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Thread: New guy looking at starting a business - Questions

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    In the Industry

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    Mar 2011
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    New guy looking at starting a business - Questions

    First of all, hey! my name is jim and i'm from Raleigh, NC. I work in apartment maintenance full time and am considering trying to start a small pool cleaning business on the side. Up until i got this job me and a good buddy cut grass all summer and grew to be pretty big. However with my work schedule now i will not have time to cut any grass this year. I was trying to think of other things that I could do and still fit in my schedule to make some extra income and am thinking about pool cleaning.

    I am CPO certified both nationally and in my county of residence so i have an understanding of chemicals/water balance and of course how to properly clean a pool.

    I do have a few questions for any of you that may be in the business though. I know with lawn service we did not have to have a a proper "license" but insurance was a pretty big deal. If i were to try and start a pool company would i just need a general liability policy? Would i have to own an actual company(tax id number, etc. ) to get this insurance in this business? Or could I get a personal policy?

    Also just wondering what most companies do as far as cleaning/chem, i'm assuming you carry your own skimmer, rake, pole, vacuum and hose around? What about the chemicals, do you just keep a stock of chemicals and charge a customer for what you use out of your stock?

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated, Thanks!

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    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Denton, TX
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    Re: New guy looking at starting a business - Questions

    Welcome to TFP!

    Not sure about the insurance question. I'll let someone else answer that. As for the chemicals though, most services around where I live don't charge extra for chemicals. They are included in the cost.

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    Mar 2011
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    Orlando, FL
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    Re: New guy looking at starting a business - Questions

    If you are the one doing the cleaning, just a general liability policy for yourself will cover you. If you start to have employees our other people doing the pools then you need one under the company name. Try out Arrow Insurance, they only do pool companies and have great rates. You may need a business license, check with your local county, it varies state to state, normally the CPO is enough. With regards to the chemicals, it is normally one flat price with all normal chemicals included. That would mean chlorine, acid, and TA adjuster. I charge extra for anything else including phosphate treatments, clairifiers, or algeacides; you don't need that stuff to keep a pool clean and clear but some people still want it.
    My Clean Pool
    http://www.mycleanpoolservice.com
    5 years in the industry, seen lots of pools and problems, trying to help out.

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Re: New guy looking at starting a business - Questions

    See if there is an IPSSA or ASAPP in your area. I was skeptical about joining IPSSA, as was unsure of the benefits.

    They ask you to become "water chemistry certified" by reading the IPSSA water chemistry book and taking their test - but it really doesn't cover (at-all) Borates, CYA/FC relationship or how to really adjust T/A. And be careful about talking about BBB as well, as for some that manual is a religion... (I had a member from a different chapter blast me on "my thoughts" on CYA - smile, turn, walk...). I also thought, why would I want to go to a meeting and sit around with my competition?

    But, the camaraderie is priceless: I've made several friends as a member who are builders and maintenance people - including several who I compete with, as well as the manufacturer reps (several will bend over backwards for your business), and learn something new every time I go.

    I also have people to call in my area if I need help on something I'm not familiar with (funky equipment, weird staining, etc...), or if I need to do a really big job.

    IPSSA also provides discounted insurance (through Arrow). And, the people there will know a lot of the "hows" to do business in your state (Licensing, Business registration, etc...). Also, as mycleanpool states, check with your county (google is your friend for this).

    Lastly, maybe the way I do business, but its real hard to make this a "part-time" job and make money. I do have several days off in the winter (and try not to go nuts during the lull), but that time off is on my customer's schedules, not mine.

    Come about mid April it is 18-24x7 minimum through September.

    Good luck, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
    ~45Kg Pool with attached Spa, NSP-72 DE, Minmax 400 Heater, Tahoe Blue Pebbletech, Jandy SWG via Aqualink RS-8, The Pool Cleaner (black)
    Pumps: X3 Hybrid Pump (switches to SPA), 2HP Spa (additional, when SPA is on), and a 1HP For Waterfall
    8, 4x12 Solar Panels on the roof of the pool-house (~12' up)
    CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK: "I'M SORRY. I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF HOW AWESOME I AM" (Thanks to TFP!)

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    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    San Rafael, CA USA
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    12,082

    Re: New guy looking at starting a business - Questions

    I received the IPSSA manuals from the author last year and reviewed them and started to send some comments to him, starting with CYA, but he never responded after that (even after a follow-up E-mail) so I stopped writing up detailed suggestions for improvement. [EDIT] I am now in communication with the author again as of April, 2011. [END-EDIT] There is a lot more wrong with the IPSSA manual than the CPO manual, most especially regarding CYA.

    In fact, the manual contains completely opposite logical reasoning in that in Chapter 5, the author explains in great detail how hypochlorous acid, HOCl, kills bacteria much more quickly than hypochlorite ion, OCl-, which is of course true and correct. He then explains why this is so in terms of HOCl being uncharged whereas OCl- is negatively charged and therefore largely repelled from the negatively charged surface of most cells. He also shows the relative amounts of HOCl and OCl- vs. pH (when there is no CYA in the water). All of this is very true. He also says that “HOCl and OCl- together are free available chlorine and total chlorine. It is up to you to know how much of the chlorine that is in the water is in the killing form (HOCl).” This is because the equilibrium between these is fast — much faster than the timeframe of the FC test. So in some sense, OCl- can be considered to be a reserve or reservoir of HOCl in inactive form that can quickly be converted to HOCl as it gets used up (such as when it oxidizes the dye in the FC test). And yet, OCl- does not kill pathogens quickly. So it is the INSTANTANEOUS concentration of HOCl that is relevant and NOT what is measured in the FC test. One can calculate HOCl based on FC and pH, but FC alone is a meaningless measurement in terms of disinfection rates — it is only a measure of capacity or reserve of chlorine that can become relatively quickly available in less than a couple of seconds (for HOCl and OCl- the equilibrium is far faster than that).

    However, in Chapter 7, he writes about how “Chlorine that is attached to cyanuric acid is still active chlorine. The proof is that when you do a free chlorine test with cyanuric acid in the water, the chlorine shows up as free, not combined.” It is true that chlorine is released from being bound to CYA as HOCl gets used up and this release happens mostly in less than one second. This is because the half-life of HClCY- (where “CY” represents the CYA core ring where H3CY would be CYA) is 4 seconds while for ClCY2- it is 0.25 seconds. Since HClCY- and ClCY2- equilibrate very quickly, the practical half-life is the 0.25 seconds which is why chlorine bound to CYA shows up in the FC test. However, this does not at all prove that this is active chlorine and is the exact opposite of what he wrote about HOCl/OCl-. Just as OCl- is an inactive slow-killing form of chlorine that acts like a reservoir and measures as FC, the same is true for chlorine bound to CYA (Cl-CYA).

    His first analysis of HOCl/OCl- is correct, but the second analysis of HOCl/Cl-CYA is incorrect and inconsistent with the first. The rate of killing pathogens, oxidizing bather waste, inhibiting algae growth, etc. is dependent on the instantaneous HOCl concentration and not on the OCl- concentration (except for some selective oxidation reactions) nor the Cl-CYA concentration. He should have written in Chapter 7 something like “HOCl, OCl- and all forms of Cl-CYA together are free available chlorine and total chlorine. It is up to you to know how much of the chlorine that is in the water is in the killing form (HOCl). This requires knowing the pH and CYA level in addition to FC.” There is no logical reason why the author made a distinction between OCl- being inactive but then claiming that Cl-CYA is active. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Re: New guy looking at starting a business - Questions

    Richard, you and I had this discussion about a year ago (in agreement, and me gaining clarity about a few things...).

    I learnt a long time ago that when it comes to "religion", there are just some (most) minds you cant change... "my" methods (based mostly on the CYA/FC relationship) just make my pools look best of all .

    And my customers appreciate the fact that I'm not gouging them with phosphate removing charges and algaecide charges. When they ask why not, I tell them the cheapest form of Algaecide is a $5.00 gallon bottle of 12% chlorine (instead of a $69.99/gallon bottle of polyquat)!
    ~45Kg Pool with attached Spa, NSP-72 DE, Minmax 400 Heater, Tahoe Blue Pebbletech, Jandy SWG via Aqualink RS-8, The Pool Cleaner (black)
    Pumps: X3 Hybrid Pump (switches to SPA), 2HP Spa (additional, when SPA is on), and a 1HP For Waterfall
    8, 4x12 Solar Panels on the roof of the pool-house (~12' up)
    CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK: "I'M SORRY. I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF HOW AWESOME I AM" (Thanks to TFP!)

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