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Thread: Building a rectangle pool - help me design it

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    Join Date
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    Building a rectangle pool - help me design it

    Hello all,

    My wife and I are going to be building a new in ground pool. We have decided it will be rectangular so we can put in an auto cover for safety. Assuming it is going to be 20 x 40 with an 8 foot deep end, can you please help me design it? Things like:

    1) how many skimmers
    2) how many drains and how would you protect against the main drain problem
    3) how many returns
    4) will go with a DE filter but may need to go with a silk screen reservoir for back washing since I am nestled in a protected forestation region and may not be able to drain water
    5) what size pump would I need
    6) would go with a heat pump heater to extend the swimming season (probably with cooling options since the auto cover will help to heat the pool)
    7) probably go with a salt water generator for chlorine
    8) will probably go with an auto cleaner that uses a booster line which one would you choose (may go with an infloor cleaner)
    9) will go with gunite or shotkrete - any thoughts
    10) may go with pebble tec
    11) any other considerations

    The items I have indicate are maybes will depend on what you guys tell me and what costs start adding upto.

    Thanks a lot.

    [edit]stupid auto corrector infloor not indoor

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    bmoreswim's Avatar
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    Re: Building a rectangle pool - help me design it

    Garet - I'm very interested in seeing replies to your post as well...though they haven't come rolling in so far. Our consideration of a pool seems to be at a similar stage to yours. We too are thinking rectangular to make the auto cover most efficient/least compromises. A few thoughts from my process to date:

    - SWG for us too - and no flagstone coping as I would just be too nervous about issues, regardless of sealing/rinsing precautions, etc. Thankfully we like the rounded grey paver style as they match our other hardscape.
    - Topography - Is your pool area flat? Ours is not - so other considerations there.
    - Auto cover - undecided on preference of a brand - A few features I thought were interesting on some were 1) I believe a built-in sacrificial anode to assist with reducing salt corrosion, 2) a zipper opening net area at the leading edge that can be opened during the closing process to allow water to enter the pool while filtering out the debris (which is picked up along the storage end just before it rolls out of sight) Otherwise it seems that anything more than a small amount of rain needs to be pumped off prior to opening from what I read. 3) Thinking about the nicest alumuminum cover option to make accessing the pit as easy as possible (for easy hosing down of the equipment, cleaning out debris, etc.) not the prettiest but I'm more of a function over form guy. 4) It seems only the stone covering options allow for the cover to stow fully out of sight. Aluminum will require the end to not fully retract - not sure about that one though.
    - Heater, if we do one it will be propane because I'm a little tight on amp capacity for our service given that we have a heat pump for the house and electric oven/range. I'm not paying to have it increased as the access to our house is difficult to add a line from the road via trench. But since you aren't doing a spa, the heat pump you are considering (and the cooling potential) seems logical in the long run for pool heat. We are in MD - where are you?
    - Skimmers - Saw mention somewhere of them being placed in downwind locations to have the wind assist with directing debris towards them. For us that would mean two skimmers in opposite corners as the winds normally come from either the northwest (after a cold front passage) or the southeast (in the case of a summer Bermuda high).
    - Drains - Seems like ther are generally two in such a pool? Equidistant sideways at the point where the slope reaches the deep end to catch debris falling down the slope.
    - We will go 8 1/2' plus to include a diving board that will extend out over the auto cover. Would have preferred a diving rock for aesthetics but would not work with the cover on the same end.
    - What layout for benches/stairs are you considering? For us probably corner angled stairs with one bench on each long side at least. Our neighbor wished they had their swimout/bench on the opposite side from what they chose because it ended up you would look into the afternoon/evening sun when sitting in it.
    - Return placement - Might be nice to place them above the benches to give a spa feel while the pump is running - especially with a heater is in operation...though circulation is obviously the prime consideration.

    I am not a pool builder or even owner yet though so take all of this with a bit of NaCl. I hope this doesn't come off as wanting comments for our pool in your thread - but since our concept is almost identical, I felt the things I was thinking about would be of some use to throw out for consideration. Hopefully my comments are of some assistance in your process.
    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
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

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    Re: Building a rectangle pool - help me design it

    Welcome to the thread - seems like it is just you and me here right now. Having asked the question early on, I now realize it is too open ended to actually get much help from people. As a result, I have started to ask more directed questions.

    I too am in MD, I am in Bel Air in Harford County. I am looking at 4 pool companies:

    Anthony Sylvan
    MD Pools
    Catalina Pools
    Elite Pools

    My land is not flat and right now I have an easement in the back yard that is limiting both my pool size and my pool location. Working with engineers and the county to get it removed. Will need to select a PB before I can trully start to investigate the implications of my grading issues because they have all resisted putting much if any time into shooting my grading and designing with it. Pretty sure, my land grading will cost me time and money to overcome.

    I have spoken to all four companies, but have only met in person with 3. One is almost certainly out of the running since they missed their first and easiest deadline and have ignored one email and one phone call.

    I am very much evaluating the others.

    So far I am looking at a heat pump for a number of reasons. I have been told that they are very efficient at maintaining the temperature, but are less efficient than gas heaters at raising the temperature. Given the use of the auto cover and the hot summer days we have in MD, I am comfortable with the trade off. I am even thinking of adding a cooling option to the heat pump since I am a little worried that the combination of MD summers and the auto cover will get the temperature too high to be refreshing.

    I am looking at SWGs, but the only ones I have trully looked at are Nature 2, Bioguard Mineral Springs and Auto Pilots Total Control System. I have pretty much eliminated Nature 2. The Bioguard Mineral Springs system appears to be a good SWG, but is very expensive to buy their proprietary "renewal" bags. If used as a traditional SWG, then it appears to compete well against the others, but the "renewal" bags are expensive and don't appear to adapt well to changing environments throughout the season. The total control system is a good SWG, but I would use it only if I was going to upgrade to the entire system for PH and Acid dispensers.

    I have started to investigate the Pentair Easy Touch 8 system, but don't trully understand how it fits in with everything else.

    I have looked at VS pumps from a very high level.

    I have looked at filters from a very high level.

    I have spent some time looking at overall plumping and pad design, but feel very overwhelmed. One PB I mentioned it to, pretty well cut me off and said something like "we will design the plumbing to be exactly what it needs to be". Either he's guarding against his lack of knowledge or he figured out mine and didn't want to waste his time. Either way it left a sour taste in my mouth and I have a lot of work to do on this topic. Reading Hydraulics 101 certainly didn't help with my confidence At a very high level, the recommendations I have heard from the board include 2+ inch diameter pipes for all plumbing except for the returns to the loop where we would use 1.5 inch piping.

    I have also looked at the main drain problem (where hair or fingers or bowels get stuck in the plastics or the suction and people drown or get eviserated). It seems the only true solution is not to put a main drain in - although this is somewhat non-standard there are lots of people and lots of builders who have gone that direction. From what I have read, one or two skimmers is sufficient for water circulation when combined with returns. I have thought about putting in a main drain with a valve in the plumbing that allows me to control it from 0-100% so I can close it whenever anyone is swimming. I have also looked at VSRS systems (Saftey Vaccuum Release System) where the pump will shut itself off automatically if it gets blocked. I have been told that some VSRS systems are very hard to reset and would involve a call to a professional service company where some are very easy to reset and can be done by the pool owner. More research needs to happen here.

    I actually do have a spa already built into my deck so I won't be adding one to the pool build. I have ordered the TF100 test kit and plan to learn BBB using the spa and the testkit. Hopefully, I can get exposure to it and get comfortable with it well before the pool is built (or ground even broken).

    My timeline right now is for next season - unfortunately the easement has thrown a major stumbling block for me and will take weeks or months just to work through it. By then, the swimming season will be almost over and it doesn't make much sense to rush for a couple of weeks of swimming (at most).

    We should stay in communication just so we can leverage each others experiences and knowledge especially since we are in the same state and are looking at very similar builds.

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Building a rectangle pool - help me design it

    My usual message: take note of the prevailing wind and put a skimmer at the downwind end, even if it means the longest pipe run.

    Other thoughts also based on hard experience:

    DE filters can also use fiberclear, which is cellulose. I backwashed mine onto the front lawn, and within 3 weeks, you'll never know where it was. There's no white crust like DE would leave.

    Leave lots of room around the plumbing. You may the next guy who has to pull a pump. Even simple tasks like emptying the strainer basket can be a PITA if the plumbing is all over the place.

    I like having a main drain, but I wish mine was plumbed on a separate line rather than up through the skimmer. It really cuts down on vacuuming, a lot of times just brushing things in that general direction will have them get whisked away.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: Building a rectangle pool - help me design it

    Our timeline too is for next year, being ready for the earliest dig dates. In addition to the ones you list, the two other builders I have some interest in are Backyard Creations out of Frederick and Vista Pro Landscape from Annapolis. We have not spoken to anyone at this point. I got a good vibe about B.C. from some forum (here or GW) members. The other one, Vista Pro, I stumbled upon and am not quite sure what to make of them. They are not exclusively a pool builder but more all encompassing, which may mean "too expensive" but I definitely will talk with them. They are a Stonemakers dealer which is how I came upon them. If you need to have some retaining wall aspects to your project which it sounds like you may (and we definitely will) Stonemakers (stonemakers.net) is an interesting option for walls. I saw what I think was a Stonemakers wall on another thread and asked about it. I'll see if they respond. What I think would be nice is to have the grading/retaining wall aspect of the project handled by the pool builder. This is largely why Vista Pro caught my attention.

    Catalina is currently building a pool a mile from my house now. They may have had the gunite go in late this week. Heard lots of good things about Elite and a friend used A&S. It went fine (normal stuff naturally) except for a contract issue on a small wall regarding what was included (square footage) versus what ended up being necessary. But not a big deal in the end.

    We have a grade that falls continously from the house on back (after a flat area that is already in use and not available for a pool). It drops about 7 feet over 50 feet where the pool would be (20' for the pool and 20'+ for decking on both sides). So I'm thinking that with a 4' wall I could make it work with the pool downhill side being built above grade a few feet. Who knows though. I've allocated a certain (significant) amount in my mind towards the wall/grading issue but probably still not enough.

    Good luck with getting the easement taken care of favorably. I think I have enough room before my septic reserve area starts, but that could be an issue.

    On pumps, my gut feel after my reading is that a two-speed will work well for us. We will either have a waterfall of some type or a slide, which would use the higher speed while the circulation only would utilize the lower speed. It sounds like VS can be a fair amount more expensive and possibly more trouble prone. With our electric rates being relatively low given others around the country, the savings from a VS are reduced for us. But I could be all wet on that, but some topics will be handled better in consultation with the builder or you just wing it and make the best choice from what you know. My feel is that most choices made from a somewhat educated position won't turn into nighmares - maybe just not the perfect solution. And of course we all invest more time in those that we personally deem more important.

    Vista Pro says they use Hayward equipment (not that they couldn't be talked into something else) but in some respects, I'd almost rather a builder give a line they want to use then the focus could be just on proper sizing/control options instead of every possible scenario. Haven't looked in any detail at specific SWG options, other than feeling we do want to go that route.

    I expect to go with a cartridge filter unless I get talked out of it.

    And hoping that I have a builder that I can float technical ideas off of and not receive the reaction you received on the piping. Even if my knowledge is limited, it's nice not to have someone disregard them entirely.

    Definitely would like to stay in touch during the process. Sounds like ours are much more alike than different. We are in Finksburg.
    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
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

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    Re: Building a rectangle pool - help me design it

    Have you moved forward on your pool design?

    In case you are interested, I have started a thread on our pool build that is to begin shortly.

    http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-...re-t55474.html

    I was reading what I wrote here back in July and it seems that not too much has changed except for us going with flagstone coping which it appears I had sworn off before! Here in MD the common "local" flagstone is PA Bluestone which is a fairly hard stone as I understand. But this could still be an issue with a SWCG someday.
    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
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

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