When your pool looks fit only for the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” after Irma, you have options that don’t include offering up your yard as a remake site.
If you don’t have a regular pool service — or can’t reach ’em — or you’re a do-it-yourself pool owner, Stewart Vernon, founder of America’s Swimming Pool Co., a national franchise company with a local representative in Weston, offers advice on how to make your pool crystal blue.
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“Hurricane Irma was devastating to southern Florida. When homeowners returned from their evacuation, they discovered their homes flooded and in shambles and their swimming pool green with algae. Unfortunately, the Hurricane affected businesses, too, and many pool company owners either were not properly prepared or did not return at all,” Vernon said.
The two most important factors are water chemistry and filtration, he said. “Both are required for a sanitized and safe swimming pool. If you lack either, your swimming pool is probably going to turn green.”
Here’s what you can do:
▪ Clean all the debris from the water and skimmer baskets and pump trap. Use the skimmer, pool brush and leaf net to remove mud and other solid debris. Do not get into the water yourself.
▪ Inspect the pool pump for any signs of water damage. Hurricane Irma could have flooded the pump.
▪ Check all the electrical systems for any damage. If the pool breakers have tripped, reset them before turning the power to the pumps back on. If they don’t reset, call a professional pool service.
▪ Drain the pool to its proper level. Make sure the water line returns to the midline of the pool’s skimmer openings.
▪ Start the pump and filtration system but only after you’re sure it’s safe for use.
▪ “Shock” the pool to raise the chlorine levels. You want to raise the chlorine level to 8 ppm (parts per million).
▪ Measure the chlorine levels to make sure the pool is safe for use. You should never swim with chlorine levels at 8 ppm. At that number you’re assured of eye irritation. Eye irritation can even begin at chlorine levels as low as 1 to 2 ppm so wait until the super shocking of the pool subsides to that range.
▪ Don’t drain the pool. After heavy rains and flooding, as with Irma, the ground can get so saturated the excess water underneath could pop the pool out of the ground leaving you with a much costlier repair than cleaning the water — not to mention damage to your yard and house.
▪ Avoid the temptation to drain the black water, scrub the bottom and refill. Better to just drain the excess water from your pool only down to the mid-tile line or mid skimmer so the skimmer can help clean the pool a bit. If you have to drain more, drain less than half the water, clean it and refill. If a complete draining is a must, then wait until the ground is no longer saturated and high waters have receded to keep the pool from popping out.
▪ The same tip goes for future storms before they arrive. You should never drain all the water from your pool. Some believe an empty pool can serve to capture flood waters or that draining it will keep the pool from overflowing. That’s begging for a disaster.
▪ If you do get ahold of your pool service — or need to find one — Vernon suggests that your pool company has experience, including CPO certification for pool cleaning and CPC license for repairs, and the proper insurance. “They should carry both general liability insurance and a separate bacteria insurance policy in case of issues with Legionnaires’ Disease or blood borne pathogens.”