Why does my Vinyl Liner In Ground Swimming Pool Need a Sump Pit

More-Plumbing-001There are many ways to build a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool.  There are many things that go into building a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool.  One thing that many builders do is install a sump pit just outside of the sidewalk that goes around the pool.  Why do they do this?

It actually makes perfect sense when you really think about it.  We all know that when it rains, the ground absorbs much of that water.  The water that gets absorbed by the ground is what is know as groundwater.  More often than not when a pool is dug the groundwater is visible in the deep end.  If the hole were to be left like that, you would likely see that ground water begin to rise a bit, especially when it rains.  Instead, pool builders finish building the pool and put a liner in.  In some cases this process is a race against time.  They have to get the liner in the pool and get water in before the groundwater rises enough to make the liner float.  You may be wondering why the liner doesn’t float anyway, even after the pool is full.  It rains all the time throughout the spring and summer right?  Well the reason the liner does not typically float after the pool is full is simply because the weight of the water in the pool pushing down on the liner is greater than the pressure from the groundwater pushing up on the liner from underneath it.

IMG_2683Keep in mind that I said that a liner will not “typically” float after the pool is full of water.  There are always some that don’t want to behave.  This is why many pool builders install a sump pit right outside of the sidewalk around the pools that they build.  It is more of a precaution.  If the amount of pressure from the ground water pushing up on the liner exceeds the amount of pressure pushing down from the weight of the water in the pool, then the liner will float.  Having a sump pit will allow you to remove some of the excess water from behind the liner to prevent the liner from having a chance to float.

If you have an in ground vinyl liner swimming pool that has a sump pit installed, then I would recommend using it, especially at times when there is a lot of rain.  This will help to ensure you don’t have a problem with the liner floating.

Automatic Pool Covers – Things to Know

5When someone gets a vinyl liner in ground pool installed with an Automatic Pool Cover, there will usually be some questions that arise regarding that cover.  Should I close my pool every night? Should I open it during the day while I am at work?

These are good questions and the answer to both of them is… It’s up to you.  I say that because ultimately it is up to the owner of the pool to decide what he or she wants to do with it.  There are some questions you should ask yourself before making this decision.  Is the pool fenced in?  Is it heated by a gas heater or heat pump?  Do you rely on the sun to heat the water?  Are there a lot of trees nearby?

automatic pool coverIf your pool is heated by a heat pump or gas heater, then I would recommend closing the cover at night.  This will help save money on heating cost in the long run.  Basically cool summer nights can really suck the heat out of a pool.  The result would be that you would have to run your heat source more frequently to keep the pool water at the desired temperature.  This in turn would result in an increase in your electric bill or gas bill.  By closing the cover over night you will effectively trap the heat in the pool.  Therefore you will be able to maintain that desired temperature without having to run your heat source as frequently.  Granted there still may be some heat loss over night but I assure you that by keeping the pool covered, you will minimize the amount of heat loss.  If there are a lot of trees around the pool then by keeping it open for long periods such as over night or during the day while you are at work you will run the risk of creating a chore for yourself.  Trees lose leaves throughout the summer and fall.   If you have an open pool nearby then you will likely find that these leaves are landing in the water resulting in you having to scoop them out.

auto cover UvThe other thing that should be considered is do you have a fence around you pool/backyard.  Obviously an open pool in your yard that is not fenced in, and sits open is somewhat of a liability.  If you have a fence around your pool and you don’t have a heat pump or gas heater then you may want to leave your pool open during the mid day heat to allow your water to heat up.  Although you may have a fence around the pool there is still a certain amount of liability to worry about.

Ultimately I find it to be more beneficial to keep your pool covered when it is not in use.  You will cut down on heating costs, decrease the amount of potential debris in your pool, and be able to rest easy knowing that nobody can gain access to your pool while you are not around.

Let the Pros Build Your Pool

It has come to my attention that there are quite a few people buying vinyl liner in ground swimming pool kits online and building them on their own.  This may seem like a good idea in the aspect that it will save money.  However there is a downside to doing this.

Think about it this way.  Companies that build these pools usually have a good deal of experience to rely on when something previously unseen comes to light.  When building a pool there are many things that must be done throughout the process.  First is that you will need to have all of the appropriate permits to do the things required in building a swimming pool.  In addition to that you will also have to have inspections done throughout the process.  These things represent costs that you may not have taken into consideration.  Having a pool professional build your pool will allow you to rest easy knowing that all the appropriate permits and inspections are being obtained.  It is my personal recommendation to have a company that has been in business for a while build your pool.  They will likely know what permits they will need and what kinds of inspections will need to be done.  This is only the start of it.

Please understand that there are a lot of things that must happen in a certain order to end up with a well built pool.  In some situations if a step is missed or done out of turn then it could result in added expenses to you.  In addition to that there are certain building codes that must be met to be in compliance with state and local authorities.  Again these are things that a professional pool builder would already know.  If you were to do something wrong and it was caught by the authorities you could be looking at a fine and have to spend even more money to fix it.  I have read that in recent years state and local authorities have been using google earth to spot swimming pools in backyards.  Then the cross check their paperwork to determine if all permits were obtained for building that pool.  This is just a heads up to anyone thinking about going around the codes.  You may have read or heard about several incidents this year where someone was hurt or killed in a pool due to electricity.  This is a very real concern when it comes to building swimming pools.  Proper precautions must be taken to prevent such things from happening.

Aside from all the legal stuff that one must make sure they follow when building a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool, there are also things that may happen related to the actual build of the pool.  Suppose you are building you own pool and as you dig deeper and deeper you encounter ground water.  How would you deal with that?  Do you know how to solve the problem?  Some do some don’t.  If you successfully build the pool do you know how to plumb the system, or cut in the liner?  I’m almost certain that people willing to take on such a big project, will more than likely have a background in construction of some kind.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will turn out a flawless swimming pool.  That really goes with any trade.  An electrician may not be the best plumber and vise versa.  For instance I have been building pools for almost ten years, but that doesn’t mean that I would feel comfortable in taking on a project like building my own house.  While they are similar in that they both fall under the field of “construction” they are still different enough that I would never think about building my own home.  I suppose that is what it comes down to.  Are you comfortable enough to try to build your own pool?  Are you comfortable enough to know what permits are needed and what inspections are needed?  These are the things you must consider before you start.  Even though the materials may be cheaper online than buying them from a pool professional, they still represent an investment.  Are you confident that the finished product will be worth the time and money you put into it.  If there is even a shred of doubt then I would let the professionals take care of it.

There are so many variables that come into play that building your own pool may not be something you want to try.  Below is a list of things to consider.

1) Are you confident in you construction skills?
2) Are you confident in your knowledge of building codes?
3) Do you know what permits you need?
4) Do you know how to trowel a bottom?
5) Do you know how to plumb a pool system?
6) Do you know how to wire the lights, cover, and sub panel?
7) Do you know how to properly bond the pool?
8) Are you confident in your ability to cut in a liner?

These are just a few things to think about when it comes to building your own vinyl liner in ground swimming pool.  There are many, many other things that go into building a pool that I did not mention.


Vinyl liner Inground Pools – More than Just Rectangles

There are a few common shapes when it comes to vinyl liner in ground swimming pools that get built over and over again.  I think the most basic of these shapes is the rectangle.  This is a shape that many people end up with in their back yards, but why?  Originally, I think that it was more of a matter of availability.  When vinyl liner in ground swimming pools first came out on the market, there weren’t that many shapes available.  Luckily that is all in the past, yet still to this day the rectangle is a common shape among vinyl liner in ground swimming pools.

Some of you may not know this, but with all the technological advances that have been made over the years vinyl liner in ground swimming pool manufacturers are now able to offer any size, any shape pool that you can think of.  That is the point of this post.  I want to make you aware that when it comes to vinyl liner in ground swimming pools, you don’t have to go with a basic rectangle shape.  Many amazing pools have been done with vinyl liners.  In addition to that there are many different liner designs that are available to give your pool something that others around you don’t have.  Another thing that can set your pool apart from anyone else’s is the way your deck is done.  Let’s take a look at some of the vinyl liner pools that have been done in the past to give you an idea of what can be done with a vinyl liner in ground pool.

In this picture (left) you can see how they have opted to use pavers as their decking rather than traditional concrete.  In addition to that, this is more of an organic shape rather than the basic rectangle.  It is not likely that any of their neighbors will have a pool like this.

This next one is similar in that they again used the pavers for the decking, however the shape is drastically different.  In addition to that they used unique landscaping to set this pool area apart.

This pool has a somewhat standard concrete deck, however they chose to have a border around their pool in a darker color.  This is yet another way to set your pool apart from the rest.  When it comes to concrete, to get away from the traditional white brushed look, many people go with stamped concrete and add a 1′ border around their pool in a different but complimentary color.

The last pool here is a completely unique design.  The shape alone would be enough to set it apart from the neighbors pools, however they went a step further by adding some planter areas in the decking and by building a pool house nearby.  This is the type of setting that is used all over the country for back yard cook outs, and evening drinks by the pool.

These are all examples of how a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool can be made into any shape or size that you can imagine.  I have even seen a vinyl liner pool shaped like an electric guitar.  The way I see it, if you can dream it, it can be done.  There are endless possibilities that can be done with a vinyl liner pool.  It only depends on how creative you are when you design it.

For more information on vinyl liner in ground swimming pools, or just general swimming pool information all together please check out my other posts.

How a Pool Professional Builds a Vinyl Liner In Ground Swimming Pool

In ground swimming pools should always be built by professionals, but how do they do it?  let’s assume that all of the leg work going into the build has already been done (ie. the sale of the pool, the planning stages etc.)  This brings us to the start of the dig.

The Dig:

This is the part of the process where the builder will actually break ground and start removing dirt.  Typically this part will be completed in one day.  In some cases they may actually get to building the pool.  However before they get that far they will need to make sure that the dig is to the specifications of the plan.  This means that if the plan dictates that the pool be 8′ deep in the deep end, then the dig should reflect that.  However, they have to allow for 2″ of bottom material. The bottom material is typically either vermiculite, or a sand/ cement mix. So technically they would have to over dig the pool by at least 2″. They would have to be careful not to over dig it too much because you cannot replace dirt that has been taken out. If the pool is over dug too much they will have to bring in stone to bring the dig back within specs. Throughout the dig, someone will have to check the depth with a transit (laser) to ensure that it is being dug correctly.

The Build:

At this point the builders will begin to assemble the pools walls. The pool walls come in individual panels of different lengths. They will also come with a detailed layout showing which panel goes where. These panels are fastened together with nuts and bolts. Once the structure is built, they will square it (provided that it is a rectangular shape). Next they will stake the corners, then straighten the walls and stake the rest of the pool. Next they will level the pool with a laser/ transit.  After the pool has been straightened and leveled, the plumbing and electrical conduit is ran to the appropriate locations. At this point the footer is poured.

The Backfill:

The next day they will come back, and install the coping. Once the coping is installed they will backfill, typically with pea gravel or stone chips. If the pool will have an auto cover the auto cover box is installed as well. Lastly they will bond. Copper wire is ran around the entire pool. If the pool has steel walls every panel gets bonded as well as anything else metal within 5′ of the water. Next they do the rebar (sidewalk prep).

The Sidewalk:

This day they will come back and pour the sidewalks. Every foot away from the waters edge the side walk has to fall 1/8 of an inch. This ensures that when it rains the water will run away from the pool rather than into it. Once all of the sidewalks are formed they will pour the concrete.

Prepping The Bottom:

Next they will come back and take the forms off of the concrete. After all of the forms are off, they saw the concrete into sections to attempt to control cracks. Over time the concrete will crack and sawing lines in it will essentially coax the cracks to be where the lines are already placed. After they saw the concrete they pressure spray it to clear off any dirt or dust. Next they prep the bottom of the pool and clean the walls. After the bottom of the pool is prepped and the walls are cleaned they will place stakes in the bottom of the pool to run string for the exact transition points, where the bottom will ultimately be.

The Liner:

This day they will do the bottom by using either the vermiculite or the sand/cement mix. This process usually takes roughly 4 hours to complete. Once the bottom is done, it is time to drop the liner into place. They will start by securing the liner. Once they have the liner completely secured they will use a vacuum to suction the liner tightly to the pool walls. After the liner is vacuumed to the wall they will cut out around the steps, skimmer, main drains, lights and any returns there may be.  Once this is completed they are able to begin filling the pool with water!

Auto cover install: If there is going to be an automatic cover installed for this pool, it would need to be completely full. Once the  pool is completely full they are able to install the cover and you are ready to enjoy your new pool.

This is just the steps that are taken when pool professionals install vinyl liner in-ground pools.  I must insist that if you are planning to have a pool installed you allow a professional to install it. For more information on vinyl liner in-ground swimming pools please check out the rest of my blog.

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.

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.

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.

Liner Over Steps – Ensure Proper Installation

More and more people are having in ground vinyl liner pools built these days.

In addition to that one of the aspects of a vinyl liner pool that is also growing in popularity is the liner over step.  In a recent post I went into some detail about the different styles of vinyl liner steps.  Without repeating myself too much I want to reiterate the fact that there is one style that I consider superior to the other.  Only Alpha’s Permanent Form design of liner over step is in my opinion the better way to go as far a liner over steps go.  The other option is to go with the Straight Tread Design.  These are both very nice steps to have in you vinyl liner pool.  They will both give you that sleek look that everyone is wanting for their pools.  However the Permanent Form Design is in my opinion the superior step.  It will offer a more stable tread and as far as installation goes I find it to be a bit easier to install.  The main reason is that this type of step requires a concrete tread be poured.  These steps come from the manufacturer as just the risers.  Basically they will have to be backfilled with stone and the capped off with a couple inches of concrete.  This means that initially there is more room to work and they are far easier to backfill.

Here you can see how the support legs are attached to the bottom of the treads
The Straight Tread Design is a little more tricky to install.  With this design the manufacturer will send it out with both the risers and treads of the step intact.  This system relies on two main things for support.  One is the legs that it comes with.  These legs will be installed under the steps and give it something to rest on.  Although these legs offer some support for the step, the primary source of support comes from the backfill.  I would venture to say that the 10% of the support comes from the legs and the remaining 90% comes from the backfill.  Issues can arise if the installer doesn’t sufficiently backfill the step.  From my experience this style of step often gets poorly backfilled.  I think that this problem is primarily a result of the installer finding that the steps are somewhat difficult to backfill and they call it good before it is actually good enough.  In reality the Permanent Form Design was made to combat this issue.  If the Straight Tread Design step is not backfilled adequately they may need to be repaired at some point.  That point may come too soon, or in some cases it could take years before you notice that something is not right.  What happens is that although they have the support legs under them, the steps will become for lack of a better term “squishy” under foot, between where the support legs are located.  This means that as you walk down them you may notice the tread flexing under your weight in some areas.  This is usually because there is no backfill to very little backfill under them in that area between the legs of the step.  When it comes to composite Straight Tread Design.
The main concern is at the joints of the step.  The joint is where two parts of the step are bolted together.  For instance if the steps are 16′ wide across the entire shallow end then they will likely come in 8′ sections that will need to be bolted together to make the 16′.  The joint at which they bolt together is susceptible to giving way under foot if there is not enough backfill under them to support the weight of swimmers entering and exiting the pool.  If this happens you will notice a difference in the height of the tread at the joint.  One side will typically be a touch higher than the other and that difference will be greater when weight is applied.
How to avoid this issue.
First of all the best way to avoid this type of situation is to avoid it all together.  Insist that your builder use the Permanent Form Design step.  With the Permanent Form this is a non-issue.  However the permanent form design is a touch more expensive than the Straight Tread design.  If you are having a pool installed with the straight tread design be aware of how the installer is backfilling them.  They should literally be stuffing the underside of the step with stone.  They should also be checking the tread surface periodically by walking the length of the treads to ensure they are properly supported.  If they find an area that is “squishy” they will need to address it by stuffing even more stone under them in that area.  As the owner of the pool you should absolutely feel free to assess the steps yourself prior to the pouring of your deck around the pool.  If you feel that there is an area that is suspect of inadequate backfilling, feel free to mention it to your builder.  Being that you are the owner and it is your money going into the building of the pool, you should be comfortable with the way the steps feel as you walk down them.
How a builder can fix a composite Straight Tread Design step if the joint gives way.
This repair is not all that difficult to do and really doesn’t take too long.  First the pool will need to be drained down to a point at which the problem area is exposed with enough room to work provided that the liner itself is salvageable.  Next a hole will have to be cut in the tread of the step next to the joint that has the issue.  For this I will typically use a 4″ hole saw (do not lose the piece that is cut out).  Next use the hole in the tread to add backfill material.  Depending on how big the void under the steps is they may need to first add stone to bring the backfill to the appropriate height.  Once that is complete I always finish filling the hole with concrete (quick-crete works well for this).  Make sure that the material going into the hole is pushed down as much as possible.  The goal is to pack that hole with as much material as possible.  Once the hold is completely full, the piece that was cut out can be inserted back into the hole.  For this next step the builder will need to contact the manufacturer ahead of time to procure an industrial strength two-part epoxy.  They will need to use that epoxy to secure the piece back in place.  After the epoxy hardens they should sand down the area until they again get a smooth, seamless surface.  At this point the they can either add some step foam, or just put the liner back in place depending on their preferences.
The Straight Tread Design step can be a wonderful addition to any pool.  However the quality of the step is ultimately dependent on the quality of the installation.  Obviously, in any situation that you are not quite sure of it is important to ask questions.  If your builder comes to you proposing the installation of a Straight Tread Design step over a Permanent Form Design step take the time to ask them about it.  Have they installed this type of step before?  Have they had any problems with this type of step in the past?  If you are still unsure, you can always insist that they install a Permanent Form Design instead.
Builders will typically have a harder time backfilling a full width step as opposed to a corner step or bench.  Keep in mind that it is your pool, your property, and your money.  Be aware of what is going on, ask questions, and demand the very best from your builder.
For more information on the different types of liner over steps check out my other blog posts related to this topic.  You can also check out Only Alpha’s website at http://www.onlyalpha.com/  From there you can navigate through the different parts of the website and see the different styles of steps available as well as the differences between a steel wall pool and a composite pool system.

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.