House and Garden

3 July 2012
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Swimming Pools

An Aerial view over some Australian suburbs gives you the impression that everyone has a pool.

On average, though, across Australia about 12%, or 1 in 8 households have one. No surprise, they are most popular in the hotter areas; NT (29%), QLD (18%) and WA (16%).

For many migrants, having your own swimming pool is a key part of the 'Australian Dream', and they are a lot of fun, especially for a young family.

But there's also a lot to learn - whether you're in the market to buy a new one or there's already one in your new home or rental.

Above-ground pools

They have a rigid frame, which is assembled on site, and a vinyl pool liner.

Pros
They are the cheapest option and they can be transported to another house or sold.
You could possibly also avoid having a pool fence, if the sides are high enough and you take the ladder away when not in use.

Cons
they won't last as long as the other options and above ground, they don't exactly look great.

Strange as it sounds, you can put an above ground pool below the ground - bear in mind that digging a hole with a bobcat is not cheap.

Or, if your garden is on a slope, you could build decking around it, so it effectively becomes a normal below-ground pool.

Fibreglass pools

They are made in a factory, transported on a low-loader and dropped into place with a crane.

Pros
More durable and better finish than the 'above-ground' pools.

Cons
Only certain shapes, although they do make a few options.
More expensive than 'above-ground'. Excavation, low-loader and crane are all expensive.

Concrete Pools

Concrete pools are made on site and can be pretty much any size and shape you want. They used to be very popular (70's and 80's) although I get the impression that fibreglass pools are more popular these days maybe because there is more variety and better quality in fibreglass now.

Filtration

Whatever type of pool you have, you will want the water to be clear and sparkling, so you need a filter. The two main types are cartridge and sand. An electric pump pushes the water through the filter and back to the pool. The pump needs to be run for several hours each day - about 4 hours per day in winter up to 8 or more hours per day in summer.

As all the tiny bits of dirt are trapped by the filter, the pressure builds up and periodically - roughly once a month - the filter needs to be cleaned. For a sand filter, you backwash and the waste dirt/water is sent down the road or onto the garden. For a cartridge filter, you remove the cartridge and hose it clean.

Disinfection

As well as filtering, you also need a disinfectant to kill algae and other micro-organisms. In pools, it's normally chlorine (spas use bromine). Chlorine can be added directly as a liquid, powder or tablets. This has to be done regularly, pretty much daily, in the summer, when the pool is used a lot.

Alternatively, chlorine can be created from salt by a salt-chlorinator, which is another gizmo that sits near your filter. You throw a few bags of salt into your pool, and as the water is pumped through the chlorinator, chlorine is produced. If everything is set correctly, this keeps the chlorine level more constant and most people agree, the water is more pleasant to swim in.