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Keep getting algae?

Totally Important

So you have this pool where every week you give it your full attention; you clean the tile, you scrub the walls, no debris in the pool, all the chemical levels are spot on, filter system running like a dream, but for some crazy reason you keep getting algae and you can’t figure out why. You add algaecide and shock and it may go away for a minute, but before you know it here it comes again. You just can’t get a grip on it. Before you go crazy, check that TDS reading.

When you test pool water, what are the most important tests? Most would say pH, Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Conditioner, and Alkalinity. Those are all obviously important, but one more that should be on that list is TDS. Most understand that a high TDS reading can be bad, but unfortunately don’t realize how a high TDS can be playing havoc on the pool water. It is one of the most ignored and untested items we should all be monitoring. What is TDS? TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids. TDS is exactly what it says it is; any dissolved matter in the water. Everything leaves a little bit of itself behind every time it is introduced to the water. TDS is being introduced constantly and continuously so the older the water, the higher the TDS. You can’t stop TDS from rising, but you should monitor it and react when it gets too high.

What does high TDS do? Many things, but to put it layman’s terms, it will cause your chemicals to be much less efficient. TDS can also cause scale, staining, cloudy water and even corrosion. Ironically when a problem arises we often don’t realize that we have a high TDS situation, so we just dump more and more products into the pool hoping to find that miracle cure. All we are doing is adding to the TDS.

TDS is often at its worst in high evaporation areas. TDS does not evaporate, only the pure water does. Those solids remain behind. The ONLY way to lower TDS is to drain all or a portion of the water and refill with fresh water that has a lower TDS level. TDS is present in tap water, but in most situations it is not out of control. However, well water can have some very high TDS levels. Always test the water source first to make sure you know exactly what is going into the pool.

Just like most everything in life moderation is key. All pools should have a minimum of 300 TDS, but ideally a decent TDS reading is somewhere between 1000-2000. Once you are over that 2000 mark, it’s time to drain some water. For salt pools; remember salt is a TDS, so it is important to know the water you are starting with. You only worry about the TDS above your salt level. So if you know you have a salt level of 3000ppm and your TDS reading is 4000ppm you are ok, because that means your TDS is only at 1000. People usually give salt pools a little more TDS wiggle room before draining. There is not a lot we can do to slow the accumulation of TDS, but like everything else in life remember you get what you pay for. If we add the cheapest salt or chlorine we can find we are probably only adding to our TDS problem at a more rapid pace. Often the “discount” products like those found at big box stores have far more impurities present which only add TDS to the water.

High TDS can wreak havoc on a swimming pool so be sure to check the TDS level in your pools. If you keep your TDS down you can avoid a multitude of problems.

Chris Joerns

Pool & Electrical Products, Inc.

Reverse Osmosis and the Future of the Pool Industry.

There has been a buzz in the business around reverse osmosis. With a severe drought in California and hysteria surrounding the topic of water, it’s no question we should be talking about conservation any way we can.

I think it would be helpful for us to understand this technology, how it can be applied in our industry and where we go from here. Reverse Osmosis (RO) in the simplest terms, is forcing water at a high pressure through a semipermeable membrane, allowing for the removal of dissolved particles. This process has been developing since the 1950’s, but really entered mainstream production in the 1970’s. The most common application of RO is to create drinking water, although other applications do exist.

Let’s transition for a minute to the pool industry: by trying to essentially “store” and “reuse” water over a period of several years we create an interesting scenario chemically speaking. Because of the physical nature of evaporation and refilling, we find ourselves outside of the parameters that we ideally want to be in, namely our calcium hardness and TDS. We do our best to maintain the factors we can control like pH and TA, but as the water ages even these factors become more and more difficult to maintain.

So then we inevitably end up not using our saturation index (try getting that to 0.0 with 1,000 ppm Calcium Hardness!) and we get backed into a corner until we cry uncle (aka drain!).

We do all this while trying to get the leaves out, balance our books, not burn kids eyeballs out, replace that lousy new product that came out last year, and try not to get sued by someone.

And now, to make matters worse, draining has been virtually eliminated as a viable option. Besides, we never really drained as often as were supposed to anyway. Our textbooks tell us every 3 – 5 years and most of us ignore that.

Enter Reverse Osmosis. RO, modified for the industry, can remove the dissolved solids from the water that cause us all kinds of problems. Now we can stand a fighting chance keeping our pools balanced on the saturation index. All of this while saving 85-90% of the water.


Now, instead of timidly telling our customers they need to drain and refill, we can confidently approach them with an alternative solution. Obviously there is a cost associated with this, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how receptive customers are when it comes to conservation.

The result of this process is a lower TDS, but the water also performs better chemically, your chlorine will go further, and the water will feel much better to your customer. Not to mention the benefits to the pool finish and the equipment. It’s easy to see how this can become the future of our excellent and growing industry.

About the Author:

Brett Gereau has been in the pool service industry for 12 years. He started working for Alan Smith Pools in 2014. From there, he and Alan started Purified Pool Water running the largest RO system in the pool industry today.

CPA on “Your Work” and Insurance…

CPA on “Your Work” and Insurance

Unbeknownst to many in the service and repair industry, the standard general liability coverage form written by ISO (Insurance Services Office) excludes property damage to your work. You can find the property damage exclusion on page 4 and 5 of the CG 00 01 12 07. Specifically take a close look at Exclusion j. “Property Damage”. You will see that paragraph 5 and 6 specifically remove coverage for property damage to “your work”. Whether you’re vacuuming, sweeping tile, or making equipment repairs, when you’re servicing a pool, the pool is likely “your work.”

The logic behind the exclusion is this, general liability insurance is not a warranty of your work. Further, the coverage is not designed to eliminate the inherent business risk one takes when they set out to become self-employed. As a business owner in the service and repair industry it is your responsibility to have expertise relating to the items you’re servicing and repairing.

So what is covered if not my work? Let’s look at some examples.

If you repair a heater and because of your repairs the heater is damaged and no longer functions properly, the standard ISO GL policy will not pay to replace the heater. Similarly, if you were to damage the plaster or tile in your customers’ pool by cleaning with abrasive products or even due to poor water chemistry, it is likely your insurance company would deny the claim based on the “your work” exclusion.

Here is an example of what the standard ISO GL policy would cover. Similarly you are performing repairs on a heater. While performing your repairs you failed to shut off the gas valve and there is a fire causing severe damage to your customers’ home. The legal expenses, cost of repairs to the home, and alternative housing while repairs are being completed would be covered up the per occurrence limit by the standard ISO GL policy.

You may be shocked while reading this. The Standard ISO GL policy does not cover items you’re servicing! That’s right. It is designed to cover bodily injury and property damage that occurs because of your work, but not your work itself. Again, this is standard policy language not manuscript (custom form which is typically intended to limit coverage). CPA wants you to know what your policy covers and more importantly what it doesn’t. If you’ve been with another industry association and tried to get a copy of your policy, I’m sure you struggled. It’s likely you never received the copy you requested. We don’t play that game at CPA. Every member receives a copy of their policy automatically and only a few days after purchasing coverage.

The CPA general liability policy is the Standard ISO GL policy and exclusion j. is on page 4 and 5 of your policy. So what do we do about this? Our policy has supplemental coverage give backs specific to the swimming pool service and repair industry. Among these endorsements are the acid wash supplement, popped pool enhancement, and on site or while in transit pollution coverage (commonly referred to as Hazmat). Additionally, I’m happy to inform you that we have a new coverage enhancement.

You now have the option of an endorsement that provides coverage for property damage that is “your work” up to $25,000 per occurrence and $50,000 aggregate (for any one policy term). This is another huge step forward in providing coverage that actually matters to your business. In true CPA form, we’ve made this endorsement optional. That’s right, we’re not attempting to drop a price increase on everybody. If you’d like to have the coverage on your policy, a coverage that no other association I’m aware of has, the monthly rate will be $79. If you want to continue at $59.00 per month, you’re welcome to reject the coverage and continue at the same rate of $59. For those of you who have employees, the cost to enhance your policy is simply $200 plus taxes and fees annually. Simple!

Here’s a little tip I’d like to share with you. Your customers would be happy to know that you have this coverage. After all, General Liability is designed to pay for third party damages (also your defense costs). Would your customer want to know that your policy goes above industry standard and would cover up to $25,000 if you damaged their pool? I think so! I think they might even be willing to pay for it!

Cost Breakdown

If you have 50 pools in your route, to add $20 per month in revenue and pay for this endorsement you would need to raise your rates by $0.40 per customer/per month.

If you have 70 pools in your route, raise your rates by $0.29 per customer/per month and you have the revenue to pay for this endorsement.

If you have 90 pools in your route, raise your rates by $0.22 per customer/ per month and the revenue is there.

I don’t intend to over simplify this and I know some customers may not follow along with this. Most will. Most will not even require an explanation. It is highly unlikely that you would ever lose an account over less than $0.50 per month.

This isn’t a faulty workmanship endorsement which typically only pays for materials on a limited coverage basis. This is the real deal! Real coverage for property damage that is “your work”. Pat and I went to bat for you. We’re committed to bringing you the best insurance products in the industry. We’re also committed to maintaining the lowest rates in the industry. Options are important, flexibility is important. We’re not trying to jam all our members into the same box. Maybe that’s why you joined CPA in the first place? Especially in the event you have employees performing work on your behalf, strongly consider adding this coverage.

I recognize some of what I’ve written here may be confusing and most of you are not insurance professionals. If you have questions or concerns please contact Pat or I for more details. We’re here to help.

Chris Walters Chris Walters
Phone 916-503-8770
Cell 714-501-9186
Fax 916-330-3323

Wow! What a year for CPA!

It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago Pat and I set out to help a former UPA Chapter work through some concerns they had about the shared limits on their policy. As we collaborated with the group we found all sorts of problems. Members who didn’t even operate a pool service business believed they were covered by that policy. A policy that they could not even get a copy of. Members bought insurance and paid dues without ever consulting with a licensed insurance agent?

We eliminated all of those problems for that first group and a few others. March 1st was the one year anniversary of CPA. We accomplished some goals this year. We have a successful program that provides options. Options are important! Those who want to participate in a chapter format can and those who don’t, we’re not going to fine you or take away your insurance. The good news is only gets better from here. Here’s what we’ve been up to this year.

First, the insurance professionals at Inszone Insurance Services have expanded the team dedicated to servicing CPA members. It’s not just Pat and I now. Tatiana Ramos joined the team this year. From Brazil, fluent in Spanish Tatiana has been able to effectively advise and service our Hispanic members. Recently joining the team is Matthew Murray. Matthew has an extensive background in both advising clients and claims handling. Laurie Graves is an account manager of 15 years. Laurie is dedicated to handling your policy changes and general concerns. You may have also worked Natalie Fanin, who before joining Inszone worked at prominent insurance company as a Workers Comp underwriter.

Many have commented about the effectiveness of CPA’s marketing, logo, swag items, and trade show booth. Troy Conant joined the team this year as our marketing director. He’s successfully positioned CPA’s branding to fuel growth. Look for website additions and improvements such as a forms data base and certificate of insurance request that can be done from your mobile device this year. We’re also looking at outside the box ways to help CPA members grow their businesses.

Inszone has provided us with a customer service guarantee that will insure you receive certificates of insurance within three hours of requesting so long as your policy meets the needs of the request and you order your certificates through the website or by emailing Don’t forget that Inszone provides the same great service for Home, Personal Auto, Workers Comp, and most other types of Insurance.

The CPA GL program provides more value than any of its kind. Our rate is untouchable. The coverage is per member and per project, no shared limits here. The specific pool service and repair industry endorsements are right there in black and white with your policy. We’ve added the property damage coverage extension as an option. For those who have requested a quote on truck insurance, you’re saving money and enhancing your coverage. There are many members who moved from a Personal Auto Policy to a Commercial Auto Policy and still saved money! We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to enhance our coverage options without forcing a price increase on anybody. We’re staying true to our roots and providing “options”.

We attended three big shows in our first year, The Western Pool and Spa Show, PIE, and Everything Under the Sun. The turnout at our booth and interest in our association has been remarkable. It seems the industry has been waiting for a fresh approach. Looking for an association with options and frame work instead of borders and inside the box thinking. In addition to the trade shows we also teamed up with Hayward and Alan Smith Pool Plastering for an event. Spending time at the supply houses talking with Pool Techs became part of the normal routine. The associations’ growth to more than 300 members in one year has been fueled by the people taking the time to talk with us about their concerns and helping us form the right solutions. With your help and referrals we plan to go even bigger in CPA’s 2nd year. Thanks for putting your confidence in us!

Chris Walters Chris Walters
Phone 916-503-8770
Cell 714-501-9186
Fax 916-330-3323

Got Clogged Pipes? – Watch for this! Pools by Ben

Hello CPA members,

I got called out because the pipe from the suction line from the skimmer to the pump.  I could hear noise at the equipment pad.  The suction line from the spa to the pump was good.  I cut the pool suction line and could look down the pipe and see the blockage.  I used some bond wire and make a hook and was able to fish out the blockage.  It looks like the end of the hose from the pool service man.  When he services the pool he is letting his hose get sucked into the 2 inch opening in the skimmer.

The pool man was very lucky I was able to fix this without very much expense.  If in the future the pool service uses a threaded 2 inch section of pipe with a 2 inch cup link and a reducer 2 inch to 1 1/2  his hose will not get sucked into the skimmer line again. 

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