Fire your pool man? The hassle's not worth it

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The pool industry is a'hurtin. Not a lot of new home building going on these days, which means nobody is putting in swimming pools anymore. And now, the individual pool man is feeling the pain, too. At least that's what an article in the Los Angeles Times says.

Pool men, those guys who drive around with pick-up trucks full of Chlorine and sweeper poles, are having to raise their prices to keep up with the increased cost of gasoline. Southern California swimming pool owners are increasingly responding by firing them...and maintaining their pools themselves.

A smart move? Maybe. But how much is your time worth?Full disclosure: My dad's been in the pool industry for more than 40 years, starting out as a pool man and these days running his own pool tool manufacturing business. When I was little he'd sometimes let me take a day off from school and ride with him to his jobs; behind the mansions and apartment buildings of L.A.'s west side. There I'd meet retired Hollywood stars and gain access into some spectacular landscaped backyards. I'd also watch him lug his equipment out of his truck and spend 40 minutes cleaning filters, skimming leaves and tinkering with heaters.

Pool maintenance may not be rocket science, but it is a young man's job, preferably a young man who knows what he's doing. You need the right equipment (you try getting a penny off the bottom of the deep end before it stains...without jumping in to get it yourself). And God forbid something happens to your generator.

Also, pool maintenance is routine...and relentless. Pools that go untended get real bad real fast. And it will cost you far more to repair and restore than you ever saved by firing your pool man.

Granted, I'm biased, but only because I saw first hand how much physical labor the job of pool maintenance requires, and it's honest work. You might save $70 a month by doing it yourself, but if you're well-off enough to afford a pool in the first place, chances are your time and energy are worth a lot more than that.
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