Archive for the ‘Pool renovations’ Category

Pool Restoration

Bob Russell | June 12, 2014 in Pool,Pool renovations,Pool Service,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Pool Restoration

Here are some important considerations for those deciding to renovate or restore a swimming pool in Connecticut.

I took this first picture during a pool inspection around 2008. Note the hairline crack just above tile and beneath coping stones. I told the pool owner, “…you will begin to lose tile in this area in 2-3  years.

The second picture was taken in 2010. Same pool, same area.

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Did you know that tile problems are almost always a symptom of coping problems?

Coping problems can be related to expansion joint problems (or lack of expansion joint).

Or, they can simply be normal pool maintenance because we live in the North east and have harsh Winters.

The point of my anecdote: When you decide it is time to restore your swimming pool to it’s original glory, be sure to find an experienced (and licensed, by the way) expert who will not only attempt to sell you a tile job; or re-set coping stones and re-surface your pool, find someone who can spot why something failed; someone who understands how to repair in such a way that you don’t have to do this again for a long time.

In my experience as a pool inspector, the #1 reason for coping/ tile problems is inadequate expansion joints. The #2 cause is inadequate drainage around pool.

#3 is the fact you own a pool in New England! Seasonal changes are just rough on masonry!

 

Root Causes and Codes

The second and final point I’d like to make in this post is this: once you have an expert who understands root causes of problems and can offer long-lasting solutions, be sure your pool repairs are done in accordance with local and state codes. This is not just good advice, it is the law:

  1. Pool renovation and restoration work must be done by licensed companies using licensed employees.
  2. Current pool building standards apply to renovation or restoration work.

One example of this is the so-called, “anti-entrapment codes.”

When re-surfacing a swimming pool in Connecticut, the pool is to be brought into current building and safety standards. There may be some variation in interpretation of the building code from town to town, but essentially, every pool that is having any kind of permanent changes made to the circulation system must be brought to current building standards- this includes preparation work for re-surfacing!

These standards include splitting floor suction outlets 3′ apart AND employing a third “dummy drain” for water table management.

This is a picture of us doing just that on a recent pool restoration project.

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We’ll continue on the subject in my next post.

Thank you for reading.

Enjoy the Summer!

 

 


Snow And More Snow!

Bob Russell | March 8, 2013 in Equipment maintenance,Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool equipment,Pool renovations,Pool Service,Sanitizers,Uncategorized,Winterize | Comments (0)

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It’s been a snowy and rainy winter.

What can we expect when we open our pools in a couple months?

Here is a short list of general things to check out after a snowy/ rainy winter:

Check for winter cover damage. Heavy snow can pull out wall anchors; cause sharp coping to rip through cover; heavy snow on a winter cover can pull deck anchors and deck stones towards pool causing related masonry damage.

Check heaters for mouse damage- during periods of deep snow, mice move into heaters- more than usual.

Water chemistry- heavy snow and rains means your water chemistry has changed. Of primary concern is:

a) Sanitizer levels- these must be maintained to keep water clear and algae-free until opening day!

b) Calcium Hardness- rain water contains about 0 ppm calcium. After about 18″ – 36″ of rain between September and May, a pool’s Calcium Hardness has been diluted making the water “softer” and more aggressive towards plaster finish. Water left in this state for too long will cause finish problems.

For more details on these and related issues we recommend you consult with an experienced and licensed pool service professional.

If you are interested in our pool services, please contact us!

Meanwhile, Memorial Day Weekend is only 12 weeks away!

- Bob


Pool Work In Winter

Bob Russell | December 25, 2011 in Pool,Pool equipment,Pool renovations,Pool Service,Uncategorized,Winterize | Comments (0)

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Equipment enhancements and plumbing projects.

November and December can be tricky times of year to do such work, but if the weather is cooperating, I say, “…go for it!”

Generally the ground is well-frozen in January and this frost layer can be as deep as 18″ or more.

Still, If you can get such projects out of the way now, during the “off season,” there are some big benefits including these:

1) Most service companies are happy to do the work now when pools are closed. They actually prefer to do these sort of projects, while things are a bit quieter. Also, you may find a service company more willing to negotiate on costs this time of year.

2) The risk of a delayed spring opening is reduced. Things get very busy very fast for pool companies in Spring, especially if the winter is prolonged by March snowfall and colder weather.

3) Landscape repairs over trenches get an early jump in Spring. Anything dug up in December will be well settled by Spring. Lawn repairs will not be delayed.

So, if you can, I recommend doing the project or installation now. Not everyone thinks this far ahead, but for those who do, these and other benefits can be realized by May the following season.

May you and your family enjoy a wonderful holiday season and prosperous new year!

Bob


Modern vs. Traditional Pools

Bob Russell | November 15, 2010 in Eco-friendly,Pool,Pool equipment,Pool renovations | Comments (0)

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Recently, I heard someone ask about “Modern Pools” and wondered what he meant.

I thought about the eye-popping pictures of swimming pools atop skyscrapers in Dubai. I thought about the huge pool on a tropical coast that you can take a sailboat out on.

So, what is “modern?”

We restored a Frank Lloyd Wright pool to it’s original beauty last year. (The pool pictured here is NOT that pool). The design of this pool is timeless and spectacular in form- grabbing one’s attention. In his day, Frank Lloyd Wright was beyond modern- he was pushing the limits of architecture in both form and function. His work was spellbinding- it’s as though you cannot look away from it. That said, this was a low-tech, 40 year old pool that happened to be designed by a man who was way ahead of his time…and perhaps ours too. So, I look at it and think it still looks “modern” …but that’s my opinion.

So what makes a modern pool “modern?”

What about the “common” rectangle pool with state-of-the-art remote controls, automatic cover, LED lighting, sonar safety system, underwater speakers and salt/chlorine generator. Does the latest technology make a pool “modern?” or, is it the design? Or both?

At Glen Gate, we create state-of-the art pools. Some of these pools are architectually beautiful to look at, some appear to be very traditional. Does “modern” and “traditional” work in the same sentence? Perhaps. Super-efficiency and cutting edge technology is modern, though the design may be “timeless.”

When I was a kid, my favorite car was the Ford GT. It’s a 40+ year old machine now and considered “old technology” but, boy are they pretty!

Recently, Ford had a brilliant idea and re-made the GT! …with the best stuff available under the hood! Timeless design never goes out of style. Performance and innovation is usually hidden out of sight.  

I think the (2) basic rules of the “modern Pool” must go something like this:

1) The modern pool must delight the eye of the Owner and be married to the surrounding land. It might look 40-50-years old or it can look like a spaceship- but it must be love every time I look at it. 

2) There’s something else the modern pool must do: it  has to run better and smarter than anything else out there.

We’re still working on the definition here.


Pool Inspections

Bob Russell | November 2, 2010 in Pool,Pool renovations,Pool Service,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Concrete Pool Inspections  

 

Yes, have the pool inspected! 

When buying a home it is considered normal to first have it inspected . When buying a home with a swimming pool or spa, most Buyers are also ordering a pool inspection. This is a wise decision! 

 A quick word about selecting a pool/ spa Inspector: 

A pool inspection should provide objective, factual and informative information about the pool. Your Real Estate Agent or Home Inspector will usually be able to refer you to a solid and reliable company. 

I cannot possibly cover everything about pool inspections in a short article, but here are some of the main things I look for during a ["gunite"] pool inspection: 

Safety:  

Again, space does not allow for a full discussion of this issue; but this is the number one reason you should have a professional inspect the pool or spa. 

  • I look for GFCI circuits and make sure they are in good working order.
  • I look at safety code compliance especially regarding pool or spa suction outlets.

This topic is covered more extensively in other blogs. 

Pool Masonry and Structural Issues:  

I “sound out” coping, tile and other pool stone work by taping with an instrument (like a 3 iron golf club). I am listening for hollow sounds- when I hear them, I examine these areas to see how extensive it is and why it is happening. 

Loose or hollow coping and tile are often indicators of other problems like: inadequate or missing expansion joints, or drainage around the pool site. Coping and tile problems can be expensive; an expert’s opinion is valuable here. Below is a picture I took of a typical coping problem. One thing I’d like to point out about this particular issue, “…you can’t see it by just walking around the pool.” 

Note the bluestone coping setting bed has broken bond in this picture.

 “Expansion Joints”: A bit of a catch-all term, I am referring to the joint between coping and pool deck. 

If the deck base is concrete, there must be a gap  between pool deck and pool coping (typically 1/4″ to 1/2″ ). This joint is often filled with a flexible material.

This is a very important joint, here’s why: The deck expands sideways in the sun; it may also rise and fall slightly with freeze/thaw cycles- if there is not an adequate gap, the pressure caused by such movements will damage the coping- even pushing it off it’s cement setting bed.

Note- Even pools that appear to have an expansion joint can have this problem if deck and coping is touching below the caulk. 

Cantilevered decks- are decks that lay on top of the pool beam (or pool wall); the point where the deck and pool beam interface must have a  “bond breaker” to prevent movement damage. 

Is It A Structural Problem? Or just superficial? An experienced pool inspector can usually tell the difference and advise you. 

 
 
Equipment Brief:
 
Heaters:

Is that a legal stack? Is it safe?

 Is the heater older or newer? Is it running? Well-maintained? 

 Filters, Pumps, Remote Controls, Valves: 

Does it all work as it should? Has it all been maintained well? What are my expected maintenance costs?

Is everything working as it should?

  

Automatic Covers: 

Automatic covers should be inspected for smooth operation; winter covers should be checked for age and wear as well as condition of anchoring system. 

 

Finally, I strongly recommend calling for a pool or spa inspection. I have found some problems that even the previous homeowner was not aware of. Pools are important investments and some larger repairs can run into the tens of thousands.


“…Is my pool/spa safe?”

Bob Russell | June 30, 2010 in Equipment maintenance,Pool equipment,Pool renovations,Pool safety,Pool Service,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Is my pool/spa safe?

I enjoy writing about the joy and recreational benefits of owning a pool or spa. When it comes to safety, things get very sober and serious for pool and spa Owners and those in the business.

In the last decade there have been several changes to standards and codes in the pool and spa industry.  The question I am asked most frequently is: “Is my pool or spa safe?”

Today’s safety codes are complex. Pools and spas are also complex. Most pool and spa Owners are bombarded with media hype, marketing gimmicks and general misinformation. I’d like to help. Here are the basic things I look for while inspecting a pool or spa. 

 1) Suction Outlet Covers: Floor and wall drain covers should be in place and secured by stainless steel screws. Residential pools and spas built since 2003-2004 are required to have two suction outlets that are spaced 3 feet apart.

Spa above with a single suction outlet- built before 2003.

2) Anti-entrapment Covers- In December of 2008, all [existing] commercial pools were required to install specially designed “anti-entrapment” suction outlet covers. Residential pools were to have existing covers replaced when they failed, or at the discretion of the homeowner. Note: The new covers are designed to prevent an object (such as a human body) from creating a seal over a suction outlet; they are also designed to prevent hair entanglement. As expected, these new covers are much more expensive than the old style; they are also made of extraordinarily strong material- unlike the older covers which are relatively easy to break.

Should you replace your spa or pool floor suction covers now?

That’s a good question to ask your service professional!

Some floor suction outlets (e.g. such as the single suction outlet pictured above) are more of a risk than others- it depends on how the pool or spa is plumbed.

The first and most important “layer of safety” is the most obvious: make sure the suction outlet covers are in place and secured.

Spa pictured above is fitted with an approved anti-entrapment cover.

3) SVRS Or, Vacuum Release System- A vacuum release system is an additional layer of safety that became law in 2005  for new residential swimming pools or spas

Vacuum release units (SVRS) vary in shape and size but are all designed to do the same basic thing: release an object that has made a seal over a suction outlet. 

Some ask, “…how can people get stuck on a main drain?” The answer requires a discussion of physics but in short, there can be tremendous force at a suction port that has been sealed. A one horsepower pump (for instance) has enough force to trap a grown man and hold him fast. Some drowning accidents have in fact happened in this way.

Pictured above is a common mechanical SVRS installed on suction-side of pump.

Is your pool or spa equipped with an SVRS?

Is it operational?

These are questions to ask your service professional!

 

Summary:

When inspecting your pool or spa, look for the following  “layers of protection”:

1)      Secured and approved anti-entrapment suction outlet covers. This is the most important layer of safety!

2)      Dual suction outlets - pools built after 2003-2004. (A second outlet can be added to existing pools.)

3)      SVRS system (vacuum release) - required in pools built after April 2005. SVRS systems can be added onto any pool for an additional layer of [anti-entrapment] protection.

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If you have concerns or questions about your pool or spa after reading this post, you should contact your pool professional and get your questioned answered! Safety is nothing to guess at.