Harsh winter weather can freeze pool equipment and cause expensive damage to other components. Homeowners in Texas have been dealing with the tremendous fallout and huge repair bills that came on the tail end of the recent freezing weather.
Winter storm Uri, brought an arctic cold snap that brought unseasonal freezing temperatures to many parts of Texas. The storm claimed 80 lives, left millions without power and heat and left billions in property damage. The White House officially declared a state of emergency in Texas on February 14, 2021 and authorized FEMA to begin coordinating disaster relief efforts.
Pool Owners Face Millions of Dollars in Repairs After Winter Storm
Many homeowners woke up after the storm expecting some sort of damage, but nothing like what is being reported industry wide. Thousands of homeowners throughout the state are reporting cracked pool equipment, damaged plumbing and a variety of other costly repair issues. Even more homeowners that dreamed their equipment would survive unscathed and waited for the thaw were in for a rude awakening.
Pool Equipment Repairs in Texas
Equipment repair calls have been non-stop since the thaw. Pool Contrator reported an increase in the amount of repair estimates in Texas by over 500% in the last two weeks alone. There is an anticipated backlog with local repair companies in Dallas, Houston, Austin and Fort Worth for at least the next few weeks.
The lone star state has no shortage of dedicated pool companies that are ready to answer the call. Claffey Pools posted Friday that in the last 8 days that they had assessed over 800 pools and had repaired 10% of them. They’ve been assisting customers day and night with repairs in the Southlake, TX area.
The Aftermath of The Storm
It’s now several weeks after the storm and we are just starting to see the aftermath. The toll Winter Storm Uri has played on the pool industry has been substantial. Pool owners in Texas have finally had an opportunity to assess the extent of the damage. Thousands of homeowners throughout the state are looking to have repairs made.
Pool companies throughout the state are facing a critical shortage of supplies and equipment. Many have had trouble obtaining components needed to fix these pools and perform essential repairs. In fact, parts have become so hard to come by that contractors are seeing price gouging at nearly every level.
Problems have been compounded by the manufacturing shortages. The issue is systemic as many integral parts of the supply chain that support the industry are actually located in Texas.RYAN BAIRD – BEYOND BLUE POOLS
Shortages Industry Wide Drive Price Increases
Pool industry veterans believe that the conditions are creating a perfect storm for sharp price increases across the nation. A variety of issues have been taxing the industry such as sky rocketing demand, inflation, chlorine shortages, and many other factors. Prices are expected to increase in 2021, according to industry leaders Orenda Technologies.
How Is The Pool Industry Responding?
The industry is still reeling. Many contractors are left wondering if manufacturers are equal to the task of supporting them in their darkest hour. With shortages at nearly every level, increased pricing and scarcity of many components that contractors depend on day to day, many have taken to hoarding essential parts. Folks in the industry have compared it to the hoarding of toilet paper during the initial days of the pandemic.
Thousands of homeowners have learned that repairs may take weeks. Contractors continue to wait on suppliers. Many have taken to Twitter asking if they can expect the support they need.
@Pentair are you going to be able to scale up production on the heater manifolds that thousands of us need in Texas? We would love to avoid having to buy a whole new heater!— HTXFoodNinja (@FoodHtx) March 5, 2021
How To Prevent Pool Equipment From Freezing
As the pool industry in Texas recovers, this is a moment for reflection. Many wonder what to do in the future if this type of thing happens again. Homeowners and pool companies in the Northeast routinely deal with freezing temperatures each year. Texas doesn’t normally see weather like this and millions were caught off guard. One Texas Homeowner, documented the damage to his inground pool in Austin.
Preparing Your Inground Pool For Freezing Weather
His story is not unique and echoes what many swimming pool owners are curently facing around the state. The recent deep freeze was a shock that caught homeowners and pool companies by surprise. Many consider it an opportunity to better prepare for the future.
Houston Pool Builders – Beyond Blue Pools say “Winterizing your inground pool, utilizing a pool cover, and incorporating freeze protection devices are the best way to protect your investment during the winter months. Our neighbors up north know this and it may be time we started doing this in Texas as well.”
For a more detailed explaination of how to prepare your pool for freezing conditions. Watch this great video by Aquanut Academy who provide a complete breakdown of how to prepare your inground pool for a deep freeze like the one that recently occured in Texas. This video is particularly useful for homeowners who are wondering what to do once the power goes out and their pool begins to freeze.
Featured Photo Credit: Heather Linton of SwimCareFree.com
Chlorine Shortage Has Public Pools Feeling The Pinch
It’s been over a year since many public pools across the nation were forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now some are being forced to close all over again due to ongoing chlorine shortages.
Those that have managed to stay in operation are watching the soaring cost of chlorine prices closely, which has nearly doubled in many areas of the country and is expected to continue to increase through the summer.
Public Pools Losing Money On Chlorine
When it comes to public swimming pools, most facilities usually charge a fee for entry. Many community pools are considered a public service, consequently they often wind up spending more on pool maintenance than they actually get from the guest fees. The fact is that the rising costs of chlorine are a growing cause for concern for the nations public pools and aquatic centers.
The chlorine tablet shortage began last August, when Hurricane Laura triggered a fire at the BioLab chemical plant that produces the majority of the country’s dry chlorine tablets. The rise in demand for backyard pools as a result of the epidemic has aggravated the problem by increasing costs on limited supplies.
Chlorine Prices This Year Versus Last Year
“We used to pay $75 for a 50-pound bucket of chlorine tablets,” Steven Fox of Fox Pools in Virginia informed us. “The prices have gone crazy this year. You’re looking at $150 now for the same thing, if distribution even has stock. It’s getting crazy now with acid, DE, grids, you name it… prices have gone up across the board.”
Openings in many cities were postponed partly because chemical cleaning supplies took months to arrive. One neighborhood pool in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was cleared to open after the municipal council voted to spend up to an additional $60,000 on chlorine for the rest of this season and the pool season in 2022 (about $12,000 per month).
Public Pools Closing Early This Season
More and more financially strapped communities around the country have decided to close their pools early or close parts of their pools for the season. With many facilities stating they simply can’t afford the chlorine.
The majority of city-run pools in Los Angeles have had to close less than a month after being allowed to reopen by the Department of Public Health, which disproportionately affects minority children who don’t have other access to swimming lessons.
“This chlorine issue is just exacerbating what is already an existing disparity,” Jeff Wiltse, author of “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America, told the LA Times. “There’s been a significant growth in private swimming pools [in recent decades], whereas public swimming pools have been generally stagnant, and in many cities there’s been a significant decline.”
Olympics in Tokyo a Complete Bust
The Summer Olympics was postponed until this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For marketing and branding purposes, they are still calling it Tokyo 2020 which is weird, but okay marketing is expensive and to be honest, most of us are just fine with pretending last year never even happened.
This does nothing to address the elephant in the room which is, no one is allowed to attend these Olympic venues and a huge percentage of viewers forgot they were even happening this year. By no means should this diminish the incredible effort the United States swim team is putting on. Already they have won 8 medals and are expected to dominate most of this years 18 different swim events on the program.
There is a stunning new aquatics arena in Tokyo Bay that was built specifically for the Olympics. It’s a brand new facility, that in the normal course of events should have been packed to the rafters with 15,000 fans during a typical Olympic year. Unfortunately, there is nothing normal about this Olympics and spectators are not allowed. The facility which was part of the tremendous $15.4 billion dollar investment Tokyo made in order to win the bid for hosting the Olympics, sits nearly empty for all of this summers Olympic events. In actuality, the final figure for this entire folly will probably be closer to $20 billion making this the most expensive Olympics ever.
A muted opening ceremony was televised to a dramatically reduced audience. With the stadium nearly empty, the momentus energy of the crowd was visibly missing. Most athletes wore face coverings and waved enthusiastically to tens of thousands of empty seats which further cemented the surreal oddity of all. Some athletes practiced social distancing, choosing to march alone, while others grouped together much to the dismay of event organizers. Despite the fact that its delegation has undergone several positive COVID tests since arriving, the Czech Republic joined the other countries in the opening ceremonies.
The opening event for the Olympics drew nearly 17 million viewers in the U.S. which may sound like a lot, but in actuality hit a 33 year low and was down nearly 36% since 2016’s Olympics. The reality is this Olympics has been a complete bust for Japan and the city of Tokyo in particular. The $500,000,000 dollar aquatics center is depressingly empty, and symbolic of the complete disinterest that has many diseffectionately refering to this Olympics as the Pandemic Games. To add insult to injury, the gleaming new insanely expensive facility probably didn’t even need to be built in the first place.
Experts who know the city of Tokyo well say that all of the swim events could have been hosted at the 45,000 seat Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants. Near by Yokohama stadium also seats 17,000 and could have easily hosted the events. The expenditure has been criticized as a needless waste of money. It is difficult to imagine a future for the facility, in fact it is scheduled to be downsized to accommodate 5,000 shortly after the Olympics are over.
The impression of being in a sterile, locked-down quarantine permeates this Olympics according to athletes and participants. There is no amount of simulated cheering and fake cardboard cutout fans that can assuade that feeling. Fans, who would ordinarily be screaming support for their countries and socializing with folks from all over the world in a carnival like atmosphere, have been barred, leaving just a highly vetted group of media, authorities, athletes, and staff.
There is an inescapable feeling of pity for the Japanese people, who will pay a colossal financial price for their government’s overzealous spending and a global pandemic which they had no way to predict would happen.
Feature Photo Credit: ABS / CBN
Too Big To Fail – Olympus Pools Implodes
We first began writing about Olympus Pools back in April of this year after investigative reports broke news that the Land O’ Lakes pool builder was in deep trouble. Allegations of unfinished pools, unpaid subcontractors and distributors and a long list of angry customers put Olympus in the spotlight and for all the wrong reasons.
In the past few months we have had numerous interactions with owner James Staten, James Judge (a PR representative Staten hired to represent Olympus a few months ago), and Jordan Hidalgo, a well known pool builder who had supposedly partnered with Olympus Pools to salvage the ongoing projects they had, as well as the firms battered reputation.
In late May, Olympus Pools had released a press release stating that Jordan Hidalgo, a well respected figure in the pool and spa industry would be taking on co-ownership of Olympus Pools.
However, this week after rumors began circulating about impending foreclosures on homeowners as well as another major blow due to unpaid workers compensation insurance causing a work shut down, Hidalgo released this statement to the media.
“During our due diligence period, it became apparent that the company was not in the same position as it appeared originally,” Hidalgo said a statement on Tuesday. “As a result, I have decided to cut my losses and am walking away from the opportunity. I am hoping the best for Olympus Pools and their customers.”
We reached out to Staten’s PR representative James Judge to get a comment to which he replied “We actually no longer represent Olympus Pools”. His leaving directly coincided with Hidalgo’s announcement.
James Staten responded to Hidalgo’s departure to investigative journalist Shannon Behnken in an email contradicting Hidalgo’s version of the story. Staten stated that Hidalgo was “never able to ‘buy’ even a portion of Olympus,” and said that, “there has been no ‘due diligence period’ and Mr. Hidalgo has failed to perform even his most basic obligations.”
We touched base with Hidalgo this week to get his side of the story to which he replied, “That is an absolute lie. I tried to be classy about this entire thing but I can see he (Staten) is not going to let that happen. There is more information coming out in the media, just wait.” To which Hidalgo eluded that this week there would be a major announcement coming.
Olympus Pools is Out of Business
This morning Olympus Pools officially announced that they will be shutting down operations after the Department of Business and Professional Regulation asked them to surrender their license. This effectively means that Olympus Pools will be unable to continue working on any current projects they have contracted for.
“Over the last several months at Olympus Pools, we have endured constant negative media coverage encouraging viewers to file complaints with Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. As a result, the DBPR has forced us to voluntarily relinquish our license. This means we are no longer allowed to continue working for any of our customers. We have fought hard and would have continued to do so for as long it took to complete every project.”
“Although we are greatly disappointed in the decision, we understand the pressure that has been placed on the Department to act. We do not feel the decision is beneficial to our community or our customers, however, it was not our decision to make. If it were up to us, we would continue working for our customers.”
“We have enjoyed servicing the Tampa Bay area for close to 10 years. We are proud of the thousands of projects we have built and the work we have done for our community in that time. We are grateful for all of the support the vast majority of our former customers, employees, friends, family, and neighbors have shown us during this time.”
Sources close to the organization disclosed to Pool Magazine that Olympus Pools currently has hundreds of ongoing pool construction projects and anywhere from 50-100 open holes in the ground.
It is expected that a variety of agencies will now descend to perform a collection of assets however, the south showroom for Olympus Pools has been completely emptied out according to a source close to Pool Magazine. How this bodes for the unlucky homeowners who entrusted Olympus Pools with their swimming pool projects remains to be seen, however already many have begun to receive lien and foreclosure notices on their homes.
Featured Photo Credits: WFLA
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