Just Bought a 26' Intex - Looking for suggestions on upgrades as I start the planning/build process

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
773
South-Central WI
Welcome new reader! At 121 posts currently, this is quite a thread to take in for someone who hasn't been around for the ride. So I figured I'd come back and start editing in links to key events, as there's a lot of things in here and a lot of conversation that may be completely unrelated.

Post #50: Ahh-Some purge of hot tub that came with house, with detailed pictures.
Post #82: First pictures of the yard without snow for planning purposes.
Post #94: Flags laying out a proposed pool location.
Post #105: First utility marking pictures.
Post #119: Utility markings including electric.
Post #154: The one where our circuit breaker panel melts.
Post #163: Fence construction starts (no pics)
Post #168: Fence construction continues (with pics).
Post #190: The completed fence.
Post #200: Leveling for the pool starts.

Original post starts below:

Lengthy title I know. Follow on to this thread where I was deciding between an Intex and a typical hardside AGP. Summary is I decided on a 26' round Intex Ultra XTR Frame pool after a member pointed out Walmart had them on clearance for $400.

This will be my official build thread and I will include lots of pictures. Being winter in Wisconsin though, things won't get rolling for another few months. I want to use this time to plan and research so we can hit the ground running when the weather starts warming up and get the pool up to catch the entire swimming season, given how short that will be in Wisconsin. Note we don't yet have the house, but we close in two weeks. Any requested detailed pics of the yard or measurements will have to wait till then.

What I'm looking for from you: Advise as to the layout in the yard, style/size of a potential deck, equipment upgrades I should do and suggested brands, etc. Things I am already planning:
  • New pump and filter - obviously the Intex ones are pretty wimpy
    • I'm assuming I likely want to get a VS pump?
    • Will be doing hard-plumbing along with filter upgrade
    • I have a Hayward sand filter that holds 100 lbs of salt and a 1.5 HP Hayward single speed pump. As I understand, even that filter is likely a bit too small
  • Through-wall skimmer
  • SWCG - I've read Circupool is good for DIY and has decent quality
    • Integration with pump?
  • Deck
  • Solar panels
    • Controller for solar panels, integration with pump
  • Solar cover
    • Any recommended brands for best life?
    • Reel or other cover handling ease-of-use suggestions
  • Cleaning equipment I should get
    • Including potentially automatic cleaners
Basically, just throw it on me. I'm looking for reasonably priced, but quality items.

Pool location and lot layout: Lot is 80' x 160'. North is vertical with below photo, lot is rotated from the north/south axis. Existing deck next to concrete patio with existing 240 volt spa (awesome, now we don't have to buy one). Putting green will be removed. Trees behind rear lot line are part of city owned greenbelt. We will be fencing the entire back lot with a wood privacy fence, which should take care of pool fencing requirements.
new house.png
One of our ideal locations for the pool include the left side of the lot, near the deck, so the existing deck can be extended to meet the pool. Potential issue with this location is the ground is fairly steeply sloped to the left of the deck extending into the backyard, and may require more digging than desired to flatten for pool.

Another ideal spot is the right side of the yard, close to the patio. This means it's close to the spa and easy access to a restroom. It's also the flattest part of the yard. Biggest downside is I may not be able to put a pool in that half of the yard. The electric feeder wire comes up from underground in the rear middle of the house. I suspect this means the feeder runs from the middle of the house diagonally to the rear-right corner of the lot, where the utility boxes are, but won't know for sure until we close and I can have the utilities located. Pool can't be located within 5' of an underground electric wire.

The easiest spot may be the left-rear corner of our lot, which is fairly flat, though that means we are a long way from the house. See also attached elevation chart, where each contour line is 2' of elevation change.

Equipment: Looking for general advise on pumps, filters, cleaning equipment, controllers, etc, so I know what to look for when I'm shopping.

Solar panels: I'm a wimp, and love warm water. I figure we'll want to get solar panels, not just for me, but also to extend the season as much as we can without paying a ton for gas heat. This is probably not something that will happen the first year, but I want to be ready to support it with proper equipment selection for filter/pump/controller. I was thinking an ideal location may be to build a "shelf" off the future rear lot fence line. It will mostly face south, and 4' x 80' = 320 ft^2 of solar area, or 60% of the area of the pool, a decent starting area. Putting them on the roof is a possibility, though we only have one smallish section facing south and I had half a mind for some domestic water heating panels in that location (no hard plans at all for that though).

What I already have: General knowledge of TFP principles and testing supplies, as we've had an Intex spa up and down over the past two years, and I've used TFP methods of care for it. I'll be ordering a refill for my Taylor K-2006 from TFTestKits along with Ahh-some here in the next week.

Thank you for getting through my post, or at least skimming it! I look forward to all your advise, and to the upcoming build!
 

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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
45,509
Tallahassee, FL
What a pretty house and lot! This is going to be a great home for your family!

Here are the things I can give input on:
-cover-get as cheap as you can find. There have been many discussions and tries to find the BEST one...........well none of them seem to be any better than the other even if you pay more for it :roll: They are considered disposable items.
-sand filter-the size will only mean you need to clean more often BUT since you don't have any trees real close to the pool that will really help with that. The only thing the filter will need to clean up is what the people in the family brings in and most of that will be "cleaned" with the chlorine!

PLACEMENT! I agree with you that the side by the hot tub would be a good one BUT I have an idea. See if you can see what I mean:

-look at the back of the house- look at the right side of the deck. What window is that? If you put the pool there all you would have to do is put in a small walkway/bridge to get to the pool. Then you could use the deck that is already there as THE deck! or just extend the deck a little bit to meet the pool. Then people will only have walk across the deck to get to the potty.

-by the spa if no lines going through there=blocking the view from that glass door. The spa already blocks it some. If you put a pool there the sight line from that door will be blocked big time. Now I don't know what that door leads to so that might not be an issue.

Are you SO excited??? You are so close to being able to move into that wonderful house and start making it your own. Is there any work that needs to be done on the house before you can move in?

Kim:kim:
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
773
South-Central WI
-look at the back of the house- look at the right side of the deck. What window is that? If you put the pool there all you would have to do is put in a small walkway/bridge to get to the pool. Then you could use the deck that is already there as THE deck! or just extend the deck a little bit to meet the pool. Then people will only have walk across the deck to get to the potty.
That window is the dining room. As I said, we think this would be the ideal location, for building onto the existing deck, but it's the most sloped as well, so it would require more digging. Maybe a retaining wall too? I'm not opposed to that, but it will likely add more cost.

-by the spa if no lines going through there=blocking the view from that glass door. The spa already blocks it some. If you put a pool there the sight line from that door will be blocked big time. Now I don't know what that door leads to so that might not be an issue.
That's the family room, so likely where we will sit most of the time while watching TV. You're right that the spa already blocks a lot of the backyard from view. I see how adding a pool means we now have NO view of the backyard! Very good point!

Are you SO excited??? You are so close to being able to move into that wonderful house and start making it your own. Is there any work that needs to be done on the house before you can move in?
YES! Both of us are really excited. Less than two weeks now! We will begin packing for real today. I'm mentioned before I should be packing, and I've packed like two boxes since then...we have till February 15th to be out of our current rental house though, and the new place is only a 10 minute drive away, so the move should be one of the easiest we've done.

There is NO work that is needed! The house was built in 1990 by the same couple that is selling it now. Almost 30 years in the same house, and they've cared for and upgraded it meticulously. There are a few things we want to do, but they can be done later:
  • Add an outside vent to the range hood.
  • Add exhaust vent to the 3rd bath with a whirlpool tub. Not sure why then never added an exhaust vent when they built this bathroom, especially with the whirlpool tub.
  • Remove black wallpaper from said 3rd bath and replace it with paint (wallpaper, really?). It's the only room that has wallpaper. Other bathrooms have full tiled walls.
  • Upgrade the electric service. There's only 100 A service, and this for a house with an electric dryer, electric range, and outdoor 240 volt spa! The panel is small, and has been stuffed with many double pole breakers so they could add extra circuits. I'm not familiar with the NEC codes for max number of circuits, but I wouldn't be suprised if it was reached or exceeded. I'd like to upgrade to 200 A service with a nice big panel with plenty of expansion room so we have no issues when it comes time to add electrical for the pool (plus I'd like to add electrical to a future shed since I have an electric lawnmower and trimmer, so it'd be nice for charging the batteries for them right in the shed).
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
773
South-Central WI
Anything else I should buy before I place the order? I already have a K-2006 kit (but it's old and running out), hence the refill. Getting the salt kit in preparation for SWCG on the spa/pool. Two jars of Ahh-Some for the spa and whirlpool tub. And a CYA standard so I can check my testing technique on the test everyone hates.

I've already got the TFTestkits CYA test (in addition to the one that comes with the K-2006) and a Speedstir.
Screenshot from 2020-01-11 12-00-49.png
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
45,509
Tallahassee, FL
IF your wallet is fat enough I would get the speed stir. I did not get one then someone gifted me one and I will buy myself a new one if something happens to this one!! It really does make it easier to do the tests.

Now go back to packing!!! LOL
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
773
South-Central WI
IF your wallet is fat enough I would get the speed stir. I did not get one then someone gifted me one and I will buy myself a new one if something happens to this one!! It really does make it easier to do the tests.
Already have it! I should order a spare magnet though, I've misplaced mine a few times, would be easy to loose it entirely.

Now go back to packing!!! LOL
Blah!
 

Pv2

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 14, 2013
741
south east Arizona
I'd just use the pump and filter you have, see how it works out then upgrade if you have too. seriously, if you stay with your chemistry it is amazing what a crappy little filter will do. I kept mine going for two years on the toy. It was a PITA, admittedly, but your hand-me-down set up will probably be fine for a long time. save the $ for excavating costs. :ROFLMAO:
 
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krazykrames

Well-known member
Jul 20, 2012
173
SE Minnesota
For placement make sure the pool isn't in the shadow of the house. Mid summer won't be a problem but mid May and end of August could be. The sun angle at your location can be found online.

My "opinion" on solar covers... After 5 years with an ultra frame and trying different things with a solar cover I'll never go back to using a cover that's the same size as my pool. 26' pool = 28' cover. I drape the extra foot over the top rail and with super cheap spring clamps, clamp it to the top rail every place there is an opening in the liner (each leg). That way the cover doesn't blow around in the wind and 100% of the dirt and debris that accumulates on it never gets in the pool. The only problem is rain water on the cover but i just siphon it off with a garden hose. I also don't like solar cover reels because the dirty top of the cover rolls around onto the clean underside of the cover.

For an automatic cleaner you could consider the Intex Automatic Pool Cleaner. While I'm sure it doesn't work nearly as good as more expensive cleaners it only costs around $50 and I think it does a decent job.
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
773
South-Central WI
I'd just use the pump and filter you have, see how it works out then upgrade if you have too. seriously, if you stay with your chemistry it is amazing what a crappy little filter will do. I kept mine going for two years on the toy. It was a PITA, admittedly, but your hand-me-down set up will probably be fine for a long time. save the $ for excavating costs. :ROFLMAO:
Good point. Our inflatable spa had a very small circulation pump/filter. Junk would build up on the bottom from our feet tracking it in, but it didn't affect the water, only appearances. Assuming I tested and added FC regularly, of course. My priority is a SWCG before filter/pump upgrades, so long as the filter/pump is at least suitable for now, which it sounds like it is.

I'm hoping excavating costs won't be too much. I'm not planning to bury it, but as I outlined we're looking at at least 1.5' to dig out on one side if the other side is left at un-dug levels, and that's on a flatter section. Could be as much as 3-4' if we want it closer to the existing deck/house, in which case I'm sure we'll need to add a retaining wall or something similar as well.

For placement make sure the pool isn't in the shadow of the house. Mid summer won't be a problem but mid May and end of August could be. The sun angle at your location can be found online.
Good point. I actually have an app already that shows that. I primarily use it for the widget to show sunrise/sunset, but it has all sorts of cool things, including sun angles at any time/day of year.
Screenshot (Jan 13, 2020 07_36_28).png

My "opinion" on solar covers... After 5 years with an ultra frame and trying different things with a solar cover I'll never go back to using a cover that's the same size as my pool. 26' pool = 28' cover. I drape the extra foot over the top rail and with super cheap spring clamps, clamp it to the top rail every place there is an opening in the liner (each leg). That way the cover doesn't blow around in the wind and 100% of the dirt and debris that accumulates on it never gets in the pool. The only problem is rain water on the cover but i just siphon it off with a garden hose. I also don't like solar cover reels because the dirty top of the cover rolls around onto the clean underside of the cover.
How much of a pain is it to cover/uncover the pool though? My wife will literally use this almost every day she isn't working (so about half the days, on average). If it's too much of a pain, my guess is it won't find its way back onto the pool when she's done, which means that I won't swim much, cause I'm a wimp and like warm water. If the reel makes it easier, I'd trade warmer water for a little dirt.

For an automatic cleaner you could consider the Intex Automatic Pool Cleaner. While I'm sure it doesn't work nearly as good as more expensive cleaners it only costs around $50 and I think it does a decent job.
Probably a better job than if we always had to manually vacuum. :LOL: That is a decent idea actually. I figured with the soft walls we probably didn't want a wall-climbing cleaner, but I could be wrong.

Thanks both for the ideas! Keep them coming!
 

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krazykrames

Well-known member
Jul 20, 2012
173
SE Minnesota
It is a bit of a pain. I've become pretty efficient at removing and installing the cover by myself, maybe 3 or 4 minutes tops. If anyone else tries it, forget it, not gonna happen. So you're right that might not be the way to go.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
3,213
NY
I jumped in mine many times by just pulling back a corner as far as I thought I was going to tread water. Mid mowing, of course it was preferable to have the whole thing open to jump freely, But flopping in a corner still got the job done.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
4,767
Central California
Wood fence all around? Anything nice to look at out the back? I have wood down the sides, to block out neighboring houses, but black steel (on 4" centers) along the back, which becomes near-invisible so I can enjoy the view out the back. Nobody back there to peek in, no houses, no foot traffic. (Similar city-owned open space: nice oak forest.)
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
773
South-Central WI
Wood fence all around? Anything nice to look at out the back?
There's a greenbelt with trees about 100-150' across, with some apartment buildings on the other side. Visibility is probably low in the summer, but that's for now. The city doesn't want the greenbelts to have a lot of trees, because they are used to drain stormwater from the streets. Ideally they are grass for both erosion control and to help filter the water to meet EPA stormwater runoff requirements. They are slowing restoring all the greenbelts in the city to a grass/prairie type coverage. So at some point they will come cut down all the trees is what I'm getting at, which means I probably want to go straight to wood from the start.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
4,767
Central California
Ah, bummer. My city is fanatical about their oak forests. You are not allowed to cut any oak down, even those on your own property (all protected by easements). Gov'ments... whacha gonna do... I lucked out, I guess. Everybody has to build their houses in between the oaks. You wouldn't rather look at an open grassy area than a fence? Or is it the view of the buildings on the other side that you don't want? I get that. My across-the-way neighbors are all but obscured by the trees. A few more years, a few more branches, and they'll be gone.
 

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Pv2

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 14, 2013
741
south east Arizona
on the cover: if you stick with the cheaper versions (they all last about the same length of time so don't bother with the premium ones) they are actually lighter weight and more flexible, which makes them easier to handle. there are racks you can buy or you can make your own out of PVC (search site for a few versions of hanging ones. I made mine free standing) all you have to do is get in and push the cover to one side, bunching it up and shove it over the rail to the rack, pull it back in as you get out of the pool. fast and easy. I would love a reel, but haven't been able to justify the cost in my cheap brain so far, at least for this size pool and how easy it really is to take the thing on and off.
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
773
South-Central WI
Ah, bummer. My city is fanatical about their oak forests. You are not allowed to cut any oak down, even those on your own property (all protected by easements). Gov'ments... whacha gonna do... I lucked out, I guess. Everybody has to build their houses in between the oaks. You wouldn't rather look at an open grassy area than a fence? Or is it the view of the buildings on the other side that you don't want? I get that. My across-the-way neighbors are all but obscured by the trees. A few more years, a few more branches, and they'll be gone.
Grassy area is fine, but there would be two quadplexes and a duplex, plus a road, that would be in view without trees or a fence. Take a look at my first post, one of the attachments is an angling rear shot and you can see one of the units through the winter trees. During summer they may or may not be visible, certainly less so.

I can always plant vegetation on the inside of the fence, so we aren't looking at an actual fence.

Nice looking pool area you have there!

there are racks you can buy or you can make your own out of PVC (search site for a few versions of hanging ones. I made mine free standing) all you have to do is get in and push the cover to one side, bunching it up and shove it over the rail to the rack, pull it back in as you get out of the pool. fast and easy. I would love a reel, but haven't been able to justify the cost in my cheap brain so far, at least for this size pool and how easy it really is to take the thing on and off.
Honestly that almost sounds faster than a reel.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
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Jul 10, 2012
45,509
Tallahassee, FL
Wood fence. Make sure it the correct kind/design. Some places say it has to be "no climb" and that means different things in different places.
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
773
South-Central WI
Wood fence. Make sure it the correct kind/design. Some places say it has to be "no climb" and that means different things in different places.
Here's our city code (cause I'm sure that's what you were asking for :p):
Every outdoor swimming pool, hot tub and spa with a side wall height of, or capable of a height of greater than 30 inches shall be enclosed with a fence or wall, not less than four feet in height and of such design and construction that it cannot be climbed through or over or under. Fencing that is chain link shall be constructed of not less than 13 gauge corrosion resistant wire or other equivalent material and the fence posts shall be decay and corrosion resistant, set in concrete bases. Entrance shall be by means of a suitable gate or door or the same construction and height as the enclosure, which gate or door shall be kept closed and securely locked at all times when adequate supervision is not inside or within the enclosure. These requirements shall apply to outdoor swimming pools whether permanent or temporary.
  1. Location. No portion of a pool or equipment, located outside a building shall be located less than eight feet from any side or rear property line, nor less than 30 feet from any property line having street frontage.
  2. Excepted from the requirement of a fence enclosure not less than four feet in height shall be those spas and hot tubs which have a locking cover constructed of sturdy material and in compliance with the ASTM F1346 standard, which cover shall be in place and locked when the hot tub or spa is not in use.
  3. Excepted from the requirement of a full fence enclosure are above ground pools with side walls of greater than four feet in height which include a rail of at least 12 inches above the top of the pool and a secured entry into the pool. A lockable deck with gate or lockable ladder are secured entries.
  4. Excepted from the requirement of a full fence enclosure are non-pool structures, such as Koi ponds.
  5. Permit—A City pool permit is required for pools which are greater than 30 inches in height.
  6. Electrical connections serving pool pumps shall be installed in accordance with State of Wisconsin and National Electrical Code requirements. (The use of electrical extension cords is not allowed.)
City code is always a fun read, right? It does indeed say "cannot be climbed," which it also said on the brochure, so I automatically assume no chain link fences. But then when I looked up the above code it talks about building a fence out of chain link. So I'm assuming if chain link is allowed, a 6' wood privacy fence will totally meet the requirements, as it's one of the hardest to climb fence types out there when all pickets are installed on one side.

I suppose you could make a wood privacy fence that was climbable, as I've seen a style where every other picket is on the opposite side of the horizontal supports. This is both a symmetric design (so could be useful if sharing a fence with the neighbors), and allows air through, but is completely climbable and less private as you can see through at an angle. It's not a design I see implemented very often.

I do plan on clarifying with the building department when I go apply for my fence permit that my proposed fence also meets the requirements for a pool.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
45,509
Tallahassee, FL
We had one build where they had to had boards on both sides of the frame so there was no foot or hand hold. It was like a two sided fence. Chain link IS very climbable :shock: wonder how that works??