pool questions (and answers): friend vs contractor

endomdJuly 23, 2012

We are planning a new pool. Plan was for rectangular pool with retractable cover. Friend's pool guy gave several suggestions all of which our contractor disagreed with! Can anyone with experience/expertise see which of these concerns/responses makes more sense:

1. Is the plaster you would use instead of pebbletech the marble dust plaster?

2. He recommended that you build the pool in the early fall/late summer but then you don't plaster it until the early spring to allow for setting.

3. HE recommended that the heater be a Raypack heater. WHat brand heater do you use?

4. HE really does not like saltwater for a pool but instead recommends an ultraviolet sanitation. HAve you ever used that?

5. What type of filter are you planning on using?

6. HE said that the deck needs to be properly pitched and set to drain well.

7. HE really does not like the retractable covers. HOw much would it save to not do a cover? aNd if we don't do a cover would you recommend a different shape pool?


1. The exposed aggregate plaster alternative that we discussed is not a marble dust plaster. Aggregate plasters are either a quartz or a pebble with pebble being the most durable.

2. In regards to the pool building timeframe and the settling. The plan for your property is to use compaction machinery to compact all of the backfill in the pool and deck areas. This compaction is to be completed in 6" - 10" lifts and completely cancels out the need to allow for any settling since there should not be any settling taking place.

3. Raypak heaters are very good heaters and are always our second choice when applicable.

It is a much larger size unit with the same capabilities as the Pentair Mastertemp counterpart.

Pentair Mastertemp is also rated Best-in-class energy efficiency.

The MasterTemp heater is also certified for low NOx emission and outperforms industry standards.

We also like the Mastertemp because of its size and durability, not to mention that it can be moved and worked on, cleaned etc by 1 person and doesnt require an extra body to move it.

4. Salt Chlorine Generation is really a personal choice. Many people feel that the water is softer and less irritating to the eyes along with offering consistent everyday chlorination. The salt generator will automatically generate "Free" chlorine from the inert salt that is in the water.

There is not a salty taste or feel to the water as we are only adding approx 3200 parts per million based on your pool sizing.

UV Sanitation although a great process, still is recommended for use with a secondary sanitizer (chlorine, bromine ) and can be used in conjuction with a salt generator. It will allow the pool to need less chlorine and / or other chemicals but is uncommon in residential pools as the primary sanitizer.

5. The filter that we are planning to use, is a PENTAIR FNS PLUS D.E. filter.

This utilizes diatomaceous earth to coat the inner grids for proper filtration.

6. The setting of proper pitch and heights for the drainage of the deck is very important.

Industry standard is approx 1/4" per foot for drainage.

We also are installing a system of channel drains per builder that will ensure that the decking & patios drain properly.

7. The Auto cover option in our opinion is a great feature. When closed it is safer than a fence installed around the pool. There is a removeable key that is required for operation as an add'l safety feature.

When installed with the encapsulated track feature, the strength of the auto cover more than doubles as it is built into the beam of the pool.

The savings would be approx 10,000 after we factor in the cost of a deck mounted solid cover for winter.

The shape of the pool is really personal preference but in this instance I believe the rectangle works well with your property. If however , you eliminate the auto cover feature, your shape choices increase dramatically.

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Where are you located roughly?

Here in NJ, I am not a big fan of automatic covers. the things that can go wrong with them outweigh, at least in my opinion, the positives.

Yes, they can, when used on a daily basis, improve safety and reduce chemical and heating costs but on the negative side, the mechanisms can break, leaving a cover 1/2 rolled up, often aren't configured for use with salt cells, cost plenty when the cover fabric needs to be replaced periodically (average life is less than 10 years), and aren't as strong as most safety covers used for Winter. The chemical usage isn't that big a cost, certainly not enough to justify it. Heat can be saved with a solar cover at night for a lot less. Automatic covers can have snow loads play merry hell on tracks and cover material. Rain will carry debris into the coffin and clog its drain. Unpumped rain will seriously wear the spooling mechanism because of the weight so an automatic pump needs to be set. A hole in the cover will let pool water out. You still need a fence for the yard. There are added installation costs such as stainless hardware and extra bonding needed when a salt cell is used. The costs will vary with the size and shape of the pool.

Here in the Northeast, plastering, regardless of the material used, is best done in the Spring. The cement used hydrates, raising the pH. Left unmonitored over the Winter, scale is far more likely to form. The more time you have to monitor it, the better. This process slows with time so the more time you have to monitor it, the better.

The Sun provides all the UV you will need with an outdoor pool. Adding it to the return flow is more money in their pocket only. Nothing reduces the amount of free chlorine needed in the water. You can only augment it. Chlorine kills everything. Yes, there are a couple things that can take some time but residential outdoor pools have such a small risk of being contaminated, it doesn't make sense. Large, public indoor facilities and water supplies are at a greater risk because of the lack of exposure to the Sun. UV cannot be used as a primary sanitizer. It doesn't leave a residual in the pool which is where its needed.

Go with the MasterTemp 400HD. Its just bulletproof, unlike the Raypak.

I prefer the Quad series of filters over the FNS Plus series. They are typically a bit larger and easier to clean.

All finishes use cement to bind. A big part of cement is calcium. Water can draw calcium out from the cement. The less cement exposed, the longer the finish lasts. Plaster dust also has calcium. It tends to be softer too. Quartz can improve things but is dependent on how much is used in the mix. Pebble finishes tend to have the aggregates more exposed and thus last the longest.

Compaction needs are dependent on the type of pool and construction method used. Six inch lifts are expected usually.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 3:42AM
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thank you so much for your thorough answers and explanations! We are just outside Philadelphia so I suspect the same climate as you.
We had been so excited for a retractable pool cover but now are probably leaning away based on the various info we are hearing. We have small kids, but as you say, the pool will have its own fencing which should provide adequate safety. Leaving out a retractable cover not only will save a lot of money but also allow for a non-rectangular shape.
Again, I really appreciate all of your insight.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 3:38PM
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