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Prep pools with patience

May 20, 2002|BY KEVIN CLAPP

kevinc@herald-mail.com

Across the Tri-State region, the coming weeks will feature several telltale signs that summer lovin' is right around the corner:

The first outdoor barbecue. The last day of school. A refreshing dip in the pool.

And when homeowners begin to ready their pools for the summer, peeling back their covers will reveal more than a cool, refreshing leisure activity - algae.

Fact is, the time for pool prep came last month with unseasonably high temperatures providing a Club Med environment in which algae can thrive.

"Algae likes to grow in dark, hot and wet (places) and that's the perfect location for it, under a pool cover when it gets hot," says Steve Davis, owner of Swimming Pool Specialties in Hagerstown. "You basically have to be prepared for algae in your pool when you open it up this late in the season."

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Davis and Nelson Bair, owner of Bair Pool and Supplies on Md. 64 toward Smithsburg, routinely start opening pools for clients beginning in April.

And pool opening is more than whipping off a cover before eagerly taking the first plunge. Aside from regular cleaning of debris from the cover and water, pool owners need to make sure filters, plugs, screens and skimmers all are working properly.

Bair often visits clients who say they are ready to open their pools, only to find something is missing or on the fritz once he arrives.

"There's not a lot of work if you do it right," Bair says. "If you do the right things, you'll only have to do a little bit of maintenance."

Davis, who estimates he opens and closes about 80 pools each year, says algae can be an odd duck. Sometimes it spreads like wildfire; other times there is nary a trace of it.

When it does make an appearance, watch out.

"The thing about algae in pools is algae will appear much quicker than it will disappear. That's just the way it is," Davis says. "It just takes work and treatment to remove it from a pool."

So, let's say a pool does have al-gae. How long should owners expect to wait before it is eradicated?

Davis won't touch that question with a 10-foot debris catching net.

"It's a question that no pool dealer should answer, even though they're asked every single time," he says. "Patience is a virtue."

Similarly, Bair cautions customers to be vigilant once any initial problem is detected and solved. The chemicals used to treat a pool will determine how often water conditions should be checked throughout the season.

One thing all pool owners should expect is to spend some time to maintain their water's clear, blue appearance.

"People look for that magic pill. They want a pill that you have to drop in the pool and do absolutely nothing," Bair says. "They just haven't come up with that magic pill yet."

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