3 Tell Tale Indicators Your Pool Shell Has Been Properly Made
Buying a fibreglass pool direct is a great way to save thousands of dollars. Fibreglass pool shell prices can vary massively and all fibreglass pools look shiny and well made when new. How can you tell if you are buying a quality low maintenance pool direct at an affordable price or buying the proverbial lemon and years of problems and frustration? If you look for the following tell tale indicators, you won't have to worry about lemons.
We've all been there. You walk into a car dealer that is selling different brands of cars. The cars are all shiny, have four tyres and a steering wheel and all look pretty similar except the difference in price. Some are cheap, others more expensive. We all like a bargain so we lean towards the cheap car. You take a few for a spin around the block and get a feel for how they drive and listen for weird rattles and buy the car. 12 months later, the problems start and the cost of repairs quickly exceeds the money you saved on the purchase price.
Fibreglass pool shells all look the same when new however you can't take them around the block. Pools are also pretty tricky to take back to the returns counter for a refund once they are in the ground. The first 5 years will be great. It's after 5 years that the bargain fibreglass pool shell price might turn out to less bargain than you thought. Sure, there is a long warranty on the pool however the best approach is problem prevention rather than continual time consuming problem fixing.
Assuming you don't have Superman level X-ray vision, how can you tell if you are buying a quality pool direct just by looking at it? Let's assume you've done your usual homework on how long the manufacturer has been making pools, if they are national or State based, checked their reputation, if they are a SPASA member and the number of awards they have won along the way. Those boxes ticked, you're thinking the pool direct option is looking promising.
Tell Tale Indicator 1 - Safety Ledges
Does the fibreglass pool shell have a engineered structural reinforcing ledge around the inside of the pool? A what you say? These are more commonly called "safety ledges" and are promoted as making your pool safer for young swimmers. The real reason they are there is to reinforce the strength of the side wall of your pool. If you've ever peered underneath well built furniture, it won't be reinforced as the quality is in the materials and workmanship. Peer under furniture that is lower quality and strength, you will see reinforcing added. Why? The additional cost of the reinforcing is less than the money saved on cheaper materials and workmanship.
If the fibreglass pool shell is manufactured to a high standard, the pool wall should not need to be reinforced. If the pool wall is completely flat, it is a sign of quality. It also means your automatic pool cleaner will be able clean your pool walls up to the waterline. Pool cleaners can't get onto the structural reinforcing ledge ("safety ledge") which means plenty of your time spent manually brushing the dirt off the ledge and the remaining wall above the ledge up to the waterline.
Tell Tale Indicator 2 - Pool Depth
The average depth for pools varies as much as fibreglass pool shell prices these days. You've found several companies who sell pools direct and they all have 8m long models around 4m wide which is the size you are looking for. You look at the depth and notice some are 1.70m deep and others are 1.90m deep. What's 20cm depth difference between friends crosses your mind, particularly when the pool shell price is $1,000 cheaper.
The 1.90m deep pool holds 48,000 litres compared to 44,800 litres for the 1.70m pool. Effectively, 7% less pool for your cash. "Meh, we can live with that" you say. Fair enough. However the depth can tell you plenty about the pools quality.
What are you looking for?
1. Is the pool shallower than other pools and is there a structural reinforcing ledge?
2. Is the pool deeper than other pools and is there a structural reinforcing ledge?
3. Is the pool deeper than other pools and the pool wall is flat without a structural reinforcing ledge?
If you answer "Yes" to question 1 or 2, there might be plenty of reasons why and it's best to ask the manufacturer those questions. Answering "Yes" to question 3 is a very good sign the pool is built to a high standard and quality. Particularly if the shell has a lifetime structural warranty.
The table below shows how deep a fibreglass pool shell can be if well made. If you find a pool that is 8m long, 1.90m deep without a structural reinforcing ledge, it won't be the cheapest fibreglass pool shell price however it will be well made.
Tell Tale Indicators 3 - Curved Floor and Wall Joins
I don't know about you however I really like crisp, clean joins. My kitchen sink has 90 degree right angle joins and that awesome square look. I was in love.....until I had to clean it. Cleaning those corner joins is a fiddly process that has me wishing for a standard sink with nice curves that are easy to clean.
And so it is with fibreglass pool shells. 90 degree angled corners where the pool wall meets the floor tell us two things. Firstly, automatic pool cleaners struggle to clean where the pool wall joins the floor of the pool which means more manual brushing down for you. Secondly, it tells us about the strength of the pool and how it was made. If where the wall meets the floor is a wide, rounded join, this can only be achieved if the fibreglass resin is applied undiluted and to the right thickness. Right angle joins/corners, as seen in this image, are a method to reach minimum strength standards using less materials.
Have a chat to pool installers and they'll tell you that installing a pool with rounded corners is not only a sign of quality, it makes the installation process easier when backfilling around the pool. Getting backfill past right angle corners is a lot harder than rounded corners.
Just to be clear, seeing a right angle corner on a pool doesn't necessarily mean it is poorly made. The manufacturer, just like square kitchen sinks, might be deliberately designing the pool this way to meet market demand.
So, What Does This All Mean?
The above indicators, are, well indicators.
If you find a pool that doesn't have a structural reinforcing ledge, is deeper than other pools and the corners/ joins are rounded, it is more than likely the pool is very well made. This image is an example. It is also a certainty that the fibreglass pool shell price is going to be higher than the bargain offerings. If it is $1,500 higher in price, over 20 years, that works out to an extra $75 per year for pretty good peace of mind.
Let's say you find a pool that doesn't have the three indicators. Does it mean it is a terrible pool that will cause you endless problems? Not necessarily. You may have 20 years of trouble free swimming. You'll definitely spend more time on the end of your pool broom cleaning your pool but that's not the end of the world for some. What is really important is that your buying decision is an informed decision so you know what you are buying.
If you would like to learn more about pumps, filters, cleaners, mineralisation and more, you can download our very popular and free Essentials You Must Know Before Buying A Pool e-Guide here.
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About The Author
My wife and I grew up playing in swimming pools. Our daughters learnt to swim in our backyard fibreglass swimming pool. There is nothing quite like hearing kids splashing about and giggling. As pools do, our pool became a social magnet for friends, family and neighbours which we loved. Helping customers to have their own pool and saving customers thousands on their pool and equipment is the best job in the world.
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