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Thread: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

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    How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    One of my goals for a pool is to spend as little time as is humanly possible on maintenance. 1) Because I don't like it and more importantly 2) Because I'll forget. Just like I sometimes forget to fee my cats and clean out their litter boxes (and the cats are IN MY FACE, unlike a pool).

    I had designed a pool with a builder her in Austin last year and it had an in-floor cleaning system and other gizmos that they claim would keep the water cleaner (that people on this board don't recommend -- like ozone and UV. They apparently don't like to use SWG here in Austin). I ultimately did not go forward because 1) it got too expensive, and 2) I was still worried that I was going to have to spend a lot of time maintaining the pool. This winter, I was certainly glad that I didn't have to go out there and empty skimmer baskets and gorp.

    Anyhow, we're reconsidering a pool now. Make it less complicated (like rectangular instead of open-end geometric) and inherently less expensive (remove the spa).

    The only thing remaining is the maintenance issue. The pool would be sited along a bunch of live oak trees (biggest pollen-generators of the universe!) and, at the shallow end, almost under a Texas red oak (deciduous).

    There's two issues: 1) get the stuff out (or keep it out) with as little intervention from me and 2) maintain water quality so that we can use the pool when we want (again, with as little intervention from me).

    What do you recommend? Don't have a pool because of the trees? Stop being a pansy and just clean the pool like a big girl? (I'd rather that not happen.) Pay a pool service? (~2k/yr?)

    What about an autocover? Am I trading a pool maintenance issue for a cover maintenance issue? How often do you have to dump the stuff that's on the cover into the pool so that the polaris will get it?

    If it makes you not have to get a pool service, it takes 5.5 years to pay for that cover. Do covers last longer than that? Are they expected to be trouble free for that long, or are you expected to have problems in that time?

    For water quality, just tell them to put in the SWG and shut up? (They'll do that, but give you some song and dance about not giving you a coping warranty) Aren't there auto-chem devices that can go with SWGs that can monitor water quality and adjust what the SWG is doing based on what the water is like in real-time? (intellichem? It took a while to pull THAT out of my brain)

    What I want to do is spend our money on precisely the things that will help us enjoy the pool most (who doesn't want that?) Like I said, #1 is: think about maintenance as little as possible. #2 is: deep enough for my son to dive in (but that's easily solved, isn't it?)

    I'm sorry for all the Qs. I'm just at odds about what to do. I want to make sure that I've prepared myself before I have a giant hole in my back yard.
    24' round 15,000 gallon

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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    IMO there is no way to avoid a small amount of daily maintenance. Cleaning the skimmer baskets will be required regardless of your setup. Once you know how your pool behaves then you can start to estimate dosage, but it will take some time to get to that point. Having a SWG would cut back quite a bit on moving jugs of liquid around, but you will still need to put salt in (assuming no problems and that the SWG keeps up under all conditions you won't need to add liquid). An automatic cleaner would be nice, Polaris....360? I have an above ground so I didn't bother buying an auto cleaner.

    On a daily basis I don't spend over 5 minutes testing/dosing, I probably test every 2-3 days. With the speedstir testing doesn't take more than a minute or two.

    Once a week (lately less since there hasn't been hardly any wind) we spend about 30 minutes cleaning manually and brushing the walls.

    The biggest problem will be keeping up on everything, if your SWG is working well and you rarely need to test because your estimates are accurate than it's probably very easy to let things get out of control. Losing control will quickly turn to a mess.


    Note: I've never heard of anyone being happy paying someone else to maintain their pool and if they are it's because they're paying a ridiculous amount.
    Aaron
    [ Vogue Vectra 24' AG | Hard plumb: Hayward Power-Flo Matrix 1HP 2-speed, 27" sand filter & Pentair MiniMax 100 NG | Taylor K-2006 | Central IL ]
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  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    We just signed the contract for our first pool last week. Construction should begin by the end of the month.

    For almost any project I take on, my goal is zero maintenance. While zero maintenance is impossible to achieve, by keeping it as my goal, I do achieve low maintenance. I was/am concerned about how much maintenance will be required for a pool.

    I think that we have made a number of decisions that will help to minimize maintenance:

    1. Pool location - no trees within 75 feet of the pool. I rarely see any leaves on the ground in the section of the yard where the pool will be installed.
    2. Fiberglass pool - very difficult for algae to attach to the fiberglass. And, the chemical composition of fiberglass doesn't change over time (unlke gunite). So, one less variable requiring adjustment of the chemicals that need to be put in the pool. Never need to replace a vinyl liner or do an acid wash.
    3. Joining the TFP forum and learning about BBB. Even though I don't have a pool yet, I almost feel like I have experience maintaining a pool with all the knowledgeable folks here.
    4. SWG - will be getting an SWG to automate the production of chlorine in the pool.
    5. Hayward Sense & Dispense - monitors pH and chlorine levels in pool and adjusts as needed. I know these systems are not nearly as foolproof as the manufacturers claim. But, they should help. And, it reduces how much I have to handle the acid.
    6. Cartridge filter - no need to run backwash cycles. Ordered over-sized filter to reduce the frequency of having to clean cartridges. Also, will be getting 2 sets of cartridges. This way I always have a clean set to put in the filter, and I can clean the dirty set at my leisure.
    7. Hayward/Goldline Prologic system - allows automated programming of pump/filter cycles between pool and spa. And, the geek in me likes that I can monitor/control everything from in the house or, with optional gear, from anywhere in the world via the Internet.
    8. VS pump - with multiple speeds to chose from, I think the system can be fine tuned better.
    9. TF-100 test kit - when we get closer to having the pool, I will definitely be ordering one of these so I can verify that all this automated stuff is working.

    We've never had a pool before. So, all the decisions we've made have been based on research (including a lot of reading on the TFP forum). Hopefully, we've made some good decisions, and my "Pool Boy" job will be a small, part-time gig.
    Vince L

    16' x 37' fiberglass pool, 8' fiberglass spa, Hayward Swimclear C3030 filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Goldline Pro Logic PL-PS-8, Goldline SWCG, Goldline Sense & Dispense pH control, Fiberstars LED's in pool & spa, AquaCal SQ175R heat pump, SR Smith Typhoon slide, Polaris 9300xi robotic cleaner, TF-100 Test Kit

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    cramar's Avatar
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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    Pools require maintenance and attention, there's no way around it. The site is "Trouble Free" pool, not maintenance free pool, so without proper maintenance you'll have a "trouble pool", and you definitely won't like that.

    Perhaps, given that you've openly admitted you won't look after it yet do have some budgetary limits, you should forego a pool. I'm just putting it out there, a properly maintained pool takes some effort, even if minimal, if that effort can't be realized than a pool likely isn't for you.
    20' X 54" Sharkline Matrix Resin AGP, 9400 Gallons, Sta-Rite 1 HP Dynamo Pump, 150 lb Pentair Sand Filter, Gorilla Pad,
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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    One thought on the autocover. We have one, and we have a lot of trees. We use the cover almost every day, unless we want the pool to cool down at night. If there is a lot of debris flying, I take my back pack blower and clean the pool cover off before opening (assuming no rain, and cover is dry). It is nice that the debris does not end up in the pool, but the cover storage area will need to be cleaned occasionally. We have not had our cover long enough to know about reliability.
    20x44 IG vinyl. Intelliflo, Pentair Cartridge Filter (420ft^2), Raypac 336K, Kreepy Krauly

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmhjgh
    One thought on the autocover. We have one, and we have a lot of trees. We use the cover almost every day, unless we want the pool to cool down at night. If there is a lot of debris flying, I take my back pack blower and clean the pool cover off before opening (assuming no rain, and cover is dry).
    Dufus me -- I didn't even think about blowing the cover off. I even use one to blow-dry my car! Why not a pool cover then?

    Yes, I have limits -- meaning that I don't want to spend over $80k on my pool (I think that's where it was before). I'm shooting for $50k now. Although that's a limit, it shouldn't be an unreachable limit if you're not putting in a lot of decking or landscaping, and don't care for any of the gee wiz features they try to sell you (laminars, bubblers, rocks, waterfalls, slides, [insert cool thing here]), except LED lights -- I love them lights!

    I think what we want is:

    1) Deep end for diving (son likes this)
    2) BIG sun shelf (I like this)
    3) Cover
    4) SWG
    5) Intellichem
    6) Polaris (or whatever crawly thingamagig is good)
    7) Plumb for future addition of a heat pump
    8) TV

    It has to be at least 12' wide for diving. Then make it as long as they can and keep it under budget with all that stuff (well, except for the TV -- TVs get their own budget).

    Does that sound reasonable? Is there anything else that I can do that can make like easier on me? Or easier on my budget?
    24' round 15,000 gallon

  7. Back To Top    #7

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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    Without an autocover, you'll be skimming leaves, pollen, seeds, and "floaters" out of your pool daily. Believe me, I know, as we've got a common area behind our house with a lot of large trees in it. We had no idea how much "stuff" was flying around our back yard before we had the pool installed! (And of course, adding an autocover to our pool now is cost prohibitive!).

    As far as "maintenance free" is concerned, you'll want to look closely at:

    1. Chemical injection system -- Boy...I wish we had one, as I have to add about 36oz of muriatic acid every other day to keep the pH down. There are several available on the market. If I go that route down the road, I'll go with the Pentair Intellichem system, as it would "talk" to our Easytouch automation.

    2. Automation -- It's already been mentioned here, but I'd second looking closely at it. Our Pentair Easytouch can be controlled with my iPhone or iPad...which, in turn, can control the bubblers, lights, pump, SWG, etc.

    I honestly don't think there's any pool that's completely maintenance-free...just some that require less than others.
    16 x 31, Approx. 12,000 Gal Freeform IG pool; Flagstone coping; Quartzscapes Super Blue plaster finish; Tanning ledge w/2 bubblers; 1 HP Pentair Whisperflo pump, Pentair sand filter; (2) Pentair Intellibrite LEDs w/controller; Easytouch8 w/IC-40 SWG; Salt finish concrete decking.

  8. Back To Top    #8

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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    When I planned/built my pool we had a mature pecan tree on my neighbor's lot and the canopy came over the fence to about half way across the pool. Even though I planned to trim the tree, my PB designed my pool with two skimmers and an oversized pump. I also have a Polaris 280. It turns out that my neighbor removed the tree (after I told him I planned to trim it back to the property line and with some $ from me). There still is another pecan tree about 30 feet from my pool and in the fall I get quite a few leaves in my pool. But otherwise, it's fairly easy to maintain and my pool stays clean by running the Polaris for about 30 minutes in the morning and about 45 minutes in the afternoon.

    Of course, you will need to check pH and FC daily until you really get to know your pool, clean out the skimmer basket and the pump basket, etc., as part of the routine maintenance of the pool. But with my set up, it's really not too bad and my pool stays clean pretty much year round--even with the pecan leaves dropping in the fall.

    I would highly recommend a SWG to keep from having to haul gallons of bleach and measuring/pouring it daily. Just be sure that your coping/decking is not made from a very soft natural stone. I've heard some horror stories from people who installed very soft flagstone coping/decking with their SWG. I have travertine coping, which I sealed, and at least in the 19 months since the pool was built, I haven't had a problem yet.
    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
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  9. Back To Top    #9
    UnderWaterVanya's Avatar
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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    My understanding of pool cleaners could fill a thimble but I have read that the pressure units (polaris 180/280/360/380) can be very effective at picking up leaves. But you will have to empty the bag from time to time. If that doesn't work for you - why not a screen house? They routinely use these in parts of Florida which isn't that different from where you are. You could extend the decking past the screening and have the sunny option and keep the leaves out. The partial shading might reduce the useful season if you didn't add solar heating later but it might save a lot of time with leaves.

    Also - if you screen the pool - my understanding of pool cleaners (very limited honestly) has me thinking that a robotic cleaner may help you by scrubbing the pool more than the simpler pressure unit style. They are more prone to failure (as I understand it) and they are costly - but you might get by with less brushing or less vigourous brushing.

    Lastly - if you have kids - offload the things that they can do to them. Depending on the age they can do quite a bit... my kids 8 & 12 can already Skim the pool, empty the skimmer, brush the pool, get a sample of water, etc. My 8 year old has even put in bleach but he splashed some on his clothes so we need to work on the part where he changes into grungy stuff first.
    Inlaws Pool Boy since June 14th 2012, Pool built ~ 2003, In-Ground, 16'x32'
    13500 gal, Vinyl Liner, Fiberglass Slide, TF-100 Test Kit, Hayward 210T
    sand filter, A.O. Smith 1.5HP main pump motor (C48L2N134C1),
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    harleysilo's Avatar
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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmhjgh
    One thought on the autocover. We have one, and we have a lot of trees. We use the cover almost every day, unless we want the pool to cool down at night. If there is a lot of debris flying, I take my back pack blower and clean the pool cover off before opening (assuming no rain, and cover is dry). It is nice that the debris does not end up in the pool, but the cover storage area will need to be cleaned occasionally. We have not had our cover long enough to know about reliability.

    x2

    we did the same thing the OP is considering, we planned a pool a couple of years ago, it got too expensive etc. etc.

    we got rid of the built in spa, and traded it for and Autocover (a must have for safety etc.) It really helps with maintenance. Reduces evaporation, chemicals, and heats (retains it and generates it in sun) the pool.

    A lot of people end up here at trouble free because they relied on a pool service....i wouldn't recommend that.

    Here's my pool build decided-to-build-first-pool-this-spring-t41345.html

    My thoughts on our autocover automatic-cover-observations-coverstar-t46899.html
    18'x43' Sport Pool
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  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    Barbja,

    You didn't mention getting a solar system and realize that the automated solar covers do not retain as much heat as bubble-type covers. I have an automatic mostly opaque electric safety cover and it roughly cuts down temperature loss overnight by about 50%. A bubble-type cover would cut the loss in half again so around 75%. I have solar panels so am able to heat up the pool to well above average day/night temps -- easily 20-25F hotter (we like our pool warm at around 88F). If you only get a bubble-type cover, figure your pool water will get to around 10-15F warmer than average day/night temp. With a mostly opaque electric safety cover (and no solar system), figure only around 5-10F warmer unless you open the pool during the day, close it at night, and have moderate-to-humid weather (i.e. lower evaporation) and full exposed sun.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  12. Back To Top    #12
    harleysilo's Avatar
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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek
    Barbja,

    You didn't mention getting a solar system and realize that the automated solar covers do not retain as much heat as bubble-type covers. I have an automatic mostly opaque electric safety cover and it roughly cuts down temperature loss overnight by about 50%. A bubble-type cover would cut the loss in half again so around 75%. I have solar panels so am able to heat up the pool to well above average day/night temps -- easily 20-25F hotter (we like our pool warm at around 88F). If you only get a bubble-type cover, figure your pool water will get to around 10-15F warmer than average day/night temp. With a mostly opaque electric safety cover (and no solar system), figure only around 5-10F warmer unless you open the pool during the day, close it at night, and have moderate-to-humid weather (i.e. lower evaporation) and full exposed sun.
    When I get time I'm going to do a little experiment. I'll make a new thread about it, but I'm convinced leaving the opaque cover on during sunlight hours warms the pool more than uncovered. If on a hot sunny day, you retract your cover the top 1' or so can be 100. Leave the pump running and that recircs all day heating the pool. I'm thinking a couple of 5 gallon buckets with one covered and one uncovered as the staring point....
    18'x43' Sport Pool
    19,000 Gallons Vinyl Liner 3'-3.5'-4'
    SWCG and D.E. Filter
    Test Kits - Pool Calculator - Chlorine/CYA Chart - Pool School

    Secret Weapon for Pool Chemistry Testing

  13. Back To Top    #13

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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    I've had both a lighter tan cover and a dark blue cover and while the latter no question heats the pool more, we're only talking about one or two degrees. To really heat the pool, you'd want a mostly transparent cover -- the ideal would block only UV. With no cover, whether the pool water gets warmer or not depends on the amount of sun vs. the amount of evaporation. The latter is higher with dry air and with wind.

    As I describe in this thread, a pool of average 4.5 foot depth in direct overhead noontime sun gets heated by about 0.7F per hour. On the other hand, 1/4" of evaporation over a day will lower the pool temp by about 5F. So the net heating of an uncovered pool can go either way. Most people see some heating, but it really depends on the evaporation rate. People in hot desert climates depend on the evaporation (even during the day) to cool their pools.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  14. Back To Top    #14

    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek
    You didn't mention getting a solar system and realize that the automated solar covers do not retain as much heat as bubble-type covers. ...
    I don't have enough south facing roof for a pool solar heater. Even if I tried to go for the reduced efficiency of E or W facing, those sides of my house are too shaded. As for the yard, the pool is going into the only part of the yard that gets full sun. I was thinking about one of those solar attic things (I do have a lot of hot attic), but no one around here knows much about them.

    20yrs of progressively carefully shading my house and property from the Texas sun has bit me in the a**!

    Perhaps a neighbor will let me borrow his roof...
    24' round 15,000 gallon

  15. Back To Top    #15

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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    I think with Live Oaks and your requirement for low maintainance, a cover is mandatory...

    Unless your pool service comes every day, there are times during the year when it's almost impossible to keep up with those trees....if it's not pollen, it's the pollen 'flowers', it's the leaves, the acorns, the acorn pods, the twigs...it just never ends with these things!
    12K Gal IG, Gemstone pebble, Intelliflow VF, Whisperflow, Quad 60 DE, Easy Touch 8, Intellibrites, Platinum Legend.

  16. Back To Top    #16
    MattM's Avatar
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    Re: How do I make my pool as 'trouble free' as possible?

    I went overkill on automation, cover, solar, etc to have a pool that was open nearly all year and require as minimal maintenance as possible - and I'm still spending several hours/week. I'm not sure anyone has a maintenance free pool. On the other hand, if there was an emergency or I needed to go on vacation...the pool probably would run 1-2 weeks w/o major problems when covered but I wouldn't recommend it more than once or twice/year.

    But, these are the main time killers:
    - Every 1-2 weeks I have to get the robotic vacuum out of the garage, untangle all the cables/coords, put in pool, monitor it occasionally for a few hours, pull it out, clean out bag, let bag dry, put the whole contraption back away on caddy in garage. This consumes well over an hour easily.
    - About twice/week I have to check the skimmer and clean it out. If there is a major pool party and lots of kids, I might have to check the skimmer every 20-30 minutes to make kids toys aren't clogging it.
    - Ideally, I spend about 10 minutes a day checking chlorine and sometimes TA. These are the numbers that change the most frequently and impact CSI which is important for a plaster pool and safety for swimming. If I'm really busy and people aren't swimming daily, I can get by checking just twice/week - but my kids know to remind me that chlorine levels get checked that day before anyone goes in the pool.
    - Every 2-3 weeks, I have to take another 10-15 minutes to check other chem numbers like CH, CYA, Salt/etc.
    - Once every 3-6 weeks I have to fill up the acid canister with 2 gallons of muriatic acid. This takes at least 15 minutes to do safely.
    - Every 2-3 weeks I'm shopping for more bleach or acid.
    - And, honestly, there is usually at least another 30 minutes/week or something or another -- if nothing else, to nag the kids to clean up after themselves or to clean the deck.
    - Once every 3 months or so, there is usually a bunch of maintenance that will add a few hours total.

    All the above is for a low maintenance pool. I'm not having to manually dispense bleach or acid due to automation/swg/intellichem and I don't have skim or vacuum frequently due to the automatic cover. So, if you go ahead with a pool, you need someone who will have at least a few hours/week available and able to check the pool often.

    And, before I forget, there is the obligatory 15 minutes/day reading and posting to tfp
    24K gallon inground gunite/pebble sheen pool, 34'x16' 4-7.5ft deep, 750sq ft solar, pentair ultratemp, intelliflow vs+, ic60, intellichem w/ acid pump, quad de 100, intellibright 5g, intellitouch i5-3s with Screenlogic2, 3" primary piping - 2.5" at equip pad, auto switched deep heating and main returns, automatic safety cover w/ electronic lock and embedded recessed undertrack, sealed stamped concrete deck, dolphin deluxe 5, started up December 2011.

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