Question: Are you a heliophile? Read on and decide for yourself!
Pools are great, aren’t they?
Lounging lazily, watching the puppy-dog clouds drifting overhead, lollygagging in the shallows, chatting with friends and family on a dreamy summer afternoon, skinny-dipping at midnight under the stars (preferably not under your neighbor’s window).
Pools are terrible, aren’t they?
Futzing around with flesh-eating chemicals, picking out decomposed frog parts, incessant brushing and cleaning, playing free baby-sitter to the neighborhood kids. All 97 of them. While screaming, “Hey, I don’t swim in your toilet, can you stop peeing in my pool?”
Pools are like relationships: complicated!
But a pool also is just like any other property investment: Maintain = Enjoy vs. Neglect = Regret.
Why It Matters: How Many Pools?
Pools is a big market (is that proper English?). According to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP), there are over 9 million pools, with 350,000 coming on line every year. California, Florida, Texas and Arizona comprise the top four states for swimming pools. Bet you can’t guess the next six states: New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Virginia.
The Triple Lindy of Maintenance: Chemicals, Cleaning and Pump
Pool maintenance really isn’t a drag, it just requires commitment.
- Chemicals – “Too much chlorine” causes stinging red eyes? No, the real cause of red eye is improper pH, a measure of the water’s balance of acid and alkali. If the water is too acidic, it will burn your eyes and it will corrode metal equipment; if the water is too alkali-ly, it will be murky and permit algae to form. Thankfully, chemical maintenance is a science, not an art. After the season’s grand opening, maintenance generally requires a weekly pH strip test and the addition of any number of ready-made, packaged chemicals to adjust pH.
- Cleaning – Most pools have systems to remove everyday debris (frogs, dirt, insects, tree debris, etc.) that gets into the pool water. The skimmer functions as a surface level cleaner; the vacuum removes non-floating debris at the bottom of the pool. Normal maintenance involves disposing of debris from the skimmer basket and vacuuming the bottom of the pool. Many pools are equipped with automatic vacuums that run on timer systems, and some pools have built-in jet systems which rotate in sequence and “push” debris to the main drain at the bottom of the pool.
- Pump – The pump provides the circulation necessary for the operation of the skimmer and vacuum. The pump circulates water in the pool and minimizes algae. A well-maintained pump should last 10+ years. Pump filters collect dirt and debris and should be cleaned per manufacturer recommendations.
And Now For Something Completely Serious: Safety
Most inspection issues we identify relate to safety. We don’t want to be buzzkill, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides these startling statistics: “From 2005-2009, there were an average of 3,533 fatal drownings – about 10 deaths per day. One in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for non-fatal submersion injuries.”
Yes, pools can be fun but only if they’re safe. We generally focus on two important safety considerations: access restrictions and supervision.
- Access – Restricting access is an effective method to prevent drowning. The CDC recommends installing a four-sided fence which separates the pool area from the rest of the property; fences should be a minimum of four feet high and employ self-closing and self-latching mechanisms. Other helpful measures include installing door locks which prevent a child from accessing the pool by herself, or alarms which activate if someone enters the pool area.
- Supervision – One of the most effective ways to prevent drowning among children is simple – never leave a child alone near or in a pool. Don’t trust the “safety in numbers” myth – children can’t be relied upon to look after each other. And safety shouldn’t stop with the kids – an adult should exercise extreme caution if she risks swimming alone for exercise or pleasure. A good rule of thumb is to never swim alone. And last but not least, we hope it’s obvious that pools and alcohol don’t mix – at all.
Our Swimming Pool Inspection
We’ve conducted tens of thousands of pool inspections across the fruited plains and our data indicates that there are three main categories of pool-related inspection issues: structural, safety, and equipment.
- Structural Issues – Pool owners dread the phrase “structural issues” when they’re reviewing inspection results and recommended mitigation. But even if a pool is well maintained, surface cracks or deterioration may appear as a pool begins to age; cracks indicate that the pool could be leaking or in danger of developing a leak and further investigation is required. We also inspect the pool deck for evidence of cracking, heaving, or sloping because this type of damage can not only cause people to trip and fall, but problems with the pool deck could be caused by settlement problems in the area directly surrounding the pool, which may also reveal a leak in the pool or piping.
- Safety Issues – We inspect all issues related to safety, focusing specifically on potential safety breaches. Although code generally requires fencing, we occasionally inspect properties in which the pool isn’t properly fenced and even more frequently, cases in which the gate and/or latch don’t work properly. Fences must be at least 4’ high with properly functioning self-closing and/or self-latching mechanisms.
- Equipment Issues – The pump is the heart of a pool’s system and must be checked regularly to ensure that it is functioning properly. Pump issues are evident by poor water circulation or floating flotsam and jetsam. Most issues related to pumps include leaking and corrosion, as well as the chance that the pump’s lines may contain air. The pool filter must be checked regularly (monthly); if the filter captures too much debris and the system’s pressure creeps up without mitigation, the pump’s life could be shortened because of the extra work required to circulate the water through dirty filters. The pump, skimmer/vacuum, and filter must all remain in good working condition if you want your pool to stay “happy and healthy.”
Schedule a US Inspect Swimming Pool Inspection today or bundle it with your next home inspection.
And Now Back To Summertime Fun!
Owning and maintaining a pool can be a mixed bag, but it’s hard to argue with 9+ million homeowners – pools are definitely worth whatever trouble they’re perceived to cause. The happiest pool owners understand that the keys to happy pool ownership are regular maintenance and proper safety measures.
Pool equipment? Check! Pool chemicals? Check! Pool safety? Check!
Have you decided if you’re a heliophile?
Yes, if you’re attracted to sunlight or have the desire to stay in the sun!
Then go ahead, put on your itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, yellow polkadot bikini, embrace the heliophilic life, and jump on in!