Before hiring pool service, understand what you're getting

Pool maintenance
Pool owners obviously would prefer to spend time splashing around their backyard oasis than scraping calcium from the pool tiles and unclogging leaves from the skimmer.

Pool maintenance
That is why many owners turn to companies to help them maintain their pools and maximize their enjoyment in water.
"People hire a pool service for a similar reasons as they do to hire a lawn service; they don't have time to do it themselves, or they don't really want to mess with it as a result of chemicals and equipment," says Steve Bludsworth, owner of All-Pool Service & Supply in Orlando.

What should an owner expect of the reputable pool-maintenance company?

Generally, companies give a month-to-month agreement intended to keep pools fit visually and chemically, and stop larger problems from developing.

Services vary from company to company and from pool to pool, but typically included in a standard agreement are testing and balancing the lake chemistry, vacuuming, brushing the sides of the pool, emptying skimmer baskets, cleansing the filter as needed and checking to make sure that all the equipment - including the timer and pump - are working efficiently.

Usually covered by the agreements are the chemicals necessary to maintain the water balance, that is affected by six factors: pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, dissolved solids, cyanuric acid and temperature.

Fees to get a regular service at larger companies vary from about $100 to $120 per month for average-sized, screen-enclosed pools, with another $20 to $30 for unscreened pools. Smaller companies might charge a little less for their services.

Agreements generally give weekly cleaning calls, but some pools might require extra visits.

"Some pools avoid getting much use, but other medication is used daily, use a lot of kids included, they're heated or they have a lot of leaves," Bludsworth says. "Those need it more often."

Not covered in many service agreements are additional tasks, such as adding or removing water from the pool, cleaning the deck, repairing equipment and treating stains within the pool.

"One thing we leave for that owner to do is keep the water at the right height. We leave a door hanger every week telling them what they need to do," says Brandy Striano, owner with husband Paul of Paul's Pool Service in Lake Mary.

In the event the water level is not correct, surface leaves will not be collected in the skimmer, and when the water is low, there may be insufficient water time for the pump through the skimmer, which can cause the pump to overheat and burn up.