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Main Drains, Variable Depths, Burying Pools: Advice Needed!


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#1 kiddypool

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 02:12 PM

After spending lots of time lurking on this forum, we bought our first agp 2 summers ago (a 52" 21-foot pool which we enjoyed immensely), then sold our house and moved, leaving it behind. This winter I've been fantasizing about a new custom inground pool, thinking about saving up for a few years, going gunite or fiberglass... As the summer approaches though I realize this pool is for the kids to have fun in, and the kids will not be kids forever while I save up! Also, we are in Montana & have a 3 month swimming season, lol. It's not about impressing the neighbors (though a pool of any sort around here is somewhat impressive). So back to a much less expensive above ground pool that we can buy and enjoy this year. We will likely be installing on our own (as we did the first time) as we are cheap control freaks with access to heavy equipment ;)

I am thinking of a 27' round or a 18x33 or bigger oval. I am learning that installation of the oval might not be so easy for a non-professional. We do have construction backgrounds and are big on attention to detail, but we don't want to take on a project that will end badly or get us divorced. Or both. But an oval looks like great fun for volleyball etc. Any thoughts?

As the kids are getting older and swim more confidently, I do think they would enjoy a "deep end" though. But the expandable liner looks like a bit of a nightmare in terms of wrinkles, plus I really loved the pretty pretty liner I had in the last pool--I hate the idea of a limited selection (so shallow, npi). For those who have had both, is it worth it in play value to add the deep end (or middle, if we choose a round pool)? As the kids get older (they are now 3, 7, 9, & 10) will they appreciate variable depth more or less? In short, is it worth it long term?

I've also read on this forum that a main drain is great to have. Is this something we can install on our own? Is it a potential safety/entrapment hazard? Does it require specialized knowledge and equipment to install or can we just let our dealer know that we want to put one in and he'll be able to send the correct materials? Do we need an inground pump/filter setup to use a main drain? I am not at all sure I understand how to hook it up, but I think we could figure it out with some guidance.

Last, we really are considering whether to sink the pool into the ground, at least a bit. We'll be buying a higher-quality pool, but weren't necessarily planning on going with a Doughboy (no local dealer, not available online) or Radiant pool ($$$) which are considerably more expensive. Do we dare sink it 2 feet and backfill in this cold northern climate? It's okay with me if it decreases the life of the pool a bit; this is, again, for the kids mainly. I just don't want a catastrophic failure. I had also considered the advice found on here to sink it without backfilling--using a deck to fill the gap. That's a possibility. Still, I know some folks on the forum have sunk their pools 2-3 feet-- just don't know if it's been done in the northern climates. Should we give it a shot, and if so should we backfill with gravel?


And no, I'm not a novelist by profession. I apologize for the long post!
Just getting down to brass tacks now and this is the best place I know to find advice on pools.

#2 Beachbum

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:08 PM

I've also read on this forum that a main drain is great to have. Is this something we can install on our own? Is it a potential safety/entrapment hazard? Does it require specialized knowledge and equipment to install or can we just let our dealer know that we want to put one in and he'll be able to send the correct materials? Do we need an inground pump/filter setup to use a main drain? I am not at all sure I understand how to hook it up, but I think we could figure it out with some guidance.


I had installed a 52" 27' round last year, and the kids love it. It's easy enough to play volleyball in the round pool, just need longer leads on the net to make it across.

As for your question above, I inquired about a center drain as I was ordering mine and was told due to federal law, you now have to put in two drains to meet code. They said it was fairly easy to do, and did not void the liner warranty (I would check on this to be sure). In the end, I decided against it, and have no regrets. It's easy enough to get the water swirling, which moves the debris to the center to be vacuumed, plus I got the dealer to throw in an Aquabug for free. It runs through the night, and gets most areas other than behind the ladder, and right along the sides.

Since you have access to heavy equipment, you may want to do it yourself, but I figured it was well worth the $900 to have a pro do it, and am very happy with their work with one minor exception. Don't skimp on the sand. They put down just enough to get by. For reasons that involve unattended/stupid kids (Spearfishing is not an acceptable game to played in the pool Posted Image ), I will probably have to replace my liner much sooner than usual. At that time, I will have a lot more sand added.

John

#3 kiddypool

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 03:53 PM


I've also read on this forum that a main drain is great to have. Is this something we can install on our own? Is it a potential safety/entrapment hazard? Does it require specialized knowledge and equipment to install or can we just let our dealer know that we want to put one in and he'll be able to send the correct materials? Do we need an inground pump/filter setup to use a main drain? I am not at all sure I understand how to hook it up, but I think we could figure it out with some guidance.


I had installed a 52" 27' round last year, and the kids love it. It's easy enough to play volleyball in the round pool, just need longer leads on the net to make it across.

As for your question above, I inquired about a center drain as I was ordering mine and was told due to federal law, you now have to put in two drains to meet code. They said it was fairly easy to do, and did not void the liner warranty (I would check on this to be sure). In the end, I decided against it, and have no regrets. It's easy enough to get the water swirling, which moves the debris to the center to be vacuumed, plus I got the dealer to throw in an Aquabug for free. It runs through the night, and gets most areas other than behind the ladder, and right along the sides.

Since you have access to heavy equipment, you may want to do it yourself, but I figured it was well worth the $900 to have a pro do it, and am very happy with their work with one minor exception. Don't skimp on the sand. They put down just enough to get by. For reasons that involve unattended/stupid kids (Spearfishing is not an acceptable game to played in the pool Posted Image ), I will probably have to replace my liner much sooner than usual. At that time, I will have a lot more sand added.

John


Thanks John--I really am going back and forth on the deep end issue. It may come down to our shape preference in the end. If we do a oval installation, I highly doubt we would risk cutting & rigging the straps. I'm sure the kids won't care either way.

It's good to hear a variety of opinions. I am planning on getting the best automatic cleaner we can find (when you are planning for a super rad pool cleaner as a really great anniversary gift, you know the romance is gone... :o ) and we were able to create a very smooth floor on our last installation, so having the main drain for cleaning purposes might not be worth the trouble or the safety worry.

I wish the installation here would run only $900! No question we would have it done...while hovering closely with our transit, lol. No, the nearest pool guys are at least 160 miles away and don't do nearly enough volume to have a ready crew like that. For us, buying in-state and having the agp professionally installed nearly doubles the price of buying online & installing ourselves.

Anyone else have strong opinions on burying a regular, good-quality oval or round pool 2-3 feet in northern climes?

Right now we are looking at some pools from Medallion which can be buried all- or part-way or left above ground. They also offer a moulded, built-in step unit (like an inground pool has) that I love, and a liner made specifically for the deep-end option. However, only round pools are available.

We checked into Radiant pools a bit further--we liked the insulation feature--but found out that it needs a full concrete collar if buried. If we were going to do that, we'd likely just get an in-ground DIY kit...but we like the idea of the insulation and are thinking about spray-foam insulation on the walls of whatever we do get.

I would laugh at the spearfishing incident, but it hits a bit too close to my daily reality! Must remember to include a no-spearfishing clause in the kids' pool use contract! :P The things you have to actually say out loud as a parent...

#4 carleyT

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 07:16 PM

I am really looking into purchasing one of those Above Ground Pools , I thought about it a lot and actually changed my mouth about getting an inground pool for many reasons. I think an above ground pool is the right way to go for me right now. The only thing I am concerned about is the disadvantages I do not want to have a hole in it or have it been by a squirrel or a bird. Does anyone know what can help with disadvantages like these?

#5 kiddypool

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 06:38 PM

I am really looking into purchasing one of those Above Ground Pools , I thought about it a lot and actually changed my mouth about getting an inground pool for many reasons. I think an above ground pool is the right way to go for me right now. The only thing I am concerned about is the disadvantages I do not want to have a hole in it or have it been by a squirrel or a bird. Does anyone know what can help with disadvantages like these?


We had a 28 mil liner in our last above ground pool and it really seemed pretty sturdy. We never had any critters in it though, but 6-8 kids at a time with all sorts of diving toys, flippers digging into the bottom, etc. No issues.

Right now we are looking at a Champlain pool or a Medallion pool, both of which can go above, partial inground, or full inground. The Medallion has a really simple installation no matter which way you do it and is priced very comparably to regular above-ground pools of the same size...Hoping to make a decision in the next couple of days as the quotes come rolling in! It's only February; I'm sure I am getting ahead of myself!

#6 kiddypool

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 02:38 PM

Well, we received quotes for both the Medallion and Champlain, for DIY installation fully inground. They really are reasonable and very attractive, but might still be more than I want to spend this year, as well as a bigger project than I'd prefer to take on. I'm leaning back toward a less expensive above ground. The snow is flying today, so it's hard to imagine I'll need a pool at all at this rate!

Any further opinions on
a) how best to create a deep end for an above ground pool? Anyone have a good source for reasonably priced "custom" liners for this application?

b ) whether to try sinking a regular, decent-quality AGP in the ground anywhere from 2 1/2 feet to all the way? Again, this pool does not need to last a lifetime, but 7-10 years would be great.

c) main drains...need 'em or not? Dangerous?

ETA: Had no idea that a 'b' followed by a parethesis created a B)




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