Tools That Make Working On Pools Easier
More times than not, using the right tool for the job means the difference between amateur quality versus professional quality workmanship. Trying to use the wrong tool for the wrong job is almost a certain guarantee that the results will be sub par. In some cases however the quality of the job is not so much of a concern as the amount of time that it will take you to get the job done trying to use the wrong tool for the application. Time is money in every industry, and the pool industry is no exception. In fact, many pool companies are limited only by daylight hours. These companies work from first light until after the sun has gone down. For these companies even more so - time is money and if there is a tool out there that can make you faster at your job then you should certainly consider getting one. Sure tools are expensive but even very expensive tools can be justified if they will result in making your day to day life easier as well as increasing the productivity you output on a daily basis.
In addition to being able to do your job faster and easier, adding new tools to your collection will help you to increase the billable services that your company offers. This allows you to get involved in projects that you might have otherwise walked away from, as well as establish yourself apart from other local competition. Sure a special tool will not make you better than everyone else...but if you can do the same job in a lot less time because you are better outfitted for this particular work, then this will give your business a decided advantage - you can be less expensive than your competitors while still maintaining a higher profit ratio for the work. Of course a tool is only as useful as the person holding it...but in the right hands these unique tools can give your swimming pool business a leg up over the competition and allow you to provide the highest level of service to your customers.
Underwater Cordless Drills
One of the very best tools that any swimming pool worker can add to their arsenal would be a waterproof cordless drill. While the usability of an underwater cordless drill is decidedly lower than their dry-land cousins from Dewalt, Bosch, Milwaukee or Makita - an underwater drill comes in very handy at least a few times per year for almost any pool company. There are a ton of useful applications for a water proof cordless drill but if you install a lot of vinyl liners then I consider one of these drills to be compulsory equipment. Having the ability to drill holes in PVC flanges while underwater allows you to repair leaking flanges or spinning screws without draining water from the pool. In the event of main drain repairs an underwater drill can turn a two day job of draining the pool and installing temporary liner vacuums into a 20 minute repair that is completed on the initial visit to the pool.
Nemo V2 Cordless Underwater Drill
Power: 18 Volts
Waterproof Depth: 5 meters (16.4 feet)
Part Number: DDV2-18-3Li-5
Salt Water Safe: Up to 25,000ppm
RPM Range: 400-1500
Chuck Size: 13mm (just over 1/2")
Nemo V2 Cordless Underwater Hammer Drill
Power: 18 Volts
Waterproof Depth: 50 meters (164 feet)
Part Number: HD-18V-3Li-50
Salt Water Safe: Up to 25,000ppm
RPM Range: 0-1500
Chuck Size: 13mm (just over 1/2")
Underwater Cordless Grinders
A waterproof, cordless angle grinder is not nearly as useful as an underwater drill for working on pools and spas. That being said, if you work on concrete pools then you can benefit from being able to touch up imperfections on the interior surface without having to first drain the pool. This would be incredibly useful for fresh plaster start ups where the pool owner complains about a rough patch on the pool plaster. With this underwater angle grinder you will be able to sand and polish rough patches as well as use it for removing light surface staining which has developed. I would much prefer to swim down and manually touch up stains with a grinder as opposed to pouring acid on the stains. Both can remove stains in pool plaster but the acid will leave the stained area feeling rough, where the grinder will give you the ability to polish the stained area smooth in addition to removing the stain.
Nemo Cordless Underwater Angle Grinder
Power: 22 Volts
Waterproof Depth: 50 meters (164 feet)
Part Number: AG-50M
Salt Water Safe: Up to 25,000ppm
RPM Range: 6500-9500
Disc Size: 114mm (4.5")
High Volume Trash Pumps
When the decision is made to drain a swimming pool for service, renovation or repair your goal should be to get your equipment set up and drain the pool as fast as possible. I am sure that 25% of my early career in the pool industry was time spent simply sitting on a job site baby sitting a running pump. My job would be 99% to sit and listen to an obnoxiously loud motor, and 1% to refuel the pump or move the suction hose as required. For most of my working career I used 2" to 3" water pumps however I strongly encourage you to consider adding a 4" trash pump to your repertoire of tools. There is a drastic increase in flow volume as you increase the suction and discharge port sizes. Sure lager pumps are heavier and hard to move around, and you will need to upgrade your suction and discharge lines as well, but the reward is an increased efficiency any time you need to lower the water level of the pool. Add some heavy duty wheels to your pump cart to avoid having to carry such a large and heavy pump.
So why bother to use anything larger than 2" suction and discharge lines, and why bother with a trash pump since they are more expensive? First, a trash pump is worth the additional investment just to be able to suck up leaves, small debris and mud that can end up on the bottom of swimming pools (or on top of swimming pool covers). If your business typically only ever pumps clean pools then the solids-handling upgrade for a trash pump may not be worth the extra cost. For those who do deal with mud and leaves, losing prime at the wrong time with a gas powered pump can be a real pain, and potentially increase the workload you will need to take on to get a pool empty. A trash pump will ensure that your pump can handle anything it sucks up without you needing to turn it off and open the pump to clean out leaves. As for the pipe sizing, the larger the pipe size, the greater the flow volume (just like with all pool plumbing) which allows you to get the pool drained faster. A typical 2" discharge pump might move between 150 - 185 GPM. A similar 3" discharge pump might move between 250 to 300 GPM. A 4" discharge pump however can typically move between 400 - 450 GPM or more which means that your pool will be empty in only 1/3 of the time that it will take a 2" discharge pump to drain the same pool. If you drain a lot of pools then imagine how much time you can save over a year of draining pools at three times the speed!
4" Transfer Pump
Max Flow: 422 GPM
Part Number: WP-4013HR
Suction Size: 4"
Discharge Size: 4"
Weight: 50kg (111 lbs)
Magnetic Pole Attachments
There are a lot of reasons why having a magnetic attachment for a telescopic pole can help you with your day to day business of working on pools and spas. The most obvious, and most important, is simply so that you can retrieve anything that you might drop into the pool. I know, nobody likes to admit that they have butter fingers and occasionally drop things into the pool...but it happens. If you dropped a small tool such as a wrench then these magnetic pole attachments can be a real life saver. They are also great for picking up metal items that are causing staining to the floor of a pool such as bobby pins or hardware from other trades such as roofers or carpenters working in the vicinity of the pool. The bright orange color of these pole attachments also doubles as the red-warning flag that you need to have on anything that extends past the back of your service truck. Every pool worker should have a few of these magnetic pole attachments.
Magnetic Pole Tip Tool
Standard Edition: 112-S
Professional Edition: 112-P
In the event that you drop something much heavier than a wrench or screwdriver you potentially could benefit by having a rare earth neodymium magnet in your tool box. These magnets are dangerously powerful and can latch on and pull metals with hundreds of pounds of force. If you get your finger between these magnets and something metal then you could very well lose your finger. However, when used carefully, these incredibly strong magnets would allow you to be able to lift heavy metal items such as chairs, BBQ's, tools and other metal debris out of a pool. Just be careful to not use these on steel walled pools as the magnet may become stuck to the pool wall and cause damage to the surface. These rare earth magnets would not attach to the pole, but instead you would tie onto them with 550 cord. This is the same setup that people use (myself included) for the growing treasure hunting hobby of magnet fishing.
High Powered Pressure Washer
A pressure washer is one of those tools which some swimming pool workers never use, while others use them on a daily basis. I think it is the kind of tool that you don't typically need to have, as there are other options, but once you have one you will find a reason to use it. Now, for the pool workers who use pressure washers I would bet that the vast majority do not use a small, electric pressure washer. This is because, despite the easy setup convenience, that gas powered pressure washers are just so much superior. Light duty electric pressure washers might be between 1000 to 2000 PSI rated. The much more versatile, useful, and expensive gas pressure washers tend to come in the 2500 to 3500 PSI range. The gas pressure washers simply outperform the smaller electric versions so much so that they easily account for their extra expense, weight and maintenance requirements.
A tool that can really help to make your life easier working on pools is an even larger pressure washer - something in the 4000 - 5000 PSI range ideally. Now there is a sharp price increase as you approach these larger pressure washers since they become trailer mounted and towable instead of the portable hand cart style to which you are used to. In my opinion, get the largest pressure washer that you can afford, and still be able to move around a jobsite easily. In addition to being able to do the same jobs, only faster, than the smaller pressure washers...you will also be able to do work which 3000 PSI pressure washers can not quite do such as stripping paint from the interior surface of a concrete pool. Having better, more powerful, and more capable tools than your competitors can only serve your business well, and allow your work to be better and faster than other pool workers in your area.
4200 PSI Pressure Washer
Motor Specifications: 11.7 HP / 389cc / 4 stroke
Motor Brand: Honda GX390
Weight: 64kg (141 lbs)
Battery Operated Pressure Washer
Swimming pool service workers very often need a garden hose for washing, rinsing and cleaning tasks such as pool openings, or cleaning up after an invasive repair project. Sure pretty much every yard has a garden hose, or at least a hose bib where you can attach a high quality, kink free, memory free, high volume garden hose...but not every house has good water pressure. If you are performing service work on a house with low hose pressure this can certainly make it take much longer to perform simple tasks. Sure, a battery operated pressure washer is certainly not going to hold a candle to the 4000 - 5000 PSI pressure washers discussed above...but they are not supposed to.
The advantage of this battery operated pressure washer is not in pressure, but the fact that it does not require a pressurized water supply in order to operate. These pressure washers operate by putting the suction hose into any body of water, such as a bucket...or a swimming pool. Again, at only 320 PSI this is not going to strip the paint from anything, but in terms of being able to have reliable water pressure for general and light duty tasks these are a huge convenience item and time saver.
Filter Element Cleaning Wand
Cleaning of pool filter cartridge elements is big business for swimming pool service companies - especially down south where pools operate all year in unrelenting sun. These pools have high bather turnover in general compared to other climates, and the amount of sunscreen, sweat and oils in the water can get very high. In the area where I am experienced, Canada, pool filter elements are only cleaned once or twice per year. The cartridges are very large, and the system pressure does not increase much even after an entire six month swimming season for many pool owners. This is contrary to pool systems that have very small or single element filters, combined with high bather turnovers, which results in cartridges that are cleaned at least every month...if not more.
If you want more information on how to clean your pool filter then you can read this article about how to clean a pool filter element to learn the steps. In short, pool filters are made of paper and become saturated with oil. In order to remove the oil you need to soak them in a degreaser. Simply rinsing a filter with a garden hose does almost nothing to actually clean the filter element. This degreaser needs to be thoroughly rinsed from the filter before you can return it to the pool system, as does any physical debris such as skin and hair that are stuck in the pleats of the filter. This rinsing process takes approximately 1,000,000 years to accomplish properly using only a garden hose, and using a pressure washer is a great way to shorten the life of your filters. The perfect solution is to use a filter comb or cleaning wand such as the Filter Flosser.
If cleaning filters and vacuuming pools makes up 90% of the work that you do then you might like to add an automatic filter cleaner to your tool collection. This self-cleaning filter tray will rotate and spray filters up to 34" in length while in the horizontal position. This allows for less clogging of filter debris than vertical rinsing. Unfortunately this product is built somewhat light duty, and you certainly will still need to manually clean the filters as well after letting this machine run for 10 minutes or so. I do not believe that these are perfect as a stand alone solution, however it does effectively contribute to cleaning the filters while you are doing other things like vacuuming the pool. For this right pool worker, this tool can definitely help to increase your daily productivity and reduce the time you need to spend on each filter cleaning.
Handheld Pool Vacuums
Having the ability to spot vacuum the bottom of a pool with just the touch of a button is a huge advantage for service and maintenance technicians. Imagine having to set up a manual pool vacuum just to take care of a few errant leaves, versus the time it would take to snap a handheld pool vac onto a service pole - no hoses or interaction with the filtration system required. While these battery operated units do lack the power to vacuum heavy debris loads, or run for multiple hours on end, in the right environment they are a huge time saver and will easily pay for themselves in increased productivity over the year. If you want to see the different models of handheld pool vacs compared then you can read these portable pool and spa vacuum reviews.
Pool Blaster Max CG
Power: 400 Watts
Vacuum Head: 27.3cm (10.75")
Running Time: 1 hour
Recharge Time: 4 hours
As with any tools, these tools are only as useful as the hands that are operating them. There are no short cuts to success in the pool and spa industry, however having the best possible tools, and the right tool for each job, will drastically increase your ability to work efficiently. There is no greater case to prove this point than with swimming pool leak detection. An investment into high quality leak detection tools, and investing the time to learn how to use them, can result in the ability to offer new, profitable services that other pool companies can not match. If you want to learn more about leak detection tools and the leak detection process for swimming pools you can read this very detailed article about how to find a leak in a pool.
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