"Our association recently spent several thousand dollars replastering our pools and spas and replacing pool heaters because of improper maintenance. What can we do to avoid this expense in the future?"

Regular maintenance of pools/spas and pool equipment is essential to reduce the risk and likelihood of expensive problems.   Carefully select a professional pool service. Before hiring, ask the prospective pool service how many commercial pools the company maintains. Such pools require more care because of heavy use. Ask the length of service. Ask for commercial pool references, and call them. Ask if the pool service does its own equipment repair work or subcontracts the work out. If the work is subcontracted out, will pool service personnel be able to detect equipment problems.

Change pool water annually to cut costs. As pool water ages it accumulates solids, salts and other minerals which cannot be filtered out. Such impurities prevent chlorine from doing its work, thereby requiring excessive chlorine use. Changing the water of a normal size commercial pool of about 25,000 gallons costs about $50 and can save hundreds of dollars annually in wasted chemical costs.

Be pro-active - don’t rely on the health department or complaints from homeowners to detect pool problems. Ask the association manager to conduct regular monthly pool/spa inspections using the following checklist:

1. Note the general cleanliness of the pool equipment room. It should be free of trash, old parts, excessive mineral deposits and stored chemicals (chemicals should be stored elsewhere), with floor swept.

2. Report excessive or squealing noise coming from pool pumps to the pool service.

3. Water present on the equipment room floor could indicate a leak requiring repair.

4. The Health Department form in the pool equipment room should be duly filled out.

5. Be certain time clocks are properly set. Equipment running times should be agreed upon by the association manager and the pool service.

6. Pool equipment room doors and locks should be secured.

7. Pool should be crystal clear in appearance with water at the proper level (about ½ the way up on the depth marker tile).

8. Pool tile should be clean. Dirty tile may be a symptom of improper maintenance.

9. Test the water with an inexpensive “chemical test strip” kit obtained from a home supply store using color coded strips in a plastic bottle to test the water’s chemical balance. A chemical imbalance can cause expensive problems over time. Log the result of each such test to provide a good record for future reference, and inform the pool service of any problems detected.

10. Plaster should be crystal white and free of debris.

11. Pool gates and locks should close but not slam.

Following these guidelines will prevent most problems and ensure that the pools service
is doing its job.