I just found this forum and have already learned a great deal. I'm diving in head first, and over time, hope to contribute more answers than questions. But for now, consider me a newbie.
I thought I would do a writeup of my current situation by way of introduction, and also include some "before" photos.
I would REALLY appreciate any input on this initial info, but I will also be asking specific questions in the forums.
We bought a 1960's mid century modern in August 07 and it came with a pool and a free-standing hot tub.
Now that we've done all the major upgrades on the house, we're focusing on the pool.
I'm in the throes of updating all the equipment, with the help of my father-in-law Ron, and am hoping you all can help me do the right things! Also, I plan to continue maintaining the pool on my own.
Here are the details - see also the attached photos:
Trapezoid-shaped gunite pool (built in 1961): 35 feet long, 16 feet wide at deep end (8') , 20 feet wide at shallow end (3'). I was told the volume is 33,000 gallons. It has 1 skimmer, 1 main drain, and 3 return jets. There is 1 light in the wall on the deep end. There are 2 steps in one corner of the shallow end. A few pool techs have seen the pool and said it is in good shape overall. Some of the coping has pulled away from the deck in a few spots - we filled the gaps with a sealant last fall, but assumed that would be a temporary fix.
Last year we purchased a solar cover and reel (Rocky's), and keep the pool covered when not in use. In the winter we use a safety cover that attaches to the concrete deck with pop-up anchors.
Intake: one 1 1/2" pipe (skimmer and main drain are combined?)
Return: one 1 1/2" pipe
Pump: 1 HP PacFab Challenger
Filter: Sand - Pentair Tagelus TA 60 sand filter, Hi Flow 6 Way Valve
Heater: Raypak 335k BTU gas heater
Auto-cleaner: Polaris 380 with PB-4 Booster pump (manual on/off switch at service panel)
"Automation": Intermatic 1 dial timer
Lighting: 1 wall lamp in the deep end (manual on/off switch at service panel)
3" stabilized chlorine tablets in the skimmer basket
pH balancing as needed
In-town neighborhood in Atlanta (unincorporated Dekalb county).
The pool is well protected from wind, with a high privacy/security fence along two sides, and the L-shaped house on the other.
There are many trees around - the pool gets almost no sun, and the trees drop leaves and other material into the pool.
I was hopeful we could use solar to heat the pool, but a solar site survey of the most likely spot (our large flat roof) indicated we'd get a max of 4 hours of sun per day with all the trees, which just won't cut it.
THE UPGRADE PLAN:
- Long term, we would like to re-do the entire deck area around the pool, hopefully to include new plumbing. But with the economy the way it is, we have decided to hold off on that major work, and instead focus on upgrading the equipment. Our main issue last year was that the pool never got warm enough for us - it hovered at about 80, and peaked at 84 once. Our goal is to have it at 85 or higher. We have never run the gas heater due to the high cost. Instead we are replacing it with an electric heat pump (see below).
- Skimmer: A pool tech confirmed the skimmer leaks. It will be replaced in the next 2-3 weeks. He thinks that is the only leak we have.
- Main drain issue: Turns out the main drain has no suction. The pool tech suspects it is simply a winterizing plug that was never removed. But unless I can convince my brother-in-law to scuba down there and check, I won't know for sure until the pool is warm enough for me to go down there myself.
- Heater: Aquacal H155 heat pump (133k BTU) -- already ordered
- Polaris booster pump (the old one locked up this winter): PB4-Q - the quiet Halcyon pump -- already ordered
- Main pump: Intelliflo VF - I decided on this one to avoid concerns of matching the pump to the unknowns of my pool system, and to adapt should we decide to re-plumb the pool. We might even consider adding a spa to replace our standalone hot tub. In general, I like the flexibility and potential energy savings of the VF. -- already ordered
- Filter: Pentair Quad DE -- I like the fact that you don't need to backwash, especially since the current backwash line runs into our neighbor's back yard. Still haven't settled on the size. Seems like the 60 would be plenty, but everything I've read says you can't go too large, so I may go with the 80 or 100 (could use advice here?). I'd like to try one of the DE alternatives, but need to research it more.
- Filter valve (?): While I know many people do not add a valve to the Quads, I worry I'll miss the flexibility offered by a valve. So I'm leaning toward the 4-position HI-Flow. Isn't it good to have the option of vacuuming to "waste", for example? Or "bypass"?
- SWG: We like the idea of a salt chlorinator. So far I plan to stick with the Pentair and get the Intellichlor IC40, but I have done the least amount of research on this piece of the project.
- Automation: Big questions here! I see I can get the Pentair EasyTouch with an Intellichlor for about the same price as the Intellichlor alone. Is that correct? If so, I'll get the EasyTouch.
Our setup is fairly simple, and the Intelliflo VF will take care of a lot of the scheduling for me, right?
I assume one benefit of the EasyTouch is I can use it to program when the Polaris runs, correct? Is there anything else obvious that I could do with the EasyTouch, given my simple setup?
- Equipment pad: The existing equipment sits directly on the ground (there may be some gravel underneath). I want to address that problem and install the new equipment in the best way possible. I assume a poured concrete pad would be ideal? But I could use advice here as well. Also, I get the impression it's best if the pumps are protected from getting wet. The equipment area is enclosed by fencing, but has no roof. I'm not sure how best to cover the pumps. Would a low small "roof" on hinges do the trick?
- Electric: Last weekend Ron and I pulled the cable for a 100 watt, 220v service panel (from the main house panel and under the crawlspace). We were going to do one 50 AMP breaker for the Heatpump, and probably a 20 AMP and 30 AMP for the pumps and other equipment. But I have several questions: I've heard the Intelliflo doesn't work well with a GFCI, is that true? Also, would the EasyTouch panel take the place of our "home grown" panel?
Thanks for wading through all this, and I look forward to exchanging ideas!