Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™
Pools as an art form - the way it should be!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Indoor Swimming Pool Design Architect Aquascape Consulting Dehumidification Vapor Barrier Moisture Control

Why your indoor pool project requires an aquatic consultant who specializes in indoor pools.

Learning Curve

People think that they can invent inexpensive solutions to the issues that plague indoor swimming pools.  And, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but they have all been tried before and they have all failed.   

Do not waste your time and money on "things that might work."  The key to a healthy and safe indoor pool is dehumidification and controlling vapor transmission.

Vapor Barrier

 A vapor barrier exists to prevent the transmission of water vapor (microscopic droplets of water) into the building envelope.  Once that occurs, many terrible things happen to the building and occupants:

black mold
corrosion of wiring
rusting pipes
dry rot
short circuit of electrical components
water damage
soggy drywall
decay of building fasteners, brackets and structural elements
respiratory problems:
     pneumonia
     asthma
     Legionnaire's Disease
     upper respiratory ailments

Controlling Vapor

The main key to controlling the moisture in the air (humidity), is to remove it.  While pool covers, temperature control and ventilation are important, together or by themselves they cannot mitigate the water vapor that will emit from the pool.  Like gravity, it cannot be prevented or turned off.

However, once into the environment, the humidity can be controlled.  Dehumidifiers dry the air and return the dried into the envelope.  Provided the natatorium has a properly installed vapor barrier, the moisture ends there.

Mechanical Engineer and HVAC Contractor

You do not want to hire an mechanical engineer or HVAC contractor who is not experienced with indoor pools.  Though there are many reference sources available for them, you do not want them learning or experimenting on your project.  

This is as much as a science, as it is an art.  Though dehumidification ducting and systems may be sized properly, installing the registers, returns or controls in the incorrect location will negate the efficiency of the entire system.

It's been done before

Because you don't want to spend the money on a dehumidification system, don't think that you have struck upon an alternative solution.

Every "bright idea" has been tried:
     skylights
     sliding doors and windows
     heaters
     pool covers
     A/C vents 
     fans
     Heated glass
     screened rooms
     moveable hydraulic floors
     heated pool decks

The ONLY solutions to controlling the humidity in the room are a dehumidification system, building an outdoor pool or leaving the pool empty.

Experience can save you a bundle on the learning curve.


Paolo Benedetti, SWD, Principal
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa
www.AquaticTechnology.com
International Swimming Pool Consulting and Design, Aquatic Consulting, Watershape Consultants, Expert Witness, Hydraulic Design, Landscape Architecture, Construction Management
Office: 408-776-8220
Email: info@aquatictechnology.com
Major Markets Serviced:
San Francisco, Palo Alto, Atherton, Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Clemente, Pacific Palisades, Escondido, Scottsdale, Seattle, Phoenix, Tempe, Portland, Aspen, Vail, Park City, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Madison, Detroit, East Hamptons, South Hamptons, Cape May, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cherry Hill, Toms River, Salt lake City, Boise, Denver, Santa Barbaara, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Monterey, Pebble Beach, Oceanside, Big Sur, Napa, Sonoma, Sausalito, Danville, Belvedere, Montecito, Palm Springs, Midland, Manhattan, Greenwich Village, Osaka, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Seoul, Sydney, New York, Tokyo, Cairo, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Lisbon, Bonn.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Aquascape Consulting, Watershape Consultants, Aqua Designer, Swimming Pool Construction

We provide consulting and design services to property developers, architects, landscape architects, general contractors and swimming pool builders.  

As an internationally recognized expert and leader in the field of swimming pool construction and design, we can offer cutting edge and state of the art construction and design technologies.

Beginning with a site visit and design review, we will consider many items oftentimes overlooked by "pool builders turned designer/consultant."

Prevailing winds, seasonal location of the sun, broadcasted shade, privacy from neighboring properties, lines of sights and view angles - are just a few of the geographic items that we will consider.

Our extensive training, travels, education and knowledge of architecture and construction is unparalleled amongst aquascape designers and consultants.  This allows us to offer economical and innovative solutions to design and construction issues.  

Our open collaboration with other design professionals and architects results in a seamless set of project plans and specifications, that eliminate cost over-runs and change orders. 

Our dedication to the client and their continued operational and maintenance expenses are paramount.  Through functional designs that incorporate the lowest construction and operating expenses, you can be guaranteed that you will have the most trouble free aquascape possible.
 
Paolo Benedetti, SWD, Principal 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 
www.AquaticTechnology.com 
International Swimming Pool Consulting and Design, Aquatic Consulting, Watershape Consultants, Expert Witness, Hydraulic Design, Landscape Architecture, Construction Management 
Office: 408-776-8220 
Email: info@aquatictechnology.com 
Major Markets Serviced: San Francisco, Palo Alto, Atherton, Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Clemente, Pacific Palisades, Escondido, Scottsdale, Seattle, Phoenix, Tempe, Portland, Aspen, Vail, Park City, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Madison, Detroit, East Hamptons, South Hamptons, Cape May, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cherry Hill, Toms River, Salt lake City, Boise, Denver, Santa Barbaara, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Monterey, Pebble Beach, Oceanside, Big Sur, Napa, Sonoma, Sausalito, Danville, Belvedere, Montecito, Palm Springs, Midland, Manhattan, Greenwich Village, Osaka, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Seoul, Sydney, New York, Tokyo, Cairo, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Lisbon, Bonn.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dangers of DIY Swimming Pool Builders & .COM Consultants

You are considering building your own pool and being your own contractor.  You have located a "pool construction consultant" who professes to save you thousands of dollars.  They even call themselves a "pool builder."

Hidden Dangers

There are many dangers in hiring an unlicensed "consultant" to assist you to build your own pool.  The potential pitfalls of hiring a DIY swimmingpoolbuilders .com type of business are plentiful.

Lack of Insurance

An unlicensed "consultant" is trying to escape the expenses of running a lawful and legitimate contracting firm.  They do not have the expense of liability insurance, let alone being able to qualify for coverage.

Reputable contractors possess liability insurance to protect you and your property in the event of any calamity.  They also possess insurance certificates from each of their subcontractors as well. 

The T's are crossed and the I's dotted!  Everyone is protected.

Lack of Licensing

Because "consultants" lack the proper licensing, a property owner will have little recourse in the event there are problems.  And, as in most construction projects there will be something that goes wrong. 

Having a State Contractor's license, means that there is a license bond on file with the state.  The State Contractors Board also functions as a consumer protection and enforcement agency, in the event of serious construction defects.

Licensed Contractors must also qualify of a license.  This means that they cannot have prior criminal convictions.  They must have years of of practical experience actually building pools.  They must pass a tests on contractor's law and business practices.  They must also pass a test, ensuring they have a minimum level of knowledge about acceptable workmanship practices of their trade.

How would you know if the on-line "DIY pool builder-consultant" is a convicted child molester, registered sex-offender, ex-con or has prior convictions for fraud ?  

The State Contractor's Licensing Board only has records available for those firms and persons that possess (or possessed) a Contractor's License.  They do not maintain a database of individuals who have been prosecuted for operating without the proper licensing.

This is all for the consumer's protection. 

Liens & Financial Responsibility

Licensed Contractors are required to pay their subcontractors and to obtain lien releases from them.  These protect the property owner from unpaid subcontractors placing liens upon their property.  Even stale liens can taint the title to a property, making a future sale difficult.

Licensed Contractors must maintain a minimum level of financial stability, in order to operate a legitimate contracting firm.

Contact Information

Licensed contractors cannot hide behind a website.  They must publish their physical address, license number, owner's names and their telephone number on all of their web pages and advertisements.  They are not allowed to hide in the crevasses of the Internet.  

Carefully inspect any "consultant's" website.  
Is the name of the responsible person listed?
Is their physical location listed?
Is there a Contractor's License Number shown?

If this information is not listed, how are you going find them when you have to sue them in court?

Worker's Compensation Insurance

Licensed Contractors can only hire subcontractors that possess the proper workers compensation insurance.  They must have copies of these insurance certificates on file before any work begins.

If a subcontractor does not have the proper workers compensation insurance coverage then the PROPERTY OWNER IS LIABLE for any employee injuries that may occur on their project!

If an employee gets cut with a circular saw, falls off a ladder, gets impaled on rebar, becomes buried in a trench, or driven over by a tractor - then the resulting lawsuit and medical bills are the responsibility of the property owner.  And all because of the lack of a piece of paper proving insurance coverage.

Crossing the Line

If a "DIY consultant" designs the pool, provides the engineering, specifies the equipment, schedules the subcontractors, gathers the lien releases, sells the equipment, performs periodic inspections of the work (either in person or via digital pictures) - then they are actually performing the work of a contractor and a LICENSE IS REQUIRED (CSLB Case #620053266).

There are many intricacies of building a swimming pool.  Overlooking a single item can be catastrophic - even deadly.  

Electrocution, suction entrapment, hair entanglement, incorrect floor shapes and slopes, cracked structures, mudslides, damaged building foundations, generic or mail order structural engineering, broken pipes, corroded rebar and substandard shotcrete/gunite are common construction faults and defects.

The Bottom Line

As a DIY owner/builder - Do you know enough about how to build a swimming pool, without asking questions of the subcontractors or idiots on the Internet or DIY websites?

If you answered no, then are you a gambler?
 
Paolo Benedetti, SWD, Principal 

Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 
 www.AquaticTechnology.com 
International Swimming Pool Consulting and Design, Aquatic Consulting, Watershape Consultants, Expert Witness, Hydraulic Design, Landscape Architecture, Construction Management 
Office: 408-776-8220 
 Email: info@aquatictechnology.com 

Major Markets Serviced: San Francisco, Palo Alto, Atherton, Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Clemente, Pacific Palisades, Escondido, Scottsdale, Seattle, Phoenix, Tempe, Portland, Aspen, Vail, Park City, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Madison, Detroit, East Hamptons, South Hamptons, Cape May, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cherry Hill, Toms River, Salt lake City, Boise, Denver, Santa Barbaara, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Monterey, Pebble Beach, Oceanside, Big Sur, Napa, Sonoma, Sausalito, Danville, Belvedere, Montecito, Palm Springs, Midland, Manhattan, Greenwich Village, Osaka, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Seoul, Sydney, New York, Tokyo, Cairo, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Lisbon, Bonn.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Heat Bending of Swimming Pool Pipes - Swimming Pool Experts Opinion

Bending PVC pipe by heating it to create bends and turns is acceptable, so long as there is NO DISCERNIBLE signs that the pipe was heated.


Brittleness and Weakness


The PVC pipe should only be heated to the point where the pipe becomes soft enough to bend it in the desired shape.  The pipe diameter should not be reduced or crushed.

The exterior of the pipe should absolutely show no sign that the pipe was heated.  There should be no discoloration, burning or melting of the plastic.
Click on the image to enlarge it:
Burnt PVC swimming pool pipes




Burnt areas of PVC pipes become very brittle and weak.  These areas are susceptible to decay and breakage.  

I don't have to tell you the havoc that can be wreaked upon a swimming pool, hillside slope or pool deck if there are plumbing leaks under or within the concrete structures.  Plus, they are not easy to repair.  The long lasting damage to the pool, property, soils and site are oftentimes irreparable.


Proper Equipment

Using pipe ovens or heat blankets instead of propane torches are temperature controlled methods of heating PVC pipes and conduits.

Failing to keep a torch moving causes burned and scorching of the plastic.  Even a building inspector with a pea brain will reject any burn pipe that they observe.  

Don't risk your project to brittle pipes - insist that they be replaced before they are "set in concrete."

Paolo Benedetti, SWD, Principal

Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa
www.AquaticTechnology.com
International Swimming Pool Consulting and Design, Aquatic Consulting, Watershape Consultants, Expert Witness, Hydraulic Design, Landscape Architecture, Construction Management
Office: 408-776-8220
Email: info@aquatictechnology.com

Major Markets Serviced:
San Francisco, Palo Alto, Atherton, Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Clemente, Pacific Palisades, Escondido, Scottsdale, Seattle, Phoenix, Tempe, Portland, Aspen, Vail, Park City, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Madison, Detroit, East Hamptons, South Hamptons, Cape May, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cherry Hill, Toms River, Salt lake City, Boise, Denver, Santa Barbaara, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Monterey, Pebble Beach, Oceanside, Big Sur, Napa, Sonoma, Sausalito, Danville, Belvedere, Montecito, Palm Springs, Midland, Manhattan, Greenwich Village, Osaka, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Seoul, Sydney, New York, Tokyo, Cairo, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Lisbon, Bonn.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Swimming Pool Expert Solar Heating Panels

Swimming Pool designer solar panels for your aquatic project will extend your swimming season if sized properly.

Expectations

Do not expect to swim in the dead of winter, because you have solar heating panels.  That is usually an unrealistic expectation.  Unless of course, you live in a locale that has a moderate climate year around (near the equator).

Sized properly, solar panels will allow you to start your swimming season earlier and end it later than with an unheated pool.

Glazed solar panels prevent the wind from blowing across the panels, cooling them off.  Their efficiency increases due to the additional protection.

Energy Savings

Solar panels allow you to wean your pool off of fossil fuels (propane, natural gas) and electricity.  Even switching from an electric heat pump will help reduce greenhouse gasses, as most of the United States electricity if from coal and natural gas fired power plants.

People have even been known to pre-heat their spas using their solar panels.  When concentrated in a spa, all of the BTU's from the solar panels can heat it to 100ºF+ .  You just need to program your system to switch over the valving, to allow enough time to take advantage of the remaining sunlight.

Utilization

Swimming pools and spas get more use when they are heated - a proven fact.  When they are heated for free by the warmth of the sun, they are even more enjoyable.

Get more use out of your pool... Heat it for free!

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Stone Tiles Discoloration - Swimming Pool Expert Witness

It has been well documented that improper installation practices and setting materials can contribute to discoloration of natural stone and stone tile pool decks and patios.

Research Setting Materials

The installer or specifier should always check with the vendor as to the recommended setting materials and mortar and grout colors.  

If the vendor cannot or refuses to provide specifications, then the specifier should turn to the Marble Institute of America (MIA) or the Ceramic Tile Institute of America (CTIOA).

Both of these organizations have published field reports and technical papers regarding the proper setting materials and colors for various types of stone and tiles.

Correct Setting Materials

Some dark setting materials may bleed through lighter porous stones or tiles, creating a clouding, mottling or darkening effect.  Dark grouts can absorb into the sides of the tiles, causing a darkening of the edges.

Conversely, light setting materials can also bleed through darker materials, causing a lightening or ghosting effect.  Lighter grouts can also bleed into the materials, causing a halo effect around the tile edges.

Some epoxy adhesives have been known to cause stones and tiles to curl or twist.

So, it is important to research the proper setting materials for your type of stone or tile.

Improper Installation Practices

Using the incorrect technique when setting some tiles can also contribute to discoloration.  If the setting trowel's gauge marks (aka "comb marks") are not knocked down, then water may accumulate in the resulting voids.  Water saturating the stone, sill cause discoloration and an irregular clouding.

The best method, is to back butter the tiles after a thorough cleaning.  The comb marks are knocked down and the tiles set into the fresh thinset or mortar.  This will ensure an almost 100% contact and few, if any, voids.

Protect the Stone

It is also a good idea to protect the surface of the stones or tiles with a quality sealer or grout release prior to setting the tiles.  This will prevent the edges of the tiles from becoming discolored if grout or mortar gets onto the surface during installation.

A little knowledge will prevent having to tear out large areas of stone or tile.
 
Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa © www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Outdoor floor tiles - proper thinset installation and coverage ANSI A108.5

Efflorescence leaching up through floor tiles, hollow clacking sounds and cracking tiles are usually a result of improper installation practices.

ANSI A108.5 (2005) 
Ceramic tile installation practices are published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  This standards also includes quarry pavers (natural stone tiles). 

ANSI A108.5 - 3.3.2 says that on exterior floors, the average uniform contact area with the thinset mortar shall not be less than 95%.  3 tiles will be inspected to determine the average coverage and compliance.

Both the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) have adopted these standards as the minimum acceptable level of performance and workmanship.

Laziness
Let's face it, humans beings are like electricity and water - they will take the path of least resistance and effort - lazy !

Trowel marks are actually called "gauge marks."  They are used to create a measured thickness of thinset mortar.  Leaving the trowel marks in place will mean only 50% contact at 100% thickness of the gauge marks.
 
Improperly installed floor tiles show only 50% coverage.  Buttering the edges will hide these marks and give the "appearance" of 100% coverage.  Click on the image to enlarge.

 A 1/2 inch comb trowel will leave 3/8 inch thick layer of thinset, once the grooves are flattened and leveled.  This means that to achieve a total of 1/2 inch of thinset, both the substrate and tile will require 1/2  inch trowel marks that are knocked down and smoothed.

Why do they do this?  

It saves them 50% on their thinset costs.  
They are lazy.  
They don't care.
No one ever taught them how to do it correctly.  They have never been involved in a construction defect case. 
 
Tile setters must be reminded that tiles installed in exterior floor and shower applications, must achieve 95% contact with the setting material.


This will ensure decades of performance and a lasting tile floor.
 
Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Monday, September 22, 2014

Proper Hydraulic Design - Swimming Pool Drains


Prefabricated Drain Channels and Covers
  
   A mental hurdle that is confusing to most swimming pool builders, designers, state and local health departments, building inspectors and even many drain manufacturers - is the compatibility of gallons per minute (GPM) through the cover and the feet per second (FPS) through an unblockable drain, suction sump or cover or the connected pipes.

   Drain sumps, channels and covers that comply with the national Virginia Graeme-Baker Safety Act (VGBSA) list a maximum GPM flow rating.  However, it does not mean that the pipe connections below that cover are permitted to flow at that rating.  

Pipes have a different standard
    

There are maximum line velocity standards that apply to the connected piping.  Simply stated, a 2" pipe can only flow 28 GPM at 1.5 FPS, or 43 GPM at 3 FPS where it connects to a drain sump.
    What the GPM drain cover rating allows are the grouping of different suction systems.  Multiple branch lines from different pump suctions may be grouped together under a cover, until their cumulative GPM flowrate meets the cover's rating.  This allows multiple system inlets to share a drain cover.
    Pre-fabricated drain channels pose another design obstacle.  They are classified under the VGBSA as "unblockable" drains due to their shape and size.  The VGBSA allows these drains to function as a single point suction, meaning that split drains are not required.  They can be ordered with various quantities of connection points for plumbing.
     Most of these channel drains only provide 2" connection ports that are limited (by law) to a mere 1.5 or 3 FPS (depending on the local standard).  That equates to ONLY 28 or 43 GPM per connection!  


Drain Designs  

1.   Single inlet unblockable channel drains are available with 196 GPM ratings.  
When installed in compliance with the FPS standard, it only has a maximum flow rating of 28 or 43 GPM. 
  2.   Dual inlet unblockable channel drains are available with 227 GPM ratings.  
However, when installed in compliance with the FPS standard, it only has a maximum GPM rating of 56 or 86 GPM.  
3.   Triple inlet unblockable channel drains are available with flow ratings of 320 GPM.   
Yet, when installed in compliance with the FPS standard they are limited to 84 or 129 GPM.
 
Show me the Math

When you are considering the purchase of a swimming pool, require that the hydraulic calculations (head loss and line velocities) and the plumbing schematics (line drawings) be included in the plans.  Require that the builder note in the plans or specifications, the pipe sizes and the maximum allowable line velocities of branch, trunk and return piping.    

This will ease in the verification of the system performance and compliance, by any project inspectors or consultants.  The next hurdle is getting them to actually build it that way!

The design of swimming pool circulation and piping systems are not rocket science.  But, it does require that one be familiar with the basics of hydraulic design, the idiosyncrasies of the codes, what component ratings really mean and the limitations of those components.

 
Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist "Creating water as art."™ Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Swimming Pool Design - Why vs How


Salesman vs Designer

A salesman will initiate the meetings with the "how's" of what his firm does.  The excavation, the form work, the steel and concrete, the pumps and equipment.  Though these are important, more important to the design of your project are the "why's."

Pretty Picture

Get beyond the pretty picture.  A designer will discuss with you the important elements of design - "the why's."

Design themes and principals such as proportion, scope, scale, symmetry, balance, texture, color, light and shadows.  The proper utilization of these principals can set various ambiances and moods, create functionality and form, and establish themes and scenes.

Education and Training

An educated designer will draw upon their vast knowledge and experience, to create that expensive luxurious looks for everyday people.  The use of common materials in new and insightful ways will bring a fresh look to the project of a budget conscious client.

Even those on a budget, should utilize the services of a watershape consulting firm... the few dollars spent up front will save them a fortune later.  They may even end up with a Ferrari for the price of a Corvette!


Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Moveable Pool Floors - Basement, Rooftop, Indoors, Outdoors, Commercial or Residential


Maximize your floor space and the utility of your real estate with a moveable pool floor.

Outdoors

In regions of the country where every inch of real estate is considered prime, a moveable pool floor makes total sense.

Real estate is not lost to a pool, as the moveable pool floor can support people and furniture.  In, fact people will not even know that there is a pool beneath their feet.

Limited Space

In many urban centers, such as Manhattan, London, San Francisco, London, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Palo Alto and the UAE, townhouses and highrise apartments have properties that cannot accommodate an outdoor pool.

A basement pool with a moveable floor is the ideal solution.  You will not lose any rooms for the pool, and you will maximize the utility of that space.

The moveable pool floor will also assist in controlling humidity and heat loss.

Indoors, the moveable floor can double as a dance floor or game room.  No one will know that there is a pool beneath their feet.

Safety and Security

When closed the moveable floor provides the utmost in safety and security.  Accidental access to the pool is impossible.

Freedom of Shape and Design

Pools with moveable floors are not limited to square or rectangle shapes.  Additionally, there is no limitation on the size of a pool with a moveable floor - they can exceed Olympic swimming pools!

A pool with a moveable floor does not increase the footprint of the pool, only it's depth.  Additional space must be provided beneath the pool for the lifting system.

A rooftop pool will drop into the space below.  Additional structural members will be required to support the load of the pool and the mechanical systems.

If you can dream it, we can design and build it!
Worldwide design consultation and construction management.


Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 
©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: 
info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Swimming Pool Expert Witness

Swimming Pool Design and the National Electric Code.

NEC 680

Though section 680 deals specifically with swimming pools and spas, this is not the only section that applies to swimming pools.  This is where most swimming pool builders, watershape consultants, aquatic designers and even pool equipment manufacturers stumble.  

They fail to familiarize themselves with the rest of the NEC, and those sections that also apply to swimming pools.

Major Failing

One major failing of pool pump manufacturers and pool contractors who install these pumps, is the failure to provide notice of the requirement for or the installation of, the appropriate service disconnect.

The NEC states that any permanently installed motor larger than 1/2 horsepower (data plate rating), may not utilize the circuit overload interrupted (aka: circuit breaker) as the service disconnect [NEC 430.109(B)].


The NEC specifically identifies the acceptable type of service disconnect required, depending upon the horsepower of the motor
[NEC 430.109(C) & (D)].

When was the last time that you saw a service disconnect switch between the control panel and the pool pump motor?
This 30A Square-D service disconnect can handle up to 7.5 horsepower and 1 or 3 phase.  This unit is rated for indoor use only.

What your contractor does not know CAN HURT YOU!

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220
http://alpaforex.com

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wounded Warrior's swimming pool - Aqua Magazine September 2014


The article below tells the story, but there is a lot more to building a pool and backyard for a Wounded Warrior who served our country so unselfishly.

As a young man of 26, Brian has not come to realize how his sacrifices have positively impacted the lives of those he comes into contact with.  My trivial problems and ailments pale to those of Brian's.

Since starting this project, Sgt. Brian Jergens, U.S. Army Ret. and his wife Jennifer have become good friends.


When I'm in town, I do not mind receiving text messages "Starbucks?," where I work on my laptop and he reads and hangs out.  I know that he just wants to get out of the house.  Sitting around all day can drive one stir crazy.

I've tried to break the monotony of his days, by challenging him to take his on-line hunter's safety exam, taking him flying and introducing him to friends who's schedules allow them to just "hang out with him." Though he still has lingering medical issues and daily challenges, he continues to persevere. 

Our desire is to provide the Jergens' with a project that will provide some daily distractions and a source of exercise.

Wounded Warrior - AQUA Magazine, September 2014, page 82:
        (Click on the image to view it full sized)

If you want to be a part of this worthwhile project, you can contribute through RocketHub at:
http://www.rockethub.com/projects/47234-build-brian-a-pool-disabled-us-army-sgt-brian-jergens-afghanistan-vet

To follow the progress of this project, like our FaceBook Page at:
https://www.facebook.com/BuildBrianAPool


Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220
http://mlbboards.com

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Why Swimming Pool Designs Designer

Why do you need a swimming pool designer?
http://aquatictechnology.com/design_services.htm
Most architects and landscape architects are not versed in the requirements of swimming pool construction, technology, hydraulics or the space requirements of the support equipment.

Shoehorning an Elephant into a Gopher Hole
By hiring a swimming pool designer during the conceptual phase of developing plans for a home or yard, you will save yourself a lot of money.  How can spending $3000+ on a swimming pool designer save me money, you ask?

If an architect or landscape architect is allowed to run amuck creating a design based upon their limited knowledge of pools, then you will find yourself spending even more money and aggravation redesigning the project that you thought was complete.  The resulting project will be a compromise of what you really wanted.  Why not get exactly what you want?

Oftentimes, the structure of the pool or features an architect sold the client on, can not be created or built in the manner they envisioned.  The 4 foot x 8 foot space they allowed for the pool equipment is always way too small!  They often design pool walls that are too thin to place the required piping inside the concrete and rebar.  Pool equipment placed uphill from the pool, needs to be re-located below the pool.  Retaining walls without waterproofing and drainage will quickly fail from hydrostatic pressure.

Just because it's on the internet, it's not so...
A lot of architects and landscape architects rely on details and information that they find on the internet.

And a lot of information available on the internet is garbage posted by idiots.  These are the "fly by the seat of their pants" types, who build and design without experience or regards to the building codes and industry standards.

Remember the commercial.. "Here comes my boyfriend.  He's a French model I met on the internet."  Only he's gangly, ugly and speaks broken french?

Pay me now, or pay me a lot more later
It costs a lot more to tear out portions of a failing project, than it costs to design and build them correctly in the first place.

Add to that added cost, the aggravation of tearing up the project, damaging good work to get at the failed portions.  Throwing good money after bad.  Not to mention the lawsuits and sleepless nights.


Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220
Ping

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Caribbean Glass tile infinity edge swimming pool

 
 
 
  • Enormous Luxury pool
  • Caribbean ocean front view lot
  • Multi-tiered perimeter overflow 
  • Glass tile swimming pool
  • Stone beach entries
  • Mosaic tile spa
  • Thatched roof gazebo and cabana
  • Swim up bar
  • Glass tile water fall
  • Infinity edge
  • Luxury kids pool
  • Umbrellas
  • Palm Trees






Own a tropical vacation a few steps from your back door... call today to begin your own custom designed oasis!

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Glass Tile Swimming Pool Spa Designer saves hillside home.

A creative solution to a potentially ruinous situation saves a hillside home by installing a spa and patio area.

Initial Consultation

A young electronics entrepreneur asked me to come and meet with him about the possibility of designing a swimming pool or spa for his multi-million dollar home.

The beautiful home was build atop a hillside in the early 1960's.  Having recently completed a whole house remodel, the owner was now ready to tackle the backyard.

Myopic Contractors
 
The client knew that I had a reputation for being expensive.  He had already met with a number of pool contractors.  However, a quick walk around the property made him realize that I was  more than a pool contractor.
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Building stucco cracking
I noticed that the corner of the recently remodeled house had cracks in the stucco and foundation.  The trees on the slope had a slight downhill lean to them.
(click on image to enlarge)
Tilting trees were a clue to slope creep
None of the pool contractors had even noticed or mentioned these issues to the owner.  I knew that they were indications that the hillside was moving - a phenomenon known as slope creep.

Confirmation of Suspicions

Before the client committed to retaining my design services, I recommended that he hire a surveyor and a soils engineer.  Those experts could determine if the house was level, provide a topographical map that we'd need later and quantify the conditions of the soils and slopes.

The results were not pleasant.  One corner of the house was 3/4 of an inch out of level.  The lot was a combination of cut and fill.  The dirt cut out of the hillside was merely pushed around to create level areas.  No compaction or stabilization measures had been employed.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Our engineering team, quickly devised a conceptual plan, wherein we could stabilize the slope closest to the house and level the house using grout injection.

The best part is that the client would gain a spa, seating area and beautiful herb garden.

Heavy Construction

Caissons were drilled with a tracked excavator. 
Drilling caissons with a tracked excavator.
Then steel cages were lifted over the house with a large crane and lowered into place.  

Cages for drilled caissons
Crane lifting steel cages into place
These deep concrete and steel reinforced piers would stabilize the slope and prevent further movement of the house.  They would also support the new spa and patio.

Placing steel cages into the drilled holes
Picture Perfect

The net result was that the spa cost more than the client had intended.  However, the end results were picture perfect and the house was back onto a solid foundation.

Who wouldn't want to come home to this?
(click on an image to enlarge it)

Completed glass tile spa, flagstone patio and concrete bench.
The end of a perfect day!
Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Glass Tile Mosaic Swimming Pool


Unexplained cracking of glass tile mosaics in a swimming pool or spa are more than likely an issue of recycled content or impurities in the glass.

Random cracking failures of Oceanside Glass Tile Mosaics.
Blend: Random Modular Enchantment Tessera 
 
(click on the image to enlarge it)

If your glass tile swimming pool or spa experiences random cracking in glass tiles, it is more than likely a manufacturing defect, than an installation error.

Unexplained failures of Oceanside Glass Tile Mosaics in a swimming pool
 
(click on the image to see the crack failures close up)

But how do you prove this?  

Mount the tiles on a sheet of 3/4 inch CDX plywood, following the proper cure times for thinset and grouts.  Place the plywood into the same environment as the cracking tiles.  Place a duplicate sheet into the direct sunlight.  Place a container (tupperware tray) of loose tiles into the same environments.

If the loose and mounted tiles randomly crack, then there is a manufacturing defect.  Additional testing will be required to determine the exact cause.

If only the mounted tiles crack, then there is an issue of thermal expansion.  The cracking is occurring because the tiles are constrained by neighboring tiles and grouts.  Laboratory testing will conclusively vet the cause.

If only clear mounted tiles cracked, then there may be an issue of the thinset heating up in the sun.  The clear tiles usually pass more IR light resulting in excessive heating of the substrate.  This circumstance will require additional laboratory testing to validate the hypothesis.


If you are thinking about installing glass tile mosaics into your swimming pool.. find out if the thermal shock testing of the tiles was performed in the mounted condition (installed and constrained) or loose.  

Loosey goosey is muy malo! 
(loose testing is very bad)

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cracks - Recycled glass tiles pools spas


The most frequent common denominator seen by expert witnesses when inspecting cracked mosaic glass tiles in swimming pools, has been the use of recycled glass as a raw material.

Beyond their control

Recycled glass is supplied to the tile manufacturers already ground up.  This ground glass is know as cullet.  The standards established by the recycling industry permit cullet to contain impurities.

The Glass Packaging Institute standards state:  "Some recycled glass containers are not able to be used in the manufacture of new glass bottles and jars or to make fiberglass. This may be because there is too much contamination or the recycled glass pieces are too small to meet manufacturing specifications.... This recovered glass is then used for non-container glass products. These "secondary" uses for recycled container glass can include tile, filtration, sand blasting, concrete pavements and parking lots."  

They are saying that contaminated cullet should be sent to glass tile manufacturers!

The processing of cullet attempts to remove impurities.  By their own admission, sifting, electromagnets and optical inspection does not remove the tiniest of impurities.  Small metallic particles are the most difficult to identify and remove.  Non-ferrous metals (stainless steel, nickle, copper, aluminum, magnesium, maganese) cannot be removed with magnets.  These very contaminates can be the very cause of cracking in finished tiles.

Chemical Balance

It is possible for tile manufacturers to chemically counteract the negative effects of some impurities, but not all - especially metals.

Metal Stones

Metal particles are referred to as "stones."  Over time, these stones change in structure.  These changes cause internal stresses within the tiles.  Eventually the stresses grow to the point where the glass cracks.  Microscopic in nature, they are virtually invisible to the naked eye and beyond the ability (or manufacturer's desire) to be detected.

Refractory brick commonly errodes from the walls of the kiln, and becomes a contaminate within the molten glass.  These are also called stones.  Future thermal changes to the tiles will cause cracking, due to the differential expansion of materials.
 

Recycled Glass - Warm Fuzzies and Headaches

Using recycled glass as a component of glass tile production lowers raw material costs and provides consumers warm fuzzies.

The probability of contaminates is too high and potential for failures too great, to justify the installation of recycled glass tile mosaics in a swimming pool.

There are many first quality glass tile mosaics on the market to select from, to even risk considering tiles utilizing recycled glass content.

Once tiles begin to crack, water will infiltrate and soften the thinset.  Sharp shards of loose cracked pieces of tile in a pool or spa pose a threat to bathers.

The cost to remove glass tile, repair the substrate and membrane and reinstall new tile is double the cost of a new fresh installation.

Roll the dice or make a sure bet... the choice is yours.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Friday, April 25, 2014

Swimming Pool Glass Tile Mosaics Thermal Shock Testing ANSI A137.2


There is finally a method prescribed for the testing of thermal shock resistance of glass tile mosaics - ANSI A137.2 - 7.9.  This first ever standard is a good start.  However, it is still a far cry from where the standard needs to go.

The ANSI A137.2, Section 7.9 Thermal Shock  standard was developed by a committee that consisted primarily of, none other than... glass tile manufacturers.  Anyone else see a potential conflict?

Set themselves up for success

Manufacturers submit samples of their products for testing to a laboratory of their choice.  There is nothing preventing the manufacturers from providing specially selected, inspected or treated glass tiles for testing.  These may include inspections, testing, treatments or materials that are not utilized in their normal course of production.

The testing procedures only subjects 5 loose tiles to ten thermal shock cycles.  Five tiles simply are not statistically representative of tens of thousands of tiles that may be used in a swimming pool.

The testing lab does not perform any follow up testing of commercially acquired tiles.  There is no subsequent verification that production methods are generating compliant materials.  Again, a self- fulfilling prophecy.

Not Real World Tests

The five sample tiles are tested in a loose state.  They are not tested in the state in which they will be used by the consumer - that is installed.  You know - mounted and grouted.

Mounting and grouting glass tiles places constraints upon them.  They are adhered to on the reverse by thinset.  They are also constrained around the perimeter by grout and neighboring tiles.  Under thermal expansion, they have nowhere to go, especially if the setting materials are too constrictive.

Thinsets vary by their tenacity and shrinkage rate.  Some thinsets have a very high sheer strengths.  Some thinsets experience excessive shrinkage, placing the glass under compression.  Some do both.

Grouts vary in compressive strengths.  Some are more flexible, others more rigid.  Epoxy grouts are more flexible than in years past, and should not be immediately dismissed (as in CTIOA report 2008-8-12).

How SHOULD they be tested?

Glass tiles should be tested in their mounted and grouted state.  The way that they are intended to be used.

Acceptable thinsets and grouts should be specified by glass tile manufacturers, only after successfully completing thermal shock and sheer testing.  

Yes, this may require multiple tests with various combinations of manufacturer's setting materials to find compatible products.  Nothing precludes a manufacturer from specifying only one brand of setting materials.  But, this method may require multiple tests until one is found.

In fact, the thermal testing should be combined with the sheer testing procedures.  The sheer test is performed in a mounted & grouted state.  

Prior to performing the sheer test, the tiles should be subject to the thermal tests.  Excessive expansion may loosen or crack tiles - which will then fail the sheer test.  A REAL WORLD test.

Self-Serving Standards

Until test standards are instituted with the intention and purpose of protecting consumers and not manufacturers, what is a specifier or contractor to do?

Have any proposed tiles tested, in their mounted and grouted state.  Utilize setting materials from one manufacturer, adhering to the ANSI specified thinset and grout cure times - prior to any thermal or sheer testing.

Glass tile mosaics are the most beautiful and luxurious swimming pool finish available.  Properly installed quality tiles should last you a lifetime.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Swimming Pool Glass Tile Mosaic Cracking - Tile Edge Quality


Poor Edge Tolerances

There are many reasons why glass tiles crack.  The most common is damage to the tile - a chip, scratch or impact.  These traumatic events occur during the manufacturing, handling, shipping or installation process.

Manufacturing Processes

Glass tiles are made into small squares by a number of various processes.  Cast or pressed, individually cut or snapped are the three most widely used methods.

Cast Tiles
Cast tiles are created when molten glass is poured into molds, individually forming each tile.  The process may be inverted, when a cookie cutter style press stamps out individual and distinct tiles.

Cut Tiles
Cut tiles are formed by cutting the tiles from a larger sheet of glass.  The tiles are usually then re-fired in a kiln to relieve stresses imparted during the cutting process.

Snapped Tiles
Snapped tiles are a more rudimentary method of forming tiles.  These are made by one of two processes: 
  • a cookie cutter style mold presses the tile shapes into molten glass.  The cutter does not separate the tiles into individual pieces, leaving them connected by a thin layer of glass.
  • molten glass is placed onto a mold tray and allowed to cover the mold.  It is then pressed or allowed to fill the cavities.  The tiles are connected by the layer of glass that remained across the dividers.
After annealing, they are later "snapped" apart, creating the separate pieces.  The process of snapping imparts chips and stress along the edges of the tiles.  Unless the tiles are re-fired in the kiln, these stressed tiles are handed off to the consumer.

Hard to Detect

These chips and stresses are hard to detect.  Since the tiles are usually mounted on an opaque paper, inspections are difficult for the end user, if not impossible.

Resulting Cracks

The stress that concentrates around these imperfections from thermal expansion will cause the tiles to crack.  Because not every tile has these imperceivable flaws, the cracking will occur randomly and the manufacturer will blame the installation practices.


Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Random Cracking Glass Tile Mosaics Swimming Pool

Most of the time, cracking in swimming pool glass tile mosaics can be explained by poor installation practices or shoddy workmanship.  Other times the cracking occurs without rhyme or reason in random tiles.
 
Random Cracking

Random cracking of glass tile mosaics is rarely the fault of the installer.  It is usually the symptom of inherent stresses within the glass tiles.
(Click on an image to enlarge it)
Random cracks in Oceanside Glass Tile Mosaics

But, without a "before and after" inspection of those same exact cracked tiles, there is no way to say with absolute certainty that the glass is to blame.  So it will become a case of finger pointing and blaming each other.

(Click on an image to enlarge it)
Random cracks in Oceanside Glass Tile Mosaics
 
Pre-Existing Stresses

A consumer or installer cannot be certain that any individual piece of glass tile does not possess a preexisting stress or flaw from the manufacturing process.

The only way to be absolutely sure, is to inspect each tile prior to installation... Time consuming and costly for sure.

Failure to Inspect
 
I do not know of any manufacturers of glass tile mosaics that perform a visual inspection of every single glass tile, prior to shipment.  Again, it would be too costly and time consuming.  

I'm sure that there are computerized optical inspection systems that could be employed, but after all it is "only glass tile."  The cost simply does not outweigh their liability for a few cracked glass tiles.

Protecting Yourself

The best way to protect yourself prior to an after installing glass tile mosaics, is to closely follow the installation instructions.

Unmounted sheets from each lot, color and pattern should be stored in a safe, cool & dry location.  Should there ever be a suspected failure, these samples can be tested at a materials testing laboratory for thermal shock resistance and inspected for preexisting stresses.


Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©www.aquatictechnology.com 
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: info@aquatictechnology.com or at 408-776-8220