Unique Fire Features for Your Custom Pool

Outdoor fire features have become one of the hottest trends in pool design. It’s no surprise why. Having elements of fire combined with elements of water makes your backyard space feel like a high end resort that can be enjoyed throughout the day and long into the night.

What’s important to keep in mind is that there are a large variety of fire features that can be incorporated into just about any design or budget. Maybe an outdoor fireplace and seating area don’t exactly fit your lifestyle. Maybe you’re more drawn to exotic and captivating fire bowls that balance out a relaxing waterfall. No matter your taste, we are confident we can find a unique fire feature to help take your space to the next level! Let’s take a look at some of the most popular features in the pool industry right now.

Fireplace

An outdoor fireplace is a traditional and stately design element that gives you the ability to create a luxurious and comfortable lounge area that functions just like a living room – only outdoors! In certain designs, you can create a two-sided outdoor fireplace that provides you with twice the space for entertaining. One of our favorite ways to do this is to have one side of the fireplace face inside the house or sunroom. The other side of the fireplace is then open to the outside. With an outdoor fireplace to heat your space, you will extend the time of day and length of season you can enjoy your backyard.

Fire Pit

A fire pit provides a place for conversation and delivers 360 degrees of warmth and ambiance. They are also ideal for making s’mores! A fire pit feels more casual than a fireplace and often requires less stonework, which reduces cost. A fire pit can be incorporated just about anywhere, whether you want to keep it near your home or make it a destination out in the far part of your yard. A fire pit’s size and shape are highly customizable, including the type of material used to build it.

Fire Wall

Similar to a fire pit, a fire wall is just what it sounds like. This backyard feature creates a low wall of fire that can be placed near a lounge area to deliver heat and design. Depending upon the placement and use, many fire walls can be designed with a glass element to ensure safety from the flames while still allowing heat to flow through. Fire walls add a very modern, sleek design element to your backyard space. If this is the look you’re trying to create, a fire wall could be a great option for you.

Fire Bowl

Our favorite way to incorporate fire blows into a pool design is to place them as anchors to a water fall feature, slide or diving board. Though fire bowls do provide warmth, they are most often used for their lighting and ambiance. There’s something about mixing water and fire that makes a backyard space feel exotic, almost tribal.

Fire Table

Similar to a fire pit, a fire table is designed to draw people together for conversation. Fire tables can be low like a coffee table, medium height like a standard dining table, or bar height. It all depends upon your lifestyle and vision! The most noteworthy feature of a fire table is that is provides added space around the perimeter of the fire to allow guests to place drinks and food while staying a safe distance from the flames.

Fire Column

A fire column is a thin, but tall fire element than can be placed in or around your backyard seating areas. They add light and a little bit of warmth. You no longer have to settle for Tiki torches; instead people are opting to incorporate fire columns for a far more sophisticated and longer lasting fire element that can be customized to complement the rest of the elements in your outdoor space.

Fire and Water

This final category is the “catch-all” for so many other outdoor fire features that would be too much to list individually. The beauty of a custom pool design is that anything is possible. If you want a fire pit inside your pool with built in bar stools surrounding it – we can make it happen. If you want a swim up bar that is backed by a two-way fireplace – we can make it happen. If you want fire bowls that are also mini waterfalls – we can make it happen.

The bottom line is, if you can dream it, we can likely find a way to bring this to life for you. We love creative problem solving as much as we love intermixing fire and water elements into our pool designs!

If you were designing your dream pool today, what fire feature would you want to include? Share your thoughts and ideas by leaving a comment below!


Top Pool Safety Tips You Need to Know

When you think about owning your pool, you’re thinking about fun afternoons spent with family and friends, soaking up the sun and splashing in the water. What may not be on your mind are the various steps you should take to ensure your pool is a safe environment.

Pool safety is a big responsibility that comes with pool ownership. Especially with young children, you want to be sure you take the necessary precautions to secure your pool to prevent accidents and injuries from taking place. The good news is the steps to achieve a safe pool area are straight forward and common sense. However, even the most obvious pool safety tips can be unintentionally overlooked.

If you are a pool owner, or one day hope to be, here are some key things you should keep in mind when it comes to pool safety.

 1. Always have adult supervision

It may seem like common sense, but adult supervision is by far the most important thing you can do to keep your swimming pool safe. Something as quick as stepping into the house to get a towel or being distracted on the phone is all the time it takes for a serious accident to occur. There should be at least one adult in the pool area at all times if there are kids around (whether they are actually in the pool or not). If you are entertaining and there is a group of guests using the pool, there should be multiple eyes on the pool and the kids at all times. Constant vigilance and being serious about it will greatly reduce the risks of pool or pool side accidents.

Take it seriously when you designate an adult to watch the children and be sure to communicate when someone is “switching shifts.” You must be prepared to take these precautions if you are thinking of owning or do own a swimming pool.

2. Install proper barriers, covers and alarms on and around your pool and spa

If you are planning out your new pool project or maybe taking a look at what you currently have set up at your pool, there are a few safety measures of which you need to be aware. You want to make sure that your pool area follows all local and national codes and regulations regarding fencing/barriers, door alarms and code compliant pool equipment. Your pool professional will (or should) be able to advise you on these standards.

Fence heights and dimensions should be installed to meet codes and all gates should be self-closing and self-latching with latches that are mounted high enough to be out of reach for children. Any doors from the home leading directly into the pool area should be equipped with approved alarms that alert you to someone unexpectedly entering the pool area.

Specific to the construction of your pool, your pool builder should have applied for the proper permits and inspections required for your swimming pool project. Your local municipality will review and inspect the project to ensure that proper drains and suction grates are installed on the pool, the pool electrical wiring and bonding was done properly and that the pool construction is sound and safe. Your pool professional can advise you on these subjects and also give you some additional ideas and options (pool covers, lighting, etc.) that may improve pool area safety.

3. Make sure all guests know how to swim

Enroll kids into swimming lessons or classes at an early age. Knowing how to swim is an invaluable skills for the est of your life! Organized swimming lessons are available most everywhere. Have swimming instructors teach your kids the correct way to appreciate and enjoy the water. Don’t be afraid to ask potential guests if they or their kids have had swimming lessons or what their level of ability is.

4. Keep extra floaties and life vests on hand

Purchasing a few extra sets of life vests and floaties is well worth the investment. When younger children come to swim you will have ample supplies to keep them safe. In case a guest arrives unprepared, you can lend them an extra life vest. Everyone will enjoy the experience more with the proper swim gear. One important thing to note is that a pool filled with a lot of rafts and pool toys can cause an unsuspected pool danger. Too many pool toys can make it hard to see all the swimmers. Limit the number of pool toys being used in the pool at any given time to maintain a clear view of all areas of the pool.

5. Have rules and enforce them consistently

As a pool owner, it’s not only your right but it’s your duty to establish rules for your pool and to enforce them consistently. Be sure to tell guests about your rules. One example is asking all children swimmers to pass a “swim test” before they may swim in the deep end of the pool. Another is to always walk, never run within the pool area. Get creative and have your rules printed on a sign and hang it in the pool area. This can serve as a decoration as well as a safety precaution.

For children who are old enough to understand, inform them of the various dangers of swimming in a pool. This will help them take an active role in avoiding these dangers and remind others to be aware of them as well. Teach them to not dive in the shallow end, to walk around the pool and to stay away from the drains. Small reminders can help you avoid big accidents.

6. Learn CPR

Finally and most importantly, have key members of your family (or everyone!) learn CPR. This certification will be invaluable if ever needed. You never want to think about a situation where a swimmer might need CPR, but should it happen you will be equipped to prevent a bad situation from turning into a horrific one. Think of it as your pool owner’s “license.” Learning CPR will never be a waste of time!

It’s our passion to work with families to create a fun and safe pool environment. Have a question? Contact us today!


What You Need to Know About Owning a Salt Water Pool

One of the most important parts of owning a pool is maintaining good water chemistry. This not only keeps your bathers safe, it also keeps your pool water sparkling and clear. Overall, keeping proper water chemistry allows you to fully enjoy swimming in your pool while preserving its longevity.

There is a lot that goes into pool water chemistry, but at its most basic level the water needs to be sanitized and free of bacteria, viruses, and algae. The tried and trusted way to sanitize your pool water is to add chlorine to the water. You can use liquid chlorine, chlorine pucks or tablets, or sometimes a pre-packaged powdered “shock.” While chlorine certainly gets the job done, it can have some drawbacks such as drying out your skin, burning your eyes and bleaching bathing suits and hair.

A New Normal for Pool Sanitation

The biggest sweeping “change” that has come through the pool industry is an alternate to traditional chlorine sanitation.  Salt/chlorine generators are more and more common as people are seeing major benefits from owning a “salt water” pool. A salt water pool requires less maintenance because the salt system actually produces its own chlorine, which also means less handling of chemicals. Additionally people enjoy that salt water pools are gentler on the skin, eyes, hair and bathing suits and overall the water feels “softer.”

To install a salt/chlorine system on a new pool or an existing pool, your pool builder will plumb a “cell” into your circulation system which all of your pool water will pass through after traveling through your filter and possibly a heater. A pool professional will then check how many gallons of water are in the pool and carefully calculate how much salt to add the pool. This salt is manufactured and sold specifically for the pool industry. Never use salt crystals or pellets meant for home water softeners in your salt water pool!

It’s important to also clarify that salt water pool systems are not “chlorine-free.” Your pool is still being treated with chlorine. The difference is that instead of the pool owner or service company having to add chlorine to your pool water, the salt system automatically produces its own chlorine.

How the Process Works

Once you have placed the required amount of salt into the pool, your pool professional will start up your pool filtration system. As the salt water travels through your salt cell, there is a small amount of electricity that goes to the cell and starts a process known as electrolysis. The salt water molecule (NaCl) is spit into Na (sodium) and Cl (chlorine gas) and returned to the pool. The chlorine will sanitize the pool water and then recombine with the sodium where it will once again go through the filtration system and salt cell and split again where the process continues.

You can adjust how much chlorine is being produced in your system to provide you with the ideal sanitation level, usually between 2 to 4 parts per million (ppm). This may need adjusted based on temperature and the amount of swimmers using the pool. You can make this adjustment right at your salt cell or on your automation system or smartphone. By having a consistent amount of sanitizer being constantly produced and added right into your pool water, you can avoid constantly having to manually add chlorine tablets or “shock” to your pool.

What You Need to Consider

If you’re not sure if a salt water pool is right for you, there are several things you should consider to help you make a wise decision. First, installing a salt water pool does require an initial investment that averages about $3,000 more than a traditional chlorine pool. Keep in mind that over time, you will not incur the regular cost of needing to add chlorine pellets or “shock” to your pool, so over the life of your pool there could actually be a cost savings to salt water.

Next, consider your lifestyle and how much time you want to dedicate to maintaining your pool. If you’re busy, or simply want to spend more time enjoying your pool than caring for it, a salt water pool might be the best option for you. This upgrade allows pool owners to be more “hands-off” with their water sanitation, which means more time to relax!

Finally, no matter what type of pool you choose, you want to be sure you work with a trusted and experience pool professional. Both systems can be complex to balance. Having a pool technician you know you can rely on to answer your questions and get the job done right is key to fully enjoying your swimming pool.

Want to learn more about owning a salt water pool? Contact us today and we’ll gladly answer your questions!


I’m Ready to Build a Pool – Where Do I Begin?

During the summer months do you find yourself daydreaming about lounging beside your own pool? Or maybe you belong to a community pool, but have realized that it’s not the most convenient or relaxing option for you and your family. No matter where you are in the process of wanting to build a pool, the good news is there is a fairly simple path to follow to move you from dream to reality. Take a look!

Time Frame

The first thing you need to determine when considering building a pool is what is a reasonable time frame for completing this project? Several factors will help determine this. First, how anxious are you to have your pool open and ready for swimmers? If you want to be enjoying your pool for the full length of the next swimming season, you’ll want to break ground in early spring – as soon as Mother Nature allows.’  This may mean planning out the details of your project the year before you start digging!

For a custom gunite swimming pool, it can take an average of two to six months from breaking ground through completing the finishing touches. This can vary depending upon the size and complexity of your project as well as if you plan to include hardscaping and landscaping into your final plan.

It’s important to be realistic with your expectations for your pool project’s time frame. In the end, it’s always worth the wait to fully think through your project, save up the necessary funds and do things right the first time!

Budget

Your budget and time frame are closely linked because your financial situation may change from year to year. This is why the second piece of the process is to develop a comprehensive budget for your project. Beyond just the pool, you’ll want to budget for fencing, landscaping, hardscaping and any upgrades you may wish to have the option to add. Planning and knowing what upgrades you want incorporated into your project before you start or as you are building is usually a lot more cost-effective than trying to go back and add them at a later date.

Additionally, with a solid budget in place you will have a realistic idea of what you can afford and where you may need to scale back. This helps you to avoid surprise costs and reduce undue financial stress throughout the course of your project.

Wish List

Once you have a time frame and budget, you’re ready to list out all the features you want in your backyard retreat. Many of these features will pertain to your pool, but don’t forget to consider what you desire from your landscaping, hardscaping, pool furniture and accessories.

Now comes the hard part. You’ll need to narrow down this list quite a bit and prioritize what you “must have” versus what you can compromise on. This wish list will be a key item to bring with you to any meetings with potential pool companies, which brings us to the next point.

Interview Pool Companies

Every pool company offers something a little different. We all have different strengths and specialties. With a budget and wish list in hand, you should plan to speak with two or three different pool companies to get a feel for their style and what they can offer. You should find that one pool company that seems to rise to the top as the best match for your project. You want to be highly confident that whatever company you choose can deliver the project you envision, while sticking to your budget. You also want to be sure they are trustworthy, professional and recommended by past clients.

*Stephanie…can we tie in the interview and design sections together.  I think a company that does well thought out, smart design that is customer centered is an important part of the interview.

Design

Once you select your pool company, they will take your wish list and property specs and transform this into your dream pool design. This is where you will greatly benefit from an experienced pool company’s creativity and ingenuity.

At Aquavisions, our design process includes the most up-to-date 3-D software available to develop a conceptual design that allows clients to visualize what their project will look like once it is completed. Not every pool company will do this, but it’s extremely helpful for getting the most realistic feel of how your new space will function. We find that through this process clients are able to make minor tweaks to really perfect the flow of their space. Though the changes seem small on paper, once they are made real, they make a big difference!

Build

With your design locked and loaded, it’s time to let the professionals do what they do best. Your pool company should serve as the project manager for any subcontractors, making your involvement as limited as you want it to be. We encourage pool owners to play an active role throughout the building process. If you have questions or concerns about something you see going on, tell us early!

An important piece of the building process is to also learn from your pool professionals. As they do the initial filling and balancing of water chemistry, you’ll want to learn their process and be very clear on what is expected as far as ongoing maintenance. Ask questions and take notes! They will have a lot of advice to lend that will save you time and headaches in the future.

Enjoy!

This brings us to the final –and best – part of the process. You get to kick back and enjoy the fruits of your labor! You’ve put a lot of time and resources into building your dream pool and you deserve every second of relaxation it brings you and your family for years to come.

No matter where you are in the process of building your pool, we can help answer your questions. Contact us today for trusted advice and friendly service!