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Replacing an Existing Spa Heater – Horror Stories


It must be time to start our own horror file just in time for Halloween.  

We were replacing an existing spa heater. This particular job is not one of our usual service accounts and was quite a long distance form our regular area. Since we have a good working relationship with this management company, we arranged to come out for the job. We provide various repairs on their properties where the onsite staff maintains the pools and spas.


Some pool service companies shy away from this type of business relationship, but we have always decided to take on this work. First and most important, if we decide not to perform the work then they will find someone that can. Business relationships and new accounts can take time to develop and we would rather keep the work/money flowing. It can lead to many additional repairs and opportunities. Over 35+ years I have lost count of the number of times that I have been called to a property and the person has previously worked for a different Management company or different property. It’s a small world out there,


This particular install was performed by the onsite staff. We arrived to find a very small indoor equipment room with a spa heater in the back corner. We often decide to remove much of the heater in place to break it down for a couple of reasons:

  • This particular area was very tight and removing the top, fire walls and tube bundle makes it easier to lift the heater over the existing pool heater and other equipment.
  • The photos will show the onsite staff had installed the heater without an indoor draft hood. They had taped the 8″ vent to the stack adaptor. They must have purchased the indoor draft hood or part of it anyway but they didn’t use it. Not installing the draft hood created improper combustion, the corrosion created by the corroding vent tubing will fall directly onto the tube bundle. Over time the heater will start to soot and get hot spots on the tube bundle. This will lead to early failure of the heater.

Repair in Progress


Original Heater Corrosion


Original Vent


New Vent


You will also notice they had installed the vent on a reverse slope (Code is 1/4″ up slope per ft.) We purchased the new heater and a new indoor draft hood with 8″ vent tubing. We completed the install with earthquake hold down straps, mounted it to the floor and #8 bond wire.


Do the job to the best of your ability and meet the professional code for the install.  At the end of the day this is a much safer facility than it was when we arrived.

  Larry Walters Pool Service  

Best Practices on Limiting your Liability


Throughout the past 20 years, Inszone insurance has dealt with nearly every claim scenario you can imagine. What stands out over the past few years is the sharp increase in consumer filed lawsuits against the business owners we insure. Whether you’ve been operating for the past 50 days or the past 50 years, the odds of your business being sued are higher than ever.

If your customer is dead set on suing you, there’s not much you can do about that. With that in mind we have compiled a list of business practices that may help avoid a lawsuit and could be the difference between winning and losing.

  • If you even have the potential for a claim, call Inszone to discuss as early as possible. While each situation is unique, past experiences may help you navigate. You are not obligated to make a claim by calling us to talk.
  • Do not admit fault! Unfortunately most allegations made against the pool service company are directed at the wrong party or flat out frivolous. Many times there are issues with the construction of the pool or the last remodel that have nothing to do with service. Remember the minute you attempt to fix the issue, it could become your responsibility.
  • Should you decide to file the claim, speak to your Inszone Insurance agent to start the process. You’ll want to have as detailed information as possible, such as specific dates. Inszone will submit the claim to Colony and an adjustor will be assigned promptly.
  • Common business practices that will help you avoid a claim:
    • Document discussions with your customers whenever you see a potential problem. Use email and take pictures, they will be less likely to pursue a lawsuit if you can show previous attempts to prevent an issue.
    • Keep a log book on work performed. Include water chemistry measurements in your log.
    • Know when to say no. Whether it’s a new account or an existing one, know when to walk away from what is bound to be a problem down the road.
    • Have formal meetings regularly each month or quarterly with employees if you have any. If your eyes aren’t the only ones on the ground day-to-day, make sure your team is able to identify potential problems to bring to your attention.
    • Use contracts when beginning service on a new account. List the services you provide and stick to it. Complete a pre-service inspection of the pool area before you begin servicing a pool.  Document pre-existing conditions and potential safety hazards. Make sure to include a copy of the pre-service inspection in your service agreement.
    • If at any point you agree to do work outside of normal service contract, have a separate agreement signed. Good examples of these are waivers/release of liability contracts if you are performing an acid wash, draining the pool and/or cleaning the tile.
      • Inszone would be happy to share examples of service agreements other pool services have relied on. Best practice is to have your service agreement reviewed by a qualified attorney.
Lawsuits are costly and time consuming for your business at best…at worst they can cripple an otherwise healthy operation. Business practices incorporating these preventative measures will help protect you when you hear the words “See you in court!”  


Pat Grignon

Vice President

Inszone Insurance Services, Inc

(916) 503-6359

CPA has Successful Pool Industry Expo (P.I.E) Show in Monterrey


Another year and another successful Pool Industry Expo (P.I.E) Show in the books for California Pool Association (CPA). Expectations were high as always for the P.I.E show, but with the convention center under construction we had some reservations, well we are happy to say that the P.I.E show did not disappoint.  Convention center under construction or not, there is no way we were going to miss the 30-year anniversary show! As usual the turnout at our booth was remarkable, non-stop traffic, we generated a lot of interest for the program and more importantly we continued to grow both the brand and the membership in Northern California. Our unique coverage offerings and member support, make CPA truly stand out as the premiere association in the industry.

The Pool Industry Expo (P.I.E) Show concludes our trade show schedule for 2016, however we do have some local table tops through the end of the year. On behalf everyone here at CPA, we would like to extend our best wishes to all of the interested parties who stopped by the booth to speak with us. To our members, future members, sponsors, old friends and new friends…thank you! We wouldn’t be here without your support.



Pat Grignon

Vice President

Inszone Insurance Services, Inc

(916) 503-6359

Spotting the leak!

Let’s face it, pools are going to leak. Whether it be from a construction defect, a poorly executed remodel, bad plumbing, environmental factors or the equipment simply getting old….most service companies will end up dealing with a leaking pool in their route at some point.

The problem is most leaks are subtle and hard to detect. Not only that but there’s a legal precedent that has been set which finds the regular service company is, at minimum, partially responsible for identifying a leak (or the potential for one) and taking steps to prevent property damage as a result of said leak.

Most service companies don’t specialize in leak detection and the majority don’t have a C-53 pool contractor and/or C-36 plumbing contractor license required to perform the repairs. It’s a double whammy…financially responsible for damage that isn’t part of your agreed service contract and no additional revenues coming from identifying/fixing the leak.

On the flip side of that coin, being able to identify this problem and provide a solution before it turns into a nightmare for that homeowner will build significant value in you service. You’ll earn a loyal account for life.

Don’t skip the easy stuff, keep a diligent eye out on each visit:

  • Observe the equipment while it’s running, any leaks?
  • Turn off the equipment and walk around the pool to check if any leaks through the wall.
  • Anything unusual like leaves stuck to the wall , cracks in the deck that travel further down into the tile or patches from previous work?
  • Does the water seem to be abnormally low as you return week to week?

We’re not talking about much time to hit the basics, it mainly boils down to being observant while on site. If you’re seeing the potential for a leak, run a quick test like Mike the owner at Leakfinders, Inc suggests below:

Here is an easy way to tell if your customer’s pool is losing water or simply evaporating. This is also a good way to determine whether or not your customer has a defective check valve and/or 3 way valve that is causing an elevated spa to drain into the pool overnight. In order to determine if a homeowner’s pool is leaking water, (which would definitely cause a problem with water balancing, salt levels and conditioner levels), is to perform a static bucket test, with the equipment off for 48 hours.

Following are step by step instructions how to determine if any of the above problems exist in your customer’s pool.

1. Shut off any auto fill

2. Scope of water from pool (be sure that the bucket has the same temperature water as the pool) to 5 gallon bucket

3. Place bucket in same sunlight exposure as pool but in area where animals cannot drink water and throw off the test.

4. Use duct tape to precisely mark levels on the bucket, pool and spa.

5. 48 hours later check the all three levels. Remember that we are using the bucket as a bench mark for normal evaporation.

6. If the pool, spa and bucket have the same amount of water loss there probably is not a leak.

7. If the pool level is higher than the bucket, the spa water is down and is an elevated spa. There is probably an issue with the check valves.

8. If the pool and spa are the same elevation and the pool and spa lost more water than the bucket then you most likely have a leak.

After determining that there is in fact having a water loss issue, then pick up the phone and call Leakfinders, Inc. to diagnose your issue and provide you with an estimate to repair at 800-834-1094.

Mike Ulibarri , Leakfinders, Inc. Connect with us on Facebook!

You don’t need to be an expert to identify a leak, just keep a watchful eye and perform simple tests like this when your gut tells you something is off.


Pat Grignon

Vice President

California Pool Association

(916) 503-6359

Holy Smoke!

This fire season has been brutal up and down the State of California in recent years. Just last year , the Valley Fire in Napa and Sonoma counties was the result of faulty wiring on a hot tub…it caused $57 million worth of damage. The Sand Fire in Valencia, the Big Sure Fire on the central coast, and the Pilot Fire in the San Bernardino Mountains are only three of the dozens of fires recorded this summer alone.

california pool associationWhile the aerial and ground fire-fighting methods are absolutely necessary in saving homes, structures and most importantly lives, they often times result in damages to many residential and commercial pools. The planes that drop fire retardant aren’t concerned if it gets in your customer’s pools, they’ve got bigger fish to fry. So when it happens, where do you start? We asked Ben Honadel from Pools by Ben, Inc. in Santa Clarita for his comments as he was right in the thick of it during the massive Sand Fire. He took pictures of a backyard, hammered by fire retardant, that he and his team were called in to deal with. His steps are outlined below:

1. Always have the pool owner sign a drain release form and contract before starting work

2. Drain the pool

3. It’s important to be sure the property has been completely hosed down including the roof, trees, deck, etc… before beginning the cleaning and repairs

4. Replaced the filter grids

5. Hose down and clean the pool. Once complete, filled with fresh water

6. Run the equipment and monitor for a short period of time to ensure it’s working properly

Initially, the homeowner was asking for the lowest cost method of treating the water, but there was no getting around draining this pool. The fire retardant was full of salt and phosphates which simply wasn’t treatable. We explained that to the homeowner who was glad we didn’t look for the quick fix. They had no problem paying us top dollar for the work we did on a rush to get their pool back to normal.

Ben Honadel

Pools by Ben, Inc.

(661) 263-7503 /

Hopefully we don’t have much more of this throughout the remainder of the year…but if it happens we know this info will help put your customer’s backyards back to normal and allow you to make top dollar while doing it.