Concrete Pool Deck – A Simple Buyer’s Guide

Everyone judges a book by its cover and a good way to think about your pool is the deck is the cover of the book. Choosing the right style of concrete pool deck for your home can seem a bit overwhelming, so here is a simple guide to picking one of the three most common types of concrete pool decking – standard broom finish, colored and cut, and stamped or exposed aggregate.

The most common type of pool deck is standard grey concrete broom finish that is just like a sidewalk or driveway. This style is the tried and true and most economical way to have a long lasting, low maintenance pool deck. Normal maintenance consists of pressure washing and sealing. We recommend resealing your deck a minimum of every other year (fall). There is really no disadvantage to this style of pool deck other than it is very common.

Colored concrete is becoming increasingly popular. Colored concrete allows you to choose a color that matches your house or other outdoor decor. Color can really make your deck pop and with some decorative cuts (such as diamond), you can make a beautiful deck that is only incrementally more of an investment than the standard grey. One challenge with coloring is blending color if you need to make repairs. Sticking with a particular brand of coloring such as Butterfield will help create consistent look and color. Maintenance is similar to standard concrete, but it is imperative to seal soon so the color will not fade.

Decorative concrete such as stamped or exposed aggregate is the third option. These styles are very beautiful finishes for a pool deck. They are more expensive than standard finish, but definitely add a pop to your deck that can create a completely customized look. Stamped concrete can create a paver look that is much more economical than actual pavers. Custom patterns and styles can create an amazing look to complement your landscaping. Options are virtually endless. Maintenance is more imperative with decorative concrete so we recommend sealing every year or even twice per year. Your location and the harshness of winters (salt or chemicals to de-ice) will dictate your maintenance schedule.

What to expect:

The most common question asked is how long to until my concrete cracks? There is no definite timeline, but just know that it will eventually crack. If cracking happens within the first 30 days or even immediately after the pour is complete, be sure the concrete from the manufacturer was correct. With concrete, the installer has only 10% of the outcome of the concrete cracking, the correct psi, mix design, and preparation account for the other 90% . The ACI (American Concrete Institute) set parameters for this and require testing and reporting to make sure concrete is made properly. At Mudslingers, we recommend a pool deck  have a 4000 psi or stronger mix design, also with a minimum of 3.5-4″ in thickness.  A wire mesh of three feet from water’s edge is required for pool bonding (this can be installed around entire pool of desired) and is required to pass electrical inspection, but this will also give it added strength. Ask your pool company about all of the options to ensure you are getting the best mix design for your budget. The next check is the type of crack – most likely just looking at a small surface crack, probably from hot temperatures and wind drying the surface quicker than the rest of the slab. Surface cracks will not affect the integrity of the pool deck. You simply caulk or seal the crack to keep water out and prevent it from getting bigger. If you have decorative concrete you can add some color to the sealer which will help conceal the crack even better.

Tips on Sealing

Your geographical location will impact the degree you need to worry about sealing. The midwest has extremely hot summers and very harsh winters. Extreme fluctuations in temperature can wreak havoc on your pool deck (especially in winter if you use salt or other chemicals to remove snow and ice). Normal erosion and ground movement could happen sooner and sealing will help prevent the cracks from expanding.

Choosing the right pool deck for your family can be a great experience. Consider your landscaping or future plans when choosing the style you are most comfortable with for the “cover of your book.” Your pool builder should be willing to offer suggestions and show examples of others for inspiration.

 

How To Properly Open A Pool

Pool season is here and while many open their pools as early as March, Memorial Weekend is symbolically the start of pool season. Opening your pool properly will determine how quickly you and your family will enjoy the pool and will help you avoid potential problems such as chemical imbalance and improper filtration. Below are some key steps to properly opening your pool.

1. Clear or remove your pool cover. If you have an automatic cover you should have been keeping it clear of debris and making sure your pump off all the water prior to trying to operate the automatic cover. If you use a winter cover, remove the cover and store for the pool season. If you do not own an automatic pool cover you should consider a solar cover or other to help keep you pool warm and free from debris.

2. Retrieve all of your stored pool parts out of storage such as: return eyeballs,  o-rings, and  gaskets.

3. Check your equipment:

  • Heater – Just like your home heating system you will want to have your gas pool heater or electric heat pump serviced and ready for the season.
  • Filter – Whatever type of filter you use we recommend examining filter media to make sure it’s clean for maximum filtration. Consider having your filter cleaned professionally when you close or upon opening. Your family will appreciate clean water.
  • Pump – Examine all the wires to ensure no damage, place basket in pump housing and to prevent dry rot and help with a better seal use petroleum jelly or magic lube on gasket before installing (this is also recommended for all o-rings and rubber gaskets).
  • Automation – If your pool is equipped with this option reinstall the ORP and Ph probes. Note:  You should always store inside your house through the winter to prevent freezing.
  • The chlorine generator should be checked on the inside to see if the grids are clean. If they are not clean, use a 50/50 muriatic muriatic muriatic and water mixture to clean.

4. Install the pool return eyeballs, pump, and skimmer baskets.

5. Make sure pool water level is at proper level – middle to upper middle of skimmer.

6. Prime the pump prior to operating. Once everything has been checked and installed, simply fill the pump basket with water.

6. Add chemicals – typically chlorine shock, algaecide, salt, stain and scale preventer.  Your initial chemical composition will vary depending the type of pool that you are running and current levels in the water. Don’t experiment with this.

  • Chlorine pool – with a standard chlorine pool you will need test your water chemistry at least once a week (possibly more with extreme heat conditions) and add the necessary chemicals.
  • Automated pools – you will need to recheck the water within a few days after pool has been circulating to check the reading. Then set all of your levels to your preferred setting and your done for the season.

7. Sweep and brush as needed or use a robotic cleaner (just put in water as needed and it does the work for you). For pools with a lot of large debris, vacuuming on “waste” will  bypass the filter to avoid extra filter cleaning.

8. Monitor the seals, gaskets, o-rings, gauges and fittings closely for the first couple days for leaks.

Opening your pool is a good time to think about converting to a salt water pool. Salt water pools have many advantages including being better for your skin and less irritation on the eyes.

Your pool really is a relatively simple system, however, like anything with pumps and motors, proper maintenance and operation are key. Many chose to have their pools professionally opened and maintained to ensure that everything is functioning properly and to help extend the life of your equipment. We offer many options for opening, closing, and maintaining your pool. Ask about our Mud Club VIP program.

 

 

Who Makes The Best Pool Equipment?

We are continually asked who makes the best pool equipment? When considering what equipment we would use in our own pools and would feel comfortable giving a 5 YEAR WARRANTY to our customers we considered the three main manufacturers of pool equipment: Pentair, Hayward, and Jandy. We considered the warranty, reputation, ease of use (automation), wear and tear, manufacturing, training, and cutting-edge technology.

The Best

Hayward Pool Products has been the leader in pool equipment and innovation for decades and is the clear choice for our customers.

Why Hayward?

Hayward offers complete pool automation systems, so everything on your equipment pad is made by Hayward and Mud Slingers Pool and Patio offers a 5 YEAR WARRANTY on all Hayward equipment. Some pool builders only offer a one or two year warranty, so make sure you ask your builder what they offer.

Heaters

The most important part of a pool heater is the heat exchanger and on average to have replaced is $800-1000.  The three types of heat exchangers are: copper, copper-nickel, and titanium. Copper can wear down in 3-5 years with normal water chemistry, copper-nickel is 8 times more resistant to chemical wear than plain copper so life expectancy is >25 years, titanium will never wear down from chemical use. All hayward gas heaters come standard with copper-nickel heat exchangers. Electric heat pumps come with titanium heat exchangers.

Filters

If you want a clear and clean pool, your filter is a critical component. Sand is the most common and has been around since the beginning. They are very easy to use and maintenance time is minimized by simply backwashing when dirty, but it only cleans to a 30 micron particle so the water isn’t the cleanest it can be. Cartridge filters are very good and clean to a 5 micron particle, so water is very clean but cleaning the cartridge filter is very time consuming. A DE filter is like a hybrid of cartridge and sand, it has grids on the inside that with the combination of crushed sea shells coating them is essentially a double filtration that cleans to 1 micron or the equivalent of a red blood cell –  so ultra clean water. It also has the same backwash system as a sand filter, so you have the best of both worlds – ultra clean water and minimal maintenance time.

Pumps

Single, dual or variable ? A single speed pump run on high speed 24 hours a day so it consumes a lot of unnecessary power. A dual speed or variable speed pump is going to be the best option as it is not necessary to run your pump on high speed all day. Set your pump on high speed during the day so you have optimal filtration while swimming in your pool. At night you can turn it (or program it) to  low speed to keep water filtering and the heater running, but saving energy and money.

Pool Chemistry Automation

Itchy skin? Cloudy water? Red eyes? Water chemistry is the part of pool ownership most people will talk about. Older pools must be monitored daily to ensure proper chemistry and often wind up having ridiculous amounts of chemicals in them. Hayward has been a leader in this cutting edge technology for years. The Hayward Pro Logic and Gold Line controls have  made pool water chemistry very inexpensive to operate and virtually automatic. Your time messing with chemicals is reduced to checking an Omni Logic touch screen to get the water chemistry correct. Simple.

The pool industry has come a long way and Hayward has been leading the pack by investing in technology that makes your pool automatic and nearly maintenance free. Gone are the days of lugging harsh chemicals and dipping sticks in the water. Now owning a pool means more time relaxing with your family.

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Best Plumbing Pipe For A Pool

You have probably not thought to ask your pool builder what type of plumbing pipe is the best for a pool. Why would you? Most people assume that because a pool is a big investment the pool builder will always use the best materials for the system. Unfortunately this is not the case and the pipe that is used to build your pool can determine the life of the equipment, the wear and tear on the system, and even how many costly repairs you will have to make.

The two most common types of pipe are rigid pipe (hard pipe) or flex pipe (commonly known in the industry as “termite pipe.”

Flex pipe was nicknamed “termite pipe” because it is not uncommon for termites to eat holes through it and cause air to get in the lines which can damage the pump and cause leaking. It becomes costly to replace because you generally have to tear out concrete to access it and then re-pour the deck. The cosmetic implications are a whole other issue.

The best plumbing pipe for your pool system is rigid pipe or hard pipe which comes in schedule 40 or 80. Both are very strong and durable with schedule 80 used primarily for commercial applications. At Mudslingers Pool & Patio, we only use rigid pipe for our customers’ pools. Once you ask your pool company what kind of plumbing pipe they use, it is also wise to ask what size of pipe will be used. Two inch pipe will create better water flow and increase your turnover rate which means the pool circulates faster and cleans faster. The increased flow also reduces the resistance to the pump motor which extends the life of the motor and uses less energy to run (saving you a lot of money to operate over the life of the pool).

A pool is a relatively simple system and if installed and maintained correctly can provide countless years of worry-free use, but it is important when hiring a pool company to ask some specific questions about the materials that will be used to build your family’s pool.