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Christmas Pool Liner?

To say that I have had a “love-hate” relationship with our pool over the 17 years we have had it is probably an understatement.

While I love to see family and friends having fun and enjoying the cool waters in the heat of the summer, there are times when the pool’s maintenance is quite an onerous task for me. I have written previously about some of the challenges I have faced in my “pool boy” responsibilities. But during the summer swimming season of 2017, our pool presented me with a new challenge—in spite of starting out the year in good shape.

In January when we had an unexpected and rare snow for Memphis, the pool looked pretty good…

…and by March as we were emerging from the cold weather, it still looked inviting although way too cold to swim.

We keep our pool open all year-long and have done so ever since 2001—the spring after we closed it for the first time—because all through the winter of 2000-2001, it was just so depressing to look out at it with the ugly black cover and all the gangly water tubes lying along the pool edge. This means I keep busy over the winter fishing out leaves and debris that blow into it as well as pumping excessive water from winter storms and then rebalancing the chemicals. Thus I have a year-round pool-boy job.

By May of 2017, when the water started to warm up, I began to deal with algae growth. With family coming in town during the month, I struggled to get the pool ready for swimming, which typically doesn’t occur until Memorial Day weekend.

With a lot of effort, I managed to get the algae taken care of but then was left with the water looking a bit cloudy. But at least it wasn’t green.

This cloudiness persisted all the way through the 4th of July weekend.

Finally at the end of July, I managed to get the water nice, clear, and sparkly the way it should be. But then I started to notice that I had to add water to the pool more frequently than I recalled. It is not usual in hot weather to lose a good bit of water due to evaporation. It didn’t take that much to get the water back up to the normal level so I didn’t think much about it.

But during August, which is typically the hottest month in Memphis, I began to add even more water. In fact I started to leave the hose trickling in the pool to keep the level where it needed to be to prevent the water level from dropping below the skimmer basket intakes, which would then cause the pump to suck air due to a lack of water.

In September, I got a letter from our local utility company that our water usage had increased dramatically over the summer and that we likely needed to call a plumber to figure out where a leak was. When I checked online what our water usage had been, I was amazed and realized that we must indeed have a pool leak somewhere. The letter and the quantitative water usage forced me out of my state of denial.

Ironically, at the end of September, I had two trips that would prevent me from my “hands-on” water management and so I decided to turn the pump and water hose off just to see how much the pool level would drop over the five days I would be traveling.

When I returned, I was amazed to see that the level had dropped several feet, down to where the pool light is and then it stayed there. Well I guess I discovered with my little experiment where the water leak was.

This was our second liner, which was new in 2009, here being visited by some local ducks as we were refilling it. We had planned on replacing this existing 8-year old liner in the spring of 2018. But now with the leak, that timeline was going to have to be accelerated.

October and November were very busy travel months for me so it was not until almost the end of November before we were able to schedule the installation of the new liner. By this time, the existing pool looked pretty disgusting reminding me of the news photos of neglected pools during the housing collapse of 2008 when underwater homeowners (pun intended) walked away from their homes.  Ours made even more reminiscent of those photos with multiple pool toys tossed in by our granddaughter (every time she came over, she would say “Fix pool Grand-e-addy”).

So it was with tidings of great joy when the pool company began to remove the old liner…

…and soon it was just a unpleasant memory.

Amazing how small of a box a 28,000-gallon swimming pool comes in.

“Just add water”

I guess installation is a little like stretching a fitted sheet onto a bed…

…and before you know it you just have to smooth out the wrinkles…

…which is accomplished with vacuum pumps (one on the left and right).

Water is added via a garden hose while the vacuums continue to run…

…and after a day or two, you have a nice clean pool ready for swimming. Only it was December 1st and no one in his or her right mind was going to swim in this cold water.

The final step is adding all the chemicals, which can run into hundreds of dollars. When we replaced the liner in 2009, I wished that we could have pumped the pool water into a tanker truck while the liner was replaced so that I could refill the pool with the same water and not have to buy all new chemicals. But this time, I was happy that the green water was going to be flushed out to a sewage treatment plant where it belonged.

Now all that was necessary was for me to continue my pool-boy responsibilities over the winter so that in the spring, we could once again enjoy our pool just like we did 18 years ago when it was first put in.

In a way, I guess you could say that the new pool liner is our big Christmas present to our whole family. Not necessarily what I would have considered for a big gift to the entire family, but one that I know we will all continue to enjoy in the years ahead. A present that was way too big to fit under the Christmas tree, so I had to just relocate the tree to where it was.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year swimming!

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