Well, after five grueling months of a build, the pool was finally completed about three weeks ago. Had issues in getting the builder to do what we wanted related to an issue he created in the middle of the build which resulted in the PB threatening me with a letter from his attorney and delaying the build a full month. Long story short on that, I wound up using his own attorney against him. We then were able to come to an agreement we were both comfortable with. Enough of that.
Pool is 34 x 18 (including tanning ledge and spa/table area) and uses all Pentair equipment. Unfortunately, and much to my horror, the builder convinced us to go with the Nature2 system with the TriChlor 3" inline chlorinator. After reading this forum and many others, it seems this was a mistake. I'm currently looking at removing both and going with a Pentair IC40 SWCG. Mainly because I'm getting old and stooping around the pool to pour in bleach every other night is going to get old really fast! Otherwise, I'm abandoning the pool store and will be managing the pool with bleach to shock when needed, borax, baking soda, muriatic acid and the occasional dose of CYA.
What I found in the first three weeks using the system that was installed and keeping FC at 0.5ppm - 1.0ppm is that when there was a bather load of more than three people, the pool would cloud the next day and a shock was in order. The pool is beautiful to look at without a bather load, but what good is that? We bought the pool to swim in and to look at, not just look at. So much for "saving money on chlorine" as the pool builder sold me on.
Also, I need to get away from using Calcium-Hyperchlorite to shock as my CH is running steady at 500ppm. There's a high calcium level in the tap water here. Between the copper being added to the water with the Nature2, the high calcium readings, and the TriChlor adding unwanted levels of CYA and driving my pH into the dirt, I can see where this configuration is taking me. Thank goodness I found this site. Today my pH dropped from 7.4 to 6.7 when I tested. Been fighting to get it back up with soda ash. TA was in the dirt too and off the scale. I will be moving away from the vicious pool store circle of chemicals to the BBB method or as I hope sooner than later, a SWCG and BB combo. This system, from what little experience I have with it thus far, is all I want to see of that horror show.
Some quick specs on the pool for those that are interested:
As mentioned, all Pentair.
- Pentair 1.5hp Whisperflow single speed pump.
- Century Centurion 3/4 HP pressure side pool cleaner booster pump.
- Pentair 420 cartridge filter.
- Pentair inline Rainbow chlorinator.
- Zodiac Nature2 Mineral Sanitizer.
- Pentair LED intellilight x 2. (Pool is absolutely gorgeous at night. It looks like blue Tesla coils running through the water. Absolutely stunning.)
- In pool spa with bubble jets and table (Didn't see a need for and never liked spas that were separate from the pool. Most of the time, they go unused and we had no plans to heat. So in the pool it went. Keeps the dogs from taking off with the kids food during lunches or snacking.)
- Sprinkler system (Works great to cool the water and were installed for that reason. As a side, it is also tremendously useful for keeping mosquitos and horse flies at bay. Something we didn't think about, but found out rather quickly about once the pool was opened.)
- Honed and polished travertine coping.
- 700 sqft. Tumbled travertine paver deck (These things are slick when dry. That's to say, when you get out of the pool soaking wet and step on a dry paver, watch out. Once they are wet, it isn't so bad.)
- Dual bubblers in the tanning ledge.
- Custom mosaic glass waterline and ledge tiling.
- Three umbrella post holes - one in table, one in far ledge and one in tanning ledge.
- Pool fill water line was installed into the decking for easy filling of the pool.
Overall, we are relatively pleased with how the pool came out despite the builder being a jerk halfway through the build. it could have been a lot worse I suppose. He left the yard unlevel and we now have to have a landscaper come in to fix things to correct the grading of my yard. After that, we should be good to go. We hope to add an outdoor kitchen and some brick paths later. Right now, it's mud, weeds, grass and a pool.
This builder has an A+ rating on Angie's List and has been in business since 1976. We figured we'd pay a little extra to not have problems. Well, there were many. The biggest one was the owner's attitude. It was and always has been "his way or the highway." Overall, I think we escaped relatively unscathed though.
Things we are happy with:
- Pool shell is 12" thick and perfectly level.
- Gravel across the entire pool bottom. Not just the deep end.
- 5 returns (Most are ledge sweeps)
- 2 skimmers
- Super smooth plaster
- Table top design came out great
- Deck looks great
Things we are not happy with:
- The biggest issue was the table. It was lopsided when initially poured. Both the tabletop and the umbrella post pipe were lopsided. Builder forced us to accept adding quickset around the rim of the table to make it round although it still is not centered on the pedestal. We were not convinced of the structural integrity of this fix and wanted him to cut the tabletop off and repour it. He refused. This was the catalyst for the nasty letter from his attorney.
- The plaster has dark mix in it in some spots. They didn't mix it thoroughly enough apparently. This is in the first couple of wheelbarrows they applied. It looks like black dirt the size of a dime in some spots. Nothing they can do to fix it.
- I already spoke to the inline chlorinator and the Nature2 system. Junk! That mistake at the PB's recommendation is going to cost me another 1k.
- Travertine tile is much more slippery than they told us it would be. In fact, they swore it was less slippery than CoolDeck. We were adamant about not slipping. We have kids and the neighbors kids using the pool. We're still quite concerned with this. Not sure what to do or what we can do about it. I twisted my knee on it two weeks ago and almost went to surgery. Still waiting to see if the tears in my knee will heal up enough not to warrant surgery.
- The polymeric sand they claimed would harden in between the tiles crumbles and finds its way out of the deck and eventually into the pool. This has left some larger gaps in the deck than we would have liked. If I had it to do over again, I would have had them mortar them in place.
- The bubbles didn't work in the spa. The fix was to reroute the booster pump intake to the return side of the system to force more water through the spa pipes. This works great unless we throw the valve for the spa to turn on the spa jets. If the booster pump comes on in that mode, it will burn up. Gotta take care to make sure that doesn't happen.
- The pool overflow is cut too short and the pool fills to the bottom of the coping tiles and over the skimmer inlets during heavy rains. Should be an easy fix.
- Builder left the site a mess. He brought in sand and destroyed the grade of my yard. I have to pay more to get that corrected and then my yard can be on the road to recovery. It was heart breaking watching them destroy my newly sodded yard. Even more so for them to leave it to us to clean up.
- Rocks, stones and rebar left everywhere in my yard. Hit some rebar while cutting the grass and destroyed the starter on my brand new lawn mower. I assume that is why it stopped working only after two uses. Next time I went to use it, no starter.
- The plasterers got plaster in my waterline tile grout. The effect is that the tiles now look like they have been there for years and have calcium in the grout in some spots. It even hazed the glass tile themselves in many places. I was peeved about that. They refuse to address it properly. Like so many other issues. Not sure how to address that problem. My wife and I got in with green scrubbers and did our best to get the haze off, but the results were not great. I can tell you, I was thinking about the money we spent on the pool with every swipe of the green pad. I suppose this is what online rating websites are for.
- The tiles on the top of the far skimmer intake are only supported by 33% cement on the back. They are coming to address that next week after my having to hound them on it.
- The tiles in the ledging are not smoothly curved to follow the edge of the ledges and steps as I would like. We specifically wanted them squared off on the ends and they smoothed them over on the ends unsymetrically too. Could have been done much better. I could have probably done it better.
The total cost for the pool was $63,400. It is nice, but for that kind of money, we would have preferred a more professional response to our concerns instead of having to hound them to death and having to live with the careless, stupid mistakes of their so-called expert subs. They hate me now because I refused to relent and was on them like white on rice until I got what I paid for or atleast was given the opportunity to vent my discoveries of their negligence time and time again. What can I say? My father taught me to never quit and I taught myself to pay extreme attention to the details. I'll never understand why people/companies behave that way.
Here are a few pictures. It does look nice for a medium sized free-form pool. People love the table. Nothing like having a place to set a can of beer and a hot dog while in the pool and watching the kids swim.