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Placement of Main Drain Sumps to Steel is Critical

Swimming Pool Expert Witness weighs in on the position of Main Drain Sumps

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The placement of main drain sumps in relation to the steel is critical. Placing the sumps proud of the steel by 6 to 8-inches, causes a couple of issues. The steel become “displaced” with the concrete and is no longer centered in the structure. Concrete over 8-inches total thickness, generally requires double curtains of steel.

Double curtains are required by ACI to maintain the minimum ratio of steel to concrete. The purpose of these ratios is to prevent structural cracking and to reduce shrinkage cracks. How do we do it right?There are 2 methods.

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1. Stub up the pipes & box out for the drain. Install the sump and grout it in later.

2. Set the sump at the proper finish elevation over the steel (allowing for plaster thickness).Both options require that a depression be dug into the soil. A recessed “cage” for the sump follows this oversized excavated depression, maintaining the proper soil clearance.

Recently, I have seen a few pools with deep end cracks. Coring revealed these shells were 10 to 12-inches thick with a single curtain of #3 rebar 2-inches off the soil.

Swimming Pool Expert Witness

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Paolo Benedetti is the President of Aquatic Technology and better known on social media as the "Swimming Pool Expert Witness". Paolo is an instructor at Watershape University and has authored a myriad of articles on the finer points of pool construction and design. He is a pioneer in the field of aquatic design, constantly pushing the envelope, creating a number of firsts that spawned new trends in the industry.

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Op Editorials

Is There a ‘Right’ Time to Start Swimming?

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Is There a 'Right' Time to Start Swimming?

It can be tough to know the ‘right’ time to start swimming lessons for your child, or the ‘right’ questions to ask. How young is too young? Where do I find swim programs in my area? Is swimming safe for young children? What about my child? 

Let’s start by looking at the facts. Drowning deaths are highest among children ages 1-4, so the sooner the better when it comes to teaching kids to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children learn to swim around 1 years old, and anyone over 1 (including adults, parents and caregivers) should learn to swim as an added precaution. No parent wants to think about their child in an unsafe situation in the water, but the good news is swimming lessons can reduce the risk of both fatal and non-fatal drownings by 88%! 

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The safest way to learn to swim is with an experienced and certified instructor. Parents can rest assured that their children are safe in the hands of lifeguards and instructors who have completed hours of training and are CPR certified. For those who want to get in on the action, many aquatics clubs and gyms offer parent-child classes for infants and toddlers; plus, swim facilities usually offer parents an opportunity to watch their child’s swim class from the pool deck as their little ones get stronger and stronger with each lesson. Learning to swim at an early age emphasizes the importance of water safety to children—something they will carry with them throughout their lives.  

Learning to swim has multiple benefits aside from safety and drowning prevention. Getting involved in swim lessons allows children to gain valuable social skills, explore a healthy outlet, find an exercise they enjoy, and uncover their talents. They might pursue the swim team to find they’re exceptionally fast at backstroke, but also discover an affinity for sports, the aquatics community, or leadership stemming from the examples of their instructors and coaches. Who knows, maybe they will grow up to be a professional athlete and follow the footsteps of Olympic swimmer Rowdy Gaines, who leads the Step Into Swim program.

With the help of our founding partner, Every Child A Swimmer, Step Into Swim is dedicated to spreading water safety awareness and making swimming lessons accessible to children all over the country. 

To learn more about our mission to create more swimmers, click here and be sure to follow safe swimming tips on our social media channels. To find a swim class near you, check out the link here.

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Talking Pools

It’s Time to Recession-Proof Your Pool Business

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Its Time To Recession-Proof Your Pool Business

We hate to be the one to say it, but the time has come to make some changes and recession-proof your pool business. We’ve been riding a wave that’s been an incredible boom for the industry. People have stayed home during the quarantine, and the money they would have spent on vacations has become disposable income that they’ve used to reinvest into the home. Home improvements are up in general during the pandemic and the end result has been nothing short of unprecedented in terms of growth for the pool industry.

Over 94,000 pools were installed during 2020, up 21% from the previous year in 2019. The numbers aren’t in just yet for last year but as the dust still settles from 2021, the entire pool industry has boomed.

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This year, the complexion and outlook does not appear to be a repeat of the previous two years in terms of demand. Right now we’re looking at high inflation. Increases in fuel costs are soaring through the roof. We’re on the brink of a recession. Hopefully, I’m wrong but I’m not the only one that thinks this way. Supply chain shortages are just ongoing and something we’ve been plagued with since the very start of the pandemic. At some point in time, the momentum is going to stop.

Some folks had disposable income and used that towards home improvement. Others took out loans and mortgages. Many feel the inevitable crash is coming, and for those who are unprepared the change in the economy will hurt, perhaps irreparably.

Experts are predicting we may be headed for an economic downtime and turnaround as recession looms.
Experts are predicting we may be headed for an economic downtime and turnaround as recession looms.

There are a few things that pool professionals need to consider in order to recession-proof their business. I think one may be coming within the next year. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen. Hopefully, you never need to use any of this advice in this article. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting yourself in a good position to handle a recession, and it looks like one may be on the horizon.

Ways to Recession-Proof Your Pool Business

There are different things you can do to arrange things so that you’re in a better position financially if a recession happens in our country. This may mean raising prices with customers, but you need to make certain you’re in the best position possible to survive tough times should they occur.

Split Chemicals as an Itemized Bill From Services

One great idea to recession-proof your pool business is to start billing separately for chemicals. With more price increases on chemicals looming in the near future, it simply makes sense to begin to start passing these costs on to the consumer. It’s an unsustainable business practice to continue to absorb rising costs. Pool companies cannot continue to take it on the chin the way we have.

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Now is the time to explain the prevailing market conditions to the consumer and perhaps change your business practice for billing customers. In our roundtable discussion last year, we discussed rising prices. Not much has changed in the last 6 months except perhaps consumer confidence. Instead of continuing to raise prices for service, what makes more sense in this climate is to separate chemical usage as an itemized bill.

Pool Service Billing: Don't be left at the mercy of customers when it comes time to collect on your invoice.
Pool Service Billing: Don’t be left at the mercy of customers when it comes time to collect on your invoice.

Change Your Billing Practices

Another aspect of billing that should change during this climate is charging for service after it’s been rendered. Many pool companies have their act together in this regard and are doing the right thing by billing for services ahead of time, however, there are still many professionals who do not. Billing ahead ensures that you are cash solvent enough to pay employees, for inventory, equipment, and materials. Failing to do so leaves you at the mercy of the customer.

Billing after the fact is tantamount to supplying customers with a credit line on every job you do. This is a surefire way to fall behind during a recession. As customers begin to become cash strapped during this economy, one of the first bills they’re liable to ignore is yours! Pool service professionals run the distinct possibility of becoming low priority when it comes time to pay bills, especially when the service has already been rendered.

How Do You Switch Your Billing to Recession-Proof Your Business?

One question pool professionals who bill at the end of the month is, how do they switch? How do you switch to billing at the beginning of the month without double billing? People by nature are resistant to change, they also don’t like paying in advance. So the question remains, how do you switch the way you’ve been billing without upsetting all of your customers?

The answer is – incrementally. Make the change slowly and begin retraining your customers to expect a bill earlier than they have. There’s not a recession today, there probably won’t be one this summer; but if what industry experts are predicting is true, one is coming soon and the time to adapt is now!

Get Ahead of the Game

This month coming up, instead of billing on the 30th for the service you’ve performed all month, start billing on the 3rd week. Then the next month, bill your customers on the second week. By the end of the summer, you should be caught up and now be billing all of your customers for the month of service ahead.

It’s important to be transparent to customers. Explain what you’re doing and why. Using this method of billing allows the customer to become slowly acclimatized to paying their bill earlier. In just a few months’ time, you will have effectively changed your entire billing practice and insulated yourself much better financially in the process.

Build Your Credit

Heather Linton also spoke on another episode of “Talking Pools” about building credit for your pool company. While pool professionals may be cash-rich right now, the time to start building your credit is now. Simply put, people need money when a recession hits. If you have not been building your business credit, do not wait until a recession hits. During a down economy is when consumers make the biggest run on banks. It’s also when credit is hardest to come by.

At the end of the day, when considering ways to recession-proof your business, it’s important to put together a game plan that allows you the flexibility to maneuver in tough environments. Some of these suggestions may seem hard to implement, but are entirely necessary in order to ensure you remain solvent in a down economy. In the last two years we’ve seen unprecedented growth, but now is the time to make sure that we stay in a good place financially during the tough times to come.

Listen to the entire episode on the Talking Pools podcast:

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Op Editorials

The Less is More Approach With PoolRx

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PoolRx - The Less is More Approach

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Fred Schweer, VP of Sales at PoolRx on episode 30 of the “Let’s Talk About Pools” podcast. We spoke about this innovative product and how it can help pool professionals. The current economy has brought its own host of problems for the pool industry. The cost of chlorine and other disinfection products has vastly increased the financial burden to pool professionals. Thus, if the efficiency of chlorine could be maximized with the use of other pool products, this could have many benefits for the pool professional. The sustainability and maximization of chlorine disinfectants in the pool water have so many benefits for the pool, pool owner, and pool professional.

What can pool techs use to help maximize chlorine “power” in the water?

PoolRx is one of these products that can be used to maximize the efficiency of chlorine disinfectants. “It is a very unique pool product. It is a game-changer for the pool industry,” stated Fred Schweer, VP of Sales at PoolRx. It is registered with EPA and NSF Standard 60. This product is an algaecide that uses minerals like copper, silver, and zinc, which are uniquely chelated. This chelation protects the minerals at the molecular level and once dissolved, will not fall out of the solution due to things like pH fluctuations. The product comes in various sized units that can treat up to 30,000 gallons or spa units that can treat as low as 100 gallons. Booster packs are available in addition to the standard PoolRx units for pools that are greater than 30,000 gallons.

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Sustainable Pool Products: PoolRx+ Mineral Technology - Photo Credit: PoolRx
Sustainable Pool Products: PoolRx+ Mineral Technology – Photo Credit: PoolRx

How does PoolRx work?

After the filters are cleaned, the pool tech would place the PoolRx cylinder unit in the skimmer or the pump basket. The minerals in the unit dissolve within 4 hours and form a stable residual in the pool water. The residual minerals pass over the white half of the cylinder and the minerals react with an alloy. The alloy reaction with the minerals prolongs the life of the minerals and allows the minerals to last for up to 6 months in the water.

The minerals will kill and prevent all types of algae, even the microalgae in the pool water. While microalgae cannot be seen by the human eye, it consumes much of the free chlorine in the pool water. In turn, this reduces the “working power” of the chlorine disinfectant.  PoolRx allows the free chlorine to be more available and uses less chlorine disinfectant in the water. “This helps pool techs and pool owners due to the pool being algae-free, use less chlorine and the minerals last up to 6 months,” stated Schweer.

What is “sustainability” as it pertains to the Pool Industry?

The definition of sustainability as it pertains to the pool industry is very specific compared to the definition thought of in the environmental world. In this instance, sustainability could mean the environmental responsibility of the pool industry by using fewer chemicals and less chlorine. PoolRx allows the use of fewer chemicals and it also helps the chlorine last longer in the water.

“This is a game-changing product for the pool industry because of the less is more approach,” stated Schweer. Economically, it helps with the current chlorine shortages and increased cost of specialty chemicals.  In addition, PoolRx is also environmentally-minded. It is composed of natural minerals that are mined and the plastic shell is recyclable.  Regional areas of the country deal with water conservation and restrictions. The use of PoolRx in the water allows the “water not to be aged.” Reduction of water draining of pools helps these regional areas with water restrictions and increases “environmental sustainability.”

How does PoolRx help Pool Techs?

Pool techs will obtain many benefits from the use of PoolRx. First, it helps chlorine last longer in the water and this will save money on the amount of chlorine disinfectant that will have to be used.  Another cost-saving advantage comes from the product’s prevention of algae and lower use of chlorine in the water.  The quantity of specialty chemicals like phosphate removers, clarifiers, enzymes, algaecides, and other shock treatments is vastly reduced and thus saves money to the consumer and the pool professional.

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Cost-saving advantages extend to saving time for the pool professional by not having to return to pools that need extended time for specialty treatments to treat algae problems. The pool water is maintained clearer and it becomes easier for the pool tech to maintain. “It’s a chemical saving story, a no-brainer to use for your business,” said Schweer.  

Listen to Pool Magazine Op-Editorialist – Lauren Broom & Fred Schweer VP of PoolRx discuss sustainability and how PoolRx is playing a part on the “Let’s Talk About Pools” Podcast.

Featured Photo Credit: Pool Magazine Supporter – Gregg Sample – PoolYoda.com

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