The equipment(pump/filter) that is used with above-ground swimming pools is designed to be outside and in the elements. Some will elect to protect their equipment by building a cover or “dog house” over them.
When building a dog house for your pool’s pump and filter, it’s important to make it easy to remove for good access and should be built to last years.
Protecting your above-ground pool equipment by covering it is not at all necessary. And there are some clear advantages AND disadvantages to having one.
If you are trying to decide whether or not it’s worth it, here are ten things that may help you say “yes” or “no”.
TEN THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING A DOG HOUSE FOR AN ABOVE GROUND POOL’S PUMP AND FILTER
1 The equipment is designed to be in the elements, so a dog house(cover) is not required
Some think that the pump and filter have to be covered. It doesn’t. The vast majority of above-ground pool equipment is not covered with no issues.
With this said, the hot direct summer sun is brutal on everything. Most pumps, pump traps, and filter bodies are made of plastic with some fiberglass material mixed in for strength.
After a few years of lots of direct sun, the plastic/resin portion of the material made for these parts will deteriorate a little. This will expose some of the fiberglass in the mix. As a result, some of the filter tank bodies will get a little itchy when working with them. This can be annoying.
Covering the filter tank will mostly prevent it from becoming itchy to handle. This may be the biggest reason to build a dog house. It’s probably not enough of a reason, but coming from a guy who serviced pools for 16 years, it’s nice not to worry about irritating your skin when servicing the filter.
2 Designing it to remove well and easily is important
Over the years, I have seen and had to deal with all kinds of dog houses (covers) for pool equipment. Some were great and most were a pain in the ass to work with.
By far, the biggest thing a dog house should do well is to be able to get completely out of the way when the equipment needs to be accessed or serviced.
Some dog houses are so heavy, they need two people to remove them. Not good. Others are very awkward to move because they have to be grabbed at a weird angle or there’s something in the way. Still, others may be dirty, bug-ridden, or are too slimy to easily grab and remove.
Make your dog house lightweight and easily removable. Design and place it over the equipment so the structure can all dry well after rain. Add handles to the sides so it can be easily grabbed and lifted.
Don’t plant things too close to it. Ideally, you don’t want any part of the bottom of it touching the earth. That will promote more moisture and bugs. Place it on something like a layer of rocks or patio stones that keep it off the ground some.
Keep an area clear next to the pool’s equipment for the dog house when it is removed. You don’t want to have to make a special space for it every time you have to service the pump/filter.
The biggest thing here is to make it so you don’t have to think about how much of a pain it’s going to be to service your pool. I have heard so many people complain about removing their dog houses. For some, it’s bad enough that they have to service the pool. Adding an extra inconvenience to doing this will prevent many from doing what a pool really needs – consistent and regular maintenance.
3 Better to cover with a dog house than place the pump/filter under the deck
It is very common for pool owners to build their deck over the equipment. Some are happy with this decision, but most aren’t.
When a pump and filter are under a pool deck, it can be very hard to access. Having to crawl to turn a valve, unscrew a lid, and/or add chemicals is not pleasant for anyone.
Also, cartridge-type filters require a lot of access space above the tank body. This is because the tank is accessed at the top and the cartridge is removed for cleaning. If the filter is too tall, the deck will be in the way for easy filter element removal/replacement.
Decent and better quality above-ground swimming pools last for many years. Some pool owners were in pretty good shape when they got their pool and deck, so it was no big deal to have to crawl under the deck to service the equipment. Five or ten years go by and now there are back or joint issues. It’s now very difficult to get under that damn deck.
I have moved a lot of pumps and filters from under a deck to just outside one for this reason. Consider your health when deciding to place your pool’s equipment in a tight spot under a deck. It may seem like a good idea as it protects the pump and filter from the elements( and maybe your dogs and kids), but your back may tell you something different.
Also, consider that if your pool’s skimmer is under the deck, then you will have to access the top of it. This is done by cutting the deck top or designing a trap door for it.
It may seem cool to have an opening in the pool deck for the skimmer, but I would avoid it completely by having the skimmer away from the deck. It just makes it much easier to deal with.
4 Be aware of how much space you need to service the equipment
Most new pool owners have no idea how much room it takes to service their pump and filter. The short answer is – “More than most think”.
Before designing and building your dog house, go and service your pool’s equipment. While doing this, make a note of how much space it’s taking.
How much space does it take for your body to squat down and remove the pump basket lid? What angle do you use when taking apart the cartridge filter or backwashing the sand-type filter? How much room do you require to comfortably access any equipment add-ons like a chlorinator, salt system, or ionizer? Don’t forget accessing the timer or GFI outlet connected to the pump.
Mark the area your body uses to perform these services with spray paint or something. With the area around the equipment marked out, now decide where the dog house will have to go when you remove it. Keep room for that as well.
You may not have all the room needed to easily access everything if your pump and filter is already next to a fence or shrubbery or something else, but doing a space assessment can help you with the design and placement of your future dog house.
5 Bees, spiders, and frogs will live in it
If you add anything to your yard that has corners, cracks, shade, or any structure of any kind, you can expect nature to move right in, With a dog house, your move-ins will be spiders, wasps, frogs, and even snakes.
Most people don’t like dealing with some or all of these creatures. Designing a dog house to be simple and clean will help prevent having to deal with them. Keeping the dog house clean and off the earth and allowing it to dry completely after rain is key.
Regularly spraying poison for these live-ins will be extremely helpful with keeping them at bay. You don’t want to worry about getting surprised by a scary creature every time you move your dog house.
6 If building with wood, use pressure-treated
For many of you, this is a message by Captain Obvious (which is what my ex-girlfriend used to call me), but not all of you.
Unless you are in the high desert(like Albuquerque, NM), wood left outside will rot quicker than you think. Using pressure-treated wood will make your dog house last a lot longer. Cedarwood is nice too, but who can afford to build with cedar lol.
7 Best to design to tilt out of the way instead of removing
Some of the best dog house designs that I have seen and dealt with didn’t have to be completely removed. They were just lifted and tilted back and out of the way.
To do this properly, it’s best to have a hinge or something that keeps the tilted side of the dog house in place. With this, the house can be pulled upward on one side and rests on the ground next to the equipment.
The advantage to this is that it’s much less awkward to remove and not as heavy as you are never lifting the entire structure. Just pulling it over and out of the way.
An equipment dog house that tilts back out of the way does require some extra planning and design. But it’s worth it.
NOTE: Some design their dog houses to have only a removable top for access which leaves the walls permanently in place. I do not recommend this type of design.
8 Consider aesthetics
Pool equipment dog houses range from beautiful little structures to absolute eyesores.
Most pump/filter placements for above-ground pools are usually hidden away from backyard activities. Most pool owners have me place the equipment in the back between the pool and their fence. If the equipment is out of view, then the look of the dog house is not as important.
If your dog house is going to be visible though, consider the aesthetics of it. You can spruce it up a bit by adding some trim work to it, painting it, and putting some landscaping around the area.
If landscaping, keep in mind the space needed for servicing( See #4). Also, if trimming out or adding angles to your doghouse(like a roof system), keep in mind that anything you add will add weight to it. And you don’t want the thing to be too heavy to move.
9 Covering will keep the filter body in better shape
As stated above, filter tank bodies seem to be made of only plastic. They also have some fiberglass material in them.
This means that after a few years of direct sun exposure the fiberglass material will become exposed and cause itching. Keeping the equipment covered usually prevents your equipment from becoming itchy.
I don’t know if it’s worth the expense and dealing with a dog house, but it’s nice not to have to worry about your skin getting irritated by touching a filter tank.
10 May help protect in the winter if up north
In the north, pools have it be winterized and put to bed for the brutal winter. Many will elect to disconnect and bring their pool equipment inside during the freeze months, which is ideal.
Many just winterize their equipment and leave them in place(especially the heavy sand-type filters). With this, a dog house will offer some protection from the winter elements.