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Buying a Home With a Pool? 3 Things to Consider Before Taking the Plunge

residential pools

When the sun is high and the weather is hot, what able-bodied swimmer wouldn’t like to have residential pools in the back of their homes, so they could take a relaxing plunge? If they could snap their fingers and make a swimming pool suddenly appear, many people would probably do it, especially in Southern and Western U.S. states that tend to stay hot or relatively warm throughout the year.

That said, having a property with a swimming pool isn’t like owning a home that has a natural lake or pond on the back property, which no one uses for swimming, and doesn’t require upkeep. If you’re currently in the home buying market, and you’re only interested in properties that have residential pools, there are some pool facts to be aware of that may guide your purchase. Before you invest in a home with a pool, here are three things to know:

1. Residential Pools are High-Maintenance Property Assets

When you tour a residential property that’s on the market, it often looks better than it has in years. Bathroom and kitchen fixtures are likely to look shiny and new. If there’s an unfinished basement in the home, it’s often spruced up to suggest extended living space. And, if there’s a pool in back, its water is likely ultra clear, and the pool site is often flanked with new pieces of hip decor that make it appear luxuriously inviting.

That’s all fine and well, but the image of the pool you’re likely to see may belie the regularity of maintenance the pool requires to stay looking as if it’s worthy of one of Rock Hudson’s legendary Hollywood pool parties. You can hire a third-party swimming pool maintenance company to handle the pool’s upkeep, but here’s a conservative list of what you’ll be paying for, or what you’ll receive without the cost of labor if you decide to maintain the pool yourself:

  • Adjust PH, Calcium, and Sanitizer – $80 / month
  • Adjust water temperature – $75 – $250 / month, with heat pump
  • Adjust water levels – $60 / year
  • Vacuum the pool – $200 / month
  • Apply algaecide – $30 / month
  • Clean pool filter – $200 / month
  • Lubricate fittings and valves – $20 / month

Cost of maintenance for residential swimming pools depends on a range of factors, such as the rate at which leaves and other debris accumulate in the water, the types of equipment that serves the pool, the maintenance schedule for each piece of hardware, and a constant supply of additives to keep the water clear and in ideal condition.

A leaf pool cover that blocks windblown foliage from hitting the water is an investment that’s well worth the time you’d otherwise spend skimming out the debris with a pool rake. As for other costs, you’ll need to price them out based on the specific type of equipment that needs to be maintained, as well as whether you prefer to buy additives in bulk, which is the most economical option, or you want the financial flexibility of buying them per unit. Cost of maintenance isn’t exorbitant, but it’s definitely one of the financial pool facts to consider.

homeowners

How to Address the Issue

Handling your own maintenance will save several hundreds of dollars a month. Because homeowners generally perceive residential pools as a luxury, applying your own elbow grease may not conform to how you envision enjoying the pool. Before you buy the home, price out the cost of third-party maintenance, if that’s the option you would prefer to take.

2. Upgrades to Residential Pools may not Help Home Value

Residential pools can provide a strong incentive for someone to purchase a property, and they do add to the sale price. After a pool is installed, however, upgrades such as a pool water heater, new tile around the pool perimeter, and installing a diving board likely won’t increase the value of the real estate on your end. If you happen to sell the property, prepare to swallow the costs of “value-added” upgrades you make to customize the pool site to your liking.

How to Address the Issue

The only way to address this issue is philosophically: be willing to make some expenditures for the pool that enhance the enjoyment of using it, and consider that enjoyment to be the return on your investment. When you consider that the next owner of the property is likely to do the same thing, it’s not one of the harder financial pool facts to swallow.

3. People Drown in Residential Pools with Tragic Regularity

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, roughly 400 deaths a year occur from drowning in a swimming pool or spa. Not to belabor the gloom, but the organization also cites that nearly 5,000 people end up in the emergency room each year due to serious injuries suffered in swimming pools or spas.

Considering the many thousands of residential pools in the U.S., the statistics say that you’re unlikely to experience an event that contributes to them. However, the homeowners who experience these potentially tragic events are nearly always caught off guard.

This speaks to the most critical of the residential pool facts in our list: for the sake of you and/or your loved ones, you may need to outfit your pool with a resilient safety barrier that helps keep people from experiencing injury or death, especially children and the elderly.

How to Address the Issue

The best way to tackle this issue is to implement a pool safety barrier that keeps at-risk individuals out the water during hours when the swimming pool isn’t in use. This can be done with three types of products that are available from A Safe Pool: removable pool fencing, pool safety nets, and pool safety covers.

Our barriers feature different types of construction, but each of them is more than sufficient to help keep children and other high-risk individuals out of the water when you aren’t at the pool site to monitor their safety. Take a look at our pool safety solutions, and select the one that best accommodates the people you need to protect, as well as the option that you find most pleasing for the appearance of your pool.

Conclusion

At first glance, the pool facts in this list may seem like a cautionary trifecta that suggests not buying a home that is flanked by a pool, but that’s not the case. As a provider of safety solutions for residential pools, we naturally want people to enjoy the excitement and leisure of owning an inground pool. Our business depends on it. At the same time, we want homebuyers to be aware of what it takes — financially and otherwise — to keep a safe and well-maintained pool.

If you decide to own a home with a pool, keep our products in mind. After the transaction is complete, don’t hesitate to implement one of our pool safety barriers that keep your loved ones safe. We’ll inspect your pool area and create a pool fence, a safety net, or a safety cover that’s customized for the site. We also offer customized leaf pool covers. When you’re ready to move forward with the installation of a safety barrier, contact us to schedule a free estimate.

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Heating Your Pool with Solar: A Beginner’s Guide

solar panels

A solar pool heater keeps your swimming pool pleasantly warm, so you don’t have to enter it by taking a frigid plunge, or by edging into the water, inch by chilly inch. Pool heaters that are powered by electric, natural gas, or propane do the same, which begs the question: between solar-powered, utility-powered, and propane-powered pool heaters, which option is best?

Cost, Product Lifespan, and the Environment

In terms of cost, lifespan, and environmental impact, solar pool heaters are an optimal choice. When the expense of purchase, installation, operation, and maintenance is calculated, solar heaters routinely have the lowest cost of ownership. Their long lifespan of 20 years adds to the value. Pool heating options that use electric or gas can last 10-15 years. As they run, the form of energy they use — or how the energy is produced — gives rise to carbon pollution.

If Solar is Economical, Why the High Price Tag?

If you compare the cost of a solar pool heater to the price of a utility-powered or gas-powered heater of comparable quality and capacity, don’t be surprised to find that the solar model costs thousands of dollars more up front. The reason it ultimately costs less than the other pool heating options is simple: you never spend a dime to power it; the sun powers it long-term, for free.

Residential swimming pools commonly range in size from 10 x 20 ft. to 20 x 40 ft., with an average depth of five to six feet. In a humid subtropical climate, or a temperate climate with mild conditions, a pool of median dimensions costs roughly $2,000 a year to heat with gas. An electric heater can lower the annual cost to about $1,200. Even so, if the electric model lasted 12 years, that’s a $14,400 power supply expense that a solar pool heater would eliminate.

On the high end, solar pool heating options cost around $8,000 for a medium to large pool. The average price is around $5,500. Even if you spend high and buy the costliest brand and model, you stand to save thousands of dollars in ownership cost by using a solar pool heater.

Choosing A Solar Pool Heater: From Decision to Installation

Choosing solar power is a thrifty decision that gives the environment a leg up. But now there are other choices to make, most crucially: what type of equipment to use, the configuration of the installation, whether to DIY or use a contractor, and how to handle maintenance. Square away these four concerns, and you will be ready to kiss the jolt of cold pool water goodbye.

1. Choosing Equipment

As you shop, you’ll probably see small-scale heaters that cost a few hundred dollars, possibly less. Unless you to need heat a concise area, these products are not practical — and installing a fleet of them would be like using only space heaters to warm a spacious home. For maximum efficiency, focus on pool heating options that are scaled to the size of your pool.

Should you get your solar pool heater from the manufacturer or a third-party? Manufacturers generally have lower markups than middlemen, making their prices routinely lower, though not always by much. If an epic bargain awaits, a third-party that has a wide, deep, fast-moving inventory is likely to offer it. These merchants also specialize in offering a variety of brands.

Do Brands Matter?

Every manufacturer has technology that is original enough to be patented. Proprietary elements that enable the most customers to infer the highest level value are a heater’s unique selling points, whether they are the strongest reasons to buy it, or not. As you compare models, don’t confuse refinements with necessities. A great model is one that fits the size of your pool, looks great installed, and warms the water efficiently, thoroughly, and reliably.

The AC-to-DC power conversion ratio of solar power to electricity is more efficient in some models than others, but no brand dominates. Whether you choose a manufacturer or a third party, you’ll select an installation package, or build your own package. Products will indicate the pool dimensions they accommodate. They can also be matched to your pool’s capacity in gallons.

Glazed or Unglazed?

Solar collectors are the part of a solar pool heater installation that converts the sun’s energy into electricity. More commonly known as “solar panels”, the collectors come in two varieties: glazed and unglazed. Glazed collectors have a protective glass cover that overlays the photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert the energy. Unglazed collectors do not have a cover; Instead, they feature a highly durable surface that serves as a protective barrier.

Glazed and unglazed collectors work equally well, but unglazed models usually cost less. Because they absorb sunlight more effectively in cold weather, glazed collectors that feature heat exchangers are ideal for cold climates. Unless a unique aspect of your installation requires the use of glazed collectors, unglazed models are preferable for cost-effectiveness.

2. Installation Configuration

The solar collectors for a pool heater should be located in an area that receives direct sunlight throughout the day. Consequently, the roof of the home that adjoins the pool is an ideal spot. Regardless of where the collectors are placed, they will be wired to transfer electricity directly to the pool heater, which will likely sit in a discreet location near the pool. Alternatively, solar collectors can be mounted on a stand, in an area that’s consistently drenched with sunlight.

The installation consists of just a few elements that are easy to install, with the primary focus being the location of the solar collectors. This brings us to the next consideration for your solar pool heater: should you handle the installation on your own, or hire a contractor?

3. DIY or Contractor?

Because installation doesn’t require a great deal of technical skill, homeowners often decide to handle it on their own. However, elements of the installation that do require skill — such as electrical wiring and positioning the collectors in an ideal location — justify hiring a contractor. Using a contractor is also a good idea because the company will offer a workmanship guarantee, which ensures that installation errors are corrected at no cost to customers.

If you opt for DIY, be exceptionally diligent in following installation instructions, take all the time you need, and contact the manufacturer if you require technical assistance. The last thing you want is a botched job that ends up requiring the services of a contractor anyway.

4. Maintenance Plan

Some manufacturers offer scheduled maintenance, but third-party maintenance can cost quite a bit less. For technical expertise and customer care, manufacturers are the logical choice. However, most solar pool heating options are not high-maintenance installations, and many homeowners end up saving money by performing scheduled maintenance on their own.

Most of the maintenance is performed on the solar pool heater itself, and the maintenance procedures should be clearly outlined in the owner’s manual. If you take some time to become familiar with the operation of the heater, handling your own maintenance is relatively easy.

Conclusion

A solar pool heater is just as efficient as pool heating options than run on electric or gas, but it typically has a lower cost of ownership. Combine this benefit with the fact that solar heaters are the best choice for the environment, and it’s easy to see why many homeowners heat their pools with technology that taps the most dependable energy source of all: the sun.

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Staying Informed: The 3 Most Common Causes of Drowning

beach buoy water sea ocean

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths.” Annually, roughly 360,000 people die from various causes of drowning. Three groups have the highest risk: “children, males, and individuals with increased access to water.”

Globally, low- and middle-income countries have the most drownings — about 90%, to be exact. However, in the U.S., 45% of victims are from “the most economically active segment of the population”, the WHO reports. If enough water is present, drowning can happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone — and almost no one thinks it will be them, or someone they love. Proactive Drowning prevention measures help to ensure that they aren’t wrong.

Drowning Prevention: Causes of Drowning

Just as certain swaths of people drown with greater regularity, certain causes of drowning occur more frequently than others. More often than not, the victim perishes because they lack swimming ability, enter a swimming pool that should have had a safety barrier in place, or lack supervision while swimming or dwelling near water that could swallow them. Let’s take a look at these causes, and the types of drowning prevention measures they make cause worthy.

1. Lack of Swimming Ability

“Swimming ability” is a relative term, but a person’s proficiency at swimming is often the deciding factor in whether they end up exiting the water alive or dead. In fact, most people drown because they can’t swim themselves to safety, whereas a stronger swimmer could.

The average swimming ability people acquire from a full course of standard swimming lessons is usually enough to spare them from drowning in a swimming pool. Surviving a wide, roiling tide pool, on the other hand, can require advanced swimming skills that few possess. In such a situation, possessing average swimming ability can be like having almost none at all.

Prevention Measures

The most effective drowning prevention measure is for people to swim in water that doesn’t have conditions that could overwhelm their swimming skills. In turn, this means that swimmers need the ability to accurately predict the behavior of the water. In a swimming pool, it’s fairly straightforward; unless the pool is a “wave pool”, the water is calm. Swimming in a river or an ocean, where a sudden change of weather could quickly change water conditions, is different.

Some drownings occur in rough water because people know the risk and take it anyway. But far more drowning fatalities in rivers and seas result from victims underestimating the water conditions or overestimating their swimming ability. Before you enter a body of water you aren’t familiar with, be sure you know what the experience could require of you as a swimmer.

2. Pools Without Safety Barriers

Among causes of drowning that involve swimming pools, pools that lack safety barriers during hours of non-use are one of the most common. In residential settings, small children, adults living with disabilities, and the elderly are the ones who need barriers in place the most.

Prevention Measures

Three basic safety barrier options prevent pool drownings: pool fencing, pool safety nets, and pool safety covers. Available as a barrier that can be raised or removed in under 10 minutes, pool fencing fully encloses a pool from the patio area, so no one can simply walk to the water. The fencing is available with semi-transparent, mesh sections that are strongly woven between metal poles. This type of fence lets you maintain a clear view of the water.

Safety nets and covers overlay the surface of swimming pools. Safety nets feature holes, which should be small enough to prevent the head of a toddler from slipping through. Safety covers don’t have openings and work well for protecting both people and pets. In either case, the effectiveness of a barrier depends on having it customized to fit the dimensions of the patio area and/or pool. Gaps at the sides of fencing, nets, or covers are potential safety risks.

3. Lack of Supervision

If only someone who could pull them from the water was around to help, many drowning victims would not sink into a watery grave. Although swimming pools typically have the most predictable water conditions, they are nonetheless the sites where most drownings occur due to lack of supervision. The most likely victims are naturally those who need to be monitored the closest: small children, adults living with disabilities, and elderly individuals in decline.

Prevention Measures

The best drowning prevention measure for avoiding fatalities due to lack of supervision is obvious: provide sufficient supervision — and “sufficient” is the keyword. If you are the only one who will supervise a high-risk individual when they enter the water, be absolutely certain of two things: you can swim well enough to reach the person, and you can swim well enough to reach dry ground again, while the person clings to your arm or shoulder.

Lack of supervision drownings also occur in congregated areas, where so many people are in the water that it’s impossible to monitor everyone individually. Crowded seafronts and public pools are prime examples. If someone needs to be monitored in a crowded swim zone, don’t assume that on-duty lifeguards eliminate the risk of drowning. They have far more people to watch than they can observe simultaneously. Watch over your friend or loved one at all times.

Does Your Pool Need a Safety Barrier?

If you have a swimming pool, preventing unsafe entry with a removable pool fence, a pool safety net, or a pool safety cover is one of the strongest drowning prevention measures you can take. If your pool lacks a safety barrier during hours of non-use, A Safe Pool can supply one that’s customized for the dimensions of your site. Contact us to schedule a free estimate.