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2016 Pool Service Insurance Claims – Lessons Learned

The year in claims

We have no doubt that our members are some of the best pool service companies in the country. You can eat, breathe and sleep safety measures but even the best in the business occasionally have accidents. When it comes to avoiding lawsuits, knowledge is power. What’s critical for your business is to make sure that knowledge doesn’t come the hard way.

Here are some of the insurance claims filed this year, and tips to avoid them happening to you:

  • Commercial Apartment complex: Routine weekly service was performed to check pool equipment was functioning properly and water chemistry was in line. All equipment is housed in a standalone equipment room, to be clear there was no equipment repair performed. Later that day a gas leak from the heater caused an explosion injuring swimmers in the Spa close to the equipment room. The injured parties filed a lawsuit against the property management company, the property owners, the service company and the company who installed the equipment.

There was not much our member could have done to avoid this, sometimes freak accidents happen and that’s why it’s important to carry insurance. What is important to remember if you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t admit fault and remember all of the other parties being sued are trying to pin it on you. Be cautious of that when making statements and make sure you call Inszone right away to discuss.

  • Residential pool: This is a new account for this member, homeowner requested they clean the scale off of the glass tile after the first service. After the cleaning was complete, the homeowner alleged the tile was damaged because of the cleaning and demanded it be replaced.

Keep in mind this is 15 year old tile, it will have cracks, chips and be discolored in places. Looks like the homeowner was trying to get a free remodel job out of our member. Be mindful of this when taking on new accounts with existing issues. Utilize a service agreement, document with photos and have the customer sign to the fact these are the pre-existing conditions you aren’t going to be held responsible for. Since tile cleaning is outside the scope of your normal service, we also recommend you utilize a separate agreement for the specialized service requested.

Remember, as soon as you work on “damaged” areas it then becomes your work. Every insurance company considers this faulty workmanship which will not be covered. They have no duty to defend you in court if a claim isn’t covered, even when it’s a frivolous case like this. Call your Inszone agent to make sure you have the enhancement added to your CPA policy.

  • Residential pool: Member was draining pool and the septic tank and sewer systems were not clearly marked. Pool water was drained into the septic tank for a short period of time which caused toilet overflow and water damage to the inside of the home. Homeowners’ insurance company demanded member pay for the cost of repair.

Moral of this story is to take your time when dealing with displacing water. If it’s not clear don’t guess, the damages add up quick for a small mistake of only a couple minutes. Also remember with cases like these you’re normally up against the homeowner insurance company’s team of lawyers, not just your customer and cousin Vinny fresh out of law school.

  • Residential pool: Member performs the regular service, homeowner hired another company to remodel the pool. Homeowner requested the member drain the pool to prepare for the remodel contractors coming in. The remodel contractors had unforeseen delays with the materials and the pool sat drained for over a week. It rained and the pool floated/popped out of the ground. Member received demand for cost of repairs from the remodel contractor’s insurance company since he was the one who drained the pool.

There are a variety of liabilities with a drained pool in a backyard for any extended period of time. Aside from the potential to pop up someone could fall in and badly injure themselves very easily (especially children). Anytime you drain a pool make sure a service agreement is used specifically for this reason. A signature agreeing you won’t be responsible for damages or injuries due to a drained pool is worth its weight in gold.

  • Residential pool: Member takes on a new account, the pool was recently built and another company did the start up. A month later, homeowner has a pool party and guest’s feet are cut on plaster which has become coarse and sharp. Homeowner blames it on the member stating the water chemistry was what caused the plaster to deteriorate. Homeowner then terminates the service company, pays another company to re-plaster the pool and demands the remodel bill be paid by the service company after work has been completed.

Similar to the previous example of a new account, utilize a service agreement prior and inspect/document the pool prior to taking on the account. Keep a well maintained log listing chemicals used, water chemistry, etc… week after week. This type of situation could easily happen with a construction defect as well, the hold harmless agreement in a service contract will help protect you should that happen.

Pat Grignon

Vice President

(p) 916.503.6359


How to Repair a Sand Filter – Pentair TR 140 C Sand Filter


Hello fellow service techs. If you have sand filters on your service route you will eventually encounter the problem of a leaking bulkhead fittings. You’ll see these more and more down the road especially on commercial accounts.

For this example, I’m talking specifically about the Pentair TR 140 C sand filter. They contain over 1000 Lbs. of sand you can’t just shimmy the filter to gain access or move the filter to repair a pipe fracture. It’s too big and too heavy to move, how do you solve the problem? First things first, reduce the weight of the filter.

  • Start by removing the filter top (air release assembly). This must be done with the wrench supplied with the filter or with a wrench as shown in the photo. The aluminum wrench in the photo is much more stable and can be tapped with a hammer to help un-thread the assembly. We always recommend the filter be turned off but there are a few times on a sand filter when the lid is sucked down so tight you need the filter turned on. This will expand the filter and allow you to break the seal of the assembly.
  • Turn off the filter and open the air release to reduce filter pressure. Then remove the drain plug at the bottom of the filter. Letting the excess water drain will make it easier to remove the sand.
  • Remove the strainer screen and reverse out the hose from the top of the diffuser. Unthread the diffusers. Remove them and also the screw from the piping assembly. This will allow you to start scooping out the sand place it in numerous buckets. Eventually you will get down to the bulkhead fittings. Back off the external backwash compression nuts. When the filter is light enough to shimmy away out of the backwash valve do it.
  • Next remove the upper bulkhead fitting. Unscrew the pipe and save it for re-install.  Next is retained with a 3 1/8″ plastic nut. Very difficult to do without a socket and swivel ratchet. Pour water over the area to remove the sand from the threads prior to removal. Don’t bind the threads with sand go back and forth if necessary. (The faster way is to cut the fitting off from outside the filter with a saws all. Then just pull the old piece out from inside the filter)
  • The lower unit is attached to the laterals in the bottom of the filter. This one is more difficult to address we take a wire saw and cut the pipe in half to allow us to remove the lateral assembly. We cut off an additional 1/4″ of pipe to allow for the 2″ coupling we use to re install the lateral after we replace the lower bulkhead. Use the same option of methods to remove the nut and spacers from inside the filter. We always use new bulkhead fittings (there is too much involved to take a chance of the old fitting fracturing even if just the O-ring is bad).
  • Replace all the spacers and O-rings in the order they were removed use the book if needed as a reference.
  • Replace the backwash valve external O-rings at this time. You can’t do it after the filter is full of sand. Lube the O-rings including the new bulkhead fittings. Be sure to clean the walls of the filter to get the sand out of the areas where the seals will be replaced.  You need to hold the outside portion of the bulkhead fitting with a pair of large channel locks (they are thinner than a pipe wrench) this will keep the fitting from moving as tightened. It is slightly oblong.
  • At the same time you are tightening the assembly with the 3 1/8″ socket with a short handle swivel. Get it snug but remember it is just plastic.
  • Replace the air assembly tube that attaches to the lower piping it is a 1/4″ turn to release. Do the same with the upper assembly replace all O-rings and spacers and tighten up.
  • Re-attach the upper piping assembly, re-attach the diffusers and screen.
  • Start replacing the sand. There will usually be 100 plus Lbs. of sand missing that will need to be replaced. The upper piping needs to be covered, it stabilizes the piping.
  • Clean the threads on the air release assembly and re-attach.

This is a big repair so take your time to get it right. There are thousands of sand filters out there and more on the way.

Larry Walters

Larry Walters Pool Service

CPA – Fontana Chapter

How to Avoid a Pool Overflow – Useful Tips

The most common insurance claim filed by a pool service company is water damage from forgetting to turn off the garden hose. The pool service shows up and finds the water too low in the pool so they turn on the garden hose or turn on the manual fill valve to fill the pool.  Then they service the pool, get into their truck and drive away forgetting to turn off the water. For years our industry has tried ways to get the pool service tech to remember to turn off the water. Ideas like hanging their keys on the hose bib. Well so far it is obviously is not working, just look at the number of water damage claims all the Insurance companies announce each year.

Well there is an easy full proof solution that will result in zero claims for water damage while still getting the pool full even if the homeowner is out of town or if the property is vacant.

Here is what we do if one of our pool service clients has not kept the pool full. We take a picture of the water level in the pool and email it to the client with a note to please add water and an offer to install a timer fill valve.  A timer fill valve can be turned on and will run for up to one hour and then will turn off by itself.  They cost about $30.

For those instances when we do have to fill the pool, we pull a hose over to the edge of the pool and hang the hose over the edge of the coping. We then set a brick or other weight on the hose and turn the hose on a trickle. (Just FYI a trickle means a small stream barely above a drip, nothing more) If the homeowner does not respond to our email and they do nothing the hose will trickle until we show up next week. At a trickle the pool will fill up about 2 or 3 inches. This way the pool gets full and it is nearly impossible to cause any water damage, even if the hose over fills the pool, the water will spill over the coping onto the deck and make its way to a safe spot just like it was raining.

Ben Honadel

Pools by Ben Inc.

CPA – Santa Clarita & San Fernando Chapters

Modern Billing for Today’s Pool Company – Advice from a Pool Guy

Enjoying Efficiency:

Being a family man and a pool guy for the past twelve years and running, I understand the difficulty of balancing your business and personal life. When I am busy and forget the balance, priorities become sketchy and everything suffers. From my own experience, some of the common results of focusing on the business over home life are:

  • Burnout
  • Fatigue
  • Poor quality of work (from lack of time available)
  • Falling behind on billing (losing income)
  • Depression
  • NO valuable personal and/or family time

If you’re like me, you may have started your business for a few very important reasons. You wanted more freedom, more Income, and more time to do what you are passionate about in life spending time with family, working on hobbies, even just sitting on the couch! Most of the time pool guys will resort to focusing on the income portion of why we started a company and forget about the rest of the reasons. Lets face it, money is a nice thing to have, and it allows us to do more with our personal time. However, the income needs to go hand-in-hand with the freedoms and passions we truly care about. Our businesses need to be efficient in order to keep as much income as possible, while preserving our personal time. I’d rather work to live than live to work. To be more efficient in your business, you need to identify what part of your operations can be improved and try out new solutions. Here are a few areas that can be improved:

*Driving Route- This is a crucial part of time management that can help you save a little money and a ton of time. When setting up your route, or adding a new customer, be firm about the day of the week you will put them on EVEN WHEN THEY ASK FOR FRIDAY! Explain to them that you keep your pools close together to keep your prices reasonable, and to provide them with better service. If they won’t work with you, do not take the account. As alarming as it sounds, it can be a sign that they are not willing to work with you on other issues in the future.

*Complete Repairs Immediately- Putting off a repair is the easiest way to lose time, additional chemical cost, and possibly even the repair job to another pool company. When you do not complete a repair on a pool you service, you have to deal with the additional labor during maintenance- brushing, additional steps when servicing, and skyrocketing chemical costs. Additionally, you will get customer phone calls and emails to answer regarding scheduling and prices from other pool companies. Complete your repairs right away for great customer service.

*Clean by Routine- When servicing your pools, follow the same steps at each stop in order. Following a routine will shave minutes off each stop and keep you from wandering back and forth in the back yard. Invest in proper tooling that will allow you to make the least amount of trips to your truck. How many of us have had those service stops where we walked to our truck four or five times?! Routine makes us more efficient.

*Billing Billing Billing- This has been a source of huge frustration and time over the years. When you are busy, you run out of time to actually bill for the work you have done. Work gets done, but logging payments, keeping track of estimates, extra work, new customers, late customers, and even customers that are avoiding you can become so overwhelming! Often, you end up losing that income you’re working so hard for! My billing has gone from hours to minutes by using I have tried Quickbooks, Wise, and a few online services to keep me out of my office chair after a ten-hour work day, and none of them helped me. I created a billing program, specifically for pool companies, with those frustrations in mind. was built for speed, mobility, ease of use, and efficiency. It has so many features that go beyond a simple billing program, and that makes us the first SOLUTION for pool companies. The program lives in the cloud, but is accessible on any device (phone/tablet/pc). There is no need to download anything at any time. If you want to access your accounts and customers on the job, everything is at your fingertips. When you need to add a new customer, extra work, even create estimates and invoices, all you need is your phone. Check customer balances and payments with a few clicks! Online payments are also part of the system. Text late customers to bring their account current and give them the ability to pay right then and there. Your company can have a professional online presence without any additional work on your end. Complete your billing on your couch! Customers are making payments while you’re spending time with your family or enjoying your favorite hobbies. To help you get started, we have detailed step-by-step videos explaining how to make work for you. Unrivaled customer support is guaranteed. We are giving all CPA members a Two Month Free Trial by using the code first2free. Try it out today! Get the time and money you work hard to keep!

LED Technology – The Revolution of Color Lighting for the Backyard

A Simple Transformation

Advancement in LED technology has revolutionized color lighting for the backyard. The addition of this one design element has the ability to dramatically transform any ordinary backyard into a vivid oasis of color. Pool illumination is no longer just about the safety of night time swimming, it’s become an essential part of the backyard experience.

Historically, the illumination of rock waterfalls, sheers, beach entries, and sun shelfs has required the use of fiber optics due to the tight size and depth constraints. The installation of Pool and Spa lights within these features requires the use of specialized niches, bonding, and grounding. These restrictions ultimately increase the installation costs due to the larger footprint, water depth requirements, or bonding. As the efficiency of LED technology has grown, it has driven the development of smaller more versatile lights that eliminate these restrictions and burdens.

1 ½” Lighting has answered the void of fiber optics. It is now a cost effective solution to offer multiple lights for dramatic illumination extending beyond the pool. These new designs utilize two-wire, low voltage, all-plastic construction that eliminates the restrictions of the previous generations. Many are listed for use wet or dry making them perfect for accentuating rock features or hardscape within the 10ft radius of the pool. The latest 1/2″ generation expands beyond this offering placement in close proximity to water features, decks or even landscape. With all these options available it is truly a wonderful time to be a builder.