While it may be too cold to use the pool in many parts of the country, property managers and owners should warm up to the idea that it’s time to start thinking about getting pools ready for the summer season. The first thing to do is get the pool inspected.
All pools, should be inspected at least once per year to help maintain compliance with state and local health codes, and to ensure the long-term condition of the pool. Bad chemistry can not only affect the health of swimmers but also slowly cause extensive damage to the structure of the pool and its equipment.
Various classes of pools – some of which reside at rental properties – must follow rigorous safety and operational standards to ensure the well-being of swimmers. That includes maintaining proper chemistry and equipment.
Johnny Kammerer of Arlington, Texas-based Accent Pools said a pool will typically fail inspection because the chemistry is off or chemical checks aren’t properly documented. Depending on usage and the time of year, chemical levels should be checked two or three times per day. Results must be documented.
“Logging in the chemistry checks is one thing that inspectors hit on,” he said. Another is whether fences and enclosures, including gates, meet codes.
Incorrect chemistry levels can cause pool-related illnesses, which result from germs being swallowed, breathing in mists or aerosols or having contact with contaminated water, according to the CDC. Gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections are most common.
An annual inspection can help identify chemistry problems and other issues, and go a long way toward maintaining the overall health of the pool, even if used in the privacy of a backyard. Kammerer said pools should be inspected by a Certified Pool/Spa Operator, as set forth by the National Swimming Pool Foundation. The certification is recognized by local and state authorities as the most widely-accepted, verifiable pool and spa training credential.
Here are what inspectors check to determine whether a pool or spa passes or fails:
Proper water chemistry
This includes testing chlorine, alkalinity, P.H., calcium, cyanuric and phosphorous levels, as well as detecting visible algae and determining water clarity.
Pool and spa equipment condition
The pool’s and spa’s operating system must be fit to ensure proper water flow and suction. The filter, vacuum, pressure gauges, flow meters and valves must be in proper working condition.
Pool and spa safety
Pools and spas are evaluated on equipment specific to their operation, but they have some safety features in common. They each must have adequate hand rails, working drains and properly functioning returns. All drain covers should be in place, and none should be broken or missing screws. Also, an emergency phone or call device should be located nearby.
General safety around the pool
Operators should make sure there is appropriate safety equipment like ring buoys, reaching poles and depth markers for swimmers. Also, fences and enclosures must be the proper height and gates should latch. Deck and plaster conditions are among other items that are evaluated.
Signs including lifeguard status, pool and spa bather capacities, rules, shutoff locations, phone location and whether or not diving is allowed should be clearly posted around the pool area. Also, a 911 sign should also be clearly visible.
Kammerer said a safe pool season begins long before the temperatures warm. Getting the annual pool inspection done early is the first step.
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