Swimming Pool Adventures

My Family's Adventures with an Above Ground Swimming Pool


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6 Unique Swimming Pools You Probably Never Knew About

I know this post isn’t really about my adventures in our own backyard swimming pool.  However, I thought these interesting pools from the web were worth mentioning.  There are some pretty interesting and unique swimming pools you can find online.

If you are interested in looking at different kinds of pools… then let’s check them out.

1. A Backyard Swimming Pool That Takes You Back to Nature

If you like swimming in a natural setting… pretty pink water lillies surround you, croaking frogs rest on a lilly nearby, neat blue dragonflies, and maybe some fish coming up to your mask when you get in the water.

Sounds like an adventure, doesn’t it?  There is such a thing.  People in Europe and Germany sound like they already do it.  They have backyard natural swimming pools or ponds.

Check this YouTube Video out… Natural Swim Pond – Without Chemicals.  – Don’t you just want to jump right in that water through the computer screen🙂

 

When Pools Aren’t Just for Swimming Anymore

Some people don’t use a swimming pool for it’s intended purpose… swimming.  They use it for things such as gardening or raising tilapia.

At GardenPool.org… they did just that.  They turned their inground swimming pool into a green house with various fruits and veggies, chickens and tilapia.

They’ve also appeared on ABC News too… check it out there as well.
It sounds pretty cool🙂

 

Now You See It… Now You Don’t…
The Disappearing / Re-appearing Swimming Pool

Is that even possible? Sure it is. Hidden water pools are invisible… but flip a switch and the patio begins to sink into the ground allowing water to rise. Now… there’s an inground swimming pool.

These pools actually allow you to change the depth of the pool to accommodate kids… or adults. Some other benefits include… less chemicals, dual use (change it to a patio or pool), and maybe it could be safer.

Want to see this pool in action?  Check out this video on YouTube…
Hidden Water Pools on CBS News.

 

Swimming Pool World Records

Largest Pool: The world’s largest swimming pool is currently found in Chile covering 20 acres and uses salt water. Plus it looks like you can ride boats in it.
See the world’s largest swimming pool…

Largest Indoor Pool: You can find this one in Miyazaki, Japan’s Ocean Dome. However, it was closed sometime in 2007.

It looked pretty neat from pictures so I’ve included it here as well. They had artificial sand and a retractible roof.
See the largest indoor swimming pool…

Deepest Pool: How about the world’s deepest swimming pool? It’s actually a scuba diving center… the depths are different in different areas. The deepest part making it to 108 feet deep.

This pool is located in Uccle, Belgium and is non-chlorinated. Instead they use filtered spring water. And the temperature doesn’t sound too bad either… 86 degrees fahrenheight.
Want to see what the deepest pool looks like?

Largest Mineral Pool: Located in Colorado, Glenwood hot springs is the largest mineral pool. The temperature is around 90 F.
Check it out?

 

Calling All Adventurers… Ever Swim Underground?

Midway, Utah has a neat naturally made pool underground with a water temperature around 90 – 96 degrees fahrenheit. They call it Homestead Crater and it’s pretty deep too… around 65 feet.

However, if you plan on scuba diving (you read that right), sounds like they offer lessons if you’re interested according to the article below.

Read more about Homestead Crater… there’s also a video too.

 

An Underwater Adventure at Discovery Cove

If you’ve ever wanted to swim in the ocean, but were concerned for safety… rip currents, sharks, jellyfish, or accidently stepping on something painful.

Discovery cove has man-made swimming pools that are pretty close to nature. You can swim with dolphins, many kinds of tropical fish, sting rays, and they also have a fresh water lazy river.

I got to go there once back in 2003. It was pretty cool. You might think it would be crowded, but they only allow so many people in per day.  I suppose the only problem might be having to make reservations months or possibly a year in advance.

If you are interested in reading about my experience at Discovery Cove… you can see it here – A Unique Swimming Pool where you can swim with tropical fish and even dolphins.

 

 

 


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A Unique Swimming Pool Where You Can Swim with Tropical Fish and Even Dolphins

discovery cove pool

Discovery Cove’s Sting Ray Pool

If you’ve ever wanted to swim in the ocean, but were concerned for safety… rip currents, sharks, jellyfish, or accidentally touching or stepping on something painful.  You’re in for a treat.

Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida has man made swimming pools that are pretty close to nature. You can swim with dolphins, many kinds of tropical fish, sting rays, and they also have a fresh water lazy river.  So… it’s kind of like the ocean without some of the dangers.

I visited this neat place with my family back in 2003. It was pretty cool.  I want to share that magical experience with you right here.

Discovery Cove… Here We Come!

I remember waiting in a nice big lobby area. The park hadn’t opened it’s doors yet, so other people were there too. We had to get our picture taken so they could make us an id card. This was then worn around the neck.

Someone probably gave us a map, explained the rules, instructed us on how to behave, and what to expect on our day visit to Discovery Cove. We were also given a special sunscreen that won’t hurt the animals, some goggles, and snorkels.

It’s interesting to note that Discovery Cove only allows a certain amount of people to the park each day. So… there are no crowds, but you do have to book your spot in advance. Also… tickets to SeaWorld were included with our admission.

When it came time for the park to open it’s doors… we got another picture taken, but as a family for a souvenir. We were then greeted by clean sandy beaches and crystal clear water. There were lounge chairs set up ready for the guests.

Time to Play with the Dolphins

We were scheduled for the dolphin swim first.  I felt a bit rushed getting to the dolphin area though.  Before we got there, we had to get fitted for either a wet suit or wet suit type vest. They were black and yellow with the Discovery Cove logo on it.

Since we were in a rush, I decided to go with the vest, even though I wanted to go with the body suit.  I figured the body suit (it was almost a full body suit, but like short length for the legs and short-sleeved for the arms) would keep me warmer since I’m cold natured.

dolphin

The Dolphin Swim

Before the swim, we had to go to like a classroom for instruction.  We were a bit late so we missed a little bit of it. The instruction was about general information about the dolphins, how the trainers trained the dolphins using positive reinforcement, and some tips on safety. This was probably 30 minutes long.

Then for the moment we’ve been waiting for… we got to meet and spend some time with a dolphin.  Yay!!!

When we first got in the water, it was really cold. I was shivering and wishing I had put that other wet suit on, perhaps it would be warmer.

However, it was still very exciting to see the dolphin swim up to his trainer. This dolphin’s name was Capricorn. It turned out, he was in the movie, Jaws. They used his top dorsal fin to give the impression a shark was in the water.

My family and I were in a group with 4 other people. So… even though the dolphin swim was about 30 minutes long… individual time with the dolphin was shorter.

It was so neat though despite the cold and the waiting. We got to touch Capricorn and give him a kiss on his chin. Then we got a dolphin tow (I think that’s what they call it) where you grab on to the dolphin and he pulls you through the water.

And the whole time, there were people recording us and taking pictures for us to take home. We got many opportunities to stop and pose with the dolphin.

We also got to do some hand signals and Capricorn did some tricks for us. We even played “shark” where we huddled together in a group. Capricorn played the shark and swam around us really fast with his fin above the surface like a shark.

At the end, we did one final hand signal. There were other groups of people each with a dolphin too.  So… all of them did signals too so we got to see all three of the dolphins leap into the air for us. It was so cool… I didn’t want it to end so soon.

When it was over for the dolphin swim, we went to check out the other things available.  How about the fish?

Join the Tropical Fish

In another swimming pool, there were many kinds of tropical fish and a few manta rays. Swimming with the tropical fish was cool, but made me really nervous.

I shrieked in my snorkel when I saw a big manta ray in there. My dad probably won’t let me live that one down. He has brought it up a few times over the years already. Oh well.  Guess you get to read about it now.

sting ray swim

Swim with the Sting Rays

I noticed the water here was a lot warmer than the one for the dolphins.

Mom and Dad have recalled how the fish part around you as you swim. I felt really nervous about swimming with the fish then, so I didn’t swim much with them. Today I feel a bit braver, I might try again if I ever get to go back to Discovery Cove.

There were stingrays in a separate pool, but they creaped me out a bit even though they didn’t have their barbs. I don’t think I swam there at all.

Lunch Time

A little before lunch time, Dad and I went over to the restaurant in the park.  We wanted to get there before the rush, but we still had to wait until it was ready. I remember the meals tasting pretty good. Though I can’t remember what I ate. It seemed like it was buffet style and you could choose what you wanted to eat.

That restaurant looked really neat inside too and colorful from what I remember. I think the meal was included in the admission.

Take an Adventure on the Lazy River

I spent a lot of time in the lazy river at Discovery Cove. The water was a whole lot warmer, even warmer than the pools with tropical fish. It might have been fresh water too.

lazy river at Discovery cove

The lazy river at Discovery Cove

I remember floating on my stomach with goggles on my face and snorkel in my mouth as the water moved me around.

Underwater, there were areas of rock formations, gravel, and interesting architectural things to look at.

The deepest area was marked at 8 feet deep. The depth changes as you move around in the river though.  I don’t recall how deep the shallow areas were, maybe knee deep in some areas (I’m not for certain though).

Under water, there was also an area with a window where you could see baracudas and sharks on the other side. I remember seeing the baracuda. Good thing they’re in a separate tank.

Along the river was also this neat little cave area to explore in the water. There might have been a few water falls along the way too. And somewhere around the river you can get out and check out an aviary.

Step onto Dry Land and Feed the Birds

peacock at Discovery Cove

A beautiful Peacock

The aviary section at Discovery Cove is like stepping into a tropical rain forest. They have many kinds of colorful birds to see. You can even help feed some of them. I got to help feed the sun conure (those pretty yellow birds with red, orange, and green on them), and some other kinds of birds.

The birds landed on my hand to get some food, but I saw some people with a bird on there head and / or shoulders. It was really cool.

They also had a peacock and little deer in there… might have called it a mudjack deer or something.

Time to Leave

When it came time to leave Discovery Cove, we got to pick out our favorite pictures and decide how we wanted them. We got a few on CD and one in a frame. We also got a video of our dolphin experience. I think this stuff costed extra, but it was worth it… something to remember our trip by… like it was yesterday.

Well, time to go. It’s difficult to leave a fun and exciting place, but you get to take home many memories with family and new friends, fun with playful dolphins, and exploring the colorful fish. I would like to go back some day.

An Adventure to Remember

Discovery Cove was so much fun. My family and I really enjoyed it.  I’d probably go back if I could.  I think I wanted to do their trainer for a day, but it costs a lot more.

Anyway… you might also be interested in viewing the Discovery Cove Website. Looks like they have some new attractions since we have been there. They also have a few videos and photos so you can get a glimpse at what it’s all like.

I also want to point out that I make no money from Discovery Cove for this post.  It was that good… well at least in 2003 it was.  Hopefully, it’s even better now.


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7 Reasons Why My Family Chose to Get an Above Ground Swimming Pool

You might think an inground pool is the ultimate in luxury swimming, but… an above ground swimming pool can be just as nice… plus it has some added advantages.

Things like low cost, warmer waters, and ground settling were important to us… among others…

Lower Cost

Sea Isle Swimming Pool

Our Sea Isle above ground swimming pool

The cost of owning and operating a swimming pool was probably our biggest concern.

Even though above ground swimming pools are a lot less expensive than inground pools… they can still cost a lot.

We spent around $12,000 (possibly $18,000 due to interest) on our pool, but that included a deck, pool supplies, digging and installation.  But… that may or may not be typical.

Besides initial cost… repairs and replacements for above ground pools are usually lower cost than inground pools too.

After our pool liner tore one winter (want to read more of our story)… we found out that it would cost $400 – $450 for a replacement. However, most pool liners for above ground swimming pools cost less than that.  Our pool supposedly required a custom liner only from the company we bought the pool from.  At the time… most standard beaded liners were half that price for 48″ x 24′ pool.

We have some friends with an inground pool and to replace their liner, it’s over $1,000. Maybe it’s because it has to be custom made for the different depths.  I don’t know.

Warmer Water

Since the air temperature is warmer than the ground temperature… above ground pools are going to be warmer than inground pools.

Though… I still thought our above ground swimming pool was chilly (without a heater that is) when we first got it. It rarely made it to 88 degrees F. Most days it was probably 78 – 86 degrees.

Later… when we bought a solar pool heater and a solar blanket… the pool warmed up alot more. It made it more fun to go swimming (for me at least… less shivering).

This was a real treat when the pool reached 94 degrees one year🙂 Other family members thought it was a bit too warm. So… we just turned off the solar panels and took off the blanket for a few days.

By the way… this pool water temperature wasn’t for Florida or in the tropics… this was Indiana weather.  Would you like to learn more about our swimming pool solar heating experience?

Portable

An above ground swimming pool like the one we had, may have seemed permanent. It wasn’t like a kiddie pool that you take the water out, and move to another spot in the yard. This was a bit more difficult to move, but still portable.

We were told if we ever wanted to move… we could take the pool with us. The company we bought the pool from said they would pack it up and set it up at the new house for about $1000.

Up in Less than a Day

It took less than a day for the team of 3 – 5 guys to set up our pool and have it filled with water. Please don’t get me wrong… it wasn’t a 1 – 2 hour job. It still took awhile to build… more like 8 hours (or something like that).

An inground pool could take a whole lot longer… consider a big hole that needs to be dug for it.

I haven’t ever had an inground pool, but I’ve heard it takes somewhere around 1 – 3 weeks… there’s a lot more involved.

Safety with Less Maintenance

Swimming Pool Safety Ladder

Swimming Pool Safety Ladder

An inground pool would have required either a fence or a special safety cover.

I don’t think Dad really wanted to maintain a fence around the yard and weed-eat it.  However… he still had to weed-eat around the perimeter of our pool, but perhaps it’s less than doing a big fence around the yard.

As far as safety covers go… that probably wasn’t much of an issue.  Well… other than without a fence, anyone could watch you swim… even the boogie man?  Or maybe it’s a good thing… that is if your neighbors see something potentially bad happening in the pool that you don’t.  You can decide on that one.

We still chose an above ground swimming pool.

Our Sea Isle swimming pool had a nearly maintenance free fence on the pool deck and a ladder that we could raise and lock up.

Ground Settling

My mom told me later another reason we chose an above ground swimming pool was due to settling issues.

Some inground pools can get cement cracks in it due to settling or the earth shifting. It’s probably like some houses get too. You don’t really have to worry about that in an above ground pool as much… at least that I know of.

However… it seemed like some moles made it under the pool a few times along the edge.  This created a few dips in the pool liner… nothing significant to do damage, but it was still weird.  I wonder… did the mole survive?  Did it’s tunnel collapse in on itself while the mole was there?  We have no idea?

Snakes Anyone?

Oh yes… and if the pool is above the ground… less critters are able to take up residence in the swimming pool.

I remember the pool guy telling us how animals such as snakes might slither right into an inground pool. How do you feel about swimming with snakes?

Well… it’s no guarantee. I re-call a few frogs that made it into our pool… they had to climb though.

So…

Above ground swimming pools do have many advantages over inground pools. We liked that they were lower cost, the warmer water temperature, and we could take it with us if we move to another house.

It was also nice that the pool was built in less than a day, we didn’t need to maintain a fence in the yard, settling wasn’t an issue… and we didn’t get any snakes.

And… that’s why we chose above ground rather than inground.  Hope this might help in your decision to get an above ground pool or an inground pool.


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9 Reasons Why I Think Backyard Swimming Pools are Money Well Spent

Compared to swimming in a public swimming pool… there are many benefits to swimming in your own backyard swimming pool. I like that there is…

1) No Time Schedule

sunset

A beautiful sunset

When public pools close down for the night… you can keep on swimming into the moonlight.  (Actually the pool is usually warmest in late evening anyway.)

Watch the sunset in all it’s beautiful colors.

Try floating on your back and gazing up at the starlit night sky (like we did).

Isn’t it beautiful? If you watch carefully, you might see a shooting star.

2) Longer Season

You know how public swimming pools generally open around memorial day and close labor day… right? The thing is the weather doesn’t always revolve around that schedule.

Like 2011,  it was hot… 90 degrees in early May (which is rare around here), but it happened. If we still had our pool we would have probably been swimming in it then.

So… you can enjoy that weather before the public pools ever open or even long after they close in the fall.

3) No crowds to worry about

You don’t have to share the pool with everyone and their brother. The pool is like your own private backyard escape… to us it was like a vacation.

swimming pool snapshot

Peaceful waters

You can spend time in it with family and friends. Or… maybe other times you can float in the calm tranquil waters as you read a book.

Okay, why not forget the book and just listen to nature… hear it… the birds chirping, the leaves rustling, and water trickling. It’s a nice peaceful moment in time.

Backyard swimming pools can be very calming and relaxing especially if you have a fountain going with that nice trickling sound. Something you might not be able to get at a public swimming pool with kids splashing around.

Sometimes we aimed the pool jet upward (not sure this was good for the pool though). Then we could hear a nice gentle trickling noise. It’s calming and peaceful to listen too.

4) Privacy

Maybe you don’t like other people harassing you or perhaps you feel uncomfortable showing so much skin in front of total strangers. You have some privacy if you have your own pool.

5) Cleaner Waters

It probably sounds disgusting if you stop to think about what all could be in a public pool. Some people probably don’t shower before swimming or don’t do it well. And you know… kids “go” in the pool.

There’s probably lots of sunscreen, hair gel, shampoo residue off of people’s hair, and what have you.

At least in your own pool, there is likely a lot less of it. For one… there is a whole lot less people to begin with. Less people… less sanitizer needed… right?

It seemed like my grandpa bought this sign for our pool (I don’t have a picture of it though) that said something like “We don’t swim in your toilet so don’t pee in our pool”. It’s interesting what some people come up with… they have a point though.

6) Chlorine Free Options

Many public swimming pools use chlorine (or possibly bromine). As you may know chlorine is not good to swim in for many reasons.  I mean, what can you do if your kid loves to swim and yet has asthma issues with chlorine?

Thankfully, you don’t have to use that in your own pool. There are some alternatives for backyard swimming pools such as salt water systems and ionizers.

cat near the water

We started out using chlorine in ours, but changed to an ionizer later.

Chlorine was only used if the pool was in bad shape and needed shocked… like the time our pool water turned green.

Another reason to go chlorine free besides health reasons is… if you have pets.

Our cats would come up to the pool and drink from it (usually while we were swimming). I wonder what they were thinking… “what is my family doing in this big water bowl?”

7) Pool Toys

Save the goggles and maybe a beach ball, many public pools do not allow pool toys. So… at home, you can use those pool noodles, rafts, and inner tubes. Or go diving for rings.

How about having a squirt gun fight? Maybe you are more adventurous… you can slip on those flippers and snorkeling gear for a watery adventure.

I’ve seen someone bring some kind of robotic swimming fish to a friend’s pool party once. So you could almost pretend like you’re swimming with tropical fish now.

8) Warmer Waters

If you have your own pool, there is a potential for warmer water.  Who enjoys shivering while they swim?  I know I don’t.  I’ve found that I prefer temperatures between 86 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

We used a solar pool heater and a clear solar blanket for ours. There were many times the pool was around 86 degrees Fahrenheit and up as high as 96 degrees on some days in the summer.  It was nice.  Want to learn more about how we heated our backyard swimming pool?

 

9) Convenience

Step outside onto your sun warmed deck… and it’s likely less than a 2 minute walk to your pool. You don’t have to drive to get there… it’s in your backyard.

This makes it convenient to experience the many benefits of swimming outdoors…

  • Feel the warm sunshine on your back while getting some vitamin D
  • Breathe in that fresh air
  • Swim around and exercise
  • Enjoy time with family
  • And have some fun… stress relief from the day. Something we probably all need more of. Though it doesn’t have to come from a pool.

It’s like a vacation in the backyard🙂

That doesn’t just last for a week or a month, but hopefully many summers.


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My Family’s Experience with Pool Solar Heaters

Some people seem like they are part polar bear. They can handle the frigid cold waters of a swimming pool without so much as a shiver. However… my dad and I aren’t those kind of people.

We don’t like the cold too well so getting a swimming pool heater was in order.

Note:  This is from past experience.  Currently, we do not have a swimming pool😦  as mentioned in previous posts.

Upon doing some research… pool solar heaters sounded like good options. Solar initially costs less than all the other pool heaters out there. Plus it has no ongoing costs… no propane to buy or extra added electrical cost.

So… we decided to give it a try.

Little did we know we would hit quite a few bumps in the road before reaching our destination… warm pool water.

We Started with a Solar Cover… and Ended Up Trying 3

As our first step in the journey of swimming pool solar heaters… we tried a solar pool cover (aka solar blanket). I think it was blue on one side and black on the bubble side.

Truthfully… we didn’t notice the water any warmer than it was before. Perhaps we weren’t doing something right. It seemed like we tried turning the cover upside down to see if it helped any. Sadly no.

Solar BlanketAfter awhile (possibly a year or so) we got another solar cover. This time we bought something a little different.  It was blue on top and silver on bubble side (pictured)… hoping it would make a difference.

Sorry to say… if it warmed the pool, it wasn’t noticeable either.

Eventually… we learned about clear solar covers. The product is said to allow the sunlight to penetrate through the cover and get trapped underneath… warming the water.

Finally, we notice some warmer water, but it wasn’t warm enough for us. The temperature of the water probably didn’t raise anymore than 3 degrees. It’s nothing like the claim of 10-15 degrees we tend to see advertised.

So… we decided to try some solar panels in addition to the clear solar blanket.

Swimming Pool Solar Panels

We started out with 2 pool solar panels (actually this was one box with two inside). When we opened them up to use them for the first time… I was very surprised. I was expecting those holographic panels that you might see on a house. These were like a big black mat with a series of tubes that water travels through.

pool solar panel close up

Close-up of the pool solar panel

Taking them out of the box was a pain though. The solar panels are rolled up and don’t flatten out very easily.

The good news is… finally, we start to notice some warmer water… yay! It didn’t end there though. Dad and I wanted it a little warmer and being that our pool was 24′ feet, we could have up to a total of 4 pool solar panels. So… we bought another box (with 2 panels inside).

The water became a lot more pleasant to swim in.

90 Degree Pool Water… Now We’re Talkin

The hottest we saw the water temperature get was around 94 – 96 degrees. Wow! I liked it, but Mom (being part polar bear) thought it was a bit too warm. During that time we took the solar cover off and turned the solar panels off too.

Surprisingly… the water didn’t cool off much in 2-3 days. It was nice though. The water still felt cooler than the air temperature so it’s probably not as hot as you might expect. And at night when the air temperature is cooler, the water felt really good.  It’s hard to leave when the water is warmer than the air.

Well… that happened a few times, but I think the average in summer was anywhere around 86 – 90 degrees fahrenheit. This is for Indiana by the way… summers usually hang around 80 – 95 degrees.

Before heating our pool… the water hung around 78 – 86 degrees (88 was rare, but it happened from time to time… more so in very hot summers).

Even though the swimming pool solar heaters helped make the water nice to swim in… they did have some problems like almost everything else. I guess you just learn to live with it if it isn’t too much of a pain.

Solar Covers… Surprisingly Heavy

All the solar covers we had tried were very heavy and difficult to move. Don’t let that bubble wrap like appearance fool you. It’s heavy… especially when there is some water on top of it. It’s very helpful to have another person help you move it.

solar blanket under pool

We bought a solar reel to roll it up on, but it seemed like a weird setup.

Since we had a fence on the swimming pool, it looked like the only way to roll it up was from the middle.

Well we decided not to use it. We just kept doing what we usually did… push the cover to one side and lift it up on the walk way. It took awhile to do this and didn’t look very nice, but it worked.

In the autumn, the solar cover needed to be brought in. It was so dirty on top, we had to wash it. That was a pain though and took a lot of time especially when grass likes to cling to wet covers.

Definitely don’t mow the yard before washing the cover.

What About the Pool Solar Panels?

Well… like I said before… they can be tricky getting out of the box and making them flat. Besides that… Mom didn’t like how it looked in the yard. We considered getting racks for them, but we were concerned the wind might blow them over. So much for that idea.

Before winter… the panels need to be drained so they won’t freeze. It’s probably best to bring them in too. So… you will need somewhere to store them… same with the solar blanket.

After a year or two… the solar panels developed a few leaks from small cracks. I remember Dad patching them up with some kind of silvery substance… I don’t remember what it was though.

You should also know that pool solar panels are dependent on the sun. If there’s over 50% shade on the solar panels (or it’s dusk) you may want to turn them off.  If you don’t… you may actually cool down your swimming pool… probably not what you want… right?

We turned off the heaters manually. However… I’ve read you could buy a sensor that can turn the pool solar heaters off and on automatically.

And… I think that was it for the problems.

If you’re thinking of getting a solar cover and panels there are a few more things you might want to know…

What’s It Going to Cost Me?

Swimming pool solar heaters usually cost a lot less than most other pool heaters on the market. Plus there isn’t any extra ongoing cost like more money on the gas bill.

For our 24′ foot pool, we probably spent around $80 to $150 on each solar cover we tried.

Then we bought the solar panels new or like new off of Ebay. These seemed like they were $200 – $300 for 2 panels at the time.

However… we also bought some pvc pipes, hosing, and a diverter kit (this is pipe with a lever on it that you can use to divert the flow of water away from the solar panels when it gets cold or shady).

In conclusion…

It took us a while to get the kind of pool water temperature we were looking for. When we found it though… we really enjoyed it. Swimming was more pleasant with a lot less shivering🙂

There were some downsides to using solar pool heaters. Downsides like a few leaks in the solar panels and the cover was heavy to lift and clean. However, I think the fun we had while swimming made it worth it.


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Our Troubling Experience with an Above Ground Swimming Pool

Sea Isle Swimming Pool

Our Sea Isle Swimming Pool 24′ x 4′ Round

I remember how excited we were when we bought our first “big kids” above ground swimming pool (the Sea Isle) in 2001.  It was very difficult to wait… each day that went by was one less day of good summer swimming weather.

When we finally got our pool and went swimming.  It was so much fun.  My family and I shared many happy memories in that pool.

But… it was a lot shorter than we expected.  You see… it wasn’t until later that we thought we should have bought a different swimming pool.

As we soon found out there were some things we should have paid more attention to.  Things like…

  • The design of the swimming pool
  • Can you get replacement parts from anywhere or directly from the company?
  • Are the ads in the paper being honest, vague, or too good to be true?
  • The 30 year warranty that… for some reason we didn’t take into account that it was pro-rated
  • The true cost of a pool… you know with interest added in… more than we wanted to spend

 

So… you want to know what happened?

 

It Started With a Very Cold Winter…

It was spring of 2005 when things got warmer and the ice began to melt… it revealed a big hole in the pool liner. The hole was probably big enough for a baseball to fit through.  Most of the water was gone except for the big chunks of ice still melting.

Ice damage on a swimming pool wall

That ice is pretty tough to move a pool wall. You can’t easily bend that.

This was the year we decided not to lower the water level. We did this because… all the times we did lower the water level… it seemed like more debris got behind the liner (our pool was different from most pools – more on this later).

Well, this type of thing happens… right? We just go out and buy a new swimming pool liner.

Not so fast!

We were told we couldn’t just get any above ground swimming pool liner, it had to come from the company we got it from… it was special. They wanted $400 for a new liner.

We had looked online to find that pool liners for a 24′ x 4′ pool (the same size and beaded as ours) was around $200. How can this be? What is so different about our pool liner? To this day, I still don’t know.

The Damage Goes Deeper…

Little did we know that the pool liner wasn’t the only problem.  When we removed the liner… we uncovered corrosion in various places. Online sources say steel rusts, but aluminum corrodes and pits (gets holes in it). Yep… we had that problem alright.

Below the skimmer was probably one of the worst places. This may have been our fault though because the liner came off around the skimmer and water could have gotten behind there. Well… it never got fixed.

Aluminum corrosion below the skimmer – inside the pool

However… outside of the pool wall looks like new

The weird thing about this is that on the other side of the pool wall, there was some leaking too. However it showed no white spots and corrosion (other than the holes). It looked almost new.

The jet was another place that had lots of corrosion too. The rest of the corrosion was scattered in bits and pieces around the pool wall.

When we went to take the  pool apart… we found the track holding the wall in place was in really bad shape. Most of it was corroded. The wall looked better in comparison to the tracks keeping it in place.

Guess how old our above ground swimming pool was when this happened?  About 4 and a half years old.

Pool wall track that held the wall in place broke in one spot from corrosion

Poor Design to Begin With

Before we found out about all of this… when the pool was a year or two old… we had noticed dark spots on the liner and bumps behind the liner. What were these? I’ve never seen this in other backyard swimming pools.

We began to wonder if insects or debris were getting behind the liner. Our pool was different from what I’ve seen at places like Watson’s.

The above ground swimming pools we saw… had the pool liner either fold over the pool wall and have a clip on top (aka overlap liner)… or went into a track attached to the wall (aka beaded liner). Our pool did neither.

Our pool liner connected to a built in track in the deck of our pool… not the pool itself. The wall did not come all the way up to the deck. There must have been a 3 – 5 inch gap of space between the wall and deck.

With this in mind… there was a possibility that insects and dirt could get behind the liner. In the winter when the water level was lower… it seemed more possible as they could get deeper down the liner.  As you can imagine… we didn’t like this.

We wondered if that contributed to some of the white spots and corrosion on the wall.

Lots of corrosion on the pool tracks

As far as the track corroding… it was in contact with the ground.  So… it was exposed to moisture and possible heavy metals in the soil (or sand) that “ate” away the aluminum. I have read something online about certain metals can corrode another. It’s weird.

I guess they call it galvanic corrosion… see Wikipedia for more information.

Advertising… Didn’t Seem Entirely Accurate

We decided to check the flyer and information we had so we could figure out how to get replacements.

Looking back we saw some words and phrases that we must have interpreted differently than the seller.

Phrases like “pool lasts a lifetime” (don’t quote me on this… it was something along those lines) and “30 year warranty”.

What does that really mean? It certainly sounds like the swimming pool is made out of durable material that  should easily last 15 – 30 years… no problem… right?  Our pool didn’t last that long… not even close.

Guess what?  The warranty was a pro-rated warranty.  I guess we really didn’t think much about it at the beginning when we bought the pool.  It was exciting and we wanted to swim.

However… 5-6 years later… we had to pay 60% of the cost. Hmm… maybe it wasn’t built as strongly as we thought… or at least the manufacturers didn’t think so.

Rusted Screws

The screws couldn’t be aluminum… they rust.

The advertisement also claimed that the pool had an  “all aluminum construction”. What does that mean exactly? The screws that held the pool and deck together couldn’t have been aluminum… they rusted. Dad replaced them almost every year… some of the screws broke in two.

How much for replacements?

When we asked for an estimate… it was around $4,000. Yikes! We could buy another pool (from somewhere else) for that price… and we did look into that. Though… it didn’t look like it would work with the aluminum pool deck though. We would have to put a smaller pool in there to make it work and that seemed weird.

As you can probably guess we didn’t buy replacement parts. We were still paying for the pool anyway. It’s really sad. After interest, Mom told me we paid around $18,000 on it.

We eventually ended up giving the pool to somebody who pays you for metal… we got about $500 from it. I guess that’s not too bad.

Customer Service… a bit lacking

Although the company did give us an estimate… they shut us out when we sent complaints… didn’t hear a word from them.  We emailed them 3 times about the problems and got no answer. We mailed a letter to the manager. Still heard nothing.

We mailed again, but this time… they had to sign for it. We know they got it. To this day we have heard nothing from them.  I wrote a few reviews, but after that we just let it go.

I’ve felt sad over the years about not swimming in our own pool… especially when it got in the 90’s during the summer. However,  I’m trying to focus on the good times and not the bad.

We enjoyed it while it lasted though

Even though bad things happened, I think some good came out of it. We know a lot more about above ground swimming pools than we did before, and hopefully learned our lesson. Research is important… even the details.

I have also wondered if perhaps God allowed that cold winter to come and tear the liner… so we could see what was going on. If that liner didn’t tear and we didn’t find out, someone could have gotten hurt that summer. The structure could have gave way and who knows what could have happened. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise.

Hopefully, you might learn from our experience and not make the same mistakes as we did when it comes to buying backyard swimming pools.


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What’s It Like Having an Above Ground Swimming Pool?

Swimming in our own above ground swimming pool was a dream come true. Our first “real” swimming pool (not a kids pool).

Sea Isle Swimming Pool

Our Sea Isle swimming pool

The excitement…

The adventures…

It was like a vacation in the backyard… only it lasted much longer.

Happy Memories

I enjoyed swimming a lot but… what I miss most about our pool wasn’t the pool itself, but the happy moments. The moments spent with my family and friends…

Floating on our backs gazing up at the night sky together…

Having races and doing obstacle courses with the pool toys that wouldn’t stay put…

Visiting the underwater world and looking at how cool the surface looks from the other side…

Making lots of bubbles with our hands and feet then watching it underwater…

And… just floating around and talking.

I enjoyed it.

We Made Mistakes

So… why am I referring to this as if it were in the past? Well… the truth is… it is in the past. We don’t have a pool anymore.

You see… we didn’t research backyard swimming pools as well as we should have. There was an above ground swimming pool in the newspaper we liked… and that’s the one we ended up buying. We considered many things about the pool and all, but I don’t think we researched enough.

Looking back… we should have asked around and looked for reviews too.

However, later, we found there weren’t any reviews for the pool we had or the company. I’m not sure they even had a website. I couldn’t find it.

I put a review up at Review Centre… and it must have got found in search engines quick. Other people wrote reviews too and they weren’t too happy either.

The Pool…

The above ground swimming pool we got was pretty expensive… around $12,000 (actually $18,000 if you include interest). We thought it would last quite awhile at that price.

However, to our disappointment it lasted 4 and a half years. Looking back I don’t think it lasted nowhere near as long as we were led to believe (I was thinking 10 – 15 years) even though they had a 30 year warranty.

After one harsh winter, the liner tore, and what we found was saddening. That was when we found out the company had very poor customer service.  Would you like to read more about what happened to our swimming pool?

This blog… Swimming Pool Adventures

This blog contains our adventures in our above ground swimming pool and information we have learned. Some things I might blog about include…

  • The things we enjoyed and the things that we didn’t like
  • The pitfalls we fell into. If we could start over… what we’d do differently.
  • Our encounter with the dreaded green algae that made our pool all green at one time
  • What we now know about oxidation and pitting in the aluminum pool construction
  • Why we really liked our solar pool heater and solar blanket
  • How our Polaris automatic pool cleaner really helped clean… and was kind of neat to watch

Even though our pool didn’t last as long as we hoped… I’m glad we got it. I have many happy memories and now… you can learn from our mistakes. Perhaps this will be a blessing for you and your family🙂

God Bless!

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