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Avoiding Pool Construction Lawsuits

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Avoiding Pool Construction lawsuits

Legal actions are common in all kinds of businesses. In the pool construction industry, conflicts resulting in legal actions are a major challenge. Most pool contractors view this as an inevitable part of the business. Some contractors are lucky to have escaped legal wrath by the clients. Other contractors have bitter experiences of the legal battles they encountered. It is impossible to avoid legal action, though contractors can limit their chances of involvement in legal battles. They can also consider other dispute resolution methods as an alternative to the expensive litigation process. It is a matter of diligence and good communication skills.

Avoiding Pool Construction lawsuits

The legal process

Scott Cohen, the owner of the Green Scene Landscape and swimming pool, believes that conflict is part of the construction business. He states that the due process has nothing to do with justice. Many contractors have a misleading belief that they are immune to legal suits if they uphold their work ethics and integrity. The truth is not a sure pass to the legal process. The legal world is brutal, and it only revolves around legal manipulation and not the truth for a victorious suit.

Matt Reynolds, a principal engineer, and partner for Rowley and Reynolds Forensic engineering concurs that lawsuits are part and parcel of the pool construction business. According to him, legal action is influenced by regional culture and political affiliations. He further notes that the law differs from state to state. In liberal countries, the law tends to favor the plaintiff while in conservative areas the defendant has the upper hand.

Large complex pool projects hold huge amounts increasing their vulnerability to legal action in case of a disagreement. Most of these clients have lawyers in place and may have past similar successful suits. Laborers under a contractor share liability when the suit instigated is against their contractor.

The type of pool construction job increases the chances of facing a lawsuit. Contractors with complex projects are prone to face lawsuits compared to simple projects.

Green Scene Landscape and swimming pool, Scott Cohen

Cohen and Reynolds agree that work excellence reduces the chances of legal actions. Accurate skills and knowledge in the area of expertise reduce the chances of facing a legal suit.

Take caution

Contractors should be wary of Red flags when taking up projects. The client, the site, a remodel, and a new project is something the contractor should take keen note of. 

Cohen advises that a contractor should not take up a time ultimatum from a client rather they should focus on the quality of the work.

Cohen and Reynolds advocate that contractors should not work based on assumptions because of their experience. They should instead take note of every detail accurately to avoid mistakes. A thorough study of the geographical location is key, especially on slopes to avoid future accidents. The drainage should be strategically and accurately placed depending on the type of construction and geographical features.

Precautionary steps

As stated, Legal actions are unavoidable but there are measures to reduce the chances of this.

To begin with, is communication! Lack of a communication channel between the clients and the contractor is a recipe for chaos. If arising problems are not dealt with immediately, it may lead to frustration of the client who may opt for legal action.

The contractor needs to clear up all issues before the client takes up legal action. An intelligent contractor is always prepared at all times in case a lawsuit arises. He can do so by having the contracts in writing. The written contract should be clear to eliminate any ambiguity. Contractual writing is an important piece of evidence in a lawsuit. Verbal agreements are not applicable to legal suites because they are difficult to prove. Some people tend to have selective memories that will favor them in the suit. Others will forget probably when the lawsuit takes place years later. The agreement should be clear as others may interpret it in their favor. Such mistakes can cost the construction company many losses.

Other alternatives

It’s not all bad news; there is hope at the end of the tunnel. According to the 2018 global construction dispute reports, negotiation is the most preferable dispute resolution mechanism. This means the involvement of a mediator or an arbitrator.

Reynolds states that arbitration is the most preferable dispute resolution method. However, for the applicability of mediation and arbitration, both parties have to consent to reach an amicable agreement.

Cohen similarly agrees that arbitration is more favorable than a trial. A written agreement between the parties is necessary for the presence of an advocate. Both parties should sign the agreement and incorporate it as a part of the contract.

As an expert in this field, Cohen acknowledges that in a legal lawsuit it all depends on crafting ways to win, having nothing to do with what occurred.

Finally, contractors should comply with the building codes and legal statutes of the country to avoid falling on the wrong side of the Law. Putting these measures in place will save the contractors the stress of dealing with lawsuits.

Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email mpacker@poolmagazine.com your story idea.

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Cleaning and Service Equipment and Supplies

Pool Metals and Metal Staining

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Pool Metals and Metal Staining

Metals are naturally existing elements found in every place; in water, soil and stones. Metals in soil and stones dissolve in acidic rainwater, which is then carried to surface water and groundwater. Through this, the dissolved metals find their way to pools and tubs when filled. Exposure of metals to water cause staining on pool surfaces and equipment. This article discusses the techniques to control the presence of pool metals. It also discusses the different kinds of metal staining and the relevant chemicals to eliminate and hinder stains.

Pool Metals and Metal Staining

Metals in pools and hot tub water

There are 91 existing metals, but only 6 are problematic to hot tubs and pools. The 6 metals include magnesium, copper, cobalt, iron, manganese and calcium. Here we will only discuss 4 that are cobalt, copper, magnesium and iron.

Fill water, inclusive of almost all municipal and well water supplies that fill hot tubs and pools, contains a few metals. It is advisable to test for metal concentration in source water before filling the hot tubs and pools.

Tests for iron and copper are easily accessible, though the majority only measures the free form of the dissolved metals. They also do not test the sequestered and complexed forms of dissolved metals. A two-phase metal test containing adequate reducing and releasing agents give better results on free, complexed and some oxidized metals.

Sources of metal contamination in the pool and hot tub water are plaster and pebble surfaces, water features, decking materials, metal equipment, galvanic corrosion, chemicals and runoff.

In addition, flagstone, marble and stone contain iron that leaches into the pool after every rainfall. Imbalanced water may cause the introduction of copper from heat exchangers found in gas-fired water heaters. Moreover, copper-based algaecides and mineral-based water treatment may be a source of pool metals. Plant fertilizers can also introduce metals when incorrectly applied or due to uncontrolled flooding. More sources of metal include irrigation methods with well water.

Preventing stains

Water Treatment

Avoid using untreated water with high metal concentration (higher than 1ppm) in hot tubs or pool. Treat the water when the metal concentration is higher than 0.2 ppm. Sediment filters (10 microns or less) eliminate the majority of the bigger oxidized particles. Use filters that have metal adsorbents to treat water, to minimize dissolved metals concentration.

Primary Sanitizers and Stabilizers

Maintain proper concentration of primary sanitizers and other similar stabilizers to prevent organic contaminants. These include; pathogens, non-hazardous bacteria and algae minimizing the need for a copper-based algaecide.

Bonding of Metals and Water

The majority of the pool and hot tub equipment are metal-made. For example, electrolytic halogen generators, the heating core of electric heat pump, gas-fired pool and hot tub heaters, ladders, light rings and handrails.

To enhance chemical and electrical safety, install a bonding system in the hot tub or pool. The bonding system involves joining the copper wire with all the metal elements and water combined. This minimizes electric potential difference. Lack of this system, enables dissolution of pool metals, causing staining that damages the equipment. This is the process known as galvanic corrosion and can heighten due to several factors such as salt water, stray direct current as well as its power supplies. Anodes (zinc metal) reduce the damage on the equipment but don’t deal with the cause of corrosion. Test the bonding system every year, or any other time there is corrosion.

Pool & Hot Tub pH

pH is the most vital yet most ignored factor in preventing metal release in water. Low pH water (below 7) is acidic and corrosive. Acidic water dissolves metals from the pool equipment.

Improper water chemistry harms pool surfaces and machinery. Always ensure to maintain an accurate pH, alkalinity (carbonate) and calcium (hardness). If inadequate, water draws carbonate and calcium from cementitious surfaces, discharging metals into the water.

Sequestering Agents

Sequestering agents join with the dissolved pool metals to reduce oxidation hence reduces staining. They chelate the metals, not eliminate them. They require a complex modern ultra filtration system to remove sequestered metal particles as the particles are too small for the pool filtration system. Add this agent on a regular basis, as a secondary disinfection and primary sanitizer systems keep on destroying them.

Ways to reduce metal concentration in hot tubs and pool water

  • Bind the metals using polymer and water-insoluble natural adsorbents
  • Filter the water through a reverse osmosis system
  • Remove and replace a part of the water with fresh metal-free water

Removing stains from the pool and hot tub surfaces

1. Metal stain removal from the surface

2. Chelation of the dissolved metals in the water with a sequestering agent

3. Elimination of the metals from the water.

To get rid of pool metals and metal stains, add oxalic acid, ascorbic acid and citric acid or a similar product into the pool water. An experienced pool service expert should only execute the use of Muriatic acid in the removal of metal stains as it can lead to permanent damage to the pool surface. Chelation of dissolved metals and minimizing concentrations of dissolved metal have been earlier tackled.

Figuring out the difference between metal stains and those by organic contamination can be difficult. For evaluation, establish the origin of the stain, asses the water chemistry and test the stain with either citric acid or ascorbic acid.

Note: Some organic stains, similar to those brought about by iron bacteria, vanish after treatment with ascorbic acid but return with the introduction of chlorine residuals.

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Contractors and Builders

Prevention of Pool Cover Installation Mistakes

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Pool Products: Industry Showcase

The pool industry has been apt in both the safety and automatic cover sectors. Throughout the years, the pool and spa experts have become comfortable estimating and installing these items. Contractors are now familiar with the procedure.This article reviews the probable pool cover installation mistakes and how to avoid them.

There are minimal pool cover installation mistakes than before.

vice president of sales for Cover Pools, Barry Greenwald
Prevention of Pool Cover Installation Mistakes

Safety Covers

Improper overlap

Those who have no idea of how the safety covers functions may not comprehend the need for exact measurements. The cover should be a replica of the pool’s form. Installers ought to get the exact safety cover measurements to fit the pool. It is not about attempting to place an oversize cover on a pool.

At times, experts install the covers in a crooked manner, such that the overlap in one end is way smaller than the other. Proper overlap is key to achieving its safety function and avoid pool cover installation mistakes.

Overlapping can also reduce the covers’ lifespan. Wrong-shaped covers and improper overlaps make the fabric rub against the deck causing wear and tear. A material meant to last 12-15 years, in a worst-case scenario, only serves for 3 years. This is a great disservice to the user.

Errors in the A-B method implementation

The technique for estimating free form covers is a bit complicated, and some experts don’t get it correct. A number install the poles at an inaccurate distance from the pool or from each other. The poles should be 3-feet apart from the waterline, lest the image will be inaccurate.

Some interchange the measurements of A and B. When facing the pool, point A is to the left and point B to the right. Interchanging the measurements will have the cover made upside down.

Incorrect pool cover installation around obstructions

When placing covers around water features and high walls, the objective is to minimize interference. To work around this problem, installers support some parts of the cover on a cable system, making it less disruptive. This, however, should not be the lazy way out as it compromises safety and maintenance. Using this method will leave a 4- inch gap that permits the entry of debris as well as become a safety risk.

Moreover, producers report projects where builders place covers too high from the obstructions. The problem with this is it uses up extra material hence unable to fit the rest of the pool. Second, during winter, the material will be unable to bear snow loads. The best solution in massive features is to float using a raft as you drill through the wall.

When carrying out pool cover installation, it is best to begin with the obstruction to guarantee a cozy fit for the other features. Here, there is no chance of overlap, therefore minimizing errors.

Space to stretch

After some time, the fabric may stretch due to gravity and snowfalls. Many times, installers don’t create accurate tension to allow for this. This happens when they place the anchors near the cover, or disregard to change the spring tension appropriately.

The spring’s tension should be tight so that if the cover stretches, it will still maintain its tightness.

Automatic Cover

Not settling the pool or vault

The success of automatic pool cover installation lies in exact measurements. Even a small wrinkle can prevent the cover from opening and shutting.

This is the point of majority pool cover installation mistakes. It’s not about the shape you visualize; rather, it takes time to take accurate measurements, especially the width of the cover, cover drum, and lead edge bar.

Heavy masonry lids

The brick lids ought to be at a similar height as the deck. The trays and brackets anchoring them can’t be too low that they meddle with the capability of the cover to the spindle. If the lid is too bulky, place the brackets and tray low. The total of all the lid components ought not to be bulkier than the adapting.

In addition, use light and small pieces that one can be able to lift. Not only about the weight, but also avoid weird shapes such as long rectangles.

Inaccurate placing of the mechanism

The system ought to be level with the track. This lessens the measure of work by the system. If it’s excessively low, it delays the cover as it rises and lowers into the pool. This causes either the cover or motor to wear earlier. Furthermore, it ought to be between the tracks, failure to which the cover won’t open and close correctly.

Cutting the track or ropes too short

Cutting ropes and tracks are vital to fit the task. The problem is that most installers cut them too short. On the rope, a short rope means the cover can’t be fully open. To avoid this, cut the rope when the cover is open.

On the track, a short track has its misgivings. The track joins the guide and the end of the track, combining the plates. This is impossible if the track is short. Furthermore, when the track makes a sharp angle as the material spools from the roller, it wears the track and covers edge due to excessive pressure on the load.

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Cleaning and Service Equipment and Supplies

Selling Automatic Pool Cleaners Online

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Selling Automatic Pool Cleaners Online

Amidst the pandemic this summer, Rene Huston, president of Patio Pleasures acknowledges an increase in their sales, of up to 10 pools in a day, if available. The unanticipated pandemic that led to the cancellation of travel plans had people invest that money for their backyard luxury. This is no wonder; there is an increase in the sales of automatic pool cleaners, especially high-quality robotic models. Clients also opt to invest cash they would have used elsewhere to enjoy the benefits of the long-term, cost-efficient APC’s.

Since their introduction in the 1950s, automatic pool cleaners have become part of pools in North America due to their personality and efficiency. They move around the pool on their own, cleaning the pools, hence minimizing the need for manual vacuuming and sweeping.

Jeannie Pearcy, owner of SwimFun Pool & Patio in Olathe, Kansas, United States, tells her clients a pool cleaner is similar to a Roomba for your pool.

Recently, online competition affected APC sales at brick and mortar vendors. Reacting to retailer’s complaints, APC producers began making ‘trade-only’ products. These products are only physically accessible through pool and spa shops. These products come with extra features like additional supplies longer warranties or refundable offers. Furthermore, you can access and depend on service from the vendor and manufacturer. Discussing with pool and spa vendors, there are varying opinions on the sell of automatic pool cleaners.

Store manager for Outback Pools & Spas in Wichita Falls, TX., Jimmy Cooper, appreciates manufacturers for looking out for their welfare too. Clients get to experience what a brick and mortar can do. Customers can purchase these pool products online though you can have horrible encounters with them. This gives the stores a chance to enlighten clients on what they can do.

Online vs Retail stores

It may seem like the ideal service to request for a robotic automatic pool cleaner from your home and have it brought within two days. However, their satisfaction can be short-lived either with the delivery of the wrong product or early failure of the product.

Most clients come to Huston’s store, complaining of an ineffective online product. They use this opportunity to explain the advantages if they had bought it from them. Such discussions and encounters build the confidence of customers in brick and mortar vendors.

Moreover, when online clients take their automatic pool cleaners to Cooper’s store for maintenance or service, he cannot do anything about it because the product is not from his store. He instead offers to sell them a similar product from his store. To ease their frustrations, he explains the benefits of buying from stores.

With this approach, Cooper believes he has changed the opinion of half of the online buyers to in store clients.

For years, Huston has avoided servicing online bought goods. However, now her opinion has begun to change. At times, it depends on how busy they are at a particular time though she’s still unsettled. She’s a bit receptive, taking into consideration the profits they could earn.

Maintenance Intervals

One of the significant selling points of an automatic pool cleaner is its ability to somehow get rid of the pool guy, as Cooper states.

Cooper calculates with his clients an hour service each week for a year in comparison to purchasing a cleaner. They realise a $1000 or $1500 cleaners operating two or three hours in a day for a year is cheaper than they thought.

The service crew is not always there, and the pool requires cleaning between their visits. Even with an automatic pool cleaner, manual work like scrubbing the pool walls requires the service crew. Depending on the water environment, manual vacuuming may also be necessary.

Selling Game Plan

Since APCs are more virtually intriguing compared to other pool equipment, retailers depend on popular displays in the store to start a discussion with a client.

After capturing the customer’s attention, Huston urges would-be buyers to go with a unit home and try it out. This program at Patio pleasures permits clients day access to the unit. When returned, they do a far check to ensure the unit is clean, the baskets and other pieces still in place.

The program, try before you buy, has also worked for Pearcy. Even if the Client does not purchase the unit, then, they include it in their purchase wish list and save up for it. Furthermore, SwimFun sells the season’s trial unit at a cheaper price with a limited warranty.

Cooper recognizes that persuading clients on the advantages of an automatic cleaner has become simpler. This is due to the increase of dependence and convenience of technology though some purchasers are still ignorant.

With a number of sales strategies in place, verbal means is the most powerful convincing method in the sell of automatic pool cleaners. This is the reason the product will remain a powerful sale in the retail sector.

Conclusion

Huston notes that pool owners are seeking ways to maintain their pools happy and healthy. Time is of the essence; get an automatic pool cleaner as it is the ideal choice for your pool.

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