Residential Pools and Spas

The great debate: Who is responsible for damaged pool surfaces?

May 31, 2022

The second Great Debate to be held at the SPLASH! Pool & Spa Trade Show is called “On The Surface”, and asks the question: “Who is responsible for damaged pool surfaces?”

In this discussion, expert panellists will work through such questions as:

  • Has the introduction of new equipment, the demand for heating and types of sanitation affected pool surfaces?
  • Are today’s professionals equipped to deal with these changes?
  • How are customers being impacted?
  • What is the united, best practice view to prevent the deterioration of pool equipment and surfaces look like?

Panellists are Steven Humphris from Focus; Lynley Papineau from Aquatic Leisure Technologies; David Daft from Fluidra; Derek Prince from Daisy Pool Covers; David Stevenson from Allnex; and Matt Galvin from Environ Pools. Mediator is Lindsay McGrath from SPASA Australia.

Below are some of the panellists’ thoughts and notes on the topic.

Steven Humphris

Has the introduction of new equipment, the demand for heating and types of sanitation affected pool surfaces?

Absolutely! Over the years equipment has evolved and can simply do more and do it better. A fine example of this is a salt chlorinator from the 90s that was single polarity that produced 20g of chlorine per hour if all the stars aligned. The reality was that most pool chlorinators would end up as a solid white brick and send the pool a shade of green many times per year. Fast forward 30 years and we have full pool management systems that hardly ever need any cell cleaning and also maintain pH while controlling lights, blowers and solar pumps. This can quite often give the pool owner a false sense of security that their pool is another “no touch” asset in their backyard. When the pool equipment isn’t well monitored by the pool owner, or by the pool owner in conjunction with the pool service tech, this can lead to the chemistry of the pool water going to extreme levels which were not common in years gone by. Extreme chlorine and pH levels are definitely the enemy of any pool surface.

Are today’s professionals equipped to deal with these changes?

Yes and no. There is a fair void that the consumer often finds themselves in which is usually between being sold the “dream” of their new pool and equipment, and the reality of maintaining it. Often the consumer will neglect their pool because it “looks great” causing these extreme levels. Once the pool tech or pool shop is involved, the damage may already be done. Consumer education at all levels is the key.

How are customers being impacted?

The worst case scenario is the consumer is caught in the middle of a warranty vs consumer responsibility claim. This is a no-win for the supplier, consumer and the industry as a whole.

What is the united, best practice view to prevent the deterioration of pool equipment and surfaces look like?

Education, education, education. This is simply the key to get all parties on the same page and to avoid any confusion of responsibilities.

Lynley Papineau

For me the question is not necessarily about “Who is responsible for damaged pool surfaces” as the question goes wider and bigger than that. Damage is happening to pool equipment (inside and outside of the water environment), pool covers, and surrounding landscaping/coping headers.

The advancement of pool and equipment warranties (which we are also responsible for) and the comments that pools are “maintenance-free” also means that customers have an expectation that owning a pool is a hands-off experience, even more so with the development of technology and apps. No products in our industry are invincible and we need to educate the consumer on how to care for their pool and equipment. That can only be achieved when the industry has a united understanding of what is required right through from the sale process, installation of the pool, equipment instruction and ongoing maintenance and water chemistry.

I am seeing record levels of chlorine in swimming pools that I have never seen before in the past five years. How do we educate the seasonal pool shop worker/technician so they understand water chemistry, equipment and the advice that customers need? What testing equipment is being used and what records are being maintained? We are seeing more phosphates in water than ever before. Bushfires, floods and nature – what are the contributing factors? What information are the pool builders giving to customers at handover and has this been updated for the new Australian Standards?

David Daft

How things have changed with residential swimming pools and spas in the past 20 years. The cost to maintain a swimming pool really does depend on the pool design, age and equipment that’s installed. Advancements in swimming pool technology over the past 10 years have really helped to reduce the cost of maintaining a pool.

When consumers are planning to build a swimming pool in their backyard, they want it to be everything they dreamed of. The last thing you want is the consumer being disappointed in any way or them thinking there were things they wish they knew before installing the pool.

Unfortunately, this happens all the time. Consumers don’t always know what to ask for, or what considerations must be taken into account. It’s not until they’re actually spending time in the pool that they realise there are things they would have done differently.

Derek Prince

 I believe the conversation is what affects the water chemistry, furthermore, what the impact of imbalanced water chemistry has on the swimming pool, equipment and the health of the people swimming in the pool.

We all want to encourage more people to enjoy pools, so consumer education has to be the basis of our discussion.

Sanitisation system changes and the impact of the changes to consumer and trade:

  • Understanding of different systems and their workings.

Environmental conditions and accessories that can impact water chemistry:

  • Pool covers, are a physical stabiliser, they maintain the water chemistry differently to an uncovered pool. Consumers and trade need to understand where to take the water samples.
  • Indoor pools.
  • Water features and what they do to the water (and heating); fountains; shallow water features with large surface area and low water volume (wading style features).

How often should a consumer be expected to monitor the pool water and how regularly should they get it checked by a professional?

Further to this, has the consumer been educated how to maintain a pool? I know it’s a leap too far to say you need formal training, however similar to having to have a driver’s licence…what does a pool owner NEED to know to be considered competent to maintain their own pool water?

This lies at the base of all warranty claims, the consumer saying I have done everything correct, I have “always” maintained the water chemistry correctly.

How do we know that the water has always been maintained? Or over what periods? We look retrospectively at the damage that shows in general excessive or out-of-balance chemicals have caused the issue.

I believe the pool maintenance side of our industry being more of a specialist trade style qualification needs to lead by being professional with their service. I question the giving away a “free water test” as it devalues the importance of what they do and the advice they give.

Register now for the SPLASH! Pool & Spa Trade Show

Be sure to get along to see the Great Debates in person and enjoy the lively discussion.

On the Surface: June 22, 2022, 2pm.

A Hot Topic: June 23, 2022, 2pm.

Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre Broadbeach, Queensland.



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