Hurricane Harvey and your pool

Southeast Texas is no stranger to hurricanes and tropical storms in the late summer and early fall. Unfortunately, we’re dealing with another one this week, as Tropical Storm Harvey is set to become Hurricane Harvey and make landfall sometime on Friday, most likely between Matagorda Bay and Corpus Christi.

If it strengthens as anticipated, Harvey will be the first Category 3 hurricane to hit the United States since 2005, which was the year of Katrina and Rita. Hopefully, Hurricane Harvey won’t have nearly the destructive impact those two storms had.

The landfall impact of Hurricane Harvey in Greater Houston and Montgomery County won’t be direct, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be an impact. Schools in Greater Houston are already taking precautions in the wake of the storm, as are businesses and government services.

Hurricane Harvey and swimming pools

There is a wide berth on the impact of hurricanes and tropical storms, but as a pool owner/prospective buyer, you’re here because you want to know how this storm could affect your pool. Well, you’re in luck, as we’ve produced literature in the past talking about the effects of rain on both the building of your pool (and corresponding elements such as decking) and how to clean your pool after a big storm or flooding. The latter is something we penned last year after a spring deluge. We also had a post highlighting the clean-up of a pool after a particular set of storms.

While everyone is well aware of the problems that come from hurricane landfall (remember Hurricane Ike in 2008?) as far as wind and lightning, many of the problems when it comes to pools has to do with the amount of rainfall.

While tropical storms don’t get the headlines of hurricanes, those are the type of storms that tend to have the most continuous damage in Southeast Texas. Hurricanes tend to make landfall hot and blow right through to inland areas, exiting relatively quickly. For example, Ike powered through Houston and motored into the Great Lakes region. Meanwhile, Southeast Texas residents can remember weaker tropical storm systems being caught along the coast, stagnating and dumping buckets of rain for days on end. Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 was the most notable example of that phenomenon, as the storm camped off the coast for two weeks feeding Metro Houston with rain. Unfortunately, some models expect Hurricane Harvey to have a similar effect.

What does that mean for pool owners? As detailed in our linked article above, the deluge of rain causes flooding, which can make your water quite dirty. That’s not all, though. Excess rain also throws off the chemical levels of your water (making it susceptible to algae growth, among other things), overwhelms your filtration system with particulates, and even introduces animals (dead or alive) to your pool. So if you see anything askew be sure to do this:

Then gives us a call and we’ll do our best to help you dry out and get your pool back in line.

Hurricane Harvey and pools in the building process

Now what should you look for if you’re in the process of getting a pool/deck built or looking to break ground? Our effects of rain series also details that. Excess moisture in soil causes a delay in the initial dig, as saturated soil is prone to collapse or erosion. If the initial dig has been made, the hole can’t be surfaced until it’s sufficiently dry. If done too early, tiles can pop off, walls can collapse and the pool can “float away” (read the recent link for more on what that means).

Excess moisture also does a number on decks and stone, so it’s important for the surface to be dry. Otherwise, the foundation for your new deck could be slippery and insecure and your tiles/stone could pop off. So bear with us if the storm and rain causes delays in the installation of your pool — a few days delay here will save you money and considerable headaches later. However, we’re available to walk you through the process of dealing with these storms, so don’t be afraid to contact us!

Stay dry, stay safe and read up on all the linked articles. Beats standing in the rain!


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!

Building a pool around irrigation systems

Very rarely does building a swimming pool simply involve digging a hole and installing a pool within that hole. Not only are there the occasional weather concerns (especially during thunderstorm season), but you also have to deal with things that are already in the backyard. Sometimes it’s as simple as moving playground equipment around or rearranging mulch and flower beds, but a lot of the time there are more complicated elements. Irrigation systems fall under that category.

The piping, valves and wiring that are involved in irrigation systems make dealing with them a formidable task. Valves and wires can be hit, pipes need to be re-routed, the system often needs to be shut down and re-done. For most pool builders, that’s a complicated process which involves separate companies and weeks of additional side labor. That’s not the case with Ultimate Pools.

Dealing with irrigation systems

Before Ultimate Pools designed its first blueprint of a swimming pool, it dealt with the installation of irrigation systems under A Total Coverage. A Total Coverage installed sprinkler systems and outdoor improvements for much of the 1990s before pivoting into swimming pool installation in 1999. That experience carries over into what we do today, as we can skillfully navigate and rewire irrigation systems and relocate sprinkler valves.

The co-founder of Ultimate Pools, Bryan Stuart, is a Texas Licensed Irrigator #4542. What does that mean for you? Substantial savings — from money to time to overall hassle. Instead of having to call a side irrigation company to come deal with the carnage of digging in a pool, we can handle that for you. From replacing the wiring and valves to making any adjustments on piping, we are a one-stop shop for pool and irrigation work.

Along with not having the hassle to hire another company, we can handle any irrigation alterations at less of a cost and with less downtime than if you hire another company. How does that work exactly? Since we are dealing with the pool excavation and irrigation system concurrently, we have the ability to make the irrigation alterations before installing the pool’s plumbing. We can determine what wires and valves need to be altered during the excavation process and plan accordingly, getting that taken care of before the plumbing is installed.

That’s not something most companies can do. Instead of taking inventory during the process, they dig first, install plumbing and the pool, then figure out what to do with the irrigation systems later. That involves contacting an irrigation company, which often has to re-do its original system from scratch to fit with the pool. That costs money and time, as the system could be down for a couple of months after excavation, installation of the pool and re-installation of the irrigation system.

Meanwhile, our ability to adjust irrigation systems concurrently reduce down time to about a week after excavation for front and side sprinklers.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!

Rain and Ultimate Pools: Getting the pool ready to be surfaced

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This is Part Two of our series on rain and moisture and how it affects the pool-building process of Ultimate Pools. To access Part One, click here.

Before getting started on the second part of this series, here’s an article that reflects how strange the weather has been, as it was actually hotter in Alaska two weeks ago than it has been in the Greater Houston area in 2015. A lot of that has had to do with the overabundant rain, but luckily the forecast seems to be clearing up a bit.

Forecasting, along with determining that the ground is dry enough for the big dig, has us to the next part, getting the pool ready to be surfaced. But although we have dug out the pool and made sure the soil is able to handle that, rain and moisture under the surface can still have an adverse affect if proper care isn’t taken.

While the test holes that we dig to get soil composition and moisture help us determine when it’s appropriate to make the big dig in the pool, those holes typically go 3-4 feet deep. Since almost all of the pools we develop are deeper than that at their lowest point, sometimes we’ll hit some water and moisture on the big dig.

If this happens, we need to make sure that the appropriate moisture is removed from the equation before starting any sort of surfacing. Typically, we’d like the surface to be free of standing water for a minimum of four hours before starting any sort of surfacing, because surfacing prematurely while the ground is still wet and moist can cause a multitude of problems that can be costly.

  • Walls that cave: Too much moisture can cause the walls of the pool to become fatigued and porous, making it susceptible to erosion prior to surfacing and caving after it’s been surfaced, which brings about repairs that can be costly.
  • Tiles popping off: Too much moisture in the surface can weaken the gunite coating, making it more porous. If the gunite is compromised, water can seep into walls and prevent the adhesive in the tiles from sticking properly. This can cause tiles to be insecure, slide out of place, or completely pop off.
  • The pool “floating” away: This sounds absurd, but too much moisture along the surface of the pool prevents the gunite shell from settling firmly along the surface. This can cause the gunite shell to be dislodged by the accumulating dirt and moisture under the surface. That accumulation separates the pool shell from the ground, causing it to slide or “float”.

But enough with the doom and gloom. A little tender care now can prevent a whole lot of headaches later, which is why we go out of our way to make sure we get things done the right way the first time. Having to wait a few weeks now is better than having to do a bunch of repairs later. But besides waiting for the surface to have optimum dryness, here are a couple techniques we use to make sure your surface is dry and secure.

  • Weep holes: When putting down the bigger gunite shell, we will drill weep holes into the shell to allow any water below the surface to seep out. This is something we do for every pool. This is done to equalize the water at the surface with the moisture “weeping” into the shell. This causes the gunite shell to “sink” to the surface, securing it in place for it to be plastered. The plaster is then placed over the weep holes, with the water coming in immediately after.

    Think of it like a heavy glass bowl in water — the bowl will float if completely intact, as the amount of water the bowl displaces will be greater than the force pushing it down in the water. However, if holes are poked into the glass bowl, that bowl will displace less water and be pushed downward toward the surface. Read more on this here.

  • Flashing gunite: Before we create the bigger gunite shell that will serve as the foundation for the tiling and plaster in your pool, there is the option of flashing the pool with gunite. This can be requested by the home owner at a fee. We’ll flash the desired surface with a layer of gunite to provide a secure surface that will keep out moisture and keep dirt from eroding and collapsing.

There are other measures we’ve taken in the past to combat moisture, such as plastic coverings and constructing small moats to catch and accumulate run-off water. We’ll continue this series next by talking about how rain affects pool maintenance.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!