Swimming pools come in all shapes and sizes, but nearly all of them, from the backyard personal pool to the water park wave pool, work in the same basic way. They use a combination of filtration and chemical treatment to continually clean a large volume of water.
A typical swimming pool needs seven major components:
A motorized pump
A water filter
A chemical feeder
PVC plastic plumbing connecting all of these elements
The basic idea is to pump water in a continual cycle, from the pool through the filtering and chemical treatment systems and back to the pool again. In this way, the pumping system keeps the water in the pool relatively free of dirt, debris and bacteria. Some pools also include heaters in the mix, in order to keep the water at a certain temperature.
Now there are four building stages such as the structural steel, plumbing, gunite, and decking that play a major role in the longevity of your pool. Each stage needs a certain amount of material and specific guidelines to last a lifetime.
First, let's talk about the swimming pool's structural steel. The structural steel needs to be on 12" centers and 1/2" bars (steel re-bars) with a 12" box beam. Some pool builders will go as far as 24" centers and 3/8" bars! This is a BIG no no. This will only lead to pools that are a house of cards waiting to fall apart.
Second, the swimming pools plumbing. This stage is the equivalent of your veins and arteries of your circulatory system. If a swimming pool builder skimps out on this part of construction it make your pool experience miserable! Generally speaking on average sized pool you can use 1.5" schedule 40 PVC plumbing for a pool. This is limited to a pump size of 1.5 hp max! It is good practice to oversize the pool's plumbing one size but 2" plumbing will handle most pools quite nicely with a 2 hp pump. Spas require large amounts of water for the jets so a minimum of 2" piping is used and 2.5" is not uncommon.
Third, a swimming pools gunite is the glue that holds the vessel in tact. Gunite is NOT concrete. It is so much stronger than concrete. How much stronger? Gunite is up to 3x's stronger than concrete. Gunite is mixture of grey portland and sand. Some swimming pool builders will cut corners here also. Reputable guniters try to watch this themselves and will walk off a job if they don't like what they see in their specs or the specs on the steel of the pool. Remember it is your pool and you have the right for the guniters to show you how thick the material is on parts of the pool. When applied adequately (at least 6"- 9" thick with the 12"x12" box beam) along with proper specifications for the steel your pool will out last you!
Finally, comes the pool decking. Pool decking ties your pool and home together. Pool decking can be pavers, concrete, flagstone, etc. Some pools don't have any decking at all! The specs on pool decking should be at least 12" centers on the steel and to be 3-4" thick. The key to keep your decking in tact for as long as possible is to make sure and properly water around the pool area. Just like you would for your house.
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