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9 Tips for Diving into a Pool Installation Project This Summer

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While not quite fully amphibious, humans are still pretty enamored with swimming: According to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, the United States has well over 10 million residential pools in use. If you plan on adding to the count this year, here are some tips to keep in mind before diving in.

1. DECIDE ABOVE GROUND VS. IN-GROUND.

When it comes to adding a body of water to your property, this might be the easiest decision you’ll make. While in-ground pools are aesthetically appealing and come in a wider variety of sizes, shapes, and depths than above-ground units, they are by far the most expensive: Expect to spend a minimum $20,000—often considerably more—to have one installed. Above-ground pools, which are typically sold as “kits,” require far less labor and materials and can start at $1500, with additional installation fees.

If price isn’t a factor, consider that above-ground pools can be easily disassembled if desired, while in-ground pools (typically made of vinyl, fiberglass, or concrete) can be customized for diving-safe depths and are large enough to accommodate laps. If you’re a short-term planner, realize that a concrete in-ground job could take up to 12 weeks. An above-ground kit, while not quite as attractive, can be assembled in a matter of hours.

2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR.

If you opt for an in-ground pool, the job will likely be the single most complex addition you'll make to your property. A contractor will have to assess your land for building compliance, ease of access for construction equipment, and tackling additions like fencing and walkways. While a professional will be able to navigate these waters successfully, getting stuck with a disreputable installer could prove costly. Avoid outfits that promise cheap prices and bury necessities (steps, pumps) in fine print; collect references and contact each one; see if the installer is affiliated with the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, which can accredit installers.

3. CONSIDER LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.

While in-ground pools can sometimes only be placed where it’s easiest to dig—some backyards could host giant rock formations that can prove problematic—you’ll want to consider the proximity of the pool to other backyard fixtures. Having trees overhead can increase the need to skim the surface of leaves; a shaded area can also make for cooler swimming in unheated pools. Ideally, you’ll also want to keep the pool within view of a deck or window to monitor the swimmers' safety.

4. BE PREPARED FOR A SPIKE IN POWER CONSUMPTION.

That glorious, shimmering body of water can use up to 20,000 gallons of water, and every single ounce of it needs to be filtered. Depending on energy costs in a given region, a typical pump could add as much as $300 annually to your utility bill.

5. PLAN FOR MAINTENANCE COSTS.

The cost of a pool doesn’t stop when construction does: Chemicals to keep the water free of bacteria and algae can run from $50 to $100 monthly, while expenses to have a pool professionally opened and closed in cooler climates can run up to $300. Depending on the surface material used, in-ground pools may also need periodic refinishing or repair.

6. FENCING IS A MUST.

Though all types of pools require some measure of safety to stop children from wandering in unsupervised, your in-ground pool may require you by law to install a protective fencing barrier. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission [PDF], more than 300 children die annually in preventable pool-related deaths. To minimize the danger, the CPSC advises pool owners to install fencing with self-closing, self-latching doors, and door or motion alarms to alert adults to the presence of a child in the pool area. Above-ground pools should have access ladders removed when the pool is not in use.

7. USE A COVER.

In addition to preventing debris from getting in, a proper pool cover can also help prevent evaporation and retain pool temperatures, reducing utility costs to heat the water. Keep in mind that you’ll have several cover options, including ones that are child-resistant and ones that are more concerned with keeping winter weather at bay. Make sure you know the limitations of each before buying.

8. UPDATE YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE.

Owning a pool is, for the most part, an absolute blast—but having a large body of water in your backyard can also invite some hazards. While most home insurance policies have a $100,000 cap in base liability, it’s recommended that pool owners bump that up to $500,000 or even consider an umbrella policy for up to $1 million. Falling trees, personal injury, or water damage can add up.

9. DON’T CONSIDER IT A HOME UPGRADE.

Your pool may be beautiful, serene, and some of the best money you’ve ever spent. But don’t expect future potential buyers for your home to feel the same way. In some cases, real estate transactions can be waylaid by residents who are fearful of maintenance costs or safety concerns. Make sure any pool installation is for your enjoyment, and not with the expectation of recouping costs down the road.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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Pop Culture
The House From The Money Pit Is For Sale

Looking for star-studded new digs? For a cool $5.9 million, Top10RealEstateDeals.com reports, you can own the Long Island country home featured in the 1986 comedy The Money Pit—no renovations required.

For the uninitiated, the film features Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as hapless first-time homeowners who purchase a rundown mansion for cheap. The savings they score end up being paltry compared to the debt they incur while trying to fix up the house.

The Money Pit featured exterior shots of "Northway," an eight-bedroom estate located in the village of Lattingtown in Nassau County, New York. Luckily for potential buyers, its insides are far nicer than the fictional ones portrayed in the movie, thanks in part to extensive renovations performed by the property’s current owners.

Amenities include a giant master suite with a French-style dressing room, eight fireplaces, a "wine wall," and a heated outdoor saltwater pool. Check out some photos below, or view the entire listing here.

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

[h/t Top10RealEstateDeals.com]

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Live Smarter
How to Keep Your Water Pipes From Freezing This Winter
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Recently, a frozen pipe burst in the basement of Stephen King collector Gerald Winters, allowing for gushing water that destroyed a number of original King manuscripts. It wasn't the first time freezing temperatures allowed for property destruction, and it certainly won't be the last.

When supply lines freeze, the ice has no room to expand, causing water pressure to build up between the blockage and the closed faucet. When it bursts, the damage can be significant. New Orleans-based CBS affiliate WWLTV recently shared steps from the American Red Cross that homeowners can take to minimize their risk of a winter disaster.

If you have pipes that are located near exterior walls prone to cooler temperatures or in uninsulated areas of your basement, try letting a small trickle of cold water run through household faucets. The continuous movement of the water will prevent the line from succumbing to pressure. You can also buy insulation or heat-capturing foil tape from a local hardware store. Keeping pipes insulated will help them retain heat in winter and prevent them from "sweating" in summer.

If the worst happens and you come home to a frozen line—you'll know because the faucet won't be working—then you'll have to thaw out the pipe before it has a chance to burst and cause water damage. With the faucet running, find the source of the blockage by looking at the supply line for frost or bulging; apply heat to the affected pipes with a space heater, hair dryer, or some hot towels.

If fate has dealt you a truly bad hand and you discover that a pipe has burst, you'll need to act quickly: Broken pipes can dump more than 250 gallons of water a day. Know the location of your main incoming water line and turn it off, then head for the phone to notify a plumber.

There's not exactly a set temperature where you should be more concerned about a frozen pipe. Even at higher temperatures, a pipe's location and incoming cold snaps can cause problems. Seal cracks in walls near pipes if you can, and consult with a professional about rerouting pipes if they're in a problem area. With a little foresight, you can prevent a king-sized (or King-sized) disaster.

[h/t WWLTV.com]

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