Attention all pool owners! Newbie seeks advice!

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I'm in the process of looking to buy my very first home in
    good 'ol ultra-expensive NJ. I really don't care to live here,
    but I have been unable to transfer out with my job anywhere
    else.

    I have always dreamed of having a pool, and it seems that
    these past few weeks I have been looking at homes with in-ground
    pools.

    I'm a little concerned about being a pool owner. These pools
    are quite big (which I like), but they look like they are going to
    be a real hassle to maintain. I don't mind putting work into
    something I'm going to enjoy, but all of it looks horribly overwhelming.

    As I look at these homes with their in-ground pools I see the
    big mechanical filters and pumps in the corner of the yard. I hear
    about tablets you have to put in the filters as well as the small birds
    and baby squirrels that get sucked into the skimmer that needs to
    be emptied.

    Most of the pools I have seen have new liners. The pumps range
    from 5 years - 10 years old. There's one house and pool I really like,
    but the owner admitted that the heater is rather old and consumes
    far more consumption/gas than the house is rated for. The big plus
    is that this particular owner had the very expensive robot that cleans
    the entire pool on its own.

    I suppose my question comes down to this....

    Is it worth owning your own pool? Knowing nothing about how to
    upkeep, is it an overwhelming thing to learn? Is it expensive replacing
    a pump, filter or heater once it breaks?

    Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. drobbins

    drobbins Screenwriter

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    The worst I had was a opossum drowned in the pool. Went to pull him out by the tail & the skin came off! ARRG!! [​IMG]
    Check with your insurance company. A in ground pool will effect your rates. you will also need a fence.
    So,how much do you like swimming & how much will you use it?
     
  3. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Hello Ronald;

    I suspect pool maintenance may vary some by region. I've had a pool most of my life except presently - and I expect to build one within a year. I'm no real fan of swimming, but my kids are little fish-people.

    If you want to own a pool I would first suggest you examine your intended use. Be sure that you'll really use it rather than just have an expensive pond.
    Maintenance is simple so long as you keep it up. You should sweep it once a week. Check the chemical levels then too. Clear the skimmer as needed - depends on tree cover. Every other week you need to 'shock' it (over chlorinate slightly). Pool stores will assist with analyzing the water for you. Once a month you will need to clean the filter - a soggy but easy job. Takes about 30 minutes. It needs replacement annually or so.
    I personally would opt for a pool service. Costs about $100-$150 month. If you can afford it they will take care of most of the no-fun stuff.
    I had a robotic cleaner - cost around $400. I wasn't impressed. Seemed to just go in a figure 8 no matter what I did. My sister has one which works well - she also has a device which eliminates her need for HCL. It works nicely too but makes her water taste a bit salty. She has all the luck!
    As for the heater I can't say much. Any pump system over ten years is nearing the end of it's economic life. Pumps are not too expensive ($200) but a heater can be. Solar is probably not so good up there, eh? ( If the lines freeze the system is shot. ) Heating a pool is never really cheap. Try to get one which received plenty of sunlight. Down here in FL that isn't much a problem. [​IMG]

    Now - considering that maintenance - evaluate your intended use. IF you will be in it once or twice a week - go for it! If not - consider how much you really want it.

    Other considerations include safety - are there young children? (yours or neighborhood) Is there a fence around it? Splash alarm? Look also at deckside space. Plenty for big BBQs before and after movies with friends? I personally prefer a large shallow end (in fact my last pool had no deep end - it was magnificent!) With a large shallow end you can play voleyball etc. which was a BLAST! I also would advise a seperate hot-tup or spa. THAT is where I spend my time.

    Good luck with the purchase of your first home Ronald!
     
  4. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    My family had an inground gunite (cement) pool for 20 years. The maintainance consisted of cleaning the skimmers, backwashing the filter 1 time a month and vacuuming. If you get a home with a large inground, I highly recommend getting a vacuuming robot. We had a Polaris vacuum and what was a 2 hour job (42'x20' pool) that left you with jelly arms became 5 minutes of cleaning out the vacuum bag, throwing the Polaris in the water, turning on the pump and then me floating around on the SS Budweiser (my personal floating lounge) for an afternoon. Only consider the robots that have their own dedicated pump, like the Polaris; the ones that run off the filter just don't have the power to keep it clean and don't really work well. They can be expensive, but they are worth every penny, whereas the cheaper ones are more hassle than help.
    Polaris

    Other than that, a pool can be an expense, but if you have kids (or grandkids, like my parents had at the end), they are a great time and they definitely keep the kids at home and out of trouble. Learn to open the pool yourself, it will save you $$ (try not to drop a cover full of leaves in the pool, we did that a couple times and it took 2 weeks to clean). Just have a few strong friends around and it goes pretty smooth. Closing is best done by a pool company, because they have to winterize the lines. Cost is $200-300, depending on services. Heaters are great, but suck the $$ like crazy!! We didn't use ours after the first few years because to heat the pool up cost in the upper hundreds a month. A solar cover and a more realistic opening time is better.

    I maintained the pool for a good 7 years until my mom sold the house, if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
     
  5. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    As far as heating the pool goes, think solar... The same devices people install to heat their domestic hot water can be used for a pool. And you can even DIY in a scaled down fashion. Simply running a pump to a hose on a black asphalt will warm the water inside that is recirculated back into the pool. Nothing fancy but also nothing too expensive. My friend did that for an above ground pool, pretty cool if you ask me.

    Jay
     
  6. mylan

    mylan Screenwriter

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    Lots of good advice here so far. I had the same questions as you when we had our pool put in in 2004. I can second the nod for the Polaris with the separate pump, I throw mine in once a week and it keeps it clean. I was given a manual vacuum hose too but I honestly have never used it, I don't even know how. I have the automatic clorinator which is clorinating whenever the pump is running, just put the 3" tabs in there and forget about it for up to two weeks depending on the level of clorination you seek. Normal levels are around 3 (parts per million) but I found a product called "Exellerator" (sp?) that keeps algae from forming, allowing me to keep the clorinator set at "1". This not only has saved me major money but will extend the life of the liner. Chemical-wise, I have only spent about $200 for the entire season and will have clorine and shock left over.
    It comes down to how much you think you will use it. It is expensive somewhat, we run our pump 12 hours a day and est. using 60 bucks a month in power, we do not heat our pool because we've been told that propane can run $250 a month, I don't even want to think what an electric heat pump would cost to run.
    Edit: I just saw the recommedation for solar, up-front costs can be high but after that would be nice, something cheap might not work, you would need a substantial panel to heat 24,500 gallons of water, which is what an 18x36, 8ft. deep end would be.
     
  7. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Only you can decide if the pool owning hassle is worth the benefits, but as an owner of two pools, one in Dallas and another here in Mexico, I’ll make some general comments:

    •In-ground pools with liners don’t have the ascetic appeal of one lined with tile. This may or may not be important to you, but that big, blue blotch will get pretty boring after a while. Of course tile is more expensive.
    •The larger the pool, the more expensive the maintenance. Size in pool terms is not so much surface area as volume. If you have a pool in which you can dive, the volume really goes up. You might not think that a bit more chlorine will cost that much, but you will either need a bigger pump or to run the pump for a longer time in your daily filtering and cleaning cycle, the larger the pool.
    •Heating in New Jersey will probably be a necessity—or else your use will be limited to the summer months. Your pool water temperature will be the daily, 24-hour average, not the day-time average and the more volume of water, the smaller the temperature variance. The mean temperature for this July was 2.9 degrees above normal, and the mean this year was 77.4 degrees. This is a bit cool for extended swimming, unless you, like Jeff play hockey. [​IMG]
    •I agree with Jay that solar is the way to go and the black hose concept is a good idea, much less expensive than panels. I’m not sure how well that will work in your area, but it works pretty well here. Of course you need some place to put the coils of black hose or the solar panels. The black hose needs to be quite close to the pool.
    •Gas heating is very expensive—and even more so the larger the pool.
    •Either way, you need a pool cover to help retain the heat during the night.
    •We had a robot in our Dallas pool—it worked quite well.
    •Mentioned already, make sure you check insurance rates and thin gs like fences.
    •Pools in places where it freezes will call for additional maintenance. In Dallas during cold spells it was necessary to run the filter all the time, in order to avoid the plumbing freezing. Perhaps with proper attention to design, this would not be necessary, but I imagine that you will wish to drain your pool in the fall and re-fill in the spring.
    •But don’t be discouraged. Our present pool is a focal point of our outdoor kitchen, bar and casita and it is used almost daily. Having retired, I no longer have time to maintain the pool and our gardener takes care of the pool.

    Good luck—I’ll post again if anything occurs to me.
     
  8. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    Polaris!

    Amongst family members with pools the 'snakes' live in the pool non-stop only removed for parties. The kids love playing with them.

    A trend on the rise is to ditch the chlorine and 'shock' chemical maintenance, Sister-in-Law just had her pool converted to saltwater. She has had a pump failure in first month with the new system!

    [Reading tidbits of Lew's life sighs in envy] [​IMG]
     
  9. mylan

    mylan Screenwriter

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    Uh, Mary, please do not call them snakes...I pulled a real copperhead out of my skimmer yesterday, I had just been doing laps, wonder where he was or how long he had been in there?
    My pool sits at the edge of the woods and I think if I had installed a iron fence with open spaces we would see more but with a privacy fence it keeps the bigger ones out since they can't just slide under. I saw one copperhead last year and now one this year, thats it, my one of the year (I hope!)
     
  10. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    Swimming Pools! Movie Stars!
    All you need is Samual Jackson to have all kinds of critters out back in the "cee-ment swimming pond".

    Sorry Mylan, [hair stands straight out on back of neck] I can handle the garden snakes (literally) but draw the line at venomous serpents and jumping tarantulas and inadvertently walking through large webs.
    These occurrences will provoke me into a distinctly feminine reaction. [runs like hell] [​IMG]


    The first Polaris in the family had another name, “Rambu Skinner” I think?
    Nope.....that was the monster who lived in attics. I’ll have to ask them – I’ve gone blank!

    At family dinners it’s always interesting when the jetted outlet lashes out and squirts the crowd. The 'boys' particularly love this when it drenches the odd Grandmother, whom are good sports ever striving to keep them entertained.
     
  11. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    Ist it cold in NJ? How many months would you be able to use the thing Ron? Heating a pool seems like it would cost a fortune in a colder climate. If you lived in TX or AZ you would need to have a pool! We are saving to have one put in. We just bought a new house last year, and hope to have a pool in 3 or 4 years. We want a coy pond first though.

    Interesting thread to read.
     
  12. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Shouldn't have to worry about tarantulas, they particularly don't like water. Most true spiders don't either but there are a few that hunt fish and stuff, not tarantulas though. [​IMG]

    Jay
     
  13. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    I had a house with a pool. I spent more time dumping chemicals in it and doing maintenance than swimming in it... and this was in Florida. As far north as NJ, where the season is pretty short, I wouldn't bother.

    I could have bought annual passes to a water park & the YMCA for much less. [​IMG]

    Then there's the liability issue, where some kid breaks in & drowns. That happened to my sister years ago- a little kid climbed the fence & drowned in her pool. You'd think it would be up to the kid's parents to watch them better, but that's today's society for you.
     
  14. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    As has been said, a pool can be great, but it can also be a PITA if you aren't up to maintaining it properly, which does take time. Maintenance will depend on a lot of things, but if you have any trees nearby, or it gets dusty, or freezes in winter, you will have more work to do. Liners need replacing, which can be costly. If your water is metered, filling the pool each season (assuming you are draining for winter) can be expensive. Pools are an insurance liability, and can also negatively affect resale value. You do need proper fencing (check code requirements in the area).

    Personally, I would only consider a pool if I was sure it would be used all the time, I had plenty of spare cash to cover major repairs, and could afford to have someone maintain it. I would also be cautious when buying a place with a pool installed, as you never know how well that was done, how well it was maintained, or what condition the components are in (were the lines allowed to freeze?). If the pool is allowed to deteriorate and you decide to get rid of it, even filling it in is a sizeable expense.
     
  15. mylan

    mylan Screenwriter

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    There is no need to drain the pool each winter and doing so can do irreparable damage to the liner, which is carefully stretched by the weight of the water. On a liner pool, drain to just below the skimmer, which is three inches at most. I can close my pool in about two hours and by far the worst part is putting the cover on and filling the water ballons that keep it in place. I really do need to get a safety cover but at $1,000, I will have to wait on that.
    A.F.A. dumping chemicals in it all the time, I got the same respone from a co-worker when thinking of putting one in but she got hers before the age of auto clorinators and salt systems, which are almost idiot-proof. It does really all boil down to how much you will be using it, if you like to swim, it is worth it. Yeah, we could have gotten a lifetime pass to a water park or YMCA but my pool is steps from the back porch and I don't have to share [​IMG]
     
  16. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Too much info here to see if this was already mentioned, but I just heard that pools don't offer any added resale value to a house. Just an FYI.
     
  17. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    You won't get away with that around here. You need to drain below any return lines (2+ feet) or you'll freeze out the plumbing, circulating the water isn't enough. This obviously varies with the severity of the winters in your area.

    My sister just bought a place with a pool and has been commenting on both the cost and time required to maintain it. She's using saline, so it isn't even dealing with the chlorine. YMMV.
     
  18. Jay Taylor

    Jay Taylor Supporting Actor

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    Because we live in Oklahoma we’re able to keep our pool open about 7 months a year without spending too much to heat it. I’m guessing that a pool in New Jersey would get expensive to heat after only a few months.

    If I had a choice I would not have our pool, even though I’ve been a lap swimmer since age ten. We like to travel to places that you can’t drive too so we don’t have pets to tie us down. When we travel for more than a few days our main concerns are the house plants dying and the swimming pool having problems while we’re gone. One of our neighbors had her pool filled in and replaced with a garden for the very same reason.

    Solution for those who like to travel by plane or ship: No pool, fake indoor plants, no pets, and toss the kids out of the house at age 18. Oh yeah, and a monitored alarm system from Hell.
     
  19. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    I agree - they don't add much beyond their cost if that, but they can help a house sell faster - at least here in FL.
     
  20. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    > they don't add much beyond their cost

    They don't add nearly what they cost to the value, & there are some buyers who look at a pool as a negative. It's not automatically a plus when selling.
     

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