When you live in Florida and have a pool, you have two choices. You can clean and keep up your own pool or hire a pool service provider.

Deciding who to hire can make a significant difference, not only in the care, repair and updating of your pool, but you can also put yourself at financial risk and liability if you hire a non-licensed company or individual.

Pool maintenance companies are required to be state licensed as well as complete 21 hours of continuing education every two years. Do not be fooled by someone who says they have a license and only produce a license that does not allow them to do repairs. Some merely hold certificates and not a full state license.

When searching for a licensed pool service provider you can learn if they are licensed for the work you want and need done by calling the Highlands County Building Department, visiting myflorida.gov or search the company by name.

Non-licensed pool maintenance people are often poorly trained, charge more for their materials as they pay retail for their supplies and pass their price mark up on to you. They can violate federal, state and local codes.

A licensed service company or person must show proof of liability and property damage insurance as well as carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. They also take and pass a detailed exam to receive their state license.

A pool service company owner can carry a state license but the company can hire workers to do the maintenance. The pool owner may not have the same person visiting your home or doing the work week after week because of employee turn over.

One state-licensed service is Sueppel’s Pool Service & Maintenance in Lake Placid. Brent Sueppel, owner, has been providing his service for more than 18 years. Besides weekly cleaning and water testing, he also provides additional service throughout the county that includes updating older pools, adding a salt system and replacing valves and filters.

Sueppel tells of a pool owner who hired a non-licensed service to clean her pool, which was green with algae.

“He talked her into a new sand filter and charged her $650. I could have put in a much more efficient Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filter for a lot less,” Sueppel said. “I purchase my materials wholesale from SCP (South Central Pool) in Lakeland and they will not sell material to non licensed pool servers.

“I bring a trust factor as well as cost savings to my customers,” he said.

A typical weekly visit from a licensed pool service person includes testing for chlorine, levels of PH, alkaline, calcium, salt level (if you have a salt water pool) and stabilization. Your heater is checked and adjusted for the season. The pool is brushed and cleaned. Chemicals like Algaecide and salt are added and backwashing is done to clear out debris to balance the pool. The service and chemicals used should be included in the weekly or monthly rate.

Pool owners should also purchase a vacuum, which should be used more often if the pool is exposed. A pool covered nightly and under a lanai will take less vacuuming.

Pinch.A.Penny on U.S. 27 in Sebring offers a wide range of quality vacuums. There are also two pool supply stores in Lake Placid.

Sueppel is of the opinion that a concrete saltwater pool is easier to work with. In the long run it will require less cost over the life of the pool. A new finish when needed for a concrete pool will cost less than half for a fiberglass pool.

The biggest problems pool owners experience are a build up of phosphates. They are produced by bird droppings, pets swimming in the pool, human sweat, detergents, etc. Nitrates come from the dust of recently fertilized plants around the pool. Sometimes a pool with extreme nitrates will require draining the pool and adding fresh water.

Sueppel can be reached at 863-441-4515 or email sueppel@strato.net.

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