Shutting Commercial Pools Down For The Season

Labor Day is upon us and, for many public and commercial pools, the 2013 season is almost over. However, many pools will stay open longer. There is a lot of ground to cover in properly closing down a pool.

While the Loften Pool Service  Season Closing Checklist  I will touch on some end-of-season closing tips that are not covered on that list.

As a manager or supervisor, you should be concerned that the following items are completed when closing a pool for the season:
1. Properly preparing the water for the winter
2. Properly closing the facility
3. Properly securing the facility
4. Cash registers and safes
5. Storage of chemicals
6. Storage of good equipment
7. Disposal of broken equipment
8. Repairs needed
9. Consolidating the paperwork
a) Lifeguard contact information
b) Lifeguard evaluations
c) Attendance
d) Chemical usage
e) Reagents and test kits
f) Soft goods
g) Medical products
1. AEDs
2. Band aids, cold packs, etc.

Properly Preparing Water for the Winter

For water balance and all things mechanical, there is an extensive checklist available.

Properly Closing the Facility
Getting the pool ready to close is more involved than just locking it up and walking away. This process takes several weeks before and after the actual closing. For the physical work that will be performed by municipal personnel, such as draining pipes and plugging outlets, removing diving boards, etc., you generally need to contact those people 30 to 45 days ahead and schedule the work with them.

Properly Securing the Facility
Even if you don’t collect all the keys from every guard, you will still want to change out all the keyed padlocks in case surreptitious copies were made. If there are any access codes known to the guards, you will need to change these as well. The local police will still need to keep a close eye on the facility throughout the off season, particularly at night, to ward off trespassers. Make frequent, but not predictable trips to the facility to check up on them. Go in and make sure that nothing has been vandalized and no unauthorized people are living in there.

Cash Registers and Safes
Even when empty, neither are good items to leave at closed pools. Note all serial numbers and access codes. Note which ones utilize keys and remove all batteries.

Storage of Chemicals
A decision will need to be made as to where all the pool chemicals will be stored. Regardless of where, all chemicals need to protected from the elements in an insulated room. If the pump room is also the storage room (a common occurrence), move the chemicals elsewhere if possible. This is one of the reasons why a proper accounting of your supply of pool chemicals is critical. If you know how much of any chemical you will normally need right up to closing, you can dose it correctly so you have little to no chemicals left at closing. Proper storage of chemicals is detailed in pages 187-190 of the Pool and Spa Operator Handbook.

Storage of Good Equipment
You will have everything from deck chairs to umbrellas, to rescue tubes, fanny packs, picnic tables and so on that will need to be properly stored. While some items can be stored on site, other items may need to be shipped to another facility. Securing the services of a stake bed truck or other large moving truck may be problematic in some areas. Get this detail covered well in advance. This would also be a good time to schedule labor to move all of the items. Note: the bigger the truck(s) and the more personnel you have at one time, the easier it will be. If possible, schedule this move for one day. Make it easier on yourself by prepping the storage facility ahead of time by cleaning it and visually laying out where everything will go. Plan ahead by arranging lunch, so all your workers don’t abandon the project at mid-day.
Understandably, some facilities simply do not have any storage space outside of the pool. This means that everything outside will need to go inside the facility, usually crammed in the restrooms. You will need to plan the logical storage of this equipment in the restrooms. Items that are not needed unless you have actual customers, like picnic tables and lounge chairs, can be stacked and placed in the far end of the restroom. Stuff that is needed for pool maintenance should be placed where it can easily be retrieved. If the pool will still have water in it during the offseason, leaving a pole with a shepherd’s hook and a throw ring out in the open is a good idea. The pole can be any of your old beat up poles and the throw ring can be one that is going to be thrown out in the spring anyway.

Disposal of Broken Equipment
A visit by a representative of the waste management division of your community can be a good idea to figure out the best way to dispose of all your broken and un-repairable items. The waste management person can tell you what can simply be thrown in the regular trash vs. what needs to be handled in another way. This representative can schedule pick-up and disposal with you, making your job much easier.

Repairs Needed
Do not wait until you have closed the pool to schedule visits by contractors and vendors for repairs, replacement, and maintenance of items. Having contractors and vendors see how their products are actually used at your facility can be an eye-opener for them and you. Some jobs, such as deck repairs, can more easily be done while the weather is still warm and dry. Waiting until March or April to take on a job can lead to frustration when the weather does not cooperate.

Consolidating the Paperwork
You will need to collect contact information from each guard. Some will want their final checks, pay stubs, W-2s and anything else mailed to their college address instead of their parent’s address. Each guard will also need to have a one-on-one evaluation with you or their closest supervisor. A frank assessment of the guard’s skills and abilities is needed here. Be honest and upfront on their strengths and weaknesses, but provide guidance on how they can improve. Note: if you really want a guard to return next season, tell them. Do not leave them hanging. Let all guards know that those invited back will be receiving an e-mail informing them of dates and times for paperwork and evaluations. Let them know that responding to that e-mail is critical. A non-response likely means that the guard is not interested in returning to work there.

While you have been tracking attendance all summer either by receipts and/or actual headcounts, this information can help to plan out next year’s programs and schedule. A simple method for tracking head count is simply having the guard that is conducting the pH and chlorine readings conduct the headcount as well. This should be a line item on the Daily Pool Chemical Log. This shows you, hour-by-hour, how many people were in the facility at any given time. This number will vary hour-to-hour, day-to-day. Over time you will see a trend as to when the pool is at its busiest vs. when there are fewer people.

Chemical Usage
A Daily Pool Chemical Log should show you how much of any given chemical was consumed day-to-day. This helps to plan for next year’s purchases. It is a waste of time, money and resources when too much of any chemical is ordered. But, not ordering enough chemical can close the pool. When you know how much of any particular chemical you will need over the course of a season, it becomes much easier to plan and negotiate discounts and other terms with suppliers. You might want to consider the Commerical Pool & Spa Log Book from Loften Pool Service  to keep track of your daily operations.

Reagents and Test Kits
Reagents have a short shelf life. Reagent manufacturers usually say that their products are good for one year. Throw out any reagent more than one year old. Ask the manufacturer as to the best way to dispose of any of their products.

Soft Goods
How many rolls or packets of toilet paper and paper towels did your facility use this season? How many are left over? Something to check: are the toilet paper and paper towel dispensers still in good shape? If not, find out if you have any replacements available. If you have automatic paper towel and soap dispensers, remove the batteries so they do not corrode during the off season. Most toilet paper and paper towel dispensers utilize keys to keep them secure. Be sure to always have a couple of spare keys for each of these devices at your main office.

Medical Products
AEDs – If the AED is used at a particular pool and nowhere else, read the directions for proper storage. Some units will say to remove the batteries and keep in a controlled environment. In any event, follow the instructions to keep the warranty in check.
Band aids, Cold Packs, Salve and Other Medical Items – Go back over the incident report forms to find out how many medical supplies were used over the season. Compare this number to how much supply you still have on hand. Cold packs are notorious for going bad quickly. Grab a couple of cold packs and check them by breaking them. If they don’t turn cold, either toss them or negotiate a discount from the supplier for the next batch.

By following the above outline, you can help yourself experience fewer headaches and frustration when trying to close down your facility and re-open in the spring.

Pool Filtration Facts. Is it a size thing or a surface thing?

True or False?

Sand filters can remove Cryptosporidium (Crypto) from pool water? Or, is it so little it does not matter? This is a trick question. Neither answer is right all the time.
Pool Filtration Facts. Is it a size thing or a surface thing
Almost every manual in our field leads one to believe that filtration is a “size exclusion” thing. That means that there are spaces between the sand particles, or holes in the DE, or gaps between fibers in a cartridge filter. Particles in the water then get caught in the gaps in the filter and are physically removed from the water.  This does happen.

However, filtration is also a “surface charge” thing. That means that particles can either be repelled from the filter surface and pass through the filter or stick to the surface – even if the holes are gigantic compared to the contaminant.

For example, if a particle has negative charges accumulated on the surface and the filter surface has a negative-charged surface, the particle and filter media repel and the particle passes through the filter media staying in the water. If one neutralized the surface charge, then when the particle bumps into the filter media, it will stick.

Taadaa!! We have removed a smaller particle.