DIY: Saves money or frustration or both?

Any thing to do with swimming pools, fish ponds, or other man made structures which hold water (but not wells for drinking water).

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DIY: Saves money or frustration or both?

Postby jazzman » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:23 pm

Copied over from Chemical Supplies.

xerostar wrote:I'm not sure if this belongs in another thread?

Jazzman's answers in blue:

Just a few points worth mentioning that might help others considering having a pool built.
This is about the pool I had built - mentioned earlier.

It was built by my 2 BIL's (concrete workers) earlier this year, steel reinforced concrete.
5M wide x 12M long, with a 3 cubic metre balance tank. 100,000 Litres in all.
1M deep at the shallow end and 2.5M deep at the deep end.

Balance tank is too small. It must also absorb the displacement of anything up to 30 people all jumping into the pool at the same time, and the wave created by it. gernerally 10% of the pool volume is a good figure, with plenty of space in the tank to take the excess.

I ordered special (expensive) water proof render and even had the company rep come out and give the
guys a talk but I'm afraid it went over their heads. They just went back to using whatever render was handy.
I don't think many Thai workers realize that ordinary concrete is NOT waterproof and you won't convince them otherwise.

Pool concrete should have a waterproofing agent added to it. The same stuff can be added to the render. Then use waterproof tile adhesive for swimming pools.

I wish we had made the pool deeper at the deep end because the water gets too warm on a hot day
and a steep dive can bring you too close to the bottom. i.e. no room for error.

I wish I had made the pool a little deeper at the shallow end. When you swim lengths, your knees and hands touch the bottom
when its only 1 Metre deep.

1 M is safer for kids, many pools have only 80 cm in the shallow end. However, if you have no kids, no problem.

We used those tiny glass tiles in tones of blue.
Trouble is there's a lot of grout which took forever to apply and of course white grout gets dirty real easy!
So even after cleaning the pool, it looks OK from a distance but up close it still looks grotty and unsanitary.

Yes, and for the reasons you mention below, mosaïc tiles are not a good idea for pools - at least not for covering large surfaces. What you want is many square metres of tile rather than nearly as much surface covered by grout.

The small tiles come off easily if you catch an edge with the pool hose/suction head.

A known common problem.
I wish we had used larger tiles or even a fibreglass skin. (Probably will eventually)

Normal 4" x 4" tiles are perfectly adequate with about 4 mm of grout between them.Cost 250 baht/m2

I wish we had placed the pump lower, close to the pool water level (or even lower).
The pump loses its prime easily because its too high (18" above top level in balance tank) and the foot valve leaks.
A known common problem.
I tried installing a better quality foot valve from Oz but it leaks too when leaves or bugs get stuck in it.
A known common problem.

I bought an LED pool light. Seemed like a good idea a the time. NOT. It's not strong enough to light the whole pool
particularly if the water is not crystal clear. It also has multi-colors (not adjustable) so when people are
swimming they appear to turn from blood-red one minute to dead gray-green like floating corpses the next!

Thanks for that tip :) I haven't actually used any LED lights yet.

We have an overflow grating 5M long at one end of the pool draining into the balance tank - it works very well,
although it could have been shorter and still worked fine (2 Metres would have been OK or even just a skimmer box)
We don't have a water level at the same height as the surrounding deck so with the water level about 2" below
deck level there is no need for a long grating!
I liked the look of it so I thought yes, we must have a grating! Duh ..

The grating gets very grotty quite quickly. A popular solution is to fill the gutter with decorative white pebbles.

I wish we had made the balance tank bigger. 3M x 3M x 3M is not enough (2,700 Litres)
I think the ideal figure should be at least 25% of the pool volume. (25,000 Litres) although
that would have increased the cost considerably.

Well, at least 10%.

I wish I had built in an automatic top-up valve connected to the house supply.
I've since installed that ball-float valve in the tank and it works fine, the supply pipe is visible
It comes out at the base of the pump house about 6 inches exposed before it goes down into the tank.
(would have been neater pre-installed)

Standard practice to install a ball valve or an electric valve in a balance tank.

I had provided a 2" main from the bore pump to the balance tank, but it only works manually.
I have to turn on the main bore pump supply valve, turn on the bore pump and remember (!)
to close the valve and turn off the pump about 1/2 hour later.
A pain in the a** because you always forget! (People come and ask you to look at something ..)

Also I don't know what level the water's at in the Balance tank so I have to lift the manhole cover
which is about 70Kg. Made from concrete with steel frame (rusty already ..)
You need some sort of gauge/measuring device to show the balance tank level.

Not really, because once you have set up the balance between drawing water from the main drain and the balance tank, it should remain fairly stable (until the rainy season!) It's a lot of trial & error to find that balance though.

I'll have to make a new balance tank man-hole cover with fibre-glass later on.
Besides 70 Kg is hard on the back.
A balance tank manhole cover can be made of 2 mm steel plate. The opening would be big enough at 60 x 60.

I need to install some sort of skimmer inside the balance tank. It gets full of junk very quickly and
can only be cleaned properly by getting in there through the manhole, scrubbing with abrasive cleaner
and hosing out. It can take a half day or more to do it properly.

Any tips on making a skimmer inside the balance tank?

Only when the balance tank is overflowing is there any sort of skimmer effect for floating leaves,
insects or frog spawn.

What's on top doesn't matter much as the foot valve draws from the lover levels. It's an idea though to fill the balance tank to overflowing occasioanlly (once a month or so).

A lot of contaminants swirl around and eventually get pumped up and caught by the sand filter.
The heavier sand particles (wind born) stay on the bottom of the tank until cleaned up by hand.

Still not a serious problem.

We have a large (4") main overflow pipe leading from the balance tank. Lucky we had that because with
some of the heavy rain downpours in recent months we could otherwise have had flooding in the house.
We have a p-trap on that too to prevent bugs etc coming up the drain from outside.
Hey .. I got one thing right!

The balance tank can suck dry during a dry spell while the pump re-fills the pool.
(when we lose water by evaporation and "other" means).
The pump loses prime and that can be bad if no-one is around and the motor pump bearings can overheat.
Thus the need for a larger balance tank.
Also the reason for me installing the ball-float valve water replenishment set-up which is a good alternative.
See above about drawing from both the balance tank and the main drain.

I wish we had done a meticulous pressure test on all pipework before back-filling. (Extremely important!)
I suspect (I know ..) one or more of the pipe joints was not glued.
We were losing a lot of water every day, like 1000 Litres!

Tell me about it! Glueing MUST be supervised.

Nobody wanted to admit forgetting to glue a pipe! What can you do?
A thorough pressure test would have prevented this major problem.

You could dig up the tiles, concrete, tons of earth. chip away bucket loads of concrete and
saw through steel to find the leak? Not likely!

I've plugged the bottom drains and that slowed the leak a lot. But I can't pump from there now.
If I do, I just get a load of air and the pump loses prime immediately.

I purchased some "Stop Leak" fluid from the USA and waited for dry weather to try it.
With postage it cost US $132 for 2 Litres so not cheap.
I used this recently and it has helped to reduce the water loss.
I don't know what the chemical is (patented) but it is heavy.
It sinks to the bottom quickly, so to be effective you need to keep the water stirred up.
An auto-cleaner like the Kreepy-Krauly would be good for this.

Did you put 8" water-stop strip round the join in the concrete between the floor and the walls before you cast the concrete?

You keep the filter set on circulate to prevent it clogging the sand in the filter.

Filter unit too small for the volume of the pool.

Use DiamondKleen instead of sand

You can get a few hours effect by using the pool broom to stir up the stuff from the pool floor, but
even doing that twice a day is not going to be effective unless you continue doing it for months.
But as soon as you need to clean the pool floor by vacuuming to waste, you lose all the chemical in the process.

Using DiamondKleen filter media would reduce your backwashing by half.

i.e. the chemical needs to be in suspension in the water that's leaking to allow it to work and
block the exit points i.e. it doesn't do anything when its sitting on the floor of your pool.

So I'd recommend getting an auto cleaner before using this chemical.
Trying to keep the water stirred up by hand is a pain in the b**.

We lose a lot of chlorine/soda ash every time it rains heavy - same anywhere I guess.
You start thinking about an all-weather roof.

I should have made the pool cleaning hose inlet underwater near the centre of the pool.

Yes.most definitely at lest 30 - 40 cm below water level, halfway along the wall. Most hoses have a max length of 11 metres.

As it is, above water at one end, the pool hose is too short (12M) and it's hard to get the vacuum running.
Tiny air leaks in the "quality" hose from China make it lose prime easily.
I wish I'd bought the better quality hose made in USA. (will eventually, money permitting)
This one is good, made in USA, sold by Pool & Spa in BKK, but costs around 4,000 baht. The others on the market are crap. Leave them on the poolside in the sun's UV light for three months and they go brittle and break up in small pieces.
The attachment Vac hose.JPG is no longer available

Vac hose.JPG
Vac hose.JPG (23.4 KiB) Viewed 947 times

I bought an automatic chlorine/acid dosing system that requires "liquid" chlorine. (See previous post)
Suitable "liquid" chlorine can only be purchased in 2 Litre containers in Thailand. (household bleach)
The manufacturers refuse to supply bulk container lots.
So we use powder instead .. so much for the auto system.. (will buy a lot of bleach next time in Big C - not!)

We had a pool fence built by one of those stainless steel worker/companies.
I supplied a diagram and they came out to measure up.
They botched it of course.
I specified 10 cm centres on the vertical bars - they made it with 10 cm gaps between the bars.
The dogs think its great, they run in and out of the pool area - no restrictions!
The bigger dogs squeeze through the bars by wiggling their hips. Funny to watch .. and annoying,
I got sick of growling..

Where I told them to put vertical posts, they put horizontal foot holds to enable non-swimmers & little kids to climb over
the fence; but to make sure the they don't reach the water, they put razor-sharp spikes along the top that will impale
any would-be climber - thus preventing a drowning!

Supervise such work - always!

Apart from those few little problems it 's been a breeze!

It's a bit like life really - if only I had known what I know now, I would have made a much better job of it!

Anyway a pool wasn't meant to make life easy! It just gives you a lot more things to do!

I can always sit near the pool in the evening, drink a cold beer and smile as I think about the money
I saved by not hiring a professional pool builder!
It might have been worth paying 5,000 baht or so for some professional advice and a set of dimensions and a plumbing schematic, and accurately matched pump and filter.
The beer gives you a sort of temporary amnesia - you need that!

"Hey Darl! Bring us another beer will you, that's a dear! .. and make sure there's a few more in the fridge too!"

.. bl**dy pool .. :cry:
How to build a $20,000 / £14,000 house and a $???? MOTEL Updated 21 March 09 - with BOQ and costs
Don't let this happen in YOUR house.
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Re: DIY: Saves money or frustration or both?

Postby geordie » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:46 pm

i actually sympathise with xrostar on this to some degree but sounds pretty normal fo a thailand project i do think it would be a better title ___IF ONLY??
my comments may be wrong but never deliberately
If it aint broke, dont fix it
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Re: DIY: Saves money or frustration or both?

Postby jazzman » Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:13 am

Whilst I fully sympathise, the lesson to be learned is that all the above problems of design and construction could have been avoided by scouring the Internet first. In fact all the things in red in my response are the kind of information that I give for free on this forum and in the swimming pool section of another popular Thailand expat discussion board.
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