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Hair Entanglement in Pools, Are Current Standards Adequate?



Hair Entanglement in Pools, Are Current Standards Adequate?

When discussing hair entanglement in the pool and how to prevent these types of incidents from occurring, we have to look at a few things. The first is line velocity. If it is low enough, hair won’t be ingested by the pipe and tangled under the drain lid. Suction entrapment wouldn’t occur either, even if a grate were missing.

Video captured a teen girl nearly drowning after getting her hair caught in the pool.

The second issue pertains to the current codes and standards. Some states have state building codes that dictate maximum line velocities for energy efficiency. California and Florida both mandate line velocities of 6 FPS suction and 8 FPS returns for energy efficiency. 

Current Standards

Residential In-ground Pools NSPI-5/2003 (9.2) the line velocities were limited to 8 FPS suction and 10 FPS returns. (9.2.1) the limit through the drain cover was limited to 1.5 FPS.

Residential In-ground Pools NSPI-5/2013 (9.2) the line velocities were limited to 8 FPS suction and 8 FPS returns. (9.2.1) the limit through the drain cover was deferred to the APSP-7 standard.

Suction Entrapment Avoidance APSP-7 (2013) Piping line velocity is not specified, though the flow rate through the drain cover is limited to 1.5 FPS.

APSP-15 Energy Efficiency Code (2011) 6 FPS suction and 8 FPS return

ISPSC 2015 (311.3) limits the line velocities in the return piping to 8 FPS.  (310) It defers to the specifications in APSP-7 (there is no longer a suction line velocity in the standard).

Suction Outlet Fitting Assemblies APSP-16/2017 (3.9.2) piping line velocities were eliminated, though 1.5 FPS remained as the line velocity through the RDP/SOFA.

RE: Hair Entanglement In The Pool - Decreased distance between the suction pipe and the underside of the drain cover increases the flow through the drain cover.
Decreased distance between the suction pipe and the underside of the drain cover increases the flow through the drain cover.

The safety standards are not addressing energy efficiency. Most experts agree that the optimum efficiencies are achieved at 6 FPS suction and 8 FPS return line velocities. The majority of hydraulic engineers are designing at 4.5 FPS suction and 6 FPS return line velocities. This allows for a margin of error and minor deviations that may occur during construction, while still staying below the maximums. Most codes for public pools recognize the need for low line velocities and therefore limit the velocities at the pipe connected to the main drain to 1.5 – 3 FPS.

The safety standards assume two things occur. The first assumption is that the drain sump size is compliant with the SOFA requirements and the manufacturer’s specifications.  Field-built sumps (divots carved out of the shotcrete) are oftentimes too shallow. Few builders thicken the shotcrete around the suction pipes to allow for a proper depth sump.

The decreased distance between the suction pipe and the underside of the drain cover increases the flow through the drain cover. This increases the danger of hair entanglement, as the design standards and flow rate through the cover have been exceeded. Therefore the sumps are of insufficient size and volume to slow the velocity of the water.

Swimming Pool Expert Witness

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Paolo Benedetti is the President of Aquatic Technology and better known on social media as the "Swimming Pool Expert Witness". Paolo is an instructor at Watershape University and has authored a myriad of articles on the finer points of pool construction and design. He is a pioneer in the field of aquatic design, constantly pushing the envelope, creating a number of firsts that spawned new trends in the industry.

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Talking Pools

Insights From Skimmer’s 2024 State of Pool Service Report



Insights From Skimmer's 2024 State of Pool Service Report

Skimmer, a leading-edge pool service software provider, recently unveiled its “2024 State of Pool Service Report,” a comprehensive analysis based on the invaluable feedback from over 1,700 pool service professionals who responded. This report delves deep into key facets of the industry, such as market challenges, business structures, pricing strategies, technology adoption, and growth plans. Notably, the report culminates from survey responses from Skimmer’s platform of over 25,000 users as well as insights gleaned from broader market research.

Rising Tides of Costs and Strategic Business Responses

One of the more eye-opening aspects to the report, 73% of surveyed pool service professionals reported a commendable upswing in revenue in 2023 compared to the previous year. However, the buoyancy in revenue was tempered by a prevailing concern – rising costs. The majority identified escalating costs as the most formidable challenge faced in 2023, with an anticipatory nod to this trend persisting into the unfolding year of 2024.

A significant number of companies are gearing up to address these rising costs by contemplating price adjustments, with nearly 74% of pool professionals signaling their intention to implement price increases in the current year to sustain revenue streams.

In an exclusive interview with Talking Pools Podcast, Jack Nelson, CEO of Skimmer, underscored this critical issue, stating, “Everyone in the industry feels like costs are going to keep rising. It’s unfortunately an inevitability with sort of inflation. The question is, what are we going to do about it? It’s really interesting to see that most respondents said they were planning on raising prices in order to maintain profit margins.”

Workforce Dynamics and Marketing Strategies

Beyond the realms of financial strategies, the report casts its gaze on the dynamic workforce within the pool service industry. A noteworthy revelation is that 52% of respondents expressed an intent to expand their teams in 2024. This metric supports a positive indicator that most respondents believe the industry will continue to grow rather than contract.

One statistic you may find surprising, the report indicated that the majority of service technicians still rely heavily on the age-old method of word-of-mouth referrals, with only a modest 35% reporting that they’re investing in marketing. Nelson, who has experienced this sentiment first hand expressed that this way of thinking might be outdated.

“So many folks in the industry think they don’t need to pay for marketing because they get a lot of referrals,” said Nelson, “that’s true. You can grow your business that way, but you can grow it so much more quickly if you are spending a little bit of marketing. Because most of the industry is still not doing it, there’s a real chance to kind of take advantage of that. It’s a huge opportunity for ambitious pool service companies.”

Technology Integration: The Digital Oasis

In counterpoint to that, one area where the pool industry is embracing technology is business operations. One pivotal aspect of the report indicated an escalating integration of technology within the pool service industry. Approximately 75% of respondents revealed that they are leveraging software to streamline various aspects of their business operations. This underscores a growing acknowledgment of the pivotal role technology plays in enhancing efficiency, streamlining operations, and staying ahead in a competitive landscape.

“I think knowing your numbers is absolutely critical,” said Nelson, “so is embracing technology to operate your business more efficiently. That’s true whether it’s Skimmer or any other type of technology. I think there’s a tendency to underestimate the cost associated with doing business. Time is money. If you’re accepting a check from a customer because that customer refuses to get on ACH or credit card, there’s time associated with that cost. I think really understanding where you can automate different aspects of your business to save time and money is critical as costs continue to rise.”

Strategic Navigations for Future Growth

One noteworthy observation gleaned from the report is the success of companies that choose to bill separately for chemicals. Businesses charging customers separately for chemicals were on average more profitable than those who opted to include chemicals in the total price of service.

Including the price of chemicals has traditionally been a more straightforward, fixed-rate structure that is perhaps more easily grasped by pool owners and simplifies billing for pool professionals. However, the drawback lies in the susceptibility to frequent price adjustments due to significant fluctuations in chemical costs.

According to Skimmer’s data analysis, the model that charges extra for chemicals, known as the “plus chems” model, emerges as the most effective strategy in mitigating the impact of both fluctuating chemical costs and variations in weather patterns that might affect chemical usage, providing a robust buffer against such uncertainties.

Beyond immediate challenges, the report reveals a spectrum of strategic approaches pool service professionals are exploring for future growth. Notably, 33% of respondents expressed a nuanced interest in reducing their customer count while concurrently focusing on upselling more services and augmenting the overall value provided per pool serviced. Additionally, 43% are pinning their hopes on introducing operational efficiencies to curtail costs and bolster profitability.

State of Pool Service 2024 Report

Want to take a deeper dive? Read Skimmer’s 2024 State of Pool Service Report or listen to the interview on the Talking Pools Podcast.

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Op Editorials

Ground Penetrating Radar is Like X-Ray Vision For Pool Contractors



Ground Penetrating Radar is Like X-Ray Vision For Pool Contractors

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) – allows contractors to actually “see” inside pool structures. GPR systems are perfect for locating reinforcing steel and determining the thickness of the concrete. Another helpful aspect of GPR is its use in locating elements inside of framed buildings, pipes, and conduits. Though these systems typically are priced at over $12,000, once prorated across many jobs, the cost is minuscule, while the benefits can be monumental.

What is Ground Penetrating Radar?

Ground Penetrating Radar is a geophysical method that uses radar pulses to image the subsurface of the ground. It is a non-destructive and non-intrusive technique commonly employed in various fields, including archaeology, geology, environmental studies, civil engineering, and utility detection. The primary purpose of GPR is to identify and map subsurface features, anomalies, or objects without the need for excavation.

What is Ground Penetrating Radar and how does it work?

How Does It Work?

GPR works by emitting short pulses of electromagnetic waves into the ground. These radar pulses penetrate the subsurface and interact with different materials and structures. As the waves encounter boundaries between materials, some of the energy is reflected back to the surface. The GPR antenna receives these reflections, and the system processes the signals to create a detailed image of the subsurface. GPR is widely used for utility detection, subsurface mapping, and construction applications, providing valuable information without the need for excavation.

GPR For Pool Builders & Contractors

Today, construction technology is evolving. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) has become a valuable tool for pool builders and contractors in various aspects of their work. Here are some ways in which GPR can be beneficial for professionals in the pool construction industry:

  1. Locating Utilities
  2. Identifying Subsurface Anomalies
  3. Mapping Soil Stratigraphy
  4. Detecting Void Spaces
  5. Quality Control and Inspection
  6. Ensuring Compliance with Regulations
  7. Time and Cost Savings

Using GPR for Non-Destructive Testing

Today, there are a number of intelligent reasons to be using a ground penetrating radar to scan your pool shells. GPR is a non-destructive method to determine what is actually occurring inside of the concrete, without having to drill cores or demolish concrete. Radar allows experts to see the rebar schedule and depth within concrete. Pool construction professionals have even used them to validate the presence of bonding clamps and wire, when inspections were missed (for other contractors).

Use of Ground Penetrating Radar in Remodeling Swimming Pools

For contractors, being able to precisely locate the placement of the reinforcing steel is invaluable. When planning for coring a shell for pool lighting, add plumbing or coring for samples, it is critical to know where the steel is located. Hitting a rebar while coring can easily damage a $500 core bit. Worse yet, a handheld drill binds and kicks back, breaking the user’s thumb.

After stripping the plaster, scanning the shell can definitively determine if there’s sufficient shotcrete coverage over the steel. If it’s insufficient, then the pool can be “flashed” with additional shotcrete (at an additional charge). This will require new coping and tile as well, as the interior dimensions will change. In my own personal firm’s pool remodeling contracts, we have a disclaimer about shotcrete thickness. We will scan the shell for free, but if there is an inadequate amount of coverage, there will be a change order to add shotcrete and adjust the coping, tile and fittings. Think of this as a potential profit center. You can actually show the owners the location and depth of the rebar.

GPR companies charge $500-600 for a 1-hour visit. You can see how quickly owning a GPR unit can pay for itself. After a while, it will actually start earning you money! A Proceq GP8800 can be had for around $12,000 plus the cost of an iPad.

Photo Credits: Proceq

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Op Editorials

Mark Zuckerberg Plans To Build a Survival Bunker With a Pool

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg plans to build the ultimate survival bunker complete with its own swimming pool.



Mark Zuckerberg Plans To Build a Survival Bunker With a Pool

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook and the brains behind the metaverse, is planning on building a lavish new compound complete with an underground survival bunker. According to an exclusive investigation by Wired, the billionaire doomsday prepper is shelling out some serious coin to build the estate, with costs rumored to exceed a whopping $100 million.

Details Emerge About Plans For a Luxury Estate Complete With a Doomsday Bunker

Based on information from both public records and a confidential insider, Wired has disclosed that Mark Zuckerberg’s estate is on the verge of completion. The primary living quarters comprise over a dozen buildings, featuring a remarkable 30 bedrooms and 30 bathrooms. Central to the compound are two colossal mansions, rivaling the size of a professional football field, equipped with offices, elevators, conference rooms, and an expansive industrial-grade kitchen. Evoking a sci-fi ambiance, numerous doors within the compound will be soundproofed, operated through keypads, or designed as “blind doors” seamlessly blending with the surrounding walls.

A tunnel is rumored to connect the two mansions, providing a discreet pathway to the bunker. An additional structure on the estate is set to include a full-size gym, pools, a sauna, a hot tub, a cold plunge pool, and a tennis court. Adding an adventurous touch, 11 treehouses, connected by rope bridges, allow guests to navigate between structures without setting foot on the ground. Notably, Zuckerberg has reportedly hosted at least two corporate events on the property, showcasing the multifaceted nature of this extraordinary compound.

This End of Days Bunker Comes With a Swimming Pool

The compound named Koolau Ranch, sits on Zuckerberg’s purchased land, a tropical haven he bought for a cool $170 million. With plans for the new development leaked, a 5,000-square-foot underground shelter with all the bells and whistles is apparently envisioned to make surviving the end of days a five-star experience.

The investigation by Wired referenced information from sources and planning documents acquired through requests for public records. The documents detailed that the primary residences will be accompanied by a 5,000-square-foot underground shelter, complete with living spaces and an emergency escape hatch.

As plans continue to take shape, one of the most intriguing aspects of the project has surfaced – an 18-foot water tank and pump system. Speculations are rife about its purpose, with rumors circulating that this colossal water reservoir is more than just a contingency plan for the apocalypse. Could it be a key component in Zuckerberg’s ambitious underground pool project?

Billionaire tech moguls are apparently sparing no expense when it comes to preparing for a doomsday scenario. A tell-all book called Survival of The Richest by Douglas Rushkoff reveals that these bunkers are equipped with cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art security systems, and amenities that make five-star hotels blush.

With a luxury survival bunker Zuckerberg might suddenly find himself inundated with friend requests should an end-of-days scenario arise.

In the unlikely event of an apocalypse, one can’t help but imagine Mark Zuckerberg’s friend requests suddenly resembling Jim Carrey’s inbox in Bruce Almighty. Forget about FarmVille requests; now it’s all about securing a spot in Zuck’s luxury bunker-ville! Picture this: while the world outside is in chaos, inside the bunker, Zuckerberg’s getting notifications like, “Hey Mark, long time no apocalypse, can I crash at yours?”

As the doomsday clock ticks away, Zuckerberg’s friend count might skyrocket faster than a viral cat video. Everyone from old high school buddies to that guy who accidentally poked him in 2009 will be sliding into his DMs, desperately seeking refuge in the ultimate VIP shelter. The allure of a bunker designed by the creator of the social network could turn Zuckerberg into the most sought-after doomsday BFF.

Mark Zuckerberg Hawaii Property
Exact plans for Zuckerberg’s Hawaii compound remain hush-hush.

Interested in learning more? Good luck. Zuckerberg’s compound is now encircled by a 6-foot wall, and, as reported by Wired, an additional layer of confidentiality has been added to the project. Every contracted worker, regardless of their position or role, is said to have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) pertaining to their contributions to the property. This heightened level of secrecy suggests that specific details about the construction and features of the compound are likely to be tightly guarded and may not easily find their way into the public domain.

Featured Photo Credit: MidJourney AI

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