It’s ideal to have a DIY Exercise Pool in your backyard during the scorching summer months. But, do you know that building one is a straightforward process? This blog aims to cover all the possible things you will need to think about before considering building your DIY Exercise Pool. After reading this, you’ll come to know it was far easier than you had thought.
Planning is the most critical aspect, and it’s important that you plan correctly in order to keep the building process straightforward.
I went through the process myself and had some difficulty where planning was not quite right. For example, I did not plan to have sufficient space for my “control room,” which is where your pump and electronics go. However, before we discuss this issue, let’s take a thorough look at the other key aspects.
Firstly, you have to see where you will put your DIY Exercise Pool? You might not have a spacious area in your backyard. In case you do have, you can consider a few things.
How will you be filling it?
Understandably, your Exercise Pool needs consistent topping up of water reduced due to evaporation and other reasons. So, you need a tap or any other water source around your DIY Exercise Pool. Obviously, you can run a hose, but it’s not an ideal alternative.
How will you be emptying it?
You have to empty your DIY Exercise Pool biannually at least to ensure the cleanliness of your water. Obviously, you cannot use the waste water for watering your plants!
So, you have to keep in mind the effective ways to drain it out and how will you get the contaminated water into it?
There are certain ways. For instance, you might use a submersible pump and a hose. Or, you might consider designing the drainage plumbing into the Exercise Pool. Whatever method you choose to drain out, you ought to think deeply about it before starting to build your Exercise Pool.
What do you think you should look at when you are in the pool?
Is there a view? Though it looks like a weird point, if you have the option of a view, you should take it as opposed to looking at a wall. The possible option can affect where you place the plumbing. Indeed, it is one of the many advantages of designing your own Exercise Pool – you can decide its location as well as its view.
Then you should make sure where you will locate your pumps, pipes, filters, etc. All these take space and require to have it allocated and allowed for.
You’ll also require electricity for your pool, and we will discuss this issue later in this blog. Where will it be “plugging in”, and where will it be wired into as there are no plugs per se.
Another planning stage involves landscaping. You have to consider beforehand whether you need space for a deck around your Exercise Pool or space for steps. Plenty of things involve planning on the location; most of these will depend on your actual plan to install a pool.
DIY Exercise Pool – Above ground or in ground?
This is one of the questions that will determine the design of your pool. If I were you, I would prefer in ground to retain the beauty of my garden. Besides, it is better in my mind to jump into the pool than being on full display around the neighbourhood when you are in the pool.
You also need to make sure the building blocks – bricks or blocks – withstand the pressure of the water. The considerable amount of water in your Exercise Pool could create a disaster if your brickwork is not reliable. This is easier to do when you can backfill around the area with concrete if it is in ground.
External Roofs, Pergolas or Should it be Indoors?
Are you looking to erect a roof over your Exercise Pool or plan a full building? If Yes, then it’s an ideal time for planning and realising the design at this stage. Otherwise, it will be difficult to make the changes later on.
For instance, you have to decide whether or not you want to build positional footings at this stage instead of planning to add them after installing your pool which can often be difficult.
Physical Dimensions & Design
What should be the size of your Exercise Pool? How many people do you want to have in it at a particular time? How much space do you have in a location? You need to consider all these things beforehand. Another crucial thing is the size of the pump and heater – if you want to include the heating option for your Exercise Pool.
Do you want any steps or seats? What should be the depth of the seats and that of the footwell?
I can definitely assist you with these technical aspects as they are part of the consultancy that I offer for free when I supply you with your DIY Exercise Pool plumbing kit that I have put together.
What material should your Exercise Pool be made from? Certainly, you have already done some research on the internet where you can find informative videos for pools made of “gunite” or “shotcrete”.
It’s great to watch those videos that show how pools are created with a metal rebar structure. Then you can see piping and plumbing is attached in place to the rebar before all these are filled with concrete sprayed in at increased pressure. It is then skimmed flat.
This option is not practicable for making our Exercise Pool. One has to be extremely skilful – and even if you think you are, I won’t advise you to try this at home!
There are simpler alternatives. For instance, you can go for blocks, concrete and mortar instead. Bricklaying works fine even if you’re new to bricklaying. Another thing that you can do with this option is that you can use as much concrete as you want.
Obviously, you’d like to make sure that the structure you’re going to build withstands the significant pressure of water.
Since I had opted for in-ground construction, the ability to backfill behind the blocks allowed me a sense of security that I was going to build a rock solid structure.
In addition to the things mentioned above, you should also determine the kind of finish you’re looking for. You can conveniently (and economically) skim the pool over with a waterproof concrete render and then apply a waterproof paint onto it.
Or, are you looking for the finish I had opted for – waterproof floor or wall tiles. I had installed large tiles to ensure the neatness of the surface.
However, you can make use of ordinary tiles as long as they are waterproof and made for walls and floors. The best option in my mind is small swimming pool mosaic tiles. They are not the cheapest, but they do have the best look at the end.
As far as materials are concerned, you have to ensure they add to the waterproofing of the pool at each stage of the process.
You need to add a waterproofing agent to your mortar for laying blocks and into your render, and some form of sealant over your render – for instance, PVA. If you plan to use tiles (which should obviously be waterproof), both the adhesive and grout should be of swimming pool grade – meaning they should be waterproof as well.
DIY Exercise Pool Shape
Have you finalised the shape for your Exercise Pool? This blog focuses on building using concrete blocks – which are square. Most of the pools in the market are square or kidney shaped. It is not difficult to make a square pool using cinder blocks. It is a little more difficult to build a kidney shaped pool with square blocks.
They are equally easy to cut with the right saw, which can order online on Amazon for as low as $15. Eventually, you give your pool a hexagonal shape if you want. But you should keep in mind that you’ll be tiling your pool as well – which means the fancier the shape, the more complicated the tiling is going to be. So think, and think, and think, before you execute.
Plumbing, Lighting and Audio Visual
By now, you should also consider underwater lighting (We recommend you should consider it as it enhances the beauty of your DIY Exercise Pool) and any other Audio Visual components that you might want to include. For instance, do you want some sort of Bluetooth system for sending audio from your smartphone?
www.buildahottub.com/light – this is the light that is perfect for your own DIY Exercise Pool Builds
Another thing you want to know at this stage is to think about where is the skimmer will go. A skimmer is a leading filtering element containing chunks of debris from the surface so they can be removed. You’ll also have to think about where will the two bottom drains will go. You should have two in case one gets blocked.
You must consider these things before starting the actual work.
The plumbing of your DIY Exercise Pool is the most crucial part after ensuring the physical integrity of its structure. Obviously, without the plumbing, you don’t have an Exercise Pool. If you visualise, the Exercise Pool is a straightforward concept. It is full of water, which is flowing through the skimmer at the top, and the drains at the bottom. Water, coming through skimmer, drains into the filter, and from there, into the heater – if you had opted for a heating option. Throughout the process, it seems a straightforward concept. However, there are some challenges involved to get to this point.
Types of Pipe
You can get all the possible shapes and sizes in pipes. However, for your DIY Exercise Pool, you can have two sizes and types of pipes. There is a flexible pipe and a rigid pipe.
You should not be misled by the term “flexible pipe” as they are not flexible in the literal sense. Though you can bend it a bit, it’s quite hard, and you cannot tie any knots in it.
While building my DIY Exercise Pool, I made a terrible mistake by not using some 90-degree junctions instead of trying to bend pipe. I had flexible bent pipes coming through the bottom drains. I had ensured to minimise joints believing that the more the joints, the greater the possibility of leaks. However, I was mistaken on this theory as the pipe and connectors are so perfectly made that a joint is made each time with sufficient PVC pipe cement; you will be all set.
You just need to keep the pipe neat and run parallel with good joints in order to decrease the chances of leaks. In my case, I knew perfectly where the first leak could happen as I had fixed an extremely complicated joint on a terrible angle. Eventually, when I filled up, the first leak happened. At a later stage, I’ll discuss how I managed to fix leaks after trying a few products that didn’t work. For now, let’s come back to our flexible pipes, which are pressure rated and distinguished from the ones we use for household plumbing.
While installing my pool, I had used Waterway pipes and found that American brand of fine quality. There was an extensive combination of connector, bush or corner piece. The pipes are so solid and well built that I would suggest you prefer Waterway pipes. There might be other companies as good – or even better than it – but I would recommend going safe, opting for this pipe.
Exercise Pool pipes and pressure-rated pipes have a specific size. Usually, water pipes are 2’’ in diameter coming from the pool, which is different from pools. Another worth-noting thing is that an imperial 2’’ is different from a 53mm metric pipe. Initially, they look the same, and you cannot easily distinguish between them. Yet, both are different in size and have different millimetres.
For the returns, the inlets, basically the water going from the pump back into the pool, these should be on 1.5″ pipework. You need to keep a pressure difference across your spa pack or heater and having larger pipes on the inward flow and thinner pipes on the outward words perfects and assists with this.
It’s time to consider Skimmer’s position – a process that could be a bit more challenging than you initially thought. The height of the Skimmer will be a key deciding factor of the water level. The ideal final water level in the Exercise Pool is that it comes halfway up the skimmer, allowing waste to flow freely into where larger chunks of debris end up in the basket. Meanwhile, leaves and other bits pass through and are trapped in your filter.
You can of course adjust the water height of your own pool to suit your own needs. Have it slightly deeper if you are talker for example. Just use the centre of the skimmer as a guide.
Another important thing to consider with your skimmer is the ultimate top position of the access grill. In my case, I got a bit wrong on two occasions. Initially, I had miscalculated the overall height of the skimmer while adding a 90-degree bend on the bottom to bring water towards the pump. Secondly, I also misread the height, so it doesn’t sit flush with the deck, which I put in later. Though I later overcame the problem by making a cover to fit, it should have ideally been flush.
Ultimately, it is the size and volume of water in your tub that will determine the size of the skimmer that you choose. You should also look for the suggestions of the manufacturer. I have 2800 litres, which means I had to look for a swimming pool skimmer. I preferred to choose the Certakin brand – one of the most common names that deals in swimming pools.
Pump for your DIY Exercise Pool
We’re now moving onto the more costly components of your DIY Exercise Pool. So you should take some time to ensure you understand all of this before spending your valuable money. Firstly, let’s look at pumps. You are looking for a circulation pump for an exercise pool, something around the 1HP is good enough to circulate the water through the filter.
One of the most important things is your filter that keeps a significant amount of water nice and clean, ensuring there are no debris and bits into your Exercise Pool. The size of your filter depends on the size of your pool: the bigger Exercise Pool requires a bigger filter.
In order to keep your water nice and clean, you should ensure that the filter has an adequately designed core to maximise the filtration area. This will not only enhance the flow but also create an uninterrupted flow via the whole cartridge. By doing this, you will increase the life of your DIY Exercise Pool, besides keeping it nice and clean.
While selecting your filter, you should also not neglect the pump that you will be using. I purchased a Waterway filter – a 50sq ft one – that matched the size of my Exercise Pool.
One of the key features of the Waterway filter that I picked was its auto bypass for extreme pressure, meaning that circulation pressure will filter your pool under regulation.
Top tip when selecting a filter. Go for an over specified filter rather than an under specified one – it is much better this way. In fact, over-specification can decrease possible damage to your pump if it is put under heavy pressure because of a restriction of flow via the system. So, if you’re uncertain, you should go up to the next size up from the one you were thinking!
The Spa Pack
It is advisable to consider a couple of things before you pick your Spa Pack. You should have controls for your filter cycles, and it is possible if you use a Spa Pack in your DIY Exercise Pool. This is the way to do it if you’re going to heat your Exercise Pool at all.
Foremost is the heating element and the power of the heater. The size of the heater depends on the size of the body of water you’re looking to heat. (I have 2800 litres of water to heat, for instance).
With 2800 litres, I have a good sized pool, and it requires enough time to heat. So, I bought a 3KW heater, which takes as many as 40 hours to heat the water from cold. When I use the pool, it loses some temperature, obviously. For instance, if I’m in for an hour, and I lost around 3 degrees, it means the pool will take another 6 hours to regain its previous temperature.
If I want to accelerate the heating process, I can put an independent thermostatically controlled heater, doubling the size to 6KW in order to speed things up. However, you can take these things decisively at a later stage when you’re done with your Exercise Pool or leave sufficient space at the design stage so you can retrofit if you like.
For me, WIFI control was the most indispensable part as I wanted to be able to control the spa from a remote location. This feature enables you to heat up if you are away and monitor the temperature. I preferred to get a Balboa Spa Pack and selected the WIFI enabled BP601.
I can stress more to have a light in your DIY Exercise Pool. There are several reasons; foremost is that it adds to the atmosphere, meaning you can use it during any part of the day. Of all the processes involving the installation of my pool, I had expected the light to be the easiest part. Though it was straightforward, it has caused me some difficulty which I’ll discuss shortly. Because of the size of my pool, I went for a swimming pool-sized light. I purchased a huge LED multi-coloured light which was expected to look great. Yeah, it looks great but not without causing me some initial problems.
In order to make things easier for the DIY Exercise Pool, I’ve launched my own light that you can use for your build.
The “Control Room” or “Pump Room”
I refer “Control Room” as an area where you should house your pump, Spa Pack, and filter – this is often called a pump room or pump house.
A crucial thing to consider for your “Control Room” is to ensure it has a drain. It will be a total nightmare if your “Control Room” fills up with water. The costly components that make up the “Control Room” are meant to stay dry. You should also ensure that your Control Room can drain in case water finds its way into it.
Occasionally, water does escape into Control Room when the filter is changed or when the pump is removed for service. In any case, the water must be drained away from Control Room. For this purpose, you can put a piece of pipe in the bottom of your Control Room so when you line it with concrete, and you can remove the pipe once it is dry. Some people also put in a water pump with a floatation switch into the Control Room. When water escapes, the pump will kick in. This is also fine, depending o how swiftly things fill up.
Electrics for your DIY Exercise Pool
While planning your DIY Exercise Pool electrics, it is essential to take into account the electrical requirements. More often than not, this is one of the few tasks where you’ll have to involve a professional. It is not advisable to do it by yourself as it is dangerous, and sometimes it can also void insurance policies. Then, it is also important for you to know what professional help you should expect from your electrician.
Firstly, we recommend that you have your own breaker, meaning you need to have a dedicated fuse for your Exercise Pool on your fuse board. In case the Exercise Pool trips the fuse and turns off, it doesn’t affect the electricity of the rest of the house. It’s supposed to work this way.
The size of the fuse (or breaker) will be determined by the kit that you put into your pool. But we can discuss this at length later in this blog.
Dedicated Outdoor Rotary Switch
We recommend you decide where you will place the outdoor rotary switch during the planning phase of your Exercise Pool. This is a vital switch you can use in the case of an emergency by turning it off and killing the power to your Exercise Pool.
This is a simple rotary on/off switch, and it must be placed at least 2 metres away from the Exercise Pool so that the individuals in the pool cannot be in the water while touching the emergency switch.
DIY Exercise Pool electrics
You should ask the electrician to fit an appropriate weatherproof block connector to the end of the tail from the isolator, making the Exercise Pool supply to be hard-wired into the weatherproof connector inside the Exercise Pool. The electrician should use waterproof gland packs to prevent the ingress of water on each electrical connection. You also need to make sure that all earth cables are distinctly colour coded with green/yellow insulating tape.
The size or existing rating in Amps of the switch depends on the kit that you put in your Exercise Pool.
Outdoor Cable for DIY Exercise Pool Electrics
While using the cable that you will run from the fuse board to the rotary switch and then to your control room, you have to ensure that you purchase the right gauge and type of it.
In order to ensure the right cable – that delivers the right amount of current without overheating – you should at least use a 10mm cable. This size should be rated for up to 65 Amps.
The 10mm size – the cross-sectional diameter of the individual live or neutral wires – is not the combined cross-sectional diameter. You should be careful not to put a thin wire in your system as it may overheat while drawing too much current along it. Sometimes, it can even melt. Here comes the need for a professional electrician who will suggest that you use a cable that can deliver 65A.
You should be using an armoured cable if you are running it outside for safety purposes. It means that if you, by chance, stick a spade through it, you will not be able to get through the cable. As a result, there will be no electric shock.
I had attached my armoured cable the length of the garden to the wall. I opted for the fixed to a wall approach, preferring armoured cable as it relieved me of worry that my kids would be driving their toy cars into it.
Indeed, it’s a costly option, but it is worth your money.
What Voltage and Frequency Do I need?
You need to ensure that you are supplying sufficient electricity at the right voltage at the same frequency in accordance with your heater and pumps and their designs. The frequency and voltage may be different from country to country. For instance, in the US, the voltage is 110V and 60Hz. But in the UK, the standard outlet is 240V and 50Hz.
We reiterate that you cant buy a heater from the UK and plug it into the American supply, and expect it to work. But you should not worry as all the pumps and heaters that I supply are country-specific, meaning they will work in your country.
Besides, the frequency with pumps is the rotation rate linked to power. It means a pump rotating at 50Hz is rotating 20% slower than the one rotating at 60Hz. In other words, a 50Hz pump will rotating 20% faster and will overheat a 60Hz supply. To put it simply, voltage and frequency should be designed to run smoothly.
Is it correct that I need a 240V Supply in the USA?
Indeed, it is correct. You will require 240V @ 60Hz to run an Exercise Pool in the US.
You can search online pumps and heaters that are rated at 110-120V, 60Hz. Frankly, it won’t help you if you’re looking for a shortcut without making the appropriate adjustments in your current supply. It will simply not work. Spa Packs (heaters) and pumps – that run on 110-120V – are not sufficiently powerful. That voltage will give something like 1.4KW of power to heat your Exercise Pool, which is not good enough. You should opt for 240V at least to see your Exercise Pool getting 5.5KW of power – a sufficient amount of electricity for your purpose.
Most probably, you already have 240V into your home.
The standard US electrical supply is 120V and 60Hz – often referred to as 110-115V. However, most households in the US have a split system 120V supply. It means you are most likely to have dual supplies of 120V in your home.
This is the most exciting part of the process. You’ve been planning for years to get started to see your DIY Exercise Pool in your backyard (or any place of your choosing). Finally, it is time to break ground. In my case, it was as hard as it was exciting. As I wanted to put the Exercise Pool in the back garden, the scarcity of space did not allow a JCB Digger to extend a helping hand. The work had to be done manually, which was an extremely laborious task.
However, I eventually managed to bring a mechanical breaking drill which helped me a lot. If you don’t want to buy one, you can rent a mechanical breaking drill. I had purchased it as I had no idea how long would it take me to drill, and I didn’t want to waste money on renting something I could not utilise at a later stage. I would also suggest you hire one of the mini JCBs if you can. It took me nearly two weeks to dig the hole good enough to put an Exercise Pool. I worked a few hours in the evening daily and full days at the weekend.
When you plan how deep you need to dig and stick with your dimensions, you should also ensure that you have allowed the multiple layers of type1 hardcore and concrete to a reasonable thickness. Obviously, you don’t want the seats that are too narrow or a pool that is not deep enough.
In my case, I did this all by hand as I couldn’t take a digger around the corner of my back garden. Obviously, my back began to hurt while the ground was getting harder. So, I opened for the breaker (I still feel it is one of the best investments I have ever made.)
I was not much concerned about the electrical work, nor did the plumbing perturb me much. I had known the basics of each of the two. What gave me sleepless nights was the thought of whether I could dig a hole and make it waterproof sufficiently in order to prevent it from leaking through the walls or the floor.
My other worry was if I would be able to raise a structure that would not give away under the extreme pressure of the water. I had already calculated that my Exercise Pool would be taking nearly 2800 litres – or 2.8 tonnes – which is considerable weight. So, I knew I required lots of concrete for the undertaking.
As soon as I was down to depth, it was time to drop in the type1 gravel. I put nearly 6-7cm, or 2’’ of gravel before compacting it. While I used a sledgehammer, you can hire a “wacker” to compact the gravel. The basic purpose of using type 1 is so it can disperse the pressure of the concrete evenly, preventing it from cracking. Of course, cracking means leaks, which will be the last thing you want to see.
Once I had compacted the type 1, I decided to ensure the double-protection against any slightest possibility of any leak. I purchased a large PVC thick pond liner to ensure I didn’t have any leaks. The pond liner was laid over the gravel to take the concrete and hold it in the water.
After that, I held the steel rebars together with metal wire. Steel rebars are used in building structures with a view to providing added strength and stability to the building. I used it for the same reason, hoping it would strengthen the base and prevent it from cracking under pressure. Some builders might say it was overprotection, but I was obsessively concerned about my Exercise Pool’s strength and leaks.
Then it was time to mix some concrete.
It’s a nice change to mix the concrete instead of digging a hole. But as a newbie, I didn’t have a precise idea of just how much concrete I was going to require. I also considered hiring a mixer and will recommend it to you. Though I considered, I never actually hired one for a few reasons. The major problem I was facing was I was unsure how long the process would take. It was already October when I reached this point of my build. The weather was unpredictable, and I didn’t want to hire a mixer amid the uncertain situation where its use depended on the weather. So, I did it manually. I mixed sand and cement at nearly 4 parts sand to 1 part cement. Here, I will suggest you make the mix not too stiff so it would pour nice and be easier while levelling out. Another thing I did at each step of the way was added plenty of liquid waterproofing agents. As I said earlier, my biggest worry was to ensure the big hold did not leak. Step by step, I worked from the bottom up, filling and got a level base. Eventually, the stage was set for some blockwork.
It was the first time ever I had laid blocks or bricks for my Exercise Pool. Obviously, I was slow, but I knew I wasn’t a professional, and I had plenty of time to complete the work that was eventually going to reward me. So, it didn’t matter if I took a few days more than a professional.
Since it was my first time, I was bound to commit a few mistakes, which I did. I couldn’t get the base totally square, but it was still fine. However, I could have done a lot better if I had spent more time reviewing the guidelines. So, I’ll recommend you invest more time and evaluate the level of each of the blocks and the consistent level of the course of blocks.
I kept my mortar a bit extra wetter than usual as I intended it to last a bit longer as I realised my slow pace. But you should also keep in mind that the wetter the blocks, the more difficult for them to sit well due to their heaviness. It will become a lot easier if you start with a level base. The deepest part of the pool was not 100% level when I began laying the course of blocks. It means that you end up having to compensate for seeking levelling things out.
But as soon as I reached the second layer, I began to improve. While starting on a level base, I put in the guidelines. After that, things began easier for me. By the time I finished the block laying, the top runs were ideally square.
While I was mixing the mortar manually, I had little idea how long it would take. I was also not sure how much time I had – as it was early October by then – wondering how the weather would respond. Mixing the mortar by hand is laborious, though not as hard as digging the hole. It was some serious work. (However, you can also mix it in a wheelbarrow.)
I was mixing the mortar at a rate of nearly 4 to 5 parts sand to 1 part of cement. Though many professionals and builders may have a different and even more refined opinion over the composition of the mortar, this ratio worked for me.
It set too quickly as it was neither too hard that it didn’t last nor too soft and water that it would lose its composition. You just need to be able to pour it if you are backfilling and can make it a little more firm if you plan to lay blocks with it.
However, you should avoid making it too stiff or soft or watery as both affect the strength of the mix.
In addition to maintaining the consistency of my mortar mix, I was continuously adding waterproofing agents and lots of it each time. As I have been reiterating throughout my blog, I was obsessively concerned about the pool leaking. Therefore, I took every possible measure and precaution to ensure that it would not leak.
Hardness of blocks
Blocks are of various types and qualities, offering a different level of hardness. These types are to meet the different requirements and the different levels of force they can withstand while you are raising lofty structures with plenty of courses of blocks. So it perfectly makes sense, and I hope that gives a significant idea for us to choose among those qualities. But I wasn’t as certain back then. So took a middle course by opting for 7N of hardness. Besides, I reckoned it was good enough as I was only going up a few courses – meaning there wouldn’t be plenty of pressure on them. In fact, the pressure had to be on the sides coming from the water.
The number of blocks depends on the size of your project. The bigger the project, the more the blocks. For example, my DIY Exercise Pool is 2.3m x 2.6m. So I ran two courses on the bottom part of it and 2.5 courses on the top part – 100 blocks in total. At the end of the project, I still had a few spare blocks. It’s a straightforward process to calculate: take the dimensions of your pool and divide them by the length of the blocks to get the number you require for your project.
However, the best tip is to pick your dimensions to use as many full bricks as possible. The less you have to cut, the better. Another thing to ensure is that you order some extra blocks than you require, as if you are cutting them, they may split. Or they can break if, by chance, you drop. So, it’s always safe to order a few more than to avoid inconvenience.
How to Cut Blocks?
You’ll make your life a lot easier if you have the specific tools for the job. I purchased a block hand saw from an online store for nearly 15 quid. It was really easy and will make your work really easy by cutting your blocks. There are many varieties, and costlier powered cutting disks and saws in the market. But for my purpose and the number of cuts I required, my saw was good enough.
Backfill of Concrete
I had already concluded that the reliability of the blocks depended on it structure, and it won’t give way if the blockwork is firm and has nowhere to move. As a newbie to block laying, I was initially concerned that the build would collapse, failing to sustain the pressure of 2800 litres of water. I was particularly concerned with the bottom of the pool.
So, this fear made me decide that I would backfill all the walls with concrete, leaving no possible space for the blocks to move, even if under significant pressure.
There, I dug the hole and made it deeper than I required initially. Then I poured cement behind the walls to ensure they were completely solid. Once my external pipes and gunite bodies were in place, I did it again, pouring plenty of concrete with huge amounts of waterproofing agent behind the blocks. While I was doing so, I was sure they would hold fast as there was no space for them to escape. At that stage, I used waterproofing more liberally and excessively as I wanted to ensure no gap remained unfilled. More interestingly, it was an ideal place to dispose of those cuts of blocks that I didn’t need anymore. I used those leftover pieces to strengthen the blockwork.
Instead of hiring a concrete mixer, I opted to do some more hard work like the previous steps. Though it was a bit of hard work to mix by hand, it was doable and saved me some money.
Tiles, Tiling, Adhesive and Grout
Most people tend to chose the tiles they want to use before they even break ground. But I will suggest something simpler. Look for a tile that is best suited for walls and floors as well as wet rooms. Besides, you should also ensure that the tile you choose is a ceramic tile instead of a proclaim one. The latter is not waterproof. Interestingly, you might say that even ceramic tile is not 100% waterproof. Though it’s true, ceramic tile is as good as waterproof. To further ensure your ceramic tile is 100% waterproof, you can apply to it certain coatings that you can find in the market. I didn’t think twice before buying ceramic tile and grouted it with swimming pool adhesive – the grout type is given in detail below. A year after fixing my ceramic tiles underwater, I have not faced any issues with them.
Knowledge is power, and more so when it comes to knowing what type of grout you need to make your tiles waterproof. Don’t just buy any waterproof grout. Instead, look for a swimming pool grade grout and adhesive. Remember, you’re looking for something that is made to perform effectively underwater constantly, not something (like a shower grout) that gets wet once or twice a day.
The swimming pool grade adhesive is not that much costly as the regular one, but it is far more reliable than the one used for showers. My experience has been great, at least. It has held firm since last year, and though it has shown some signs of wearing away lately, I’ll top up the grout when I service the pool next season.
Once you have glued and grouted your ceramic tiles, you have to give them rest at least for three weeks. The time will allow the grout to dry up and strengthen the tiles. In my case, I didn’t know this much. In fact, I was preoccupied with finishing my Exercise Pool in time for Christmas and waiting for another three weeks would ruin my self-imposed schedule or deadline.
But I’ll strongly recommend that cutting short these three weeks is not worth it. You have already spent much of your time, energy, and money on your Exercise Pool. It would be nightmarish to see your tile losing out of the grout in the first few months only because your overexcitement didn’t allow you to wait for another three weeks. Ironically, it is the same piece of advice my wife gave when I was planning to fill my Exercise Pool after a couple of weeks of waiting.
Edging is a specification and a personal liking or preference. So, I’ll tell you what I have used. I went for the same sort of edging that you can see in a bathroom and that you can buy in a DIY shop. While I opted for plastic edging, you don’t necessarily have to use the same option. If you plan for better quality and finish, you can go for a metal edging strip. But once it is full and the jets are on, nobody will be able to see what is beneath it. So, I would say if you like to save some money, this is one of the areas you can think miserly.
Obviously, cutting the tiles is one of the processes that you cannot do by hand. I personally believe the scoring and breaking method is a bit of toil. You can spend some dollars on an ordinary wet diamond cutting machine. Believe me, those $20 or $25 will make your life much easier. With this machine, you can trim whatever doesn’t fit. But you should be watchful of the chips and bits that fly off while you’re cutting the tiles. This sort of machine is more like a grinding tool as it doesn’t cut per set.
The finishing touches in this blog will include the changes taking place around your DIY Exercise Pool. I have a deck and a new fence from the tree, which finishes off the pool perfectly. Obviously, there are multiple ways to finish things off, depending on personal preferences, style, and budget. You have many options to think about – including grass, rocks, pants, decking, etc. However, it is worth noting here that when I had cost out my Exercise Pool, it did not include the finishing touches.
You should look for the durability and the wear and tear of the project. For instance, it is perfectly fine and pleasant to put grass around your Exercise Pool. But what if your kids splash gallons of water in the surroundings while ‘exercising’ in the pool. You should also be mindful of the fact that Chlorine and grand do not mix. So there could be consequences if the surrounding things get wet from the pool water.
Decking may get slippery, though there are certain coatings that you can get from the market to reduce this. However, I did not apply any coating to my decking. I personally don’t believe in artificial grass. Unless you spend lots of money on it, it looks rubbish.
You should realise that finishing touches are critical, and it is best that you start thinking about when you are designing your pool. I’m not asking you to finalise everything at that stage. But you should have a rough idea of what you actually desire and how you want it to look when it is done. Besides, don’t ignore the surrounding that will be getting wet, and the area will have to face the severity of the weather throughout the year. So, whatever you think, it needs to be practical. It is advisable that you spend some money to make it look the part, particularly after the amount of time it has already taken you to create.
Audio Visual is another important issue for many. Being in the industry for over a decade, I’m particular about it. Obviously, for my own pool, there is a good amount of AV included. I would like to start this section with AV I before we can see what else you might add or possibly do with your build.
Build a DIY Exercise Pool
First of all, I think a majority of people are following something of a trend. However, planning is critical. You should not be considering AV only because it’s in fashion. Instead, it should be a part of your initial plan or design. Interestingly, AV is one of those aspects that can be adjusted according to your budget. I didn’t spend a lot on my AV setup, and I’m happy with what I got. But you can go for a higher version of it – if it suits your budget.
In my case, I intended to have a TV to watch the sports in my DIY Exercise Pool. Usually, people believe that putting a satellite dish or a cable box is a luxury. While I did not spend much on it, I opted for the streaming method – I already have subscribed to Netflix and Amazon. So, I didn’t have to pay for anything extra and yet enjoyed watching TV while exercising.
However, you should make some decisions in order to put a TV in with internet. My previous experience with wireless internet had failed, and I was sure that all my connections would be going to be hard-wired. But it wasn’t a great issue for me due to the proximity of my workplace and the network switch that I have in there. Still, I was required to run an insanely lengthy cable. If you plan to run an ethernet cable, pay some extra cash and get an outdoor cable.
I have had to run a second cable within a year as it broke down in the elements. A probable reason for its breakdown could be that a dog or cat might have chewed it. (It may happen to you more often if you live in the countryside). As a precaution, I should have opted for a couple of runs of cable, which makes it easier to find the epicentre of the fault. While I missed the first time, I have ensured this setup after having to re-cable. To put it more simply, in case you need a 40mm run of cable, you should run 2 x 20m – instead of running 40mm – with a connection halfway. After you have cable run, you will require some power.
When you reach this stage, keeping things separate from the main feed into your box is advisable. I run a loop of power and a couple of sockets for things that require power – for instance, AV equipment, TV, and the lighting.
For sound, you will definitely require some speakers. You can spend on the earth on speakers and the ones that are waterproof. I opted for a simple one – a marine-grade amplifier and marine-grade speakers. With a considerable size and the audio, those speakers serve my purpose well. The next thing is their placement. In my case, I bought 2 speakers, which are front-facing from the LED unit that I built. I’ll discuss more that shortly.
However, if I were to build my DIY Exercise Pool project today, I’d go for 4 speakers installing the other two at the back of the pool – the place where I sit. Obviously, the additional speakers would enhance the audio experience than the one I have now. Obviously, the audio needs to be controlled. You should have a manually adjustable volume control that you can access easily. My volume control is on the side of the TV.
You may ask how you did I choose an outdoor tv! Let me tell you an interesting thing that I didn’t. For almost a year, it has been working fine. Usually, IP-rated TVs are too expensive, and you’ll have to pay at least a couple of grand. But my project had a certain budget, and I did not want to spend that much. So I looked for an inexpensive option and looked at the pre-made IP-rated enclosures. Initially, I thought they would also be a bit costly for what I needed. Eventually, I ended up selecting the most economical 32’’ TV I could get. I wasn’t worried about the quality of the audio – an inherent problem with all the cheap TV. I had my amplifier to compensate for this problem. Then I had to make housing to cover it, making it waterproof. However, it wasn’t my plan to make it 100% waterproof as it was enough to make it splash-proof. It was almost unlikely that I would be going to watch the sports in the driving rain while being in the pool. So, I made the enclosure having a sheet of waterproof house wrap under the lid. A Perspex front was also there to ensure the protection of the screen from splashing in the Exercise Pool. I then ordered online a cover for an outdoor TV, and believe me, it is great. I also purchased a 55’’ cover that drops over the cabinet, which I had made from the leftovers from the decking.
I had purchased the Perspex from the DIY store and added a few internal fans that can be slid out to prevent the front glass from blurring from the condensation emanating from the hot air of the pool. A few PC fans were good enough with a 12V power supply inside the cabinet.
I dropped an Apple TV into the unit attached to the TV, allowing me to stream from my smartphone or use Apple TV if I like to use it exclusively. The TV “feed” originates from an HDMI splitter in my bar. I ran an HDMI cable under the decking of the TV.
A few things to look for.
What video and from where?
Do you need internet, and from where?
How much power do you need, and for what specific purposes?
Any external pieces of kit?
How will you control it?
While I managed all the others, I could further improve the last point with my setup. I’m not able to change the TV channel from my internet TV account while in my DIY Exercise Pool. I must get out of it and head over to the computer in the bar that controls it. Obviously, I have managed to live with what I have built, and there are no complaints. But I will strongly recommend you to go for a waterproof wireless keyboard. I think it would be an ideal solution (if it exists at all).
My cabinet is at a respectable distance from my DIY Exercise Pool. However, the cover of both my cabinet and that of my Exercise Pool are the same, giving a nice combination to my overall project.
Filling and Testing
It was the most stressful and, at the same time, exciting moment of my project. I was not sure if it would stay together or leak – my biggest nightmare. I was hoping that it would not fall apart as soon as water was in my Exercise Pool. I was even not certain if the filer and pump would actually work or would my heating system work. All my answers depended on the eventual filling and testing of my Exercise Pool.
Filling the Exercise Pool
Amid all the confusion and excitement, it was a wonderful moment when I turned on the hose pipe, allowing the water to fill my Exercise Pool.
According to my calculation, the filling process was to take somewhere around 3 hours as the average hosepipe allows 1000 litres of water per hour under normal pressure. As expected, the filling process took roughly the same amount of time. But more importantly, my DIY Exercise Pool didn’t show any signs of a leak – water didn’t seem to be escaping. I had successfully crossed the most significant milestone of my build.
However, I had to wait for another 90 minutes allowing the water to rise over the seats and this phase too passed without any difficulty. Another crucial point was when the water hit the jets and began filling the piping. But again, there was no leak.
The next important step was when the water reached the skimmer from where it would flow down via the piping into the pump, and it would be ready to be tested. (From the beginning of the build, I was also concerned by power outages.) So, to test the system, I turned on the pump at low speed and allowed it to run for about 5 minutes.
I checked for leaks all around the Control Room as that was the area where most of the joints are located. As I feared, I had a bit of a drip on the joint, which was not 100% square as I had not left sufficient room.
So I accelerated the pump to its maximum speed, and water started splashing everywhere. But it was not a problem. It just needs a bit of a turn on the screen joints on the top of the pump. We had an ideal movement, and I turned on the blower and voila. It seemed like an Exercise Pool. However, at that moment, it was about 8 degrees – a fairly cold temperature inside the pool. Then I turned on the heater to see if it was working efficiently to raise the temperature of that amount of body of water.
By that stage of my build, it was already December. It was very cold outside, and I knew that it would take a good deal of time to heat up the water. So I left it for a few hours, and when I checked the temperature, it rose a few degrees. It was a great development. I hoped that it would heat up soon, but it didn’t.
I learned later that the heating of water – like cooling – is not a straight line. For the first few hours, I was heating the water at around a degree an hour before dropping it soon. I realise now that the efficiency of the heater in cool weather – the heaters are far more efficient during the summer months – is 0.5 degrees Celsius per hour. It simply means that you can randomly decide an hour before you want to use the Exercise Pool. It needs proper planning, which is as simple as it is manageable.
Forty hours later, I had started the heating process. I achieved the desired temperature – 39 degrees Celsius. I had finally done it. I had built a DIY Exercise Pool that didn’t leak much (let’s discuss this part shortly), and that heated up.
Nothing gives you a more satisfying feeling than seeing your creation – something built from design to the finish – working fine.
Repairing any leaks
Initially, I believed that having to top up the pool every week was normal. I thought it evaporated more often, which is not right. You do not have to top it up that frequently. If your water level dropping that fast, you have a leak.
Despite my overdoing, I had a leak. In fact, I had a couple. The first leak I detected was a constant tiny leak emanating from the bottom of a T joint. That joint linked the inlets to the skimmer and going into the pump feed.
My effort to dry the pool before using the pipe cement did not prove 100% successful. I needed to use a plumber’s wet putty designed to prevent leaks on wet and dry pipes. Due to a chemical reaction, the putty sets even when things are wet. I purchased a few tubes of putty to fill my leak and managed to do it successfully.
The second leak was for the Ozone. I had removed the Ozonator from the system before as it wasn’t functioning properly. However, there were several weak joints. Anything that is joined with a jubilee clip under high pressure, like in an Exercise Pool, will end up leaking, and that’s what had happened in my case. Under high pressure, the joints were leaking water very rapidly.
I eventually locked off the system, draining the excess water from the Ozonator section of the pipework before cutting it out. Then I replaced it with a regular pipe and a couple of 90-degree elbows. It was good enough to stop the leaks.
A year later, I usually top up the pool after a few months because of evaporation instead of leaks. Obviously, when people go in and out all the time, the water level drops a bit, but not to a drastic level. It merely takes 10 mins to regain the normal level of water (middle of the skimmer) with the hose pipe.
Chemicals and Maintenance
Why do we need Chemicals in an Exercise Pool?
We should add chemicals in an Exercise Pool in order to kill bacteria that usually breed in a damp environment. The appropriate use of chemicals allows us to remove the harmful bacteria from our Exercise Pool and keep the water clean for a longer period of time.
What Chemicals do I need for my Exercise Pool?
We need the following 6 chemicals for the Exercise Pool
- pH Increaser
- pH Decreaser
- Anti Foam
- Total Alkalinity Increaser
- Clarifier (optional)
We’ll now look at each of these chemicals in detail.
It is one of the major chemicals that aims to kill bacteria in your DIY Exercise Pool. You have two choices here. Either you can choose Bromine, or you can go for Chlorine. At a later stage, I’ll write a separate blog about the difference and pros and cons of each of the two. For now, I’ll stick to Chlorine, the principal chemical I used for my pool, and the one that is more popular.
However, it is noteworthy that Bromine is not a bad option either. You should go for it in case you have sensitive skin or your body reacts to Chlorine. It means that the sensitivity of your skin will not prevent you from exercising in your pool.
Bromine – a sanitiser, oxidiser, and algicide – is used abundantly in exercise pools, swimming pools, etc. In its raw state, Bromine is a reddish-brown liquid. However, you can find in tablet, granular, and liquid sanitation products for your pool. (But you should never use pure elemental Bromine in a pool). The liquid bromine products available in the market are diluted with water and other chemicals for better performance and safe handling.
Bromine – not true Bromine, in fact – is the name used to describe any chemical that releases hypobromous acid into the water. It happens in a few ways:
- The two-part system consists of sodium bromine – activated through an oxidiser – and is mostly used in smaller bodies of water.
- The other is a solid and dissolvable form of Bromine – tablets, granules, etc. It is formed when Bromine is bound to an organic molecule.
Pros and Cons of Chlorine
The most common system of sanitising your pool water is a chlorine purification system.
This chemical is added directly to the water to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and algae.
However, you have to test the PH of the water before using a chlorine purification system. PH of the water determines the correct balance of chemicals. Pool owners do this practice routinely as a part of their pool maintenance.
- Chlorine is an effective oxidising agent and helps to eliminate most of the bacteria in water.
- It is a commonly available chemical.
- Chlorine is inexpensive.
- Chlorine does not kill 100% bacteria. Complex microorganisms remain dormant while Chlorine is present but are not exterminated completely.
- Chlorine is harmful to the environment.
- When exposed, commercially available Chlorine (Hypo) disintegrates into Chlorine gas rapidly.
- Excessive chlorination is dangerous for humans over a period of time.
- Super-chlorination may also damage downstream water treatment systems such as Resins, RO/UF membranes.
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Thanks - Andi
Hi, Andi here. I own Buildahottub.com and also write all of the articles and info pages on the site. Some years back now, I built my own hot tub but struggled to find the information I needed. So, once my tub was complete, I started this website to help others in their own pursuit of hot tub and plunge pools DIY building information.
Today, I've helped over 1000 DIY customers just like you all over the world build hot tubs and pools. Have a good look around the site, there are lots of resources here. Please do get in touch if I can help you. - Cheers, Andi