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Thread: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:help!

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    Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:help!

    Hello everyone,

    I think this forum is probably not really for pool planning, but I am hoping to benefit from your experience and build (hopefully) a trouble free pool.
    Our project is as follow: we plan on buying a smaller lot (5900 sqft) and build a brand new house with a pool, mainly for swimming, but also for our 2 kids to play in: after all, in Houston, you can use your pool about 9 months out of 12! (the only reason my husband is ok with us building a pool is because I promised I would use it a lot for exercising and that our kids would love it too, and more importantly, that I would be in charge of planning and taking care of it)
    - I think 10*45 would be a nice size, and to that add some stairs/tanning shelf on one side: any input on that? Any good pool builder in the Houston area? What kind of depth should I plan on?
    - It gets very hot in Houston: any advice on how to keep the water cool enough?
    - I don't plan on getting a heater, is that stupid?
    - I want my pool to be as simple and modern looking as possible, with a wood deck (I am considering ipe wood, i.e. brazilian walnut, I think, as it is more or less the same price as composite and very easy to maintain, and beautiful. (if anyone knows of deck builders in Houston that do ipe decks, please share! )
    - I am an environmental engineer and geologist, and I care about the environment a lot (for instance I would like my house to be LEED certified), so I first looked into systems like EcoSmarte and CLfree, but after reading a lot on those, I have trouble to understand how they could really work on pools. I do see how they probably work very well to treat water for a house, but for a pool, I think it is not quite ready yet. So I am looking to find the most environmentally friendly alternative, and I am concerned about chlorine sensitivity (my husband is VERY sensitive to chlorine in water), so I have to find the best way to have a healthy water that does not smell or sting or dry the skin, or anything nasty like that
    So I am thinking salt. With maybe something more?
    Of course, cost is also an issue, but I think that it is worth it to pay a bit more first to avoid too much trouble later

    Attached are examples of wood decks and simple pools that I like.
    I think that's all for now. Thanks to everyone who is posting on this blog for all the info I was already able to find on that. This is a great resource!!
    [attachment=1:r2yu63wk]melbourne_pool4.jpg[/attachment:r2yu63wk]
    [attachment=0:r2yu63wk]Wood deck.jpg[/attachment:r2yu63wk]
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    The only comment I will make on this thread, is make sure you hire someone who has worked with Ipe prior. If they have not worked with it before, do not even entertain the idea of working with them.

    Also, if you plan to let it go gray (Atlantic City Boardwalk) then it will be maintenance free, long after you have left this earth. If you want to keep the beautiful furniture look that Ipe is known to have, then make sure you have someone who does these for a living. Just staining will be a huge mistake. This wood must be cleaned (oxidized with a bleaching agent and then stained with special stains for hardwoods (Ipe). Remember, that the ends of all cuts must be waxed and that the stain used must be done each year (bleached and stained) because the wood is so hard, that it will not soak into it.

    Just a little info from someone who has an Ipe deck.
    Julie
    I have a small (3,750 gallon) in-ground, Viking pool - 2hp Jandy pump, AquaPure 700 Cholorinator, Jandy Aqualink, and Jandy CJ250 filter

  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    Thank you! Are you happy with your deck? Did you chose to stain it or let it go gray?

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    Here is what I have found after attempting to go a similar path (low energy, chemical, and for exercising)
    1) We use a spectralight UV light and low 0.5-1ppm chlorine levels controlled by an ORP sensor based automated chemical feeder. I've had really good luck with it. The UV light has the added benefit of burning off chloramines (the stuff that smells and stings your eyes), but it does also burn off chlorine which is kind of a waste.
    2) We put in a Riverflow swimming system that works very well. We tried them all (swimex, endless, swimjet). Riverflow was the quietest, most powerful, and lowest maintenance. If I had to have a dedicated system, the swimex was very good, but prety single-purpose as it comes with its own fiberglass shell.
    3) We run our filter pump 24/7 at a speed that consumes about 170w. That is enough flow to turn our 38K gal pool a little more than once per day.
    4) With a cover, we were able to use the pool an extra month without heating it. Solar heating would work well in Houston if you have the right roof. We use a heat pump, which uses less energy than a gas heater - but I wish I went solar. It's too cold outside to swim past the time the solar heater would stop working. I had illusions of swimming through December. The heat pump easily kept the pool at 85 degrees with a cover, but I couldn't get the family to swim in it with the ambient temps at 50-60F.

    Good luck with the design and build.
    38K Gallons IG, Intelliflow VS-SVRS, 30GPM 24/7, 72sqft DE Filter, Spectralight UV, Jandy C1900 driving Liquid Chlorine and Acid (toys, I know..), Jandy LXi gas heater, Aquacal SQ175 Heatpump, Riverflow Competition swimmer, Jandy automation, Touch and iAqualink, Pebblesheen | The Build

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchieInTexas
    Thank you! Are you happy with your deck? Did you chose to stain it or let it go gray?
    We have had it stained but the company that built the deck, promised to stain it every year and when the second year came around to stain it (must be done every year) they then told me that they are too busy to do any staining. I have tried to get other companies to stain the deck but they have no clue as to give it that "furniture" look which is what we bought but cannot keep. Even using regular stain, it must be done every year because it will not soak into the wood.

    We will probably have it cleaned and bleached and let it turn grey (really defeats the original purpose).
    Julie
    I have a small (3,750 gallon) in-ground, Viking pool - 2hp Jandy pump, AquaPure 700 Cholorinator, Jandy Aqualink, and Jandy CJ250 filter

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    I can't help you with the Ipe, but here are some tips re: Houston pools.

    One of the pics shows a spa attached to the pool. You seem to suggest you do not want a spa. If you have room, I would recommend including an attached spa. In that case you would need a heater which can also heat the pool.

    We just finished our first year with our pool and while we haven't heated the pool very often, we like the spa. But if you don't care for a spa, IMO you don't need a heater. But your anticipated usage of 9 out of 12 months is a little aggressive. Last year we started using our pool (without using the heater) in late March/early April and our last swim was in mid October during the last hot spell of the season. The cool nights will lower the water temp more than you think. Of course, if you heat your pool you can substantially increase your swim season.

    As for cooling the pool, I built the PVC cooling towers recommended in some threads on this board. They are easy to build and they actually work. They lowered the temp of my pool from 92 down to 86 degrees (took about two days). You can really feel the difference when it's 102 outside. It's based on evaporation. With your technical background you probably know more about that than most here.

    As for a pool builder I don't have any recommendations. Sorry. Our pool builder is out of business--he walked the job and I had to finish the pool myself.

    We also have a salt water chlorine generator and so far I love it. After getting everything in line, the only thing I've had to mess with is the pH. It's getting way better now, but for the first year the pH will rise and muriatic acid keeps it within the recommended range. MA is cheap. I would get the TF-100 pool kit recommended here and test your water every day during the first several months.

    Watch your calcium hardness during the summer months. During last year's drought I had to do a partial drain to lower my calcium hardness. My fill water is 150 CH and the repeated topping up during the summer caused my CH to get too high.
    9,200 gal. Gunite Luna Quartz French Grey pool with spill over spa, two fountains on tanning ledge (rarely used)
    Pentair Whisperflo 2HP, Pentair CCP Cartridge 420 Sq. Ft., Polaris 280 with booster pump
    Pentair EasyTouch 4, RayPak LoNox 266k Natural Gas heater, Aqua Rite SWCG T Cell 9, Borates, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    Thanks for all the advice, HouTex, it's really helpful. Maybe I'll consider a solar water heater? I am really really cheap when it comes to electricity consumption, and environmental issues are a big deal to me (we use green mountain energy as our electricity provider, keep the AC on 78 in the summer (76 at night in the bedrooms and 85 in the rest of the house), and around 68/70 in the winter). And I am not afraid of swimming in 64F water... It's not easy to get in the water when it's that cold but it keeps me swimming fast And after 2 babies I need the exercise
    I don't really care for a spa, but I need to talk to my husband about that, and to our realtor to see if it would be detrimental not to build a spa. But space is really an issue, with a 5900 sqft lot in the loop.
    I'll look into the PVC cooling towers, as well. Do you have a link to the thread where they are discussed?
    Thanks!

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    First, let me clarify for you that a salt pool is a chlorine pool. The salt is converted to free chlorine by your salt cell.

    Second, your husband may have had experience with improperly maintained pools. A properly maintained chlorine (salt or not) pool should not smell, should not sting, should not bleach hair/clothes/anything, and should not dry your skin. This website will help you learn how to maintain your pool in the manner most efficient and safe for your family.

    Third, my heater has never worked (I'm in Dallas), and this weekend we plan on removing it. I will not be putting one back. From what I've read on here, they are expensive to run (there goes your efficiency desire), and really in Texas we will be more about keeping the water cool, not hot.

    Regarding cooling, HouTex in the post above has the right suggestion, make some cooling towers!

    I strongly suggest you stay away from EcoSmarte, the Frog, and similar systems. Good ol' chlorine, in the RIGHT AMOUNTS, is the way to go.
    Built in 1957 44,000 gallon in-ground, Wet Edge Primera Stone in Sky Blue, Intelliflo VF Pump, 600 lb. Pentair Triton II TR-100 Sand Filter, CircuPool RG 60 Plus SWG, TF-100 test kit
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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    Yup, I know that a saltwater pool is a chlorine pool, but they don't feel quite the same, don't they? I'm really new to all this, so be patient with me
    About the cooling towers, how do you make those? I'm not very handy, but I am not afraid of a bit of trying to build things myself, if someone tells me how

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    They feel different due to the salt content, but the chlorine content is the same. In reality, the chlorine content is higher with a salt pool due to CYA levels, but the higher chlorine is held in buffer by the CYA until needed... I'm kind of going into the deep end with this though.

    I did a quick search for cooling towers, but didn't find the thread I was hoping to. It was easy to find over the summer when everyone was talking about it. It's literally just some pieces of PVC you glue together to make a shape that will spray the returns into the pool. You simply drill a bunch of holes in the spray tube piece to move your water through the air, thus cooling it before returning it to the pool.
    Built in 1957 44,000 gallon in-ground, Wet Edge Primera Stone in Sky Blue, Intelliflo VF Pump, 600 lb. Pentair Triton II TR-100 Sand Filter, CircuPool RG 60 Plus SWG, TF-100 test kit
    If TFP has helped you, please click to SUPPORT TFP!

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    Here is a link to the thread on the cooling towers: dane-s-how-to-for-a-quick-easy-pool-cooler-t36086.html?hilit=cooling pvc

    They cost about $15 each for the PVC and the glue.

    On the feel of salt pool, many people say they like the feel of a salt water pool. I'm not sure if I can tell the difference.

    As far as the smell of a chlorine pool (salt or otherwise), I've never had any combined chlorine in my test results and I have never had a chlorine smell to my pool (or on me after swimming). And I usually keep my chlorine around 4-5 ppm.

    On the environmental issue, lots of opinions on this, but being in Houston you almost certainly would use a natural gas heater (or go solar if that's what you really want).

    And as far as swimming in 64 degree water . . . I'm not worthy. IIRC, 75 was the coolest I could stand. But I don't have a lap pool.
    9,200 gal. Gunite Luna Quartz French Grey pool with spill over spa, two fountains on tanning ledge (rarely used)
    Pentair Whisperflo 2HP, Pentair CCP Cartridge 420 Sq. Ft., Polaris 280 with booster pump
    Pentair EasyTouch 4, RayPak LoNox 266k Natural Gas heater, Aqua Rite SWCG T Cell 9, Borates, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    I'm with you, I jumped in at 75 toward the end of our swim season and it was COLD!
    Built in 1957 44,000 gallon in-ground, Wet Edge Primera Stone in Sky Blue, Intelliflo VF Pump, 600 lb. Pentair Triton II TR-100 Sand Filter, CircuPool RG 60 Plus SWG, TF-100 test kit
    If TFP has helped you, please click to SUPPORT TFP!

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    I guess my husband wants me to stay in shape: he insists on the heater (solar powered, then...), or says that I get a wetsuit.

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    Re: Planning to build a new house with pool in Houston, TX:h

    Quote Originally Posted by HouTex
    And as far as swimming in 64 degree water

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