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!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Proper planning equals stellar performance

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

Not just vanishing edge, infinity edge, knife edge, slot or perimeter overflow pools require extensive & detailed plans. The extent of the typical plans & details for a swimming pool, only includes a "flat plan" and the generic structural engineering.

A flat plan is a "birdeye view" plot plan that shows where the pool and equipment are to be placed. That is it....

There is no direction provided to the sub-contractors as to the plumbing configuration, pipe sizing, the high & low voltage electrical schematics, elevations of the various elements, layout of the pool equipment, the position of the pipes at the equipment pad, the schematics of the equipment pad.

Left to their own methodology, you know that the plumbing & electrical will be the shortest runs possible. Afterall, do you expect them to dig trenches an extra 10 feet to hide something in a less obtrusive location? A return manifold will not be looped around the pool to balance the flow at each return fitting. The pipes rising up at the equipment pad will be placed haphazardly, necessitating excess elbows and an inefficient layout of the pumps & filters. You know the drill...

The electrical & lighting junction boxes, will be placed where they are "convenient" for the electricans, not where they can be hidden from view. Goodness, they might have to buy a light fixture with another 10 - 50 feet of cord... and install some additional conduit.

A few years ago, I prepared a proposal for an acquaintances' project. The project was a rectangular pool with an inside spa & an automatic pool safety cover. These are the ONLY pools that I build on a fixed price contract. Another builder was $35,000 less than us, so they went with the other firm.

I had the pleasure (& humor) of visiting the finished project shortly after the pool was completed. The spa dam wall was set too low, so that the operating level of the pool had to be kept below that which the skimmers required to operate properly. In other words, they had to keep the pool level low, so that the cold pool water would not spill over the spa dam & into the spa.

Since the waterlevel had to be kept low to use the spa, the skimmers could not function. There simply wasn't enough volume of water to keep the skimmers full. The pump would continuously lose prime & eventually fail.

The auto-fill was set at the wrong elevation. Because it was too high, it kept wanting to fill the pool to an elevation where the pool would flood the spa dam wall. If the client operated the waterlevel in the pool at the correct height, then the skimmers would operate properly, but the spa could not be heated. Imagine, having to pump water out of your pool (dump it to waste), just so that you could heat your spa. So much for that $3,000 automation system! Oh, and the auto-fill that wants to raise the level back up...

The dam wall that separated the pool from the dry pool cover vault (where the pool cover rolls up when not in use), was installed just slightly above the pools' optimum operating level. This meant that when people swam in the pool - people are supposed to swim in them aren't they?? - waves from bather displacement would spill into the cover box. This would waste hundreds of gallons each time the pool was used.

The final insult, was that the builder did not understand how the masonry cover trays were to be fitted. Masonry trays are Stainless Steel trays that hold concrete or stone over the pool cover vault. They are also called walk-on trays, as they are solid enough to support a persons' weight. Properly installed, it conceals the presence of the pool cover when the cover is open. The end pans, sat 1/2" above the decking at each end. A great toe-stubber if I ever saw one.

The homeowner was so proud that he was able to negotiate a glass mosaic waterline tile. The brand that was selected had a warranty that stated "The Company warrants that its Products, if properly stored and transported, will be free from defects in materials and workmanship from the date of sale until the date the product is installed ("Warranty Period")." Can you believe that??? (

Who in their right mind would buy anything that says in effect, "we'll warrant it, until you use it??" HELLOOOOO, get a clue here...!!! They should have ran for the hills!

And guess what... the tile started falling off of the pool walls a few months later. I do not know if it was due to improper installation or faulty materials. But in any case neither the builder nor the tile manufacturer would warranty the installation.

I was asked if I knew why the tile was falling off the walls. I asked to review the specifications for the installation crew, that the pool builder had prepared (knowing full well that they did not exist). Guess what... they didn't!

How was the installation crew supposed to know: what setting materials to use? What curing times were required of the browncoat (the leveling bed)? the correct crack control membrane? the curing time of the thinset before grouting? the type of grout to use? how long to let the grout cure prior to filling the pool? where to place the expansion joints in the tile? what to clean the tile with?

Again, with proper planning and specifications, these grave errors could have been avoided. A little time, money, and proper planning in advance can avoid pitfalls in the execution phase.

The problem is now the property owners have a pool that does not operate correctly. They will have to disclose this at the time of sale, as it will be observed by a home inspector. And they'll have to make financial concessions to the buyers.

How does that car repair ad go??? "Pay me now or pay me MORE later."

And the worst part is.... all of these mistakes could have been avoided, as these details are readily available on the web, in articles by yours truely.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™