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Thread: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

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    Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Still trying to decide what we will do. Looking to cut some costs and increase swimming area.
    My question for you is, on a 9x29 pool and looking to cut costs, would you include a spa?
    If yes, why? And would you have a raised spa or flush with the pool height ?
    Thanks!

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Hmmmmm....such a complicated question. Therefore I will respond to your questions with more questions

    1. Why do you want a spa? How often will you use it? Do you even like using hot tubs or spas?

    2. Raised spas add aeration to the pool water. This has an impact on chemical usage and typically creates more acid demand. Do you plan on caring for your pool yourself? (One would think so by virtue of you signing up to this site but you never know...)

    3. What's more important to you - swimming and splashing around in a pool or sitting in a spa?

    4. What do the other members of your family want?

    Spas typically add anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 to the cost of a pool build by virtue of the added construction costs and the need for different equipment (higher speed pumps and heaters). Spas need good heaters, so if you don't have a cheap source of gas (i.e., natural gas), then you'll either need propane (super expensive compared to NG) or a heat pump (slower to heat spas than an NG heater). Since the spa and pool are effectively the same water volume, attached spas need slightly different care and chemistry setup prior to use than traditional, stand-alone hot tubs. It's not rocket science, but it does take a bit more finagling to manage an attached spa properly.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    I have a 13X26 pool. With a pool as small as ours I have a separate free standing SPA That's better for me. Depending on your geography, i.e part of the country you live in, and the rest of the space you have in your yard, I would have a separate SPA, above ground and off to the side. In colder climates you don't want a connected ground level SPA. There are just too hard to heat and filter during the winter, especially if the pool is to be off line in the winter, yet on the same plumbing, i.e. filter and motor system.

    Tell me more about your location and yard space available.

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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Personally I think it's a waste to build a pool and not have a spa, but I understand it's an individual preference. We are in our spa nearly every night. Love it. It relaxes us and gives us good sleep, and it's a time where my husband and I can connect daily. A raised spa looks better I think, but also gives you extra seating for get togethers on the coping. The outside of the raised spa can have tile or ledger stone or whatever on it for a nice aesthetic appearance, but maybe that's an area you can save some money on and do a ground level spa and eliminate the additional materials and labor. In either case, try to get some higher seating inside the spa instead of one continuous bench. That will give you an opportunity to cool off a little when you get too hot, and it can be a spot that allows you to rest your arms easily on top of the coping (instead of having your arms raised up too high).
    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Quote Originally Posted by Julieleek View Post
    Personally I think it's a waste to build a pool and not have a spa, but I understand it's an individual preference. We are in our spa nearly every night. Love it. It relaxes us and gives us good sleep, and it's a time where my husband and I can connect daily. A raised spa looks better I think, but also gives you extra seating for get togethers on the coping. The outside of the raised spa can have tile or ledger stone or whatever on it for a nice aesthetic appearance, but maybe that's an area you can save some money on and do a ground level spa and eliminate the additional materials and labor. In either case, try to get some higher seating inside the spa instead of one continuous bench. That will give you an opportunity to cool off a little when you get too hot, and it can be a spot that allows you to rest your arms easily on top of the coping (instead of having your arms raised up too high).
    I agree. the other advantage of a raised spa is you don't need to worry about steps in the spa. Since its raised you can easily get in and out.
    21,000 gallon pool w/spa, Pebble Sheen, Hayward EcoStar variable speed filter pump, Hayward DE6020 Filter, Hayward 400FDN Heater, Stenner pump with 15 gallon tank, Clear O3 ozone system, Hayward Goldline PS-8 controller, Hayward 6060 cleaner pump, Polaris 280 cleaner, Hayward EcoStar variable speed water feature pump.

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    This is how I break it down in my head-

    If you're only going to very infrequently use the spa, like less than once a week, then don't bother building one.

    If you think you might use the spa once or twice a week, then you can manage the chemistry and usage such that it make sense to have an attached spa.

    If you are a frequent spa user, like 4 or more times per week, then a high quality separate hot tub is a much better idea. It gives you better control over the water chemistry and takes the pool totally out of the equation.

    That above analysis is based mainly on the idea that a spa is NOT a small pool. It's a separate body of hot aerated high bather load water that requires a very different chemical profile than pool water. I find that I can't just jump in my attached spa on a whim but need to "setup" the water prior to use to get it to my liking. I'm an infrequent spa user so that's ok but if I had to do it every day it would become a pain.


    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    This is how I break it down in my head-

    If you're only going to very infrequently use the spa, like less than once a week, then don't bother building one.

    If you think you might use the spa once or twice a week, then you can manage the chemistry and usage such that it make sense to have an attached spa.

    If you are a frequent spa user, like 4 or more times per week, then a high quality separate hot tub is a much better idea. It gives you better control over the water chemistry and takes the pool totally out of the equation.

    That above analysis is based mainly on the idea that a spa is NOT a small pool. It's a separate body of hot aerated high bather load water that requires a very different chemical profile than pool water. I find that I can't just jump in my attached spa on a whim but need to "setup" the water prior to use to get it to my liking. I'm an infrequent spa user so that's ok but if I had to do it every day it would become a pain.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    These are my thoughts exactly!! Twice now I have even had the movers take my then current spa with us to the next house.

    I have been accused of being the poster child for the spa industry. I am in it at least twice a day, sometimes three or four. It started in the early 80's with a car accident and a back injury. I couldn't live without one now.

    Now, I do follow the chlorine/CYA method of SPA maintenance. A couple of times a year when the pool is getting low on water I just dump the spa into the pool and refill the spa and start over.
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Since we're practically neighbors, I thought I would chime in even though I don't have much different to add..... but location may add some weight to my response.

    I can't believe how much Nick and I are glad we got a spa. If not for any other reason than it's giving us a longer season in the pool. We're already finding the pool water to be almost too cool, so we just heat up the spa (which so far doesn't seem expensive on our gas bill), jump in it and get warm, and then get back into the pool. Back and forth.... Maybe if I was decades younger the 70's temps wouldn't bother me. But those days are gone for me!!! And Nick has always hated cold water.

    Also, if I really want to stay in the pool, I can put the heater on but leave it on pool mode so that the heated water goes into the pool through the return jets. I won't spend the money to heat up the entire pool, but it feels so, so good to swim over to a warm return jet and warm up a bit. I had never thought about these benefits when we were trying to decide to get a spa and heater or not. And of course, we will have the spa to use alone when the pool temps get way too low for the little warm up tricks.

    Even if you don't get a spa, I really encourage you to get a heater. Don't let a PB talk you out of it saying it's too expensive to heat a pool. Like I said above, you can just leave the heater on for an hour or so to enjoy the warm jets. That doesn't seem to be adding much to my bill.

    Neither one of us had ever used a spa or a hot tub. We both enjoy it. I use it earlier in the evening to relax or warm up, and Nick likes to get in later in the evening to puff on his cigar and relax. We're both looking forward to the colder months to enjoy the spa even more. I think for us and being so excited about having our first pool, it would be sort of sad to look out on the pool over the winter and feel like we couldn't use any of it.

    My next point sort of goes against what would seem logical. But, for us and our back yard space, the connected spa seems to fit better than a separate hot tub. For me therapeutically, a hot tub may have made better sense. But I've found the spa to work well anyway. And I'm not having to take care of water separately since we don't usually cover our pools around here.

    Again, for my mobility issues, the raised spa has been ideal. I never used a neighbor's which was pool level. It was way too difficult for me to get in and out. Our spa is raised 12" and is perfect. I sit down on the spa coping ledge and turn or spin my legs around to get into the spa or out of it.

    I hope some of this helps. Let me know if you'd like to test drive ours or come take a look. I don't know if you are like us and never used one before.

    Take care,
    Suz.
    Suz~Cypress area~ 2015 pool build. 23K gallons. IG swcg system. 35'x18'; 573sf; 104' perim; depth 4'-7'. Bubblers, sheer descents, 7' spa. Jandy: color LEDs; 2HP 2sp pump; 1HP 2sp pump; spa pump; 580 cartridge; 400K BTU; Dolphin M500; PS8; Inline chlorinator not used; Aqua Pure 1400. Blue Granite Sheen. Travertine deck. Lightstreams Peacock Blue TF-100, K-1766, SpeedStir

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    bdrums's Avatar
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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    Since the spa and pool are effectively the same water volume, attached spas need slightly different care and chemistry setup prior to use than traditional, stand-alone hot tubs. It's not rocket science, but it does take a bit more finagling to manage an attached spa properly.
    Would you elaborate on this? We have a raised spa that waterfalls into the pool. Are you saying I have to test and maintain the spa independently?

    Is there a forum thread you could refer me to?

    Thanks!
    Build thread
    IG Gunite w/ spa, PebbleSheen Blue Surf, 18K gallons 500sqft
    Jandy: 60 DE filter, 2.0 VS (main pump), 2.0 Flo Pro (features)
    Paramount PV3 w/ 1.5 Stealth, PDA PS6, JXi 400K NG
    Flagstone coping & wall. Stamped Concrete from BrickForm. TF-100 w/Speed Stir.

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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Our pool is similar in size to yours, and we went through the same debate. My vote was no spa but wanted a heater, my wife wanted the spa. I was trying to maximize the swimming area of the pool, but ultimately we decided to go with the raised spa. I think we made the right choice, as we used the spa three or four times per week last fall/winter. Even though it's not cold outside yet, we've already started using it again this year as the pool temp has dropped to the mid 70s.

    We don't throw a ton of large parties, so the small size of the pool hasn't been an issue. Even when we did have large parties, the kids didn't seem to care. The only downside is that there wasn't room for the adults, and I don't think the extra square footage from no spa would have made a huge difference.

    I know that many prefer a separate spa, but I think there are advantages to attached spas as well. I don't like the pre-defined seating in separate spas (free roaming is easier in attached spa), and I've found that the spa cover on detached spas is a barrier to spur of the moment spa sessions. I realize that's pure laziness on my part, but it's much more convenient to flip on the heater for 20 minutes and just hop in. Regarding water chemistry (I am admittedly not an expert), I haven't found the need to maintain separate chemistry between the pool and spa.
    Dallas area | 12' x 29' 10K gallon IG gunite/plaster with 12" raised spa | DE filter, Variable Speed pump, 400K BTU heater, pool cleaner with booster pump, all Pentair equipment | Taylor K-2006 test kit | Excavation 9/16/2014; Pool filled on 10/17/2014

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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    I definitely recommend a spa and a raised one at that. The raised spa keeps it cleaner - anything blowing around on the deck like leaves, etc. don't generally make it into the spa where if it was pool level, it would blow right in. Also, when cleaning the deck with a backpack or hand held blower, you can just blow and not worry about getting stuff into the spa since it is raised. Get a good 40K BTU heater. My spa is 1000 gallons and it heats up in about 30 minutes - not a big issue to wait that long in my opinion. Also, having it raised lets you have a waterfall feature built in as the spillway - looks nice.

    The chemical stuff is a non-issue to me - if you keep your pool water balanced, the spa water will automatically be balanced - same water is shared.

    I also, as the poster above said, think building a pool without a spa limits your swim season unnecessarily. Even in Texas, where it is still 80 degrees in the daytime, the swim season is almost over, if not certainly already over. The pool is getting cold due to the colder nights and it is almost too cold for most of the family to swim. The spa however, is ready anytime no matter what the weather. We had snow this winter and we heated up the spa for a New Year's eve dip. It was awesome. Sure, we could heat the pool if we didn't have a spa but that would take days vs. hours and costs hundreds of dollars. Then if you stop heating it, it cools down in a day. I've never heated my pool but always heat the hot tub whenever anyone wants to get in. We have year round use of the pool due to the spa. Otherwise, for 6 months out of the year it would be a fancy lawn decoration.

    Regardless of how often you use it, I would never lay out the huge investment of building a pool only to save a bit of money by not incorporating a spa, due to the reasons above. I have never had a separate spa so I can't really comment on that but that could be a way of having the benefits of a built in spa without the associated costs as well.
    40K Gallon gunite chlorine diving pool with spa, Blue Granite finish
    Jandy Watercolors LED lights (2 pool, 1 spa)
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    Borates added in the form of Borax and Acid.
    Prosper Texas

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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Thanks for the feedback everybody provided. To answer some of the questions asked...
    1) I am not sure how often we would use the spa. We haven't ever had one (nor a pool for that matter), but my wife likes the idea of having the spa
    2) We're in the Houston area, so hopefully we would be able to use the spa pretty much year round (but again, not sure how often we would actually use it)

    I like the idea of having it raised, but we'll see what we come up with as we are trying to get the cost down under $50K

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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    I had 11*29' to work with. A hot tub was a must have. Ours is raised and really big...11'*6' and 43" deep...lol kinda like a small pool. Check out my build thread titled small pool and hot tub in se louisiana
    Shotcrete 21x11 pool with raised 11x5.5 hot tub, 7' spill over. 1"x1" lunata bay mosaic tile and travertine coping. (Not sure of plaster yet) 1hp whisperflo pump for returns and water feature. 3hp whisperflo for 6 waterway jets in hottub. 3 jandy nichless lights. Hayward T-9, PS4, TA60 sand filter. Broke ground Aug 5, 2015 Aiming to be done Sep 10, 2015

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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    My kids love having it this time of year.
    They can handle the cooler pool temp as long as there is a warm spa to recharge in.
    40k gal freeform, IG pebblesheen, 9'x'6' raised spa, 2-1/2 hp Whisperflo, 520 sq/ft cartridge, Legend w/ booster, Intellibrite 5g in pool @ spa, Rainbow 320 Chlorinator(retired),
    Mastertemp 400k BTU, 3x3 hp Whisperflo Swimjets, 2x2 hp Whisperflow for 15ton moss rock waterfall, Intelitouch Controller, 850 sq/ft Travertine deck, Gas/Wood firepit,
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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    We decided not to build a spa with the pool. We saved 16k or so. We bought a stand alone hot tub for 5500 and put it on a covered patio. It is great. Very economical to run, it is covered, clean and always hot. We use it at least 4 or 5 times per week except in the hottest summer months and daily all winter. It is more comfortable than a gunite spa and the covered patio makes it great for sitting in it in the snow and rain. A hot tub makes winter a whole lot more tolerable for us.
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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Quote Originally Posted by bdrums View Post
    Would you elaborate on this? We have a raised spa that waterfalls into the pool. Are you saying I have to test and maintain the spa independently?

    Is there a forum thread you could refer me to?

    Thanks!
    Happy to elaborate.

    When no one is using the spa and it's in spillover mode, the water in the spa and the pool are the same. So the FC, pH, TA and CH are all the same. Once you switch to spa mode, the water in the spa gets heated and aerated very quickly. At higher temperature, the oxidative properties of chlorine are more aggressive (organics, bathing suits, hair, etc). With higher temperature and aeration there is also more off gassing of chlorine and CCs. This is why chlorine spas, even when properly maintained, can sometimes have a detectable harsh odor.

    As for pH and TA, you typically want a much lower TA in a spa as the higher TA combined with the higher temperatures and aeration will lead to rapid pH rises causing the water to quickly reach the 7.8-8.0 pH range and even exceed that. Higher pH combined with the stronger oxidative strength of chlorine can lead to a harsh water quality.

    Finally, scaling can be a problem in spas because the higher TA, pH and temperatures combine with the calcium hardness to produce very positive CSI values. For pools we typically don't worry about scaling unless the CSI is above +0.6 and even then it often doesn't occur at an appreciable rate until the CSI > 0.7. For hot spas, scaling can be seen in water with CSI values at +0.3. So it is not true that if your pool water is balanced, then your spa water will be too.

    As for personal preference, my pool with attached spa is an SWG pool. So my FC is typically 5-6ppm and my CYA ~70ppm. I keep my TA at 60ppm and my pH usually lives between 7.6-7.8. My CH is 750ppm. If I turn on my spa and just jump right in, the high FC level makes the water too harsh. As well, the pH will quickly rise to 8.0. So what I do to "setup" my spa is to let it run for 45mins or so with the SWG turned off so that some of the FC burns of. I also add 1-1/2 fl. oz of MA to drop the pH to 7.2-7.4 and take the TA down by about 10ppm. This keeps the spa water pH low and stable for the duration of use and the added time to warm up helps lower the FC to a more comfortable level. I have even added, on occasion, 4oz of 3% hydrogen peroxide to dechlorinate the spa water by 3ppm. That is a fast dechlorination and it makes the spa water very comfortable.

    Some people don't care or are not sensitive to high FC and pH in a spa. I prefer to operate mine, when I occasionally use it, in a more safe and comfortable range. If I had to do that "setup" work everyday, it would be too annoying and I would opt for a hot tub that I could manage separately.


    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    bdrums's Avatar
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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    Happy to elaborate.
    Thank you! That makes sense. Something we can experiment with once ours is finished.

    Apologies on the slight detour.
    Build thread
    IG Gunite w/ spa, PebbleSheen Blue Surf, 18K gallons 500sqft
    Jandy: 60 DE filter, 2.0 VS (main pump), 2.0 Flo Pro (features)
    Paramount PV3 w/ 1.5 Stealth, PDA PS6, JXi 400K NG
    Flagstone coping & wall. Stamped Concrete from BrickForm. TF-100 w/Speed Stir.

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Agree 100% with above. Maintaining the pool and the hot tub are two separate sets of numbers. Both are easy and troublefree for me. Here is how I maintain the tub and it has worked great for two years, How do I use Chlorine in my Spa (or pool)?
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    2012 build and pics, 20k gal gunite, black onyx pebblesheen, OK flagstone, IntellifoVS, cart filter w/Pleatco, IC40 SWG, Solartouch, 5 12'x4' solar panels, HP50HA heat pump, 8mil solar cover, borates, TF-100 test kit, SONOS, Doheny's Discovery Robot, hot tub on bleach

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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    While all is likely true on the above posts and link regarding spa water maintenance. I'd guess that 0% (due to rounding) of TFP users maintain there attached spa water any differently from their pool water. They likely just mix it daily and it's a no harm, no foul situation. But I could be ignorant of people doing it because it rarely shows up on the Under Construction section. But just because many don't separately manage doesn't mean it's not the best case scenario. Any topic, pools, spas, cars, etc. will have a segment of the population that digs deeper and follows best practices more closely. If only VW engineers/execs followed best practices more closely!

    I'd go raised if I were building one.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, SWCG, automation) View Our Build
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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Spa or no spa? If yes, raised or flush?

    Quote Originally Posted by bdrums View Post
    Thank you! That makes sense. Something we can experiment with once ours is finished.

    Apologies on the slight detour.
    You're welcome. Happy to share. Experimentation is the best method as everyone experiences their pools differently.

    Aside from chemistry/maintenance, the bigger factor for me in a YES/NO spa question is personal use. I am not a sit-around-lazily-in-the-pool type personality. If I'm going to get wet, I much prefer to be active, splashing, doing laps and playing (3 little boys don't give me much reason to rest). So for me, sitting in a spa has little appeal. A hypothetical pool build for me would be a opting for a larger pool and, if desired/required, getting a separate hot tub.

    To each his own.....


    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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