10 Tips for Managing Your Community Pool
Many people want to live in a community that has a swimming pool, and if there’s one in yours, you know how popular an amenity it is. In Florida, we are lucky that most communities are able to offer swimming pools and that most of us can use them year round. Of course, that makes managing your pool properly even more important, simply because of the amount of use it gets. There are maintenance and safety issues and even compliance matters that go into correctly operating a community pool.
Check out these 10 tips for keeping your pool in great shape, courtesy of American Pool Enterprises, the largest swimming pool management/maintenance company in the U.S.
1. Set your annual budgetIn addition to the construction of the pool itself, and water bills, your beautiful pool comes with other necessary expenses. Your list of essential purchases should include a form of disinfectant (i.e. chlorine, salt, bromine, etc.), test kits, reagents, first aid kits, safety equipment (life ring, throw rope, reaching pole, etc.) and more. Additionally, be prepared to budget for cleaning equipment, proper insurance, annual upkeep, damages and maintenance issues.
2. Post and enforce the rulesRules at the pool may seem like a killjoy, but their purpose is to keep everyone safe and to avoid accidents like slip and falls on wet surfaces. 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, no running, etc. to keep everyone safe and the environment civil.
3. Put someone in charge of pool permit/operating applicationMost commercial swimming pools are required to have an operating permit filed with local authorities each year. In Florida, these annual licenses expire on June 30th of each year. The costs for these permits vary depending on where your community is located, and there may be extra paperwork required, such as lifeguard certifications, depending on local ordinances. Make sure your community association Board appoints someone to file that permit on time to avoid penalties or added fees. Your professional property management company can help you stay on top of this critical task.
4. Maintain the condition of the pool surfaceHave you ever gotten scraped by a rough surface in a swimming pool? That needs to be repaired, and if it’s not done quickly, it only costs more to do later on. It's also a good idea to do regular checks of the pool surface and refinish it completely when needed. Make sure to keep careful track of the dates of inspections, repairs and refinishing. 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.
5. Maintain the condition of the drain coversYour pool and spa drain covers must comply with 2007’s Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Pool and Safety Spa Act, which stipulates that you must install an updated VGB-approved main drain grate, as well as a second source of protection, such as a safety vacuum release system (SVRS) automatic shutoff device or a gravity drainage system (collector tank). This law was passed 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 current, fit properly and are in good shape can prevent injuries, death and potential legal liabilities.
6. Review your ADA compliant statusYour pool must meet the latest Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, which went into effect in 2012. There are different parameters if your pool was in existence before those guidelines went into effect versus if it was built afterward, and you must know which rules apply to your situation. Doing so will keep physically challenged neighbors safe and able to enjoy the pool and the Board and community free of legal woes. Again, your professional property management company can assist you in getting answers as to whether your pool is compliant.
7. Find out if your pool area requires an AED unitYour 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 you understand the requirements of law which may exist with regard to training of those who may be called upon to use the AED.
8. Keep up with regular inspectionsYour community may be required to have your pool regularly inspected by the Department of Health and/or building code compliance inspectors. These inspections are done randomly by the officials so it is critical to keep the pool and facility up to the code standards at all times. It is also good practice to always keep copies of these inspection reports, in case problems arise later.
9. Keep inventory of pool equipment and furnitureHave 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. Remember to store your equipment in dry, elevated places away from chemicals. When not in use, furniture should be packed away sensibly where arms, latches, and legs won’t be broken.
10. Prepare your pool for the winter monthsIn Florida, winterizing isn’t as big a concern as in Minnesota, obviously. But if you are in the northern part of Florida and its projected to get cold enough for any length of time, check with a local professional or your property management company to find out what you need to do to keep your pool in great shape. 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. If a bad cold snap is expected, 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.
Your community swimming pool should be a place where the neighbors come together and have a good time. It doesn't have to be a hassle or a liability, and following these 10 steps could ensure it’s a highlight of the neighborhood for years to come. For more tips, contact FirstService Residential, Florida’s leading community association management company.