Pool Management and Pool Repairs – 6 Pool Repairs to Keep in Mind

Pool management and pool passes for apartment communities

A community swimming pool is the focal point of each apartment complex or homeowner association community. It brings a lot of joy to your residents and usually the pool opening on Labor Day weekend is a highly anticipated event from your residents. However, if the swimming pool is not properly managed, the community pool will bring you a lot of headaches and a lot of surprises. Here, we explore the most common pool repairs and renovations that every property manager should plan and budget for.

Every property manager should have a carefully planned budget for major swimming pool repairs and renovations. The great news is that you don't need to hire a specialist to conduct a reserve study for your community to create a budget for your swimming pool. Most pool management companies will be happy to inspect your swimming pool at no charge and be able to provide you with a detailed list of necessary and recommended pool repairs. If you have the same pool management company managing your swimming pool for the last few seasons, they will have a pretty good idea about what type of equipment will need to be replaced in the near future. The best thing is to ask them to provide you with a list of necessary repairs for budgeting purposes for the next year. The best time to ask your pool management company to perform a complete pool inspection is in the middle of the summer or at the end of the summer. Usually, the middle of summer gets a little easier for the pool management company as they already dealt and hopefully fixed all issues from the spring pool opening and all the lifeguards are properly trained. Therefore, the pool management company will not have to rush the pool inspection and will have enough time to inspect every small detail of your community swimming pool.

Here are the most common major pool repairs, pool upgrades, and pool renovations that your community should plan and budget for. Even though the lifespan of some of these items depends on specific conditions of your community, it will give you a good idea of what to expect. Most of the cost and lifespan, reflect the Mid-Atlantic area, including Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut area. This region has cold winter months and pools need to be winterized for the winter. The cold temperatures and process of winterization greatly affect the lifespan of the pool equipment.

Pool Pump and the Pump Motor

expected lifespan is about 5-12 years. The lifespan of a pool pump greatly depends on the pool usage and other conditions, such as leaves and trees around the swimming pool, that cause the impeller to clog and can damage the motor, or leaking pool. If you have a leak in your swimming pool, this can cause your water level to get below the skimmers and air will get into the plumbing which can cause the pool pump to lose its prime. The pump will keep running with no water and the excessive heat will cause damage over time. The pump will eventually overheat, and the heat switch will turn it off. However, if the pump overheats repeatedly, this will cause the seals in the motor and pump to melt. This will eventually cause the pool pump to fail. The cost of pump replacement depends mainly on its size and its horsepower (HP). The 1-3HP pool pump can run anywhere from $350-800 (retail $150-550) for the brand-new pump and $450-650 for the labor charge (pool management company labor). The bigger pump for the main pool, usually from 3HP to 7.5 HP will cost you around $2,500-4,500 (retail $850-$2,800) for parts and about $1,500 for the labor charge. When the pool company needs to replace a large commercial pump, the cost can increase very quickly because the replacement will require re-plumbing a part of the existing filter system. If the part of the system needs to be replumbed, you will need to consider adding extra costs for PVC piping, flanges and valves. For the large facilities with pumps from 7.5HP to 15HP, you should budget for about $4,500-12,000 for the parts and about $3,500 for the labor charge to replace the pool pump.

Sand Pool Filter

If your swimming pool is equipped with a sand filter, you are in luck. Most sand filters are workhorses and there is a minimum maintenance needed. You will need to replace a few pressure gauges, air relief assemblies over time (3-5 years, $150), but these filters can run your pool for 10-15 years with no problem. However, we would recommend to budget for recharging filters with new media, usually filter sand or glass media that has better filtering properties. We would recommend recharging pool filters every 5 years. The cost is around $1,200 for two large sand filters.

Cartridge Pool Filter

Cartridge filters are made of thin paper like linen, and they wear out easily. Many things affect their lifespan; The pool surroundings, such as trees and green shrubs, excessive use of pool water balancing chemicals, such as algaecide, the way how the cartridge filters are stored during the summer and especially during the winter. You should budget to replace cartridges every 2-3 years. The local health department usually requires all pools to keep a second set of cartridges at the pool. We would recommend purchasing one set of cartridges every 2-3 years. The cost of filters is $150-200 from your pool management company.

Pool Plaster

Plaster lifespan can extend anywhere from 5-10 years. However, you can go even longer. Most pools in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut are winterized for the winter. Then the following spring they are drained, cleaned and acid washed. When your pool company acid washes your pool, the acid wash “eats” a thin layer of your plaster. Oftentimes, pool management companies use subcontractors who in order to speed up their work mix a stronger acid to wash the pool interior. If the pool company uses a stronger mix of acid, they can wash the pool faster, but they are taking a thicker layer of your plaster off. If your company keeps washing your pool with a strong mix of acid, the pool will develop spots where you will be able to see the underlying concrete. The second biggest issue with pool plaster, is the delamination. Delamination is a condition of the plaster when your plaster starts cracking and peeling off. Usually, you can start noticing large bubbles on the bottom of the pool that eventually crack, and a piece of plaster will fall off. The reason for plaster delamination is usually inadequate prep during the previous pool replastering or structural issues. Prior to applying new plaster, the pool needs to be acid washed and bond coated. Bond coat is a very important part of plaster. Many times, pool subcontractors mix too much water into the bond coat in order to speed the bond coating process. Bond coat is usually very thick and can be either sprayed or rolled on the pool surface. Many pool subcontractors use temporary laborers who in order to make things easier for them add more water and dilute the bond coat. They are able to apply bond coat much faster, but the additional water will negatively affect its bonding properties. Sometimes you will start noticing delamination the very next year, but a lot of times you will not see anything until 2-3 years. Therefore, it is important to select a good pool contractor. Even though many property managers and communities prefer to do replastering of the pool in spring, it is actually better to have this job done in fall. This way the work will be performed by the year-round workers from the pool company and not by the temporary workers which will increase the quality and therefore the plaster's lifespan. Also, workers will be able to schedule pool plastering the very next day after the bond coat is applied. This is usually an issue in the spring, when every pool contractor is rushing so many jobs and sometimes the pool sits bond coated for weeks before the plastering is completed. This causes new debris and an oily film to develop on the newly applied bond coat, which will negatively affect its bonding properties with new plaster.

Coping and Tile.

Coping and tile replacement should be done every 8-12 years. It is recommended to replace tiles and coping at the same time as the pool is being replastered. Tile and coping are usually the most expensive pool renovation, but you will get the most out of it. Tile and coping are usually the first things that your residents notice, and it is well worth the investment. A nice new tile and white coping or brick coping will enhance the look of your pool and your entire community.

Pool cover.

Pool cover is an important part of the pool. Pool covers can function as a safety feature for your swimming pool. Many pool covers can carry the weight of an animal or adult person, and might actually save a life. Also, pool covers play an important part in keeping dirt out of the pool. They prevent leaves and other materials from getting in the pool and stain the pool bottom. If you have a pool cover, many times the pool company can just “turn-over” the pool. This means they will not need to drain it and they will not need to acid wash the pool interior. This should be a goal of all property managers. If the pool doesn’t need to be drained and acid washed, it will greatly extend the lifespan of the pool plaster. Depending on the type of the pool cover (mesh or solid), the pool cover costs around $2.50 per square foot. The labor cost to install the pool cover is usually around $1,000 – 2,500.

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