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10 Things Your Pool Guy Didn't Tell You

Saturday, 28 Jul 2012 | 5:24 PM ET

Most people think pool guys are either like Walter Matthau in “ The Bad News Bears ,” a scruffy guy in a beat-up Cadillac convertible, or like Jesse Metcalf in “ Desperate Housewives ” — young, hot and shirtless.

Diane Collins and Jordan Hollender | The Image Bank | Getty Images

But when you’re paying a minimum of $10,000 to install a pool, or in the case of an in-ground pool, $70,000 (probably more than you spent on your car) — you need more than a guy with a net and a funny punchline — or nice abs.

“Most pool guys are like housecleaners. They should be part housecleaner, part mechanic,” said Willan Johnson, a former VP of Yahoo’s publisher network who is now the CEO of pool-management company Vivo Pools .

Willan and a couple of his buddies saw an opportunity in the pool industry, which he says is still operating like it’s the 1970s.

“The pool industry is 99 percent ‘one-polers’ — just a guy in a truck,” Johnson said. And that guy (or lady) is probably thinking how fast he can get in and out, not really about the long-term care and maintenance of the pool. In fact, to make money, he's actually got to get your pool cleaned in 20 minutes or less.

The initial idea for the company was to launch a marketing platform to help pool guys (and ladies) get business — using Google maps to identify pools in the area, Johnson said.

To his surprise, many replied: “We barely use email. We’re not that interested in leveraging your platform.”

That's right, the first thing your pool guy probably didn't tell you — he doesn't even have an email account!

So, they switched gears and launched a high-tech pool-management company.

What makes a high-tech pool company? Well, for starters, they use Salesforce software to determine if the homeowner has a dog, a gate code and when their birthday is (so they can leave a beach ball or something celebratory), as well to automate the schedule and allow homeowners to look up online the name of their pool guy (or lady), what day the person is coming and when their next bill is due.

After having taken the flying leap from the Internet to your backyard pool, here are 10 things Johnson says your pool guy probably didn’t tell you.

10. If you don’t maintain your pool properly, you could cut the lifespan in half.Or, if you don’t maintain it at all, you could cut it down to a quarter.

9. A pool pump can consume up to half of a home’s entire energy output.They now make more energy-efficient models.

8. You may be paying for weekly service but the guy is coming every other week, or even every three weeks.Since pool guys usually come when you’re at work, you have very little way of verifying if and when they’re there.

7. Saltwater pools don’t take care of themselves.You still have to add acid to keep the pH balanced. Just because it seems natural like the ocean — it’s not. In fact, saltwater pools have 1/10 the salt of the ocean , so they’re more like a tear drop than a good salt soak! And, while you may think that since salt is natural it’s environmentally friendly — it’s not. The salt breaks down into various components including hyrdrochloric acid or chlorine gas. Regular pools don’t have that much chlorine. So, if you drain it into your yard, that’s OK. With saltwater, you have to get a truck to suck the water out. Dumping it in your yard would seriously affect the ecosystem. Saltwater can also cause rust on stainless steel parts or cause corrosion in others that can cause you thousands to replace. Johnson isn't saying saltwater pools are bad — just that you should know the facts and how to properly maintain one.

6. If you don’t take care of your pool for 2-3 weeks, it will turn green.In fact, if there are heavy rains, like say during monsoon season in Tuscon, it can turn your pool green in 24 to 48 hours. And that green is more than just algae — it can contain E. coli and other bacteria.

5. A sunny pool is great for swimmers — not so much for the pool.Chlorine, which keeps your pool from turning green, dissipates in direct sunlight. “You put liquid chlorine in a sunny pool on Monday and by Wednesday it will have almost no chlorine in it,” Johnson said. “And algae breeds a lot more in 100 degree weather than 60 degree weather,” he added. That’s why slow-dissolving chlorine tablets are a good option or adding cyanuric acid, which helps diffuse the sun’s UV rays and makes the chlorine last longer. Though, you always have to keep testing your pool water 1-2 times a week.

4. Most "eco" and "green" products don’t work as well as chlorineand, in fact, may leave the water murky or turn the pool green faster.

3. Pool guys charge you about 1.7 times more than it actually costs to clean your pool.An average pool-cleaning job will run $100 or more per month.

2. You could easily clean your own pool in 20 minutes or less(with a bit of knowledge)

1. Your pool man knows the ins and outs of your life— especially the affair you are trying to hide from your husband!

Remember: There is no doorbell on your backyard. So, unlike when you’re in your house and not fully dressed and you can yell “just a minute!,” your pool guy has instant access to your backyard. So if you are skinny dipping (yes, that happens more often than you think!) or in some otherwise compromising situation, he’s going to see it.

Fortunately, I can’t think of any tell-all books by the pool guy so you should be good. Still, don’t do anything back there you wouldn’t do in front of the pool guy (or lady)!

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Contact Pony Blog

  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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