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  • 1. Why do I want a swimming pool?
    As with all good design, form follows function — so the answer to this question will establish the foundation for your pool design. For example, a pool meant for fitness swimming can look remarkably different from one intended for backyard entertaining. You may simply want to enjoy the aesthetics or audible appeal of water in your garden — which will greatly influence the design. To fulfill hydrotherapy aspirations, a combination pool/spa may be in order. Brian Van Bower, owner of Aquatic Consultants, Miami, FL., recently designed a pool for one high-profile client in Pennsylvania. His clients requested a pool situated on the side of his yard where his kids could play. After visiting the client’s estate, Van Bower was able to show the homeowner that what he really wanted was a centrally-located, three-sided vanishing-edge pool to accentuate the spectacular hillside view. “Sometimes, people don’t know what they want until they see it,” Van Bower says.
  • 2. Who will use the pool?
    Keep in mind that a pool designed for child’s play may look quite different from one designed for romantic interludes. Plan to accommodate swimmers of all ages and to allow for multiple activities. You might want to include shallow areas for toddlers, extra grab rails for the elderly, tanning ledges for sun worshippers. You can even install underwater speakers for music aficionados.
  • 3. Is my yard suitable for pool construction?
    Many builders recommend that soil tests be conducted to confirm the site is suitable for pool construction. Sandy, expansive or rocky soil and other ground factors present unique building concerns. In addition, a high water table can significantly increase construction costs. Bill Drakeley, owner of Drakeley Swimming Pool Company, Bethlehem, CT, recalls one project where he uncovered a garbage dump during excavation. The trash had to be removed and the loose soil compacted, costing the homeowner an additional $30,000. Sometimes a proposed site will not work because it is inaccessible by the heavy machinery needed to dig the hole for the pool. Ideally, the pathway should be at least 8 feet wide.
  • 4. Where will the swimming pool be located?
    Before you can answer this question, you’ll need to know the zoning and building laws for your property. To control water runoff, there may be restrictions on how much of your yard can be covered with decking and in which direction it must slope. Many municipalities also require that pools be fenced in, which might affect where your pool can be located. Gas, electrical, telephone, cable and water lines may also influence the pool’s location, as there is often an additional expense to relocate these utilities. Remember to consider how people will enter and exit the pool, where people will congregate and how to maximize sun exposure while minimizing wind exposure. Wind exposure contributes to heat loss and evaporation. Because homeowners typically spend more time looking at their pool than swimming in it, consider how the pool will be viewed from the rest of the yard and from within the home, says Kevin Braidic, vice president of Watershape Consulting, Inc., San Diego, CA. He recommends including landscape lighting and water features so that the pool can be enjoyed year-round. “We do a lot of design based on visibility from within the house,” Braidic says. “We strive for a work of art that is dynamic, that clients can enjoy everyday, whether they’re eating dinner, washing dishes or whatever.”
  • 5. What shape and style will the pool be?
    Luxury pool builders suggest choosing a shape and style that complements the architecture of the home and existing landscape. One of Drakeley’s New England clients lived in a traditional colonial home. However, he wanted a freeform kidney-shaped pool like the one his mother had in Florida. “I had to tell him, ‘You may like that because it’s a great memory, but it doesn’t fit with the house,’” Drakeley recalls. “Once you bring up the point that the architecture doesn’t fit, most clients are open to discussing other options.” If you are set on a pool design that doesn’t match the home’s architecture, try to incorporate a transition area from the home to the pool, says Brian Van Bower. Through the use of walkways and plantings, as well as by changing materials, you can gently guide people from one aesthetic to another without causing a clash in styles. “Landscaping makes a great transition, especially where there are elevation changes,” he says.
  • 6. What special features do I want in my pool?
    To maximize enjoyment of your pool, even when you’re not swimming, you can incorporate water features and lighting. You may also want to consider underwater benches, shallow beach-style entries, a swim-up bar and areas to play water volleyball or basketball. An automatic pool safety cover will also provide a convenient form of protection whenever the pool is unsupervised. If aquatic exercise interests you, consider installing underwater handrails and a variable-speed current system, which creates a flow of water that enables you to swim in place.
  • 7. What other backyard amenities do I want?
    When planning your ideal poolscape, list everything you’d like to include. Include things even if your budget does not permit building it now. Some things to consider include a pool house, outdoor kitchen, firepit, outdoor shower, swim-up bar, gazebo and even children’s play equipment. As Braidic points out, it’s much cheaper to accommodate future plans in your original design than to modify your poolscape later on. For example, if you know you’ll be adding a firepit or outdoor kitchen at a later date, it’s best to run the gas lines to those areas of the poolscape in the beginning. This eliminates the need to tear up the deck and surrounding landscape at a later date.
  • 8. What materials do you want to use?
    Although plaster had been the dominant pool surface for decades, aggregate and tile surfaces have become de rigueur. Elaborate tile mosaics and, more recently, glass tile provide the artistic flexibility many luxury pool owners seek. You’ll want to look at the surrounding architecture and landscape for clues about what materials to use. Natural stone pavers and rock waterfalls can help a pool blend into a natural landscape. On the other hand, glass tile and arcing jets of water might look lovely around a home in a contemporary, urban setting. “Our design is a seasonal design,” Drakeley says, pointing out that the colors and textures of both the hardscape and softscape play an important role. “They have to have a symbiotic relationship.”
  • 9. How can you ensure that your pool will be easy to maintain?
    No pool is maintenance-free, but you can greatly reduce maintenance if planned correctly. Make sure your pool is engineered to be energy-efficient, with sound hydraulics and substantial filtration. According to Van Bower, this means using variable-speed pumps, larger pipes, adequate skimmers and above-standard turnover rates. Automatic sanitizers, such as saltwater chlorinators, ensure that the proper amount of sanitizing chemicals are in the water at all times. This makes it hard for algae to grab hold of your pool. We at Goodfellas Pool Service & Construction would love to discuss with you the ins and the outs of what it will take to maintain a pool! Feel free to contact us for more information.
  • 10. Who will build the swimming pool?
    The best way to locate pool builders who are committed to quality construction and good design is to ask for referrals from friends and colleagues who own pools you like. Building inspectors and landscape architects are other sources of referrals. Thanks to referrals, Van Bower, who works on award-winning projects around the world, is able to forgo traditional advertising. If a potential client calls, it’s because he or she was given Van Bower’s name by a previous client. The same goes for Goodfellas Pool Service & Construction, who once built a vanishing-edge pool for a client and then signed pool contracts for six other couples in the client’s social group. “The important thing is for clients to enjoy the relationship with their contractor,” adds Steven. “I’m a big believer in breaking bread and getting to know people. That’s when you can tell whether it’s right or not.”
  • How long should I run my pool equipment?
    We suggest your filter system run 6 to 8 hours per day. When water temperatures start to climb above 80° run the system 8 to 12 hours per day.
  • Do I still need to brush my pool?
    Even though most pools are equipped with an automatic pool cleaner, most won’t scrub, especially not thoroughly. Brushing your pool can help remove algae or any other small particles from the pool’s surface. Pay special attention to spots where water circulation is a problem (behind ladders, loveseats and corners). Brush the walls, benches, floor, loveseats and all other pool surfaces once a week.
  • Do I need to drain my pool every year?
    We recommend that you don’t drain your pool, especially during the winter. Keeping water in the pool during the winter can actually protect the bottom of the pool from cracking during freezing temperatures. We do, however, recommend a pool cover during the off-season to protect the pool from debris and cold temperatures. To extend your swimming season, consider a pool heater.
  • What do I do to maintain my pool lighting?
    The best way to maintain pool lighting is by cleaning the light covers, replacing old bulbs and keeping leaves and other debris from touching the lights.
  • How often do I need to clean my skimmer and pump baskets?
    A dirty or clogged skimmer basket restricts water flow. If water can’t flow through your skimmer, your pool can’t circulate properly and that could cause problems down the road. The same is true of your pump basket. If water is restricted the pump can overheat. Clean skimmer baskets daily and inspect for cracks, replacing if needed.
  • How often do I need to backwash my filter?
    For swimming pools equipped with a D.E. filter, we recommended the filter be backwashed when the pressure reaches 10PSI above starting pressure or once a month.
  • Does my saltwater pool require any chlorine?
    The nature of a saltwater system is that it actually converts ordinary salt into chlorine. There may be an occasion that you might need to super chlorinate the pool or “shock” the water. Saltwater pools are a great option for those who are sensitive to chlorine. Chlorine generated pools, or “saltwater pools” have softer water and can be gentler on eyes, skin and hair.
  • How long should I wait to use my pool after a chemical shock treatment?
    To stay on the safe side with chemical water treatments, we recommend using your pool eight to 12 hours after administering a treatment. The best time to shock a pool is during the evening, to let the system run over night. If you use a non-chlorine shock you can swim within 30 minutes of the pool treatment.
  • If I have pool chemicals left over from last season, can I still use them?
    Pool chemicals typically last if kept in the proper conditions. Dry chemicals have a 7 year shelf life before expiring. Liquid pool chemicals will last just as long, but if the chemicals freeze we recommend replacing them. Pool chemicals can separate if they freeze and thaw too many times, so make sure you keep your pool chemicals stored in a warmer place during the winter to ensure a safe and clean pool.
  • What is the proper pH and alkaline balance for my pool water?
    The pH level should be between 7.4 and 7.6 and the total alkalinity should be between 100 -150 ppm. For gunite pools, the calcium hardness should be between 200-250 ppm.
  • Why is it important for my pool chemical and water levels to be correct?
    Keeping the right levels in your pool allows for a safe and healthy swimming environment. Not enough chlorine or chemicals can create a haven for bacteria and create unsanitary conditions. Too many chemicals can cause a harmful environment and dryness of skin, hair and eyes.
  • My pool water is cloudy. What should I do?
    There could be a few contributing factors that can lead to cloudy water. The most common causes are, inorganic contaminates, poor filtration, or possibly high pH and/or Alkalinity. Inorganic contaminates can be anything from swimmers leaving behind sweat, shampoo and sun screen to birds and debris. Take a water sample to your local pool professional and have your water tested to determine whether your pool needs to be shocked. Poor filtration is often caused by a dirty filter. You may need to backwash and replace the filter media, or remove and clean your cartridges. It is very beneficial to remove the grids or cartridges from the filter and degrease them with a cartridge/filter cleaner at least once mid-season. Just spray on the cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes before hosing it off. The cleaner acts as a degreaser, helping break down the coating of oils from sunscreen, shampoo and swimmer oils that can coat the grids/cartridges. The filter system may also need to run longer to make sure the pool water is completely turning over. The system should run between 6 and 12 hours at a time, depending on the time of year and water temperature. When pool water becomes out of balance it is necessary to make the proper adjustments. High pH and Alkalinity can lead to cloudy water. Take a water sample to your local pool professional at Goodfellas Pool Service & Construction to have your levels checked and make the proper adjustments
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