Each spring when weather begins to warm up, residents eagerly anticipate breaking out their swimsuits, while at the same time condominium and homeowner association boards begin to expedite opening community pools. Ever present in the minds of those tasked with this job, are the possible unexpected delays and problems that have the potential to derail the best laid pool opening plans. How can associations ensure their swimming pools will be open in time for Memorial Day weekend? We spoke with John Cox, vice president of operations at Sparkling Pool Services in Windsor, New Jersey, to answer questions regarding the best practices for opening a community pool, as well as to gain some insight about emerging pool trends.
Cox recommended that associations secure their pool vendor by February and begin the process of opening their community pool as early as possible, ideally by mid-April.
“To prepare for any possible delays, it is so important that associations have that additional time,” said Cox. “Plenty of communities do not want to open their pool until mid-May, and certainly most companies will work within the request of their customers, but it can potentially put your back up against the wall for a Memorial Day opening.”
Prior to opening the pool, it is essential that the association’s board sits down with the pool company to discuss the pool’s opening in detail. “In particular, if a community association is switching pool companies, this conversation will give both parties the opportunity to identify any gaps in the plan and allows each party to confirm their responsibilities,” said Cox.
According to Cox, this conversation should include the discussion of permits and inspections. “We see time and time again pools that come dangerously close to not opening on time or not being able to open at all because there is a lack of communication and a gap in knowledge of the assignment of responsibility,” he added.
Additionally, Cox argued that if the pool is ready earlier than expected it simply becomes an additional benefit for communities as it provides prospective buyers and renters an attractive amenity.
Cox explained the two ways in which a pool company will prepare a community pool for summer. Companies may choose to drain and refill the pool or they may decide to shock the existing water. Regardless of which direction a company takes, the process of preparing a swimming pool can be time-consuming.
In order to drain the pool, companies must use large pumps to drain the water, then they must use an acid solution to clean the surface before pumping in fresh water. While the two processes are equally as time-consuming and require an equal amount of maintenance, reusing the water year-to-year has proved more environmentally friendly. This is a trend associations and residents are beginning to care more about.
Pool companies are more often reusing water from year-to-year in order to use less harsh chemicals, extend the pool’s life, and conserve water. This process involves starting the filter system, chemically shocking the pool with chlorine, and running the pump system until the water becomes clear, he explained.
Next, Cox filled us in on some upcoming pool trends. While salt water pools have grown in popularity since 2010, this trend is beginning to decline.
“In the last decade, we have begun to see more green efforts and salt waters pool are more environmentally friendly than chlorine pools,” said Cox. “However, most communities that wanted to make this change have already done so, which has resulted in a bit of a decline in this trend.”
However, if an association still plans on switching to salt water then the spring season is a good time to make the switch. According to Cox, there are advantages involved with a salt water pool such as less skin irritation for bathers, less harsh chemicals, and lower maintenance costs.
While this trend is seeing a decline, other trends are beginning to emerge. “Rather than a new equipment-based trend, it is becoming more about what a pool looks like and the surface options. We are seeing communities get more creative and much fancier with aesthetics,” Cox said.
According to Cox, hiring a pool company helps to rid the headache that comes along with everyday pool maintenance and the complicated task of hiring and managing lifeguards.
“One of the main reasons associations hire pool management companies is to handle lifeguards,” said Cox. “Pool service companies have to react and respond to lifeguards that don’t show up, don’t call out, or simply aren’t doing their job. Essentially communities are paying for the guarantee that they are always going to have a lifeguard and that the pool is going to be open.”