There are a few things that I have taken into consideration while planning our pool.
- Environmental considerations: How are we going to use less water, electricity and chemicals? This is great for our budget and planet.
- Usage: How are we going to use the pool? We have to take into account what everyone in the family would like to get out of the new pool.
- Size: Once we have an understanding of point 1 and 2 we can look at where the pool will be situated and how it will fit in best.
- Easy of use: I don't want to be a slave to the pool. I want it to look fantastic with minimal effort.
- Budget: Swimming pools are expensive. The only way that I was able to get an proper idea of the budget was to use this planning information and talk to a few builders.
- Swimming pool surface: Fiberglass, Concrete or tile.
Here is how I fleshed out the plan for our pool:
1: Environmental considerations
Living in the Eastern Cape means that water is a major concern, water should actually be a major concern no matter where you live. We have opted for a smaller swimming pool of 7m by 3m totaling 30 000l of water. There is no way that we can fill the pool from a tap so we will need to fork out about R6000 for water delivery from a quarry not too far away. Long-term we will be saving water by never back washing our pool. Sand filters need to be rinsed out frequently to keep the sand clean and the filter working well. Each backwash can waste up to 1000l of water so I have opted for a cartridge filter. Cartridge filters are only slightly more expensive than sand filters but they filter out finer particles and only need the filter cartridge to be rinsed, no backwashing, saving a great deal of water.
Variable speed pumps are a fantastic way to cut down on the second biggest electrical expense in most homes. The normal thinking is that you how high wattage, strong, pump to pump as much water as possible for the best filtration and cleanest pool. In reality filters do a better job when water flows through at a lower pressure. I have recieved some excellent advice from Amor at Speck Pumps and based on that we will be opting for thicker pipes all round, to reduce pressure, along with two aimflows back into the pool for a lower pressure and more efficient filtration system. I have settled on the Speck Pump Cartridge Combi Unit that incorporates a filter cartridge and variable speed pump.
To start with I will be sticking to traditional chlorine treatment but I am very keen to test out more advanced, healthier pool sanitation systems like the eClear system.
2: How are we going to use the pool.
There are just three of us living at home at the moment. My wife Louise, 11 year old son Luke and myself. Louise and I will use the pool mainly to cool off but Luke is a real fish. Luke needs more space to enjoy the pool, practice water polo and play pool volleyball.
Louise really like warmer swimming pool water so I will be looking at various ways of heating up the pool water. The new home came with a solar pool water heating system on the roof but the pump powering that network of pipes does not work. I also suspect that when we do get it fired-up that there will be a significant number of leaks. A cheaper and possibly better solution would be the Sol+Guard GeoBubble heating cover available online through Power Plastics. We used something similar on our first pool and in summer the pool temperature often exceeded 30°C.
3: Pool Size
The current pool is too small but I don't want the new pool to be too big. I am very conscious of the need to conserve water and electricity plus our garden is quite small. In the end we decided on a narrow rectangular pool of 3m by 7m.
Straight lines seem to work well in our small space so that is what we will be going for. Spend some time looking through photos and consider your space when deciding on your pool shape.
Choosing the type of pool for us was quite simple but this is what we though about:
- Pre-moulded fiberglass pools: This is a great option for a cost-effective small to medium sized pool. We are not able to use this type of pool though due to restrictions in getting the pool into the back garden. I have seen them use a crane to get a pool over a wall or roof but this is not practical for us.
- Custom fiberglass pool: This works well for many people but the builders in our area don't specialise in custom fiberglass pools.
- Standard concrete pool: A good option but not exactly what we are after.
- Chip tile pool: A chip tile pool is a very popular choice here in Port Elizabeth. I am not sure why but it seems to work really well. The pool at the home that we were renting is a chip tile pool and it is fantastic and it has aged really well. This is what we will be going for.
4: Ease of use
In my opinion people do nit spend enough time looking into this while planning their pools. I have given it a great deal of thought and this is what we have decided:
I have been quite surprised at the lack of options when it comes to pool filters. Most people opt for a standard sand filter but I hate the idea of this old tech. Sand filters need to be regularly back-washed to keep them working efficiently and most people simply waste that water. You can use a backwash tank to store all your back-washed water and then return most of that to your pool once all the sediment has settled. You simply add flocculant to separate out all the dirt but the tank would take up space we don't have.
I was given the opportunity by Zodiac to test out their Zodiac MX8 Elite in our current pool. I love this machine. It looks great, it's quick, it's tough and it cleans brilliantly. I would be open to testing out other cleaners but this one is definitely coming over to the new pool.
I still need to make up my mind on this one. We are currently using chlorine via an HTH Floater+. It works really well in our current pool but I would really like to look at healthier options. My idea would be to go totally chlorine free.