Do we have the greenest pool in our neighbourhood?

Is our pool green enough to win a prize?

If there is a competition for the greenest pool in our neighbourhood, I think we should win first prize!

And I don’t mean ‘green’ as in ‘eco-friendly’.

I mean ‘green’ as in algae-infested luminous greeeeen!

When we bought our cosy little cottage a number of years ago, one of the items on our ‘do not want this’ specifications for the house was – you guessed it – a pool. Neither of us had had much experience with pools, and neither of us enjoys leaping into frigid water in all seasons of the year. Perhaps at the height of summer, but that’s about it.

However, our cottage came with a pool, and because we fell in love with the house, we accepted that we were now pool owners too.

I still remember that, when we moved in, we were greeted by a green pool.

As complete newbies, we got the professionals in to help. And decided that we wanted a salt water pool, as this would be healthier for the body and the environment, less likely to provoke allergic reactions, and require almost no pool chemicals.

This is what our pool looked like shortly after we moved into our new home

Were we ever wrong.

Our salt water chlorinator was only able to keep the pool any shade of blue if there was no rain upsetting the chemical balance, if we permanently kept a four-in-one floater in the pool to top up the chlorine and keep algae growth in check, and if we ran the pool pump for around 8 hours a day. Naturally, with the electricity price increases, and being urged to ‘save, save, save electricity’, this didn’t happen, and so we fought a constant battle with our pool.

Tuffy-Cat looks suspiciously at the pool – she doesn’t think it should be this toxic shade of green either…

The people who installed the chlorinator came in a couple of times over the years when we had a crisis moment, but on the whole were pretty useless. The chlorinator’s control box supposedly warns you when there isn’t enough salt being produced, but either that indicator light is faulty or we haven’t had enough salt in our pool for several years. We even had them test the electrolysis plates (or whatever they’re called).

Time to throw in some bags of pool salt

In addition, we now suspect that there may be a slight leak somewhere… a pool shouldn’t be losing water in winter… But we haven’t been able to locate it.

When our pool once again turned green at the start of spring, we began to consider having the darned thing removed entirely.

Heave-ho! Splash!

However, it seems that, while there are dozens of installers willing to install and renovate pools for you – at considerable cost, naturally – there is no company that specialises in removing pools.

I think there should be a nice market gap there for an energetic entrepreneur!! We may well be your first clients!

Getting ready to shock the pool!

The one guy we got in for advice said that one option would be to bring in a crane, but this is not only horrendously expensive, but fraught with practical complications – picture a large crane driving down our residential tree-lined streets, and heaving a pool over the roof of our little cottage and over the electricity lines… Hm… not a good idea.

Richard makes nice little circles with the white powder

His advice was to drill holes into the base of the pool for drainage, and to fill the whole thing up with building rubble, and then a layer of soil in case we ever wanted to plant anything in this part of the garden. This would be the ‘cheapest’ option, but I hate the idea of leaving junk buried in our garden, never mind adding all that building rubble!

The only other alternative would be to chop up the pool into chunks, but because it’s made of fibreglass, this strikes me as hazardous – don’t those fibres hang around in the environment for a long time? And one would need a special permit to remove the chunks and to dispose of them legally.

The last bit of powder is shaken out of the bag – and now, we wait…

Until we can figure out what to do, we have resigned ourselves to de-greening our pool once more… by adding 5 bags of pool salt, giving the pool a thorough ‘Shock-It’ treatment, and letting the pool pump run throughout the day. There’s a bit of a whiff of chlorine in the garden now, but I think the green is no longer quite as toxic green as it was yesterday.

Are you a frustrated salt-water pool owner? Have you found a way of removing your pool? How did you do it? Please, any advice would be welcome!

31 thoughts on “Do we have the greenest pool in our neighbourhood?

  1. I know just how frustrating is the situation you have with your pool.

    I loved the idea of having a pool 24 years ago before I had a house with a pool.

    I also bought a house with a pool but I have now changed my point of view after degreening a chlorine and later a salt water pool each spring.

    I plan to install a little shower in the garden rather than revive the now almost empty pool.

    I have a vinyl pool and after a few years it springs a leak.

    I will just leave as is with the pool cover on. The water will not turn green that way and no one will notice the state of the pool underneath!!

    • Hello and welcome, Alex – thank you for your comment. So relieved to hear of a fellow pool-owner with similar frustrations!

      We don’t have a pool cover, so our pool stays open all year. Ours is a fairly large pool, though, relative to the garden, and it would be a pity to cover it up without being able to use the space for anything else. That’s why we want to remove it or ‘convert’ it somehow. Good luck with your shower-installation!

  2. Ha ha! When I first read the title it almost sounded like green in the “good sense”. I think the colour is pretty though – especially in the image you have as the header.

    I used to be the “pool maintenance person” in our family when I was a teenager. I was pretty good at it too – never managed to get it to go green. But alas, it does take work.

    Unless you really need the garden space, I’d go with Alex’s suggestion and cover it during the winter months. Houses with pools are usually valued higher – should you ever want to sell.

    • You were the pool maintenance person, Lisa?! Ohh! So you know all about pH balances and weird chemical details like that? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And yes, I guess you are right that houses with pools usually have a higher re-sale value, but I wonder whether this is going to change in the future, as electricity and water prices continue to increase…

  3. Oh poor, Reggie! I have never in my life contemplated something like this! Instead, I have always secretly wanted a pool. A WARM pool. Now it appears that there can be challenges with having pools. I have no advice to offer, only a warm green hug.

    • Alas, if only our pool *were* warm… but even at the height of summer, and judged quite subjectively according to Reggie’s Squeal Index, temperatures remain below 20 deg, and closer to 15 deg… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thanks for the hug!

  4. Over the years I have also battled with pools – never very successfully I might add. The sheer PT (not to mention the expense) makes a home pool a dodgy enterprise from Day One. On occasion I have been the Pool Person, and whether you go the salt route or the usual route, problems always seem to arise. I’ve realised that the only people who have sparkling blue pools are middle-aged men, who make the pool their raison d’etre in life.

  5. Hi Reggie,
    I had no idea a salt water pool would cause so much grief.
    I’m a delicate flower like you and also can’t swim unless the temp of the water’s in the high 20 C.

    As to removing the pool I agree that chopping up fiberglass doesn’t sound like a good idea.

    • Hi Rosie – yes, we had been reassured that salt water pools are very low-maintenance and fool-proof… alas, no. We’ll have to do some more research on possible removal options, I guess.

      • Hi Reggie,
        I know someone who lives near Cape Town and has a salt water pool. I wrote and asked her if she had any advice for you. This is what she wrote:

        “If they have a green pool in winter they REALLY have a problem. The only way to keep a pool good is to love it, enjoy it and maintain it. This does not take a lot of work but it does require some rules. Our pool has a salt water chlorinator which works perfectly. We do test regularly and add acid as needed. Once your pool goes completely green you simply have to use algaecide โ€“ not pleasant but essential. Once the algae is dead you then need to keep it at a good chemical balance. The best investment of all is to put a solar blanket over your pool. This raises the temperature, keeps out a lot of the UV , so limiting the algae growth, reduces evaporation and raises the temperature of your pool by several degrees.

        Alternatively you could go for a โ€œnatural poolโ€. This means that you turn it into a large garden pond that you also swim in โ€“ with plants, no chemicals etc. It takes time for a garden pond to settle down into a good state but then all the algae dies off and settles to the bottom. You probably need some filtration system still /or fish to keep down mosquitoes but could be a good way to go if you donโ€™t mind a bit of sludge between your toes and swimming amongst plants โ€“ rather like a dam.

        All depends on what you want. We adore our pool. All depends on what you want. We adore our pool. We also have solar heating so we can swim from Oct โ€“ May -8 months of
        the year.”

        Hope this helps.

    • I know the feeling, Lois! We don’t want to dip our toes into that water either at the moment. A sunken garden sounds like such a neat idea, except that our water table tends to be rather high in winter, so it’s likely to turn into a mudpit. Hm… we’ll need to give this some thought… Thanks!

    • I think they might drown, Richard! The water is quite deep. We don’t have (m)any frogs in our garden at the moment, actually… They wouldn’t survive long, with our big hadedas and their scimitar-like beaks!

  6. I have a pool that is doing its best to turn green right now, even as I type. I have to say that the pool stayed pretty clean as long as we had a pool boy. Now that my husbands si the pool boy, things aren’t going so well. So you have my sympathy. As you shock, so do we shock.

  7. I have tried various methods. It all depends on whether the chlorine is doing the work it is supposed to do or whether the mix in the pool stops the normal chlorination process.

    The methods I have used in the past are:
    A. Alum Treatment

    Put in Alum,
    Leave the pool motor switched pool off for 24 hours.
    Vacuum up dead algae from the bottom of the pool.
    Top up pool.
    Add Salt to required level
    Add Chlorine to boost chlorination process when once the salt is dissolved.
    Start adjusting the PH balance using Acid or Alkalinity Up

    B, Algae treatment

    Alternatively use some product to kill the algae as a replacement to using Alum and vacuum and pool top up.
    Then follow the rest of the process.

    Either option should produce the right results but the best is to go to a pool shop to get the best method to use.

      • They certainly are. And a lot of work. My friend Sybil (another blogger) has done wonders with renovating her backyard in nearby Eastern Passage (5 minutes from my home in Cow Bay). It seems like turning your pool into a backyard pond of sorts would be the simplest solution. She put up some step-by-step photos last year on her blog at http://crittersnus.blogspot.ca/2011/07/garden-update.html What is most amazing is that she is retired and has done absolutely all the work by herself.

      • OH MY! Your friend Sybil is simply jaw-droppingly awe-inspiring. My body is aching at the mere thought of all that digging and filling and hauling of rocks… I’ll have a word with my Honey, perhaps he’ll consider this option… Thank you for the suggestions, Amy.

  8. Iโ€™ve had a wonderful experience with Miami Pool Tech out of South FL. From the first visit to evaluate our pool, everyone has been very professional, prompt and courteous. Miami pool Tech treated our pool like it was their own. I would happily recommend Miami pool Tech. If you need good pool maintenance, go to http://www.miamipooltech.com

    • Hello Jason – I appreciate the advertising-plug, but Miami is extremely far away from Cape Town, and I’m fairly sure there is no chance their technies will pop over to check out our pool! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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