10 key tips to managing your community poolA lot of people prefer to live in a community that has a swimming pool, and if there’s one in yours, you know how valuable an amenity it is. In Georgia, we are lucky that many communities are able to have pools and that they have a longer useful season than up north. Of course, that makes managing your pool properly even more important, simply because of the amount of use it gets. In addition to maintenance and safety issues, it is important that you make sure your pool is in compliance with state and local regulations and ordinances.

Check out these 10 suggestions for keeping your pool in great shape year round, courtesy of American Pool Enterprises, the largest swimming pool management/maintenance company in the U.S.
  1. Post rules clearly and enforce them

    No one enforces rules at a swimming pool to kill the fun. It’s important that everyone enjoy the pool safely to avoid accidents like slip and falls on wet surfaces – and the liability to your association that goes with them. A simple set of rules should be clearly posted and 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. If you have questions about what rules you may enforce, check with your association’s attorney.
  2. Include necessities in the budget

    Sure, the pool itself is paid for, and you budgeted for the water bill. But there are other necessary expenses that come with properly operating and maintaining your community pool. Make sure that your budget 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. You should also budget for cleaning equipment, proper insurance, annual upkeep, damages and maintenance issues. You may also need to budget for a pool cleaning service, or for this to be provided by your professional community association management company.
  3. Regularly inspect your drain covers

    Depending on the type of main drain cover you have for your pool, its lifespan can vary. No matter what kind of drain cover your pool/spa has, it must comply with 2007 Federal 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 extreme 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.
  4. Make sure the surface is smooth

    If you’ve ever scraped yourself on a rough swimming pool surface, you know what a hassle (and pain!) it can be. Making sure that the surface of your pool is in good shape on a regular basis will save money on more costly repairs down the road. Schedule regular inspections of your pool’s surface, and refinish it completely when needed. Keep records 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. Stay on top of your pool permit/operating applications

    Most community swimming pools are required to have an operating permit filed each year with local authorities. Permitting costs vary by state and other factors, and depending on local ordinances, there may be extra required paperwork such as lifeguard certifications. Appoint one specific person to be responsible for getting that paperwork done on time to avoid fines, fees and penalties. Your professional property management company can help you stay on top of this critical task.
  6. Review your ADA compliant status

    Your pool must meet the latest Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, which went into effect in 2012. If your pool was built before 2012, certain items may be grandfathered in. Newly constructed pools must comply completely. You need to know which rules apply to your community’s situation and comply properly. Doing so will keep physically challenged neighbors safe and able to enjoy the pool and the Board and community free of legal woes. If you don’t know which rules you need to follow, check with your association’s attorney. Again, your professional property management company can assist you in getting answers as to whether your pool is compliant.
  7. Get an AED unit if required

    Your pool area may be required to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) unit on hand to deal with cardiac emergencies. If an AED unit 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 inventory of pool equipment and furniture

    Create a checklist for pool equipment such as skimmer nets and baskets, vacuum heads, ladders and chlorinators. Also create an inventory of furniture including chairs, tables, loungers, cabanas and umbrellas. If items are damaged or destroyed, make sure to note them for repair or replacement as budgeting allows. Store your equipment in dry, elevated places away from chemicals. During the offseason, if necessary due to weather, furniture should be packed away sensibly where arms, latches and legs won’t be broken.
  9. Follow regular inspection requirements

    Your 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. Always keep copies of these inspection reports, in case problems arise later.
  10. Winterize your pool properly

    How you treat your pool during the offseason will impact its usability when warmer weather returns. 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.
Your community swimming pool should be a place where the neighbors come together and have a good time. It doesn't’t have to be a hassle or a liability, and following these 10 steps could ensure that it’s a highlight of the neighborhood for years to come. For more tips, contact FirstService Residential, Georgia’s leading community association management company.
Wednesday February 15, 2017