After completing construction on our Project House, we didn't have much room left in our backyard. Diane and Jim designed a custom pool environment that maximizes the use of our available space without overwhelming the back yard. They scoured the marketplace to find an array of specialty items to make our pool system safe, energy-efficient and extremely convenient to enjoy.
The professionals at Apollo have shown us that it takes careful planning, thorough preparation and a lot of hard work to make a beautiful pool system work right. You'll have to make a lot of plumbing decisions before you even begin to excavate a hole for your pool.
The excavation work must be precise to guarantee proper drainage. If water drains away from your finished pool towards the foundation of your house, you could cause major and irreparable damage to the foundation.
Proper plumbing is crucial as well. The design of your pool plumbing must strike a balance between the diameter of each pipe and the horsepower required by each component in your system. You must decide what you want your pool to do, so you'll have the proper plumbing in place to make things work.
Plumbing LinesApollo has run plumbing lines for our pool that are independent of one another, not related or linked. If one line clogs or fails, it will not harm or weaken the other lines. Some pool designers or plumbers may not go to the trouble of designing and building a plumbing system this sophisticated.
For instance, the pros at Apollo have run a separate equalizer line beneath each of the pool skimmers. The equalizer lines pull water to the pump (in addition to water from the skimmers and drains) to keep the pump from burning out in case the other lines get clogged. They've run an automatic fill line that's connected to the Project House irrigation system. We won't have to drag a hose across the yard whenever we want to fill the pool because the fill line draws water automatically from the sprinkler system.
After you've installed your plumbing and braced the excavated hole with rebar to strengthen the shell of your pool, it's time to spray Gunite over the rebar. Gunite's a mixture of sand, cement, quartz and water (very similar to concrete) that's shot through a high-pressure hose. The Gunite crew has to be precise when they spray to make sure your finished pool drains properly. Proper spacing of the bars that make up the steel support grid is important to ensure the strength of your pool walls and steps as the Gunite cures or solidifies.
Once the Gunite finished curing, the experts at Apollo assembled a state-of-the-art equipment package for our Project House pool. They've chosen three separate filters by Jacuzzi to govern our water system. Jacuzzi makes a three-sided filter to maximize surface area for thorough filtration. Two of our Jacuzzi filters have been dedicated exclusively for a waterfall feature (manufactured by Polaris) that Apollo designed and installed in the backyard wall. They're very concerned about even the smallest debris clogging the pinhole outlets in the waterfall. The third Jacuzzi filter is dedicated to the pool.
Jacuzzi also supplied three water pumps (one three-horsepower pump and a pair of two-horsepower pumps). One pump serves as a booster pump for our spa to give it 5 horsepower of total pumping power. Here's an example of the importance of proper plumbing in the design of your pool system. You can put a dozen pumps in your backyard to circulate water or make your spa feature work, but if the pipes in the ground aren't big enough to handle the volume of water flow needed to make things work, then you've wasted your money.
Our waterfall feature would not work with a pipe smaller than 4" in diameter, no matter how big a pump we plugged into the system. Even a strong pump may not provide enough power if you have to pump water over a great distance. That's why the volume of the pipes is so crucial. It's especially important if you try to pump heated water over a distance before it cools. Pipes are very cheap compared to the price of filters and pumps.
Apollo has chosen a Raypak natural gas water heater with state-of-the-art electronics and a digital readout panel so we can gauge the water temperature. We don't have to worry about a pilot light blowing out since the entire system is electronic.
Nature 2 manufactures a mineral purification system based on natural silver and copper technology, reducing chlorine by as much as 80 percent An in-line chlorinator (manufactured by Rainbow) adds chlorine in conjunction with this mineral purification system. We simply have to add chlorine tablets every few weeks (they dissolve very slowly). The automated system does the rest.
Caretaker has provided an ingenious pool cleaning system that works on pressure, not suction. Our pool pump forces water through pop-up heads in the bottom of the pool (and also in the bench of our spa) to push dirt and debris towards a center drain in the bottom of the pool. This system also helps us heat the pool in cold weather. Since heat rises, hot water pumped into the bottom of the pool heats the pool faster and more efficiently than water pumped into the pool on the surface.
Apollo has chosen a smooth surface material manufactured by Fibre Tech for the pool surface. It's applied directly onto the Gunite shell. It's very non-porous, so algae cannot easily grab onto the pool walls. When it's applied, the Fibre Tech surface seals any cracks in the Gunite bed, so the pool will not leak. The salts and chemicals that make other pool surfaces roughen over time cannot stick to this material, so they can do no damage. The surface will last at least 25 years.
AqualinkWe'll need help managing all this high-tech equipment, and Apollo has provided the perfect solution - a remote control system by Aqualink. They've provided a computerized, automatic controller that monitors and controls all our valve activators. The brains of the system sit in a box next to our equipment stack behind the garage. The brains connect to a keypad inside our master bedroom, so we can operate any equipment in the pool (the waterfall feature, the pumps that govern the pool or the spa, the water heater, etc.) from the comfort of the bedroom, regardless of the conditions outside.
The system is entirely programmable, so we can set a timer to turn on the spa or the pool (together or individually), turn on the lights or the waterfall, or heat the pool so it's warm and ready whenever we want to jump in. Lighting, heating and cleaning cycles can be fully automated. There's a matching set of buttons on the deck of the spa that give us control from inside the spa.
The Aqualink system offers a built-in freeze protection. If the outside temperature dips too close to freezing, the system automatically agitates the water in the pool and the spa. Moving water will not freeze like still water.
WaterscapesWe've seen nearby pool environments designed by Apollo that resemble a natural grotto or a peaceful streambed. They've designed dynamic waterscapes and peaceful oases. We've asked for a classic environment to match the style of our Project House. Apollo has designed our pool deck with natural Travertine tile coping from Stone Ventures, Inc. Travertine is a natural stone very similar to limestone. They've been very careful to place drains in our pool deck to make sure pool water will never drain towards the foundation.
Since our backyard is so small, we've chosen not to clutter the remaining space with a fence around the pool. At the same time, we are absolutely dedicated to safety concerns before all others when it comes to designing and building a backyard pool. Apollo helped us once again, this time by choosing an infrared laser security system called "Prevent" by Caretaker.
Infrared Laser Security SystemThe laser system acts like an electronic fence. Two laser beams bounce off two or three reflectors to form a rectangular perimeter with a constant active alarm. The laser beams emanate from a single weather-resistant and watertight unit that attaches to a wall or fence or post. You can plug it into any standard household outlet. The two lasers can be adjusted to any angle. They bounce off the reflectors to create an electronic barrier across any area. If anyone crosses the invisible barrier and interrupts the laser beam, they'll trigger a very loud and noticeable alarm. The alarm will go off if a child moves or misaligns the reflectors.
The experts at Apollo tell us a good pool designer and installer will make at least ten visits to a pool under construction to ensure that your pool gets built safely and correctly through every stage of construction. The Project House pool has taken a lot of planning and a lot of hard work. Diane and Jim Vollmer from Apollo Pools offer the perfect balance of design and engineering skills. They've helped us create a gorgeous pool environment with all the safety and convenience features you should build into the pool in your new house.