Thank you all for supporting us this weekend (and the last weekend) at all the home shows we are visiting! This past weekend we went to the Lawrence Home Show, Lawrence Landscape, the LLI Tree Farm and MWCP all together. We saw some new faces, reconnected with some old friends and we're all making plans for Spring. We had a booth at the Topeka Home Show as well and enjoyed all the new faces there!
Since we've been talking about Pool Openings in the last few blogs, I know you are all getting anxious for spring and the warmer weather. Here is a great adventure you can take your kids too at the Topeka Zoo.
Granted, you may ask, Why is a pool company talking about the Zoo? Let me remind you about the waterfall, the zoo habitat for the aligators and the work we do on their other water exhibits! We love the zoo and love putting our knowledge to work for the public.
In an effort to educate our clients, here are the important steps we follow when we open your pool!
A pool that is properly winterized (or maintained during the off season, if you live somewhere temperate) can be opened with relative ease. If the pool was neglected, though, the opening procedures will be made difficult by plaster staining, dirty equipment and fighting algae.
Regardless of the condition of the pool, all equipment should be carefully started and checked for condition as part of the normal opening procedure.
1. The water level in the pool must be returned to its normal operational level prior to starting the system. Often, homeowners are asked to do this prior to the service technicians arrival to save time.
2. Before removing the cover, all water, leaves and debris must be removed from the cover. A leaf blower will expedite this process. All debris surrounding pool should be removed and carefully swept away from the pool.
3. The cover will then be removed, cleaned, allowed to dry, folded and stored.
4. All winterizing plugs should be removed from the return lines, cleaner lines, skimmers and fittings. Remove any antifreeze used in the lines and dispose of properly.
5. Accessory equipment, such as ladders and diving boards, can then be reinstalled. Be sure that the ladder bumper and fulcrum pads are in place.
6. The essential equipment, pumps, motor, filters and heaters, should be reinstalled.
7. Connect the ground and bonding wires.
8. For variable speed pumps, ensure that the motor is rotating the correct direction, which is a function of properly connecting two of the hot wires.
9. The multiport valves should be inspected prior to installation. The spoke gasket may need to be replaced.
10. The diverter shaft and gasket should be lubricated with non-petroleum grease and reassembled.
Once the equipment is reinstalled- time to tackle the pool!
11. All of the surface and submerged leaves and debris should be scooped out with a leaf net.
12. The pool walls and floor should be brushed.
13. Start the pump, priming if necessary. For DE filter, ad DE to the filter when the system is started.
14. Next, inspect the heater. For gas heaters, ensure that the burner tray is clean of rodent droppings and insects. The heater should be started and test fired, cleaned as well, if necessary.
15. Any system leaks should be repaired.
16. If the water is clear, run the filter for 24 hours, returning the next day to obtain a water sample. Balance the water chemistry if necessary.
17. If the water is not clear, adjust the pH and shock the pool. Allow the filter to run for 24 hours, then return the next day to backwash or clean filter.
18. Balance water chemistry as needed!
**thanks to Service Industry News for this awesome list!
Pool Openings- one of the most important times for pool owners!
Normally, in Kansas, we don't recommend opening your pool until danger of frost has passed (usually mid to late April). Open your pool as soon as you can, say our pool experts! Get more time to enjoy it but also, open it sooner to prevent any more ALGAE growth. When the temperatures get hot, this spurs algae growth. The longer you wait to open your pool, the more green algae you will have. This means we will have to use more chemicals to get rid of that algae! We have some new policies for our pool openings. Click here for our information sheet.
Pool Opening- $265 (+200 include spa)
Our trained pool technicians will open your pool and do the following:
-Remove and put away pool cover
-Start up pump and filter, instal skimmer baskets and return fittings
-Check heater operation (will leave heater off unless specifically told otherwise by homeowner)
-Install cleaner, handrails and other equipment
-Add needed chemicals to make water balanced and ready for use** (chemicals not included in price. Will be extra.)
-Note any issues
Spa opening- $200 (if applicable)
**Chemicals will be invoiced separately
**Does not include mileage
For more pool opening or closing information, click here!
Do you currently have a pool that's getting old, a little blah or having major issues? It's time to think about a pool renovation.
Pool renovations have jumped over 40% in the last few years. It's close enough to be called a "trend" folks! As with pool building, you need to thoroughly research your pool contractor. Make sure they have enough experience with your particular pool type to be successful.
Most pool renovations will include new decking, new coping, new interior finish, new pool equipment and new accesories. One way to start this process is looking at pictures- diving boards, laminars, misters, reef entry, pool cover and decking/ coping material are all items to look at and start making picture boards. One great place to start looking is Houzz. Many design professionals use this sight as a way to generate and gather ideas!
Did you know that the swimming pool industry is a highly regulated and legislated industry? As our year draws to a close, we are checking all of our certifications to make sure we are up to date, recertifying, enrolling and completing our continuing education classes and trying to keep up to date with all of the new industry developments!
The upshot of all of this regulation and education is that you, the consumer, are better protected and informed. When starting the process of buying a pool, you do a lot of looking. Looking at pictures, looking at your finances, looking at your backyard- from there, hopefully, you start to look for certified pool builders who are reliable, time-tested, experienced and talented. One source to find certified and generally well accepted contractors is the APSP website (The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals). Another resource is the National Swimming Pool Foundation. Both of these bodies are resources for professionals as well as consumers. Our owner, Glen Westervelt, as well as Bryan Handy, our service manager, are both certified by the APSP as Certified Pool Builders. Bryan Handy and James Stickley, our job supervisor, are both Certified Pool Operators by the NSPF.
As well as certification, all of our staff on both the pool side and the landscape side (Lawrence Landscape) take part in continuing education and certification classes.
We also really want to point out that asking your potential contractor many questions will help you get great bids with specifications that meet your needs. Here are the most important questions we think you should ask:
11 things to ask your pool contractor:
- How long have you been in business? Clearly, experience is necessary and helpful for a good pool-building experience. But ask if they are licensed and insured. This protects YOU as a homeowner.
- Have they ever declared bankruptcy or left pool unfinished? It’s important to do your homework on your builder/ contractor- many “fly-by-night” pool builders have changed the name of their companies, left town and left jobs incomplete. Which leads to the next question….
- Do they have references in the area? This is a great way to determine whether your potential builder is legitimate. Make sure the references are local.
- What does the website look like? If the website is lacking basic info and reliable biography of the company, consider another choice.
- How many pools similar to this one have you completed? Pool technology changes every year. Make sure YOUR builder is up to date-from the electronics of lights, laminars, jets, misters, pool covers, pools are technically challenging. Are they offering continuing education to their employees to keep them at the forefront?
- Are they a member of the APSP? This is an official regulating body within the pool industry. They work with the federal government to produce safety legislation as well as contractors for licensing and training.
- Do they have a permanent address with an office, showroom and warehouse? Again, you want a physical place that you can visit. You’re looking for more than a guy in a pick up.
- Do they have any employees? If not how are they going to build your pool? Subcontractors? Who is responsible for oversight of your project? Do they have workers compensation on all employees?
- Do they handle the electrical connections or will an electrician be a separate cost? What are the costs above and beyond the contract/ budget? It’s important to understand the role subcontractors will play, what your pool company/ contractor will do themselves (and service in the future), as well as what IS NOT in the contract. Many pool contracts will cover basic tile, basic decking, etc. If you want another product, it will be a higher cost.
- How long is the project going to take? It’s best to get on the same page with your potential contractor. They might have a full schedule or the weather could extend the build. The more you can anticipate these things, the happier all parties will be.
- Do they have a service department? If not who will take care of any warranty items? The service department of the pool company you choose will be an important part of keeping your pool functioning at its best. We have two full time employees in our service department with other seasonal help during the main pool season. This is an indication of the health of the company you are choosing!
The process of making a pool, front the ground up, is a dauting one. It starts with the client, their needs/wants/budget/ site concerns. However, one group of folks helps us get it done!
Our partners- sometimes these are other contractors who do the work we aren't qualified to do (electricians, our hats are off to you!), sometimes they are other businesses that point contractors/ clients to us (hats off to the architects).
Visit some of these partners when you have needs in these areas!
For concrete work and materials: Jayhawk Concrete, Penny's Concrete, Midwest Concrete Materials
For construction work: Canyon Creek Construction (Lenexa, KS), Theirer Construction (Manhattan, KS), McPherson General Contractors (Topeka, KS)
Electricians: Larry Black- E and E Electric, Von Elling Electric
(Landscape) Architects: Castrop Design Group, Poolehaus Architects, PLAID Collaborative
(Poolhaus completed architectural build)
Pool distributions/ parts: SCP Distributors, Northland Pool Mgt.
Nurseries: Howe Landscape, Blueville Nursery, Rothwell Landscape
We also want to thank our magazine partners that produce great print work- KCH&G, Lawrence Magazine and Manhattan Magazine. We love advertising with you and we love to be featured! We appreciate the positive attention to our industry.
Thank you to all of our partners in this work! You help our clients dreams come true... just look at these finished pieces.
The weather may have changed but we still build pools in (almost) any weather!
Here are some pictures of the progress on a large scale, backyard oasis:
Do you remember where we started?
and also this....
This image really highlights the construction process but also the different elements in the pool. We've got the skeleton of the pool house, the reef entry with it's natural flagstone. You can just see the curve of the spa in the lower left corner... that might be nice on a chilly night! On the right, you cans ee a curved wall. This is actually the bare bones of a tile waterfall.
Remember, though the weather is getting cooler, THIS is the time to plan your outdoor space! Contact a designer for an introduction to the pool design process. Or take a look at our informative e-tools to learn the basics about the different types of pools!
In order to give our clients the best possible design/ pool experience, we go through a multi-step design process. In this article, I want to show off some of the ways we address client needs and the design/ build process. We use sketches, hand renderings, computer design, 3D design to bring ideas to life, construction design for the regulatory boards and our construction crews and then also show off some of our pools in process!
Residence 1: Linear Fiberglass Pool.
Initial drawings above. Hand colored renderings below.
Construction and process designs
Construction picture above. The final product below!
Residence 2: Free Form Pool (In Progress)
Initial CAD designs, working on the placement of pool and arrangement of features.
Two examples from our 3D imaging program. This is helpful for larger projects when there are many elements working together, like the pool house, decking, lighting, pool, hot tub here.
Architectural rendering for the pool house structure.
Construction drawings for crew.
We are still working on this project, as much of it is tiled. There is a lot of stone veneer and flagstone which we can't wait to highlight! Check back for completion pictures.
So many of our pool clients spend a lot of time dreaming about their new pool, outdoor playground and backyard oasis. Rightly so! We are always touched and tickled when our clients keep in touch with us and let us know how their project has turned out and how it's being enjoyed.
One of the project requirements on this fiberglass pool was that it had to be family firendly. This is a fairly simple pool, a standard rectangular design from Leisure Pools fiberglass pools. This family is more interested in making it useful for everyone- and boy, did they have a deadline!
This is how to do it up!
Not only is the pool simple but the landscape was kept clean and fuss-free. That's not to say it isn't pretty, it certainly is. This colors are rich and simple, the lines are clean! When family is high on the agenda, the less complicated designs win out! Who wants to spend time manicuring a landscape when they could be playing with the family in the new pool?!?
I hope this gives you a glimpse into how these pools really come to life! They are truly lived in and enjoyed.
Midwest Custom Pools recently had the pleasure of working on Topeka Zoo's new Swamp Habitat.
To see more pictures of the final product and the construction process, follow this link to our Flickr! (Link will open in new window)
Our latest pool project incorperated a wide veriety of features: from a modern pool design to other hardscape elements including unique tile and stonework.
The client was looking for a way to utilize all the space in their back yard with multiple zones both inside the pool (in-pool bar top / benches) and around the pool (bar tops / seating areas).
One noteworthy aspect of this project is the number of hardscape features that accompany the pool- such as the focal point which includes a fire and water features (we'll try to get pictures of it in action for a future blog).