Water water everywhere: Part 4 — Pooling Resources

One of the things we’ve done a lot of maintenance to and learned a lot about is the pool here at Purgatory.  It was put in when the house was originally built, and it is quite large for a residential pool. According to the Doc the diggers messed up and made the hole too big.  When they told him about the error and wanted to be compensated he pointed out it was their mistake, so no, but he thanked them for the extra hole length.  Thus the pool measures 44 feet by 22 feet and goes from three feet deep to 9 feet deep which means we have about 44,000 gallons of water in it.

imageSince taking ownership of the property we’ve made several improvements to things poolside.  First we replaced the very worn cover.  It was a very blah off-white/light brown color. We replaced it with pretty dark green one. The cover is  motorized–so while it takes about a minute to open and close, it slides nicely over the water and keeps most debris out.  We discovered just how much stuff it keeps out when we had the balcony tile redone, as instead of using the skimming net for just a few minutes after opening the pool, we spent twenty to thirty minutes twice a day getting the leaves, dirt, and dead insects (although a few were still alive) out of the water. (Contractor: Pool Covers Inc.)

Then last July we had the old solar panels for the pool taken off the studio roof when we had the flat roofs redone. We then had new and better panels put up. There are a total of 15 spiral Sun Coil panels and they keep the pool a nice 78-82 degrees during most of the year.  Unlike the normal vertical tube solar systems for pools, these guys self-drain and since they can be tiled with a bit of overlap, you can fit a lot more into a space than you could with the old style.IMG_1884

IMG_2284Then there was the matter of the pump controller unit.  We ended up with a new head unit since the old one wasn’t behaving properly.  That was discovered when we put in pool new lights.  The previous owners changed the bulbs in their own fashion, i.e. as cheaply as possible, and instead of using fresh o-rings, they reused the previous ones which allowed moisture into the housing.  Not a terrible thing since we had decided to install LEDs, but it meant we also had the contractors on that project run new wiring.  Since the pool breaker box didn’t actually have breakers in it either, we had them address that issue as well, plus they moved it to a better location.  Once everything was done with the lights though, it came to our attention that the pump controller was misbehaving.  I have my suspicions–namely that the Previous Owners had some friend of a friend install some pre-used or even RMA’d equipment instead of paying a reputable professional service to do the work.  Whatever the case, it’s fixed now.

Here’s a shot of all the major equipment.  You can see the control box on the left can be more easily reached.  Where it was (that unpainted area next to the now mostly defunct electrical outlets) made it difficult to access as you had to reach over the solar pipes which are about three feet off the ground.  Below the controller box is the main pump unit (the one in the pic above.)  Next to that is filter unit (oh and we bought new filters for it last fall since the ones left in it were of course filled with crap and not salvageable.)  The little black unit sitting on the ground just to the right of the filter housing is a booster pump that runs Nemo (our little pool robot that vacuums up debris.)  Earlier this year the pump we had died (go figure) and we bought a new one off Amazon.  Agent Smith installed it but the pump itself was leaky so I called Pentair and they sent out guy to fix it.  He ended up just giving us a brand new pump that is actually the next generation up from the model we had.  Instead of a single impeller this one has five and it runs much more efficiently and quietly.  Finally the funny looking thing in lower right corner (it looks kind of like castle tower) is the inline chlorinator.  Once a week we fill it up with chlorine tabs and that combined with a small dose of goop to keep phosphate levels low is all we add to the water.IMG_3124

Which brings up the subject of chemistry.  We have gone from being total neophytes in the area to being well versed about when we need to add extra chlorine and sometimes even hydrochloric acid to the mix. A lot of web searches led us to sites like TroubleFreePool and the staff down the hill at our local Leslie’s Pools are very helpful, as they do free water testing that is more thorough than the simple test strips, but we’re to the point now that as long as the pH and Cyanuric acid levels are good and we have free chlorine in the water we don’t worry.  We will always have a lot of calcium in the water as we’re on a well and filling off the softener is neither feasible nor good for the pool.  This summer our habit will be to do monthly comprehensive checks via Leslie’s and just keep things steady.

IMG_2966Then there is the matter of the tile and pool surface.  The plan is to have the bottom of the pool redone this winter as it’s reaching the end of its life span.  Since I swim diagonally from the southwest to northeast corners we will have at least one line of tile put in or possibly a second diagonal between the other two corners and then line of tile across the width of the pool where they intersect. Thus we’d have an asterisks for all the airplanes to see.  Right now I use a length of nylon rope weighted down with large steel nuts that I string along the bottom before I swim.  It has to be pulled up when I’m done though as our little pool vacuum doesn’t get along with it.  When we have the pool resurfaced, we’ll also have the tile along the top edge of the pool wall redone to match the new tile we had put on the balcony last month.

Lastly there is the giant retaining wall that was put in when the house was built.  It runs across the entire southern western perimeters of the house yard. We’ve gotten very promising news in the completed geotechnical survey, and we will not have to completely rebuild the south wall at all but instead underpin the pool and build out a better (and prettier) deck and railing than what is there.

Here are a couple of shots taken just before a workout.  In the first pic you can see the rope laying along the bottom of the pool and in the second the old diving board base is visible at the far end.  Eventually that will be taken out this summer.

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