Swimming Pool Technology

Things are changing in the world of in ground swimming pools.  Technology has taken hold of the way things are done and the products that are available.  If you were to look at an in ground swimming pool that was built in the 50’s, it would be quite different than a swimming pool that was built last year.  So what are the differences, and how have they affected the industry?

To begin let’s take a look at the building materials that are used to build an in ground swimming pool.  Years ago in ground pools were primarily made out of concrete.  As I have said in previous posts this type of pool is typically more costly than other types that are available.  From there the industry has provided other building materials that are used to construct in ground pools.  Today vinyl liner pools are becoming more and more prominent in the industry.  They started with the use of steel walls that would be bolted together and then covered with the vinyl liner.

The latest and greatest material in the industry is composite.  The steel wall pools are still being installed, however with the growing trend of “salt water” pools a change had to be made.  Obviously salt and steel are not the best of friends, as anyone in the northern U.S. can attest to.  Salt is highly corrosive to steel and as a result the steel walls are corroding faster than ever before.  There have been a number of non-corrosive alternatives developed in recent years, however there is only one true composite wall panel on the market, and should not be confused with the other non-corrosive materials available.  The reason you don’t want to get this product confused with the others is that the quality of this product if far superior than everything else that is out there.  Only Alpha Pool Products has taken their non-corrosive pool panel to the next level… Well I should say that they have taken this panel to the next several levels.  There is nothing on the market that even comes close to the quality and structural integrity of Only Alpha’s composite panel.  You can see for yourself by checking out their website at http://www.onlyalpha.com/.  There you can see what makes their composite panel different and even find links to their youtube videos that demonstrate the difference in their composite panel’s structure.  You can also find more information about what makes their composite panel, and their company different by checking out the rest of my blog.  It goes without saying that this high quality, non-corrosive wall panel will naturally come with a slightly higher price tag.  However for those that have their wallets in mind, Only Alpha has also taken the standard steel wall and drastically improved it as well.

In the in ground swimming pool industry there is a basic understanding that steel is steel.  It will rust at some point in time.  In addition to that there is one common theme across the board of steel wall manufacturers.  That is that they all use 14 gauge g35 galvanized steel.  The 14 gauge is the thickness of the steel and the g35 represents the amount of galvanization on the steel.  Galvanization means that the steel itself is coated with a layer of zinc.  That zinc is there to prolong the life of the steel by sacrificing itself first.  It is a forcefield of sorts that protects the steel from corrosion.  However once that galvanization is gone the steel will begin to rust.  Only Alpha recognized this problem and has taken steps toward improving it.

They use the same 14 gauge, g35 galvanized steel and add another layer of what they refer to as their “Alpha Shield”.  It is basically another layer of protection that gets applied to the steel after the galvanization.  This does two things for the steel.  One is that it gives the steel an almost stainless look, which in my opinion benefits the builders by allowing them to offer their customers a product that looks as new as it is.  Other steel panels will often times appear to be weathered and aged before being installed in the ground.  Now imagine that you are getting a brand new in ground pool and you look out your back window to see these dingy looking panels that in some cases already have some corrosion on them being installed in your backyard.  You would wonder what your hard earned money is being spent on.  The other thing that this “Alpha Shield” does is it actually repels moisture away from the steel.

This gives the steel a much longer life and gives you and your family piece of mind knowing that you have a quality product.  If you visit http://www.onlyalpha.com/ you will see a series of logos that represent the different lines of pool building material that they offer.  Two of which are steel panels, the Titan Steel line and the Trimax XP3.  All of those logos are actually links to sites specifically about those lines.  If you click on either of the Titan or Trimax logos you will be directed to those sites and have the opportunity to find out more.  My favorite part of these sites is a video that demonstrates what this “Alpha Shield” really does.  Once you are at the Titan or Trimax site you will see a tab that says either “Why Titan” or “Why Trimax XP3” depending on the site.  If you click there then scroll down the page you will see the video.  I recommend watching that video because it is quite impressive.  Again you can also find more information on what makes Only Alpha’s steel superior by checking out the rest of my blog.

Technology has also allowed for huge improvements in the realm of how we maintain our pools.  As mentioned above “salt water” systems are taking the industry by storm.  Honestly I think that there is some misconception about what a salt water pool really is.  People tend to think that this type of pool uses salt to replace chlorine, so in turn it is a healthier pool for their families.  This is somewhat true, however they typically do need to have a residual amount of chlorine added from time to time.  It just doesn’t require as much so you would be saving money on chemicals.  However, what most people don’t realize is that the system changes the salt into chlorine for sanitation purposes, and then it changes back to salt.  So the pools still use chlorine, just not directly.  Again, you can find more information on that in another post I have written.

If salt is not what you are looking for, there are quite a few other ways to treat the water in the pool.  a couple other things that are growing in popularity are UV sanitation and Ozone sanitation.  These are systems that will likewise be plumbed in at the filter pad and either use ultra violet radiation to kill harmful bacteria, or ozone.
When used in conjunction with one another the result is clean and clear water.  Again, with these systems there would still need to be a little bit of residual chlorine added to the pool.

Another huge advantage that technology has made possible manifests itself in the form of pool cleaning.  It used to be that in order to remove debris from your pool, you would have to get out your pole and net and skim the water’s surface, or use the pool vacuum to remove debris from the pool floor.  Now you can have your pool installed with an in floor cleaning system that will eliminate the need to physically skim or sweep the pool.  Through the use of specialized returns, floor nozzles, and main drain, anyone can have a pool that literally cleans itself.  You can find more information on this technology and others by checking out the rest of my blog.

These are just some of the ways technology has improved the swimming pool industry.  If anyone has any questions please feel free to post them in the comments section below and I will do my best to address them in a timely manner.

Choosing a Pool

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own your very own in ground swimming pool?  Are you aware that there are several types of in ground swimming pools available?  How do you decide which type is best for you?  In the world of in ground swimming pools you have some decisions to make.  Where to start?

First you will have to decide if owning an in ground swimming pool is right for you.  Many people who want an in ground swimming pool are those who are either looking for a place to relax throughout the summer, or they are looking for something to enrich the lives of their family as a whole.

Most people are already aware that an in ground swimming pool represents a significant investment and should not be taken lightly.  Regardless of which type of in ground pool you decide on, you will have to put some of your hard earned money into it.  Obviously with that hard earned money in your backyard, you will want your pool to stay the best it can be for many years to come.  This is where the different types of pools come into play.

There are basically three types of in ground pools on the market today, and they are all very different from one another as far as the structure and the building of them go.  To begin lets start with the concrete pools.

Concrete Pool

This is the “high” end pool in the industry.  Likewise you will be paying the “high” end price for it.  This pool is constructed entirely in the backyard.  That being said, it will have no manufacturer warranties with it.  This means if something does go wrong, the cost to repair it will come directly from your pocket.  I am not sure how much you know about concrete but there is an understanding among those who work with it everyday, and that is that concrete will crack and it is just a matter of where it will crack.  Have you ever noticed how a sidewalk is divided into sections.  The lines that run through a sidewalk are put there for a purpose, and that is in an effort to control where the concrete will crack.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.  Imagine having a brand new pool and suddenly a crack appears at the bottom of it.  Imagine that the crack is deep enough, and now your pool is losing water.  Now what?  You have to have the pool drained and the crack repaired.  Now you have the expenses of having the crack repaired, refilling the pool, re-treating the water with chemicals, and re-heating the water.  On top of all that you now have an area at the bottom of the pool where the repair has been made and is visible to all.  You spent all of that money on your pool to have an eyesore smack dab in the middle of it.

Another thing that I think you should know about concrete is that it is not the most forgiving material.  It is abrasive and never hesitates to remind you of that fact.  Don’t believe me, well skinned knees and elbows don’t lie.

The majority of people that get this type of pool typically get it for the symbol of social status that accompanies it.  In my opinion there is nothing better about this pool than any other type of pool.  In the end you have water in your backyard, you just paid more for it to be there, and you will likely continue to pay for it.  This brings me to the next type of pool on the list.

One Piece Fiber Glass

This is a type of pool that I think is fairly new to the industry.  It is supposedly a quality product that will compliment your backyard quite well.  To me that is a little misleading.  This type of pool is molded in a factory and brought to the location where it will be installed.  This means that the size and shape are predetermined by the manufacturer.  There is not a lot of room for customization, and if your backyard is not suitable for the sizes and shapes that are offered then you don’t get one.  If you can’t get one it will be difficult for it to compliment your backyard won’t it.  Another downside to this aspect is that they are not representative of your personal style.  You might get one and then the next summer, Bob from down the street gets the exact same pool.  As far as them being a quality product, that is up for debate as well.  This type of pool is not exactly structurally sound.  It is not made to support itself.  This becomes apparent during the build when the pool has to be filled at the same rate as it is being backfilled.  This means that the the water level inside the pool has to be the same as the backfill around the pool.  This is to keep the pool from collapsing in on itself or from blowing out.  There is another well known issue with these pools that you should be aware of.  Being that they are a solid impermeable shell, they are capable of floating, and popping out of the ground.  This happens when pressure from water in the ground exceeds that of the pressure in the pool itself.  Typically this is only an issue when the pool is drained for one reason or another.  Manufacturers of this type of pool will argue that there is no reason for draining the pool.  That begs the question, how is someone to do a surface repair under water.  For instance, when fading occurs, or if the shell cracks.  Certainly these types of repairs would need to be done above the water level.  Or what happens when the plumbing fails overnight and your pump continues to run.  You wake up with a flooded backyard and an empty pool, or worse case scenario, you wake up with a flooded backyard and a pool that has popped out of the ground.  Now you have a huge expense you need to make to repair everything.  You can find examples of this by searching the internet.  So what type of pool is left?

Vinyl Liner

Vinyl liner in ground pools are in my opinion the best bang for your buck.  There are a couple types of material that they can be made from to offer the best possible pool for your needs.  In addition to that, they are entirely self supportive.  They do not need to be backfilled and filled with water at the same rate.  Another benefit is that the building material is manufactured in a controlled setting, so most manufacturers will offer several warranties for their products.  This means that if something does fail, it will likely be taken care of at little or no cost to the homeowner.  The fact that they are made up of individual components also means that repairs are often quick and easy.  A huge benefit is that they are entirely customizable.  Regardless of your backyard needs, a pool can be designed to accommodate them.  Do you need a small but elegant pool, or do you need a large unique shape to fill up a huge backyard?  Either way a pool can be designed to fit your needs.  Some might argue that the liner would need to be replaced every few years or so.  This is somewhat true, however if the pool is well taken care of the liner can last anywhere from 7 to 12 years.  In addition to that changing the liner allows the homeowner a chance to change the look of their pool by simply changing the design of the liner.  The liner itself is vinyl, so there is no abrasion associated with it.  Say good bye to skinned knees and elbows.

These are just some of the differences between the three main types of in ground pools.  Obviously you can make your own decision on what is best for you.  However I hope this post sheds some light on the subject.  For more information on vinyl liner in ground pools, or general swimming pool information please feel free to check out the rest of my blog as I have written about just about every topic related to swimming pools.  As always feel free post a question or comment and I will do my very best to address them.

Pool Safety Precautions Part 2

I want to stress the importance that I personally place on teaching your children how to swim.  I have written about this topic in the past and how it is not only beneficial for them for safety reasons but it also aids in cognitive development.  Please feel free to check out that post and others I have written in the past for more information.

Next, I want to introduce a concept that my parents held near and dear to them while I was growing up, and that is the buddy system.  Anytime my older brother and I wanted to do anything that involved a body of water, we had to do it together.  That meant no swimming alone, no fishing alone, and no collecting golf balls out of the water hazard at the local course alone.  We always had to do these things together or we would get into trouble with our parents.  At the time there were instances where I thought it was silly to have to do this, but looking back on it now I see that it was a really good idea.  I would urge anyone with a pool to make sure their kids adhere to the buddy system.

I also feel that another step can be made toward safety when it comes to swimming pools and children.  There must always be a responsible adult supervising when children are swimming.  This person should keep in mind that they are there for one reason, and should not allow themselves to be distracted.  This means that your 13 year old daughter who is constantly glued to her phone might not be best for this job.  In addition to that It is important for parents to learn CPR.  I think that learning CPR is a good idea regardless of if you have a pool or not.

When it comes to cell phones around the pool area, I feel that using them to get on Facebook, or whatever other social media site you like is counter productive.  As the supervisor, you need to remain focused.  However I think that having a phone nearby is a very good idea.  In fact I think that a phone is a very important part of what is known as a swimming pool safety kit. You can put anything you want in this kit but there are some things that you should definitely have in there.  Below is a short list of the must haves in your pool safety too kit.
1) A first aid kit
2) A pair of scissors – to cut hair, clothing, or a pool cover it needed.
3) A charged telephone  – to call 911 in the event of an emergency.
4) A floatation device – Foam noodles, water wings, and little inflatable rafts are not life saving devices – They are toys and do not replace the need for supervision by a responsible adult.

The last thing that I want to mention is something that not a lot of people are fond of but I think that it is important to bring up.  I know that a lot of people like to use their pool not only as a setting for family fun, but also for a place to invite their own friends to and have a few drinks.  I personally feel that this is something that is up to your own discretion but I want to reiterate the fact that water and alcohol do not mix well.  You could be the best swimmer in the neighborhood, or even a former high school swimming all star, but when you put alcohol into the equation, all of those skills you have, or once had are irrelevant.  We have all seen video of sobriety tests where drivers can’t even walk, or end up passing out on the pavement.  Well the good thing for them is that when they passed out they were still on dry land.  If that were to happen in a pool it would be another story.  A couple years ago I had a friend who was at the lake with some of our other friends and had been drinking.  He got the idea to swim out to a floating platform which under normal circumstances would have been no problem.  However since he had been drinking he never made it that far and the police pulled him out of the lake hours later.  I apologize for sharing that story, but I just wanted to illustrate the importance of separating alcohol and swimming.

For more information on swimming pool safety please check out my other blog post with “safety” in the title.  You can also find an abundance of information on vinyl liner in ground pools as well as general swimming pool information on my blog.

Pool Safety Precautions Part 1

Getting the most out of your pool requires that you take the right steps.  I think that one aspect of owning a pool that often gets overlooked is the safety side of things.  Pool ownership can be a wonderful experience if the proper precautions are taken into consideration.  It seems to me that many people overlook some of the basic steps that one could take toward a safer, fun filled summer.  If you have read my other posts, you will have noticed that a small hand full of them are specifically about how to stay safe around the swimming pool.  This includes everything from the proper chemicals to RWI’s, to steps you can take to ensure that people stay safe while swimming.  It has been a while since I have written about swimming pool safety.  For that reason, today I want to briefly touch on ways to ensure that your pool is safe.

Today, I want to start with the pool area itself.  I think that many people who decide to have an inground pool installed are those with children.  That being said, I think that as a parent they feel that their kids will not be swimming unless they are properly supervised.  Don’t get me wrong, that is a very good way to keep your children safe, but what about those what if scenarios.  You are busy with something, the pool is open, and kids are quick.  I am not trying to scare anyone here.  I just want to make sure people are aware that this is an area in which safety precautions can be made.
There are many entry points to the pool area.  In order to aid in keeping people out of the pool area, many people install a fence around the pool.  In fact, many places require that a fence be installed around the pool.  Regardless of if it is a requirement or not, it is always a good idea.  A fence acts as a barrier between your pool and those that may want to access it.  One thing to keep in mind when it comes to pool fences is gating.  To increase the security of the pool area, it is a good idea to have a gate the will automatically close itself and latch itself.  It should be at least four feet high and latch at the top.  This will make it difficult for little ones to open.  In addition to that the gate should open away from the pool area.  This means that if you are entering the pool area, the gate should open toward you.  It may seem kind of trivial, but in reality if a little one were to try and access the pool area, they would likely have to stand on something to reach the latch.  If the gate were to open toward them, they would soon find out that they are in the way of the gate opening.  Often times a pool is in close proximity to the house so most people will use the house as the forth side.  Basically just fencing in their backyard.  While this will work, the house will likely have entry points to the pool area that are fairly easy for someone inside to access.  For this reason, if you are intending on using the house itself as one of the barriers it is a good idea to install some kind of alarm system on the doors and windows leading to the pool area.  This would allow you to know if a door or window is being opened on the pool side of the house.  This is likely not a requirement, however it is a very good idea, especially if you have young ones in the house.
In addition to the fence, another very popular addition to a pool to increase safety is an automatic cover.  This will allow you to close the pool while it is not in use.  This, coupled with a fence would provide two barriers for someone to get by if they wanted to access the pool.  A nice feature of an automatic cover is that they usually require either a key, or a code to operate.  If you keep the key in a safe place and out of reach from small hands then you will increase the security of your pool.
There is another small, yet important thing that you can do to make your pool area a safer place.  If you have children and a pool, then you will likely have an abundance of swimming pool toys.  To help ensure the safety of your young ones, it is a good idea to simply pick up the pool toys and store them in a place where they are out of sight.  Many people purchase one of those plastic deck boxes for this purpose.  It is totally enclosed and provides a place that toys can be stored where they will not blow away and where they will be hidden from the kids.  Why does this matter?  Small children often have one track minds.  If they see something that they want the will try to get it.  I have seen this behavior with my own son when he wants my cell phone and then throws a fit when he can’t have it.  Let’s say that it is a nice summer evening and you have spent a fun day with the kids in the pool playing with the pool toys.  Now the pool fun is over and you are all inside yet you left the pool toys floating in the pool.  If one of you kids looks out the window and sees that toy they had fun playing with earlier, then they may be inclined to try and retrieve it.  It may seem like a long shot, but that is how the world works sometimes.  Having all the toys picked up and put away where they can’t be seen will help to eliminate that need to play with them again later on.  Remember with little ones, in most cases if it is out of sight, it is out of mind.
For more information on how to stay safe around the pool please check out my other posts.  Also keep checking for new posts on swimming pool safety, and as alway feel free to comment on this post and others I have written.