Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Bidding Process from the Homeowner and the Service Company's Perspective

As a homeowner looking for any type of pool service whether it be monthly service, a one time clean up or an install or repair, there are certain things to looks for. Of course, in my opinion, the most important thing you need to check for is to see if the service provider is licensed and insured. Insured in the respect that they carry a General Liability policy of at least 2 million dollars or more. Not that anything will likely happen, but something might happen none the less. Without insurance, there is little recourse in my opinion.

The best way to find a good pool service company is the old-fashioned way. Ask a friend or family member whom they use for service. The number one way to gain business is still through referrals from current customers. In some cases, over 25% of new clients may come from referrals from current clients. So, you always want to, of course, keep your clients 100% satisfied with your service. This means showing up every week and addressing any issues or problems right away.

You want to make the bid concise with everything disclosed. For example: “For a pool your size it will be $90 per month. This includes the Acid and Liquid Chlorine but does not including any Conditioner, 3” Tablets or other chemicals. Those would be charged to you each month separately when needed. There is also, an $85 filter cleaning charge and I clean all the filters twice a year in March and then again in September. If your filter needs additional cleaning, there will be an additional $85 charge at the time of that cleaning.”

Another common mistake is underbidding the service account. Look carefully at all the factors around the service account. Large trees surrounding the pool will mean more time each week cleaning the pool. Pool running on poor or old equipment will mean more chemical usage. No automatic cleaner means you will be vacuuming the pool more often. A very large pool takes more time and chemicals. All of this should be quickly assessed and factored into the bid. If you bid too low, it is hard to come back the next month and tell the customer it will be $20 more per month. That doesn’t go over very well.

You are also assessing the potential client during the bidding process. Is the customer someone, you can work with long term or are there some red flags? Here are some red flags to look for:

A potential customer is rude and short with you.

They seem very demanding or overly picky.

The equipment is old and needs to be replaced but customer doesn’t want to invest in new equipment.

They complain endlessly about the previous service company.

They try to cut your service rate down when you give them your bid amount.

One even asked me one time, “Is it legal for my previous pool service to put a lien on my house for non-payment?” Not kidding.

And finally, don’t touch anything. Don’t open pump lids, don’t open the filter tank or filter air relief. Don’t touch the Automated System. Don’t pull the cleaner to the side to inspect it. It probably won’t happen, but chances are something that could break at that very moment. Or you might have trouble putting the pump lid back on. Or the cleaner hose will snap as you pull it to the side. It is not your service account yet, so hands-off. After you land the account then if something breaks you can fix it. I had this happen to me, so you are better off just standing by the pool with your hands in your pockets.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Pool Blaster Hydro 100 Cord-free Pool and Spa Cleaner

The Pool Blaster Hydro 100 Cord-free Pool and Spa cleaner is a surprisingly powerful and I was really impressed by how well this little vacuum worked. This is not a device to be used for larger pools, but it is perfect for your above ground spa, kiddy pool, and water features. I suppose you could use it for a larger pool, but I would suggest in that case to purchase the Hydro 500 instead. For around $100 the Hydro 100 is a great buy.

Here is a description of the Hydro 100 from Water Tech:
A cord-free, rechargeable, easy solution for removing debris from any pool or spa. Lightweight and simple to use. The well-balanced design offers a comfortable handheld feel for quick cleanup. 

Transform to extended-reach cleanup by attaching the free 4-piece sectional pole. Water Tech's Pool Blaster Hydro 100 is another great product offered by Water Tech, The Pool Invention People. 

•SKU: 14051AL
•Includes USB Cable for Charging
(USB Charging Adapter Not Included)
•Run time: Up to 40 minutes

•Push Button ON/OFF Switch
•Includes (1) Reusable All Purpose Filter Bag
•Includes 4 Piece Sectional Pool Pole
•Includes 2 Vacuum Heads
•Quickly removes all debris, leaves, sand, and algae
•Cordless, No Hoses Needed
•Attaches to any standard telescopic pool pole

The Water Tech Aqua Broom is probably their most popular small vacuum but that runs off of four “D” batteries which in my opinion is a dated tech. Hydro 100 is more powerful than the Aqua Broom and the battery is water sealed and rechargeable. So if you are comparing the two look at the Hydro 100 as the vacuum of the future and the Aqua Broom as the old standby.  If you have an older Aqua Broom this would be a great update for you.

I think the number one question is how well the Hydro 100 picks up debris. The chamber does look deceivingly small. In my testing, though I found that the little bag actually picked up and held a good volume of dirt and leaves. The fact that it trapped so much dirt was also very impressive to me. Again, the debris bag looks pretty small, but it has a good capacity for debris.

I think the Hydro 100 is one of the top choices for a small battery-powered vacuum. If you don’t need a full-size vacuum and you are budget conscious the Hydro 100 has al of the elements that make it a great buy.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Swimming Pool Filter Cleaning Tips

If you do pool service and clean 60 or 80 filters every 6 months, or if you are a homeowner who cleans their own filter, the process can be both messy and time-consuming. There are ways to speed up the process and I will share some tips here for you.

The first thing is staying clean and if you do 4-6 filters in one day that can be challenging. A few years ago I got smart and decided to wear a cooking apron. This allowed me to take apart filters all day and still stay relatively clean. I recently upgraded to a water-resistant vinyl apron which also now keeps me clean as well as dry. I also get aprons with pockets so that I can put the filter knob or bolt in a safe place while I clean the filter. Sometimes you will set the bolt or nut down somewhere and lose it. To prevent wasted time looking for the filter bolt, just stick it in your apron pocket. Also, a must are long pants and long sleeve shirts for those very rough fiberglass lids (to keep your arms from getting fiberglass splinters as you put the lid back on). I also wear waterproof boots that keep my feet dry all day and also give me great traction in wet and muddy areas.

I use an old shoulder bag to carry all of my gear back each time. Everything is in this bag. My drill, screwdrivers, extra parts, silicone spray, etc. This allows me to make one trip back and eliminates wasted time going back to my truck. Another good idea is to carry your own spray nozzle and hose, a lot of times the customer’s hose is in bad shape. To save time by using your own hose and nozzle versus spending extra time fighting with a torn hose or bad or weak nozzle.

The Multi-Tork Socket sets are a great tool to quickly remove the filter bold or clamp and to put it back on rapidly. These sockets are designed for the most common filter models. Just attach the socket to your cordless drill, set the socket over the filter bolt and turn it on to unscrew it in mere seconds. Once you start using the Multi-Tork Sockets you will be amazed at the time saved at each filter. In fact, if you do five filters a day and at each one, you save 3 minutes that is equal to over one hour each week. To learn more about the Multi-Tork Sockets:

I also carry a variety of spare parts on my truck. Basically, everything I need is on my truck for every filter on my pool route. I carry grids of various sizes, o-rings for every tank and plenty of nuts and filter bolts. This saves loads of time because you are not going back later or the next day because of one small part. On occasion when I need to replace more than 1-2 grids I will have to leave the pool off and return with a full 8-grid set. But this is not very common. I care everything needed to complete the cleaning and this in itself is a great time saver.

Another big time saver is that I switched over to silicone spray lube vs the Magic Lube for the filter tank o-ring. Not only is it cleaner and quicker to apply, but the o-rings last a lot longer with the silicone spray. I am only changing 2-3 o-rings per 70 filters where before I was changing at least a 12-14. The silicone seems to extend the life of the filter tank o-ring and the lids are very easy to get back on the tank. My supplier currently stocks the BOS-60-3062 BOSS SILICONE LUBRICANT SPRAY but any silicone spray like the ones they sell for RV’s will work just fine. Using silicone spray is a great time saver.

Time is money and when you are cleaning multiple filters, anything you can do to shave off 5 or 10 minutes means the more filters you can clean per day.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Are Pool and Spa Photometer Water Testers Accurate?

Have you ever wondered if digital pool photometers are accurate? It is hard to compare them to a reagent drop test or test strips and the only real way to test if they are accurate is to put them up against another photometer. I had just the opportunity to test their accuracy when I was able to use five PoolLab 1.0 photometers and my eXact iDip Photometer/Digital Tester.

Keep in mind this wasn’t done in a laboratory and I tried to get the exact same amount of sample water in each photometer, but there is a slight margin of error in this type of experiment. Even so, all of the test results from the testing were right in line with each other. This goes to show how accurate photometer testing really is.

Here is how a photometer works:
“Most photometers detect the light with photoresistors, photodiodes or photomultipliers. To analyze the light, the photometer may measure the light after it has passed through a filter or through a monochromator for determination at defined wavelengths or for analysis of the spectral distribution of the light.” -Wikipedia

The water sample in blanked or zeroed out so that the photometer tester gets an accurate reading on the state of the water sample before the reagent is introduced. Once the reagent is put in the water sample, the photometer tester will read the color change of the water sample. For example in the pH testing, the lighter the color the lower the pH, just like in a reagent test kit or the tabs on a test strip. The darker the color the higher the pH. The thing about the digital photometer is that it will read the color exactly and give you a digital readout of what the pH is based on the color spectrum. This eliminates user error and the need to guess at what color the reagent is.

The first test was for the pH. I used the same exact water sample in each PoolLab 1.0 and the eXact pH+ Digital Tester. The results were all within 00.10 of each other.

eXact pH +           = 7.73
PoolLab 1.0 Unit 1 = 7.73
PoolLab 1.0 Unit 2 = 7.67
PoolLab 1.0 Unit 3 = 7.63
PoolLab 1.0 Unit 4 = 7.63
PoolLab 1.0 Unit 5 = 7.59

Interesting how the pH was dropping slightly over time. Between the first test and the last test, about 5 minutes had elapsed. I did press the wrong button on the PoolLab 1.0 Unit 3 and had to reset it so that delayed things a bit. I was more careful about the Alkalinity test that I did next so that wouldn’t happen again. But you can see with even factoring in that the 10 ML sample may not have been exactly precise in each PoolLab 1.0 Unit, the results were all within the range of each other.

The PoolLab 1.0 uses a pre-measured tablet that you simply break up in the photometer chamber. This releases the reagent. The eXact pH+ uses a probe that measures the pH in the sample and no regent is needed. Digital Testers are extremely accurate within +/- 0.1% so I was sure that the pH was 7.73 in this test.

Here are the results for the Alkalinity test with five PoolLab 1.0 and the eXact iDip photometer. The eXact iDip uses a pre-measured test strip vs the tablets of the PoolLab 1.0.

eXact iDip Photometer = 146 ppm
PoolLab 1.0 Unit 1 = 156
PoolLab 1.0 Unit 2 = 153
PoolLab 1.0 Unit 3 = 146
PoolLab 1.0 Unit 4 = 147
PoolLab 1.0 Unit 5 = 149

The average between the 6 testers is 149 ppm and this is within the margin of error for the Alkalinity test. Basically, 4 of the 6 results were right in line with each other with one being 10 ppm over the others. This can be accounted for if the water sample wasn’t exactly 10 ML in one of the units. The pre-measured tablets all came from the same package so the only real variable is the 10 ML water sample.

These results show that using a digital photometer for your pool and spa water testing is very accurate. If you used the correct water sample volume and the correct reagent amount, the test can be relied on accurate.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

What is on My Servie Truck: A Look at my Current Pool Equipment

I am always testing new products and of course using old standby equipment on my pool service route. I always like to go over the current equipment I am so that you too can benefit from some great products.

I will start with my current vacuum systems. I have a Power Vac in my garage which in itself is an awesome vacuum system. The reason it is not currently on my truck is that I am still putting the Riptide Vacuum System to the test. This is a relatively new system but excellent. It has the same 30 lbs thrust motor found on the Power Vac and Hammer-Head Vacuum System and the shell of the Riptide is the main thing that puts it above the others. The vacuum head is made out of a durable plastic that comes with a 10-year warranty. So, you are getting a well build Vacuum System with the Riptide.

The Vacuum System I am using the most is the Bottom Feeder. It weighs just 12 lbs including the battery and has no cords. So it is not only light and compact but easy to use. Just connect it to your pool pole and drop it in. That easy. It has an 18 lbs thrust motor but is still plenty powerful for large piles of leaf debris. It also can be used with a cartridge adapter – basically a cartridge filter on top that allows it to vacuum down to 20 microns. The only drawback is that the battery is good for only 2 hours before needing to be recharged. All in all a great little portable vacuum system.

Currently, I am testing out the Primate Carbon Fiber Pool Poles and I am using all three versions. They make a 3X Tri-Pole, a 2X two-piece 8-16 ft pole and a small 6-11 ft pole called the 2X BETA. These are great poles that are super light, each weighs around 2 lbs. and the carbon fiber makes them 3 times stronger than aluminum. The price point is on the higher end due to the carbon fiber material. But if you are looking for a premium pool pole, look no further.

Here is a playlist featuring all the Primate Pool Poles:

I also use the Smart Company Power Pole which is a great 2-piece pole and the quick push lever lock button is excellent. The 2nd tube slides out so smoothly and locks into place in an instant. A great pole also. Most recently I have also been testing the Skimlite SnapLite pole which is very similar to the Power Pole. The version I am testing is the SnapLite 3617 Tri-Pole that extends from 6 ft to 17 ft. A great compact Tri-Pole with the excellent build quality of Skimlite. I am a bit of a pool pole junky and I have close to a dozen different poles in my garage at this time.

Skimlite SnapLite Poles: 
Piranha Power Pole:

I really like the Water Tech Battery operated vacuums and I am always trying out their latest homeowner version. Currently, I am using their new Hydro 500 which is an excellent cleaner. It features their new cone design with the expanded debris chamber and exceptional power. Of course I am still using Precision 2.0 and it is going on 2 years now and still working great. With the sand silt bag, it can pick up algae dust as well as D.E. and is pretty amazing.

So the equipment on my truck is constantly changing as I try new products out. I will revisit my truck in 2020 and let you know how these are holding up and what I new equipment I am using.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Primate 2X BETA 6FT by 11 FT Carbon Fiber Skimming Pool Pole

Primate 2X  BETA (6 x 11ft) Telescoping Pool Pole is the latest edition to the line-up of the Primate Carbon Fiber Pool Poles. This pole is specifically designed for skimming a pool’s surface, brushing a pool, cleaning out small spas, water features, above ground pools and smaller in-ground pools. It is small, compact and weighs a little over 1.5 lbs.

Here is more from Primate Pool Tools:

Primate 2X BETA (6 x 11 ft) Telescoping Pool Pole
Description: The P2X BETA is identical to its brothers the P3X and 2X in strength and durability and features our flagship lever lock mechanism. However, this version (BETA) is a smaller more compact 2-part pole for those who would prefer something smaller and lighter for skimming, brushing, and tile scrubbing.


Measurements: Collapsed length – 72″, fully extended – 144″

Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz

Materials: Carbon fiber tubing with fiberglass reinforcement at stress and wear points.

This is becoming my favorite Primate Pole. I really love the compact size and the weight of this pole. Of course, if you are using it to vacuum a pool that is over 6 feet deep you will need the larger Primate Pole or an Extension. But for skimming and cleaning those smaller bodies of water this pole is more than perfect. On my route, there are lots of opportunities to use this little guy an much of my route consists of smaller pools and spas.

The compact size of this pole is amazing. When fully retracted it is less than 6 ft in length. Meaning you can tuck it away inside your truck bed or put it in your truck’s backseat. If you service pools with tight areas or have a screened-in pool, the 2X BETA would be a perfect fit. It is so easy to store, carry and use that it is a must-have 2nd pole option. I carry the Primate 2X 8ft by 16 ft pole and this little guy and it is a great pole combo.

The fact that it only extends out to a little under 11 ft. is a bit of a drawback for vacuuming. The intended purpose of this pole is for surface skimming but that doesn’t mean it is any weaker than the other Primate Poles. It is made from the same carbon fiber and the front is also reinforced with fiberglass. It is small but mighty. If you do need to use it for vacuuming, I suggest picking up the Primate X 6ft extension. Just clip on the Primate X to the front of the 2X BETA and you now have a pole that extends to 17 ft.

It features the same Lever Lock as the other Primate Poles making it very easy to extend the 2nd section out and bring it in. I find that the combination of the lightness and the ability to easily extend the pole a great skimming combination. Using it all day on your pool route will save the strain on your back as well as your wrists. If you have a bad back or wrist issues, this pole will make your day easier and you will really feel the difference after one week.

The price point of the 2X BETA is great and currently, it is $139.00 on their site. Very affordable and for that price you are getting an exceptionally well-made product.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Some Tips For Dealing with Heavy Debris Swimming Pools

If you have a pool that gets a lot of leaf debris in it each week or if you service pools that have heavy debris, there are a few things you can do to make it at least manageable. I will go over some of the things that I think will help you the most with a heavy debris pool.

This sounds simple and it is probably the thing that will help the most, but it is one thing many customers do not want to do. Simply, trim the trees and keep them trimmed back every season. Trimming the trees around the pool can go a long way in eliminating excessive leaf debris. If you haven’t had your trees trimmed in years, it is probably way overdue. Trimming the trees get rid of all the leaf debris that would fall off into the pool over time and will also prevent a lot of the leaves that would fall in from overhanging branches. I have had many clients also just take a tree or several trees out because managing the debris was a losing battle. But simply trimming the trees around the pool will help.

A device that I really love and which works surprisingly well is the PoolSkim. It is a simple device that you connect to one of your pool’s return lines and it acts as a secondary skimmer. You will need to have 1 ½” threaded return lines to connect the PoolSkim but once connected it uses the return jet to trap debris into a bag. Amazingly you will see an 80% or more drop in the total leaf debris and not only on the surface but on the bottom as well. The PoolSkim will pick up the leaves before they have a chance to drop to the bottom of the pool.

To learn more about the PoolSkim:

Once the debris falls to the bottom of the pool a conventional manual vacuum attached to your pool system will usually not be effective. The debris is usually too large for the vacuum head. The cheapest thing you can use to pick up the leaf debris is a Leaf Bagger or Leaf Master. This device is designed to use water pressure to push debris into a large bag on top. They work surprisingly well. You would simply attach a garden hose to the Leaf Master, attach the Leaf Master to your standard pool pole and drop it to the pool bottom. Turn on the garden hose and watch the debris be blasted into the bag on top. Very effective and easy to use.

To learn more about the Leaf Master:

If you do service for a living the Leaf Master is great, but to really maximize your time out there you are better off investing in a Vacuum System. This is a device that has been around for about 15 years that works off of the same concept of a Leaf Master but on steroids. It is powered by a 30 lbs. thrust motor, think powerboat and is powered by a large battery, much like the ones found on boats and power wheelchairs. You can typically run a vacuum system for hours before recharging the battery. This means you can vacuum multiple heavy debris pools quickly and save tons of time on your route. These are very handy for wind prone areas like mine where the Santa Ana winds make a mess of everything from October through February.

There are a few popular vacuum system and I have videos on the three that I use.

Riptide Vacuum System:

A vacuum system is a big investment for sure with prices starting at $1,000 and going up to $1,700 but in the long run, they will pay off. Even if you are a homeowner with a heavy debris pool a vacuum system is the way to go over spending the money on a Robotic or Pressure Side Cleaner. For about the same cost you can purchase a Power Vac or Riptide with a battery case and vacuum your pool with ease each week. Something to consider if your pool is trashed each week with debris.
A pool that gets a large amount of debris each week can be a real pain to keep clean. But with the right equipment, you can make quick work of it.