Pool Troopers, the largest pool maintenance company in Florida has recently completed another acquisition in its home state. Premier Pool Service (not to be confused with Premier Pool Service national franchise) and its repair, cleaning, and chemical businesses in the Naples-Fort Myers area were purchased. Chen Lung “Jake” and Lee Su, the owners of Premier Pool Service, will concentrate completely on the construction side of their 22-year-old company.
Pool Troopers began teaming with pool companies across the Sunbelt earlier this year. Pool Troopers currently has approximately 20,000 clients in Florida, Texas, and Arizona as a result of this recent expansion. The acquisition comes shortly after an announcement that Wendy Parker Barsell will be leaving the FSPA to join Pool Troopers as their new Business Development Director.
Making Splash Pads & Spray Parks Safe
The importance of discussing the safety of splash pads and spray parks couldn’t come at a more important time. After the recent news of a child being killed by a rare brain-eating amoeba he caught a spray park, parents are concerned. Many want to know what is being done to make splash pads and spray parks safe for their kids. While this latest tragedy may be front page news, the concern has been ongoing for a while and seems to elevate with each reported death. Experts say better education is needed on both the proper maintenace of these structures and the guidelines those that use them must follow.
While contracting a fatal disease from an organism like Naegleria fowleri is still pretty uncommon, contracting water borne diseases is not. An outbreak of cryptosporidiosis occurred at Seneca Lake State Park in New York during the summer of 2005. Over 1,700 people may have been sickened, with 425 laboratory-confirmed cases and 1,374 probable cases reported. The water tanks that fed the 11,000 square foot spray pad were found to be contaminated with Cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. As a result, New York implemented emergency public health regulations to oversee the design and sanitation of similar water features throughout the state and many other satellite states began to institute similar measures.
Prior to that outbreak, in 1999 a diarrheal outbreak impacted 44 percent of visitors (an estimated 4,800 individuals) to a new spray park / water fountain at a coastal park. When health department inspectors performed their investigation of the spray park, they discovered that the water drained from the play area into an underground reservoir for recirculation. The issue was discovered to be the result of insufficient chlorination and a lack of a filtration system. The chlorine tab feeder had been empty for weeks, and the designers had omitted adding a backup sanitizing system.
Health Agencies Slow To Regulate
Because splash pad areas and interactive spray parks are still in their early stages, health agencies have not yet quite figured out clear rules for how water at these facilities ought to be treated. All spray parks and splash pads must be been constructed to ensure that contaminants can be cleansed and filtered out of the water.
Tom Parrish of Parrish Pools in Maryland is a commercial pool builder specializing in the construction of splash pads and spray parks. “We build them to the highest standards with redundant sanitation systems,” said Parrish, “unfortunately some of these older spray parks aren’t equipped with a secondary sanitizing system and those older parks should have their equipment checked often.”
Parrish also indicated that even the best automation systems and sanitizing systems do not negate parents of their own responsibility. “When using a splash pad or spray park, caregivers and children should both follow the safety rules” said Parrish, “it’s absolutely vital to reinforce that their children do as well. It’s incumbent upon adults to make sure that best practices are being followed, this includes all the standard rules like not peeing or defecating in the water, showering before entering the play area, proper disposal of swim diapers and things of that nature.”
Disease Control in Spray Parks & Splash Pads
The prevention of disease is an important problem that is bigger than the U.S. World wide cases of crypto have been increasing. Finland is a country reknowned for it’s healthcare system yet reported 571 cryptosporidiosis cases in 2020, almost 30 times as high as the figure in 2010. It’s a problem that can not only cost lives, but can cost businesses, builders, and operators millions. That same crypto outbreak we mentioned that occured in Seneca Lake prompted a class action lawsuit against the state for millions of dollars after cryptosporidium was discovered in the park’s holding tanks.
What is Cryptosporidium?
Crypto is a parasite that produces symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and weight loss. It spreads through feces in the water and takes about a week to be killed by chlorine. As a result, New York now requires the use of wading pools or an ultraviolet disinfection system, health permits for parks that use recycled water, signs warning patrons with diarrhea to stay away from the area, and animal fencing.
Using Chlorine is No Guarantee
The use of chlorine to treat recirculated water does not guarantee that it is bacteria-free. A child can crouch over a nozzle, or a parent can change a diaper and rinse the infant in the spray, infecting the newborn with recreational water illness. The contaminated water enters the sewers, is filtered, and then delivered to holding tanks, where the free chlorine rapidly changes. Chlorine feeders and controls must be tested on a regular basis. RWI can occur if there is no chlorine or if a fecal accident occurs. If the water is recirculated, it must be treated and the functioning equipment must be monitored to ensure safe water conditions.
Using Ultraviolet Systems Against Microorganisms in The Pool
Ultraviolet systems are quite effective against microorganisms like crypto. Manufacturers also advocate adding an ozone system to an existing sanitation system as an upgrade. To avoid RWIs, many spray parks use nonrecirculated potable water that is routed to wastewater treatment or used to irrigate the area.
Every facilitiy should engage a top pool builder in the design and installation of the water treatment system, as well as its operation and maintenance. Backwashing filters and cleaning strainer baskets for filters, pumps, and feature pumps can help to ensure water quality. Ultimately, spray parks need to be properly maintained, sanitized, and supervised in order to ensure they are safe.
Cleaning Pools After a Wildfire
The recent fires significantly affected the pool industry. After this sad ordeal, pool experts discovered better ways to prevent and deal with such unexpected situations. As a pool owner, it is essential to do your best to protect yourself from such unfortunate circumstances. But first, you have to take time to analyze the problem.
Protecting yourself from the fire
Pool professionals should also carry protective clothing and equipment at all times. For instance, they should carry gloves and respiratory masks at all times. An inflammable blanket and safety flares also help pool operators handle emergencies.
Wildfires undoubtedly interfere with the quality and pressure of water. Contrary to popular belief, a hose is not always effective in the case of a wildfire. More often than not, fire brigades use pumps to source water from the pool to protect your home. Therefore, pool owners should consider buying pumps for these specific pumps. Such pumps usually facilitate a water flow of 150 gallons per minute. Subsequently, they are effective in soaking down your home.
What you should do in the event of a fire
In the occurrence of a wildfire, the first thing to do is ensure everyone around the area is safe. Then, attend to your property once everyone around the site leaves. Working with the emergency department in your local area would be best if you experience a fire.
It is always dangerous for pool companies to try saving pools by going past an emergency barrier. Remember, fire can travel to any side when there is a strong wind. Create multiple escape routes in the property to keep everyone safe.
Avoid areas of heavy smoke where emergency crews are still set up. If there are wild animals in your area, do not try to handle them on your own when they come to your property looking for shelter. In such a situation, try contacting your nearest wildlife management authorities. Ultimately, be very careful when you have active wildfires going on in the area, this holds especially true for pool professionals.
If it’s your home that is in immediate jeopardy – evacuate as quickly as possible and worry about the pool and house later. If you have ample notice that the fire may be headed in your direction, you may have time to prepare your property using some of the suggestions outlined at the end of this article.
Dealing with the aftermath of the fire
What happens after a wildfire? Large fires make pools dirty. Your pool is likely to have leaves, smoke, ash, and branches after the fire. Also, fire extinguishing chemicals may still be present in the pool. These substances can adversely affect the pool filter. Also, a dirty pool is likely to attract extensive breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Pool owners should take time preparing their pool for a wildfire as well as time cleaning it after one.
The air quality itself is something that pool companies should focus on while out servicing pools after a wildfire. Cole Daasnes owner of Poseidon Pool Service said he limits the exposure his employees have to heavy smoke when the air quality is very poor. He said that they take care of their service technicians first and foremost. “The AQI (air quality index) is their standard on monitoring the air quality for the safety and well-being of the staff, once it reaches an ‘unhealthy’ status at 150 we limit our service to chem basket service only to minimize their exposure.” Consequently, when the air quality is very poor, homeowners should expect abbreviated service from many of the local service providers.
Usually, it is advisable to employ a pool service expert when it comes to cleaning pools after a fire but again, plan ahead and ask whatever pool contractor you hire if they are offering full service at that time. Also, note that you should take your own time before coming back to the site of the fire. Ensure you identify the cause of the fire and deal with it appropriately before revisiting your property again. Once you’ve ascertained that it’s safe – now is when you can begin to start worrying about the pool. The first thing though is to avoid running your pool pump before checking whether everything is okay; a pool contractor can help you handle this job effectively.
Effects of ash in the swimming pool
Typically, expect a lot of ash in your pool after a fire. A build-up of ash on the pool filter can lead to an almost limestone cement type of coating on the filtering equipment. Ash coming from buildings also contains toxic substances like lead that can pose a danger to your health. Additionally, it is essential to note that ash repels water. Thus, it is tough to get rid of ash in the pool. Enzyme-based products are the best for removing ash.
Do fire-fighting suppressants affect the quality of pool water after a fire?
As mentioned earlier, one of the substances you are most likely to find in pools after a fire are fire suppressant chemicals. According to experts like Orenda Technologies who’ve seen their fair share of wildfires over the years, flame retardants can be up to 10% fertilizer. Many of these fire suppressants contain di-ammonium phosphate. The presence of phosphate in the swimming pool significantly lowers the quality of water. Also, phosphate reacts with calcium to form calcium phosphate, which reduces the efficiency of pool heaters.
According to Jeffery Johnston of Quality Clear Pools, the flame retardant that is dropped from the air is called PHOS-CHEK Fortify. The brand name Phos-Chek stems from it’s active ingredient, ammonium phosphate (made of 85% water, 10% fertilizer and 5% minor ingredients). Key words here are phosphate and fertilizer. “When these two elements enter the air and find their way into your pool, it puts a very high sanitizer (chlorine) demand on your pool, AKA food for algae.” said Johnston.
Tips for Cleaning a Pool After a Wildfire
- Remove debris as quickly as possible.
- Brush the entire pool surface completely.
- Skim debris from the pool with a net.
- Check that your pool filter is clean and functioning properly.
- Do an inspection of all of your pool equipment.
- Use a quality chlorine-free oxidizer to super-chlorinate your swimming pool to 20 parts per million (ppm).
- Use a water clarifier to assist in clearing ash from the pool filter.
- Enzyme products can also assist in breaking down non-organic matter that cannot easily be filtered.
- Once your chlorine level falls lower than 5 ppm, test it again and treat with phosphate remover if necessary.
- Mineral algaecides such as PoolRx can can also help cut down the time & chemicals needed to bring the pool back to life.
- Backwash the filter if necessary throughout this process.
What if it’s too far gone?
Sometimes the best way of cleaning a truly filthy pool after a fire is just to empty them, refill and start over. It’s definitely a final remedy but doing this will help you avoid all the hassle involved in cleaning the pool. Besides, the toxins found in the water can really do a number and damage the pool equipment if you don’t have the patience or proper resources to clean it right. Moreover, these substances are likely to lead to unbalanced water chemistry. Still, with that said – draining the pool should be the last stop on the bus. Try some of the tips above before you give up and do a refill.
Is your property near the fire scene?
If the wildfire happened near you and your property was not at risk of damage, there are several things you need to do as a pool owner in order to prepare. Ultimately, pool owners should do their best to safeguard their pools from fires. During a wildfire, cover your pool with a safety cover if possible. You can use sandbags to hold the cover in place to try and prevent anything from getting into the pool. Make sure to inspect the pool for damage after the fire and then clean out the pool and make all repairs as soon as possible. Ensure you clean the pool using the right equipment. Check to see whether all pool equipment is in good shape. Also, oxidize the pool by conducting a pool shock. Hopefully, your property is undamaged and if you follow all of these steps bringing your pool back to crystal blue should be a snap.
Featured Photo Credit: Pool Chemistry Institute
How Much Does Pool Maintenance Cost?
Although swimming pools are fantastic add-ons, they are high maintenance. As a pool owner, you ought to maintain crystal clear pool water. And this is only possible if you use the best pool maintenance techniques. Undoubtedly keeping a pool in good shape can be costly. So, how much does pool maintenance cost? Pool professionals report that pool maintenance costs roughly $110 to $350. Of course, these costs are likely to be higher for bigger pools.
Factors affecting the pool maintenance cost
There is a broad spectrum of factors that affect the pool maintenance cost. Some include:
The more you service your pool, the more likely you will spend on maintenance. Typically, you’ll spend around $100 to $150 every month for weekly /biweekly pool maintenance.
Needless to say, the type of pool maintenance also influences the costs. For example, fixing a pool leak is more expensive than a regular pool cleaning procedure.
Pool Size, Type, and Material
Larger pools incorporate a higher maintenance cost. This is because it takes more time and effort to clean a bigger pool. Also, saltwater pool systems often need more maintenance since they are more susceptible to corrosion. The material used to build the pool also affects the pool maintenance cost. For instance, concrete pools are more vulnerable to algae; thus, they are costly to maintain.
Different pool service experts charge differently. On average, pool service experts charge $75 to $100 per hour. Labor costs vary depending on the location, type and size of your pool.
Types of pool maintenance costs
In colder areas, you need to close your pool during winter. Therefore, before summer, you’ll need to open the pool. Pool opening costs approximately $150 to $300. The cost varies based on the location and size of the pool.
Closing the pool for winter costs approximately $150 to $300. Pool winterization often involves cleaning the pool and all its accompanying equipment.
Pool heater maintenance
Pool heaters are generally high maintenance. So, if you want this equipment to work effectively, it would be best to take good care of them. Hire a service expert to inspect your pool heater from time to time. It usually costs approximately $100 to $200 to maintain a pool heater.
Cleaning pool filters
Pool service experts usually charge about $60 to $65 when cleaning your pool filter. The more the filter gets dirty, the more you’ll have to spend on cleaning the pool.
More often than not, pool drains are prone to clogging. So, you have to clean them frequently. Cleaning pool drains costs approximately $60 to $125. The price depends on the number of drains in your pool.
At times, you may have to acid wash the pool. This is usually to get rid of all the stubborn stains and algae in the pool. The quantity of muriatic acid needed often depends on the size of your pool. A gallon of muriatic acid costs approximately $8. So, once you know the size of your pool, you’ll determine the total amount you need to acid wash the pool.
Balancing water chemistry
All pool owners need to keep their pool water chemistry balanced at all times. So, you’ll often have to buy a pool test kit at $15 to check the pool chemistry. At times, you may have to hire a pool service expert to help you maintain accurate water chemistry.
Shocking the Pool
Conducting a pool shock from time to time is essential. It costs about $25 to $50 to conduct a pool shock. The price usually depends on the size and condition of your pool.
Is it necessary to get professional pool maintenance?
A good percentage of pool owners love conducting DIY pool maintenance procedures to save money. However, it is always advisable to employ a professional pool service expert to care for your pool. A pool service professional ensures that your pool is in good condition at all times. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you should employ a pool professional for maintenance.
The only way to maintain crystal clear water at all times is to hire a pool professional. A reliable pool expert uses the right chemicals and equipment to make sure you have quality pool water.
Preventing water loss
If you live in warmer areas, do your best to reduce the pool evaporation rate. A reliable pool contractor will always help you to reduce the rate of evaporation. The water level in the pool should not drop below normal. Otherwise, this would pose a danger to swimmers.
Typically, your pool water should be safe for use at all times. If you don’t have background knowledge of pool maintenance, it can be hard to maintain safety in the pool. Therefore, consider hiring a pool maintenance expert.
Employing a pool service professional enables you to retain the aesthetics of your pool for an extended period. In turn, this makes the pool area look more inviting. Here, you can sit and relax with your loved ones.
DIY pool maintenance
As mentioned earlier, most pool owners love conducting DIY maintenance projects. Although this may be cheaper, you are better off hiring a professional. Pool experts can identify any issues with your swimming pool. Also, do not forget that pool maintenance consumes a lot of time and effort. So, you may not have time to maintain the pool if you have a busy schedule.
How to save money on pool maintenance cost
Fortunately, there are many ways you can cut down your pool maintenance costs. Some of them include:
- Using a pool cover: One of the best ways to reduce pool maintenance cost is by using a pool cover. A good pool cover prevents dirt and debris from getting into the pool. Subsequently, it prevents the filter from overworking.
- Operate the pool pump for 8 hours a day: Although some people prefer running the pool pump for 24 hours. But this may not be practical. Remember, you want to save on energy. Therefore, always leave your pool pump for six to eight hours a day. Besides, doing this will prevent your filter from overworking. Another smart pool equipment upgrade to save you money is upgrading to a variable speed pump.
Maintaining a pool costs approximately $110 to $350 per month. Luckily, you can minimize these costs by incorporating various techniques.
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