First I want to thank many forum members who were instrumental in helping me with my pool setup. It's been a full time FORCED hobby for the last month. Now that we are enjoying the pool every night after work I wanted to post a couple photos and give some tips from my experience.
Two photos from the construction process:
1) Completed Pool: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97900083@N03/9358654251/
- Plan. plan, plan. I went from setting up the pool without any mods to hard plumbing, inwall skimmer, fountain, etc. --- all on the fly. Scour the TFP Forum for all the options, create a plan and stick to it. If you plan to do several modifications - and there are MANY benefits - think them through and create the best possible pool for your needs. The skimmer and fountain are musts in my opinion.
- Pool School - Read it several times (as suggested) before posting. Tons of great advice.
- Pavers vs. Wood blocks. I decided to go with the wood block route because my yard is not level and I expected more leg drift once the water was added. I will get a bigger pool in a couple years so I also didn't want to dig pavers into the ground. Right decision but I had one issue. I should have sanded the edges of the weather treated 8"x7" pieces. After the pool was filled I had the bright idea to use a mallet to hit the wood blocks so the metal leg would be straighter. Intex pool linings are not that thick (duh!). I got a small hole and that leads me to my next suggestion.
- Repair Kit: Intex sends some patch material but no glue. Buy the "Boxer" glue product - works great! I had to order it so I spent a few fun days trying to jerry-rig options to minimize the leaking. Duck tape works surprisingly well as long as you don't have a large hole.
- Filter: Don't mess around with paper cartridge filters. I spent more on my Sand and SWG combo than my pool and its worth it. I decided to get the combo because I wanted fewer power connections, but doing it again, and knowing I'm probably looking at a larger pool in a couple years, I'd get the 2650 (instead of the 1600) and might go with separate units. I'm already having a problem with the motor and since its a combined unit I don't have the option of running the sand filter alone because the one motor on the SWG side runs everything.
-Inwall Skimmer is great - but definitely support the outside. It wasn't until I found information on a different site that inwall skimmers are not designed for non-metal pools. Also, I found that it's best to put one side of the butterfly gasket on the inside and one on the outside. Different views on this. I tried it both ways and I had leaks until I put 1 side of the gasket in and 1 out and supported the skimmer with wood.
-Intex filter plastic threading: Resist the temptation to over tighten! The threading will crack. Tighten as much as you think is necessary. Turn on the pump and see if you are leak free. Be careful!
- Water Balancing: Be aggressive with the BBB method at startup. I wasted a week dropping small amounts of bleach until one member kindly suggested I stop monkeying around. Get your water balanced quickly - especially if you have an SWG - so you can get the SWG running quicker.
2) Groundwork: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97900083@N03/9358655637/
- Level: Do the work to avoid a lot of pain. I learned my lesson last year and I'm glad I did it right this year.
- Padding: We had a lot of rain during the construction phase so I made one mistake. I had purchased insulation and had it laying near the pool area. I decided since we got a late start this year, I would return the insulation and utilize it next year. I did put 14 70lb. bags of sand down but that was because we had the sand and I thought I had taken care of the stones and roots. I also used seven pieces of 4'x3' vinyl display signage to create an additional layer. Well its amazing how much pressure 4000 gallons of water can have on the ground. We have a rock in the center of our pool that we hope doesn't push through before we can take the pool down.
Good luck with your pool and thanks again to all the TFP contributors!