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Back You are here: Home Lifestyle Home and Garden Swimming Pools Project: Part Four

Swimming Pools Project: Part Four

In this, the fourth of our series on swimming pools, some great extras which will add both to the enjoyment and value of your pool and your Bulgarian property. Brilliant effects can be achieved by the careful choice of lighting in and around the pool. Underwater lights in attractive patterns can be placed in the walls and/or floor of the pool and along the steps.

 

A pool can look stunning when lit up at night. Always use underwater lights that are designed specially for the purpose, and get a competent qualified person to do the installation.

Heating

You don’t want to be teetering on the brink of hypothermia every time you and your family fancy a dip, especially if you want as long a season as possible from your new pool.

Mineral Water

This is a natural (and sometimes free) option ... the water in your area may be so warm that you will actually need to add some cold water to cool it down a bit.

Be careful if you use mineral water for your pool as there can be problems
- The combination of heat from the water and high mineral content mean it is not advisable to spend more than twenty minutes at any one time in a pool solely filled with mineral water.

- High mineral content can mean a lot more effort in terms of cleaning and maintenance of the pool; the water may even need to be completely changed every few weeks.

Heat pumps and heat exchangers

The electricity used to operate these is itself not used to heat the water. Instead they draw heat from the outside atmosphere, further warming it by compression and then transferring the heat to the pool water. Depending on how often you use them and how efficient the choice of equipment, they can be relatively cost-effective. You can save money and energy whilst maintaining a comfortable water temperature by using a smaller pump, with a higher efficiency and operating it less often.

Gas heaters

These are good for heating a pool quickly, or for pools that aren’t used very often.

Solar heaters/panels

These are an eco-friendly option and are the most cost effective in the long term.

Initial purchase costs and installation are usually more expensive but the saving in fuel costs will pay back in a few years. Some solar panels can continue to warm the pool even in cold weather. Remember to check if there are any local regulations regarding the size and placement of solar panels.

Covers

The first time you heat the pool, you are likely to use a lot of electricity or gas but you can keep running costs down by installing a good quality pool cover to trap the heat in the water.

There are different types of pool covers on the market - solar/bubble covers which are made from similar material to ‘bubble wrap’; vinyl covers which are thicker than solar covers and tend to last longer; and insulated vinyl covers which have a layer of flexible insulation between two layers of vinyl.

As the water is heated by the sun to some extent a solar cover would be a good option for summer when the sun is strongest.

Whilst there are "all year round" covers available it is better to have both a winter and a summer cover.

You can also choose a manually operated or automatic cover. Manual covers are removed by using a roller at the end of the pool and winding the cover onto it. Automatic covers operated by electricity save the work but are more expensive.

Pool covers also help to prevent debris, such as leaves, from getting into the pool and will therefore assist you in keeping your cleaning time down.

Note : Be aware that pool covers, although acting as a deterrent to children, are not a safety feature.

EU law states that pools should be fenced to prevent accidents. This has not been applied in Bulgaria as yet but will inevitably be enforced at some time, so it is worth planning that in when initially installing your pool.

Apart from this, it is essential that all pools are safe for children.

 


 

Cleaning

The type of chemicals required and amount of cleaning needed vary depending on the type of pool you have and how much you use it. Pools require at least a daily whizz round with the leaf net to remove any surface debris, bugs or insects. The skimmer basket should be checked and emptied as needed.

Large dust and grit particles on the bottom of the pool are removed easily by using a ‘vac to waste’ attachment which connects to the filter and a vacuum cleaner. You can even purchase automatic vacuums which sit in the pool on the bottom and automatically go round the pool sucking up any bits and pieces.

Filters take away most of the dirt from the water and keep the pool clean. It’s necessary to clean them with a simple spray of water once a week, ideally they should be kept running all the time to achieve optimum water quality.

Chemicals

A pool which requires minimal amounts of chemicals is good on the pocket and better for the water too.

There are only two chemicals required for most liner pools - hydroxtal and chlorine (calcium hypochlorite). The hydroxtal is a mild detergent and keeps the water clean and free from algae. Providing the pool is cleaned every day, the pool can be left for several weeks without the need to add more hydroxtal, which is handy if your property is used as a holiday home. The pool can be kept in great condition using hydroxtal alone but a small addition of chlorine every now and again ‘brightens’ the water and removes any discolouration.

Winterising the Pool

Most pools do not need to be completely emptied for winter, only about 6 inches of water removed. Precautions to take are:

- Disconnect the pump and make sure all pipes are drained and free from water to stop ice forming inside them.

- Overdose with hydroxtal to minimise algae growth over winter, and ‘burn out’ with chlorine (this is an optional step, but will lessen the amount of cleaning needed when putting the pool back into use).

- Cover with a suitable pool cover. If using an all-purpose cover, this should be weighted down with water and siphons arranged to allow any excess rainfall to overflow safely.

Part One - Where to position your Pool
Part Two - Type of Pools
Part Three - Finishes and Tips for finding Suppliers
Part Five - Pool maintenance
Part Six - Cheap Pool Solutions