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Q&A with Handy Mac: Plunge pool ideas

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Ray needs some pool advice

Q: We have a small plunge pool in our garden which, of course, is virtually empty. We were thinking of fibreglassing the sides and base so that when the rain eventually arrives the pool can function again.

Brick with a layer of cement seems to be holding everything together. We have a salt-water chlorination system (installed before we bought here in Villiersdorp).

Our pool is 3m x 2m and 1.25m deep.

Cost is a factor especially as the space might not be used for swimming for quite some time – if ever. We are thinking of preservation of the hole in the first instance.

A: This raises the age-old question of why we want a swimming pool in the first place. Not a week goes by without me wondering if it’s really worth it, especially now that mine is covered with a solar blanket that means I have to put in some effort if I want a quick dip in water that at times is uncomfortably warm. It is special when my granddaughter arrives with her friends for a swim – however, if we were to move, I doubt that having a pool at the new property would be a priority.

Back to Ray. A nice little plunge pool can be fun and doesn’t need too much maintenance. This one seems to be fitted with jets, so maybe it is a bit of a Jacuzzi / spa as well. I don’t know if you have seen it operational. If not, I would be cautious about spending any money before you know that everything else about the pool is fine.

However, if you do know that it is operational, the first thing that you need to check is that the sides and floor are structurally sound. The last thing you need to do is cover loose plaster with fibreglass, as it will just pull the plaster off.

As the pool is empty, you need to test the soundness of the plaster – tapping with a steel rod will suffice, as you will easily pick up the sound of loose plaster. If it is not in good shape, you need to decide whether you are going to go forward with the project. I don’t think patching loose areas is a good idea – I would want to get all the old plaster off and start again. Assuming the plaster is good, get quotes for fibreglassing or if you don’t want to spend that kind of money, you could simply just paint the pool. I think that this is something that we have all forgotten about over the years, but the best boss I ever had, Gordon Fairbrother, would regularly drain his pool and give it a fresh coat of paint. There are amazing products on the market nowadays which will cost a lot less than fibreglass, especially if you are not going to use the pool that much.

Also do some work on the timber deck around the pool; the last thing you need is a nice new pool but at a cost of splinters in your feet.

If your pool had not been empty, you would have needed a submersible pump to remove the water. For as long as I can remember, I had always wanted a submersible pump and, of course, I needed one for my wellpoint water filtration system. I was so impressed with it I went out and bought a second one, as the first is permanently in the tank.

I really believe it is one of those nice-to-have things in case of floods, emptying of fish ponds and so on.

*Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB:

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