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Thread: Northern NJ - New to TFP

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    Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Hello All, first of all let me say that any question I asked google regarding my pool purchase TFP was one of the top forums to answer it. Thanks to everyone who posted such great information.
    I recently purchase a 16x27 Radiant Free Form. It has not been picked up yet, still waiting for the filter. Since I purchase the pool from a dealer about 60 miles away I figured I can wait a few extra days to avoid 2 trips. 60 miles isn't much for many people but around these parts you are asking for traffic trouble! LOL
    My plan is to put the pool mostly in-ground with about 8" out so that in the (hopefully near) future I can deck out most of the pool.
    The dig started on Sunday but was brought to a grinding halt because of the rain we have been getting.
    Dig will resume tomorrow (fingers crossed) and I should be picking up the pool either tomorrow night or Friday.
    I plan on installing the pool myself (with help from friends of course). Aside from the dig and the trenching needed for the concrete collar I plan to do most if not all.
    Fortunately I have friends and family in both electrical and plumbing trades.
    I hired a bobcat guy who also does landscaping and hardscaping for the trenching. His most important job is to make me level within an inch.
    Since moving into this house a couple years ago I hoped to have a pool someday. There was one minor thing in the way. What was that you ask? Oh just a 150+ year old oak tree with a 60" diameter (and a stump closer to 80").
    In April I had the tree taken down and stump cut down 12" below grade - sadly it had to go pool or no pool. The main body of the tree had been destroyed by termites and carpenter ants. Liability to say the least. Without the tree every 80+ day we have had since April has felt like its 100!
    Since there was still some stump left I had them come back, this time with a mini skid steer and a bigger grinder. No more stump, just roots. So far the Bobcat has done a great job of clearing the first 30" but since rain was in the forecast and we had little space left to put the dirt we are on hold.
    2 15 yard dumpsters have been filled and carted away as of this afternoon. Now we just wait out the weather.
    I would love to hear from anyone on the forum regarding their experience with the Radiant pools. Especially if you have done the install on your own. A few years ago I helped a friend do a dough boy 3/4 buried (nightmare because it was on long island and the soil there is basically sand) and have helped family with 2 different above ground pools. The radiant looks like its a simple build - obviously prep work is key in any job.
    Great forum and great information. Thanks everyone!
    Mark

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    Mod Squad tim5055's Avatar
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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Welcome to TFP!!

    Glad to hear Google like us!!
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Welcome to TFP Mark. So if you've been reading this site, you must know how much we advocate the proper test kit (i.e. TF-100) - link below. You have plenty of time, but once you get close to completion, we strongly urge you to order the proper test kit to maintain the pool yourself. Also, if you get the urge to walk into a local pool store for advise or to have your water tested, drop something very heavy or sharp on your foot and you'll forget about ever going there again. Don't put yourself through that torture.

    We look forward to helping you in the future, and good luck with the install. Have a great day.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    I have an AGP that I love! I so wanted a pool like yours but..........$$ said no

    I will watch you put yours up!

    Make sure to take LOTS of pics and share them with us using photobucket or such.

    Make sure to go ahead and get a good test kit. The link is in my siggy below. You are already doing all of the work to put it up you might as well plan on taking care of it on your own. (PLEASE do not leave your testing to a pool store. They are wrong more than they are right.)

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Thanks tim
    Texas - thank you as well. Your advice is priceless. Unfortunately I have learned my lesson about the local places already. Between totally inaccurate info and sky high prices I will avoid at all costs. Fortunately I made a few more phone calls before signing on the dotted line. I saved myself $3500 just on the pool alone. $2500 to get rid of the dirt? Nah I dont think so, just had it removed for $900. I swear some people don't know about the internet and the vast amounts of information out there - either that or I have potential sucker written on my forehead! LOL

    - - - Updated - - -

    I should have also mentioned I keep a large reef aquarium - close to 400 gallons total volume. Testing water is in my blood! Now I need to learn a new color chart! LOL

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks Kim - I wanna click the "like" button!

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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Hi Mark, congrats on the purchase!! I've installed a couple dozen of our Metric Freeforms in various locations and install types, and frequently travel for installer training when we sign up a new dealer. Plus, I'm actually a central/northern NJ native myself, transplanted to upstate NY. As you said, site prep is going to be the most critical part of the dig, and the actual install of the pool kit itself should go relatively smoothly. I'll follow up with a PM so you have my work contact information if you have any questions or concerns specific to your installation. Looking forward to seeing pics of the install!
    Eric Adams, Technical Specialist, Radiant Pools

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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Thanks E9A - got your message and thank you for the note!!!
    The dealer I purchased it from had a pool there, between the install videos and seeing it in person I gained a ton of confidence. Now if it would stop raining and dry up I might be able to get to the fun stuff!!!

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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    So nearly 2 months later I figured I would post an update on my progress - no I am not done however the pool is in, filled and really at this point thats all that matters! LOL
    As you can see from the pictures my yard has a bit of a slope. Looking towards the back of the yard the pool is just a few inches (8 to be exact) out of the ground on the left side and about 10-20" on the right side. The back is only out of the ground 12" and the front (concrete steps) only about 14-16". Because I did get my hands quite dirty during this project I did not take nearly the amount of pictures I should have.
    So here is a not so quick overview of the process:
    Ordered the pool from Hydro Dynamic Pools of Pen Argyl PA on June 7th 2015.
    On June 14th I had Lacy Management of Wayne NJ start the dig. If you are in this area and need an honest hardworking company that will do any type of work related to landscaping or excavating call Tom Lacy without hesitation. His prices are fair, his guys work really hard and he does his very best to do things in a timely manner.
    On June 15th it started to rain. Not just a quick shower but it rained so much I had a pool before the pool arrived. Needless to say this was a setback. On June 16th I ordered 2 15yd dumpsters from Cheap Disposal. Since my town only allows certain dumpster companies to leave them on the street I went with them and also need to give them kudos for being on time and having the best price.
    It took Lacy Management about 6-7 hours to move 30 yards of dirt. I have a steep narrow driveway, it was pouring rain but he got it done.
    Pool arrived at Hydro Dynamic Pools quick - I think it was about 5-7 days from the time I ordered it. It was still raining.
    The equipment took a little longer, I would say that took about 2 weeks from the day I ordered. All the while still raining.
    On June 23 2015 I Rented a uhaul van and headed up to PA for the 130 mile round trip journey 2-3 days after the equipment arrived. It was a gorgeous day and it did not rain for the next few days.
    All of it fit in the Uhaul van although it was packed to the gills! Had i purchased the 18x32 FreeForm I think i would have needed the small moving truck.
    On June 24th I had 5yds of sand delivered. Lacy moved that into the pool area for me.
    My plan was to put the pool together myself (I did have the help of a great friend) but knew there are certain things better left to a pro. So who better to hire than a guy that installs pavers for a living to dig the trenches and lay the patio block. Lacy Management did all of the trenches and leveling work.
    My goal was level within an inch. We were level exact at every point we ran that string level.
    As you can imagine the rain set me back 2 weeks. I probably compacted the bottom of the dig 10 times because I was so concerned about the dirt being compromised by the rain. The next set back came with the pool. Now I know most instructions tell you to review the packing list and make sure everything is there. Knowing that if I start opening boxes and bags etc I am going to lose something so I started with step 1 and opened packages/boxes as needed/required.
    So with that I can share my next setback. I cannot remember the exact number of splines needed to join the panels but my kit was short. Now this isnt such a big deal if you could move on to the next step but with this kit you cannot. I was missing at least 3 or 4 as well as 2 or 3 of what I think is the most important spline - the extended "T" spline (This holds the A-Arm Support on the bump and indent of the pool). I ordered an inground skimmer and was sent an above ground skimmer mounting kit. That added a couple days on to the delay.
    Thankfully Roger at Hydro Dyanmic pools would respond to calls or emails quickly. I am talking quick like Sunday afternoon I email him at 3 and hes back to me by 5. Or email him at 6pm on a weekday and responds by 630. I could not have put this pool together without torching it first if it wasnt for the support that Roger provided. Phone/email questions he was clear and concise with his answers. From start to finish Roger has been one stand up dude.
    The Radiant pool is a quality kit. The material used is high grade and the installation can be done by 2 people that know how to use common tools and follow instructions. I am not going to tell you it is easy. I am a desk job guy and prior to this project I had hands as soft as a baby bottom. Today my hands feel more like 80grit sandpaper.
    The missing parts set me back another week. Took a couple days for the first splines to get delivered the "T" splines were delivered a few days later.
    I was short on some bolts but that wasn't a big deal because home depot has the zinc coated bolts that I needed. The bolts I was shorted were another key component to the structural integrity of the pool as they hold the splines in from the bottom and the panels together...
    The pool was completely assembled on July 10 around 11:30PM. Probably would have had it done an hour sooner but I decided to move the skimmer location one panel over due to the way I planned on running the plumbing (less bends and about 10 less feet of pipe).
    The next day I had some concrete delivered - as mentioned earlier, narrow/steep driveway was less than ideal for a truck to deliver it so we mixed about 60-70 80lb bags of concrete for the trenches and sides of the pool. Since my dig was only about 18" wider (all the way around) than the pool footprint I only needed about 20 60lb bags on each end of the pool. Mixing concrete stinks. Mixers from home depot are absolute garbage - the paddles at the back of the barrel were not long enough so even though the machine claimed it could do 2 80lb bags at a time we were only able to get one to mix to a "slumpy" consistency. We put 2 80's in the machine and would have to stop the mixer to hand mix the back of the barrel. Had I known what kinda garbage mixers they rent I would have purchased a brand new mixer and sold it when I was done. I rented another mixer from home depot this past weekend thinking maybe it was just that particular unit... nope 3rd mixer 3rd one still garbage...
    I wasn't going to put concrete all the way around the perimeter but since it was only a few extra bucks and I had the mixer the extra time and sweat is peace of mind. In hindsight I would recommend anyone installing this pool should hire a contractor to do the concrete work. Again my problem was the steep narrow driveway - my only option was a concrete buggy and the one guy that wasn't busy when I needed him had a machine that worked but a truck that carried it being rebuilt...
    After 8+ hours of mixing concrete I decided to spread and level the sand. I ordered a little too much sand. What I did was build the sand coping around the bottom perimeter - got that about 3-4" deep over the dirt. I did put down extra sand over the pressure plates - I used about an inch extra so the floor of my pool has a little bit extra around the bump and indent but since i sliced my hand on the metal plate i figured even though i am putting down foam padding on top of the sand I am not going to risk it and built that area just a bit higher.
    The liner had been sitting in the 90 degree sun for about 3 days so it was very easy to move around. What wasnt easy was doing it in the dark... I busted out the halogen lights - got it all lined up and waited until the AM to run the shopvac. Anyone installing this pool should pay close attention to the directions. As it relates to the liner pay close attention to the measurements that correspond to the seam. Although I did this in the dark this step was so critical in lowering the frustration level. Luckily I noticed those directions early on or I would have went bat crazy putting in this oddly shaped liner. The beaded liner slips and hooks in easily.
    Once the majority of the creases were out and there was about 6" of water the shopvac was taken off and the pool was filled to the halfway point of the skimmer in about 24 hours.
    Plumbing was easy - most people think they can use PVC cement without primer - please use primer. My joints are solid, also used the blue cement even though it wasnt "wet" yet.
    My kit came with an aqua guard cartridge filter. Although the filter is fine and seems to be keeping the pool clean, the filter is a pain to clean and whats even worse is the valves they include are just absolute garbage - cheap plastic. Think Harbor Freight cheap and then twice as bad as that. I replaced them with real ball valves.
    We hired some help to backfill - on top of the cement I put down a few inches of gravel, at $35 bucks a cuyd it was a no brainer to get 3cuyds and put that down before backfilling. I tossed some landscape fabric over the gravel and we started backfilling slowly when there was about 12" of water. Every 6-8" I hand tamped the dirt. Elbows kinda hurt after that...
    Got the chemicals in the next day and tested the water for a few days before taking my first plunge. After all that rain we had it hasn't rained much at all. It seems like its been hotter than normal. They said Newark NJ (less than 10 miles away) had a 10 day heatwave going. I think we finally had a day that didn't break 90 this weekend.
    I had a mason friend do my steps and an electrician friend upgrade the panel in my garage bond the pool and wire my filter.
    Thankfully I have friends what will work for beer and food.
    Like I said, this week I will be doing a short retaining wall along the garage side of the pool. My goal is to be done by Saturday morning.
    Since my town wants to increase property taxes for putting down a concrete pad i went with some turf that I bought from InGrass.com. This stuff is awesome. It can get pricey if you do a large area (and trust me I am tempted to do my entire yard) but the installation is simple. Compact the dirt, compact some QP (quarry processed rock) unroll the turf, use landscape stakes to secure it. Finally when its nice and smooth put down 1-2lbs of dry sand for every square foot. Sweep the sand in like you do with pavers and it wont move. It is so soft on your feet when you get out of the pool.
    Around the pool I am using the quikrete walk maker. Very little ground prep is needed and so far I have done 3/4 of the pool perimeter and a 28' pathway from my driveway to the house and its an cinch. It is designed to take an 80lb bag of mix but i found if you mix the concrete per instructions the 60lb bag is enough (basically the 80 is too much and the 60 is just enough).
    The walk maker is a mold that creates a cobblestone paver look (they have other designs, Lowes by me only carried the cobblestone mold - it was about 15-17 bucks). Once the concrete has set for few days you simply fill in the cracks with polymetric sand and mist over the gaps. It gives it a pretty cool look.
    I will post more pictures once I finish the retaining wall.
    If anyone has questions please let me know, I have done enough of this work on my own and probably have somethings that I could tell you I would do different but so far I am quite pleased with it.
    Again, the pool goes together quite easily. I think a round or oval would have been significantly easier and if you have never put or helped put a pool together I would start with one of those. As with everything prep work is the ultimate key to success. Enjoy the pics. Included some of the tree I had to take down to put the pool in.


    picks are in the link below

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    Last edited by MMM923; 08-11-2015 at 12:57 PM. Reason: pointed out link to onedrive for pics

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    Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Quite a transformation. Your dog should love that water as well. Enjoy.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
    If you enjoyed your TFP experience, please consider donating to Support TFP!

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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    thanks - hes only 10 months old... little bit scared but I am thinking about getting some steps that he can walk down to get a little more comfortable with it. His name is Mister. I named him that so when I walk him down the street and say "Mister Stop" I get weird looks from people thinking I might be talking to them! LOL

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    Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Once Mister gets used to the water, there's no getting him out.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
    If you enjoyed your TFP experience, please consider donating to Support TFP!

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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    as long as no pee pee in pool! LOL

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Well done! Got to love you getting sandpaper hands on such a wonderful project!

    SO nice to hear about good, honest people like your landscaper and pool sales person! GOOD JOB!

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Thanks Kim - still at it but at least I have been able to enjoy it for a few weeks. Still have a few weeks left in summer as well!

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    You need to do some training with Mister.......get him into the pool and teach him how to find the stairs. It might take some hotdogs (that is my dogs "I will do backflips" treat") but it will be worth it.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    LOL thats funny Kim - he actually puts his paws on the top step but wont get in. In hindsight I wish I would have purchased the walk in steps. Recently
    I have been looking for steps on craigslist and ebay.

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    Re: Northern NJ - New to TFP

    Last year I absolutely killed myself getting this pool together. Sometime around late July I threw my hands up in the air and said - im enjoying it and next spring I will finish it. Well here we are mid may and I'm getting there. About 2 weeks ago I had pavers installed around most of the pool. Back in late march early april home depot put pavers on sale. I purchased a few pallets. Normally they run about 58 cents each. On sale they were 25 cents each. The red, by the pallet worked out to be 22 cents each. OK so I did not get the colors I wanted (would have preferred tan) but the folks at HD told me I had to buy what they had for the sale. So Couple red pallets and a couple grey did the trick. I pretty much have enough pavers left over to do the rest of the way around the pool (will do that later, I left it out as I have something else planned like a water feature most likely) and either a 15x20 or 20x20 patio. My goal from the start was to have as little landscaping/lawn mowing in the backyard as possible. At one point this winter I planned on going fake turf all around the pool. Sadly I couldn't find one company that would do a custom cut. Their loss my gain - in the end the pavers ended up being 2/3 the cost and I didn't have to install them. Since I am going to go square or rectangle on the patio, I will likely do it myself. Hoping to start that work next week. For now I bought about 20 bushes and plants to go along the left side will mulch over that. Lets just hope Mister doesnt decide they are all his and kill half of them like he did to most of the arborvitaes i planted last year (which is why I didnt buy big plants - at 30-50 bucks per bush, making that mistake twice isnt gonna happen lol). Ill update the link below in a few weeks when I work out the patio and finish landscaping.
    Over all the pool held up well this winter. If you have it in you and can outsource some of the things like excavation, concrete and electricity this is a very doable project for a handy person - especially if you only have one or 2 capable helpers available.
    So far things I would do different as a DIY project:
    Oval pool. Without question I would go Radiant but I think an oval pool would have been easier. Reason being I think I would have had more "useable" space around the pool. Not to mention "squaring it up" would have been MUCH easier - at least thats what I keep telling myself.
    I left 12" out on the fence side and 20" out on the other side. The back is out 10". Doing it all over I should have gone down another 8". I would have saved a few hundred on materials (stone, stone dust, retaining wall blocks etc) since I already had the bobcat operator and dumpsters (with some room to spare).
    I should have went with the walk in steps. Not having the hole in the ground to really get an idea on what would fit and in part trying to be cheap, I decided against it. Ah, hindsight...
    Again on the "trying to be cheap" side I should have went with the LED light - even if not the radiant light - I understand the hayward and jandy lights a quite a bargain compared to the radiant light - they also fit in the same way (return fitting through conduit). I purchased 3 flo lights (despite all the horrible reviews), 2 failed within a few weeks (amazon vendor replaced them no questions asked) the one I bought from the pool supply store worked for 2 months but when I installed them the other day all 3 are dead.
    Finally - I have a few ducks that hang out by the pool in the morning. They seem to like the steps.
    Enjoy my progress - any and all comments/ suggestions are always appreciated!

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