Shortages Delaying Pool Construction
A series of shortages are causing pool construction delays across the nation
Shortages continue to plague the pool industry and have now begun to cause tremendous delays for pool builders. Experts say a serious plastics shortage is trickling down and impacting builders across the pool industry. Diminished supplies and rising costs for raw materials are causing prices to skyrocket with distributors. Supply chains have been dramatically affected by a recent surge in demand for pool products as well as the COVID-19 shutdowns. As manufacturing plants begin to come back online, many in the industry are beginning to wonder if it’s too little too late to save this year’s pool season. Supply delays are already causing serious problems for pool builders across the nation and the situation looks to only be getting worse as the season goes on.
Shortages Cause Distributors to Raise Prices
Across the board – prices for chemicals, components, and machinery have gone up with major distributors. PoolCorp announced price increases earlier this year that are set to start on May 3, 2021. Many pool companies however, have reported wide spread price increases from other distributors in the months prior to the announcement taking effect. Stock on many essential components are in short supply due to Covid causing a series of wide spread factory slowdowns. This following an unprecedented demand for pool and spa goods in 2020.
Hurricane Laura sparked a fire at one of the main chlorine production plants, shutting down more than 40% of the chlorine tablet production in the United States. We have seen significant price increases on chemicals, especially chlorine. The price for chlorine tablets is predicted to increase up to 50% by mid July according to analysts.
Plastics Shortage Impacting The Pool Industry
ISM is reporting a plastics shortage that is already predicted to severely impact the pool industry. Raw material shortages for resin have dramatically impacted supply chains. Dwindling supplies were already tight say leading experts. The recent deep freeze caused by winter storm Uri, took many supplies off the market as pool owners in Texas experienced millions of dollars in unexpected pool equipment repairs.
The Petrochemical industry which is largely based in Texas, was nearly brought to it’s knees during the winter. Uri had disastrous implications on supplies which are impacting the inventory that pool companies have depended on being available for this seasons installation projects.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which cited S& P Global Platts, the freeze in Texas, one of the largest exporters of plastics and other petrochemical products, halted production of 75% of polyethylene, 62% of polypropylene, and 57% of PVC. Texas manufactures about 85 percent of the polyethylene used in the United States, making it the most commonly used plastic in the world. The manufacturing delays have triggered a global plastics shortage.
Maintaining Pricing Structures is Impossible
Maintaining existing pricing structures has already become untenable for pool service companies due to the rising costs of chemicals like trichlor and dichlor. Many pool service companies have begun to send out announcements to customers to expect price increases on weekly pool service this season. “We have absolutely no choice” said Mike Pompura of Pool Masters in Corona, CA. “Distributors have raised their prices considerably this season and unfortunately we are going to have start passing these price increases on to our customers.”
Pompura who has run his pool service company for the past two decades, says he has never seen conditions like this before. “I’ve been in business since 2001 and this is the worst I have seen it. We are having problems getting valves. PVC has also gone way up this year” said Pompura.
The problems Pompura is experiencing seem to echo the sentiments of many pool companies sounding off in pool industry groups on social media. The stress on plastic supplies and a surge on demand for resins are causing bottlenecks in the supply chain across the nation. Experts cite a number of causes for ongoing delays including port closures, over the road capacity shortages, and an increased demand on plastics for food packaging and PPE.
Emile Stinchcombe of Aqua Guard Pools in Detroit says the problem is bigger than just a shortage of materials. The Covid-19 relief bill has provided extra stimulus to the point where the industry finds itself suddenly short of skilled labor during the busiest months of the pool season. “We have a serious shortage of labor this year. Suddenly everyone wants to stay home and collect unemployment instead of work for a living. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years in the pool industry.” said Stinchcombe.
Winter storm Uri hit petrochemcial plants in Texas and Louisiana hard. Many industry experts fear that supply chains have not yet recovered to make a meaningful impact in time for this years pool season. This could very well be why major distributors are hedging their bets by stating that further price increases may be just around the corner.
Shortages Causing Prices to Soar
One thing is certain, with raw materials increasing in price – consumers can be certain to feel the trickle down effect in their wallet this pool season. The price of an inground swimming pool is predicted to increase 15-25% in most markets throughout the United States this year in comparison to last year. This is on par with the rising costs of raw materials like lumber contributing to an expected additional $36,000 to the price of average new home construction this year.
In addition, timelines for completing inground pool projects have also been dramatically impacted. There is an enormous backlog of homeowners waiting just to get on the list for pool construction. Consumers can expect extended timelines for construction to go up from the typical timeframe of 6-8 weeks to now 3 months or more in many areas of the country.
The news does not bode well for homeowners like Penny Lopez in Las Vegas who contracted with her pool builder back in January and is still waiting for her pool to be finished. “We were told that we would be swimming by May but I’m still looking at a giant hole in my backyard,” said Lopez, whose story seems to resemble that of other homeowners throughout the Las Vegas region.
The Trickle Down Effects
The pool and spa industry is just one of many industries affected by this crisis. John Schiegg, VP of Supply Chain Services for Houston-based home builders David Weekley Homes, said he’s seeing shortages and price increases on everything from siding to adhesives to insulation. After winter storm Uri, several PVC manufacturers reported to Schiegg they would be unable to meet their contractual obligations. Schiegg said he was surprised to hear distributors in other neighboring states were impacted as well.
New York based Confer Plastics, manufacturers of pool ladders, steps, and spa accessories; said they would be unable to deliver products planned or scheduled. They’ve already been forced to layoff 40 employees. Vice President Bob Confer said he’s never seen a situation like this in his 47 years in the industry. Confer Plastics is far from the epicenter of the Texas freeze but is still experiencing the long range ripple effects as are many other manufacturers throughout the pool industry.
Cyberattack on Pool in Israel a Wake-Up Call For Pool Pros
A recent cyberattack on a swimming pool in Israel should be a wake up call for pool professionals everywhere.
The recent cyberattack on a hotel pool controller in Israel highlights the potential risks and vulnerabilities that the pool industry faces in terms of hackers affecting Operational Technology (OT) security. As the use of technology in pool systems continues to increase, it is important for pool companies and professionals to understand the potential dangers and take steps to protect themselves and their clients.
Hackers Shine Spotlight on Lack of Security
The hacktivist group GhostSec claimed it breached the hotel’s pool water system and could control the pH and chlorine levels in the pools. The attackers did not disclose the details of the OT breach, but researchers at Otorio, a cybersecurity company specializing in OT security, investigated the incident and found two Aegis II controllers that were exposed.
hope you all can understand our decision on not attacking their PH levels and risking a chance to harm the innocents of #IsraelSeptember 11, 2022
Our "war" has always been FOR the people not against them. #FreePalestine
The Aegis II controller is a device used to monitor and control the chemical concentration in water in locations such as swimming pools, spas, and water parks. The controllers can communicate with other systems, such as pumps, heaters, and sensors, to maintain water quality.
In this case, the AEGIS II here was responsible for continuously measuring and controlling the conductivity and biocide concentration to keep pipework and heat exchangers clean.
The AEGIS II Controller’s applications included:
- Control of bleeding in evaporation cooling systems
- Control of corrosion inhibitors, de-foamers and dispersants
- Measuring and control of inhibitor concentration
- Measuring and control of pH and ORP voltage
- Metering of biocides
According to Otorio’s report, the hackers could have potentially affected the pH levels of the hotel’s pools, but there is no evidence that any harm was done to the guests or the facility. However, the incident raises concerns about the growing threat of OT cyberattacks and their impact on critical infrastructure and public safety.
Targeting Pool Automation Devices With Weak Security
One of the key concerns in the pool industry is the use of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other ICS devices that are used to monitor and control the various aspects of pool systems, such as chemical levels, temperature, pumps, and lighting. These devices can be vulnerable to cyberattacks if they are not properly secured, especially if they are connected to the Internet or other networks.
OT cyberattacks are not new, but they are becoming more frequent, sophisticated, and disruptive. Unlike hackers that focus on stealing data or disrupting services, OT attacks can have physical consequences, such as equipment damage, production loss, environmental damage, or human harm.
Finding Out Exactly How It Happened
In the case of this particular pool controller breach, the attackers were able to access the Aegis II controllers with default passwords, which is a common weakness that can be easily exploited. Once the attackers gained access to the controllers, they could potentially manipulate the chemical levels in the pools, which could cause harm to the swimmers or damage to the equipment.
At the discovery of this breach, OTORIO promptly informed Israel’s Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) of the incident and worked closely with the authorities to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. As of now, the affected controller is no longer accessible to the public.
This incident highlights the importance for pool professionals to take a proactive approach to OT security by implementing best practices and security controls, such as:
- Changing default passwords and using strong and unique passwords for each device and user
- Updating firmware and software patches regularly to fix known vulnerabilities
- Segmenting the network and restricting access to critical devices and systems
- Encrypting data in transit and at rest to prevent unauthorized access
- Monitoring the system for suspicious activities and anomalies that could indicate a cyberattack
- Having a comprehensive incident response plan in place to minimize the impact of a cyberattack and restore normal operations as quickly as possible.
Installers who are performing upgrades or new installations of equipment should also stay informed about the latest trends and threats in OT security and seek guidance from cybersecurity experts or specialized vendors if needed. By taking a proactive and collaborative approach to OT security, pool professionals can help mitigate the risk of hackers gaining access to equipment and ensure the safety and satisfaction of their clients.
Outdoor Living Trends – 5 Major Trends Taking Over The Backyard
We’ve narrowed down 5 important outdoor living trends you’ll be seeing more of in 2023.
As we enter into 2023, outdoor living trends continues to evolve, bringing new ideas and innovations to the forefront. From open plan pool concepts to eco-friendly and smart technology, the focus is on creating harmonious outdoor living environments that seamlessly integrate with our modern lifestyles. To get a sense of what’s hot and trending, we spoke with pool builders from all over the country to find out what’s becoming more popular with homeowners this pool season. Today, we’ll take a look at 5 important trends in outdoor living that are becoming increasingly popular this year.
Top 5 Outdoor Living Trends of 2023
#1 – Swimming Pools & Open Plan Concepts
One of the most notable ways people are incorporating swimming pools into their homes is by creating designs focused around their outdoor living area. With the increasing popularity of open-plan living, homeowners are gravitating towards concepts that make the pool a more central focus of their indoor / outdoor living space.
Designing an Open Plan Pool Concept for Your Backyard
The combination of an open-plan design, the right outdoor living furniture and a swimming pool provides a unique opportunity to create a beautiful, functional and enjoyable space that is both stylish and elegant. This means accomplishing an open flow towards the backyard where the swimming pool often serves as the main feature of their outdoor living area.
Key Aspects of an Open Plan Concept
“One of the key aspects of open-plan concepts that incorporate a swimming pool is the integration of the indoor and outdoor spaces,” said Frisco, TX pool builder – Tyler Griffith of Lonestar Pool & Spa Designs, “the object of the game is to design the interior and exterior spaces to flow seamlessly into one other, creating a space that feels open and inviting. This is frequently achieved through the use of large glass doors and windows, as well as by using materials such as natural stone and timber that complement the indoor and outdoor spaces.”
“Another important aspect of open-plan concepts that incorporate a swimming pool is the use of modern aesthetic tastes,” said Griffith, “this includes the use of clean lines, neutral colors, and minimalistic design elements, which create a sense of spaciousness and a feeling of relaxation.”
#2 – Incorporating Spectacular Water Features
Another popular trend developing in swimming pools, according to designer Chris Johannsen is the incorporation of water features, which are becoming an increasingly popular addition when planning a pool. “These features add visual interest and provide an additional source of entertainment for swimmers and non-swimmers alike,” said Johannsen.
“Water features in the backyard are a beautiful addition to any home, especially when they incorporate a swimming pool. From stunning waterfalls to playful fountains and deck jets, water features can add visual interest, provide a source of entertainment, and create a peaceful and calming environment in your backyard,” said Johannsen, “With the advancement of technology, water features can now incorporate LED lighting and can even be synchronized with your music system, making them an even more integral part of your outdoor living space.”
3 Water Features That Promote a Sense of Tranquility In The Backyard
Waterfalls are one of the most popular water features in the backyard, and for good reason. They provide a stunning visual effect and a peaceful sound that creates a relaxing atmosphere. Waterfalls can be incorporated into the pool design, or can be designed as a separate feature, such as a rock waterfall that cascades into the pool. With LED lighting, waterfalls can be lit up at night to create a dramatic effect and enhance the beauty of your outdoor living space.
Fountains are another popular water feature that can incorporate a swimming pool. Outdoor fountains come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from simple, elegant sprays to elaborate, multi-tiered designs. They can be incorporated into the pool design or installed as a separate feature, and can add a playful and whimsical touch to your backyard. With LED lighting, fountains can be lit up at night to create a mesmerizing and calming effect.
Deck jets are a fun and interactive water feature that can be incorporated into a swimming pool. They shoot streams of water into the air and can be used to create a variety of designs, such as arcs or sprays. Deck jets can be synchronized with music, creating a unique and entertaining experience for pool users.
#3 – Creating Harmonious Outdoor Living Spaces
Outdoor living spaces are also being incorporated into homes in a number of other ways, with many homeowners investing in outdoor kitchens and dining areas, according to Paula Thomas of Thomas Pools & Spas in Modesto. “These spaces are perfect for entertaining guests and provide a comfortable area for cooking, dining and relaxing, said Thomas, “many homeowners are also incorporating fire pits, fireplaces and outdoor lighting into their outdoor living spaces, making them usable even after the sun sets.”
“Designers are always looking for ways to incorporate these kind of elements into the swimming pool area to create a seamless and functional outdoor living space,” said Thomas, “We accomplish this by capturing the homeowners vision and pairing that with the right design, materials, and techniques to create a space that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional and practical.
Identifying The Techniques Designers Use
Flow & Symmetry
One of the most popular techniques used by designers is to create a continuous flow and symmetry between the pool area and the surrounding outdoor living areas. This is done by using similar materials, such as pavers or decking, for the pool deck and adjacent outdoor living areas. This creates a cohesive look and feel and helps to visually connect the different areas. A sense of balance and symmetry are evident in well defined and congruent outdoor living spaces.
One of the most popular outdoor living trends is creating in-pool seating. One technique used by designers is to incorporate multiple built-in seating areas into the pool itself. This can be achieved by using built-in benches, ledges, chaise lounges, or even in-pool stools. This provides a convenient and comfortable place for people to sit and relax when lounging pool side, and it also helps to define the space while creating areas of comfort and recreation.
Landscaping is becoming so much more important these days, according to pool builder Jacob Tetrick of Quality USA Pools. “We’re always striving to incorporate greenery and landscaping into the swimming pool area to create a natural and serene environment,” explained Tetrick, “you can usually achieve this by planting trees, shrubs, and flowers around the pool area, or by creating a lush green lawn. This not only provides a visual barrier between the pool area and the surrounding environment but also adds to the overall beauty and tranquility of the space.”
“Shade structures, such as cabanas, pergolas, or shade sails, are being increasingly used by designers to provide protection from the sun and create an inviting outdoor living area,” according to Thomas Cartwright of Windy City Pools, “shade structures can also be used to define the space and provide a backdrop for outdoor dining or entertaining. We’re seeing a greater use of shade sails to help create a respite from the beating sun while in the pool itself. Smart designers are making better use of these amenities to solve real world usability issues for swimmers and thinking ahead of how the pool will actually be used.”
“Lighting is an important aspect of designing an outdoor living area around a swimming pool,” said Jason De Bosky of Crystal Blue Aquatics, “pool designers carefully appropriate lighting to highlight the pool and its surrounding areas, to create a warm and inviting atmosphere in the evenings, and to provide a safer environment for swimming. Designers often wind up using a combination of overhead lights, strip lighting, and accent lighting to create a beautiful and functional outdoor living space.”
#4 – Eco-Friendly
According to Ben Joseph of Custom Outdoor Trends in Rockwall, TX, another popular trend in swimming pools and outdoor living spaces is the incorporation of sustainable and eco-friendly features. “From solar-powered heaters to ultra-efficient pool pumps and filters to products made to recycle the pool water itself, homeowners are looking for ways to make their swimming pools and outdoor living spaces more sustainable and environmentally-friendly,” said Joseph.
“One of the most important factors in designing an eco-smart pool is energy efficiency, explained Joseph, “Swimming pools can be major energy consumers, and designers are working to reduce this by incorporating features such as variable-speed pumps, recycling systems, and energy-efficient heaters. By reducing the energy consumption of the pool, homeowners can lower their monthly energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint.”
#5 – Smart Technology
Finally, many homeowners are investing in smart technology when building their swimming pools and outdoor living spaces. This includes smart pool covers that can be controlled remotely, smart lighting systems, AI-based pool fences and even pool cleaning robots. These smart technologies make maintaining and using your swimming pool and outdoor living spaces easier and more convenient.
Ultimately, the swimming pool is now a natural extension of the home, with homeowners incorporating them into their homes in a number of ways. They’re embracing popular outdoor living trends; from centralizing their backyard around their swimming pools to incorporating water features, eco-friendly features and smart home technology, the possibilities are endless. If you’re thinking of building a swimming pool or incorporating an outdoor living area into your home, now is the time to start exploring your options.
Texas-Shaped Pool a Must When Visiting Houston
Pool Magazine was recently in Houston for the annual Southwest Pool & Spa Show. Absolutely no visit to Houston is complete without checking out the Texas-shaped pool at Altitude Rooftop & Pool located on the 6th floor at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston.
The Southwest Pool & Spa Show, a premier event for pool and spa professionals, was hosted this year at the George Brown Convention Center. The convention center is conveniently connected to the Marriott Marquis which made deciding to visit a no-brainer for us and a must-visit destination for plenty of attendees and exhibitors at the show.
We took advantage of the opportunity to check out the one-of-a-kind pool experience. During our visit, we saw a number of pool pros taking time out before and after the show to visit the pool. This only reinforced its importance to the industry and its impact on the pool design and construction world.
Texas Shaped Pool is an Iconic Pool Destination
Undeniably, the standout feature of the Altitude Rooftop & Pool at the Marriott Marquis Houston is its distinctly shaped pool, offering guests a unique and unforgettable recreational experience. The crowning jewel is the Texas-shaped lazy river, accented by a beautiful infinity pool, and large spa.
The $335 million dollar project was designed by Morris Architects and built by Rida Development and Houston First. The iconic lazy river features walls and a stainless steel spa that were custom-made by manufacturer Natare which designs vessels and equipment for competition, fitness, leisure, and aquatic recreation. Using over 100 tons of stainless steel, the materials were manufactured in their state-of-the-art facility located in Indianapolis, IN.
The vinyl liner Texas-shaped pool is truly a fun and entertaining spectacle that gives swimmers a floating tour around the state. Approaching the western side of the Texas-shaped pool swimmers are treated to a clear, acrylic wall overlooking the roof’s edge before water jets shoot them southeast along the path of the Rio Grande. In the center of the lazy river, children can play in the water features of a circular splash pad, 20 feet in diameter. The innovative stainless steel “bowl” of the splash pad is lined with stone pavers, through which water drains back to the filtration system.
Along the edge of the rooftop is an impressive 77-foot long infinity pool, where swimmers can relax and look out over the Houston skyline and Discovery Green below. The infinity pool is accompanied by a large spa, composed of two large, overlapping rectangular sections, each one about 8 feet by 10 feet.
The rooftop is decked out with thousands of winter lights and interactive displays for the duration of the winter season as part of the “Texas Winter Lights” exhibit. The temperature of the heated lazy river is a pleasant 80 degrees. During the spring, each Friday night is dedicated to watching movies on the rooftop terrace.
With an emphasis on green technology, the Altitude Rooftop & Pool is powered by energy-efficient pumps and filters, reducing its carbon footprint and making it a more sustainable option for guests who care about the environment. In addition to its exceptional design and construction, High Dive rooftop bar and restaurant offers guests the perfect place to enjoy a drink or snack while taking in the stunning views.
The Marriott Marquis Houston opened in the spring of 2016, adding over 1,800 construction jobs and 700 permanent jobs to Houston’s hospitality industry. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, the Altitude Rooftop & Pool is a must-visit destination in Houston, offering a one-of-a-kind pool experience.
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