Monday, May 30, 2005

The Tao of Pool...

Ok, to fill you in on the story, last year we bought a 12-foot Easy-Set Intec pool from Wal-Mart. The pool was really cool, the Easy-set pool is basically a blivet, or a bladder, if you will, that is strong enough to hold the weight of the water you put in it. The water is captured in the pool by an inflatable vinyl ring on top of the pool. We had so much fun with the little pool, Deb and I decided to go up a notch or two in size. We finally decided on the 16 foot Easy-Set that was 36 inches deep. Turns out that 16 footer is a lot bigger than the 12 footer, by spades...

When Deb suggested we buy the 12-footer back in '04, I really didn't think much of it, because it only cost a hundred bucks. Well, let me tell you, we got our hundred bucks out of that pool, and then some. I also learned that the Easy-Set pools are not "kiddie pools", because they have a filter pump and require chlorination and the whole nine yards. I learned alot about caring for a pool, even if it was on a micro scale. Another important thing we learned was that the pool must reside on more-or-less level ground, or you will suffer from certain problems associated with hydraulics (water seeks the low ground). We had small problems with our 12 footer, but we figured we had learned and were ready to upgrade. This year, with the 16 footer (purchased for a paltry $218 complete with ladder, cover, ground cloth, pump,filter, skimmer, vacuum, dip-net) we were really going to have to prepare the ground to ensure perfect working order of the new pool.

Our 12 foot Easy-Set pool of 2004

We did a little prep work on the ground last year to prepare for the 12 footer, but it wasn't enough, and our pool ran downhill, so we could never really get it perfectly full (the uphill side had two or three inches of slack in the walls, see above photo). We were determined this year to get the pool set-up even better, so I trucked in some sand to help level the grade. Our yard has a two or three foot grade from foundation to property line, in about a fifty foot run.

We took down a fence panel for easy access. This load is of sand bags we bought from Lowe's after putting two tons of bulk sand down previously

I put at least 10,000 lbs of sand down, and that sounds like a lot, but it really wasn't that much. That was four buckets of sand from a Bobcat loader, and 18 bags @ 50 lbs each. The sand cost around $100 all told. It even made me think of a joke: "what do you buy that is sold by the cube but is all around you every day in billions of tons? Answer: Fill sand...".

Here was our first pad for the pool

Our first attempt failed. It was not because there wasn't enough elevation in the pad, it was because the pad wasn't wide enough, and this was detrimental to the way these pools fill with water. Because the pool is a bladder, it spreads out farther while filling than it actually does while full. If one side or another is low, the water will run right to that spot, and the pool will dump. I tried to prop it up with some bricks to see if I could coax it past that point, but I decided we might need to re-engineer our pad for the pool. We lost at least 500 gallons on that first dump, so my thinking was on the conservative side...let's make the pad wider all around so the pool has a good base to fill on.

The first failed fill. One can note how the sides of the pool splay about at the whims of the laws of physics while the bladder fills

So after a day or two (and some frustration on the part of the pool's users), I secured more fill sand to shore up the edges. I bought two whole bucket loads. I used some old landscaping bricks that we decomissioned when we got our curbing, and I made a wall to help hold the sand. It worked out great.

The "new and improved" pad. Landscaping bricks help bolster the highest parts

Here is the end result. All told, the pool cost around $350 to install, not including the cost of the water (4,000 gallons, about $15) and the chemicals and electricity I'll use to maintain it. As you can see, the 16 footer is much larger than the 12 footer, and a great place to jump into when it is 105 degrees and you've just mowed the lawn...

The second ladder is the ladder from the 12-foot pool...obviously too small!

I think these Easy-Set pools are an excellent bargain, and tons of fun. And, I think I'm becoming a chemist. I have to add:

Chlorine (don't forget the shock once a week)
Cyanuric acid to stabilize
Ph minus (sodium bisulphate) to get the Ph where it should be,
Clarifier, to capture sediment

You get the picture!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo, is that Aubrey in the jippy old pool. Sounds like the new pool was another adventure in perseverence. Look forward to swimming in July. We sure could use some lodging advise for west Texas in July.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Mark A. said...

Yo, that sure is Aubrey! That sure was a jippy pool!

Lodging advice!? I think Maureen and company are staying at the Best Western...

There are several motels around, the newest ones are on Sherwood way near Johnny Carino's and Cheddar's, I bet that one would suit you! Let me get back with you on the name of that hotel, because I'm drawing a blank (common malady these days I'm afraid).

9:35 PM  
Blogger Mark A. said...

As you were...

The new one I was thinking of is on Knickerbocker, I believe it is a Hampton Inn Suites, but don't bet the farm on that.

I've been wrong before!

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, where would you suggest we get reservations? Are there any quaint historic Inn's? With A/C

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about the pool. I've been looking at the 18' model from Sam's for $258 and change. Glad to know about the ground leveling beforehand. I think you've saved us many hours (days?) of turmoil. I lived in San Angelo from 200-2002. My office was very close to Goodfellow. I really miss Twin Mountain Steak House and the Mexican food places!
Thanks again for pool info!

10:28 AM  

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