When you buy a home with an existing pool or you have a pool installed to provide you and your family with your own backyard oasis, pool maintenance will need to be addressed immediately. It is essential to provide pool maintenance continuously or your backyard oasis will turn into a green-tinged smelly pond that no one can enjoy.
Your first decision will be are you willing to take sole responsibility for your pool maintenance or do you want to hire a pool service? More and more people today are opting for hiring a pool service company so that their time in the pool is spent in enjoyment, not work.
Basic care of your pool includes removal of floating debris by skimming the surface with a fine net and scooping out any large debris such as leaves from the bottom of your pool. Then you will need to brush the sides of your pool and follow with a vacuuming on all surfaces, including any benches, stairs, and ladders. That will take care of the visible dirt. The frequency that you need to do this will be determined by the level of use your pool receives and how much debris your pool is exposed to.
If you have large trees near your pool, you may have the challenge of pollen or leaves dropping in. Keep in mind that the more often you clean the visible debris, the easier and quicker the job can be done and the easier it will be to keep your pool in balance.
You will need to check the pH of your pool at least once per week. Variables like extreme rainfall will dilute the chemicals in your pool, and hot weather will eat up the chlorine in your pool. These mean you should check the water’s chemical balance. Heavy pool use, which brings in more debris and bacteria, can require extra testing.
If your pH is low, your pool is acidic. If it tests high, your pool is not acidic enough. Either is going to affect the quality of your pool water and how well your pool maintains a safe bacteria level.
The main chemical used in pools is chlorine or bromine. Some pools have an alternative system called the salt water pool system. The salt water system involves adding a component to your pool equipment that uses salt to produce a usable form of chlorine. The chlorine or bromine acts as the sanitizer in your pool. If the balance is not maintained, there will be bacteria growing in your pool, and swimmers will be susceptible to respiratory infections, skin or ear infections, and disorders such as diarrhea.
A well-functioning pool system includes the pump which moves the water from the pool into the filter and back to the pool. The filter is where the pollutants and contaminants are removed. The filtered water then returns to the pool. Your pool may have additional equipment like the salt chlorinator or a solar, electric, or gas-run water heating system.
Turning to Professional Pool Cleaning Services
There are several reasons people choose to have professionals maintain their pool. The first is time. With the time at your job every day, and then a possible long commute home, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is cleaning a pool. They would much rather unwind and relax in the pool. Some people travel a lot. Whether for business or pleasure, when you are away from home, the pool still needs to be maintained.
Pool services can also save you money. Maintenance of your pool and pool equipment can potentially identify small repairs or service needs before they become a big repair or even an expensive replacement. Your pool technician’s extensive experience will give you the peace of mind that everything is in the hands of an expert.
Recognizing all that is involved in maintaining your pool, if you have decided to turn the job over to a pool service, what should you consider before you choose one?
How long have they been in service? Is this company well-known in your community? Can they give local references? Ask your friends and neighbors who use a pool service which company they use and if they are happy with the service. No company will stay in business long if they don’t meet the expectations of their customers.
Check online reviews of the company you are considering. Did they answer the phone in a professional manner? If they made an appointment with you to look at your pool, were they punctual? How many employees are there? If you have an emergency situation, how will it be handled?
Is their equipment thrown in the trunk of the car or is there a truck that appears to be in good dependable condition? Is the equipment well-organized and clean? You don’t want cross contamination from other pools. Are chemicals stored safely?
Most pool cleaning and maintenance companies have different plans of maintenance. Do they ask to see your pool before they quote you a price? The size and shape of your pool will affect the cost of cleaning. Is your pool an above-ground pool or an inground pool? Is it a salt water pool?
Decide how often you want the pool company to work on your pool. Maybe you only want the assistance of the service to open your pool in the spring and close the pool in the fall. Or maybe you want them to care for your pool continuously throughout the year. Or something in between.
If your pool maintenance and cleaning is going to be a joint undertaking, it will be very important that each party is clear on what their responsibilities are. “Get it in writing” is a good motto.
A few other items you want to check out is are the chemicals needed for the pool included in the fee or is that an additional charge? Is cleaning the filter when necessary included in the routine service of your pool or is that an additional charge? If you contract for year-round service, is opening and closing your pool included in the cost?
The answers to these questions could explain why one service is considerably cheaper than the rest. In any case, the more information you can get now, the fewer unpleasant surprises you will have later.
Sooner or later, there will need to be repairs to your pool or pool equipment. Does your pool maintenance company take care of repairs or must you find someone else for repairs? Are they the certified representative for a certain brand of pool equipment? Is it the same equipment you already have?
If you won’t be home when your pool service is scheduled, ask for a detailed written report that includes what was done, as well as a list of any chemicals that were used. Some pool companies send an email account each time they work on your pool, with the status of your pool and even before and after pictures of the pool.
Your pool maintenance may be scheduled when you are not at home or when you are on vacation. What type of background check does the company have for employees?
Is this company insured? While no one expects a problem, you are working with water and electricity and perhaps gas. Accidents can happen.
8. Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Is this company a member of the Better Business Bureau? Being a member of the BBB indicates this company has committed itself to provide dependable service and use honest business practices. They are also providing honesty in their advertising. Members agree to the reliable procedures by mediation of the BBB in handling any customer complaint.
9. The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP)
The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals is the largest international trade association representing the swimming pool, spa, hot tub, and recreational water industries. APSP is the leading industry advocate for education, raising industry standards, and safety. The APSP promotes professional best practice by developing and providing education and certification for pool maintenance workers and pool technicians.
The APSP also funds research projects to improve the standards and develop new standards. Membership in the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals indicates this company is willing to promote and participate in the scientific-based growth of this profession.
Are the people who will be caring for your pool certified? Each state has its own rules on who can call themselves a technician and how much training is necessary before someone can be self-employed for pool maintenance. Some states have no standards or minimum requirements at all.
Do your homework. Check out the person you are thinking of hiring. He or she will be handling potentially toxic chemicals. Mistakes by an untrained novice can damage or even destroy your pool or your pool equipment and, even worse, potentially impact the health of your family.
The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals has two levels of training and certification. The Certified Pool and spa Operator (CPO) certification is a two-day course. The first day can be completed online, but the second day requires classroom time with the instructor. There is a written test required at the end of the course to become certified. The CPO level gives participants a better understanding of the operator’s role in management, pool care, and risk reduction. It also includes the local and state codes for their area.
The Advanced Service Technician (AST) certification course level is also a blend of online classes and instructor-led classes. The course is approximately 45 hours of self- paced online classes followed by one to two days of instructor-led classes. There is a comprehensive written exam at the end of the course. In addition, to keep the certification the student must complete 16 hours of continuing education every two years.
The AST certification provides in-depth education on equipment maintenance and servicing, water treatment procedures, equipment installation and repair, aquatic facility operation, workplace safety, business management, job site risk management, aquatic structure types and finishes, and local codes.
If the pool company you choose for your pool has been certified through the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, you can be assured that you have contracted with professionals well-trained in state-of-the-art techniques to keep your pool in the best condition possible.
Your pool is one of the most expensive investments you can make. Take the time to research the companies you are considering to clean and maintain that investment. Talk to friends and neighbors who have pools. Check online to see how customers feel about the service they received. Compare costs. Don’t sign a contract until you feel you have found the right company for you. Once you’ve made the decision, you can look forward to enjoying your pool without all the stress of cleaning and maintenance.