Having a pool in your backyard is a wonderful addition to any home. They increase property value, offer a respite from the heat of the summer months, and make your home the ultimate destination for all of your neighborhood events and kid’s parties. And it is all made better if you have a gunite pool versus an above-ground option. But what is a gunite pool?
Gunite Pools – Design and Construction
We all know that in-ground pools are constructed with concrete. The hole is dug, piping placed for drainage, filtering, and flow, and the concrete layered over top. And for decades it has been the standard. The problem with this type of installation is the way the materials have to interact with the framework, the ground, and the atmosphere during the pour. For instance, if the air is too hot or too cold the entire project can fail.
Gunite is a more efficient, shapable, and easier-to-apply option. It is applied pneumatically via a concrete hose at high pressure. The gunite, also known as shotcrete, is sprayed over a rebar frame that is crafted with the pool form. This offers a creative license to customize your pool in unique ways, it adds structural strength and longevity, and it offers the option for free-standing walls.
Two things that really stand out when your gunite pool is installed are the addition of reinforcement with additional steel, and a gap between the soil and the first layer of gunite, which will be filled in once the ground acclimates to the new weight. Anyone who has poured a foundation for a home, only to have the foundation crack when settled can agree that an air gap is a brilliant design concept.
Maintaining Your Gunite Pool
Having a pool is only a small part of the program. Maintenance and upkeep are crucial to ensure the long life and enjoyability of your outdoor swimming oasis. Follow these few tips and keep your pool in tip-top shape:
Pool upkeep and water needs can cost a pretty penny. Water evaporates, pools must be drained from time to time, and chemicals are necessary every year. Make sure you have money set aside to offset these costs. A standard inground gunite pool with the dimensions of 30×18 with a shallow end of 3’ and a deep end of 6’ will require 18225 gallons of water to fill to the filter point. For this pool, it can cost between $75 and $180 just in water costs.
Unless your pool is in a greenhouse or indoors, debris such as leaves, bugs, and other detritus are an inevitable part of ownership. Clearing with a pool skimmer regularly is the best way to keep your filter clear and keep the inner workings of your pump system from failing. You can also use automatic skimmers that are solar-powered, a great option if you are too busy to skim it yourself.
Not all filters will work with your pool. Only use the right filter or your system can be severely damaged. It is wise to have extra filters ready just in case something happens to the one currently installed. You need to have a filter in place any time the pump system is running. And clean out the trap, throwing away any debris your skim didn’t catch.
We see pH on water bottles, we hear about pH in shampoo, and scientists test pH in natural water sources. But what is pH? PH, or the expression of hydrogen ion concentration in water, is the metric for measuring the level of acidity in water. Maintaining a pH between 0 to 14 is the perfect baseline for any water source safe for human use. Levels over that can be dangerous, even toxic.
Keep the Right Level
Water evaporates. In the sun of desert climates, it evaporates at a commensurate rate. Maintaining the water level is crucial to keeping your pump from seizing. If the water gets too low, the pump can burn out. Automatic water systems will prevent this problem. If you don’t have an automatic system, check your levels weekly during the hot months.
Chemicals Are Your Friend
Test strips should be used to check alkalinity and pH balance, so you can be sure you will always have a safe, clean and clear place to swim. Chlorine tablets, while being a little smelly and uncomfortable on the eyes, deter the growth of algae. Algae can be hazardous to pets and children if accidentally ingested.
Winter is Coming
Even if you don’t plan to use your pool during the cold months, maintenance is still of paramount importance. Keeping your filter clean, running your pump for no less than 8 hours a day, and checking chemical balances must still be done. A pool cover can help, but if water from rain or melted snow sits on top of the cover for a period of time, it can be a breeding ground for bugs. And let’s not forget the weight of snow when piled up. If you use a cover, keep it clear.
Ready to start your gunite pool project?
Swimming pools are great to have, a fantastic place to play, and a wonderful investment. But they deserve respect and many new pool owners have yet to realize what that respect entails. We hope this list of maintenance recommendations has painted a picture of the work you as a pool owner must accept if you want your pool to last a lifetime.
Pools are also very enticing, especially when it is hot and curious children roam about. This is sadly coupled each year with a rash of drownings. If you have a pool, teach your kids how to swim, always supervise them, and add a quality fence to keep them from mortal harm when you aren’t around. This can also apply to certain pets. No one wants to attach their pool with memories of the tragedy. Be smart, be safe, and be aware.