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Pool Equipment Freezing – Texas Pool Owners Cope With Uri

Pool owners in Texas struggle to keep their pool equipment from freezing during Winter Storm Uri.

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Pool Owners struggle to protect their pool from freezing during Winter Storm.

Things progressed from bad to worse yesterday as Texas struggles to recover from the one-two punch delivered by Winter Storm Uri. The freezing temperatures brought on by the storm caused millions of Texans to lose power. Officials are still struggling with rolling blackouts, power and heat outages in large areas of the state have currently contributed at least 30 deaths around the state.

The sudden arctic cold snap has left many homeowners with little recourse. Many pool contractors in Texas are impacted by the very same conditions homeowners currently endure. Lack of power can cause repairs to linger until the freezing temperatures abate.

Artic cold snap brought on by Winter Storm Uri has left thousands of pool owners in Texas with costly repair damage.

Thousands of pool owners awoke on Tuesday morning to find catastrophic damage awaiting them in the backyard. With pool equipment being particularly vulnerable to the elements, many homeowners were left with damage that could ultimately wind up costing them thousands.

Frozen pool equipment has cracked under the stress of freezing temperatures and will lead to costly repairs for the homeowner. Photo Credit – Blake Parker

Pool builders in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and across the state are coping with inground pool projects that are simply ruined. Freezing temperatures have caused many pool builders to have to suddenly halt working on their inground pool projects. With little preparation notice, some builders say there was simply not enough time to get ahead of the storm.

Harold Evans company, The Pool Surgeon located Dallas has been dealing with non-stop calls from customers who woke up to damaged equipment. “We would be on the phone, and five other people would be calling simultaneously,” said Evans, “There is only one phone line for our company… you couldn’t check the voicemail because calls continued to pour in.”

Costly Damage For Inground Pool Owners During Freeze

Nina Gomez of Fort Worth was looking forward to a pool party in the spring with her family this Easter. Instead after Uri, she claims that her family is looking at roughly $10,000 in additional repairs and construction needed to fix damage to her inground pool project. Her pool builder also informed her that the storm will also delay construction of her pool by several weeks or more as her contractor has numerous emergency repair projects to perform in tandem with her job.

Her story is not unique, thousands of homeowners have had catastrophic failures in their pool equipment brought on by sudden freezing temperatures. Some homeowners in Houston have had their entire pool freeze into a solid block of ice. We asked pool experts what homeowners can do to protect their pool equipment in a storm.

Expert Advice on Dealing With Frozen Pool Equipment

Quite often, ice in the pipes is a culprit of the majority of damage we see. Homeowners should keep their pump running through the night when temperatures fall below freezing.

“The majority of pool owners leave the pump running anyways,” said Ryan Baird of Beyond Blue Pools. “If the pump suddenly stops, use the manual override. Doing that during a winter storm may protect the pipes and keep them from bursting.”

“Draining the backflow can help. The water that is in the backflow valve can freeze, expand and cause a rupture. Once the housing cracks you have a serious leak on your hands.”

CAMERON RHODES – SOUTHERN POOLSCAPES

Concerete pools in particular are susceptible to costly repairs during freezing temperatures. Rhodes continues “Many pools these days incorporate freeze protection systems to help homeowners protect their investment”.

Winterizing your inground pool is probably the smartest thing you can do to avoid costly damage to your pool equipment.

There are a wide variety of products that help homeowners protect an inground pool from freezing temperatures.

How to Protect an Inground Pool & Pool Equipment From Freezing

  • Winterizing Kits allow you to balance the pool chemistry of the water throughout the winter months. This helps provide protection of all non-mechanical components of the pool.
  • Blowers help keep pipes and equipment clear of water that can freeze if left inside pipes. Return lines should then be plugged to protect them throughout the winter months.
  • Skimmer Faceplate Covers can prevent your skimmer from taking on water that can freeze and cause damage to the interior pool wall.
  • There are a wide range of devices designed for skimmer ice expansion protection.
  • Water Tubes and Air Pillows are devices frequently used during winter months under pool covers to prevent ice expansion from occuring.
  • Install freeze protection equipment or automation systems such as Intermatic Digital Sensor or Air Temp Sensor that can be programmed to run the pump when the temperature reaches a certain level.

What to do if your Pool Equipment is Frozen

If your pool pump is frozen there are a few steps you can take to unfreeze your pool equipment.

  1. Shut off electricity at the breaker box
  2. Place heavy woolen blankets over your pool equipment
  3. Securely place a small space heater inside the insulated area
  4. Continue to monitor your pool equipment until it has completely thawed
  5. Inspect for cracks and perform repairs as needed
  6. If equipment is cracked, drain the equipment until repairs have been performed

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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Pool Industry Feels Trickle-Down Effects of Container Delays

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Pool Builders Waiting For Cargo on Ships Stuck at Sea - Container Delays Affect Pool Industry

The trickle-down effect of container ship delays can be felt far and wide throughout the pool industry. A veritable conga line of cargo ships now sits in a holding pattern outside of Southern California’s busiest two ports. Last week the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reported over 100 ships waiting to unload their containers. The news of this record-breaking supply chain crisis will come as no surprise to those in the pool industry who have been feeling the pain of delays all summer long.

The two southern California ports both account for roughly 40% of container ships entering the United States. The last year has seen an incredible surge in traffic come through Southern California. It was unusual for ships to wait more than a day for a berth at the Los Angeles complex prior to the outbreak of Covid-19. These days, locals in Southern California have become used to seeing the flotilla of container vessels moored offshore awaiting entry into port. Each day, new arriving cargo ships add to the growing backlog.

Ongoing delays unloading cargo in two of the nation's busiest ports has plagued the pool industry all summer long.
Ongoing delays unloading cargo in two of the nation’s busiest ports have plagued the pool industry this year.

The story is the same all throughout the West Coast. The traffic bottleneck of container ships in San Francisco has gotten so bad that in June, the US Coast Guard had asked ships not to enter the bay at all.

A recent review of 351 ports around the world rated the Los Angeles complex #328 behind Tanzania. The neighboring Long Beach facility fared even worse coming in at #333 behind Turkey and Kenya. The frustration at the inefficiency to unload these ships has prompted President Biden to announce the ports will begin running 24/7 to keep up with demand. However, whether this will actually come to pass in time for the holiday season remains in question.

“It’s not a single lever we can pull today to open up all the gates,” said Gene Seroka, Executive Director for the Port of Los Angles, indicating that the exact timeline for changing to round the clock operations still remains unclear

Embed from Getty Images

How Delays Are Affecting The Pool Industry

News of cargo delays has prevailed throughout the media for months. It’s only within the last few weeks that the number jumped from 30 ships to 60, to now over 100 ships now waiting according to the most recent report. Anthony Reid, a pool builder in Los Angeles, has been waiting for materials for months and described the aggravation the situation is causing. “I’ve got 5 customers waiting for decking and everything is on a boat sitting 20 miles away,” said Reid, “I can wave at it but can’t touch it. It’s the most frustrating feeling imaginable to have to tell a homeowner who has been waiting for months they have to be patient. Truthfully, I have no idea when they are going to unload. I’ve been tap dancing so much on the phone these past few weeks, I feel like Sammy Davis Junior.”

Reid isn’t the only one struggling to meet commitments to clients, countless other builders are in a similar situation. Pomona-based builder Frank Druthers has been feeling the backlash on social media and Google. “Some customers are more understanding than others. We’re all relegated to waiting for these ships to unload,” said Druthers, “It’s an awful feeling being at the mercy of the ports but this is our reality right now.”

Shipping Delays Continue To Plague Pool Industry

Adjusting to a New Reality of Rising Costs

Some builders have had more success than others at maintaining supply chains during the recent crisis. While some have been able to continue operating without much disruption, many others have had to adjust. The new norm seems to be paying higher than normal prices for shipping. In addition, the waiting time for receiving materials has gone up by months.

Paying More & Waiting Longer Is The New Norm

The average cost of shipping a container from Shanghai to Los Angeles is now $18,345. For those keeping score, that’s roughly six times higher than it was a year ago. One company recently got a quote from an ocean carrier for $32,000 for a single container. While rerouting may seem the best solution, that has gotten more expensive too. The average price for shipping a 40-foot container to the East Coast has gone up to $19,620.

What The Pool Industry Is Doing

During a Town Hall meeting, we co-hosted with the Talking Pools podcast, the subject of the ongoing logistic delays and cargo issues plaguing the industry came up more than once.

Alpha West representative, Korey Wax suggested that professionals that have established solid relationships with their distributors may have an easier time than those who haven’t. “Pool companies are relying on the relationships with individual branches,” said Wax, “The people that are really suffering are the guys that don’t have a relationship because they’ve been ordering off a web portal. When they go into a random branch, the manager and counter guys don’t recognize that individual so those supplies are magically not there because they are being reserved for their core customers.”

Lingering uncertainty about delivery dates is causing builders to settle for whatever alternative products are available. Out of sheer desperation, businesses are experimenting with new materials in lieu of products that have extended waiting times for delivery. Consequently, there are others that are willing to pay higher than premium prices to ensure that they have the materials on hand to accommodate demand.

Fake News – There Are Not 200,000 Cargo Ships Waiting To Be Unloaded

In a recent survey of builders, 90% reported being directly impacted by delays. However, in the same survey, 40% reported they believed the delays were inflated or overblown in the news. One false image that has been shared thousands of times on social media has definitely inflated the numbers. An image that went viral involved grossly misstated figures with misleading information. The image being circulated on Facebook said that there were over 200,000 cargo ships waiting to be unloaded in the U.S. This is obviously wildly inaccurate; there are less than 56,000 merchant vessels in the entire world, let alone 200,000 offshore.

Fake news that went viral earlier last week incorrectly depicted thousands of cargo ships waiting to be unloaded.

Real News – There is a Container Crisis, Everyone Will Feel It This Holiday Season

Whether pool industry professionals believe they are directly affected or not, delays impacting prices is an absolute certainty. A wave of shipping consolidation over the past few decades means fewer alternatives. It is a fact that almost every single home in the United States depends on cargo that is arriving via the ports of Los Angeles or Long Beach. How much consumers ultimately pay is indirectly correlated to what is going on in the ports. Experts warn that consumers will almost undoubtedly see more out-of-stock notices, fewer deals, and longer delivery times this holiday season. 

California shipping container backlog, excluding tankers & recreational vessels via Marine Traffic – October 26, 2021

What Caused The Bottle Neck

The bottleneck this year is due to an increase in imports. Consumer demand has shifted away from services and toward goods and home improvements. This has directly affected businesses’ ability to replenish supplies that were depleted last year during the early months of the pandemic. While analysts predict the situation to improve sometime in 2022, experts say the situation is bound to continue to get worse before it begins to get better.

Why We Can’t Just Re-Route Everything

Some of the builders we spoke to asked why container ships couldn’t simply be rerouted to the Gulf or the East Coast. This has been suggested by many observers who believe that the easiest recourse is to reroute cargo. Pragmatically, rerouting to New York and New Jersey is completely out of the question, their ports appear to be just as inundated. In a recent press conference, Governor Ron DeSantis invited ships to reroute and offload in Florida, which has several ports.

While some shippers have done so, that alternative can be extremely costly. Ultimately, most of the material coming in on these vessels is coming from Asia. Rerouting to alternate ports isn’t so cut and dry and typically adds weeks of additional transit time. Ships that opt to take a longer route face more expensive transit costs than shipping to the West Coast. The logistical issues of transporting that cargo with trucks cross country also becomes an inevitable issue that ultimately adds additional costs and concerns.

Realistically, there may not be a magic bullet or easy solution to the problem California ports are facing. Staffing problems unloading and transporting cargo have snarled traffic to a crawl in both directions. The container shortage has got to the point where Maersk (one of the largest shipping companies) recently sent notices to trucking and logistics firms pleading for the return of containers.


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Pool House Turns Heads At International Awards Show

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Pool House is an award winning residential indoor pool built by Design Emporium - (Best Residential Pool - International Design & Architecture Awards)

“Pool House” is one of the most inspiring indoor pool designs we’ve seen lately. This design is the work of U.K. West Yorkshire-based firm Design Emporium. Recently they won “Best Residential Swimming Pool” at the 2021 International Design & Architecture Awards.

The modern and contemporary design impressed judges who said, “The scheme brought together high-quality materials, such as bronze windows, roughcast micro cement, and large format tiles to create a sympathetic scheme that complemented the status of the building.

Award Winning Pool House Design by Design Emporium
Award Winning Pool House Design by Design Emporium

“The design has carefully created intimacy and interest. Large walls can often feel bland, but the use of multiple materials and introduction of texture has ensured the space is well balanced. Many residential pool houses follow a formulaic approach, using standard finishes (blue mosaics in the pool tank), and have little interest. This pool not only considers the building’s original use, but also how it interacts with its surroundings.”

The International Design & Architecture Awards is still relatively unknown by many pool builders in the United States. The award is hosted by design et al, a leading UK interior design magazine that’s well-known and respected by professionals within architectural circles over in Europe.

Pool House – Luxury Indoor Pool Design

We love looking at luxury pools from all over the world. This is the type of project that impresses you on multiple levels. U.S. pool builders who want to see what types of trends are turning heads in the global community are sure to take interest in this design. This award-winning indoor pool definitely offers a glimpse into what’s hot on the international scene.

Pool House - Spectacular Indoor Pool With Hot Tub
Pool House – Spectacular Indoor Pool With Hot Tub

Headed by Rik Smith, Design Emporium has specialized in elaborate interior designs since 2003. The magnificent indoor pool constructed inside a converted barn is total eye candy. However, the interior was completely gutted and redesigned. The end result, a sophisticated contemporary pool house set against a spectacular private lake. Clearly, Design Emporium is not one to skimp on details. It should be noted, “Pool House” also features a hot tub, complete with a retractable cover.

Pool House Gym - Award Winning Pool House Design
Pool House Gym – Award Winning Pool House Design

In addition, this property comes equipped with a gaming and entertainment area, a home office, and its own personal gym. Consequently, this handsomely outfitted barn conversion is one of the best-designed indoor pools we’ve seen this year. Without a doubt, this is not one of your more typical pool designs. Pool House features all of the amenities one would find at a first-class resort.

An upstairs gaming area is located directly above the swimming area.
An upstairs gaming area is located directly above the swimming area.

In our opinion, you couldn’t want more from an indoor pool that’s detached from the main home. Since we’re so fond of this pool, we are eager to hear what you think of this design.

Photo Credits: Design Emporium

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PHTA Reveals The 2021 International Awards of Excellence Winners

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Pool & Hot Tub Alliance 2021 - International Awards of Excellence

(Alexandria, Va.) – The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) is proud to announce this year’s winners of the PHTA Awards of Excellence. PHTA’s International Awards of Excellence program is one of the largest, most well-renowned design competitions in the pool and hot tub industry. These distinguished awards recognize exceptional installations of pools, spas, hot tubs, and water features that showcase the most beautiful, creative, and innovative work in the industry. Each year, hundreds of entries are submitted by builders across the U.S. and the world.

The PHTA Awards of Excellence competition is open to PHTA members who are pool, spa, or hot tub builders as well as installers, designers, retailers, or service companies that receive payment for the submitted project. The judging panel is comprised of industry professionals along with representatives from related fields, including architecture and landscape design.

The award categories were updated this year to better encompass the wide variety of pools, spas, hot tubs, and water features being designed.

See below for the list of 2021 PHTA International Award of Excellence Winners:

GOLDCATEGORY
Aquatic Leisure Technologies, Perth, AustraliaFiberglass Pools
Cascade Custom Pools, Austin, TXSwim Spas
Cascade Custom Pools, Austin, TXElevated Pool and/or Spa Structure
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXPools with Automatic Covers
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXGeometric
Cosgrove Custom Pools Inc., Rocklin, CAPools with a Vanishing Edge
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceTechnical/Engineering Achievement
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceSpas Built in Conjunction with Swimming Pools
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceRecreation/Leisure Pools
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceRecreation/Leisure Pools
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceRecreation/Leisure Pools
High-Tech Pools Inc., North Olmsted, OHCompetition Pools
lke’s Carter Pools, Oakland Park, FLPool Renovations
lke’s Carter Pools, Oakland Park, FLGeometric
J&M Pool Company, Senoia, GAVinyl-Lined Pools
Platinum Pools, Houston, TXPools with a Vanishing Edge
Shasta Pools, Phoenix, AZCommercial Water Features
Sunfish Pools, Jacksboro, TXFreeform
Texas Pools Inc, The Woodlands, TXGeometric
Tipton Spires Design Build, Houston, TXGeometric
Van Kirk Pools, Deerfield Beach, FLPools with a Vanishing Edge
Van Kirk Pools, Deerfield Beach, FLGeometric

SILVERCATEGORY
Acuarium Piscinas & Spas, Miami, FLRecreation/Leisure Pools
Aquatic Leisure Technologies, Perth, AustraliaFiberglass Pools
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXRecreation/Leisure Pools
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXPools with a Vanishing Edge
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
Cody Pools, Inc., Georgetown, TXGeometric
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceTraditional
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FrancePool Renovations
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceSpas Built in Conjunction with Swimming Pools
High-Tech Pools Inc., North Olmsted, OHElevated Pool and/or Spa Structure
lke’s Carter Pools, Oakland Park, FLTechnical/Engineering Achievement
Lido Pools, Keswick, CanadaVinyl-Lined Pools
Platinum Pools, Houston, TXGeometric
Platinum Pools, Houston, TXPools with a Vanishing Edge
Southernwind Pools, Mckinney, TXFreeform
Southernwind Pools, Mckinney, TXGeometric

BRONZECATEGORY
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
D. Clugston, Inc., Apex, NCRecreation/Leisure Pools
D. Clugston, Inc., Apex, NCRecreation/Leisure Pools
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceTechnical/Engineering Achievement
Easton Pool & Spa, Inc., Easton, MAFreeform
lke’s Carter Pools, Oakland Park, FLPool Renovations
J&M Pool Company, Senoia, GAVinyl-Lined Pools
Paragon Pools, Las Vegas, NVSpas Built in Conjunction with Swimming Pools
River Pools of Central Virginia, Warsaw, VAFiberglass Pools
Russell Pool Company , Baton Rouge, LATraditional
Texas Pools Inc, The Woodlands, TXGeometric
Van Kirk & Sons Pools & Spas , Deerfield Beach, FLPools with a Vanishing Edge
Vue Custom Pools, Greensboro, NCTraditional

MERITCATEGORY
Almar Jackson Pools, Inc., Jupiter, FLTraditional
Aquatic Leisure Technologies, Perth, AustraliaFiberglass Pools
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceTechnical/Engineering Achievement
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceFreeform
Platinum Pools, Houston, TXTraditional
Superior Pools of Southwest Florida inc., Port Charlotte, FLPool Renovations
Superior Pools of Southwest Florida inc., Port Charlotte, FLSpas Built in Conjunction with Swimming Pools
Van Kirk & Sons Pools & Spas, Deerfield Beach, FLPools with a Vanishing Edge

“We were amazed by this year’s submissions. It is truly incredible to see the passion, creativity, and innovation happening in our industry,” says Sabeena Hickman, CAE, President and CEO of PHTA. “We received 185 stunning submissions across 20 categories. The judging panel did tremendous work in narrowing down the finalists and selecting the winners. We are proud of all of our 2021 winners!”

For more information, please contact Janay Rickwalder, PHTA’s Vice President of PR and Communications, at jrickwalder@phta.org or 703.357.3918.
###

About the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with nearly 3,500 members from around the world, was established in 1956 to support, promote, and protect the common interests of the $36.5B pool, hot tub and spa industry. PHTA provides education, advocacy, standards development, research, and market growth to increase our members’ professionalism, knowledge and profitability. Additionally, PHTA facilitates the expansion of swimming, water safety and related research and outreach activities aimed at introducing more people to swimming, making swimming environments safer and keeping pools open to serve communities. For more information, visit www.phta.org.

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