Texas Dip Pool Build - DIY

clintwb

Member
Feb 10, 2021
7
Dallas, Texas
Pool Size
3000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Ive been reading and learning here for over a year and I'm excited to start this build thread now that we are getting close to making this thing happen! Nothing here is set in stone yet, its just where my plans are at. I would love to be ready to dig mid next month but I also have no time table here, we just want to do something fun, that will last and be a great build project.

I am embarking on a very small "Dip Pool" or "Plunge Pool" and am planning for this to be about 70% DIY with some additional contract labor to help and currently in the planning and research stage. I plan to post more detailed build plans, drawings and eventually photos along the way here but I have a few questions to start if anyone has some help they can offer. Right now im in the final research phase of materials and creating my buying lists. I have a few questions (at the bottom of this post) currently, but will update that as we get through this process.

Basic Design Ideas:
  • This is a BUDGET - DIY build here. So I want to do things as well as I can, but cost is a factor on nearly every step.
  • 9x9 square 4.5' deep plunge pool with a 6x9 sun deck attached.
  • Overall dimensions will be 15'x8'
  • Sun deck will be 10" deep (unless anyone has a better depth to suggest!)
  • Pool will be a concrete block construction with plaster finish, glass beads added if I can source some that I like.
    • Planning on pouring a 6" thick steel reinforced slab on the bottom and building walls and steps with concrete bloc, reinforced with rebar.
  • Bond Kote (sp?) application before plaster.
  • White plaster with white, clear and/or iridescent glass bead.
  • Equipment:
    • Looking at above-ground pool pump because I will have a pump house below grade and its only about 3,500 gallons so these pumps seem to be ideal for this purpose.
    • 16" sand filter
    • Salt chlorinator generator
    • Looking to add a large heat pump OR cold/heat pump - electric because I can't get gas to the location.
      • The purpose here would be to have the ability to heat near 100º f in the winter so its would be a large hot-tub.
      • I also like the Raypak Cold/Heat pump that can also cool the water in the Texas summers- its pretty expensive but I might want to add this ability.
    • Controller: No idea here. I would LOVE some basic "smart" controller if there is something that can run the pump/heater/SWG and/or lights or something. I MIGHT add a waterfall feature but not there yet.

Immediate Questions, ill update here whenever I get to a new stage of questions:
  1. Glass bead suppliers? Where can I buy glass beads. I seem to just hit a wall on anything other than the big-name brands
  2. Suggestions on cold pumps? Im wondering if anyone has used these?
  3. "Smart" controllers that are $1000 or less? I would love a control board that could connect to my phone or something. Having a "remote" seems pointless these days since most of my home is automated and its moving that direction. Basic control/programming from my phone would be wonderful. Ive looked at the Hayward OmniHub which I can get locally for about $1k. Wondering if anything cheaper is out there.
 

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Last edited:

kimkats

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LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
48,126
Tallahassee, FL
I would call it more of a large spa than a pool. Either way it will be an interesting build to watch.

Have not heard of a "cold pump". I think what you are wanting is a "chiller". Several people have them and love them.
 
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mknauss

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May 3, 2014
36,977
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
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Welcome to the forum.
The purpose here would be to have the ability to heat near 100º f in the winter so its would be a large hot-tub.
A Heat Pump will not work in the winter. Once the ambient air temperature drops below 60F or so they quit working. You would need a propane/natural gas heater to achieve that heat in winter. They do make electric heaters, but you will need a significant electric service amperage to service it. The pool will of course need to be covered.
 
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clintwb

Member
Feb 10, 2021
7
Dallas, Texas
Pool Size
3000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
I would call it more of a large spa than a pool. Either way it will be an interesting build to watch.

Have not heard of a "cold pump". I think what you are wanting is a "chiller". Several people have them and love them.
Haha, YES. Dip pools/Plunge Pools are so rare in the US but are all over Europe. We have seen them around and know 1 friend with one and its really nice if you just want a place to sit and relax a bit. For our kids to play and to not spend $60k building!! My parents have a nice big diving pool a few minutes away so we are wanting something for a quick cool-off in the summer.

This is what I was looking at from this standpoint. Its a dual-unit with heat/cool abilities. Its a bit pricy though but talking to the customer service they said it could heat to 102ºf

 

clintwb

Member
Feb 10, 2021
7
Dallas, Texas
Pool Size
3000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Welcome to the forum.

A Heat Pump will not work in the winter. Once the ambient air temperature drops below 60F or so they quit working. You would need a propane/natural gas heater to achieve that heat in winter. They do make electric heaters, but you will need a significant electric service amperage to service it. The pool will of course need to be covered.
Thanks for the advice. I've read some of that already and it IS a concern of mine. It will just be REALLY costly to get NG to the location we are building but I have the power main less than 40 away and plenty of amperage to handle whatever we need so unfortunately im likely going this route. Ill still get a quote on bringing natural gas over to that side of the house in the coming weeks, but im expecting $$$$$$ to do what we need.
 
Last edited:

Leebo

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TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 21, 2011
10,459
Eastern Ohio
Pool Size
25000
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Liquid Chlorine
Thanks for the advice. I've read some of that already and it IS a concern of mine. It will just be REALLY costly to get NG to the location we are building but I have the power main less than 40 away and plenty of amperage to handle whatever we need so unfortunately im likely going this route. Ill still get a quote on bringing natural gas over to that side of the house in the coming weeks, but im expecting $$$$$$ to do what we need.
The power needed doesn’t come into play here, but how heat pumps work. Below around 50° to 60° they just shut off, regardless what you toss at them. Because there’s not really enough “heat” in the air to pull out the unit themselves shuts down.

That said, depending on location heat pumps are a great choice, We’ve got one ourselves as natural gas for us as well is unavailable. Just don’t expect them to heat the pool during very cold weather.
 

jimmythegreek

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In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
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Morris Cnty NJ
Not much help w glass beads, any plaster work done (rare for me) is handled by a sub. If you plan to DIY the plaster know that an avid wash may be necessary to expose enough beads amd a thicker application overall is needed to bite them. No biggee on a plunge pool. Regarding the heat pump, its not gonna keep up when it's cold out, amd keeping a pool 100+ when cold out isnt easy or cheap. Even with gas if your water temp drops to air temp from a powerless or an issue, the heater would not be able to raise the temp again without damage to the unit. Gas heaters have a minimum needed water temp to start with. And the colder the air temp the more condensation in the exchanger you get, leading to faster corrosion and failure
 
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march2012

LifeTime Supporter
Jan 21, 2012
468
TX
If you are trying to be on a budget I think automation is pointless. It is nifty, but it isnt like you are constantly changing parameters on your pool. I personally didnt even bother and just got a basic control system. But you could even just use a manual timer and save even more money.

Another area to save is to skip the SWCG. Instead get a stenner pump (about $350) and a 30 gallon blue barrel and do direct bleach injection. I plan to do this anyway.

A gas pool heater I believe is less expensive than a heat pump so I would just go with that but use propane if you cant get NG.
 

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clintwb

Member
Feb 10, 2021
7
Dallas, Texas
Pool Size
3000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
thanks @Leebo - I think I was mixing up heat plumps with electric heaters. I have found a number of electric pool heaters that can handle the temp change, they just cost more to run - but where where I am, we would plan to use it more like a spa in the winter and just heat it occasionally.

@march2012 - you are likely right. I will likely do something basic to start and in a year or two add something once we build that area out better. Eventually I would add a water feature, some other lighting etc but it’s going to be a slow DIY build so that’s a good point. But I am going to stick with a SWG as I prefer the simplicity, need to save space in my equipment area and already have one in the budget. Super interested in your other sanitation method, it sounds interesting!
 
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clintwb

Member
Feb 10, 2021
7
Dallas, Texas
Pool Size
3000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Not much help w glass beads, any plaster work done (rare for me) is handled by a sub. If you plan to DIY the plaster know that an avid wash may be necessary to expose enough beads amd a thicker application overall is needed to bite them. No biggee on a plunge pool. Regarding the heat pump, its not gonna keep up when it's cold out, amd keeping a pool 100+ when cold out isnt easy or cheap. Even with gas if your water temp drops to air temp from a powerless or an issue, the heater would not be able to raise the temp again without damage to the unit. Gas heaters have a minimum needed water temp to start with. And the colder the air temp the more condensation in the exchanger you get, leading to faster corrosion and failure
Question on what you mean here with the heater.

my parents have a gas heater for their pool. They heat their hot tub with it all winter long once a week or so but often from COLD water. They have also many times heated their entire pool in December for a week when it was again, very cold to start and in the 30°-40° air temp range.
So I just don’t understand how -even with gas heater - you can say it’s not possible. They have been doing this for 20+ years since I was a kid with the same heater and it’s never broken.

one thing to remember here is also the size of my pool. It will be 3k gallons or less so any pool heater I get - will be overkill in terms of size.

That’s the research wall I always hit. When sourcing equip, “spa” equip usually goes up to around 1,000gal range and “pool” equip usually starts at the 10,000 gal range. It’s not going to take a lot to heat my little dip pool when I’m running equip sized for a 10,000-15,000gal pool. I have found small pool heaters that are rated to heat to 104° - and I asked the reps if this would work on a smaller pool when it’s 40° Outside and they said yes. The smaller volume will just heat much faster and then shut off when it hits the right temp.
—-

Thanks for your help as I muddle through all of this everyone.
 

clintwb

Member
Feb 10, 2021
7
Dallas, Texas
Pool Size
3000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Not much help w glass beads, any plaster work done (rare for me) is handled by a sub. If you plan to DIY the plaster know that an avid wash may be necessary to expose enough beads amd a thicker application overall is needed to bite them. No biggee on a plunge pool. Regarding the heat pump, its not gonna keep up when it's cold out, amd keeping a pool 100+ when cold out isnt easy or cheap. Even with gas if your water temp drops to air temp from a powerless or an issue, the heater would not be able to raise the temp again without damage to the unit. Gas heaters have a minimum needed water temp to start with. And the colder the air temp the more condensation in the exchanger you get, leading to faster corrosion and failure
Question on what you mean here with the heater.

my parents have a gas heater for their pool. They heat their hot tub with it all winter long once a week or so but often from COLD water. They have also many times heated their entire pool in December for a week when it was again, very cold to start and in the 30°-40° air temp range.
So I just don’t understand how -even with gas heater - you can say it’s not possible. They have been doing this for 20+ years since I was a kid with the same heater and it’s never broken.

one thing to remember here is also the size of my pool. It will be 3k gallons or less so any pool heater I get - will be overkill in terms of size.
That’s the research wall I always hit. When sourcing equip, “spa” equip usually goes up to around 1,000gal range and “pool” equip usually starts at the 10,000 gal range. It’s not going to take a lot to heat comparatively right?
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
3,509
Morris Cnty NJ
The old school heaters were tanks. 20yrs is an amazing lifespan nothing like newer units. Most have air and safety sensors and will shut down with cold temps to avoid condensing. Heating water has a delta T which is the range of inlet and outlet water temp and the gain possible. Make sure you research whatever unit you decide on for its ability and the manufacturer's specs. I'd recommend a nickel cupro unit if cold heating is common. A regular unit will rot away in a few years
 
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