When Midwesterner Ken Christensen came to Florida, he moved into a house with a pool and was baffled.
Christensen, author of the Romantic America series of travel books that focused on romantic places to stay, was a creative guy. Chemistry was never his forte.
Blindly, he brought his water samples to the pool store, they told him what to do and he did it.
But the Sept. 11 tragedy's impact on tourism, combined with wife Cindy's ovarian cancer diagnosis, caused him to refocus his life. In 2004, he took a job as a pool technician and learned swimming pool chemistry wasn't brain surgery.
After Cindy died, a friend suggested he write a book. The result was I Love My Pool! (Romantic America, $19.95).
'The purpose was to make it very simple so people could understand how easy it is to take care of a pool,' said Christensen, who lives in Melbourne.
Here is his take on pool care.
How much can you save by caring for your own pool?
It costs about $1,200 a year for a pool service. Your chemicals should cost about $30 a month. That means you could save $840 a year.
How much time will it take?
In a minimum of 10 minutes, you can brush the walls, vacuum and add chemicals. It takes about five minutes if all you want to do is check the water and add chemicals.
What hazards are associated with pool chemicals?
A couple of summers ago I was using granular chlorine. I set the brush and the scoop on the ground. Some tile soap must have dripped onto the scoop. I turned around and heard an explosion. I could have easily been walking with them in my hand and been injured.
What are the safety basics for adding pool chemicals?
I always encourage people to store the chemicals in a cool place, make sure all the tops are tight. Whenever you add chemicals, wear plastic gloves, a face mask and eye goggles. Wear old clothes in case you spill something.
What is the most common mistake people make in pool maintenance?
The biggest mistake is not cleaning the pool filter enough. It should be cleaned once a month. Some people may disagree. Some of the filter companies say it should be done every two or three months. It only takes three to four minutes and it's preventive maintenance. A lot of debris puts strain on the motor and the filter system.
How often should the pool be serviced in South Florida?
You should check the chemicals once a week. It only takes a few minutes. Some people look at taking care of the pool as a hassle. I look at it as a way to relax.