Langelier Saturation Index Inaccuracies

The Langelier Saturation Index is the basis of swimming pool water chemistry. A simple mathematical formula determines whether the water is in balance (neither corrosive nor scale forming). Realistically, not a measure of the success in preventing algae or bacteria, but a calculation designed specifically for the protection of the vessel, the swimming pool itself—a determination of calcium carbonate saturation. Let’s face it; we have come to depend upon the accuracy of the pool industry LSI (Langelier Saturation Index).

The water being in balance is extremely important, and the LSI is a tool we rely upon. After all, we know water needs to have a certain amount of calcium and carbonate in solution, and the level we need varies upon both temperature and pH. If the water is found to be corrosive, it will pull calcium and carbonate from the pool walls and floor, etching the surface. When the water is scale forming, everything from a cloudy water condition to calcium carbonate deposits forming about the pool.

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY

Many think calcium carbonate saturation is only important in plaster pools, and that’s not the case. Nowadays, liner companies utilize calcium carbonate in the production of vinyl. The amount used varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but it has been found that corrosive water can pull calcium carbonate from vinyl when the content is greater than 7%. It is also a fact that cobalt staining is more prevalent in fiberglass pools where a corrosive saturation index persists.

Dr. Wilfred Langelier, professor emeritus of civil engineering at the University of California, Berkeley published this concept in a paper titled The analytical control of anti-corrosion water treatment in 1936 in the detailing the model was first published in 1936 in the Journal of the American Water Works Association. Most are aware of this; however, a common misconception is that we actually use Dr. Langelier’s model, which was designed to determine the Potential for calcium carbonate precipitation. In actuality, we do not.

A Mother of a Math Problem

Langelier’s formula, despite its accuracy, is extremely complex. It also was not designed to determine whether water was corrosive or scale forming. Instead, as I mentioned above, the calculation only determined the calcium carbonate precipitation potential (CCPP). Not a guarantee that a problem with calcium would occur, only a predictive measure of an increased possibility. Regardless, Langelier (already widely known for his advances in water treatment due to studies documented in his 1921 paper Coagulation of Water with Alum by Prolonged Agitation) came up with a highly complex formula. That was beyond practical for longhand calculation – the math was insane!

View the entire Journal of the American Water Works Association 1936-10, Vol 28 HERE

Due to its complexity and advances in science, the formula was simplified in 1965 by Carrier (heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration solutions). This new version is often referred to as the ‘improved’ version and was the first to call the formula the Langelier Saturation Index. Oh yeah, I almost forgot – pHs is the name Langelier gave to his formula for predicting calcium carbonate precipitation potential.

Is Carrier’s LSI improved? Answering that question is beyond my skill set, but I can say it definitely dumbed it down. With that, of course, some suggest this revised 1965 method is too simplistic to be as accurate. However, this new calculation is more similar to the formula that we use now in the swimming pool industry. That’s right; we’re not up to what we use for swimming pools just yet. That doesn’t happen until 1974.

Change is good, right?

This was when John A. Wojtowicz of Chemcon got his hands on it. Wojtowicz pointed out that the LSI in its current version did not consider other alkaline substances that would contribute to the Total Alkalinity in a swimming pool (i.e., cyanuric acid, boric acid, etc.). So, the formula was retooled once again. See The Effect of Cyanuric Acid and
Other Interferences on Carbonate Alkalinity Measurement
in the Journal of the Swimming Pool and Spa Industry

This is where we are at now – the Wojtowicz Saturation Index? Not sure if this name will stick, but it is certainly more accurate than calling is LSI. Misnomer or not, this is the saturation index calculation that we use in the pool industry today. This is where the formula for the LSI apps we use originated. Accuracy in attribution or not, is it more accurate in predicting the potential for calcium carbonate to precipitate in an open body of water?

Crystal structure of Calcite By Materialscientist at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

I thought it would be interesting to see the difference in calculation between the three using values we would likely see in a swimming pool, specifically omitting the presence of cyanuric acid, borate, or any other substances that might affect our Total Alkalinity.

Our example water test:

Water Temperature


Calcium Hardness

Total Alkalinity

Cyanuric acid



Total Dissolved Solids

81° F


300 ppm

90 ppm

0 ppm

0 ppm

0 ppm

1,000 ppm

Saturation Results:


1936 – Dr. Wilfred Langelier – pHs

1965 – Carrier – LSI

1974 – Wojtowicz – Pool Industry LSI (using a currently popular industry app)

Index Calculation







Supersaturated – Scaling possible

Scale forming and corrosive

In Balance – not scale forming, not corrosive.

A Formula never intended to be used in an open body of water exposed to atmospheric pressure 🤷‍♂️

Another factor to consider – The saturation index is said to only be accurate within certain parameters. Luckily, the chemistry we keep in swimming pools typically falls within that range. That is except for Saltwater pools.

  • pH: 6.5 to 9.5
  • Temperature: 32 to 212°F
  • Bicarbonate alkalinity: 10 to 800 ppm
  • Calcium hardness: 50 to 700 ppm (up to 900 ppm)
  • Total dissolved solids: 50 to 1000

Accuracy of the pool industry LSI

If Dr. Langelier’s pHs is the more accurate measure of determining the water’s potential of calcium carbonate precipitation and was truly only changed for ease of calculation, with the capabilities of cell phones, wouldn’t it make more sense to develop an app that could quickly perform the complex equation? Of course, Wojtowicz’s Carbonate Alkalinity would be a necessary modification in a swimming pool application.

If not, and today’s LSI method continues to be the route we take, do we really need an app or studies on mathematical calculations at all? I mean, the reality of it is shooting for the dead center of the ideal range on the three values for which an ideal range exists; the water will always be in LSI balance down to a temperature of 48°F and as high as 104°F anyway. The exception being a saltwater pool in which none of the calculations are apparently accurate anyway.

Specific Parameters

Even if the inaccuracy of the LSI at a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) level above 1,000 ppm did not exist, maintaining a pH of 7.5, Carbonate Alkalinity of 90 ppm, and a Calcium Hardness of 300 ppm would keep the water balanced on today’s pool industry LSI balanced in water temp range of 63°F to well over 104 degrees (TDS of 3,000 ppm).

Have an LSI app on your phone? Try it! Set the pH at 7.5, Carbonate Alkalinity at 90 ppm, and the Calcium Hardness at 300 ppm. Now play around with different numbers for temperature and TDS. Do we really need an app? Or, would a simple dosing calculator suffice?

CPO Certification Course ©

CPO Certification Made Easy

Veteran Owned Business

At Aquatic Facility Training & Consultants, we believe the CPO certification class should include more than the class itself. We know that students may have questions after they complete the course, and we think we have a responsibility to be available if we are needed. Our class’s tuition includes the CPO Certification Class itself, the Pool Operator Handbook & Pool Math/Chem Worksheets for use in the class itself.

Veterans, Active Duty Military, & First Responders receive 10% OFF! Use discount code: CPO

I will provide you with access to CPO® Certification Class Prep Materials to prep/practice before class; in fact, you can check it out now if you like. Exams are graded upon completion, and students are provided with their results immediately. After completing the class, the Pool Operator will receive an invitation to join our CPO® Class alumni tech support group. Moreover, the Pool Operator also receives access to Pool Operator support, if needed, from the instructor via telephone/e-mail after completing the course.

Certified Pool Operator (CPO) Certification

The Online CPO® Certification Blended Training is the best option for an individual who prefers to learn at his/her own pace. I know you have a lot on your plate, this option really is the best for folks with a busy schedule or hectic workday. Upon completing the online registration and tuition payment, you will receive a special numeric code and instructions to access the Online Pool Operator Primer™ course. You can begin the class right away (if you want) from anywhere you have access to the internet.

Want the course in Spanish? We can do that too! Just let us know in the comments on check out. The session with me is still in English, but the self-guided session, handouts, handbook, and test can all be in Spanish if you want.

Complete the self-guided online portion at your own pace – choose to complete as many or as few chapters at a time as you wish.  Complete the online portion over the course of several days, weeks, months, or in as little as 7 – 8 hours. Besides, you’ll be able to log in & out whenever you want and give your brain time to absorb the information. This is more in line with the way people actually learn and NOT like ‘trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose’.

CPO License
CPO Certification Course

Subscribe to our Pool Operator Talk eNewsletter

Complete the Program at Your Own Pace

Complete the self-guided session and print the Pool Operator Primer™ Certificate of completion. You even have 6 months from Pool Operator Primer™ date of completion to attend an online live virtual CPO® certification session.

Send me the Pool Operator Primer™ Record of Completion, and a copy of your Government Issued Photo ID. Get a 75% on the CPO® certification exam following the live session and you are CERTIFIED! Choose the class date and location at the time of registration. If life gets in the way you can call me to reschedule if necessary.

Why spend 16 hours (2 days) in class if you don’t have to?

CPO Class Flashcards

Online CPO (Certified Pool Operator) Certification Class

Enrolled in a Certified Pool Operator Certification Class? Okay, maybe you haven’t been in school for a long time. I get it. Studying for a test is something we had to learn to do. Then, we practiced it over and over again until it just was. That is up until we left school. Now what? Those same methods we learned along the way still work, so we have created the CPO Class Flashcards.

Those methods we used back in the day still work. There is no reason that on top of taking the CPO Class that you should be expected to reinvent the wheel when it comes to studying for it. Honestly, in a two day class with so much information, that is brand new in many cases, being thrown at you, this class can be a lot like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose. That’s why we at AFT&C have created an online self-guided study program that contains Videos, the CPO Class Flashcards you are about to see, a Practice CPO Math Test, and a Practice CPO Quiz. You can find these at AFT&C CPO Practic Test

CPO Flashcards

The only point at which a suction side leak will draw in air and drip water
Click to Flip
The Mechanical Seal (Pump Seal)

The Best Method of Algae Prevention
Click to Flip
Brushing Pool Walls & Floor

Amount of Water that can be held in a cubic foot
Click to Flip
7.5 gallons

The name of the chemical we use to test pH
Click to Flip
phenol red

Total Chlorine - Free Chlorine =
Click to Flip
Combined Chlorine

This is what is used to lubricate the pump lid O-ring
Click to Flip
A Silicone or Teflon based lubricant

What does pH stand for?
Click to Flip
The power of Hydrogen

The method a Saltwater pool uses to generate chlorine
Click to Flip

The protozoa associated with a human solid stool
Click to Flip

The only method of lowering pH that will increase the Total Alkalinity
Click to Flip
CO2 injection

The maximum amount of water that can pass through a DE filter
Click to Flip
2 gpm per square foot of filter area

This law was established to help to prevent suction entrapment
Click to Flip
Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB 2008)

This chemical neutralizes chlorine
Click to Flip
Sodium Thiosulfate

The formula used to calculate the surface area of a circle
Click to Flip
radius x radius x 3.14 = Surface Area

The recommended turnover rate for a public pool
Click to Flip
6 hours

The maximum recommended temperature for a spa
Click to Flip
104 degrees

When should a vacuum DE filter be backwashed
Click to Flip
When the vacuum gauge reads greater than 8 inches of mercury

The most common form of suction entrapment
Click to Flip
Hair entrapment

Formula to convert ounces to pounds
Click to Flip
Ounces ÷ 16 = pounds

The first thing you should do when someone poops in the pool
Click to Flip
Close the pool

A swimming pool must maintain this amount of clearance
Click to Flip
Four feet 100% of the way around the pool at all times

The part of the pump that throws the water
Click to Flip
The impeller

Sand returning to the pool is most likely do to what?
Click to Flip
A broken latteral

The only method of raising pH without affecting the Total Alkalinity
Click to Flip

What is the correct amount of Diatomaceous Earth to add to a DE Filter?
Click to Flip
1 1/4 pounds per 10 square foot of filter area

The method used to clean a sand filter
Click to Flip

This device is designed to allow ground water to enter the pool as a "Pop-up" preventative
Click to Flip
Hydrostatic relief valve

This can be caused by moving a valve handle while the pump is running
Click to Flip
Water Hammer

What is Cyanuric Acid used for?
Click to Flip
To prevent UV degradation of chlorine by the sun

The number one cause of accidental death of children ages 1-4 years
Click to Flip

The minimum height of a pool barrier
Click to Flip
48 inches

This recreational water illness is contracted by breathing contaminated mist
Click to Flip
Legionella pneumophila

What is Cavitation?
Click to Flip
The formation and collapse of vapor in a liquid due to excessive vacuum

Best lighting to use for a water test
Click to Flip
The light of the Northern horizon

The sector of the health department that regulates public pools
Click to Flip
Environmental Health

The type of feeder used for chlorine tablets
Click to Flip
An Erosion feeder

The chemical used to increase Total Alkalinity
Click to Flip
Sodium bicarbonate

The type of fire extinguisher that should be in a chemical storage area
Click to Flip

The placement of a device that prevents machinery from being operated until that device is removed
Click to Flip
Lockout-Tagout (LOTO)

Convert 640 ounces to gallons
Click to Flip
640 ounces ÷ 128 = 5 gallons

Convert 800 ounces to pounds
Click to Flip
800 ounces ÷ 16 = 50 pounds

Convert 25 yards to feet
Click to Flip
25 yards x 3 = 75 feet

Convert 50 meters to feet
Click to Flip
50 meters x 3.28 = 164 feet

Calculate the Surface area of a rectangle that is 20 feet wide and 40 feet long
Click to Flip
20 x 40 = 800 square feet

Calculate the average depth of a pool with a shallow end depth of 4 feet and a deep end depth of 8 feet
Click to Flip
(4 ft + 8 ft) ÷ 2 = 6 ft average depth

Calculate the gallonage of water in a rectangle pool that is 20 feet wide and 40 feet long with a depth that is 4 feet in the shallow end and 8 feet at the deep end
Click to Flip
20 x 40 x ((4+8) ÷ 2) x 7.5 = 36,000 gallons

Calculate the radius of a circle with a 12 foot diameter
Click to Flip
12 ft ÷ 2 = 6 ft radius

Calculate the surface area of a circle with a 12 foot diameter
Click to Flip
6 x 6 x 3.14 = 113.04 sq ft

Calculate the amount of water in a round pool with a 12 foot diameter and is 3 feet deep
Click to Flip
6 x 6 x 3.14 x 3 x 7.5 = 2,543.4 gallons

Formula to convert inches to feet
Click to Flip
Inches ÷ 12 = Feet

Calculate the amount of water lost in a 20 foot wide rectangle pool that is 40 feet long that loses 1 inch of water
Click to Flip
20 ft x 40 ft x (1 ÷ 12) x 7.5 = 499.8 gallons lost

Formula for calculating Turnover rate
Click to Flip
Pool Gallons ÷ Flow Rate ÷ 60 = Turnover rate in hours

The height of the latch for the pool gate
Click to Flip
Minimum of 54 inches

Calculate the flow rate necessary for a 30,000 gallon pool to have a 6 hour turnover rate
Click to Flip
30,000 ÷ 6 ÷ 60 = 83.33 gpm flow rate

The humidity in which the Natatorium must be maintained
Click to Flip
Between 40% - 60%

Filter Sizing Formula
Click to Flip
Flow rate ÷ Filter Media Rate = Square Feet of Filter Required

Protozoa associated with a human diarrheal incident
Click to Flip

Formula to Calculate required BTUs when sizing a heater
Click to Flip
Pool Gallons x 8.33 x Degrees of desired Temperature change = Total BTUs required

The four types of energy loss
Click to Flip
1. Evaporation 2. Convection 3. Radiation 4. Conduction

Neutral on the pH scale
Click to Flip

The chlorine level necessary to treat a fecal incident involving a solid stool
Click to Flip
2 ppm (If it's Poo, it's 2)

Chlorine level necessary to treat a fecal incident involving diarrhea
Click to Flip
20 ppm (If it's Runny, it's 20)

Formula to calculate Total Dynamic Head
Click to Flip
(Pressure gauge reading x 2.31) + (Vacuum gauge reading x 1.13) = Total Dynamic Head

The CPO Certification Test is
Click to Flip
Only 50 questions, all multiple choice, and open book You Got This!
Click button for CPO Practice Test ??????

Visit our group on Facebook to learn and share ideas with professionals like yourself Talking Pools FB Group

How Can a Homeowner Tell if a Pool Person Has Had Any Training?

Why You Should Hire A Certified Pool Professional

to Maintain Your Backyard Pool

  Lack of Knowledge Could Result In The Formation of Harmful DBPs (Disinfection Byproducts), Zoonoses, Legionella, Equipment Failure, and more..

 Some pool service people have years of experience, and some only say they do. Many pool service people are extremely knowledgeable in their trade and do fantastic work. Others have little to no experience and have no idea what they are doing; or worse, only think they know what they are doing. Then there are those who have simply mislearned along the way.

How Can a home owner make sure the person they are hiring to take care of their swimming pool is a trained professional?

One of the advantages of a swimming pool service company as a foot in the door into entrepreneurship is that the startup cost of the venture is extremely low. In many areas, if you own a pickup truck, really the only investment after that is a handful of chemicals, a pole, and some attachments. That should scare the crap out of you!

A person could literally be on the road and cleaning pools with no experience and a total investment of less than a thousand dollars.

There must be a law against this?

In most states there are no licensure requirements for an individual to clean, maintain, and chemically treat residential pools; in most states, there are no educational requirements necessary to clean, maintain, and chemically treat residential pools. None, Nada, Zippola, Nothing at all!!! Still, most Pool Professionals care enough about the safety of their customers and attend educational courses whether they are required or not. Most, not all.

This means that the individual toting chlorine into your back yard could have literally woke up this morning and, without any water chemistry knowledge what-so-ever, decided they were going to be a pool person.

Why is this so Scary?

There is a lot that can go wrong if someone does not know what they are doing. If treated incorrectly, it could lead to thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs in repairs, and a massive decrease in the longevity of the pool and it’s equipment. On top of that, there are literally lives at stake in pool care: drowning, entrapment; injury, and disease are all possibilities. 

FYI: Chlorine Does Not Kill Everything

Most folks have the false belief that the chemicals involved are simply used to keep the pool free of algae. Just throw stuff in, right? This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is actually quite a bit of complex chemistry involved and a lot of what is put into the water is to keep the pool safe and free of disease. Yes, if your pool is not maintained properly it could be a source of illness for your family. In fact, some harmful byproducts can exist in your pool water simply because the pool chemicals were added incorrectly. Then consider that even hazy water has it’s risks and is known to be a contributing factor in many drownings.

The World Health Organization & the National Environmental Health Association view waterborne zoonoses (diseases of animals that people can get) in recreational water venues (swimming pools, spas, etc.) as an emerging health concern

Breakpoint Chlorination training to rid pools of carcinogenic chloramines

Improper, or neglectful, maintenance practices will shorten the life of your equipment and needlessly cost the homeowner hundreds to thousands of dollars in repair or replacement. Keep in mind, the pool itself is not bulletproof.

24 states in the U.S. require a Pool Service Person to have successfully completed a Pool Operator Certification course in order to Clean, Maintain, or Chemically Treat a public swimming pool. 

Discussing filter care and operation at a manufacturing facility

How do you know if the person taking care of your pool has had any training?

Ask to see it! Ask to see a CPO Certification, AFO Certification, PPSO Certification, or Pool Contractor’s license (where available). Whether it’s required or not to maintain a backyard pool, this is the only document a pool professional can provide that proves they have attended a training program that focusses on the health, safety and chemical treatment of swimming pools. Wouldn’t you want your home pool held to the same standards (at a minimum) of what the State Health Department requires for a pool at a park, university, hotel, HOA, or resort? Your backyard pool is NOT the place to lower the bar!

You ask for references and read reviews, why wouldn’t you ask to see proof that the individual providing you with an estimate has received the training necessary to do the job? Ask to see a currently valid Certificate attesting to the pool professional’s successfully meeting the requirements of the pool operator certification program, or contractor licensure where required.

Ask To See It!

Will possessing one of these certificates guarantee that the individual standing before you with telepole in hand is the Pool Whisperer? No, but it will guarantee that the individual has attended and met the requirements of an in-depth educational program developed by one of the leading authorities in the swimming pool industry. These programs are available at a nominal fee (typically only around $300 per student) and are recognized worldwide as the standard in swimming pool education. Shouldn’t your pool person be certified?

What is included in the Training?

The CPO® (Certified Pool Operator) Certification, AFO (Aquatic Facility Operator) Certification, and PPSO (Professional Pool/Spa Operator) Certification classes are a combination of classroom and hands-on instruction at the tutelage and supervision of an Instructor certified by the associated educational foundation (National Swimming Pool Foundation®, National Recreation & Parks Association, or the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, respectively). Each course, at different levels of difficulty, covers: Water testing; Water chemistry; Algae treatment; Treatment and prevention of zoonoses common to improperly maintained swimming pools; Pool water problems; Filter and Pump operation; Equipment sizing; Chemical handling safety; Suction entrapment prevention; Troubleshooting; State Health Department code; and more.

Backyard pools are subject to the same hazards and injury/illness concerns as a public pool. It might not be a requirement in your state for a Pool Person to have one of the certifications listed above in order to care for residential pools, but there are many Pool Professionals in your area who have chosen to make that investment in Education anyway. They value your Investment and regard the Safety of you & your family so highly that they attend the training session and earn their certification, whether it is required or not. Don’t you want your pool person to have some type of training?

You have a lot at stake. Hire a trained Pool Professional!

Similar Article: That Chlorine Smell

Aquatic Facilities and Risk Management Practice

Identification, Evaluation, and Prioritization

– by Michelle December

Aquatic facilities are often viewed as being synonymous with risk

So how do aquatic professionals effectively manage the inherent risks associated with their facilities at large?Collaboration between recreation program areas and medical response experts serves to build up the defense against unwanted risk. Overall, the implementation and regular assessment of emergency action plans may just prove to be the difference between a life and death situation.

Michelle December Assistant Director of Aquatics and Safety University of Alabama at Birmingham

At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, risk management is considered a top priority. A committee is comprised of professional and graduate staff members from each program area as well as two athletic trainers. The departmental risk management plan operates by way of a color code system and collaborative student employee response. The severity of a scenario determines the color code and who the responders are, aside from who is initially on scene. For example, a major medical scenario is considered a code silver and requires response from both the aquatic supervisor and facility supervisor. What seems to set UAB’s EAP apart from most is that student employees from separate program areas are required to work together when responding to accidents – even if it’s not in their defined space. At any given accident, a staff member from the aquatics, facility, and customer service department can be found managing injury response and care. Further, every position is coded with a different number based on the program area; Blazer 1-11. [Blazers are the university mascot] This simplified system allows for more efficient radio communication between department staff when clear and concise communication is paramount to success.

Though a concrete plan may be in place, effective risk management cannot be considered a “one and done” type of plan. Regular facilitation and assessment of skill practice, audits, and mock emergencies are what can set apart a mediocre EAP response from a great one. Aside from regular in-services, what is unique about UAB’s practice are the mock emergencies. These can be described as a carefully crafted emergency situations, often modeled after recent real-life scenarios or just a product of a creative imagination. Committee members work in small groups to develop an emergency scenario, location, actor portrayal, and expected emergency response. Mocks are facilitated once per month throughout the semester, in addition to a full mock week such a March Mock Madness or Fall Frenzy. Tenured student employees come to anticipate the lengthy and oftentimes dramatic mock weeks, which adds to the buy in of the process.

While risk may never be avoided 100% of the time, Aquatics professionals can rest assured that the inherent risks within their programs and facilities can be managed. By taking advantage of effective collaborations, safety training, certifications, skill audits, and more professionals have the definite potential to ward off risk.

To see what other Aquatics Directors & Aquatics Professionals have had to say on programs they have implemented that successfully thwart the challenges in operating a swimming pool facility at a collegiate level, check out our Spotlight series on University Aquatics

A Depression-era Swimming Pool Roaring Into the Twenties

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Aquatics

Catherine Ayers, Aquatic Director University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

If you recall, in December we spoke with University of Houston’s Assistant Director of Aquatic Operations, Cara Green.This month, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Aquatic Director, Catherine Ayers joins us to discuss some of challenges involved in running an aquatic facility at the collegiate level and what she and her team has done to overcome those obstacles. Here is what Catherine had to say:

UNC Aquatics serves students, faculty, staff, their families and outside community members with a variety of programs that includes: open recreation, lap swimming, fitness, club teams, intramurals, academic classes, swim lessons, outreach, and special events.

One of the biggest challenges facing UNC Aquatics is keeping up with the needs of two older pools, Bowman Gray Memorial Pool an 81-year old indoor facility and Kessing Pool, a 76-year old outdoor facility. The cutting edge equipment in 1938 looks nothing like it does in 2019! Shifting from large room-sized concrete sand filters to tandem steel sand filters helps the pool turnover faster and stay cleaner, but the giant concrete filter sits in its original spot as a wonder of pools of the past.

Bowman Gray (1938) then…

Our challenge is to integrate more modern controllers and equipment into an antiquated system. The pools are true to the saying “They don’t build them like they used to,” lasting years beyond their life expectancy. Making sure they stay safe for our swimmers includes inspecting and repairing the equipment we can see in the pump room and tunnels around the pool shell and coming up with creative solutions on how to manage the 81 year old piping that we can’t see inside the concrete deck.

Bowman Gray now…

Members of UNC Facilities have become experts at predicting what may wear out next, coming up with a plan, and ordering parts to prepare and respond to issues as quickly as possible. The pool operators and UNC Aquatics staff now create an intentional annual maintenance plan that includes shutting down the pools over break periods to perform preventative maintenance on both facilities. The result of our collaborative effort at scheduling preventative maintenance is that our pools are better able to maintain a consistent schedule with fewer shut downs due to surprise issues.

Kessing Pool then…

Another challenge common among universities is working with students on staff. As supervisors of young adults in higher education, we have to understand that the job and experience we are providing takes a back seat to the priority of the student staff’s academics. The challenge is to understand the need to stay flexible to academic demands while instilling in them the importance of work ethic and professional etiquette. The best tactic for this is to give them leadership opportunities that they will hone and take with them when the leave. The UNC Aquatics leadership staff (for lifeguards and swim instructors) is responsible for organizing and running skills trainings, evaluating peers and offering constructive feedback, auditing skills throughout the semester, and developing the important social aspect of the team that really solidifies the bond among staff. We prepare student employees to move on from campus into the working world by providing them with transferable skills that will help them in any career they choose.

Kessing Pool now…

At the end of the day, aquatics professionals have to look back at our jobs and make sure we are doing what is necessary to provide the safest and most comprehensive programming and facilities to meet the needs of a wide range of swimmers: from infants in parent child classes, to retirees who have been swimming in this pool for 60 years, to the young adults who are looking to us for leadership and development that will prepare them for the next steps in their lives.

To see what University of Houston’s Assistant Director of Aquatic Operations, Cara Green, had to say on the subject in last months Spotlight: University of Houston Aquatics


The Pool Service Person Stigma


I will never forget attending an event in town one night. A young woman (thirty-something) approached and introduced herself. She asked my name and then asked what I did for a living. I said hello, told her who I was, and stated that I owned a swimming pool service company (which I did at the time). The young woman paused for a moment and twisted her nose up. I knew the look. Her words that followed stick with me to this day “Oh that’s so nice.” She whispered, “Not everyone should go to college, should they.”

Obviously, I must have been some nincompoop who had to resort to skimming leaves from swimming pools due to what could only be the result of a string of poor life choices. The stigma associated with the “Pool Guy/Pool Gal” has always reminded me a bit of that 80s Music Television anthem Money for Nothing by Dire Straits. Okay, so not all pool people are millionaires with private jets, but we do make a pretty good living and get to spend most of the day poolside.

I was talking with my friend and former student, Erik Taylor of Chlorine King Pool Service, who had mentioned some similar experiences and asked if he would not mind jotting down his thoughts on the subject. Erik is one of APSP’s (Association of Pool & Spa Professionals) 2018 Young Professionals of the Year and his company has been listed as one of the Top 50 Service Companies in the U.S. (P&S News & Jandy).

Here is what Erik had to say:

Erik Taylor, CEO Chlorine King Pool Service

Can you make a solid living for your family in the pool business? I get asked this all the time and the resounding answer is yes, YES you can! The epitome of the broke pool professional is really, well, the very few that run their business totally wrong. They are a few and far between though. The reality is if you decide to get into the pool business, you’ll quickly find that you’re swimming in a pool of money, but please hold the chlorine and acid!

When you think of a pool guy or gal, what do you think of? I was guilty too of labeling the pool professional as a “broke and desperate” soul that is trying to earn bar money. I’ve talked about that countless amounts of times when telling people how I got into the pool industry. I remember when my friend introduced me to the pool industry and my first thought was a guy stumbling out of his rusted out truck, with bottles of whatever falling out, wearing stained and smelly clothes while having a cigarette hanging out of their mouth. Yes, some of those are still out there and more than likely the people who run their business wrong as I eluded to earlier. That, my friends, is a story for another time.

Grossing six figures in this career is not really hard to do ?

What I want to talk, or brag about, is how much you can make in this industry, but please hold the degree and student loan debt. I also tell people all the time how I wish I never went to college and got a five-year head start of where I am now (I double majored and did not flunk a year ha-ha). As that saying goes, “Time is money” which is a valuable statement not only for getting started in our industry but also for your day-to-day operations while in the industry. I remember when I first started my goal was to gross $75K per year and I would be happy. At that number I would be doubling my old salary (of 5 years) as a 9-5 worker. In my first six months of business I nearly hit that goal starting from ground zero. Grossing six figures in this career is not really hard to do, in fact I screamed past that goal in my first calendar year of business. Every year since I have seen consistent and quality growth to the point of having to turn tons of business away because I simply can’t handle it all.

Erik Taylor is creator of the Chlorine King Pool Service Show Podcast and an AQUA magazine columnist.

I quickly got over the “wow” factor of the money one can pull in from the pool business. The thing that cracks me up about all of this, almost on a day-to-day basis, is interacting with the public that has absolutely no clue about the goldmine that working in the pool industry truly is. I always giggle inside when you tell someone you own a pool business and they give you the reaction like the pool business is not a real job, or you aren’t on the same level they are. I also get a hysterical kick out of when people talk numbers with you and you deliver that “deer in the headlights” blow when you tell them what your business pulls in. What “jobs” out there can make anywhere from $100-$600 per hour like the pool industry can? Lawyers, doctors, surgeons, electricians and pool professionals all fall in that range. Imagine that, a pool professional being lumped in with those prestigious careers. Better yet, a pool professional that does not have to do years of schooling to earn a killer salary like the others mentioned.

A Pool Operator Certification class is a great first step if you are interested in starting your own swimming pool service company

At the end of the day as long as you’re covering your bills, making payroll, contributing to retirement and enjoying the fruits of your labor then I would consider your pool business a success. However, I think if you run your business correctly, you’ll achieve all of that while making the industry better and paying it forward to the next person, which in that case I consider you to be a legendary success! ?

Sadly, women in the pool industry face greater stigma than menRead More


Lightning Strikes the Pump Room Twice

Florida Southern College Aquatics

There is a lot more to consider when maintaining these collosal giants of competition and wellness than one might think. Pool Operators face a myriad of challenges above and beyond balancing the mega gallonage at a body of water whose role serves as recreational, fitness, and sports venue.  If you recall, last month we spoke with Florida State University’s Aquatics Coordinator, Lizzie Milkas on FSU Aquatics. Today, Florida Southern College’s  Director of Wellness, Alicia Rossow, joins us to discuss some of the intricacies of operating a collegiate swimming pool. Here is what Alicia had to say:

Alicia Rossow, Director of Wellness Florida Southern College

Running a college pool is one of the most challenging things about campus recreation. One of the main challenges is we are a collegiate pool and a leisure pool. We have to find ways to make sure the students get the leisure time in the pool, as well as running a collegiate and club team out of our pool as well. Our athletics and campus rec department work very well together but we still have challenges with scheduling and keeping everyone happy. Another challenge that we find is that our pump room is not run by the school but by the swim coach and assisted by the director of wellness. This becomes challenging because neither of our expertise is pump rooms but we do what we can to make sure the pool is always maintained and safe to enter. The last main challenge is the pool temperature and the differences between leisure and swimming temperature especially with the hot months in Florida.  Our swim team would like to keep the pool between 78 and 80. When we are teaching swim lessons we would like to keep it from 82 to 84 so it is a constant battle to find the right temperature for our pool.

We don’t have a typical chiller like majority of pools down in Florida have but we do our best with our heather, aerators and pool covers to make it work.  We are fortunate enough that the school sees the pool and swim team as a priority and we are able to upkeep our pump room and make sure we are up to code at all times. The main issue we have is our pump room is over 20 years old and we have to continue to find solutions for problems that keep coming up. One major problem that has happened a few summers in a row is that lightning has hit our pump room and we have lost all control of chemicals for several days due to the lightning. Our pump room was built prior to having WIFI areas and was not built to with stand the weather such as lightning and hurricanes. The hurricane brought other challenges last fall but luckily with our training we were prepared for high forced winds and other challenges that the hurricane brought.

Overall, running a pool at Florida Southern College has its challenging moments but I feel like we do the best we can with the training/knowledge that we have. The hardest parts are the unknowns and things that we can’t control.  (Things breaking, pump room being old, weather and high temperatures).  I have found making friends with two different pool companies and having service contract with both of them have made it easier to maintain our pool. I have learned a lot in the past years between certifications and the pool companies knowledge. I am fortunate that we have a pool at Florida Southern College and we will continue to run a swim club, a collegiate team, leisure swimming and swim lessons.

To see what Florida State University’s Aquatics Coordinator, Lizzie Milkas, had to say on the subject in last months Spotlight: FSU Aquatics


Where Is Your Next Pool Service Customer?

Years back, I decided to start a swimming pool service company. It is a relatively low-cost start-up, can be lucrative if it’s done right, and would allow me to be my own boss. I made sure that I set everything up the right way. I filed with the state, local business license, insurance, established an account with a distributor, purchased a vacuum and a truck, etc. – the whole nine. Now the only thing I needed was customers. ?‍♂️

Customer acquisition is expensive, but it does not have to be

Is Direct Mail Dead? ☠

After a solid decade of folks veering away from this advertising method, maybe it is time to revisit the practice. Aside from political stuff, which should have come to a rapid end last week, there really is not much else besides that and bills filling your mailbox nowadays. Everything is circular, right? I mean, cell phones are big in size again ☎. You may find that your piece is the only thing the postal worker is delivering if you are quick enough. At the same time, the rest of the industry clings to their feelings of direct mail taboo. ? While everyone else is pounding the piss out of social media, you might be able to stand out by kicking it old school and putting a stamp on it.

Is It Affordable??

It could be if it is done correctly. You will need to keep in mind that sending out tri-folds or postcards for a pool service company is different from a lawn service. Everyone has a lawn, but not everyone has a pool. You cannot afford to have your advertisement sent to a home without a pool. Sure, you could purchase a mailing list from a company that offers addresses of “qualified” leads in a targeted list, but those can be a little pricey? Or, you can build your own for less than ten bucks.

Pool Permits Are Public Record?

Contact your county building department (or department of growth management) and request a printout of names and addresses for those in your county who have applied for a pool permit. You can ask for these items for whatever span of time you wish. There will probably be a fee, but this is typically nominal at best, most charging as little as $0.05 to $0.10 per page at the most (as many as 50+ names and addresses per page). You will most likely have to drive downtown to pick these up as these government offices are not likely to email. Understand that everyone who files for a permit goes through with the installation, but the overwhelming majority does. This will allow you to build your own targeted list of qualified leads. ?

Do Not Shy Away From Commercial Pools

The cool thing about commercial properties (Hotels, Community Associations, Condos, etc.) is that it is perfectly acceptable for you to stop by and drop off a business card. They not only expect it, but they are used to it. People stop in to solicit commercial facilities for many reasons every day—one up, one down. While you are waiting for word of mouth to kick in or for your ad to hit, you could sit and twiddle your thumbs, or you could get up and do something about it. You do not have this same opportunity with residential pools. If you wander through a neighborhood knocking on homeowner’s doors, you will end up freaking people out.

Hello, I take care of the pool next door and wanted to stop in and say hello

Inspection Results ✔

Did you know that most State Health Departments publish the pool inspection results on their website nowadays? No secret passwords, no membership fees. Right there for everyone to see. This is also considered a public record. This means that you could see which pools in your area have failed their recent pool inspection and then specifically target those properties. You may find a much warmer welcome from a facility that has just failed an inspection and may actually need your help.

The Water Quality & Health Council put together a listing of State Health Departments that list public swimming pool inspections online. They assembled this list so that the public could easily locate the results and make an informed and educated decision before they decide to swim. That does not mean that you cannot peek to see if someone in your area might benefit from your help.

To see pool inspection results by State: Swimming Pool Inspection Reports.

Yes, Social Media!!!

I’m not going to drone on about Social Media. There is already enough stuff out there on How to, Why to, and When to. Do set up a page. Not just Facebook, all of them. Us old people ? ? had already run off much of the younger folks from FB just like we did when we took over Myspace. Hopefully, we do not kill this one too. Join one of those “Word of Mouth” groups. Set yourself up as a business on that new neighborhood page thing. Definitely make sure that you are active. So, Yes!!! Do the Social Media thing, but do not let Social Media be the only thing you do.

Similar Article: Common Pool Service Marketing Fails ?

Straight From the Lake and Into the Pool

Florida State University Aquatics

There is a lot more to consider when maintaining these colossal giants of competition and wellness than one might think. Pool Operators face a myriad of challenges above and beyond balancing the mega gallonage at a body of water whose role serves as recreational, fitness, and sports venue.  If you recall, in September we spoke with University of Georgia’s Alex Nichols.This month Florida State University’s Aquatics Coordinator, Lizzie Milkas, joins us to discuss some of the intricacies of operating a collegiate swimming pool. Here is what Lizzie had to say:

Lizzie Milkas
Aquatics Coordinator
FSU Campus Recreation

A college campus transforms during the summer time. Students go home, academic classes are reduced and everyone is eager to learn to swim. During the summer, FSU’s Campus Recreation center hosts swim lessons every day for 8 weeks and every Saturday.

In addition to swim lessons and lifeguarding at the Leach the aquatics staff operates the waterfront facility known as the Rez. Starting at 8am everyday there are eight lifeguards working between the Rez and Leach, this continues until 5pm. The Rez is home to our summer camp, Camp Flastacowo.

The campers are in the water first thing learning lifelong skills and the lifeguards are there ensuring their safety.  At 5pm, we begin getting ready for our swim lessons at the Leach and bring on anywhere between 12-16 instructors and an additional lifeguard. Between the hours of 5pm and 7pm, during the week, we could have up to 25 employees working between our two sites.

A major challenge is not having quite enough staff during the summer time, which stems from a multitude of reasons. Many of the lifeguards go home for the summer because they are not taking classes. Some go home because their on campus housing has closed and they have to. Finally, others go home because they know they can make more money at the pools back home. Ultimately, we struggle with the burnout that comes with the same amazing 40ish staff having to work over 415 hours every week

To see what University of Georgia’s Director of Aquatics, Alex Nichols, had to say on the subject in last months Spotlight: University of Georgia Aquatics