Before hiring pool service, know what you're getting

Pool maintenance

Pool owners obviously would rather spend time splashing around their backyard oasis than scraping calcium from the pool tiles and unclogging leaves from your skimmer.

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That is why many owners consider companies to help them maintain their pools and maximize their enjoyment in the water.
"People hire a pool service for the similar reasons as they do to hire a lawn service; they don't really have time to do it themselves, or they don't want to mess with it as a result of chemicals and equipment," says Steve Bludsworth, who owns All-Pool Service & Supply in Orlando.

What should an owner expect of the reputable pool-maintenance company?

Generally, companies provide a month-to-month agreement intended to keep pools fit visually and chemically, and prevent larger problems from developing.

Services change from company to company and from pool to pool, but typically included in a standard agreement are testing and balancing water chemistry, vacuuming, brushing the perimeters of the pool, emptying skimmer baskets, washing the filter as needed and checking to make sure that all the equipment - like the timer and pump - work efficiently.

Usually taught in agreements are the chemicals necessary to maintain the water balance, that is affected by six factors: pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, dissolved solids, cyanuric acid and temperature.

Fees to get a regular service at larger companies range between about $100 to $120 per month for average-sized, screen-enclosed pools, with another $20 to $30 for unscreened pools. Smaller companies might charge less for their services.

Agreements generally provide for weekly cleaning calls, but some pools might require extra visits.

"Some pools do not get much use, but others are used daily, possess a lot of kids inside them, they're heated or there is a lot of leaves," Bludsworth says. "Those require it more often."

Not covered in most service agreements are additional tasks, such as adding or removing water from your pool, cleaning the deck, repairing equipment and treating stains in the pool.

"One thing we leave for the owner to do is keep your water at the right height. We leave a door hanger every week telling them what they need to accomplish," says Brandy Striano, owner with husband Paul of Paul's Pool Service in Lake Mary.

In the event the water level is not correct, surface leaves defintely won't be collected in the skimmer, and when the water is low, there might be insufficient water going back to the pump from the skimmer, which can cause the pump to overheat and burn out.