Latham Pools

Pool Spotlight

Ask the Experts

David VanSant, President

Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

David VanSant

We are family owned and operated and have been in the pool and spa industry for over a decade. Aqua PRO believes that a quality swimming pool built by an experienced pool designer will compliment any style of home. We have always strived to be progressive and embrace innovative technology in order to develop new skills, which broadens our ability to provide you with the most advanced building resources available and still remain within your water recreation budget. We can give you expert advice on selecting a pool or spa that will meet the recreational and leisure needs of you and your family. We believe that as a company, we exist only because of our customers and so we strive to achieve 100% customer satisfaction through our commitment to excellence.

Ric Reineke, President

The Pool Guyz

Ric Reineke

I started my own construction company in 1994. We built hundreds of high end custom homes. Started building Viking Pools in 2000 after buying one for my new home. Moved The Pool Guyz Headquarters to Virginia Beach from Manassas Virginia in 2003. Opened second store in Tampa Florida in 2007. Received Viking Dealer of the year in 2007. Won Master of Design Award from Pool and Spa News in 2007. I have been the featured builder and pool contractor of choice for the Matt Roloff family on TLC's Little People Big World, and have installed pools on the ABC primetime show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. We hope to have our own show, The Pool Guyz, in 2011.

Michael Burke

Pool Designs, Inc.

Michael Burke

I have been installing fiberglass pools since 1983. I started out digging the hole, skreeting the bottom, leveling the pool and making sure the entire area is ready for concrete. Having been on over one thousand installations I have an eye for layout and height of pool and concrete. I also customize plumbing for all applications.

Ken Lauro, President

Florida Concepts Pools

Ken Lauro

My pool building experience dates back to the 1960's when I built and sold gunite pools for Gunite Pools of Westchester, based out of Westchester County, New York. Florida Concepts Ltd, was incorporated in 1981. Our first "Viking Fiberglass Pool" (Santa Barbara) was installed in 1994 in Mahopac, NY and we still show it as a testimony to the integrity of the Viking Fiberglass superiority in the industry. We are award winning builders and Exclusive Dealers for Viking Pools servicing Westchester, Putnam, Dutchase, Orange & Rockland counties in New York & southern Connecticut.

Greg Hoover

Midwest Fiberglass Pools

Greg Hoover

I have been with Viking Pools since the beginning plant in California. My experience in pool installation and construction is extensive! I originally helped design some of the installation programs for Viking Pools and was actually involved in the design of the Gulf Coast, Gulf Shores, Rockport and Freeport models of the Viking line. Over the years I have installed tens of thousands of pools and have over 42 years of excavating experience. Today, I serve customers from Michigan to Florida.

Rhett Bradshaw

Vantage Pools and Spas Inc.

Rhett Bradshaw

Pools and hot tubs have been my passion since 1995. I started building pools from a young age and have done everything from cleaning pools and doing service work to selling them in our two retail locations. As Manager of Operations at Vantage Pools and Spas Inc. I have a lot of fun seeing projects come together from beginning to end. It sometimes starts with a family’s scribbles on a note pad and comes to fruition when they throw their first pool party. Being part of a family business I strive for excellence in the products I sell, the work I promote and the service I provide. Being partnered with companies like Viking Pools, I know that families will continue to enjoy the latest innovations without sacrificing quality and being a member of our local Home Builders Association helps me to set the bar for our industry. For the last two years Vantage Pools has been voted best of the best within our industry by our community and I’ve been happy to be a part of that. I love the work I do and I’m committed to giving it my best.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose a pool builder?

David VanSant, Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

Choosing a pool builder is no less important than choosing a reputable builder of your custom home. Your new Viking Pool, and all that surrounds it, will be an extension of you and your family. Choose wisely when selecting your pool builder. Make sure the builder has a store-front and office where you can contact the company during normal business hours if there are problems during or after your project. Be sure to ask that the builder not only show you photos of his/her completed work, but also if you can go and visit the sites of the pools they have already built. Being able to visit the backyard living space of another resident in your area provides two pillars of confidence to you as a potential customer. First, seeing is believing when it comes to a Viking Pool properly installed. Do not get confused with the antics of Photoshop and other editing programs. Ask to SEE the pool. Second, and most importantly, visiting completed projects allows the potential client to see what type of interaction the builder still has with the family who owns the pool. Does the family interact well with the builder while on-site? Aqua Pro believes in forging lasting relationships with families…is your potential pool builder doing the same? Is the homeowner of the Viking Pool you are viewing Raving Fans of their and YOUR potential pool builder?


Ric Reineke, The Pool Guyz

Credentials are KING. Ask the Builder to show you what he has done not tell you what he can do. Ask for at least three references and call them. If he is a good Builder he should have a minimum of these 4 things.

  1. A professional place of work. An Office which displays his work.
  2. A valid state contractor's license and local business license.
  3. A valid APSP card. This is his credentials as a pool & spa professional.
  4. A good standing with the BBB. Make sure you check this.

Ken Lauro, Florida Concepts Pools

Choose a pool builder that knows the product, has extensive building experience and can physically show you a finished project. To the best of our knowledge we are the oldest exclusive Viking Dealer in the North East. Our first Viking Fiberglass Pool was installed 15 years ago in Mahopac, New York and we still show that pool today. A testimony to the Viking quality and Florida Concepts Pools workmanship. Our web site, floridaconceptspools.com has that pool (the Santa Barbara) in our gallery. You can also view on our site back yard transformations and pool installs in impossible conditions. All of the above will help you make an intelligent decision in choosing the right pool builder.


Michael Burke, Pool Designs, Inc.

The choice of pool builder is really the first big step toward completion of your pool. The way to choose a builder with confidence is to DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Check with your local Better Business Bureau that the company is reputable. You are able to go to the BBB website at www.bbb.org. The next step would be to see some completed work. Any company that really wants your business will be eager to give you references. References are a great way to learn about your builders first hand. References are always partial to your builder but will be a reliable source of information. The final thing you want to do when choosing a builder is ensure that the contract states everything that your builder has said. It is very important to make sure you know how the payments work and when you can expect work to start and finish. Viking dealers are the best to buy from because Viking ensures that every installer/builder is reputable, has great customer service and build amazing pools that live up to the Viking name. That is why you can buy with confidence from a Viking dealer/builder. Viking has strict regulations with its dealers to ensure that each customer purchases a quality pool built with the utmost craftsmanship and professionalism.


Greg Hoover, Midwest Fiberglass Pools

Talk to a minimum of three contractors about your project. Look for firms that have been in the pool and spa building industry for at least five years.Always check past and prior financial status of potential contractor. Many pool builders are here one day and gone the next.Never allow a builder to rush you into signing a contract, and never sign a contract that you don't understand. Don't be embarrassed to take a few days to study a document before you sign it. Ask questions, questions, and more questions.Always make sure that a contractor is insured and licensed. Ask to see insurance certificates for both general liability and workers compensation, and a license in the name of the individual building your pool or spa. Call the insurance companies and State of Michigan's Contractors Board to confirm validity, (517) 241-9254, or State of North Carolina Contractors Board, (919) 571-4183.Have a prepared pool/spa plan and materials list drawn up and take bids on each.

Questions to ask include:

  • Did the builder start and finish on time?
  • Were there any surprises during the job-such as a change in price?
  • Was it easy to get in touch with the contractor while the construction was in progress?
  • Would you hire this contractor again?

Ask to see a job being currently installed. Always check credentials and talk to references, especially the firms' three most recent clients.

Does the contractor have a place to view pools and all the equipment that they sell?
It is always best to visit the contractor's place of business before you buy!Remember that the lowest bid is not always the best. Take a critical look at all bids, estimates and offers-and make sure you get them in writing.Contact the firm's primary material supplier to ask if the contractor pays bills on time and whether the supplier would recommend the firm.Never pay more than ten percent of the estimate as a down payment. Plan to pay the remaining amount in installments linked to the specific phases of the project.Never pay a contractor in cash. Use cashier's checks or money orders and get a receipt.Is your pool builder a member of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals and Better Business Bureau?Never make your final payment until you completely understand how your pool/spa and related equipment operate.Remember, the more time you spend planning your pool/spa project and checking out the credentials of your contractor, the less time you'll spend complaining later.

How do I choose a pool that will fit my needs?

David VanSant, Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

When picking a pool ask yourself what you will generally use the pool for once it's completed. Will you be entertaining much? Do you or someone in your family enjoy swimming laps? How many children do you have? One thing to consider is the lifetime warranty of a Viking Pool. Even if you have small children, the pool will still be there once your children have grown. Just how large of a pool do you as empty nesters want to care for?

Ric Reineke, The Pool Guyz

A good Pool Builder will explain in detail why you should buy a particular type and size of pool after reviewing your family size and yard size and surroundings. There are also lifestyle influences and budgets to consider. The professional has seen all of these circumstances before and will know how to deal with them.

Ken Lauro, Florida Concepts Pools

To find a pool that will fit your needs, you should first check your property survey and mark your set backs on it to determine your allowed pool area. If you are not sure, a good builder will do this for you. Now look for a pool location with the sun exposure you most desire. If you are a serious lap swimmer you may prefer a nice traditional rectangular pool. If your interest is in aesthetics and multiple seating areas you may prefer one of our many free form pools. Refer to our web site "floridaconceptspool.com" click on gallery and get many great ideas.

Greg Hoover, Jr., Midwest Pools and Spas

Selecting the right pool is the single most important decision you will make when buying a pool. Keep in mind that the pool you choose will outlast the brick on the house and once it is installed it is very expensive to make a change. The following are some key ideas to choosing a pool:

What will my lot accommodate?
Some of the factors include: easements, setback requirements the city and homeowners association may enforce, trees and existing landscaping, slope of the property, surface drainage, underground and overhead utilities (such as gas, electric, sewer, water, telephone and cable television. The size and shape of the pool will be directly affected by these factors.

How many swimmers will I have on average?
It is wise to choose a pool that is right for your needs. A pool that is too small may be frustrating but a pool that is too large is more to pay for and maintain than you may need.

What can I afford?
If you are one of the 10 percent of the buyers that can afford to pay for the pool out of pocket stop reading this and call me now. What are you waiting for? For everyone else- like me, there are several good financing options available. The most popular option is an un-secured line of credit that does not rely on the equity of the home. These payments are spread out over 15 years and can be paid off early without a penalty. There are also programs that offer 6 months, 12 months and 18 months same as cash but are much harder to qualify for and cost the pool dealer out of pocket to get.

What is the primary use of the pool?
The main categories are: exercise, diving, games, lap swimming and general use. These things will impact the size and shape of the pool you pick.

Frank Bowman, Splash Pools, LLC

This question seems pretty simple but make sure to take all factors into consideration:- Check your local zoning department to determine the maximum "project envelope." This is the space remaining after you locate all property lines, set-backs, easements, HOA requirements, septic and repair area, well setbacks, underground utilities, etc. Basically the space that you have build your project.

  • Now that you have the project envelope determined determine the amount of deck that you will require including space for lounge chairs, tables, walkways, storage, etc.
  • With the space remaining you can determine wether a small, medium or large pool will fit your space requirements and needs.
  • Once you have the size determined then you can look into shape. Find a pool that not only meets your current needs but will meet the future needs of your family as well. This is where your pool contractor can make your decision easy. Any reputable contractor can point you in the right direction based off your needs, wants and budget.
  • Additionally, be sure to maintain the architectural style and create an outdoor living area that is an extension of your home. A freeform lagoon pool with palm trees and a beach while nice, may not be the best choice to put behind a home with ultra modern architecture.

Rhett Bradshaw, Vantage Pools and Spas

One of the obvious considerations will be space requirements and set backs to accommodate the city.You'll also want to consider who will be using the pool and for what purpose

  • If the pool is just for splashing and cooling off, you may want a smaller, ascetically pleasing, free form style pool like a Kidney.
  • But, if the pool will be used for exercise and swimming laps, you may decide on a narrower, longer configuration like the Santa Cruz or a rectangular pool which provides more actual swimming space than a free form shape.
  • And if playing games like volleyball and basketball is what you’re all about, you might want a shallower depth like the Delray, Montego or Acapulco pool would be fun.
  • An extra large stair is also fabulous for either younger or older ones who like to sit with their feet in the water and feel like they are part of the pool party too.

What can I expect the installation process to involve?

David VanSant, Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

The installation process of your Viking Pool will be determined by a few factors such as current backyard layout, the extent of the added features around the pool, and the final grading around the pool. Homeowners must keep in mind the weather and unforeseen issues such as logistics and permits involved in a project of this magnitude. Expect to keep the kids in the house through the digging phase. The final day is usually one evening with the family doing a final walk through and a "How To Operate Your New Pool" class by your project manager. We try to do as much pre-planning as possible such as sizes of pool decks and dates of inspections. This way, if weather does hold us up, we know exactly what is next in the process so we do not miss a beat for lack of planning. Every builder may be a bit different as to how and in what order all building procedures will take place. Our biggest advice is to ask as many questions as possible and to stay in regular contact with BOTH your project manager and the office manager. There will always be minor hiccups, but if properly communicated everything ends up fantastic for all parties involved.

Ric Reineke, The Pool Guyz

The first thing to remember is this is a major construction project. The yard in which you know it now will be transpired into a beautiful in ground pool. For us the install goes as follows. The first day we layout and dig the hole. The dirt is removed from the property if needed and the sand is placed in the hole. The second day the crane and pool arrive and we set the pool in place. The water will begin to fill the pool as soon as it is set and the backfill process begins. Normally by the end of day three the pool is completely installed and ready for the deck to be formed. Over the next week the electrical is completed and the deck is poured. Then the pool is cleaned and balanced and we do a final indoctrination with the new owner.

Ken Lauro, Florida Concepts Pools

The installation process varies depending on the topography and soil conditions of the property. Normally it is a minimal disturbance and all work is completed in 3 to 4 days. We template the shape of the pool excavate within a foot of the outside of the template. We then trench for the pool lines and electric line. We bring in approx. 40 cu. yds. of sand for a nice base under the pool and back fill on the sides and covering the pool lines. We install a 8" preventive drain under the pool which acts as a hydrostatic relief in case of excessive ground water. We set the pool in place with a crane, check that the pool is level using a laser transit and begin filling the pool with water trucks while simultaneously backfilling around the pool to counter balance the pressure. We finally grade to within 1 ft. of the top of the pool, leaving room for item#4, concrete, pavers, etc; We also install a concrete equipment pad. This process can be viewed by going to our web site and click on to installations and back yard transformation.

Michael Burke, Pool Designs, Inc.

The installation process should be relatively simple. Let's start with completion of contract of work and deposit is given. The process of permitting now begins. Builders should do your permitting for you or at least help you with it. This includes recommending to you surveyors or engineers if that is what your township requires. After you get your permit number, your builder should give you some sort of a "dig date." This would be the day for starting construction. Our company, Pool Designs Inc., gives you a dig date just outside of 10 days from getting your permit number. The company will do a "One Call" where the utilities will be sprayed out on your lawn and flagged. On the day of installation you can expect a foreman, in our case myself, to head up the project and be the clear leader of the construction. I will lay out the pool and make sure the placement matches the permitted plans and is where you want it. The dig begins. The major component of the dig that cannot be overlooked is that you only want the hole 6" bigger than the pool. You also don't want to dig the hole any deeper than 4" than the pool itself. This ensures that once backfilled and filled with water your pool will be at 99% compaction and not moving out of level. Once the pool is in the ground and plumbed you can expect a number of inspections. Remember that each township, municipality and state are different. The next part of the process is electrical work. The electrician either from the builder or a sub contractor must run the appropriate electrical workings out to the pool and your pool should be bonded at this time. Once you pass electrical inspection the concrete of your choice is poured. With our customers we like to say that from start to finish the process take about two to two and half weeks to completion.

Frank Bowman, Splash Pools, LLC

Have you seen a nuclear bomb? Well not quite, but let's not sugar coat it...pool construction is a major undertaking and is going make a mess in your backyard for the 5-10 days it takes to install a Viking Pool. There is no clean way to excavate 100 tons of soil, bring in 50 tons of sand, dig plumbing & electrical trenches, crane the pool into place, pour 30 yards of concrete sub-deck and then install 20 tons of flagstone decking. Project schedules are based on scope of work but our basic process involves the following:

  • Day 1 - Pool Excavation - Sand Delivery - Equipment Delivery
  • Day 2 - Pool Base installation - Sand Staging - Equipment Set
  • Day 3 - Run plumbing from equipment to pool side - Pool Shell Installation w/ crane - Electrical hook-up - Plumb pool - Start pool filling / backfilling
  • Day 4 - Continue backfilling and pool filling
  • Day 5 - Layout and Form Deck
  • Day 6 - Required Inspections - Permanent Fence
  • Day 7 - Pour Deck - Finish Fence if required
  • Day 8 - Strip concrete forms - final grading
  • Day 9 - Landscaping
  • Day 10 - Final Inspection - Enjoy your new pool

What pool options will enhance my pool and backyard?

David VanSant, Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

Adding only a couple options to your pool will take it from ordinary to extraordinary---often times at a minimal cost. Basic pool options which add some personality to the pool are Crystite Pool finishes, perimeter ceramic tile, and inlaid mosaics. Water features utilizing LED or Fiber Optic technology are also a popular choice. The Magic Stream laminars from Pentair or Cascading Waterfalls from Viking add individual character and will make the neighbors say WOW when you turn them on at sunset. The salt generators are also a great and work well with our pools we have installed.

Ric Reineke, The Pool Guyz

Pool options will change with the buyer. I like water features of almost any kind. We do a lot of rock waterfalls with our pools. When you look at a pool in a backyard without any special features like waterfalls or fire pits, deck jets, palm trees, etc. it appears to look plain and normal. I like every customer to add something to their pool or direct surroundings to make it "pop" out at you when you look at it.

Ken Lauro, Florida Concepts Pools

There are a multitude of pool options to enhance your pool and your back yard. Depending on your project budget some options are deck jets, shooting arches of water from the deck into the pool, spas, cascading water into the pool, dramatic fiber optic lighting in the pool and around the perimeter of the pool transforming multi color changes to the water and around the pool area. We can build you fire pits, fire places, waterfalls, full outdoor kitchens for ultimate pool side living. See our web site and click onto our gallery of award winning pools and back yard transformation, to view many of these options.

Greg Hoover, Jr., Midwest Pools and Spas

There are some really great options available in today's pool market that can add some sizzle to your Pool or spa without breaking the bank. Some of the more popular options we recommend to our customers include: fiber optic lights, salt water systems, automatic pool sweeps, massage jets, rim tile and small waterfalls. These items will not only add to the ambience but they will make the task of owning a pool nearly hands free. Let's face it- the reason you purchase a pool is to add to your quality of living not to add another project to your daily chores. If these items are not in the budget right away, many of them can be added in the future.

Frank Bowman, Splash Pools, LLC

Without question the number one pool option that will enhance your backyard is color. Chose one of the Viking Standard colors or use their Kaleido-Center feature to create a custom color that will compliment your backyard oasis. From there your choices are endless. I would suggest an automatic cover, waterline tile, some deck jets or maybe a custom waterfall. Don't forget you can add a spa to your pool that will serve as a water feature as well.

What type of decking will work best for my family?

David VanSant, Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

Building pools in the Midwest poses freeze/thaw issues. Thus, we do not suggest using pavers around the pool deck. Decorative concrete offers the most durable surface with a vast array of choices in color, texture, and design. These concrete finishes can mimic sandstone, granite, slate, or other natural stones. If you add a salt system during construction or plan to at a later date, we suggest shying away from concrete stamps with large crevasses where salt water can pool. This is rough on the concrete pool deck and will drastically shorten its lifespan. Decorative stamped concrete will be substantially more, however it does give your pool a unique look unlike anyone else's. Remember though, unless you want to bust concrete, you get one shot to extend your deck as large as you and your family may like it in the future. Put the maximum square footage of concrete in your budget before the project starts. You can always add salt systems, heaters, etc. at a later time.

Ric Reineke, The Pool Guyz

Although standard broom finish concrete decking is the most common type around pool decks throughout the country, we believe it doesn't belong around our pools. We normally will at least add a coloring into the mix to eliminate the gray look. We also do most of our pool decks in a textured or stamped colored concrete pattern. Although this will make the finished deck somewhat more slippery with an added sealer on it, the look it will give the project is amazing. Budget will also account for a majority of your decision as this type of concrete will double the cost of the standard gray broomed finish deck.

Greg Hoover, Jr., Midwest Pools and Spas

There are a vast array of choices when it comes to pool and spa decks. Some of the most popular include light broom finish, powder dyed, stamped and dyed, exposed aggregate, salt etched, ceramic tiled, paver bricks, spraycrete, coping bricks and stone.

In order to determine what will work best for you consider these factors:

Location?
In locations that experience a harsh winter climate we generally stay away from ceramic tile, pavers and stone because of the freeze/ thaw cycles. A solid pour is your best option for longevity. The base under the decking will also impact the longevity of the product in cold climates. Be sure to put a base such as stone or sand under the concrete to minimize water and ice retention. In hot weather climates we generally recommend staying away from any dark surfaces that will become too hot to walk on in the hot afternoon sun.

Small children?
Let's face it- kids like to run and no matter how many times you tell them not to they will make the mistake of doing it. Slippery surfaces such as stamped concrete should be avoided. Any uneven surfaces such as natural stones or pavers can also create a tripping hazard.

Cost?
Be sure you first design the pool and spa area to determine how many square feet of concrete you will need before choosing the surface. Concrete is sold by the square foot and can be easily figured out once your design is done. We do this by using 3 dimensional design software that has a scaled perspective of the pool, spa, concrete, landscaping and fence. You can then figure out what you can afford to get by multiplying the square footage to the price of each option. It is much more important to get a larger patio with basic concrete than to get a decorative patio that is just too small. I promise you that I have never heard a customer complain that they got way too much concrete. A common request we get is to add more. It is much cheaper to do it right the first time than to add it later.

Frank Bowman, Splash Pools, LLC

Your decking options are endless. I'll try to list many of the materials that will work well around your new Viking Pool.

Standard broom finished concrete, colored concrete, stamped concrete, exposed aggregate concrete, concrete pavers, natural stone pavers, natural stone including travertine, limestone, flagstone and the list goes on...Don't forget that sometimes the best decking is no decking at all.

On sections of many projects we bring the landscaping right up to the coping of the pool blending the landscaping and pool seamlessly.

What pool equipment options are available?

David VanSant, Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

Today's technology allows us to only be limited by our imagination and budgets. However, over-sized cartridge filters, salt systems which generate chlorine automatically, and automatic safety covers are great investments which make your pool maintenance minimal. There are even iPhone apps available now that makes scheduling and operating your filtration cycles, heating, pool and landscape lighting, sanitizing, waterfalls and fountains a breeze.

Ric Reineke, The Pool Guyz

Pool equipment is always being advanced with technology. We do our best to stay on top of the industry and make standard the best equipment available. Variable speed pumps are a great upgrade to consider. Salt water chlorinators are standard with us as well as Low maintenance cartridge filters and hand held automation. Pools should run themselves now days to minimize customer maintenance.

Frank Bowman, Splash Pools, LLC

Technology, Technology, Technology.... today's pools are not the same ones you grew up with. Don't even consider a pool without getting a Saltwater Chlorinator or Variable Frequency Drive Pump. While they both cost a few extra buck up front they'll pay for themselves in no time. Another great option is to fully integrate automation into your pool. You can now control your pool from your iPhone. Why would you want to do this...you ask? Let's think about it...you're leaving work and you want to jump in the hot tub when you get home. Just open the app, turn your hot tub on and it's hot when you get home. This is only one way automation increases you quality of life.

What is the difference between an automatic cover and a winter cover?

David VanSant, Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

An automatic pool cover is a permanent cover which acts as a solar blanket, safety cover, and winter cover in one. Your automatic cover will retain heat under itself to minimize heat loss, keep out unwanted guests and small children (without the key or key code the cover will not open), and remain closed over the winter to keep the pool clean and free of debris. A winter cover will only be put on during the off-season and will not offer any of the above mentioned benefits during the swimming season. Winter covers are generally either tarps held down by water bladders or mesh anchor covers which utilize special brass anchors which need drilled into your concrete pool deck. An automatic cover is probably the best safety investment to make.

Ric Reineke, The Pool Guyz

The automatic pool cover is permanently installed by a track system which allows the cover to slide over the top of the water of your pool. This is done either under your coping or on top of your deck. The cover rolls up into a box that can be placed in the ground or under a bench at one end of your pool. A key is used to open and close the cover. The winter cover needs to be installed annually and anchors into your deck with hidden grommets that can screw up or down when cover is off. The price difference is thousands of dollars depending on your pool size and cover options. If you have the budget for an automatic cover, the savings in heating and peace of mind in safety is well worth the cost to upgrade to this option.

Michael Burke, Pool Designs, Inc.

The number one difference between a safety cover and an automatic cover is one goes on and off and as you please and the other one must be fastened on and taken off by hand. Automatic covers are a great option if you are financially able to purchase one. The automatic cover gives you the option to keep your pool covered and free from debris all year long. Automatic covers keep the pool clean and makes your pool nearly maintenance free. A traditional winter safety cover meets the needs of 90% of pool owners. Winter safety covers will have anchors drilled right into your concrete that comes up and down for closing and opening. The cover is spring loaded and fits securely across the top of your pool. It will be about two and half feet from your pool coping going straight over the pool. These covers keep debris and people out of your pool for the winter months. There are many types of safety covers of varying cost. Mesh covers allow water to pass through and filter debris. Solid covers allow nothing to pass through and you will need some sort of a pump if there is not a drain in the cover itself. Safety covers are far more cost effective of an alternative and meet most people's needs. I suggest that you see what exactly your pool cover needs are for you and your family and speak to your builder about what they suggest also.

How do I maintain proper chemical levels in my pool?

David VanSant, Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

Maintaining proper pool chemical levels is much easier when you make the correct, sound investments in equipment during the building of your pool. Salt systems, large cartridge filters, and robotic cleaners help remove contaminants which often times leave chemicals unbalanced. During start-up, balance your swimming pool water by taking a water sample to your local pool store or builder for analysis. With optical scanners and software, your pool professional can give you a print out of exactly what you need to add to your pool water for an enjoyable experience as well as to protect your investment.

Ric Reineke, The Pool Guyz

This is very easily done with a Viking pool. The smooth surface of our pools doesn't offer a good solution for algae to form. When using a salt chlorinator and keeping salt levels proper, you will normally not have to add any chemicals to the pool at all. Various kits are available to check water chemistry as well as simple bottle of test strips you simply dip into the water and match the color to the bottle.

Frank Bowman, Splash Pools, LLC

Your swimming pool water is comprised of different components, which collectively form your water's chemistry. The balance required among these components is critical to achieve a clean and clear pool with water that sparkles. Each chemical component has a known range of acceptable parameters or an ideal zone. Providing this ideal operating environment is necessary for the sanitizing system of choice to function properly. Once all of the chemicals are balanced and working together, the result should be a balanced pool that looks, feels and smells great.

  1. Make sure that you begin with a freshly swept and vacuumed pool filled to the proper height.
  2. Run the pump and filter throughout both the testing and chemical addition portion of the process.
  3. Use a Water-Test Kit that tests for Alkalinity, PH, Metals (especially if you have well water), Phosphates. Test water samples twice to make sure that accurate readings were taken. Base your additions of balancing chemicals on the number of gallons of water in your pool.
  4. Begin by reading the proper dosage of Alkalinity Increaser to add, which should be on the bucket of Alkalinity Increaser itself. The ideal range for your pool's alkalinity is between 80 and 120 parts per million. Separate the required dosage into equal thirds for addition, allowing ten minutes between additions. Mix all chemicals in a 5 gallon bucket of water and then add diluted chemicals to the pool water.
  5. Retest the water after each addition (wait at least 12 hours to retest) to make sure that the prescribed dosage is not too much, which would cause you to overshoot the ideal range marker.
  6. Repeat the testing for PH after the addition of the Alkalinity Increaser, because alkalinity raises the level of your PH. Add either PH Plus or PH Minus to fine tune the PH until it is in the ideal range, which is 7.2 to 7.8.
  7. Test for metals (iron and copper). If levels are high add a sequestering agent and allow filter to remove them before any chlorine is added to the pool. If chlorine is added to a pool with high metal levels, the metals can "fall out" of suspension and adhere to the walls and bottom of the pool. This "fall out" looks like rust on the pool shell and can be removed from a fiberglass pool with the addition of additional chemicals. A concrete pool needs to be drained and acid washed.
  8. Now test the water for phosphates especially if you are planning on using a saltwater chlorine generator. Adjust as necessary using a phosphate remover. You need to keep the phosphate level at zero or near zero levels. If the phosphate level is higher, the phosphates can consume the chlorine before it can sanitize the pool properly.
  9. Add your sanitizer of choice (such as chlorine) only when all three of the balancing chemicals are within their ideal range, which will permit the chlorine to function in an optimal environment. The ideal range is between 1 - 3 parts per million.

What options are available to keep my pool clean?

David VanSant, Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

The number one way to keep your pool clean is with an automatic pool cover. These covers do a great job of sealing your pool off from the elements such as falling leaves, rain, and air-born waste. The second best means of keeping your pool clean is with a robotic pool cleaners. Many of these cleaners on the market today will clean your pool within 60 minutes; simply drop the cleaner in the water and watch it scrub away. Lastly, aside from physical particles in the pool---maintaining proper sanitizer levels should minimize your chances of algae outbreaks leading to green, yellow, or brown looking water. Bear in mind however if your pool has a tint of color it may be hard metals leading to the appearance. Copper, iron, or other harsh metals in our tap water may be the culprit. Utilize a metal inhibitor weekly to prevent this. Ask your pool professional for his or her recommendation.

Ric Reineke, The Pool Guyz

The automatic pool cover is permanently installed by a track system which allows the cover to slide over the top of the water of your pool. This is done either under your coping or on top of your deck. The cover rolls up into a box that can be placed in the ground or under a bench at one end of your pool. A key is used to open and close the cover. The winter cover needs to be installed annually and anchors into your deck with hidden grommets that can screw up or down when cover is off. The price difference is thousands of dollars depending on your pool size and cover options. If you have the budget for an automatic cover, the savings in heating and peace of mind in safety is well worth the cost to upgrade to this option.

Frank Bowman, Splash Pools, LLC

They are five main types of pool cleaners.

  1. Manual - This is the "good" old fashion way. Well maybe it’s not so good if you don’t want to spend your time cleaning the pool. The process involves brushing the walls and vacuuming the pool bottom as needed.
  2. Suction Side Cleaners - These are automatic cleaners that work off the suction side of the pool pump. They generally have a larger hose (1.5" diameter) attached to them and you plug them either into the skimmer or wall vacuum port. These are generally the least expensive type of automatic cleaner.
  3. Pressure Side Cleaner - This style of automatic cleaner works off a booster pump and is driven by water pressure. They have a smaller diameter (3/4") hose that is attached to a special wall port with an adaptor.
  4. Robotic Cleaners - These are computer-controlled cleaners that operate independently from your pump and filter system. Robotic cleaners are powered by low-voltage electricity, rather than your pool pump or a booster pump. Since your pump runs less, your energy costs are reduced. Plus, their built-in filter further reduces use of your pool's primary filtration system lowering energy costs even more, extending the life of both your pump and filter, and increasing the amount of time between filter cleanings. Robotic cleaners are also convenient—you just plug it in and place it in your pool. Some even have remote controls so you can steer the unit from a lounge chair for easy spot cleaning!
  5. In-Floor Cleaner - X-tream Klean is a cleaning and circulation system custom engineered specifically for each pool it is placed in. X-tream Klean will clean steps, benches, fountains, walls, even your spa, any way you design it. Other benefits include increased chemical and heat distribution.

How do I open and close my pool for the season?

David VanSant, Aqua Pro Pool and Spa

I am going to echo the professional opinions of my colleagues here: hire a professional to winterize your Viking pool! Any reputable pool builder will offer pool closings and openings as well. Any improper winterization will have serious consequences such as cracked pipes, damaged pool shells, or broken equipment. Worse yet, improper winterization can void your warranty. Pool openings are a bit more straight forward. However, a pool professional can usually uncover your pool, get it cleaned up, and check pool equipment for issues during the opening. Adding into your yearly pool budget the costs of a reputable pool professional to open and close your pool will keep your pool protected for years to come.

Ric Reineke, The Pool Guyz

The best option is to pay a pro to do it for you. This charge is usually less than $ 300.00 dollars. The cost to replace frozen equipment or repair pipes can be thousands. If you insist on doing it then here is a few simple rules to follow. Make sure all the water is removed from all plumbing lines and everything capped to prohibit water from re entering. Add chemicals to the water to prevent algae growth over the winter. Remove and clean your filter and your salt cell. Put RV or pool antifreeze in your skimmer and plug the hole. Make sure you have a good airlock on the main drains as well. Make sure all breakers for pumps or other pool equipment are turned off. Properly install a good quality cover.

Greg Hoover, Jr., Midwest Pools and Spas

Winterizing a pool correctly is the single most important step you will ever have as a pool owner. The most common mistake that pool owners and untrained pool companies make is draining the water below the pool returns. DO NOT DRAIN THE POOL! You may void your warranty if you do. A pool that is drained down will have a lot of undue stress on the sidewalls from ground pressure and frost. A pool that has been properly closed can remain full of water. We have been winterizing pools in Michigan for over 20 years without draining any water and have had great success. My best advice is to hire a professional pool build to open and close your pool.