After moving to a retirement home in low-tax Delaware I really missed my daily swim in the indoor pool of our former LI NY home; especially since that gunite pool was heated free in summer with the waste heat from the home’s 4-ton AC, (or with natural gas in colder months).
Without daily swimming I had to go on blood-pressure medications which suddenly caused a rare serious side effect last year. “Try to go back to swimming” my doctor recommended.
Due to retirement budget, backyard space, and soft, sloping back-filled soil considerations, high water table and woods with large trees starting about 35 ft from the home I (a retired engineer) finally settled on building first a strong 22x44 ft reinforced 5” thick level concrete pad/patio with footings all around. This also needed approx. 50 ft of timber retaining wall.
The now perfectly level concrete surface made installing a rectangular 12x24 Intex Ultra-frame pool easy. These pools (about $1,000 or less on sale or Rollback) complete with a useable pump and sand filter, tarp, etc. are an incredible value – BUT as reports from TroublefreePool.com forums had alerted me to – need a solid, perfectly level base – or there can be trouble. Instead of having the pool’s vinyl directly on the concrete I added a 12x24 ft pad of 2 in thick Pactiv polystyrene foam. The concrete patio now also made construction of a wooden patio deck – all around the Intex pool – easier. The top of the pool and deck is level with the home’s first floor.
In total, I used 28 yards of 4000 psi concrete (3 trucks, concrete pumper, 2300 ft #4 reinforcing bars, 28 tons of gravel and lots of treated wood (primarily 2x6) for the deck and 4x6 retaining wall). Did all design and most labor myself, so it was late summer before the first swim last year. Three 4x8 copper solar water heating panels (I had left from a previous home) were not enough (perhaps due to shade from the trees) to heat the pool reliably even to 76 F. Grand children did not mind but I (a senior) like 82+ water or a pool is fairly useless to me.
With electric rate here 11.5 ct/kwh, no natural gas, propane very expensive, the only efficient pool heating was a pool heat pump. They come as air/water or water/water geothermal types. Since I had already upgraded our home years ago to an open-loop geothermal heating/cooling system, thus had the ground-water source already, I just finished installing an AquaCal WS-05 geothermal pool heat-pump. Not easy, as it is a 400 lbs unit. It is working even better than expected, almost silent, truly giving me over 5 units of heat for each unit of electricity. Since it needs up to 70 gpm pool water circulation I now use a 1HP single-speed Pentair pump and a large 1200 Hayward cartridge filter and 2 inch piping. (the low speed of any 2-speed pump would not have given enough water flow for a pool heat pump.)
Still have to do the railings around the deck and will soon ask for quotes for a track-mounted manual or hopefully affordable automatic pool safety cover such as made by Cover-Pools, CoverStar, AquaMatic, APC and others. Are qualified to install it myself, and build a bench over the reel and mechanism. Ever since installing an automatic pool safety cover about 20+ years ago in our previous home I am totally sold on the MANY benefits they provide. But that could be the subject of a future Forum discussion.
I know – a $950 Intex pool and then spending all this other money sounds weird – but I had set myself a $20,000 budget limit and that had to include the patio, deck, pump/filter, piping, electric, top quality heat pump and track mounted cover. Just a 12x24 fiberglass pool shell – like the Alaglass – I would have liked - would have cost about $15,000 alone – leaving not enough for a heat pump and/or cover, etc.
A final consideration was: we will most likely have to sell this home in about 10 yrs– some home buyers don’t want a pool – but all buyers would like a large deck/patio. An automatic cover helped to sell our previous pool home because people did not have to worry about children’s safety. Or, we – or a buyer could easily change from the Intex pool to a SwimSpa like the Endless Pool or a large hot-tub. The AquaCal geothermal heat pump can also heat those most efficiently – even in the winter! The strong concrete pad with 24 in deep footings could also be the foundation for a future ¾-season Enclosure above.
Hope to post some photos soon – if anybody is interested. Again, thank you all TFP posters for all the helpful info I got from you for this project. Jens