Photo: Courtesy of Lucy Innuso
Why did you chose this career path?
I opened “Lucy Pools” in Las Vegas in 1997. However, I began servicing pools in the Los Angeles area back in 1983. My softball coach owned a pool store and he needed someone to cover a vacation route for one of his service guys. I recognized very quickly that this business allowed freedom, independence and responsibility for my own actions.
I also appreciate that one needs to have knowledge in a variety of areas such as plumbing, electrical, and chemical reactions, thus stimulating my mind. But most of all there is a bond of trust with clients which develops over time. In fact, most of my friends are also my pool clients.
What services do you offer?
I offer a weekly service that includes chemical testing and balancing, vacuuming when needed, brushing walls and tile, cleaning baskets and cleaning the filter about every three months or more often if necessary. I also acid wash pools, install pumps and filters, repair lights and try to prevent equipment failure by changing the ‘O’ rings (A vital piece used in a variety of pool equipment) before there is a problem.
What are the main parts of a swimming pool and how do they work?
A filter, which when properly sized and maintained (cleaned frequently), is vitally important to keep your water clean. Next is a pump, which circulates the water through the filter and keeps the water from stagnating. Lastly, chemicals including Chlorine which is imperative to kill bacteria and pathogens. Muriatic acid is needed to maintain a pH of 7.2-7.4 if you live in a hard water area or Soda Ash if you live in an area that has soft water.
How often should homeowners have their pool serviced?
At a minimum once a week.
What is the average time required to service a pool?
The length of time to service a pool is dependent on many variables. It can range from 10 minutes to one hour. If the filter is clean and the pump is running for six to eight hours a day, the pH is within the range of 7.2-7.6, the Chlorine is around 2.0, and there have not been winds, then an experienced tech can check chemicals, baskets and brush the pool and tile in 10 minutes.
In Las Vegas, in the summer, the client cannot expect the service person to stay at their pool for an extended period of time.
Personally, I keep the filters clean so that during the hottest or coldest seasons I do not have to subject myself to extreme temperatures. I don’t get complaints…the sparkling pool speaks for itself. When there are crazy winds the average time can be 30 to 45 minutes.
Are certain types of pools more difficult to maintain?
Pools that are surrounded by trees are the most difficult to maintain. Above-ground pools seem to be more troublesome than in-ground pools, because the price difference is enormous many people opt for an above-ground pool.
Equipment you would recommend for maintaining a pool?
The essentials needed to maintain a pool are a test kit, telescopic pole (deep leaf) net, vacuum hose and head and a nylon brush.
Is there anything a client should be doing in between services?
Ideally a client’s only responsibility should be to enjoy their pool. However, when there are strong winds it is incumbent upon the pool owner to keep the skimmer basket clear of debris. A clogged basket can lead to the pump seal drying out which could lead to bearings wearing out.
If your pool does not have an auto-fill (automatic water fill) then it is very important that the pool be filled by the home owner. A service company does not have the time to fill the pool, as sometimes it can take up to one hour. Tip: when filling, either put a timer on or if you’re going to go out, place your car keys on the water valve. Do not trust that, “Oh, I’ll remember the water is on.”
What are common things that can go wrong and cause problems for pool owners?
Not keeping the sanitizer, usually Chlorine, at a high enough parts per million (PPM). As the water gets warmer or the bather load(maximum number of people in a pool at any given time) increases, so must the ppm of Chlorine increase. In the summer I prefer to maintain a 2.5-3.0 reading. This will help prevent algae from inhabiting your pool and keep bacteria from spreading.
Not cleaning the filter often enough. This is probably the most common cause of a pool turning green.
Also not running the circulation system long enough. A turnover rate is the amount of time a pool needs to run in order for the water to change one time. If the pump and filter are sized correctly and filter is clean then it’s usually six hours. However the temperature, bather load, how many gallons and environmental factors need to be taken under consideration when setting the amount of hours the pool runs per day. In warmer climates it’s best to increase the time.
Do you have any advice for home owners to keep their pool up and running throughout the warm months?
Aside from the above issues it’s important to keep the skimmer and pump baskets clean. Removing debris from the pool helps keep bacteria from growing. Brush weekly, vacuum when necessary and check your chemicals on a weekly basis.
A common misconception is that once a pool owner hires a professional to service their pool they don’t have any responsibilities but to sign a check. Though I can assure the owner that their pool will remain clear and algae free, there are some caveats.
If there is not an auto-fill installed, which automatically adds water to the pool, then the client needs to add water between pool cleaners’ visits. Keep toys or floating devices out of pool so that the skimmer can work properly. Be sure the landscaper is not blowing leaves and grass clippings into the pool. Run your pump at a time when you will be home so you can see if motor turns on. It’s best to catch an issue before it develops into a problem.
Maintaining a swimming pool appears to be easy on the surface, until a problem arises. Any avoidable equipment failure or constant chemical imbalance could cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Many issues are preventable, which is where my focus of attention is. Through my websites and YouTube videos I try to educate the pool owner who is willing to do the work and take care of their pool like a pro.