it until the pool is dug.  One of the key components of doing this right is to have someone checking the depth the entire way.  Getting the depth of the pool right is very important.  If too much dirt gets taken out then it will cost even more money to get it back to where it needs to be because you can’t just put the dirt back.  Loose dirt will settle over time and under the weight of the water in the pool.  If that happens then there will again be a large expense involved in repairing it.  Stone will need to be brought in and placed in the hole to bring the bottom back up to where it needs to be.  In my opinion the dig is quite possibly the most important part of the entire pool build.  It will dictate the quality and ease of the rest of the build.  If it is off by a little, then more work will need to be done, more money will need to be spent, and more time will need to be spent working on the build.  When digging the deep end of the pool I usually always dig it a foot or so deeper than what it needs to be just so I can add stone for proper drainage.  Around here there seems to almost always be ground water that collects in the deep end.  The amount that collects will change depending on location, but it is almost a sure thing that there will be ground water.  Ground water is another aspect of the installation that a builder has to address.
There are a couple things that I do to combat ground water issues.  I almost always install a sump pit just off the deck area of the pool.  This sump pit will allow the homeowner to remove water around the pool at any given time.  In most cases they will just leave a sump pump in the pit and allow it to use its float to turn itself on and off as the water level raises and falls.  Another thing that I will do is install a drain in the deep end of the pool.  This is where that one foot of stone will come into play.  A very simple way to do this is to use a piece of flex pipe.  Simply drill some holes in the line, smaller than the stone of course, coil it up, and bury it under the stone.  From there the line will be ran up the side wall, under the wall panel, and up the trench with all the other plumbing lines.  This will allow the home owner, or the service tech the ability to pump the water out from underneath the pool.  Usually though it is enough to just drill some holes into a five gallon bucket and bury that in the stone and use that to pump water out of until it comes time to do the bottom and drop the liner.  At that point, I will drop the liner and fill the pool.  The weight of the water in the pool will, in almost every case  be heavy enough to keep the ground water away.  Think of it this way, if the ground water has nowhere to flow to then there will not be a problem.  Again there are extreme cases in which the pressure from the ground water is strong enough to counter the weight of the water in the pool.  If that happens then there is a strong possibility of the liner floating.
Again This is another reason why it is best to allow a professional to install your swimming pool.  Ground water is an issue all in itself, but throw a liner in there and you can end up with a bigger problem.  I have seen a liner float so bad that it ended up needing to be replaced.  The key is taking care of the ground water before the liner gets to the point where it is being stretched out around the main drains.
The Build:
This part is not necessarily that difficult.  It is a matter of bolting the panels together in the right locations, and installing all the proper bracing.  The hard part comes when it is time to level them.  Again this is where a good dig comes into play.  I have seen digs that were so spot on that very little had to be done in order to get them level.  On the other hand I have seen digs that were so far off of where they needed to be that the crew had to spend an entire afternoon leveling the pool.  I have seen this part of the build done a couple different ways.  Typically the walls will be completely put together before leveling the pool.  Then using wooden blocks and shims the panels are brought to the correct height.  I have also seen crews use pavers to level their pools.  In this case they would put down a paver and get it level and then set the panel on top of it.  I suppose either way works, but to me it makes more sense to build the walls first and then level them.  It seems that leveling pavers first just adds more work, because even after the walls were finished being built they went back and double checked the levelness of all the panels anyway.  I have never been one to tell someone how to build a pool, I just know what works best for me.  Once the walls are level, square and all the plumbing has been ran, then it is time to pour the concrete footing or collar.  After the collar is poured I always double check the levelness just because in some cases the weight of the concrete can cause the panels to sink a bit.  Once the wall panels are level I always straightened the walls.  The best way to do this is to use turnbuckle braces.
The Backfill:
I would always allow the concrete footing to set up overnight and then return the next day to run the electrical conduit.  This part may require the need for an electrician.  The building codes differ from place to place, so builders always check and make sure they are following all building codes that apply.  This is yet another reason it is best to allow a professional pool builder to build your pool.  Many people are unaware of what the building codes are and if they are not followed it could result in a fine.  Obviously that would cost money as well.  Anyway, once I get all the conduit ran around the pool where it needs to go, I would then begin backfilling the pool.  Some people backfill with dirt, however if I am intending on pouring a concrete deck around the pool then I will prefer to backfill with stone.  I know that I could use deck braces to support the weight of the deck, but that would not help with the dirt settling around the pool and leaving voids under the deck.
The Deck:
Once the pool is completely backfilled then it is time to prep for the concrete deck.  For this I will again plan out what the deck should look like.  By that I mean shape.  Next I will lay down a layer of stone, and get it all to the appropriate height.  The concrete deck of the pool should be about four inches thick and it should have fall.  This means that the farther away from the edge of the pool the lower the deck should be.  This will allow any water to run off the deck away from the pool.  When I have the stone at the right height in all the proper locations,  I will then form the deck using concrete forms.  Once the deck is completely formed up, I will use rebar to create a grid within deck area.  This will help to give the concrete strength.  Once all the rebar is laid out within the forms it will all have to be tied together.  When that is finished it will then be ready to pour the concrete.  Pouring the concrete really does require some technique.  Not everybody has the skill needed to do it right.  If it is not done right then it will look bad and once it cures it will look bad forever unless it is busted up and re-poured.  This is another reason why it is important to have a professional install your pool.
The Bottom:
The bottom of a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is something that requires a lot of technique and labor to do properly.  Usually it is done with either a sand/cement mix, or by using vermiculite.  Either way the process of doing a bottom on a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is a challenge.  Perhaps I am just a bit of a perfectionist, but I have seen some bottoms that were in pretty rough shape.  The idea is to get it as smooth as possible.  I can assure you that anything that happens to get underneath the liner will be easily felt from inside the pool.  I don’t know why exactly, but for some reason even the smallest piece of debris under the liner feels like a rock from inside the pool.  Anyway with a good crew and the know how, an average size pool bottom will take anywhere from three to four hours to complete and get the liner in.  Again if there is ground water in the pool, obviously it will have to be dealt with when the time comes.  Once the bottom is finished it is time to install the liner.  This is a job for a few people.  Liners are large and typically have some substantial weight to them.  They need to be sucked back into place by using vacuums, and then all the proper holes will need to be cut for the main drains, returns, lights, skimmers, and anything else.  Again this is something that is best left for the professionals.  A hole in the wrong spot could result in the need for a new liner, or a patch/aka eyesore.
Like I said, there are several places where a vinyl liner pool kit can be bought online, however the cost of hiring a professional pool builder would be worth it.  A professional will have the experience and know how to deal with any issues that may and will likely arise throughout the building process.  Not to mention all of the permits needed will be obtained by the builder and all of the liability will be on the builder as well.  If anything were to go wrong then it would be up to the builder to handle and correct it.  When it comes to building vinyl liner in ground swimming pools I think that it is best left up to the professionals.
For more information on in ground vinyl liner swimming pools please check out my other blog posts.

Only Alpha Pool Products Composite Panels

I have written about these panels in previous posts.  However this post will be specifically about the composite panels and nothing else.

To begin, allow me to give you some background information on the panels themselves.  These panels are designed to replace the steel, and polymer panels that pool builders use to build vinyl  liner in ground pools.  This panel is entirely non-corrosive, as strong as steel, and the only true composite panel on the maket.  This differs from polymer or structural foam panels in that there is no longer a concern about the structural integrity of the panel.

So how is this done?  I’m glad you asked.  A polymer panel is made using the process of injection molding.  This is a process in which small pieces of plastic are heated up and injected into a mold.  It is then forced by expanding gas into every nook and cranny of the mold.  You may have seen other products that are manufactured this way.  They include those plastic lawn chairs, plastic storage containers that are in most of our attics,  and garbage cans.  The problem with this material is that it is nothing but plastic, and as most of us know, it is brittle in the cold and becomes soft in the heat.  This is not the most ideal material to build a pool out of being that a pool is in most cases exposed to both heat and cold.  I have seen examples of when this material fails in swimming pool applications.  I have personally experienced this type of failure on a job site while building a pool.  We built the walls of the pool, straightened them, and left to get some lunch.  When we came back, the heat of the sun on them was enough to cause them to warp and we had to straighten them again.  That is not the worse case scenario.  I have also seen photos of enormous holes in the polymer panels well after the pool had been installed.

Only Alpha’s composite panels are not only composed of a different material but they are also manufactured in an entirely different way.  Only Alpha’s composite panels are compression molded using a thermally set sheet molding compound (SMC).  This SMC is also reinforced with eight to twelve inch fibers.  Workers take a single piece of SMC that is pre measured to an exact amount and insert it into the mold.  Then using intense heat and pressure, the material is spread out throughout the mold.  Again this material is thermally set, that means that once the part comes out of the mold it will never lose its shape when exposed to hot or cold temperatures.  In addition to that the woven fibers throughout the panel give it unparalleled strength.  You can see for yourself how strong these panels are by clicking here Fiber Reinforced Composite Tests.  Here you can see different videos demonstrating the strength of the panels.  In addition to the strength of the panels there is another benefit to them that no other non-corrosive panel is capable to offer.  With patented technology Only Alpha’s composite panels are designed to go together in a way that gives pool owners a virtually seamless pool wall.

You may be wondering about the benefit of having a non-corrosive pool panel.  As you may or may not know, there has been a steady increase in the demand for “salt water” pools.  The problem with salt water pools is that the salt water is very corrosive to any metal parts of the swimming pool.  For years in ground vinyl liner swimming pools have been made of steel panels bolted together to form the walls of the pool.  What has been happening in recent years is that the saltwater from the pool eats away at the steel panel.  Regardless of the salt water, a steel panel will inevitably rust.  That is just the nature of steel when exposed to the elements.  Salt water just speeds up the process.  So with the ever growing demand for salt water pools came the need for a non-corrosive pool wall.

For more information on the composite line of pool panels offered by Only Alpha Pool Products check out the website at http://www.onlyalpha.com/ There you can find information on the composite lines of swimming pool panels as well as what others have used composite materials for.  In addition to that you can also browse the other lines of swimming pool building materials including steel and the Alpha Evolution line which is the same composite panels but used in such a way that there is no need for the vinyl liner.  You can also find more information on Only Alpha Pool Products as well as general swimming pool information on my blog.


Outdoor Fun for the Family

Being that we are approaching the winter season, and in some areas feel as if we are already in the winter season I want to use this post to try and bring a little warmth back to you.  To do this I am going to dedicate this post to fun outdoor activities that you can do with your kids when the summer time finally comes back.

I have written specifically about how swimming pools can benefit the lives of you and your family.  In order to keep from repeating myself I want to gear this post more toward activities that you can do with your family in the summertime.  The best way that I can think of to do this is basically to walk you through a day of fun activities that I do and will do with my own kids.  Well at least one kid for now, the second is still on the way.  Thinking ahead to the future there will come a time when I will have to come up with ideas for fun filled summer days.  At this point in my blogging experience I have made it clear that I want my children to have a similar childhood experience to my own without all the electronic devices and video games that many kids today fill their days with.  I don’t intend to offend anyone, it’s just that I feel that a child will benefit much more by being outside and active than they would by being secluded in the house laying on the couch with their nose glued to a screen of some kind.  Okay rant over.

There are plenty of parents that feel this way and many have taken to Pintrest with ideas of ways to get their kids outside.  So taking a bit of information from them it is not too difficult to come up with ways to get kids outside.

My son, like many other younger kids wakes up early everyday and is ready to start playing.  He is a lot like me in that he is not too interested in eating right away.  My wife and I will generally let him play with his toys for a little bit in the morning or he and myself will sometimes pretend to be monsters and try to get Mommy.  This is all in an effort to make him smile as well as work up an appetite.  It doesn’t take too long before he is ready to eat.  Depending on the weather, this is our first chance to get him outside.  Sometimes we like to have our breakfast on the patio.  He seems to enjoy this a good deal as it is not something we do every day.  In addition to that it is a good opportunity for him to use his senses by looking all the little critters like squirrels, and allows him to hear the birds chirping.  Usually he is quick to notify us that he sees, or hears something interesting.  This is the first part of our fun filled outdoor day.

After breakfast we clean up and get him ready for the day.  Once he is changed we usually have a few hours before lunchtime.  This is another opportunity to get him back outside.  We have a fairly large backyard with things for him to do.  we have a sand box full of toys, and other outdoor toys that he can play with.  Sometimes we will just chase each other around or again try to get Mommy.  One of his favorite things in the world is bubbles.  He loves to chase bubbles around the yard and we have a cheap little bubble machine that will make sure that there are plenty of them for him to chase.  It also benefits Mommy and myself by keeping us from hyperventilating while trying to keep up with a bubble popping little boy.  There is one thing that I want to try with him, however I will have to wait until he is a bit older.  Orienteering is a “sport” in which a compass and map are used to navigate from point to point.  Of course these points would be predetermined by Mommy and myself.  This may not sound like a lot of fun for a youngster but I think by adding a surprise at each point I could make it more interesting for him.  This would keep him active and give us something fun to do outside.  It will also teach him how a compass and map can be used to find your way.

It won’t be long before it is time for lunch and again we will try to eat our lunch outside.  We may have our lunch on the patio again, or we might pack it up in a basket and grab a blanket and have our lunch picnic style in the grass or at the park nearby.  If we do have a picnic one thing we might do is, lay on our backs on the blanket and try to show our little guy the clouds.  I have done this in the past but usually it is short lived.  Clouds don’t do much, so his attention quickly goes elsewhere.  It’s always worth a try though.  After lunch we will play a bit more, and then it’s time for a nap.

We like to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in the summer because they have a pool.  My son can’t swim all by himself quite yet but with Mommy and me in the pool with him he is getting much better at moving around in his little floaty.  I don’t know if it is just because he and I are both boys but we like to team up on Mommy a bit.  Let me tell you, one of his favorite pool activities is splashing Mommy.  She is usually a good sport about it, but I feel bad from time to time.  It has got to be tiring running from us all the time.  When we are at my parents, they love to feed us dinner.  More often than not this hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill.  My parents have a very nice deck by the pool with several tables, that we often eat at in the summer time.  In addition to that we have turned their shed into a tiki bar of sorts.  None of us are big drinkers, but my Dad loves to make milkshakes and root beer floats for us all, and my son defintitely loves the milkshakes.  After dinner we will generally stay a little while to hang out with my parents.

When we get home my son usually seems to get a second wind and wants to play some more.  I like to use this time to take him outside and teach him how to catch fire flies. (or lightning bugs depending on where you’re from)  Although it’s Mommy and I who generally do all of the bug catching, it still gives him the chance to see them up close.  We have recently moved further into the country so there is a new critter that comes around in the summer time that we get to observe.  Tree frogs seem to love the siding of our house in the summer evenings.  I showed one to my son last summer but I think he was a bit too young to really appreciate it.

As the evening comes to a close we like to watch a movie to get him to settle from the exciting day.  I know that I said I want my kids to be active and all that, but I don’t think a little T.V. time will hurt.  I usually take all the pillows from the couch, lay them out on the floor, and cover them with a blanket to make a pillow bed.  He loves his pillow bed a lot.  There he gets a little snack and a drink.  It gives him a place to relax while watching one of the 30 Disney movies that we have before bedtime.  Given the active day, he usually won’t make it through the movie and either Mommy or myself will carry him off to bed.  I am really excited for this summer to come for one reason in particular.  I have access to an HD projector that I can plug into my laptop.  I plan on having an outdoor movie night sometime this coming summer.  We will set up a tent in the backyard and project the movie onto the side of the house.  We may or may not sleep in the tent, but that will be up to my son when the time comes.

These are just some of the things my wife and I do and will do in the summer with our son.  I can’t say that we do all of these things everyday because in reality I think this is more exhausting for my wife and I than it is for our little guy, but we do certainly try to find ways to make his summer days more fun and to get him outside for at least a little while each day.  You can use these ideas for your own summer fun or as I have said before, Pintrest is a great source for outdoor summer fun.  I know this post is a little outside of what I normally write about, but I hope it will inspire my readers to find ways to be active with their kids this coming summer.


How a pool professional replaces an automatic pool cover

I strongly recommend contacting a professional when it comes to this type of swimming pool maintenance.  The following is for educational purposes only and in no way do I recommend attempting to replace your automatic cover on your own.

In the world of in ground vinyl liner pools it is no secret that there are a couple of components that will need to be replaced from time to time.  I would say that the biggest of these components is the liner itself.  Typically a liner will last anywhere from 5 to 10 years.  As with anything there are some exceptions to this.  Depending on how a person takes care of their pool I have seen liners that are anywhere from twelve to fifteen years.  Conversely I have replaced liners that were a mere two years old.  There are several variables that come into play that can affect the life of a liner.  I can remember one specific example in which I replaced a liner that was only a few weeks old.  That one was a result of a lot of holes put in the liner from the son of the home owner.  He and his friends thought that it would be fun to use the telescopic pole and attempt to pole vault over the pool.  This resulted in many many holes in the liner at the bottom of the pool.  They may have been able to be patched but the homeowner insisted that the liner be replaced.  The point of all this is to show that there are variables that come into play.

The other larger item that will need to be replaced from time to time is the automatic cover.  It is important to understand that not all pools have an automatic cover.  However homeowners with pools that do have an automatic cover will have to have them replaced from time to time.  The life of a cover is similar to that of a liner, and will be subject to the same variables that affect their life.  There are a couple of things that play a larger role on the cover than they do on the liner.  One is the sunlight.  Sunlight will start to fade the color of the cover itself and the UV rays from the sun will begin breaking down the material.  Over time the material will become more and more brittle and need to be replaced.  The other thing that will affect the life of the cover is the fact that it is a moving component.  As with anything that moves it is subject to wear and tear as they say.  This will result in a need to replace the cover as well.  So how does a pool professional replace a cover?

This is a task that requires some know how and an understanding of how the cover functions.  One thing that I always check is the condition of the pulleys.  If it is the first time the cover is needing replaced then it is likely that the pulleys are still in good condition and will not necessarily need to be replaced.  Next, the pool will need to be open.  This will allow the installer to more easily remove the cover when the time comes to do so.  The rope guides will need to be removed prior to removing the cover itself.  The rope guides are located at the end of the tracks on both sides of the pool closest to the cover box. (The box is where the motor and reel are located)  Once the rope guides are removed, the leading edge of the cover will be able to be taken out of the track.  At this point I would cut the ropes as close as possible to where they attach to the cover itself.

The next step will require the help of another able bodied person.  Now that the leading edge is free from the tracks and the ropes are no longer connected, the leading edge bar can be removed and the cover can be pulled out over the pool.  Be aware that because the cover is no longer in the tracks it will likely begin to sink.  Now that the cover is pulled out over the pool, it can be removed from the reel inside the box.  Typically there will be several screws holding it to the reel itself.  They will need to be removed and depending on their condition, they may be able to be used again on the new cover.  Now that the cover is no longer attached to anything, it is ready to be folded up and disposed of.  Again this part is easier with another person.  Typically my helper and I will do this by pulling the cover off the pool three feet or so at a time folding it up accordion style as we go.  This may take some muscle depending on how much water is sitting on it.  Once the old cover is off we would begin the process of installing the new one.

Now what we have is an uncovered pool with the ropes from the old cover still in the tracks.  We leave them there for the time being.  They will come into play again while installing the new cover.  Typically the new cover will come rolled up and wrapped in a piece of cover material.  It will be laid out just behind the box on the deck. (Typically the deep end of the pool)  Before we get that far we will make sure that the area is cleaned up and free of anything that may tear or scratch the new cover.  From my experience most covers will have a warning label on them, usually in the center of the leading edge.  This label should face up.  If not then the cover is upside down and will need to be corrected.  Once the cover is laid out the way it should be we would go on to the next step.

This is where the old ropes that are still in the tracks come into play.  Both ends of the ropes will be protruding out into the box area one end is that which we cut free of the old cover, and the other end will be going through a series of pulleys and attached to the motor.  The end attached to the motor will have to be removed from the motor and pulleys.  This will give us two free ends of the rope on both sides of the pool.  We will tackle these one at a time.  Over the years I have learned a trick that makes running the new ropes a bit easier.  Instead of removing the tracks from the wall, which is time consuming and can be a bit tedious, I will leave them in and just attach the new ropes to the end of the old ropes which are already in the track.  To do this I use an awl, a propane torch, some string, some electrical tape, and some magic lube.  First I take the end of the old rope that I cut from the cover, heat up the end of the awl with the propane torch, and push it through the rope about an inch from the end.  The ropes are vinyl so when the hot awl goes through it the area around the awl will melt, leaving a nice open hole.  I do this again with the end of the new rope.  Now I will take my string and run it through each of the holes I made in the two ropes.  I will then cut the string leaving enough excess to tie the ends together.  It is important to butt the two ends of the ropes together rather than overlapping them.  Once I have the string tied in a tight not I will wrap the ropes and string up with electrical tape.  I want to be careful not to build up too much electrical tape around the ropes.  I want to try and make the taped area not too much thicker that the ropes themselves.  Now I will apply a good amount of magic lube to the taped area to make sure it slides through the track as easily as possible.  Next I will pull the new rope through the track by pulling the old rope out.  I will pull from the end that was previously attached to the motor.  Once the taped area reaches the pulley at the other end of the pool it will become tougher to pull.  With some steady and gentle pressure the taped area will slide through the pulley with the help of the magic lube, and become easier to pull again.  If I were to pull too hard, the string would break and I would have to remove the track and feed the ropes through by hand.  Once the taped area comes back out of the track in the box I can cut the old rope free of the new rope and now I have the new rope in place, and ready to be run through the pulleys in the box, cut to the proper length and attached to the motor again.  This process will be repeated at the other side of the pool with the other rope.  Once that rope is through it will go through the proper pulleys, cut to the proper length and attached to the motor.

Now I am ready to attach the new cover to the leading edge bar and insert it into the tracks.  I will then replace the rope guides at the end of each track.  There will be some slack in the ropes and I will again need the assistance of a helper to operate the switch while I ensure the ropes get wrapped up properly.  Once all the slack is out of the ropes, my helper will continue to operate the switch to close the pool.  The new cover will begin to slide out over the pool and I will go back and forth to make sure that the cover is sliding through the rope guides properly.  Once the cover is entirely over the pool we are ready to attach the end to the reel again.  Again depending on the condition of the screws we took out of the old cover, we will use them again to attach the new cover.  If they are in bad shape I will use new screws to attach the cover to the reel.  Once the new cover is attached to the reel I will have my helper start to open the pool.  I will make sure that the cover wraps around the reel properly.  After that it is a matter of running it open and close a couple of times to ensure that it is functioning properly.

As with anything regarding in ground swimming pools it is almost always best to leave it up to the professionals.  There are many components and things that require experience to assess and properly address.  In addition to that most reputable pool companies will guarantee their work so if something does happen they will come back and take care of it.  I never recommend taking on anything of this nature by yourself.  It is always best to leave it up to the professionals.

How to get your backyard ready for your staycation

The backyard staycation.  This is the newest trend among Americans.  This is the idea that you can put your money into your own backyard to transform it into a place where you and your family can spend your summers rather than spending money on expensive vacations every year.  The idea is to transform your backyard to accommodate the needs of your family.  This typically includes a place for relaxation, a place for entertaining, and a place for recreation.  At this point you may be wondering where to start.

I would recommend going about this as if you were packing up a truck for a big move.  Start with the larger items and then move to the smaller items.  This way you know exactly how much room you have to work with after the big things.

A common item that people often get is an in ground swimming pool.  As I have stated in many of my posts, I recommend going with a vinyl liner pool.  For more information on vinyl liner in ground pools check out my other posts.  To save time and space in this post I am not going to get into the reasons why today.  I think that an in ground pool represents the biggest part of the staycation project.  It will likely take up the most space in the backyard, and will likely be one of the higher end costs in the project.  I have also written about the best way to go about deciding on the style and size of the pool in another post.  If a backyard staycation is something that you are seriously considering  I think that it would benefit you to read through my blog as it contains a lot of information on in ground pools in general as well as vinyl liner pools specifically.  An in ground pool will act as a place for recreation for you and your family and friends.  Next I will tackle a place for relaxation.

This can be incorporated into the design of the pool, or you can have it designed to be separate from the pool.  Basically you will want a patio area for sitting and relaxing.  I have noticed a lot of people will incorporate an outdoor kitchen, or a large grill in their patio area.  It all depends on your personal preferences.  In theory you can have all of these components connected to each other or you can separate them almost as if they were different rooms in your backyard.  This will all depend on the space available and how much you are willing to put into it.  Personally I think that I would prefer each area to be somewhat isolated from one another.  I would do this through the landscape design.
Ideally I would have my relaxation area separate from the pool area, and the entertaining area separate from the relaxation area.

Lastly we come to the entertaining area.  Will this be another patio area with a fire place, or would you prefer a grassy area?  It is all up to you on how you want to entertain.  I have seen a lot of examples in which there are multiple levels of patio that represent the different areas.  Typically the pool area will be at the lowest level.  I find that Pintrest is a very good place to get ideas for your backyard staycation.  For the purposes of giving my readers a good place to start I want to give you my ideas on the way I would go about a backyard staycation at my own house.

The Pool (Copied and Pasted from my post title “My Ideal Swimming Pool”)

The design:

Free Form Style Pool

This part is really up to personal taste and backyard space.  My back yard is big enough to accommodate any size pool really so for me it comes down to the style.  I am partial to the free form pool.  I tend to be drawn to the curves and organic layout rather than the basic geometric rectangle pool.  I am not one to be too flashy so I would probably go with a smaller pool probably along the lines of something that would fit into a 16’x32′ space.  There are endless possibilities in regard to the shape so for that I would want to sit down and draw it out.  Did I mention that I am married, so naturally that would affect the design.  In the end we would come up with something that we are both happy with, but as long as she is happy I am cool with it.  Anyway that is a general look into the design I would choose.

The Deck:

Beautiful Decking

I have seen all sorts of decking options for vinyl liner in ground pools.  A lot of people choose to use pavers around their pool.  For me this wouldn’t work well.  I am more of a concrete type guy, however there are some things that I would do to give the pool more of a high end look.  To begin I would start with a 1′ stamped border all the way around the pool.  The color of the concrete would have to be chosen with my wife of course.  Then I would utilize a slightly different color to give the pool some contrast, and again my wife would help with this.  I have also seen a lot of pools that have some grass around them, and I really like the look of that so perhaps I would try to include it in my pool as well.  Again keeping with the organic look of the pool, the deck would also have to be free form with plenty of curves.  I am not a big fan of the “cookie cutter” type pools where your pool looks strikingly similar to your neighbors.  I like to have some aspect of originality without going over the top with it.

The Patio

Japanese style garden

This portion of my backyard staycation would preferably be at a different physical level than the pool itself, and I would use it as a place for relaxation.  I am a big fan of having this area somewhat isolated from the pool area through the use of landscaping.  Take a look at the photo to the left.  Notice how they used some evergreens to separate the patio area from the rest of the yard.  I also like the way that they used paving stones as the patio rather than going with standard concrete.

I happen to find traditional Japanese rock gardens to be very aesthetically pleasing so I would likely incorporate that type of design into my patio area.  The photo to the right displays some traditional Japanese garden ideas complete with a koi pond, and Bonsai.  This would be ideal for me because I have been working on a Japanese maple for a couple of years that would look amazing in this type of setting.  I find koi ponds to be very relaxing and for me this would be a must have.

Entertaining Area

I would prefer this area to again be separate from the other areas, and preferably on yet another level.  This is where I would have my outdoor kitchen and fireplace.  I would again have a patio area with plenty of seating.  As far as isolation goes, I think that I would prefer this area to overlook the pool, that way if anyone were swimming I would be able to supervise without having to look around anything.   The photo to the left is a very nice representation of an outdoor fire place.  However I would choose a different color brick to use.  The idea is to have these three components separate from one another, and yet tie them all together through color and style.  Obviously if you were to have three areas within the same backyard that all looked completely different you may lose some of the continuity.

Another way to go would be to just have a fire pit with some seating around it.  The photo on the right will give you a good idea of how nice a fire pit can look if done properly.  Although the fire pit looks really nice I think that I would still opt for the Fire place.

Next I think that I would want an outdoor kitchen.  This is a place that would have a grill, sink, refrigerator, and counter space.  It would serve as a place to prepare food and drinks for your family and friends.  These come in many different styles so choosing one that suites your needs and tastes would not be too difficult.

These are just my personal tastes and what I would want in my own backyard.  The next step would be to come up with a design that would incorporate all of these components and look really nice.  From there you would want to come up with a design for your landscaping.  One way to do this would be to hire someone.  Many landscaping companies have the know how to do something like this.  The other option would be to design it yourself.  For that I would definitely recommend searching around on the internet.  I know that you can find a lot of examples simply be googling it.  Another website that I find to be very helpful is Pintrest.  There you can collect many different examples and store them on the site itself.  Another site that is quickly growing in popularity is Houzz.  This site allows you to browse through projects that have been done and create a project book where you can keep all the information you want for your own project.

For more information on in ground swimming pools and vinyl liner pool specifically check out my other blog posts.  You can also find more information on these types of backyard projects in my blog, and ways to go about getting started.  As always if anyone has any comments or questions please feel free to share.


How to increase summer fun

It’s cold outside at the moment.  The winter weather is already starting to show up.  Some places have already gotten a lot of snow.  There are basically two kinds of people when it comes to winter weather.  Those who like the snow and those that dread every day of it.  Regardless of how you personally feel about this season you know that eventually it will end and the summer sun will come back out bringing with it all the fun of the summer season.  The amount of fun that comes next summer will depend on what you put into it.  Some people look forward to going on vacations to exotic places.  Some will plan on taking their families to amusement parks with fun characters that walk around bringing smiles to the faces of young and older folks alike.  While I understand that these types of vacations are very fun for families, the problem that I see with them is that they often end in a week or so.  That leaves you with the rest of the summer to try and figure out how to keep the kids entertained and more importantly, active.

I grew up with video games just like my sons generation will, however I was never one to be content with sitting in front of the T.V. for hours playing games.  Perhaps I was too easily distracted with other things.  I was the kid who was always outside getting dirty, and in some cases getting into trouble.  That is how I hope my son will be in the summertime as he gets older.  Obviously I don’t want him to get into too much trouble, but I feel that is a part of being a kid.

I certainly don’t want my son to sit in front of the T.V. every day playing games or on an iPad or any other source of virtual entertainment.  I would rather him go out and play freeze tag, go fishing, go swimming or anything else that is active and won’t get him into too much trouble.

I feel that these are the two biggest reasons why people decide to get an in ground swimming pool.  Instead of spending thousands every year on vacations and overly priced souvenirs people are taking that money and putting it into their own backyards.  They get a pool, they get an outdoor kitchen, they get an outdoor fireplace, and surround these things with beautiful landscaping.  This is all in an effort to save money in the long run.  They turn their own backyards into a place where they can spend their summers and have a lot of fun.  They host pool parties for their kids, they enjoy backyard barbecues with their neighbors, friends, and families, and when the kids go to bed they turn their pool lights and landscaping lights on and go outside to have a drink on the pool deck overlooking the sparkling water.

This is also a way to get the kids outside and active for a while each day.  Just imagine your children having lunch on the patio from time to time during the summer.  They awake each morning anticipating the moment when they can finally go outside and go swimming.

One thing that I will be doing this summer with my son is have an outdoor movie night, and maybe letting it turn into a backyard camping trip.  I will set up the screen and projector on the back patio and put the tent in the yard so we can lay in our sleeping bags and watch some fun kids movies until he falls asleep.  Ideally he will sleep all night but I get the feeling that he will probably wake up at some point and want to go inside.  I will never know unless we give it a try, who knows, it may turn into a yearly daddy, son adventure…. (Mommy can come too if she wants, that is if she lets me do this in the first place)  At any rate the point is that having your very own backyard oasis opens the door for virtually endless summer fun.  I think that putting your money into your own backyard is really worth considering.  Get a pool, get a out door kitchen, get a fire pit, do some landscaping, and get you and your family outside this coming summer.  I have written about a variety of different reasons why one should do this.

For more information on why having your own vinyl liner in ground pool will benefit you and your family just scroll through my blog and read a bit.  There are a lot of benefits to having your own swimming pool.  So many that there is likely to be at least one that will peak your interest.