Tip #27: Safe Steps
None of us are getting any younger. And few of us are as agile as we were even ten years ago.
Most adult injuries inflicted in the pool area are caused by losing ones balance on the pool or spa steps.
When you bid a residential renovation, there is one suggestion you can make that few competitors and often, not even the customer, thought of: Adding a hand rail and over-sizing the steps to make the pool safer.
Even if the customer refuses the extra expense, they really do appreciate you looking out for their welfare.
Commercial pools require a maximum rise of 9" and minimum tread of 10". Residential pools have no such code and we've all seen steps that were 24" apart and spas without any top step at all.
A renovation is the time to dress up these steps. A dozen 1/4" holes are drilled into the shell and risers of existing steps and #3 steel pegs are driven to anchor new concrete.
Concrete is hand packed into place using existing steps for height and width references.
2"X 6" ceramic tile marks step edges or tile accents could have been used on the tread and a fresh coat of quartz plaster ties it all together.
These steps are wide enough that a 'Figure 4' hand rail can be set directly down the center. Standard size steps require the handrail set to one side to get sufficient footing on the top step.
When it comes down to the cost of a very real safety feature, I balance that against the cost of one trip to a hospital emergency room. For a cost of around $600 you've made access to the pool safer for everyone who uses it.
(photo right) This beautiful little in-ground spa has one fatal flaw. She was built without a skimmer.
Even with a screen enclosure, the owner tired of dealing with floating dust and debris and sought to have a skimmer added. Recognizing the difficulty of adding a skimmer to an existing concrete spa with obsolete tile, contractors brought bids from $2,800 to $4,000.
What a shame it would be to defile the gentle balance of this spa with a bulky, plastic skimmer box.
We offered to fix the problem for $50. Interested?
Thankfully, one accessory the original pool builder did include was a suction-side cleaner line. To this wall fitting we added a threaded 1.5" elbow, a 2"X 4" commercial gutter fitting and a bit of 1.5" PVC pipe.
The skimmer fitting is placed about 1" under the surface with the vertical pipe cut to fit. Adjusting the Jandy valve at the equipment creates an effective vortex.
Operated along with the filtered water return (rather than the more turbulent turbo line) this small skimmer is more than enough to keep the spa surface clean. None of the connections need to be glued and the entire assembly can be removed when the spa is in use.
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