Wow. First post of 2020. We’re almost half-way through this disaster of a year. At risk of my kids seeing this before we make up for the failed plans, I’ll just say this. We had plans. We had big plans this spring. We had to … “postpone” them. As of this writing, we have a penciled-in date, but I seriously doubt we’ll do those plans at that time. In order to partially salvage our summer I decided early on that we’d get a pool. The question was: how big, what kind, etc.
For several years I’ve eyeballed the above ground pools at Costco. They’re manufactured by Bestway, have a steel frame, and are a 12’x22’ oval that’s 4’ deep. My kids are finally big enough. All of them can swim quite well (we’ve done swimming lessons for several years in a row now) and all of them can stand on the bottom with their noses above the water line. Whew. We will have posted pool rules signs informing the neighbor kids that they must have a responsible adult age person present if they wish to swim.
Early this spring, when we were locked down, and waiting in lines to get into the local Costco I noticed they had the display model up. I enquired if they had any in stock. They did not. I took a photo of the product information sign . The helpful associate suggested I call the store regularly to check stock. Challenge Accepted.
I called every day. For two weeks. All while doing research. Yes. I may have to get a bigger pump / filter. I’ll need to worry about ground prep. I’ll need to invest in the ‘tools of the pool’. Chemicals, test kits, etc. At the end of the day the question was: “Will this be worth it?” The answer was: “Probably”. But… it’s not easy.
Pool companies will tell you to be prepared to spend an additional purchase cost of the pool to get it installed and running. This is no different. Except that this really is a decent bargain price on the pool, so you’ll probably spend slightly more than you do on the pool to get it all going. Depending upon how far you… go with being picky or wanting things to function.
So here’s a list of all the stuff we’ve sourced so far:
- Pool kit. (Ladder, net, pool, pump & sand filter, solar heater)
- Additional Cleaning Kit. (net, hand held pool vacuum. Intex brand)
- Skimmer Attachment (Intex brand)
- Auto pool cleaner vacuum (Intex brand based on a suggestion from a trusted friend – see later notes about this)
- Pool Opening Chemical kit (In the Swim. Probably won’t use them next season.)
- PH UP/Down Adjuster Chemicals
- Chlorine Pucks (from Costco)
- Pool Shock (from Costco – may not have needed this – opening kit came with some shock packs – but I figure I’d rather have extra for when the neighbor kids have a biology problem in the pool)
- Chemical Test Kit – because the opening kit wasn’t going to have enough supply.
- Pool Thermometer.
- Floating chlorine dispensor.
- Pool Filter Sand.
- Power Sod Cutter.
- 2.5 cu yards of sand.
- Concrete paver blocks.
- Five bags of crushed limestone paver base.
- 1.5” PVC pipe.
- (7) 2” PVC Threaded female sockets and (7) 2” to 1.5” bushings to fit inside them.
- 20’ of 1.5” PVC schedule 40 pipe.
- 4’ of 1.5” PVC Flex pipe. (yikes. Expensive!)
- (3) 1.5” single union PVC socket ball valves. (Amazon. Local hardware stores had ‘true unions’ that were twice as expensive but unnecessary).
- (5) 90 degree 1.5” PVC elbows.
- (4) 1.5” PVC socket unions.
- 50’ 12/2 extension cord. All weather rated.
- Waterpoof outdoor plug-in box.
- 1/2” LB conduit fitting.
- Outdoor surface-mount electrical box.
- In-use outdoor electrical box cover.
- 20 Amp circuit Breaker.
Things I had ‘on-hand’:
- PVC cleaner & cement.
- A GFCI duplex outlet.
- 1/2” PVC Conduit.
- 12/2 (with ground) wire.
- Shovels. Tamper. Rake. 6’ Level.
- Wood for making leveling forms & staking things out.
- mason line & string level.
- A bottle of ibuprofen.
- Pressure Treated Lumber Scraps, screws, gorilla glue, 6mm bolts, nuts, and washers.
Things I’d wished I known before I started:
- The pool comes with a chlorinator for 1” pucks.
- The solar heater measures about 4’x8’ or 4’ 6” x 8’ if you include the plumbing connections at the top.
- The hoses that come with the pool will work, if you don’t mind an ugly or inconvenient layout.
|What I did||What I’d do differently|
|Staked out the location, 2’ wider in both length and width than the advertised size of the pool. Used the mason line to establish level lines between stakes.||The pool supports on the long sides of the pool add an additional 1’ per side. I wish I’d added 3’ or 4’ to the width of the pool. I also wish I’d have known the dimensions of the solar heater and accounted for it’s location.|
|Used the sod cutter to remove the sod from the area.||I wish I’d known what the solar heater size was and had a layout plan in my head so I could have striped those parts too.|
|Moved the sod to another part of the yard.||Not a thing. That worked well.|
|leveled the ground as much as reasonable with a shovel. (scraped the high sides a bit)||This worked well, too. Wasn’t too hard. I used the flattest part of the lawn|
|Added about 1” - 2” of sand, leveled, compacted, in multiple layers.||I originally rented a plat compactor. Total waste of time. Wish I’d just used my neighbors water-filled roller to pack everything. Eventually I did. Wish I’d known the layout for the supports, so I could place the crushed limestone and pavers at this time too. In retrospect, I should have used pea gravel around the outside of the pool, with sand underneath the field of the pool. I may make adjustments in coming years if all goes well.|
|Taped the 1/4” accordian foam panels together to make a ground-cloth layer.||I’d do this on the garage floor instead of outside in the breeze on the driveway.|
|Put the foam out. Held it down with the pavers.||Pavers were essential here. They weren’t already in their place because I didn’t know what their place should be.|
|Next day got out the pool. Swept off the insulation, plopped it down, positioned it, and unfolded. Let it warm up.||No regrets|
|Laid out the straps, all the frame parts, got a rough idea of where the supports where.|
|Dug the sand out where the
||I wish I’d have been able to do this before I put the sand in. The pavers would have been easier to level to one-another, and I’d have been able to use them as a ‘guide’ when leveling the sand base beneath the pool.|
|Dug out the sand where the ends of the oval sit, packed base and set pavers.||I wish I’d put them both in the same direction.|
|Assembled the frame and setup the pool.|
|Removed the legs that weren’t yet supported by pavers and did the same dig out, limestone pack, paver thing. Then re-installed those legs.||Had I only known the geometry before hand…|
|Started Filling the pool.|
|Lifted a kid inside the pool to walk around the edges and smooth out the wrinkles||I was glad we did this immediately. If you had water in the pool, it wouldn’t move.|
|Assembled the ladder.|
|Assembled the filter & pump.||You need filter sand. It does not come with it. A 50lb bag has more than twice what you need.|
|Created a pump base.||I made due with what I had. It came out pretty decently.|
|Started connecting the plumbing.||Oh Wow. See the next section|
|Installed the skimmer.||Easy Peasy. The Intex skimmer fits perfectly.|
|Tried to install the automatic pool vacuum||Note: I haven’t finished this, but I suspect I’ll need to cut a plastic part to make it fit the Bestway inlet.|
This is where I am right now.
I started down the path of locating where to put the solar heater, where to put the pump, etc.
That’s when I realized:
- I want the solar heater, the pump, and the skimmer in one corner, where I can walk up and maintain all of them without stepping over / tripping over things.
- The pump cord is 28’ too short for my ideal location and layout.
- The hoses aren’t long enough to move the pump to a corner.
- One of the hoses that hooks up to the solar heater is a 1.25” hose. The other hoses that hook up to the pump are 1 .5”.
- I want to be able to bypass (or vary the flow rate through) the solar heater later in the summer, when we won’t need to keep making the water warmer all the time.
- The water outlets on the pool have no shut-off.
After some time looking online, I found the folks ‘hard plumbing’ their pools.
Yep. That’s for me. Knowing what I know about smooth-wall vs. corrugated wall flow rates in air systems, I’ll assume the consequences on flow and pressure drops are even worse when dealing with liquids.
A 2” PVC Threaded socket + 2” to 1.5” bushing = a solid female connection with the threaded fittings on the pool and pump. Union every single one of those so you can service things, take them apart, etc.
American Valve makes a 1.5” ball valve + Union on one side. Perfect for plumbing into the solar heater. We can setup a Tee with a valve and female connector on both sides and use that to feed water into the solar heater, or feed water to the solar heater outlet and then onto the pool inlet.
I ended up placing my pump on the corner of the pool, solar heater parallel to the long-side of the pool. I cut out the turf around the outside edge, filled it with sand, trimmed the grass that would be under the solar pad to the bare dirt and sprayed it with grass killer.