Hi - building a pool and I have some questions

jsternberg

Member
Dec 10, 2020
8
Addison, TX
Hi, I've been using the forums to help me learn about pool maintenance and chemistry before my wife and I build a new pool in a house we bought recently. We've never owned a pool before so this process has been a lot of firsts for the both of us.

I had a few questions about pool equipment so that we could build the pool with the equipment we need to get the experience we want out of the pool. The most important thing for me is making sure that the pool feels nice for my wife to be able to swim in. I want to avoid ending up in a situation where we swim in our own pool and get burning eyes or feel that our hair or bodies are filled with chlorine like we would get from the pool in our previous apartment complex. In order to use the pool in our apartment complex, I had to use goggles otherwise my eyes would start burning fairly quickly.

I had been reading about CYA buildup from Trichlor and using either an SWG or liquid chlorine to keep CYA levels from getting too high. In general, I'm home most days. I have worked a remote job for several years and will likely continue working a remote job for the foreseeable future. This gives me a bit more time to do some simple maintenance during a random break I might take during the day or the morning since the pool would be right outside of my office. But, there are occasional times when I have to leave for 5 days on a business trip or there are times where my wife and I might go visit family and be gone for a week. I'm concerned that during those rare times, I would have to leave my wife to carry around bleach to fill the pool or, during trips where we are both gone, the pool would go unmaintained and grow algae. These times aren't very frequent but I want to make sure that we build the pool in a way where it would be possible to leave for a week and then pick up maintenance again the next week.

I understand that SWG's can end up being less work (still with regular testing, but less manually adding chlorine) for those types of situations. The concern I have with an SWG is I don't know how the pool water feels and affects the hair, eyes, and skin. I understand that it's a low amount of salt in the water compared to something like the ocean, but since my only experience with pools is commercial pools in public locations or apartment complexes, I don't know how to evaluate which would be better for our situation. Does anyone have any advice for which type of pool leads to less eye and hair strain? My wife is very particular about her hair and the chlorine in our pool in the apartment would negatively affect her hair's health. Now that we're doing this on our own, I want to make sure that she likes going into the pool. I guess what I'm really asking is what are the differences, even superficial ones, between a normal chlorine pool and one that uses an SWG?

Another thing is we are currently deciding between two builders. One of them does a traditional plaster while the other does PebbleTec or PebbleSheen. We've seen a pool with PebbleTec built by the same pool builder and it looked very beautiful. Does anyone have any experience with PebbleTec and PebbleSheen for how rough they are in comparison to a traditional plaster and does maintenance or free chlorine levels change between plaster and PebbleTec? I saw in the Pool School eBook that there were different levels for Vinyl, Plaster, and Fiberglass. I've been assuming that PebbleTec is the same as Plaster but I just wanted to make sure that was the case. For those who have done PebbleTec, would you recommend it?

Thanks for any help. If it helps, I live in Dallas, TX and we are planning to get a heater for the pool so our pool is going to have a season that lasts for most of the year considering the weather here.
 
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Apsuhead

Bronze Supporter
Apr 27, 2020
224
Clarksville TN
Pool Size
19250
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-9)
I think you will love a SWG. My oldest daughter has very sensitive skin and salt water is SO much easier on her skin. We swam in our neighbors pool with the Chlorine pucks this summer and it was unbearable. Our new pool was just installed last week and I've already mastered the test kit, robot, and chemistry. This site is great for that. Good luck!
 
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caligrl2

Gold Supporter
Oct 7, 2013
14
Central Coast California
I have had both plaster and now have a pebble sheen surface. This past summer I was doing backward somersaults with the granddaughters in the shallow end and my knee grazed the pool floor. my knee was bleeding It took a layer of skin off. Grandkids have stubbed toes against steps ( infrequently) with same results. I dont notice it being rough just walking on the surface but it is no where near the smoothness of a plaster without pebbles surface. Pebble Tec is same as plaster for pool school water/chem maintenance.
 

tomfrh

Well-known member
Jan 30, 2018
489
Australia
SWG is good if you want to leave it for a week so unattended.

Pebble can be rough, and can be smooth. It depends on many factors. It will never be as smooth as plain plaster, which is effectively a flat cementitious surface, without any exposed aggregate. Plain plaster = plain white icing. Pebbletec = icing with sprinkles. Your choice.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
20,311
Bedford, TX
J,

I have three saltwater pools.. None of them smell like chlorine, and you can swim in them with your eyes open underwater..

I would not have a pool if it could not be a saltwater pool.. When you get out of a normal chlorine pool, you feel like you need to take a shower.. When you get out of a saltwater pool, you feel like you just took a shower..

Just to make sure we are all on the same page.. A saltwater pool is a chlorine pool... but instead of manually adding some type of chlorine, the Saltwater Chlorine Generator (SWCG) just uses the small amount of salt in the water to manufacture the chlorine your pool uses..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Nikilyn

Bronze Supporter
Sep 3, 2018
700
Gilbert, AZ
You really should swim in a pebble pool to know if you like it. I don’t. It’s the popular choice and I get strange reactions when I say I don’t want one. I’ve tried talking myself into one but I don’t think I’ll be happy. I love all the color choices with pebble though. It you ultimately need to decide what is more important, color or texture.
 

spd500

Well-known member
Jul 20, 2020
564
Houston, TX
We went with quartz so we could have the color options similar to pebble finishes. Overall we are happy with it, but in the spa my wife does get some chaffing on the back of her legs because she is short her legs dont reach the floor. We considered pebble but we were worried that it might be too rough, we are happy that we didn't do it. Also, as Jim mentioned, the SWCG is a huge benefit. We knew we wanted salt after having been in friends pools that had it, but we had no idea how easy it would be to maintain. Having had an older above ground pool with conventional chlorine vs the new pool with salt I will never go back. The water feels better and the maintenance is so much easier.
 

jsternberg

Member
Dec 10, 2020
8
Addison, TX
Thank you everyone for the feedback.

Just to make sure we are all on the same page.. A saltwater pool is a chlorine pool... but instead of manually adding some type of chlorine, the Saltwater Chlorine Generator (SWCG) just uses the small amount of salt in the water to manufacture the chlorine your pool uses..

Yes. My understanding is that the salt water pool will use the same amount of chlorine as a standard pool, but I won't have to manually replace the chlorine unless I need to SLAM for some reason. If I need to SLAM, then I will need to use liquid chlorine (bleach) to raise the chlorine level and potentially lower my CYA level. But my understanding is that if I keep consistent pool chemistry, I shouldn't need to SLAM.

I'm fairly new to learning this stuff so if there's something I'm not understanding, that is very likely and I'd like to fix that!

I got a response from 2 different pool builders about liquid chlorinators and SWG's. One of the pool builders told me that liquid chlorine would raise the TDS of the water faster than the inline chlorinator and would require me to drain the pool. My understanding from this forum is that TDS is a nonsense term and liquid chlorine raises it slightly faster because of the salt content in liquid bleach, but it doesn't really have anything to do with maintaining the pool chemistry. He said that we could do the SWG no problem and told me that the SWG he uses is the AquaPure rated for 14k gallons (our pool is a small one and will likely be 7k gallons or smaller). From what I've understood on the forum, this should go well with the variable speed pump we are going to get for the pool and I will likely just have to run the pool pump at the slowest speed for maybe 8 hours a day. I know nobody can really tell me that with certainty, but I'm just trying to get an estimate so I understand what I should expect. The second told me that liquid chlorine was usually just more work than the inline chlorinator and told me that chlorine tabs would keep the pool at more consistent levels of chlorine. My understanding from the forum is that this is true... until the CYA gets too high and then I have to do a partial drain of the pool. He also told me that the downside of an SWG was that it could be corrosive and my understanding from the forum is that this can be true, but rarely is unless you have soft rocks around the pool such as limestone. And all pools have salt anyway even if they are at a lower level.

I am of course nervous because I've never done this before and I would expect pool builders to know more than me. Is my understanding of where they are wrong correct or have I misunderstood anything? I'm personally leaning towards thinking the SWG will be best since the daily maintenance will just be testing and putting the cleaner in the pool with the occasional balancing of chemicals being once in a while (maybe weekly, but as needed) rather than being forced to do it daily.

If the pool builders are giving me bad chemistry advice for the pool, is this a problem when choosing a builder or is it common for pool builders to just not know how to maintain their own pools?
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
15,200
Evans, Georgia
Those pool builders are CLUELESS to pool chemistry. Telling you that liquid chlorine (water, salt, chlorine) contains more TDS than pucks is so far wrong its mind boggling. And that's even if we gave a fig about TDS, and we don't! TDS is everthing in the pool- skin cells, calcium, salt, CYA, chlorine.... ANYthing in the pool water!!!

Public pools leave my hair feeling limp and greasy. My SWG pool leaves my hair clean, shiny, full of body. I will admit here that I don't even bother to shower on days I have gone swimming. The percentage of salt in a SWG pool is about 3500ppm of salt, which is less than the 0.09% of your body. The ocean is about 35,000ppm of salt.

Maddie :flower:
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
5,565
NY
Hey J and welcome !! You have learnt yourself some great info there. Every bit of it is spot on.. Bravo.

If the pool builders are giving me bad chemistry advice for the pool, is this a problem when choosing a builder or is it common for pool builders to just not know how to maintain their own pools
Most PBs don't stick around long enough to care about long term chemistry. Most of the PBs that have their own pools either hire a service to maintain them, or treat the pools themselves following the typical pool store method because they believe that it has always worked so it will keep working. Except the pool store method doesn't really work well. At all.

I'm utterly shocked that you didn't find just one, but TWO.... Texas PBs who aren't afraid of the SWG boogeyman.
 

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gingrbredman

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2020
244
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I really liked my PB from the beginning, to now, the "almost" end. Their best practices, attention to detail, equipment choices, ease to work with, etc., all great when building my pool. Once the water was in, I got the "go to the pool store and see what to add!". I was shocked at first to hear this from, what I considered, to be a really good PB. But the more I read, and the more I listened, I settled back into the reality that this is just the case. Their expertise is building the pool, and to find one who is an expert on pool chemistry is rare, and to find one who subscribes to the TFP method is dam near unicorn level impossible.

This site is here because people found a better way to maintain their pool chemistry than the past "industry standards". Those people who subscribe to this "love" for the perfect water and methods (not all exactly the same, mind you) share their expertise and stories for more to carry on. A lot of pools have been built, and are being built and turned over to customers who don't know any better and are "ok" with daily pool life without knowing what it really means to have a TFP!

Sorry for the ramble, but if you are looking for pool chemistry advice and the equipment needed to have a TFP, the PB isn't the person to talk to about that, it is the people here for sure. Let the PB build the pool for you, with your input on some equipment and design selections, then you maintain the perfect TFP!
 

Apsuhead

Bronze Supporter
Apr 27, 2020
224
Clarksville TN
Pool Size
19250
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-9)
Same with me, my PB has been great installing my fiberglass pool. But on the initial meeting, he suggested just using the chlorine pucks or adding an ozone machine. When I inquired about SWG, he said that causes lots of corrosion. 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

jsternberg

Member
Dec 10, 2020
8
Addison, TX
I have another question if anybody has any experience with these. The PB quoted us for a gas heater (400,000 BTU) and an electric heater/chiller combination that was a smaller BTU. I don't have the number for that. We wanted to get a heater for the pool because, being in Texas, it means we can lengthen the pool season for most of the year and we want to be able to use the pool for exercise for most of the year. It can also get quite hot here in Texas over the summer and we've seen our apartment pool in July become hot enough that it ended up being warmer than the internal body temperature so it made you cooler to get in the water and then immediately get out so the water could evaporate off. The pool builder said the gas heater was generally better because it was a lot stronger and would heat the pool faster because of its size. He said the electric heater/chiller combination had a harder time with heating the pool because the BTU was much lower. For others who have had this situation, what have you done that works well? Is it better to use the heater/chiller combination, only the gas heater, or is it worth getting both a gas heater and a dedicated chiller?

I've also been reading about the difference between pressure cleaners and robots. I understand robots are a lot more convenient and generally worth the price especially for medium to large pools. Our pool is going to be a small one (25 ft x 9 ft, ~7,000 gallons). Is it worth spending the extra for the robotic cleaner or would a normal pressure cleaner work the same considering the size of the pool? And for the pressure cleaner, does it need to stay in the water or can you take it out when it is done?

I think we're leaning towards the SWCG and PebbleSheen at the moment.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
22,338
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
I have another question if anybody has any experience with these. The PB quoted us for a gas heater (400,000 BTU) and an electric heater/chiller combination that was a smaller BTU. I don't have the number for that. We wanted to get a heater for the pool because, being in Texas, it means we can lengthen the pool season for most of the year and we want to be able to use the pool for exercise for most of the year. It can also get quite hot here in Texas over the summer and we've seen our apartment pool in July become hot enough that it ended up being warmer than the internal body temperature so it made you cooler to get in the water and then immediately get out so the water could evaporate off. The pool builder said the gas heater was generally better because it was a lot stronger and would heat the pool faster because of its size. He said the electric heater/chiller combination had a harder time with heating the pool because the BTU was much lower. For others who have had this situation, what have you done that works well? Is it better to use the heater/chiller combination, only the gas heater, or is it worth getting both a gas heater and a dedicated chiller?

By electric heater you mean a Heat Pump heater/chiller combo?

Are you getting automation? How are you planning to control your heater and maybe chiller?

The heat pump generates a small amount of heat over a long period of time. The HP is good to maintain a pool temperature. It is not good at on demand heating to heat a cold pool. Gas heaters are best for on demand heating. If you want to heat a spa in colder weather you need a good on-demand heater.

This wiki discusses Cooling A Pool - Further Reading

This wiki discussed sizing pool heaters - How to select pool equipment - Further Reading

You will find pool heating calculators here which can help you understand the cost of running a HP in the colder months - Calculators - Further Reading

I've also been reading about the difference between pressure cleaners and robots. I understand robots are a lot more convenient and generally worth the price especially for medium to large pools. Our pool is going to be a small one (25 ft x 9 ft, ~7,000 gallons). Is it worth spending the extra for the robotic cleaner or would a normal pressure cleaner work the same considering the size of the pool? And for the pressure cleaner, does it need to stay in the water or can you take it out when it is done?

My Polaris 380 pressure cleaner stays in the water 24/7 except when I have large groups in the pool. The only pressure cleaner I would buy today is the...


When you consider the cost of the pressure cleaner, booster pump, and electricity used to run the cleaner you will find a robot cleaner is less expensive over its life.
 

jsternberg

Member
Dec 10, 2020
8
Addison, TX
By electric heater you mean a Heat Pump heater/chiller combo?

Are you getting automation? How are you planning to control your heater and maybe chiller?

Yes. I mean a heat pump heater/chiller combo. I am getting automation. The PB offers to set up AquaLink and it seemed to me like it would make managing the pool much easier.

The heat pump generates a small amount of heat over a long period of time. The HP is good to maintain a pool temperature. It is not good at on demand heating to heat a cold pool. Gas heaters are best for on demand heating. If you want to heat a spa in colder weather you need a good on-demand heater.

The primary purpose of the pool is to extend the season so the pool can be used for daily exercise. The exercise would be for a short period of time and the pool itself will only be around 7,000 gallons. We also live in North Texas. It seems the heat pump has the advantage that it would cost less and would keep the water to a consistent temperature throughout the week, but it seems the gas heater would be able to heat the pool faster. With the automation and general daily schedule being the same, I'd likely be able to turn off the heater and then turn it on in advance of when one of us will get in the pool But, I'm not sure I completely understand what "heat the pool faster" means. The calculators seem to indicate that if I did this and I needed to raise the water 10 degrees, it would still take 2 hours even for my small pool. If we were only using the pool over the weekend, it seems like the gas heater might be better, but for daily use the heat pump might be better.

Is my understanding of this correct?

I was also reading here about solar covers. Do those covers go on the water itself or is it suspended over the pool like other covers? I would be doing most of the maintenance myself so would it be easy to put those covers on every night and take them off in the morning to retain heat overnight?
 

jsternberg

Member
Dec 10, 2020
8
Addison, TX
Also, when it comes to price, the heat pump/chiller in around the same price as the gas heater since we have to install the gas line too. The price difference was about $800 more for the heater/chiller.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
22,338
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Yes. I mean a heat pump heater/chiller combo. I am getting automation. The PB offers to set up AquaLink and it seemed to me like it would make managing the pool much easier.

What model pump heater/chiller is your PB proposing? I don't believe Jandy makes one.

Pentair has both good automation and the UltraTemp HP/chiller.

It is best to get your automation, VS pump, SWG and HP/chiller from the same company so they all work best.




The primary purpose of the pool is to extend the season so the pool can be used for daily exercise. The exercise would be for a short period of time and the pool itself will only be around 7,000 gallons. We also live in North Texas. It seems the heat pump has the advantage that it would cost less and would keep the water to a consistent temperature throughout the week, but it seems the gas heater would be able to heat the pool faster. With the automation and general daily schedule being the same, I'd likely be able to turn off the heater and then turn it on in advance of when one of us will get in the pool

A HP works best when you leave it on all the time and let it maintain a set water temperature.

A HP may give you 140,000 BTUs at 80F and 90,000 BTUs at 60F air temperature. Your 7,000 gallon pool has about 60,000 lbs of water. So the HP will raise the water temperature in your 7,000 gallon pool by 2.3 degrees an hour at 80F air temperature or 1.5 degrees an hour at 60F.

A 400K gas heater will raise the water temperature 5.3 degrees/hour regardless of the air temperature.

Your pool will lose heat from evaporation anytime the water temperature is greater then the air temperature. That is where a pool cover helps. Otherwise in cold air temperatures the water can lose more heat then the heater can add.

But, I'm not sure I completely understand what "heat the pool faster" means. The calculators seem to indicate that if I did this and I needed to raise the water 10 degrees, it would still take 2 hours even for my small pool. If we were only using the pool over the weekend, it seems like the gas heater might be better, but for daily use the heat pump might be better.

That is basically correct. See above.

I was also reading here about solar covers. Do those covers go on the water itself or is it suspended over the pool like other covers? I would be doing most of the maintenance myself so would it be easy to put those covers on every night and take them off in the morning to retain heat overnight?

Covers go on the water. They mostly retain heat that would be lost through evaporation. Depending on the cover size and your strength they can be heavy. Some folks use reels to help handle a cover.


 
Last edited:

jsternberg

Member
Dec 10, 2020
8
Addison, TX
What model pump heater/chiller is your PB proposing? I don't believe Jandy makes one.

I think this might be the one. It's the version in his equipment catalog and seems to match with what he was referencing at approximately 140k BTUs.

A HP works best when you leave it on all the time and let it maintain a set water temperature.

So which do you think would end up being more energy efficient for daily use? Getting the HP and just leaving it on the entire time at a set temperature or heating up the pool once a day with the gas heater for a few hours? Would I be able to use the heat pump similar to how I might use the AC? For example, to set the temperature to a few degrees lower when I'm not using it and then increase the temperature before I am going to use it.

Also for a heat pump, do I need to have the pump running the entire time when using it and how does that affect the heating speed? Would a variable speed pump end up affecting things?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
22,338
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
I think this might be the one. It's the version in his equipment catalog and seems to match with what he was referencing at approximately 140k BTUs.

That is a new Jandy model that I have not seen before.

So which do you think would end up being more energy efficient for daily use? Getting the HP and just leaving it on the entire time at a set temperature or heating up the pool once a day with the gas heater for a few hours?

You need to run the numbers for your area and times of year using the calculators and see how they compare.

Would I be able to use the heat pump similar to how I might use the AC? For example, to set the temperature to a few degrees lower when I'm not using it and then increase the temperature before I am going to use it.

You can but recognize that you may get 1-2 degrees an hour from the HP. So depending on how cold you let the pool get you may need to plan to swim way in advance.

Also for a heat pump, do I need to have the pump running the entire time when using it and how does that affect the heating speed? Would a variable speed pump end up affecting things?

Pump needs to be running when the HP is on. Hetares run at a fixed heat output regardless of pump RPM once you run it fast enough to satisfy the heater pressure switch.

HP's require a bit more RPMS then gas heaters requires.
 

Slaru

Bronze Supporter
May 18, 2020
36
Atlanta, GA
My Polaris 380 pressure cleaner stays in the water 24/7 except when I have large groups in the pool. The only pressure cleaner I would buy today is the...


We are going with the pressure side cleaner, knowing we will have the option of switching over to a robot later if it’s not to our liking. Why do you prefer the Polaris Quattro Sport? Does it provide a similar clean to the a robot? I think we have time to request this if we ask soon.
 
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