9 Awesome Things You Should Totally Not Do To Your Pool
Sometimes you can get so lost in your vision of how awesome something would be to do that you fail to think of the potential ramifications of actually going through with it. Sure there are a ton of fun things that you can do to your pool, or with your pool, but if this means damaging your pool or needing to spend a bunch of money to rectify the problem that you caused...well that is entirely less awesome. Even worse than this would be to do (or try) something that results in someone getting hurt, or worse. Despite how much fun you can have with a pool you need to respect both the potential for damage to the pool as well as the potential for danger at all times around a pool.
Who doesn't want to have the best swimming pool party of the year? But if you go too far with your crazy pool party plans you could end up buying yourself some pool service and repair bills. Even worse would be to do something that does more than upsets your water chemistry balance. The last thing you want to do is cause serious damage to your pool all for the sake of a fun event. Swimming pools can be extremely expensive to repair and if you do something like damage the interior surface of your pool then you might be looking at repairs that add up to many thousands of dollars. Before you start doing anything crazy with your pool you should probably check the list below to find out about all of the awesome things that you should totally not do to your pool.
Swimming Pool Bubble Party!
Adding soap to your pool in order to have a "bubble party" sounds like a great idea at first, but the reality is that it might be more costly than you realize. Think of the "hilarious" form of vandalism to public water features that involves dumping soap into them which turns them into foam factories. Doing so requires a total drain and cleaning of both the pool as well as the filter in order to actually get rid of all the bubbles. Since some pools can not actually be completely drained this means that you could either be looking at multiple drain and fill services to dilute the soapy water, or potentially a more expensive service to facilitate full draining, cleaning and refill of your pool. Would you be willing to spend a thousand or two to fix the pool after your totally awesome bubble party?
Also, not to be too much of a buzzkill, but having a pool full of bubbles is actually dangerous...especially in a party envirnment. If you can not see through the surface it would be all too easy for someone to drown as nobody would be able to see them. Maybe save the bubbles for your bubble bath instead of your pool.
Color Pool Water With Dye
You know what would be really cool? Dying your pool water red for Halloween seems like a totally awesome thing you could do to your pool...until you actually try it. Similarly if you want your pool water to be Carribean blue then why not add a bunch of blue dye to the water to make your pool seem more tropical? As much as makers of pool dye products advertise how safe and non-staining their products are the reality is that you are gambling with an awefully expensive thing. The risk versus reward for dying your pool water really is just not worth the payoff.
Adding anything to your pool water other than pool chemicals needed to balance and sanitize the water is generally a bad idea. Adding dye will certainly strain your filtration system and likely require an extra filter cleaning service call once the dye has been filtered out of the water. It is not uncommon to experience some staining with products like pool dye, with concrete pools in particular being the most likely to have problems with this due to the relatively porous interior surface versus fiberglass and vinyl liner pools. If you really want to color your pool water the best way to accomplish this is through colored LED lighting which can accomplish the same colored water effect with absolutely no downside for the pool itself.
Safety Cover Trampoline
Okay I will give it to you that a mesh swimming pool safety cover looks conspicuously like a trampoline does. They are both spring loaded mesh surfaces but there is an important difference. A trampoline will let you jump and bounce easily. A pool safety cover used under similar circumstances is entirely less satisfying. As you step out onto a mesh safety cover it will immediately give under your weight but with the edge of the cover supported by the deck you will quickly find that your footing is unsure and you will stumble towards the middle of the cover. At this point you will realize that you are now standing in about 18" of water which completly prevents any potential for carefree bouncing. If you attempt to jump and bounce anyway, then you win the grand prize - all of your stainless steel springs are now blown out, stretched and distended and you need all new hardware for your cover straps...good times.
Pool safety covers range in price from around $1500 installed up to $4000 or more for larger and more complicated cover installations. This is far too much money to use your cover as a form of entertainment no matter how much fun it looks like it would be to jump up and down on it. They really are not made for absorbing dynamic force loads like a full suzed human jumping up and down on them. Not to mention the panic-inducing thought of a panel tearing and you drop helplessly into the pool where you will live out the rest of your existance unless someone saw you go in. If you were under a fully installed mesh safety cover there is no way you would be able to get out or even through it unless you had a knife on you.
Walking On A Pool Tarp Cover
Holy crap you need to 100% never, never, NEVER attempt to walk on a pool tarp cover. As much as jumping on a mesh safety cover can cost you a bundle of cash on new stainless steel hardware, walking on a pool tarp cover is a straight up death sentance. A pool tarp cover can not support the weight of even a small person walking on them. If you attempted to try this the cover would end up pulling in under your weight, slipping out from the sand or water bags you use to hold the cover in place around the perimeter of the pool, and you would end up being enveloped by the cover.
Trying to run or walk across a pool cover sounds like a cool party trick but it is anything but. Once the cover pulls in your will immediately become wrapped within the folds of the cover and will promptly sink to the bottom and drown. Even people nearby may be unable to save you as a pool cover with water on it (not to mention a person wrapped up in it) would be too heavy to easily move, manipulate or lift out of the water. By the time they are able to get you free it easily could be too late. Teens and pets are the most likely victims to discover that walking on a tarp pool cover is an extremely dangerous and unadvisable idea.
Hanging Lights Over Your Pool
As a pool industry expert it scares the hell out of me when I see people hanging lights over their pool to improve the ambiance of the pool area. Look I appreciate that you want the pool area to feel welcoming but I can simply not support doing something so obviously dangerous. First of all when you use the telescopic pole you will be getting it tangled up in the wires which increases the potential that the lights could "suddenly" fall into the water one day.
A GFI receptacle is the standard norm for how to protect electrical circuits in damp and wet envirnments where there is an increased potential for a dangerous short to ground to occur. The GFI needs to be wired correctly in order to work, as many are incorrecly wired by non-electricians. You would be putting a crap-load of faith into a $20 GFI receptacle to have lighting over a pool that you or your friends and family swim in. No amount of increased ambiance is worth such a glaring safety violation. There should be absolutely no electrical wires over a pool, whether be lighting, main electrical services, cable lines, telephone lines or any other. Voltage is relatively inconsequential when talking about a short circuit since the current in any shorted circuit will approach infinity regardless of voltage and this (current) is the concern for causing muscle spasms and interrupting the electrical impulses from your heart. No matter how cool it looks please do not hang lights over your pool.
Going "Chemical Free" With Your Pool
Too many pool owners these days are so concerned with health that they end up doing the least healthy, most dangerous possible thing you could do with your pool water - try to go chemical free. As detailed in this article going chemical free with your pool is an incredibly dangerous and poorly vetted idea that all too many pool owners decide to try. Industry experts and scientists who spend their lives studying water chemistry all seem to agree that attempting to run your pool without an approved chemical sanitizer like chlorine or bromine is a huge risk with very little reward for your efforts.
Stagnant water is dangerous unless maintained with a chemical sanitizer. While there are other methods that can make the pool safe under certain circumstances, there is no layer of protection as safe as using low levels of chemical sanitizer in properly balanced pool water. As much as there are alternative sanitizer options which can work under some circumstances, there are also a host of products on the market which do little more than lighten your pocketbook and put your health at potential risk. If you would be willing to take a bath in your home, then you should be willing to use chlorine in your pool since both have a measurable chlorine residual. So unless you go so far as collecting rain water to bathe in then you probably are not allergic to chlorine as so many pool owners mistakingly think. The vast majority of people who claim to be allergic to chlorine are actually sensitive to pH imbalance in the water but misattribute their reaction to pool water to be from chlorine...which it seldom is.
Heating Your Pool To 90 Degrees
Man all those suckers are out there freezing their butts off in 78 degree water - why not just crank up the heater to 90 and do away with the shock of getting into cold water? The answer to this is simple. Unless your last name is McDuck you will probably be (unpleasantly) surprised to learn how expensive it is to heat a swimming pool by burning fossil fuels. Since a pool heater can be up to 400,000 BTU's this is the same as 10 or more large sized BBQ's all running on full blast at the same time. Yes you can easily heat your pool up to 90 degrees at any time of year with a great big natural gas or propane heater but it is going to cost you a small fortune.
There is a reason why pool owners tend to set the pool temperature on the heater to be around 80 degrees. This is because this is just warm enough to probably not have a heart attack when you jump in, and low enough to not have a heart attack when you get the gas bill. Set your pool to 90 degrees or more in the winter and in only a month or two you would be looking at thousands of dollars in gas costs. Not hundreds, but thousands. If you do intend to heat your pool when the weather is cold the single best thing you could do would be to cover the pool with a solar blanket (or automatic pool cover) to help retain the heat you are pumping in...otherwise it will escape the pool just as fast as you are adding it!
Installing Your Own Diving Board
Installing your own diving board might sound like an awesome idea if you have a pool that lacks any raised platforms for jumping in. The problem with this logic is that you fail to understand how a diving board should be installed, as well as the type of pool that a diving board should be installed on. Much to the dismay of pool owners most residential pools do not meet current diving envelope requirements for having a diving board. Residential pools are too shallow, and the long slope of the pool is too close to the jumping platform. Together this makes for a very dangerous mix where pool owners attempt to dive shallow since they know the pool is not really deep enough, and shallow dives are responsible for the vast majority of serious diving injuries. The long slope of the pool is simply too close to the diving board and the swimmer crashes headlong into it when their feet have barely even entered the water yet. This is a serious recipe for disaster and the pool industry is working to reduce on injuries by eliminating diving boards on pools that are too small and too shallow.
Even if your pool was big enough and deep enough to warrant having a diving board, they are usually installed with the initial construction of the pool because the concrete under them must be very thick to support the forces that they must absorb. Simply drilling some wedge anchors into your existing concrete deck is not going to hold once a 200 pound person starts jumping on the end of the board. If you must have a diving board then you certainly want to speak with an industry professional to ensure your pool is suitable, and that your diving board is installed correctly and safely.
Swimming Pool Ice Rink
Swimming pools in cold climate areas do suspiciously look like a suitable skating rink however it would be a very bad idea to try to do this. From the viewpoint of the pool you are almost certain to cause serious damage to the pool. When everything is frozen it would be very easy to crack anything that is made of PVC or plastic, and the ice itself is still floating on unfrozen water. This means that weight on the ice could cause the ice to move, and any movement of the ice surface is surely going to be damaging the interior surface of your pool. A vinyl liner pool, common in colder climate areas, would almost certainly require a new liner if you tried to use one as a skating rink.
From the perspective of safety you probably do not want to try skating on a surface of ice that is floating in a few feet of contained water. There is very real risk that you could end up under the ice from it breaking or moving in an unpredictable manner. So as much as your pool might look like a great impromptu skating rink you should definitely resist all temptation to try this out. Of vinyl, fiberglass and concrete pools it is possible that concrete pools could be used as a skating rink due to their impressively strong construction, however doing so would increase the chance for damage to the pool tiles, coping and interior surface from toe kicks with ice skates...or worst and most damaging of all - a hockey puck! Save your pool the wear and tear and just put the ice rink on your lawn somewhere!
If you think this article is crapping all over fun then you should really check out this masterpiece where Swimming Pool Steve talks about how ridiculous inflatable pool toys have become in recent years.
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