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Thread: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

  1. Back To Top    #1

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    Sinking Spring, PA
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    Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    I spent a few days reading this forum and I can see there is a wealth of knowledge here. I have never owned a pool before so I will need a lot of advice.

    I am planning to have a pool built early next summer. I have two quotes already and I am meeting with a third company this week.

    The leader so far is a large national pool builder (I am not sure if I am allowed to use company names).

    Here are the details:

    I live in southeastern Pennsylvania.

    I have 4 children. 3 boys (ages 15, 8, 5) and a girl age 13.

    The pool will be a concrete freeform approximately 700 sq feet with an attached spa.

    Pool depth will be 8 feet to 3 feet.

    I am looking for low maintenance where-ever possible.

    The builder is proposing the following equipment:

    Pentair FNS Plus D.E. Filter
    Pentair WisperFlow Pump
    Raypak Digital Gas Heater
    Zodiac Nature2 system
    Hayward ColorLogic Lights
    Polaris360 vac

    Here are the questions I was hoping you guys can help me with:

    1) We are thinking of going with a pebble type finish rather than plaster. Is this worth the cost?
    2) Should I upgrade to Pentair IntelliFlo VS-3050 Variable Speed Pump to save on electricity?
    3) Should I upgrade to Pentair Quad D.E. filter? It seems like it is easier to maintain than the FNS Plus. Should save on water due to fewer back flushes.
    4) Is the Nature2 system ok? I searched “Nature2” on this forum and another forum so I am aware it is not very popular. This system comes with the pool and it appears my only option is to pay to upgrade to the Jandy AquaPure SWG system. The salesman recommends I stay with Nature2 system and upgrade to SWG later if I do not like the Nature2 system because it will be the same price to retro-fit as upgrading now. Can I use Nature2 and just make sure I have enough chlorine in the pool? I am very confused on this topic never having a pool before. PLEASE HELP me on this one!
    5) Should I worry about the heater and lights? They seem fine to me based on my limited reading on the manufacturer’s web sites. Do any of you have them in your pools?
    6) The builder can start the pool in the fall and finish it in the spring. Basically they will do everything but the final plaster work and final hook ups this fall. I should be able to have the pool ready to go by the end of May next year. This seems like a great idea to me. Do you guys see any problems with it?
    7) Is there anything else you think I should know or consider? (I have already read the articles in the Pool School section).

    Thanks for all your help!
    4th Year Pool owner in Sinking Spring PA
    46'x23' Free Form Concrete (34,000 gallons), Aqua Blue Pebble Sheen Finish, Pentair IntelliChlor SWG
    Pentair Intelliflo Variable Speed Pump, Pentair D.E. FNS Filter, Pentair MasterTemp heater.

  2. Back To Top    #2

    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    I'm a newbie and just had my pool built. I can give you my opinion on a couple things.

    I went with the pebblesheen upgrade for a couple reasons.

    1. I liked the looks

    2. Mostly I was interested in increasing the life of the plaster. With balanced water and pebblesheen I don't think I will have to re-plaster the pool for 15-20 yrs.

    3. I liked the looks

    I have the hayward color logic lights. My pool is 34' by 24' at its widest points, and 7' deep. I used 2 lights and after using them for 3 nights, don't regret the extra money

    I think if you are looking for low maintenance, you will likely be advised to go SWG right off the bat. I am like you and if they had a pool where you could set it up and never touch it I would have gotten it, but I think SWG gets you closer.

    And I don't think saying Pool company names is a no no here.

    Look forward to seeing pics of your build
    24,000 gal SWG pool
    Bunch of stuff
    Aqua Blue Pebblesheen
    2 Colorlogic LED lights
    Huge Hayward D.E. filter
    more stuff

  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    Thanks Starsky!

    The lights look great in the brochure so I am glad they look good in person. I would be getting two lights in the pool and one in the spa.

    I have a neighbor who has SWG and his water is awesome. The best pool water I ever swam in. He has a problem keeping is pH in line, but other than that he is happy with it. I never swam in Nature2 so I can't compare. I think the cost to upgrade is about $1,200.

    Does the pebble finish hold dirt or feel "wierd" when you walk on it?
    4th Year Pool owner in Sinking Spring PA
    46'x23' Free Form Concrete (34,000 gallons), Aqua Blue Pebble Sheen Finish, Pentair IntelliChlor SWG
    Pentair Intelliflo Variable Speed Pump, Pentair D.E. FNS Filter, Pentair MasterTemp heater.

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    You can look at my pool build a couple topics below yours. I have a couple night shots.

    I can't say that it holds dirt because its about 4 days old. I can say it feels just fine when I walk on it. Gives me a little traction, but doesn't feel rough at all.

    Adding SWG to my pool was 1,400 dollars. But since I was planning on doing the BBB method, I have to say I was kind of relieved that in addition to the nice feeling water, I wouldn't be hauling bleach from Walmart on a regular basis.

    From what I understand about SWG Pools, the PH will tend to creep up so testing and Miuratic acid will be a staple at my house.
    24,000 gal SWG pool
    Bunch of stuff
    Aqua Blue Pebblesheen
    2 Colorlogic LED lights
    Huge Hayward D.E. filter
    more stuff

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    I would consider buying a SWG on EBay. My PB wanted $1550 for an Intellichlor IC40 but I picked mine up on Ebay for around $650. I can't remember the exact figures but it was a huge savings. My PB even installed it for free when they set the equipment.

    One thing that I can't stress enough is to NOT let the payments get ahead of the work. If you PB uses subcontractors for any step read all you can about mechanics leins in your state.

    Good luck and keep us updated.
    11000 Gals, Intelliflo, Sta-Rite Cartridge, Polaris 360

    Pool I built in my old house: my-new-pool-build-t4534.html

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    My PB is a well established company. When I was discussing payments, they were non negotiable. I had 4 payment draws. 40% after excavation, 30% after gunite, 20% after deck, 10% or final payment PRE-Plaster. In other words, before plaster, before water, before I even knew the pumps worked they had 100% of the money.

    Having read all the precautions here, I initially would not sign the contract. When I talked to a competing company, it was the same thing. When I said I wasn't comfortable with it they said if I could find someone who had a better payment schedule, use them.

    During the build after excavation, they were ahead of the curve as far as their expense went.
    24,000 gal SWG pool
    Bunch of stuff
    Aqua Blue Pebblesheen
    2 Colorlogic LED lights
    Huge Hayward D.E. filter
    more stuff

  7. Back To Top    #7
    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    Go with the SWG. I know you read about the Nature 2, but here's a couple more articles just in case you missed them.

    ....Ionizers

    And Another.

    The SWG may be an initial outlay costwise, but believe me, the Nature 2 with the various ongoing replacement of minerals and the use of chlorine tabs and what all of this combined does to your pool will likely end up costing you more. And it doesn't do a thing to make your water "feel better".

    If it were my pool, I'd go with the SWCG.

    Good luck with your build, enjoy your new pool!
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    I have the same payment schedule as Starsky. The pool builder wouldn't budge.
    Pool completed in the fall of 2008.
    Landmark's pool build

    Freeform 26' x 45' IG gunite, 4' to 8' deep, 29,500 gallons, WetEdge PearlMatrix Tropical Mystic, Freeform 8' X 11' Ultimate 16 jet spa, 38' moss rock weeping wall and 3 waterfalls,

    4 pumps (Intelliflo 4X160 filter pump, WhisperFlo 3HP spa pump, Pentair 2 1/2HP WaterFall pump, cleaner booster), EasyTouch 8 controls, Quad DE 100 filter, MasterTemp 400K heater, Pentair Legend Platinum cleaner, 995 sqft. Sundek.

  9. Back To Top    #9

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    Welcome to TFP. I've found this forum very useful as I'm sure you will.

    I didn't notice any mention of automation. My PB recommended the IntelliFlo VS-3050 (4X160) pump to save on electricity so I went with it. I'm not up and running yet so I can't say if it's true or not. We also went with the QUAD D.E. 100 filter. You didn't mention if you were going to have any rock water features or not. There is one school of thought that you shouldn't use saltwater if you have natural stone like flagstone and moss rock. I don't know if it is true but several PBs we talked with recommended against it.
    Pool completed in the fall of 2008.
    Landmark's pool build

    Freeform 26' x 45' IG gunite, 4' to 8' deep, 29,500 gallons, WetEdge PearlMatrix Tropical Mystic, Freeform 8' X 11' Ultimate 16 jet spa, 38' moss rock weeping wall and 3 waterfalls,

    4 pumps (Intelliflo 4X160 filter pump, WhisperFlo 3HP spa pump, Pentair 2 1/2HP WaterFall pump, cleaner booster), EasyTouch 8 controls, Quad DE 100 filter, MasterTemp 400K heater, Pentair Legend Platinum cleaner, 995 sqft. Sundek.

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    I am looking for low maintenance where-ever possible.
    Consider a sand filter rather than DE. Low maintenance and somewhat less problematic based on the posts on this forum.

    No one here likes Nature2. If PB is insistent, simply ask him to leave it off the cost of the build and give you credit. You do not want a Nature@ in your pool.

    It's quite simple to leave enough pip-e length for a future SWG if you would like to chlorinate manually for a season or so. You would also save some bucks by doing the SWG yourself....many folks here have done so and will help walk you thru it.

    Search "Liquidator" for another chlorinating option.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    My PB, which is a medium sized company, had a similar payment schedule with the final being due before plaster. I was not 100% comfortable with this but a BBB check on them didn't raise any red flags so I went with it. When plaster day came, the PB was not there waiting for a check before they began work. In fact he said I could pay him at my orientation about a week after plaster. You may have the same experience.
    11000 Gals, Intelliflo, Sta-Rite Cartridge, Polaris 360

    Pool I built in my old house: my-new-pool-build-t4534.html

  12. Back To Top    #12

    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    I would not let the gunite sit there without plaster all winter. You really want the two to cure together to achieve the best bond.
    21' Leslies Beachland Ag Pool, 10,000 gallons, professionally installed (best money I ever spent) Hayward 16" sand filter w/Pentair two speed pump Fafco 4x20 solar heater,Aqua Trol RJ. Borates added. Hard plumbed.

  13. Back To Top    #13

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    1) We are thinking of going with a pebble type finish rather than plaster. Is this worth the cost?

    Dunno - we used 3M "smoke" (light gray) quartz and love the feel and the look ... try to look at real pools with the finish you choose. We did exactly that and are very glad we did - we would have made a big mistake.

    2) Should I upgrade to Pentair IntelliFlo VS-3050 Variable Speed Pump to save on electricity?

    YES, or even the VF. I now run at 160W compared to 1600W for my old pool. OK, I now only push about half the gpm, so I am saving only 80%, not 90%, of the electricity. And I can control the look of the sheer descent through the water volume and get the optimum efficiency from the solar panels.

    3) Should I upgrade to Pentair Quad D.E. filter? It seems like it is easier to maintain than the FNS Plus. Should save on water due to fewer back flushes

    Ask 5 people, and you'll get 6 opinions. Fore low maintenance, I think a large (450 sq ft) cartridge filter is hard to bet. Only service it once a year, no backwashing.

    4) Is the Nature2 system ok? I searched “Nature2” on this forum and another forum so I am aware it is not very popular. This system comes with the pool and it appears my only option is to pay to upgrade to the Jandy AquaPure SWG system. The salesman recommends I stay with Nature2 system and upgrade to SWG later if I do not like the Nature2 system because it will be the same price to retro-fit as upgrading now. Can I use Nature2 and just make sure I have enough chlorine in the pool? I am very confused on this topic never having a pool before. PLEASE HELP me on this one!

    I am keeping mine in the box for now. I don't trust it ... you can have clean water without it.

    5) Should I worry about the heater and lights? They seem fine to me based on my limited reading on the manufacturer’s web sites. Do any of you have them in your pools?

    I have 2 of the Hayward Colorlogic and love them ! They are extremely efficient (LED based) and have some tasteful colors ...

    6) The builder can start the pool in the fall and finish it in the spring. Basically they will do everything but the final plaster work and final hook ups this fall. I should be able to have the pool ready to go by the end of May next year. This seems like a great idea to me. Do you guys see any problems with it?

    7) Is there anything else you think I should know or consider? (I have already read the articles in the Pool School section).

    Solar Heat ! It will probably cost as much as the gas heater and give you free heat and cools the house.
    Completed July 2008: 25,000 gal IG gunite, 3M "Smoke" Quartz, 6' sheer descent w/ fiberoptic light bar, 2 Hayward ColorLogic LED lights, IntelliFlo VF (running at 160 watts to filter - yeah !), Jandy PDA PS8, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG (running at 15% :o) ), 8 "Jet Flow" returns, 450 sq ft Hayward cartridge filter, 480 sq ft HelioCol solar panels, Hayward VacAlert, Hayward Phantom Turbo, BBB method, TF-100 Test kit (of course !)

  14. Back To Top    #14

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    I would wait and start in spring. Why give the PB most of the money for a pool you can't use. Have him start in the spring and, if he's not a crook, he should be able to finish by late spring.

    Remember the whole building process doesn't take that many visits to your house.

    Dig 1-2 days
    Plumbing / Electrical 1 day
    Steel 1 day
    Gunite 1 day
    Stonework (if any) 1-2 days
    Decking 1-2 days
    Equipment Set 1 day
    Plaster/Pebble 1 day

    Total 11 days maximum

    Of course there are crew scheduling issues, inspections and gunite curing that add to this but they aren't really at your house too much.
    11000 Gals, Intelliflo, Sta-Rite Cartridge, Polaris 360

    Pool I built in my old house: my-new-pool-build-t4534.html

  15. Back To Top    #15

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    Avoid Nature 2. Your placing metals in your pool. Metals can't be removed easily. They can be sequestered (taken out of solution). It does not provide enough benefit for the risk. Tell your PB to leave it off and credit you. That is exactly what we did.

    We started with an inline chlorine feeder but got into trouble with the inevitable ever increasing CYA levels and need for higher FC levels to achieve sanitation. I then moved to BBB but had trouble with adding bleach everyday. I then installed a Liquidator. Pretty cool little chlorine feeder. Worked good and I only had to add chlorine ever couple of weeks. I added salt to the pool to give it a softer feel and got sick of hauling bleach down to the pool every 2 weeks so I installed a SWG. So far so good. Easiest method yet. I saved a fortune installing it myself. Here is the thread if your interested. swg-install-completed-t8136.html

    We built our pool in the fall. It took a the month of October. It was nice opening in the spring to a new pool. Here is our build. dlsdo-pool-build-t3179.html?hilit=dlsdo

    Good luck,
    Dave
    -------
    Our pool-
    20x40 Free Form Gunite (3'-8'), 26,000 G, AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generator SC-48, Aqua blue pebble sheen, Textured Sundek, Pentair Easy touch with remote control, 1hp Sta-Rite Max-E-Pro pump, Max-E- Therm heater 333k BTU, System 3 Mod Media Cartridge filter, and Polaris 380 cleaner with booster pump

  16. Back To Top    #16

    In the Industry

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    Wanted to say hello and welcome!

    Definitely get some sort of automation and/or a multi-speed pump! I have NO automation and it's a pain. My original pump was a 2-speed, and I ran it on low 24/7. Then my low speed died, so I ran it on high about 12 hours/day. Had to turn it on and off manually and STILL had an appalling electric bill! A two-speed pump (or variable speed, if you want to go really fancy) will REALLY save you money. Initial cost is certainly more, but you'll recoup it in no time.

    Skip the Nature2, as you've been told already. . .

    Personally I like the look of an aggregate finish (like Pebblesheen) and would choose it over plaster. The aggregate stuff is supposed to last longer too, although I would point out that WHATEVER finish you choose, it can be made to last YEARS longer than spec if you meticulously maintain your water. On the flip side, ANY finish can be destroyed within months by water that is badly out of balance.
    ~Jules~

    My pool: INDOOR 13x27 rectangular fiberglass, built ~2001, BBB, TA-60 sand filter, Hayward two speed pump (1 hp/0.33 hp), 3/4 hp booster pump for solar heater
    Taylor K-2006 test

  17. Back To Top    #17

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    Quote Originally Posted by frustratedpoolmom
    Go with the SWG. I know you read about the Nature 2, but here's a couple more articles just in case you missed them.

    ....Ionizers

    And Another.

    The SWG may be an initial outlay costwise, but believe me, the Nature 2 with the various ongoing replacement of minerals and the use of chlorine tabs and what all of this combined does to your pool will likely end up costing you more. And it doesn't do a thing to make your water "feel better".

    If it were my pool, I'd go with the SWCG.

    Good luck with your build, enjoy your new pool!

    Thanks for the links! I had read the first, but not the second one. Since I have 4 kids, I am expecting the pool to be used quite a bit. The more I am reading the more I am thinking of passing on Nature2 and going with a SWG. The option my PB has for SWG is a Jandy AquaPure system. Does anyone have this system and what is the usual price for one?
    4th Year Pool owner in Sinking Spring PA
    46'x23' Free Form Concrete (34,000 gallons), Aqua Blue Pebble Sheen Finish, Pentair IntelliChlor SWG
    Pentair Intelliflo Variable Speed Pump, Pentair D.E. FNS Filter, Pentair MasterTemp heater.

  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Re: Planning my first pool - Lots of Questions for You

    I have the Jandy AquaPure (and a Jandy PDA PS8) - I would expect it to add $500 - $1000 to the bill, based on prices for it on the web. It's nice if you can get a SWG that integrated with the controller. And you save $100 - $200 by not using the Nature2 stuff ...

    The salt adds $50-$100 for most size pools, and CYA if you need any, that's it.

    Go for the SWG. You'll love it !
    Completed July 2008: 25,000 gal IG gunite, 3M "Smoke" Quartz, 6' sheer descent w/ fiberoptic light bar, 2 Hayward ColorLogic LED lights, IntelliFlo VF (running at 160 watts to filter - yeah !), Jandy PDA PS8, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG (running at 15% :o) ), 8 "Jet Flow" returns, 450 sq ft Hayward cartridge filter, 480 sq ft HelioCol solar panels, Hayward VacAlert, Hayward Phantom Turbo, BBB method, TF-100 Test kit (of course !)

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