Pool Services (Maintenance
Swimming pools are among the most popular features of a
home. In fact, many homeowners specifically look for
them when making a home buying decision.
Even if your home does not have a pool when you first
move in, you may want to add one at a later stage.
Adding a swimming pool will make a huge
difference to the value of your property. It is
estimated that a swimming pool can increase the value of
your home by up to 15%.
Constructing or installing a pool may seem overwhelming
with so many options and decisions. Here are some points
to consider, helping you make the best choice for you
and your family.
Types of Swimming Pools
There are two types of swimming pools: those that are
built above the ground and those that are built in the
ground, with the latter being the most popular.
Because these pools are installed rather than built they
are more economical than in-ground pools.
The most basic above-ground pools, requiring no
filtration equipment will cost as little as a few
hundred Rand to R2 000. Larger, more elaborate
above-ground pools with filtration equipment will cost
anything between R10 000 to R20 000, excluding extras
like decking, landscaping and accessories.
Design and construction costs generally make in-ground
pools more expensive to build. In-ground pools with
minimal paving start at around R25 000. More elaborate
designs will cost anything between R40 000 to R100 000.
The choice of pool design, building materials, patio
materials, landscaping, lighting and extra features such
as fountains are all cost factors to consider
when constructing a pool.
Besides determining the best fit for your property's
dimensions consider the slope of your ground, soil type
and accessibility for construction equipment. Pools are
easier to build or install when the ground is level,
however, new technology makes it possible to
install a pool in virtually any circumstances.
Severe conditions such as steeply sloping ground,
excessively rocky soil and limited access require
special construction and installation considerations and
typically add to the overall cost and duration of the
Anticipate a little dirt and dust during construction of
an in-ground pool. Your pool contractor can estimate a
project completion date but remember Mother Nature
doesn't always cooperate. An in-ground pool takes
anywhere from three to twelve weeks depending on the
complexity of the project.
Above-ground pools can be installed in a matter of hours
or a few days.
Pool size is primarily a personal choice. Some
homeowners prefer to eliminate grass entirely while
others want to incorporate a garden into their pool
Types of swimming pools
Swimming pools come in a variety of materials,
some requiring more maintenance than others.
The largest maintenance expense is a pool's interior
finish. Vinyl lined pools last approximately 5-7 years,
painted concrete needs a new coat approximately every
five years while a plaster finish may last 10-15 years.
These swimming pools have been available for many years
and remain a popular choice. Once the
hole has been dug and steel reinforcing placed in
position, the entire inside surface is sprayed, at high
pressure, with a cement/sand mixture. Once the gunite
has cured (after about 5 days) the shell is finished
with marble plaster (marbelite) which is available in a
number of colour and which is also watertight.
Estimated Instalment Time: 2 weeks
Maintenance Ease: High
Concrete swimming pools are constructed by packing
concrete onto the steel reinforcing. A mixture of
cement, washed river sand and stone is used. These
swimming pools are usually finished with marble plaster
and are extremely strong.
Estimated Instalment Time: 4 – 6 weeks
Maintenance Ease: High
The main advantages of a factory-made fibreglass
swimming pool (moulded in one seamless piece) are
speed and convenience. The shell is
delivered to the site in one piece, is quickly and
simply installed and because of its ultra-smooth
surface, is easy to clean. These shells traditionally
come in blue but today one is able to order them in
black or white too.
Estimated Instalment Time: 1 – 2 weeks
Maintenance Ease: Low
Comparatively inexpensive, vinyl-lined swimming pools
have come a long way since the
introduction of the above-ground PVC swimming pools.
Computerised equipment is able to produce a tough,
long-lasting vinyl lining that will fit any shape. The
basic pool structure is either built with bricks and
blocks or it may be constructed with modular galvanized
steel panels, or with revolutionary glass-fibre
reinforced cement panels.
Estimated Instalment Time: 2 – 3 weeks
Maintenance Ease: Medium
Styles of swimming pools
Before installing a swimming pool it is important to
establish the main objective for having
a pool. Do you just want to cool off on a hot summer's
day or will you be using your swimming pool to swim laps
Play Pool: A play pool is typically no
deeper than 1.5 meters. Play pools are generally built
for cooling off and relaxing in.
Freeform Pool: A freeform pool is a
lagoon style or natural looking pool. It usually has a
rock feature and is built to mimic an oasis.
Geometric Pool: Geometric pools usually
have straight lines or a consistent radius and are
typically more traditional looking. A geometric pool can
be more formal and upscale looking.
Lap Pool: Lap pools are typically
narrow and long to facilitate exercise and swimming for
health and fitness.
Infinity Edge Pool: Infinity edge pools
are designed to look like the pool extends all the way
out to the horizon.
Perimeter Overflow Pool: This would be
a pool where the water level in the pool is the same as
the top of the decking around the pool. Around the pool
perimeter is a channel that the water drains into
creating a visual masterpiece.
Spool: The word spool is a combination
of spa and pool. Spools are typically just oversized
Beach Style Pools: These are currently
a hot trend. Installing one of these is undoubtedly the
closest thing to having that holiday feeling right in
your own back yard. Enjoy your own piece of paradise
complete with your own beach, sand dunes and palm trees.
Salt chlorinated pools
An alternative to the traditional chlorine or
chlorinated pool is available. Salt-chlorinated pools
that use salt instead of chlorine have become a popular
choice for homeowners when installing a new pool.
It is however important to know that salt chlorinated
pools are not chlorine-free pools. A salt chlorinated
pool is simply one that uses a chlorine
generator that produces chlorine so you do no
have to buy it, store it or handle it. This system uses
salt and electricity to react with the pool water to
If you already have a chlorinated pool and would like to
convert it to a salt chlorinated pool the installation
process is quite a simple one. The salt chlorinator
system consists of three major items. They are the power
supply controller, the chlorinator cell and the
transformer. These items can either be bought in a DIY
kit with easy to understand instructions or if you
prefer, can be fitted by most pool contractors.
In a salt chlorinated pool the water feels much softer
on your skin. A salt chlorinated pool is less
expensive to maintain and is healthier and better for
the environment. Pool maintenance is also
easier, so you're able to keep your swimming pool
looking great with much less hassle.
Turning up the heat
The ideal heating system for a pool is solar heating.
Environmentally safe, naturally clean and non-polluting,
solar heating uses the free energy of the sun
which means it is extremely low maintenance.
Solar panels are usually installed on the roof of your
home, but ground level installations are an option if
space is available. The existing pool pump is used for
circulation of the water through the solar panels.
TIP: Solar panels should face north or
be mounted on a flat roof to ensure maximum efficiency.
Heat pumps can also be used for heating purposes. A heat
pump is an energy efficient machine that removes
heat from the ambient air and transfers it to
the pool water at a high temperature. This method is
popular for homes that have insufficient roof space for
solar panels or merely for aesthetic reasons.
Heated pools consume huge amounts of energy and lose it
in a variety of ways. The biggest heat loss comes from
evaporation. The most popular heat retention
method is to use a pool cover. These covers are
placed on the water surface to trap heat and warm the
pool water. Covers range from the standard bubble or
solar pool covers to more expensive vinyl covers.
Maintaining your pool
Before jumping right into the pool of your dreams, equip
yourself for the amount of work owning and maintaining
it may entail. Here's what you need to know about
standard pool equipment, water analysis and chemicals,
cleaning, and seasonal maintenance chores.
Pump and Motor
The motor drives the pump which circulates the water
from the pool through the filtration system and back to
the pool. The more your pool's water is circulated, the
harder it is for bacteria and algae to take hold
and grow. It is best to circulate the water in
your pool during the day for about 6 – 8 hours.
The filter is one of the most important pieces of
equipment. Its function is to physically remove both
visible debris and microscopic matter. A filter should
be backwashed as least once a week and cleaned out
regularly to ensure that it is working to its full
To provide a clean and safe swimming environment, pool
water must be sanitised and balanced regularly.
The most common way of protecting a pool from bacteria
is chlorine. Chlorine and bromine are the most
common chemicals used to keep your pool free
from microscopic particles. Chlorine is found in a
granular, tablet or liquid format or is generated by a
Balanced water means the pool water's pH level, total
alkalinity, water hardness and total dissolved solids
fall within certain ranges. Imbalanced water causes eye
irritation, cloudy water, and can spell trouble
for your pool's operation equipment and your
interior finish. Sodium bicarbonate (soda ash) and
muratic acid are the two most common products used to
balance pool water. The testing frequency depends on
your region, weather conditions, and how much the pool
gets used, although a good rule of thumb is four to five
times per week. Don't worry if chemistry was not your
best subject in high school. Simple to use and read,
test kits make it easy to test your pool water.
TIP: The ideal pH of your pool should
be between 7.4 to 7.6. Total alkalinity should be
between 125 – 150ppm and calcium hardness should range
between 175 – 225ppm.
Keeping the pool water free of debris helps to maintain
its cleanliness and provides a more attractive swimming
As water is drawn to the filtration system it first
passes through skimmer baskets, located at the perimeter
of the pool, to catch large debris such as leaves and
An automated vacuum removes debris from the pool floor
It is sometimes necessary to brush the pool walls in
order to remove debris that the automated vacuum cannot
This reverses the pool's circulation system, forcing
water backwards and completely out of the system while
carrying small particles with it.
Look out for funky pool thermometer designs by
Blue Zoo. Designs come in trendy yellow rubber ducks and
other fun zoo animals.
Automated pool maintenance
A practice that is becoming more popular is an automated
pool maintenance system. Several companies are testing
computer controlled pools that operate much like smart
houses. This means that a computer is used to
manage lights, heaters, equipment and chemicals for easy
These smart systems are specially designed system to
automate pool maintenance. This includes automated pool
chemical measurements as well as water level
measurements with carefully designed electronic
circuitry that ensures hassle free pool care.
Safety around the pool
Safety is a number one concern for pool owners. Proper
enclosures and supervision are a must at all times to
ensure the safety of children, pets and wildlife
that may wander near the pool. Many specialty safety
products are available on the market, including water
alarms, safety covers and personal safety accessories
like life jackets and pool floats. It is important to
also make sure that you know what your city requires
with regards to pool fencing requirements. Here are some
Non Slip Materials
Ensure that the area around your pool is built from
non-slip material (paving is ideal) and that there is
safe access both into and out of the water via steps or
Your wall or fence around your pool should be at least
1.2m high and constructed in a way that small children
cannot climb through or over it. The gate should be a
Safety covers are tight-fitting covers that are pulled
taut around the pool's perimeter and held in place with
hooks or stakes located around the pool. These covers
withstand huge weights and allow rain water to drain
while keeping debris out.
Spice up your pool
Spice up your pool with everything from poolside
landscaping to accessories that can make your pool more
inviting to be around.
New materials have made outdoor furniture nearly
impervious to the elements. Wrought iron, all-weather
rattan, and vinyl come in just about every design
imaginable. Worried about wet swimming suits and rain
ruining seat cushions? Don't. Weather-resistant fabrics
make cushions suitable for outdoor conditions.
Goggles, floats, noodles, water polo, water basketball,
volleyball games, throw toys, beach balls, blow-up lilos...the
list goes on and on. There is no shortage of fun
products for your pool.
Floating and permanent built-in fountains are popular
options in pool designs. Both add interest to the pool
just like they dress up a flower bed or other garden
Cascading water into a pool is just one way homeowners
are using their pools to create beautiful landscape
environments; the sound of running water is always
relaxing. A waterfall can be as simple as a small
spillway into the pool or as elaborate as a proper
waterfall complete with rocks and lush vegetation.
Pools aren't just pools anymore. They are part of your
outside room. Because many people look at their backyard
as an extension of their home, they put similar efforts
into designing their outdoor spaces.
Ideally, the pool, landscaping, and house should appear
as if they were all designed at the same time. Repeating
materials and motifs from your home into the pool area
and surrounding landscape will help tie
everything together and compliment the look of your home.
For example, if your home has a stone exterior, using
boulders as landscape and pool accents will make the
areas blend together.
Once you have a landscaping plan, start executing it
slowly and in stages. Start with living and gardening
areas between the house and pool. Establish paths that
direct traffic flow in a natural way, and create
comfortable seating areas and backdrops.
An arrangement of pots or hanging baskets in an array of
heights, shapes and sizes beside a pool or on your
poolside patio always looks pleasing. Brick
built flower boxes are also a popular choice
around the swimming pool and look stunning when filled
with brightly coloured pansies in winter or beautiful
palm trees for a tropical look.
TIP: Avoid planting trees with
extensive root systems near your pool. They will wreak
havoc with the pool shell or decking. Don't plant trees
with leaves so tiny that they escape skimmers, or plants
with slippery fruit or small litter; pine needles and
bottlebrush stamens, for example, can clog filters.