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!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Expert Glass Tile Mosaic Installations

Spontaneous Glass Breakage

Glass is a beautiful medium for lining swimming pools.  The color spectrum is vast and the colors sparkle.  However, many poorly manufactured glass tile mosaics are flooding the market and home improvement warehouses.

Compression & Tension

However, glass is temperamental.  Manufactured incorrectly, glass can be both under compression and tension.  This is okay for tempered glass (that's exactly why tempered glass breaks into little square pieces).  But it is bad for glass tile mosaics.

You cannot tell by looking at the glass tiles with the naked eye.  Special devices are required to view the internal stresses.

Thermal Stress

If the glass tile mosaics are subject to thermal stress, they may spontaneously crack.  This is due to the conflicting stresses that may exist in poorly manufacturer glass.

Saving a Buck

Inferior glass tiles are easy to manufacture.  The annealing process, (or the slow cooling of freshly manufactured glass), is performed faster than is required.  This speeds the manufacturing process and reduces their energy costs - which are tremendous to operate glass kilns.  It's all about saving a few bucks.

Most glass tile manufacturers do not maintain a quality control program.  They do not randomly sample tiles for testing.  Eliminating tests for resistance to thermal shock or the presence of tessellated stresses saves them money.

Consumer Protection

How does a consumer protect themselves?  They should only buy name brand glass tile mosaics.  They should inquire if the tiles are guaranteed to be resistant to thermal shock (even slow thermal shock, as what occurs when a spa heats from 50º-104ºF).  They should inquire if the tiles undergo random sample testing to ensure that they are not concealing internal stresses.  Get their promises in writing...

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Discoloration Glass Tile Mosaics

Expert Witness Glass Tile Mosaics Installations
Glass tile installations cost a lot of money.  Let's face it, if it was inexpensive to install glass tile mosaics properly, then everyone would have glass tile mosaics.  They are the most luxurious finish available for swimming pools and spas.

Glass Tile Gone Wrong

A glass tile mosaic job can look terrible when done wrong.  Most problems are caused by installation errors.  Compounding the problem, are the use of translucent (see through) glass tiles.  They permit the installation errors, normally hidden by ceramic tile, to shine through!

Causes of Discoloration
The most common causes of discoloration behind glass tile mosaics are a result of:
  • using gray cement, mortars or setting materials
  • not keeping the tiles shaded until the pool is filled
  • failing to protect the tiles from rain or irrigation water
  • allowing the bond coat to skin over (poor bond, voids)
  • excess water in the bondcoat (thinset)
  • incorrectly using the direct set (two step) installation method
  • leaving trowel marks
  • grouting too soon (not allowing the bondcoat to fully cure)
  • filling the pool too soon after grouting
  • fielding mixing setting materials (results in unknown bond and compression strengths, density and permeability)
  • not using a waterproof membrane
  • too thin of a bondcoat (allowing the membrane to shadow through)
  • allowing ground water to soak through the pool shell 
  • contamination in the bondcoat
These are just some of the most common mistakes.  Individually or in combination, they can result in a beautiful pool turning into a hideous mess.

Workmanship Standards

In North America there are published and accepted workmanship standards.  These standards are the minimum that apply to the installation of glass tile mosaics.  So, regardless of what installation method the tile manufacturer or contractor recommends, THESE ARE THE MINIMUMS.

Foreign manufacturers are not aware that the tile industry in North America has performed significant testing and analysis if glass tile mosaic installation practices.  They have established acceptable methods of installing glass tile mosaics that apply to EVERY INSTALLATION in North America.  They are the GOSPEL for glass tile installations.

These practices are published under the ANSI A108.14, A108.15 and A108.16: Standards for the Installation of Glass Tile Mosaics.  They also make direct reference to the quality and performance standards for the required mortar beds, waterproof membranes, bondcoats (thinsets) and grouts (ANSI A118).

Because there are performance standards for the mortarbeds, thinsets (bondcoats) and grouts, the field mixing of raw materials cannot guarantee that they meet the ANSI performance standards.

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

Monday, September 9, 2013

Aqua Design International Resort Services

Specialized concerns when offering aqua design services for  international resorts.

What Standards to Follow?

In many foreign countries, there simply are no laws or codes that govern how a resort or high-end residential is to be built.  That leaves the standards to achieve up to the discretion of the designer.

Knowledge is the limiting factor

If the aqua designer is does not have experience with the various codes, standards and industry practices that apply to building pools, then their plans will be insufficient as well.

"Those that Do are the Best Teachers"

That old adage is so true.  If someone merely designs for a living, they quickly lose touch with "reality."  

Their knowledge of the constantly changing codes, standards and acceptable trade practices quickly falls "behind the times." 

If someone has never built swimming pools, how can they effectively design them?  They are not aware of the nuances of the construction process.  Little details will be lost, because they were never "known."

There are actually firms that consult on swimming pools, fountains and watershapes, whose principals have never built a swimming pool or fountain!   
These firms specify plumbing sizes, pumps, valves, filters, sanitization, electrical systems and some even provide structural engineering!

The structural engineering that they provide are merely mail order plans that they buy, then attach to their plans.  There is no engineering review as to the appropriateness of the engineering they selected.  You surely would not want your house designed this way, would you?
How can they effectively design a project if they don't even know how to build it?

Someone who is not in the field, actually building, eventually loses their ability to innovate and improvise.  They rely on what they knew, and not what they are learning and know.  Their minds become dull, as they lose that keen sense of attention to details.

It's the difference between someone who is walking the walk and a person who is a "has been" or is a "never was."
Paolo Benedetti, SWD - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa©
You may contact Paolo Benedetti at: or at 408-776-8220

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Technology resolves swimming pool ADA compliance issues

Technological advancements have resolved inherent dangers of swimming pool lighting around disabled swimmers.

It's a matter of sensitivity

Having consulted, designed, built and remodeled a number of aquatic facilities specifically for disabled persons, I have become aware of a number of issues that most swimming pool designers and builders would never consider - burns.

The lenses on underwater incandescent swimming pool lights, though water cooled, can get blistering hot.  A normal person's nervous system would sense the heat and they'd move their limbs away from the intense heat.

However, a paralyzed person does not feel their tissue burning or blistering from contact with the hot glass lens.

Technological innovation to the rescue

Two decades ago, fiberoptic lighting was introduced to the swimming pool industry.  I immediately realized that this was the solution to the safety issue of hot glass lenses.  

However the lumen output of fiberoptics were limited.  To achieve the minimum illumination required in a pool or spa required many lights, large fiberoptic cables and a lot of illuminators (light sources).  Sometimes additional overhead lighting was also required.

In the past few years LED lighting has advanced to the point where it is now a viable alternative to incandescent bulbs.  Bubble LED's never achieved the light output or lifespan that was required in a commercial application.  However, CREE (chip) LED's now rival the output of quartz halogen lighting, without the heat or energy consumption.

The dangers of burns from underwater pool lights can now simply be avoided through the use of CREE led light fixtures.  And because they are low voltage fixtures, they are also inherently electrically safe.  GFCI and electrical bonding protection is not required on most of these fixtures.

Safety through innovation and application!

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa ©

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fixed price swimming pool designs are a scam

It is impossible to deliver a fixed price swimming pool!  There are just too many variables...

Every property is different

The pricing model cannot hold true for every property.  There are just too many variables...
The soil conditions vary from lot to lot in the same neighborhood and the required strength of the concrete shell will vary significantly.
Access to property and the required excavation equipment will differ.
The distance to the dump site for the dirt spoils varies, as do the fuel and trucking costs.
The size of properties and setback limitations are different.
The lines of sites from the owners & neighbors property differ.
Existing utilities and locations vary and may require upgrading or longer installation runs.

Hydraulics, Safety and Energy Efficiency

Piping sizes cannot be the same for ever project.  The longer the pipe lengths the more restrictions.  The pipe diameters need to be increased to reduce the added friction.

Using the same size pipe, regardless of the pump size or distance creates excessive line velocities.  This equates to an unsafe condition at the suction inlets and potential hair or bather entrapment.

Excessive line velocities are also a tremendous waste of energy.  The pumps must work harder and hotter to overcome this back pressure.  Destined for failure from the start....

Generic Engineering

The structural engineering used on these projects is a generic, a one size fits all plan.  They meet the MINIMAL requirements, but are not guaranteed to meet the conditions for your site.

How can they do this?  Because most building departments do not enforce the International Building Code requirement that the structural engineering be designed to overcome the surcharges placed upon the structure.  Some cities (Los Angeles for example) require soils reports with swimming pool plans and structural engineering.  They require that the soils engineer review the structural plans to ensure that the engineering meets his minimum requirements.

Simply put, the swimming pool must be strong enough to prevent structural failure (cracking) from loads placed upon the shell.  These loads come from adjacent structures & buildings, up or down slopes, retaining walls, winds, snow, saturated soils, expansive soils, uplifting soils, seismic events, surf or tides - anything that will place a force on the pool.

Generic structural engineering is totally worthless, if the structural engineer has not reviewed the site and a soils report (geotechnical investigation).  The structural engineer simply cannot validate the strength requirements without a soils report that defines the conditions below the surface.  

These "package" price pools totally disregard the strength requirement, by placating homeowners with a pool builder's own "structural warranty."  This warranty does not warrant the pool against cracking - only that the pool will "hold water."  That means when the pool does crack, they will patch only the crack - thereby restoring the watertightness.  And, when they patch the crack, they will not repair the plaster surface.  

Would you accept cracking of your home's foundation, a dam above you in a canyon or a bridge you drive on?  Of course not, but they seem to think that this is acceptable.

Price Changes

You want a site specific structural engineering?  That's extra!
You don't want the pool equipment 10 feet from the pool?  That's extra!
You want to change the shape of the pool or steps?  That's extra.
You want something other than white plaster?  That's extra?
Oh, you wanted the spa heated?  A heater is extra.
You want a gas line to feed fuel to the heater?  That's extra too.
You want a tile other that the 6 blue tiles we offer?  That's extra.
Oh, you want remote controls of the pool & spa?  That's extra too!
You want drains in the pool deck?  Those are extra?

It is the old bait and switch routine to which we all try to avoid.


Paolo Benedetti 
Aquatic Artist, Watershape Consultant, Expert Witness 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Swimming Pool Design Image Plagarism on Websites

Swimming Pool Designer angered over others claiming his work product as their own (Aquaspa Pools and Landscape Design - Ontario, Canada).

While flattering, I am angered by Aquaspa Pools & Landscape Design ( claiming my creative designs and work product as their own.  
 (click on image to enlarge)
That's my project in the center bottom of their website's homepage.

The immoral, fraudulent and dishonest activity of one individual, reflects upon an entire organization.  One fact about the internet, is that once you post something it NEVER goes away.  It is captured or cached on a computer somewhere.

They never responded to our numerous requests to remove the offending image, first sent on 8/31/12.  Repeated requests to remove the image over the following months also were ignored.  

My staff contacted aqua through their website's "contact us page," "," and through the administrative contact for their URL: 

We also sent letters to the administrator of their website: Amir El-Nesr, 1296 Mississauga Road, Mississauga ON L5H2J2 Canada and to the offices of Aquaspa & Pools, 3560 Rutherford Road, Unit 33, Woodbridge, Ontario L4H-3T8.  No one EVER responded to any of the e-mails or letters.

We contacted their ISP.   Their ISP advised us that since they were in Canada, they were not bound by US copyright laws.  Had they been in the US, thier website would have been crashed without notification.

Source of the Image

I do not enter bogus design competitions.  Therefore, I know that my images were not obtained through NSPI/APSP marketing material or image discs.  We have NEVER released our images without copyright restrictions against republication.  Every on-line image that is posted is visibly or invisibly watermarked.  Hard copies of images or discs are stamped with the copyright notices.

Website Creator to Blame?

Make sure whoever creates your website is not LAZY.  The business owner must ensure that they are not re-posting the copyrighted material of others.  Instead they should be creating ORIGINAL material.

Business owners can use, or a similar website to compare the webpages their webmaster creates to the content of others on the internet.  You may find that they are merely cutting and pasting other people's copyrighted material.

Allowing a website creator to plagiarize, exposes your firm to litigation for copyright violations and the angst of others in your industry.  

Many firms employ software that actively searches the web for images and text from articles, websites and postings. The internet is merely a series of 1 & 0's.  These search engines compare known copyrighted material to other postings, comparing the numerical sequences.  From these firms, a business owner can receive a weekly reports of sites that have re-posted copyrighted material without permission. 

A firms unresponsiveness to notices of copyright violations and acts of plagiarism, only serves to condone and endorse the illegal activity.

A lot of people in business and government have lost their ethics and morals.  They think that there's nothing wrong with lying, cheating, stealing or acting fraudulently.

Personally, I'm outraged.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Designing Handicapped Accessible Swimming Pools and Spas

Swimming Pool Designer and Expert Witness Paolo Benedetti - ADA compliant swimming pools and facility design

Recently I was designing a handicapped accessible pool and spa for Sgt. Brian Jergens, who was severely injured by a roadside IED during his first deployment in Afghanistan.   

During the conceptual design phase, I researched the various methods of creating an accessible pool and facilities.  The goal was to have an accessible backyard, without it looking like a roadside motel with a deck mounted lift.

Pool Access

There are 3 primary methods to provide handicapped people access to the swimming pool - lifts, ramps and transfer walls.

Lifts are hideous and downright UGLY.  

Ramps can be incorporated into organic designs.  They are easily camouflaged as beach entries on lagoon or pond style pools.  On contemporary pools, a ramp easily consumes a lot of space.  Inside the pool, the ramp required railings and curbs.

Since the site for this project already had some minor changes in elevations, I opted for a transfer wall.  One long wall of the pool would be 18 inches above grade, allowing for an easy transition into the pool from a wheelchair.  Additionally, it would allow for the use of an automatic safety cover and would not look like it was a "special pool."

Outdoor Kitchen, Benches and Seating Areas

Next came the hardscape and kitchen counters.

Countertop heights needed to be adjusted and access provided to allow a wheelchair to easily roll under the countertop.

The elevations of the bbq & sink needed to be adjusted to permit access while in a seated position.  Those these would be a little lower for able bodied people, they would ensure that access was always available.

Extra space for wheelchair turnarounds and movement had to be accounted for between planters, curbs and fixed benches.  Concrete benches had to be of a sufficient height to allow ease of transfer from a wheelchair.

Concrete benches had to have sufficient seat widths and backs to support users and to prevent tumbling.  Ramps and sloping walkways required curbs to prevent wheels from inadvertently rolling into planter beds or runaway wheelchairs from careening off onto the lawn.

ADA Guidelines

The Government ADA guidelines provide a lot of guidance when designing and developing outdoor spaces for the disabled.  Though the guidelines are intended for public spaces, their criteria and dimensions are directly applicable to private homes as well.

ADA guidelines can be found at:
Construction details and diagrams for buildings, facilities, outdoor spaces & swimming pools:

There is absolutely no reason why handicapped accessible facilities need to look sterile and industrial.  With a little thought and effort, the design can look clean and contemporary, while remaining functional!

To learn more about the efforts to build the pool and backyard for this deserving veteran, please like us on Facebook:

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Swimming Pool Designer & Expert Witness

Swimming Pool Design and Watershapes Consulting Expert Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa discusses concrete basics.

Concrete Strengths

The key to achieving proper concrete strengths is a direct result of the correct mix design and the proper handling of the plastic (fluid) cement.

The project engineer will specify a minimum concrete strength to be utilized.  There is nothing preventing the contractor or project owner from using stronger mix designs.  The added cost is negligible and the resulting performance and benefits are significant.

Mix Design

The project contractor will discuss the project requirements with the ready-mix plant's "Mix Master" when they place an order for the concrete.  They will discuss ultimate strength requirements, weather forecasts, traffic conditions, rate of placement (yards per hour), distance to pump and the pumping equipment.

The Mix Master will discuss the need for water reducers, plasticizers, air entrainment, set retarders or accelerators with the contractor.  The aggregate size should be the largest allowed by the project engineer.  The larger the aggregate the stronger the concrete will be.

Reduce the Water Content

Concrete is weakened by excess water. When water evaporates from concrete, it leaves behind a matrix of microscopic honeycombs.  These voids weaken the concrete.  They also allow ground or rain water to permeated into the concrete.  This can result in corrosion of the reinforcement steel and eventual project failure.

Only that amount of water that is necessary to hydrate the cement particles is required.  To increase the slump (liquidity) of the mix design, water reducers & plasticizers should be used.  Think of these additives a being able to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the water.  The resultant strength will be significant, though the initial concrete will be liquid, workable and pumpable.

A reputable ready-mix plant will even know the moisture content of their sand and aggregates.  They will subtract from the water to be added to the mix, the water inherent in the aggregates.  A load tag will accompany the delivery truck.  The assay of the contents of the truck should be specified, along with the load time and starting count on the truck's rotating drum.

My ready-mix supplier even provides the assay of the aggregate in their mix.  The load tag indicates the psi compressive strength of the rocks in the mix.  

It makes absolutely NO SENSE to use concrete that contains rocks weaker than your objective.  But, there are many ready-mix suppliers who use weak and inferior aggregates (e.g. quartz ).  If they don't volunteer this information - ask.  They are required by the building codes to tell you.

Achieving High Strength Concrete

Higher strength concretes are denser and more durable.  This is achieved by "tightening" the matrix of the concrete.  The increased cost of a higher "sack" mix is minimal (e.g. a 4 sack mix vs a 6 sack mix).  A "sack" is equivalent to 94# of cement powder (about 1 cubic foot).

There are many means to increase concrete's strength.  Many of the methods are used in conjunction with each other:
  • Reduce the water content
  • Increase the aggregate size from 3/8" to 3/4"
  • Add pozzolans (Supplementary Cementitious Materials - SCM)
  • Utilize crystalline or water proof admixes 
  • Corrosion inhibitors 
  • Air entrainment (freeze-thaw conditions)
  • Metakaolis (help reduce efflorescence)
  • Integral color pigments
Some additives are not compatible with others, so be sure to read the labels and warnings (e.g. fly ash is not compatible with some waterproof admixes).

Integrity of the Mix Design

It is the responsibility of the contractor to ensure that the mix design is not adultered by "well meaning" individuals.  Concrete pump operators and ready-mix truck drivers are the worst culprits.  When the truck arrives, the pump operator tells the driver to add water to the mix.  Before the concrete is even out of the truck, the strength is being compromised.

After the truck arrives, if you hear the engine revving and the drum spinning rapidly they are adding and mixing additional water.

Proper Handling

The concrete should not be allowed to sit in a truck, waiting for prior trucks to be unloaded.  The concrete may achieve it's final set while in the truck, rendering it useless (unless set retarders were added).

The truck must achieve a minimum number of rotations prior to off loading.  The dry ingredients are added to the truck at the ready-mix plant.  It is the rotation of the drum and vanes that actually mix the concrete.

Concrete that is to be placed into tall forms, caisson holes, deep trenches or footings should be placed from the bottom up.  It should not be pumped in from the top and allowed to fall to the bottom.  This separates out the aggregate and compromises the strength.  It also creates large voids and air pockets in the finished product.

Proper consolidation (vibration) must also be preformed.  Excessive vibration will also cause the aggregate to settle to the bottom.  The proper mix design can virtually eliminate the need for consolidation.


Concrete does not "dry," it cures.  As the water hydrates the components of the concrete mix, crystalline structures are formed.  These are what give the concrete it's density.  Controlling the rate of water evaporation is critical.  The goal to to have the water leave the concrete as slowly as possible.  This is achieved through proper curing. 

Coverings of burlap, carpet or plastic are the most rudimentary.  This method cause surface discoloration due to trapped moisture under the covering. They are also susceptible to being moved or blown out of position.

Water curing is performed by maintaining the moisture content of the concrete by frequent sprinkling, spraying or flooding with water.  This is not always practical as there may be water restrictions, drought conditions, lack of personnel 24/7, the project is too large or the site may become excessively muddy.

Chemical curing compounds are chemicals that are sprayed onto the finished concrete after it becomes stiff, but is still damp in appearance.  Some chemically penetrate the concrete while others form a surface film.  These are the method preferred by most State Highway Departments because they are the most infallible.

Care must be taken in selecting the proper curing solution.  Some of them create a "bond breaker" that inhibits the bonding of subsequent surfaces.  Subsequent decorative finishes of plaster, stucco, paint or stone work may not bond to the concrete.  

Then why do they even make those types?  Contractors who pour roadways, bridges, sidewalks and other high traffic surfaces are the largest consumers of these type of curing compounds.  They are also the most inexpensive.  Most contain some type of waxy substance.  The curing film often dries white (or has a dye), to indicate areas of coverage and proper application.  Over time, the film will eventually wear away from traffic, abrasion and weather.  

Remember, they are concerned with lifetime performance of their structure (as should you!)

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Swimming Pool Expert Witness & International Watershape Consulting Engineer

Forms of Chlorine Sanitization

Large residential and commercial aquatic facilities need to perform a complete evaluation of the various form of chlorine sanitization available, before committing to a method.

Calcium Hypochlorite - Cal Hypo

It has the word "hype" in it's name for a reason.  While it provides the most inexpensive forms of chlorine, is carries with it a lot of hidden expenses.

Maintenance - the high levels of calcium in the compound cause clogging of the feeders, injectors and in severe cases even the plumbing.  The only way to remove these deposits is to physically chip them off or to saturate the deposits with muriatic acid.  DANGER: soaking these deposits in muriatic acid may cause an explosion and will form deadly mustard gas (chlorine gas).  Mustard gas will permanently burn and scar the lungs and sear the eyes.

Maintenance of the feeders is both dangerous and time consuming.  There is NO EASY way to keep the feeders clean.  The salesman is looking at his commission from reoccurring sales of calcium tablets... ad nauseam.

Water Balance - The high levels of calcium are also placed into solution within the pool water.  Very quickly the water become over saturated with calcium and the pool becomes difficult to balance.  The water gets a cloudy appearance.  Late in the day, the water appears murky and milk like.  The only way to reduce the calcium content is to DUMP precious water - that's right, drain the pool & dilute the water with fresh water.  

If the make up water (fill water) is ran through a water softener prior to entering the pool, then this ZERO calcium water will dilute calcium laden water, slowing the build-up - that will still occur (just slower).

Financial Interest - Most firms that specify calcium hypochlorite, sell the erosion feeders.  Most will also gladly contract for the supply (sell) of the cal-hypo briquets.  The equipment that they sell, states that the warranty is void, if another brand of briquets is used in their feeder.  This guarantees the specifier will have a client for life - or until the client wises up.

DiChlor or Trichlor Powdered Chlorine

Dichlor..... and Trichlor.... Chlorine are stabilized forms of granular chlorine.  Trichlor... has a low pH and is slow dissolving, and Dichlor... has a neutral pH and is fast dissolving.  

Both contain cynauric acid as a part of their compound.  This is also know as "stabilizer" as it protects the chlorine in the pool from the degradation effects of UV rays.  Too much stabilizer in the pool water can reduce the effectiveness of the chlorine.  Again, the only means to reduce it, is do DUMP precious water from the pool.

Sodium Hypochlorite

Salt Chlorinator
A "salt water pool" is sanitized with chlorine, regardless of what people are told or think.  Liquid Chlorine (Bleach - Sodium Hypochlorite) is produced at the pool equipment pad, as the salt water passes through electrolytic plates.

This is the same means used to create liquid bleach (sodium hypochlorite).  The only difference is that the chlorine is not injected or poured into the pool, instead it is made within the plumbing.

Sodium hypochlorite has a high pH.  Regardless of what the manufacturers of salt chlorinators say, the chlorine generated has a pH of about 13.  The miniscule amount of sodium hydroxide generated, in no way negates this high pH.  During a week, a pool with salt chlorinators will consume 4-8 times the quantity of acid (to buffer the 13 pH), as a pool utilizing liquid sodium hypochlorite.

Liquid Bleach
Another method to utilize sodium hypochlorite, is to store a barrel of it and meter it into the pool.  It is injected into the plumbing using a peristaltic pump.  Of course an acid solution is also injected to maintain the proper pH.  These peristaltic pumps are best controlled by an ORP/pH Controller (water chemistry controller) that monitors and feeds the chemicals as needed.  Periodic deliveries of liquid chlorine and acid are used to refill the barrels.  This relies upon a reliable local source of liquid bleach and acid.

On-Site Generation
In remote corners of the world, there is no reliable source of liquid chlorine.  Large users of liquid chlorine or remote locations find it economically feasible to manufacture their own liquid chlorine bleach on-site.  The key ingredients are available around the world - electricity, salt and water.  A free standing skid mounted system creates liquid chlorine which is then stored in a large barrel.  This ensures a readily available and steady supply. 

In resorts or hotels, these units are over-sized, so that extra liquid chlorine can be used to mop floors, sanitize showers, clean dishes in the commercial kitchens and to wash laundry.  Since the freight to import cleaning solutions is cost prohibitive, utilizing on-site chlorine bleach become economically feasible and environmentally friendly.

Liquid acid is still utilized to buffer the higher pH.  A water chemistry computer (ORP/pH controller) meters the bleach and acid solution as needed, guaranteeing a perfectly balanced pool, regardless of the weather conditions or bather loads.  Powdered or granular acid can be mixed with water to create acid solutions on site, if local sources of liquid acid are not available.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

International Swimming Pool Design Awards

Award winning swimming pool and watershape designs - why the receipt of an award is meaningless!

Lack of Substance 
Every swimming pool industry design award is lacking a critical element - substance.

Though the projects that are awarded Gold Medals, Medallions in a magazine, Guava Award or Mastery of Design recognition are all pretty projects - that's just the point.  They are merely pretty!

None of the projects are judged on the merits of the builders construction practices, compliance with building codes, industry or workmanship standards.  

These awards went straight for the dessert.  They skipped the appetizer (review of the plans, soils reports and structural engineering) and bypassed the salad (client comments).  The main course (review of the construction practices, methodologies and installation practices) was deleted for expediency sake.

Some organizations have even given awards to the builders of the pools, that merely executed the plans and designs of someone else (this has happened to me on THREE occasions).  Because they do not review the plans for the project, they actually have no idea who was the creative force behind it's conception.

Industry awards exist for ONE PURPOSE - self-promotion.  

The industry collects pretty pictures that they then use to promote the industry to consumers.  Pool builders and designers use the awards to tout "Look how great I am!" 

Consumers see pretty pools, but do not understand exactly what the acquisition of the award entailed.

Pretty Picture Contest 
Because award contests lack substance, they are really nothing more than Awards for having the prettiest picture of a pool.

This is why, as a general rule, I do not enter Award Contests.  

If someone wants to grant me an award, they must evaluate what's behind the curtain.   Otherwise it's just smoke and mirrors for publicity sake.
Paolo Benedetti 
Aquatic Artist, Consultant and Expert Witness
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

International Swimming Pool Designer and Consultant

International Aqua Designs or overseas watershape consulting- what standard applies ?

Most EU member countries have adopted the ISO standards.  However they do not address a multitude of construction, design and safety issues that are covered in the United States building codes.

International Building Code

The IBC is THE adopted building code across the Unites States (except Wisconsin).  The IBC has incorporated the ACI, ASA, NEC and ANSI/NSPI/APSP standards as well as other construction workmanship related standards.

Therefore, the IBC should be a basis for defining the standards on an international project, where ISO or local codes do not address a particular issue. 

International Swimming Pool Code

APSP has released an International Swimming Pool Code.  While not all encompassing, it is also a good BASIC starting point.  It is generic in many of the areas it addresses, because it refuses to establish a minimum level of acceptable workmanship.  Where it does establish a criteria, this should be only be a "not to exceed" standard.

A copy of the 2012 International Swimming Pool & Spa Code is available at:
2012 International Swimming Pool & Spa Code
Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

10 Common Swimming Pool Designer Mistakes

10 Most Common Mistakes when designing a swimming pool

1.  Short Term Savings, Long Term Loss

To save a few dollars on the initial project bid, pool contractors do not specify a "dedicated pump for a dedicated purpose."  In other words, they over size the primary filter pump in an attempt to power more options.

Running an over sized filter pump consumes more electricity than is needed, for the the few hours each month the options are in use.  Additionally, the excess line velocity through the plumbing damages heaters, salt chlorine cells and other apparatus.

Multiple skimmers result in a cleaner pool.  An over sized filter can (depending on the type) result in fewer cleanings and servicings.  An automated chemical delivery system can keep the water chemistry perfectly balanced - the pool is always ready for use.

2.  Not Specifying Color Coordinated Fittings

It is simple to specify fittings to match the finish color of the pool.  Many manufacturers make eyeball fittings, main drains, channel drains and skimmers in a multitude of colors.

There is SOMETHING out there that will blend in with your project.  It is not "WHITE OR NOTHING," that is pure laziness on the part of the builder.

3.  Not installing an auto-fill or over-flow line

Face it, people are busy.  Attending to the water level in the pool is the last thing on their mind.

Low water levels result in pump damage or in the case of VFD pumps - self protection shut-down.  Imagine your pool without filtration in the heat of the summer!

During the winter months rain can quickly cause the water level to flood skimmers, rendering them ineffective.  Debris from winter storms and winds will sink to the bottom.  High water levels can also damage copings and mortar beds.

4.  Failing to install a pressure side cleaner line

Even though a client may not desire a pressure side cleaner, the plumbing line and booster pump should be installed for the service company.  A cleaner booster pump combined with a "leaf bagger" cleaner will accelerate the clean up of bulk debris from the floor of the pool after winter storms.  Garden hose pressure is insufficient to properly and effectively power a bag leafer.

5.  Failing to install a dedicated vacuum line on a detached spa 

If the spa is not attached to the pool or is more than 30 feet away from the closest skimmer, then a dedicated vacuum line is needed.  This is much like a "central vacuum" port that allows for the simple collection of sand and silt from the bottom of the spa.

6.  Not installing automated controls on a pool / spa combination

It is simply foolish not to install even a simple automation system on a pool & spa that share a common filtration and heating system (e.g. spill over spa).

Automation allows the owner to activate the heater, check the temperature and turn the valves in the proper sequence - all from within the house.

Failing to cool the heater down before turning off the filter pump can damage the heater.  Sequencing the valves in the wrong order  
can drain the spa, dead-head the pump or cause the pump to run dry.  Many people are confused by the valve's proper positioning and sequencing and end up damaging their systems.

Automation has become affordable, so the point of being a necessity on every pool and spa combinations.

7.  Failing to install adequate deck drainage

Allowing the decks to drain off into the planters merely allows the water to seep back under the decks and percolate into the sand/rock under the concrete.

This can cause corrosion issues with the pool reinforcement steel, cracking of the pool from saturated soil surcharges, or deck heaving or settlement.  It can also create efflorescence issues with the pool deck, coping and tile.  On sloping lots, this run-off can even undermine a slope, cause mudslides or the pool to slip down the incline.

It is best to collect the surface water and direct to an appropriate discharge point away from the pool.

8. Allowing a "Pool Salesman" to specify the project

A pool salesman works on commission.  Your interests are not his.  His job is to sell you as much as possible for the highest possible price.

Few salesmen have the requisite training to specify the correct plumbing and pump sizes or to calculate proper system hydraulics.

9.  Installing a single light in the deep end

Installing a single twelve inch round cheap looking motel light in the deep end is the silliest thing you can possibly do.

Installing a few more smaller sized lights on the wall facing away from the house (or vantage point) will result in a pool that is more evenly lit.  It will also mean that you're not looking directly into a truck headlamp whenever the lights are on.
10.  Hiring the Lowest Bidder

For some reason, consumers have been led to believe that they need to collect 3 bids and then select the lowest one.  In today's economic climate, you simply will not get the best possible project for the least amount of money.

The best for the least?  Come on - that's common sense.  But millions believe this to be true. 

REMEMBER - You get what you pay for! 
Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Epic Swimming Pools - Expensive Luxury Pools but Poor Design Execution

Epic pools recently seen on TV, were nothing more than expensive luxury and platinum pools that exhibited poor designs and execution.

Poor Taste

Though the pools recently aired on television were very expensive pools, they demonstrated the fact that "money alone does not buy class or good taste."  With a couple of exceptions, almost every pool displayed was nothing more that a collection of everything possible - including the kitchen sink.

Just because a client can afford to include everything, does not make the design correct.  The design becomes secondary and the monstrosity becomes the focus.  Soon, options begin to be added in the oddest of places, with no rhyme or reason.

"Because they can..."

Just because a client can afford to include everything imaginable, does not mean that a project should.  Someone needs to exercise the voice of reason and sanity.  If the project is being built for a Disney Resort, then by all means.   

A designer will quickly show their "true colors" and focus (money, money, money!), when these type of project begin to get out of hand.  They do not offer the client reasonable options or even attempt to incorporate the new elements into the design.  They merely hang the new option onto the project and issue a change order.

Time tempers the insanity...

Years after the project has been completed, "newness" has worn off, usage has dropped off and the client is looking at a monstrosity in their yard and reviewing exorbitant monthly operating cost they begin to ask themselves... "What have I done?"

When it comes time to sell  a property with such a project, the pool becomes an issue.  Very few people want a pool in their backyard that appears to have been build without any sense of reason.

These eventually become white elephant pools... destined to be torn out.

Paolo Benedetti, S.W.D.  - Aquatic Artist
 "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 

Swimming Pool Designer - Custom Designs

Custom swimming pool designs for YOU, your lifestyle and architecture.

Custom Designed Swimming Pools

Open any yellow pages or browse any swimming pool builder's website and they all tout "custom designs."  But what really is a custom design?


A commissioned sales man is not a designer.  Assembling options from a list and placing them around a predefined shape is not design either.

A designer is someone who truely has the clients best interest in mind.  A designer will seamlessly meld the architecture of the site with the landscaping.

They will consider the prevailing winds, neighbors views, primary lines of sight, shifting seasonal sun, scope & scale of the property and the clients lifestyle.  They will even plan for forecasted changes in the clients lifestyle - whether it be the addition of children, soon to be empty nesters, teenagers or just clients who want something beautiful to look at.


Swimming pools have graduated from mimicking body parts plopped aimlessly in the center of the yard, to architectural wonders.

A designer is one who can create the sense of "belonging,"  as if the yard would be missing something if the pool was absent.


It takes decades to develop the knowledge and background to become a designer.  Merely drawing well or being able to select harmonious colors does not qualify one as a designer.

One must understand the mechanical and hydraulic designs as well.  Being able to draw a pretty picture without understanding how to actually build it, is a waste of the clients' time.

Qualified Designers
There is only ONE accredited course of aquatic design study in the world - the Society of Watershape Designers.  Only those that have completed the course of study and who maintain their continuing education, can display the S.W.D. certification.

In selecting the Best of the Best, one would naturally hire S.W.D. course instructors.  After all the best could only learn from those that are better!

Paolo Benedetti, S.W.D. - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Swimming Pool Design Expert Designer Construction Consultant

Swimming Pool Designer, Consultant and Construction Expert Paolo Benedetti has seen it all....  here he discusses education and "pool designers."

"Pool Designer"

Anyone who can draw the shape of a kidney bean can call themselves a "pool designer."  Before you retain the services of someone to design your swimming pool or aquatic center, you need to consider the "designer" background.

They should be well versed in art, history, architecture, modern construction methods and material science.  They should charge for their time and experience.

You Get What You Pay For

Are you willing to pay someone to create a thoughtful design that incorporates your desires and anticipates your future needs?  Face it, anyone with a computer program, template or a pencil and paper can draw a swimming pool.

But, will that person create a design that actually WORKS with your site?  Will they draw inappropriate circular patterns for a site that has nothing but linear lines and angles?   Is the "designer" the salesman who has a vested interest in loading your pool with every option imaginable?

For a first class design, you need to be willing to spend a few thousand dollars.  Some designers that also build pools, offer a partial credit of the design fees, against construction costs if you do not put the plans "out to bid."  This is the "licensing fee" for the plans.  When the client is not going to disseminate the designers plans and ideas to the competition, then the client should be entitled to a credit.

However, if the client is using a designer/builder to create construction documents for bidding purposes, then the client should pay full price - regardless of who is eventually hired to construct the project.  After all, they exercised their licensed rights.

Design Premises

Is that salesman or "designer" going to jamb the largest pool that they can into you yard?  

The design must consider the lines of sight - what you will see from the various vantage points.  Its' scale must be appropriate to the size of the space. 

The perspectives of the finished project should not focus on the pool, but rather the entire scene.  The pool is but one element of the outdoor environment.  The pool must work harmoniously with the rest of the yard - retaining walls, stairs, sitting areas, patios, plantings, trees and shrubs.


Life today is hectic.  Most people do not relax and unwind until the end of the day.  Does the design take that into account?  When come home will you be looking into a vast dark wasteland out the back window?

Was your designer trained in landscape lighting and techniques?  Did they incorporate lighting effects to create a dramatic scene after dark?


Face it, you will spend more time looking at your pool than actually swimming in it.  So shouldn't it be aesthetically pleasing to look at at well?

Training and Education

Designers and contractors alike must stay abreast of the current trends, materials and construction practices.  The building codes change annually, as to construction methods.

What is your designer doing to stay current on their education?  Or are they still doing things the way they did three decades ago?

There are only a dozen or so people in the entire world that have completed the planet's only accredited swimming pool design program.  A Society of Watershape Designer has earned the right to use the S.W.D. title after their name.  Continuing educational requirements ensure that they stay current on their training and education.

You're investing thousands of dollars having your landscape designed... why wouldn't you spend an equivalent amount (or more) to have the single largest element in your yard professionally designed and engineered?

Paolo Benedetti, S.W.D. - Aquatic Artist 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa