Anyone Have a Winter Pool Dome - Ameridome or Others?

Kitana

Bronze Supporter
Aug 28, 2017
32
Sterling Virginia
Still totally worth it. We love the dome. I have gotten used to eating Ramen noodles and Hamburger Helper instead of steak & lobster. :p Now the heater is having issues. Looks like we need a new control board. It has two settings..on and off with code R-13 (I think). :/ We can't control the temp anymore so it stays off when not in use or we end up with Virginia's largest hot tub. It has been warmer here so it does not take long to heat back up. That will definitely cut down on the CCF. My husband is waiting for a good 2 days with no rain to open it up and see what is going on. We can order a board online and replace as needed.
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,837
Grand Rapids, MI
Yeah, there's no doubt winter operation can be rough on heaters...mine's indoors but I still haven't worked out what caused the problem with my heat exchanger.

In a perfect world if I were designing a system for ideal yearround operation in the north, as opposed to retrofitting, I think I'd use a house boiler to gang up with and run a titanium heat exchanger loop. It would make for cheap heat and minimal wear. But I'm not sure I could pull it off since my home boiler is at the front of the house and the pool heater is in the pool house with no loop between.

Something like this: Swimming Pool and Spa Heat Exchangers by Brazetek
 

Kitana

Bronze Supporter
Aug 28, 2017
32
Sterling Virginia
Due to pending giant wind storm arriving early in the morning we are going to deflate the dome. There is a high threat of power outages and I don't want it whipping around. Ugh...and deflation advice?
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,837
Grand Rapids, MI
Sorry I missed your post...was on a cruise w super slow Wi-Fi!

I’ve never had to deflate mine yet but I’m guessing only mild concern would be to avoid sinking...Hope you weathered the storm ok!
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,837
Grand Rapids, MI
STARLOG Dome Update: The Law of Unintended Consequences ;)

Not being able to leave well enough alone, I fooled around last month to automate/Smarthome integrate the heretofore not-smartthings PE653 Intermatic.

Had it apparently working like a dream after using some hack code device controller and polling pistons written in webcore. I could set schedules, alerts, and thanks to the polling, switch status updated no mater where you turned anything on or off.

But for reasons we could not debug, the pump circuit would spontaneously shut down every now and then...but 3 times in the last week. The times were odd and unrelated to any scheduling. It was like there was a ghost in the system or that somehow polling commands took the circuit down.

Since the last shutdown was during freezing temps and went noticed for several hours (though my baby AI did try to tell me with an alert I'd programmed) the result was that I again froze the heat exchanger on my air warmer for the second time this season ;(

Hubby said I could not troubleshoot without tearing down my whole wobbly set of smartthings code and removing all my devices and switches. Feel like I just killed Baby Hal. So sad. Will try again in warmer temps when the stakes aren't as high.

In the course of this mess I did figure out a way to not-pay-another-$1000 for what would be a 3rd air warmer exchanger...found a new exchanger I can swap into the housing at literally a tenth of the cost. So if any future dome-owners ever freeze up their air warmer and want a cheaper, non-emergency fix, PM me for part info ;)

Otherwise, dome life as gone swimmingly, all things considered ;)
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,837
Grand Rapids, MI
STARLOG update in tundra dome:

Since Mother Nature didn't get the "spring" memo up here in Mchigan, I've acelerated my "fix air warmer for dome" project. Today I bought a torch and taught myself how to sweat-solder copper fittings ;)

This is what the water-to-air exchanger looks like insid a dome air warmer box.

Don't yet know if my new fittings hold water but might try to find out tomorrow.

In other news and against all odds, I did not burn down the house with my inaugural torch run, despite swamp hubby's dire predictions ;)

image.jpg
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,852
Tucson, AZ
Nice torch work. Nothing like hot flames and molten metal to get in touch with your inner bad-a _ _ !!!

Typically speaking you want the female fitting to be metal (brass) and the male fitting to be plastic. Metal expands and contracts more than plastic and so if the metal fitting is a male pipe fitting, it can easily split a plastic female fitting when things heat up .... is that too much innuendo/double-entendre for TFP???

Anyway, that’s how I do it - female is always metal.
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,837
Grand Rapids, MI
Lol. I'm kinda stuck with the "gender configuration" being metal male to female PVC on this one given the way the original was made (unless I want to remake the connectors too) but I know what you mean.

BTW, turns out my torch work yesterday wasn't so nice after all. Had to torch off those fittings, clean everything, and redo today when yesterday's effort literally did not hold water.

But today I was victorious in round 2 and the air warmer is now back in action. Good thing too as its down to the 20s here tonight! Winter called and would like her weather back...
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,852
Tucson, AZ
Oh, that’s a pool water exchanger....never mind on the fitting genders. Water temp is low enough that it doesn’t really matter which way you swing it ..... :scratch: hmmmm ..... once again, too much innuendo.....
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,837
Grand Rapids, MI
Lol. Yes, the max temp is about 95 that runs through it. The way I have it set up is a 1" hose I fitted with plastic connectors this year, connected to a valve thingy I rigged up on 1 return. The water is returned to the pool via a second hose that connects to the PVC outlet.

I'm quite amazed by how well this simple concept works in warming the air that blows into the dome. Despite temps in the 20s last night, the dome air is in the 50s this am and the sun isn't up yet. Makes it much more comfortable to swim!

When I saw we were in for at least another 10 days of overnight temps in the 20s I figured I'd better get the contraption back in action.
 

Kitana

Bronze Supporter
Aug 28, 2017
32
Sterling Virginia
Dome survived the wind storm deflated but what a mess. We had to wash it inside out as debris got under it as well as on top. Now I'm trying to figure out how long we can keep it up. I have become very spoiled not having to clean the pool everyday and having a private indoor pool. My husband is thinking of turning the heater into a cooler :D once spring decides to arrive. It's 62/sunny today and 78 in the dome with the heater running. We are also only running the gas heat 4-5 hrs a day and the pool temp sits around 85 in the morning to 93 when turned off again.
Anyone else thinking of getting a dome?
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,837
Grand Rapids, MI
Glad you survived wind storm.
In my neck of the woods, I aim to take it down mid-May. It will start to get quite toasty in there soon ;) And he's, its an adjustment going back to "open water".

High heat/sun is what ages the vinyl, which is why the mfg doesn't generally recommend leaving it up in the summer months, though I did have someone tell me they do!
 

onlyjeeps

Active member
Jan 4, 2013
27
Middletown, DE
I have to say...this has been a most informative and entertaining thread! I have enjoyed it immensely! It has taken me 2 days to read it all the way through but well worth it! I sincerely hope you both (Swampwoman and Kitana) continue to update this thread with your successes, failures, lessons learned and great times had while the rest of us "northeners" suffer our pooless cold weather during passing winters. This dome seems like a worth while endeavor that I feel many people who read this may be jealous of including myself! I especially like the cost comparisons/inclusions as every project has it's merits, feasibility and limits to one's pocket.

Swampwoman, did you ever get to take a look inside your heat exchanger or send it to Raypak(?) for evaluation?
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,837
Grand Rapids, MI
Lol. It is still sitting in the pool house. I had taken pics with an endoscope and sent them all to a distr rep from Raypak that had been advising me during the tech’s visit during the failure. I suspect he’s mystified as I’ve heard nothing back from him.

The new one is now “shedding” as well...but not scale or phosphates, just flakes ( eg small copper/Nicole corrosion residue.). So I need to do something and figure out if I just need to install a powered vent or what is going on that’s unique to my pool/setting.

I did scope the underside of the new one last month and could not see any shooting, but something must be going on that I can’t yet see.

Despite my relatively hefty maintenance costs this year when you include the heat exchanger and the dome air warmer failures, I still treasure my daily dome swims/physio. But I don’t know whether or not I need to warn people about an aging effect of winter operation or not. Hopefully things settle down around here soon so I can figure it out!

But I haven’t had any free time and will be traveling the next few weeks so my sleuthing has been back-burnered, so to speak.
 

scx

New member
Jul 12, 2018
1
Crewe, UK
What a great blog....appreciated...and in fact also the only opinion information i could find on the internet...you just about covered every angle. Im going for it for my new pool in spain.
Thanks!
 

Kitana

Bronze Supporter
Aug 28, 2017
32
Sterling Virginia
Weather here has been terrible. I'm ready to put the dome back up! Just gonna wait for Florence to go away and hope our cottage on the OBX still stands. /:( Hope no one here will be affected.
 

drway

Member
Apr 10, 2017
8
Westchester NY
Hi. Reporting in from an Ameridome owner in NY state. We have a rectangular one for our 16x34 poo, and it has been a real beast trying to store it over the winters. We originally got the dome to extend the seasons by a month or so on either side, but after an sudden freeze last year we had to hurry up and close the pool rather suddenly. This summer we went “topless” (that is, without a dome), but the dome lay in a pile off to the side not really having been properly cleaned and put away.

We just unrolled and inflated it for the first time this season to try to get an extra month of swimming this season. Sadly the dome is pretty dirty and this may be the last season we use it — it’s really difficult to clean out the stains once the dirt or mildew sets in.

For those folks thinking of getting an Ameridome, they are great, but if you’re still a seasonal user like we are (only really needing the dome in Spring and Fall), rather than a winter user, think through how you’ll wind up cleaning off and putting the dome away for storage in the colder days of November — it’s actually hard to get vinyl to dry off in the sun when it’s cold out, and falling leaves also make it challenging to leave such a huge dome out without catching some leaves.

Glad to hear the other owners are getting great use out of their domes. Wish we had a gas-powered heater so we could attempt the winter operation! Our heat pump starts shutting down to avoid freeze damage once the ambient temperature goes below about 45° or so.
 

drway

Member
Apr 10, 2017
8
Westchester NY
Related to my Ameridome storage woes above... has anyone thought of submerging their dome into the pool itself for storage over the winter? I’m concerned that the dome vinyl might wind up adhering to the vinyl liner leading to a bad situation.