Making a Splash

Stages Magazine
March/April 2010

Temperatures may still be on the cool side for now.  However, in the blink of an eye warmer weather will be bearing down on Mississippi, leaving you to weigh your options on how to beat the heat.  A swimming pool may offer the perfect solution.

America’s love affair with backyard swimming pools began shortly after World War II.  Today, there are an estimated nine million residential swimming pools in the United States, according to the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF).  Pools provide refreshing fun and an endless source of entertainment for family and friends during the summer months.  Pools can also promote a healthy lifestyle.  Swimming is a low impact exercise that burns up to 11 calories a minute while also toning the body and increasing cardiovascular fitness.  Finally, a swimming pool can increase the resale value of your home.  A study conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that in ground swimming pools increased a home’s market value by 5-10%.

There are several different styles of pools to choose from.  Concrete swimming pools are constructed from one of two materials: shotcrete or gunite. These terms refer to the type of materials used in construction.  Gunite is pumped to the pool’s structural frame while shotcrete is sprayed.  Since concrete pools are custom-built, they offer more flexibility when it comes to design.

Fiberglass pools are pre-fabricated fiberglass shells that are assembled at a factory and then installed in-ground with a crane.  Fiberglass pools can usually be installed within a matter of days.  However, because they are pre-fabricated, design choices are limited.  Fiberglass swimming pools tend to be very durable and low maintenance.

Vinyl liner pools are constructed out of pre-manufactured walls set to stand in the ground. After the area is excavated and the walls are installed, the vinyl liner goes in.  As with a concrete pool, owners have the ability to be creative with their pool designs.  However, care must be taken to prevent the liner from becoming punctured.

“Deciding on which style of pool to install really depends on the budget of the pool owner and how they expect to use the pool,” says Randy Cavanaugh of Blue Haven Pool and Spas.  “Fiberglass and vinyl liners are typically less costly.  However, if you are going to be in your home for a long time, concrete is the way to go because these pools last forever and will provide you the most value for your home.”

Swimming pools do require constant upkeep.  Today, new options exist to cut down on your maintenance costs.  For decades, chlorine has been the chemical of choice for keeping pool water clean and preventing the growth of bacteria.  However, within the last year Cavanaugh has seen a rise in the use of salt-water pools.

“Saltwater pools are friendlier for the environment,” he explains.  “You are using saltwater to generate chlorine and therefore not using as many chemicals.”  Saltwater pools use salt to produce chlorine through the use of a chlorine generator.  When the pool’s pump is activated, the salt water goes through the filter where it comes in contact with electrode plates. These plates split the salt molecules in two, creating sodium molecules and chlorine molecules. This process cleans the water.  While installing a saltwater pool can be expensive initially, over time pool owners will begin to realize a cost savings.  “By installing a two-speed saltwater pump, owners can save on energy costs,” adds Cavanaugh.  “Since the pump is producing chlorine for you, you no longer have to spend money on chlorine tablets.  Saltwater pools are also easier to maintain.”  Many swimmers also prefer the feeling of swimming in saltwater, as chlorine can often burn the eyes and nose and leave a swimmer’s skin feeling itchy and dry.

Cavanaugh also points out that when choosing a contractor to build your pool, always choose a company that provides service after the sale.  “A pool is not done once it’s built,” he says.  “Most pool owners are not that knowledgeable on how to maintain their pool.  Make sure you choose a company that is service oriented and there to answer any questions after construction is complete.”