Many people want to live in a community that has a swimming pool, and if there’s one in yours, you know what kind of value it brings.
While it’s great to think of all those hot days when you and your neighbors can enjoy an afternoon in the water, with it comes many responsibilities community association board members must adhere to that go beyond staying cool or keeping in shape. There are maintenance and safety issues, specific concerns that come with each pool season, and even compliance matters that go into operating a community pool.
The following are 10 quick tips to keep the pool in good shape and a great community asset for years to come, courtesy of American Pool Enterprises
, the largest swimming pool management company in the U.S.
- Determine your annual budget: You have paid for the swimming pool itself and the water that goes inside, which is no small expense. But there is so much more for which you need to budget. Your list of essential purchases should include chlorine, test kits, reagents, first aid kits, flex tubes, and more. On top of that, there is annual upkeep, cleaning equipment, insurance policies, and even preparing for damages or maintenance issues. You have to keep on top of all of these, and if your community association board hasn’t budgeted correctly, you could end up all wet.
- Determine whether your pool area needs to be ADA compliant: Your community is bound to have physically challenged members, and there are steps you may have to take to keep the pool safe and accessible for them. The latest Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements went into effect in 2012. There are different parameters if your pool was in existence before the guidelines went into effect and if it was built afterward, and you must know which rules apply to your situation. To determine whether your pool needs to be compliant with the ADA requirements, you should have a discussion with your association’s attorney.
- Find out if your pool area requires an AED unit: Depending on where your community is located, your pool area may be required to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) unit on hand to deal with cardiac emergencies. If one is required, make sure it is up to date, well maintained, and that there are appointed people trained to use it.
- Appoint someone to be in charge of pool permit/operating application: Most swimming pools are required to have an operating permit filed with local authorities each year. The costs for these permits tend to vary, depending on where your community is located, and there may be extra paperwork required, such as lifeguard certifications. Make sure your community association board appoints someone to handle the permit, because if it is not filed on time, your community could face penalties or added fees.
- Schedule an opening and closing compliance report: Local health department inspectors can perform a compliance test on your pool to determine if there are any repairs needed or other issues. This way, you will know what matters will require your attention before opening the pool for the following year. It also is helpful to look back at past reports to find trends or other issues that might be lurking so you can plan ahead and budget for what might need to be repaired in the future.
- Know the condition and age of the pool surface: Have you ever been walking in a pool and scraped your foot on a rough surface? That’s because the pool surface is in need of repair, and if it’s allowed to go too long, it could cost the property a lot of money to fix. Keep up to date on the condition of the pool’s floor and walls, as well as the last time the surface was refinished. Staying on top of this can keep your expenses down over the long haul and could keep people from suffering cuts and scrapes while swimming in the pool.
- Know the condition and age of the drain covers: Depending on the type of main drain cover you have for your pool, the lifespan can differ. Whatever your pool has, it must be in compliance with 2007’s Virginia Graeme Baker (GMA) Act, which stipulates items such as installing an automatic shutoff and having a gravity drainage system. This was put into place after 7-year-old Graeme died in a pool accident in 2002 when suction from a spa drain held her under water. Making sure your drain covers are strong, fit properly, and are in good shape can prevent injuries, death, and the potential legal liabilities.
- Keep inventory of pool equipment and furniture: Have a checklist for pool equipment such as skimmer nets and baskets, vacuum heads, ladders, and chlorinators, as well as furniture including chairs, tables, loungers, and umbrellas. That way, you will know what you have, where it is stored, and you can keep track of what will need to be repaired or replaced for the following pool season. Remember to store your equipment in dry, elevated places away from chemicals, while your furniture should be packed away sensibly where arms, latches, and legs won’t be broken.
- Make sure rules are known and followed: When you were a kid, did you ever get reprimanded for running around the pool? That wasn’t so a lifeguard or your parents could push their weight around. It was to keep you and other people safe. A simple set of rules should be enforced in your community’s pool—no diving headfirst into shallow water, no rough-housing in areas designated for children or seniors—in order to keep everyone safe and the environment civil.
- Prepare your pool for the winter months: How you treat your pool during the offseason is just as important as upkeep when it’s being used every day. Treating the water with algaecide or a winterizing agent can keep the liquid clear during the wintertime and in good shape for use when the warmer months arrive. Pulling the motor is another good idea, as it will extend its life and keep it out of the elements. Lowering the water beneath the skimmer level will keep water out of the throat and prevent freezing, which could cause damage. Also, use a suitable cover to keep out debris, and remove all water from your filter equipment.
There’s a lot that goes into managing a community pool. Ensure your community is safe during swimming season, and learn more about the benefits of working with a property management team.