Ask The Inspector
Q. How does the water level in a pool affect the inspection?
A. Swimming pools that put electricity and water in close proximity are always a potential problem, and it is important that plumbing and electrical equipment is safely placed and well maintained. Poor maintenance practices, time and use can result in problems that are best discovered early.
Some things a professional inspector will look for in a pool inspection include: open wiring, broken conduit, defective GFCI outlets, loose broken or missing handrails, decking cracks, cracks in the pool itself and inoperable equipment.
Understanding what can be inspected under what conditions is a key component of pool inspections. In areas where pools are winterized, pools are often half-drained, covered and tend to collect piles of leaves. Winterized pools cannot be properly inspected because pumps cannot be tested and a visual inspection of the shell under the leaves to look for cracks is impossible. A full, clean, running pool is easiest to inspect, but even then it is difficult to see cracks in the shell under the water. When the pool is empty, imperfections in the exterior are easy to point out, but the pump can’t be tested. This is why understanding the scope of the inspection is important.
Inspecting Wood Decking
Many times, NPI inspectors will find wood decks that have been rarely, if ever, sealed. Sealing is important to prevent weather damage, rot and to maintain the beauty of the wood. When deck wood is part of a living tree, it is protected by bark and oils and its moisture content is regulated by the roots. Once harvested, these protections are gone and wood is prone to instability due to freezing, thawing and unstable water content. These problems can cause cracking, twisting and attacks from biological pests.
Pressure-treated pine, which has been popular on decks, is treated to protect it against fungal decay and termites, but it will benefit from a weather sealant as well. To determine the best sealant for your deck, consult an expert at your local hardware or do-it-yourself store. It is also essential to properly clean and dry the deck prior to sealing it. Follow the instructions on the product you choose and consider hiring a licensed professional if the job is outside your abilities.
Snapshots From The Field
Can you guess what is wrong in this photo?
The photo pictures a pool pump plugged into an outlet. Is anything wrong?
- Nothing is wrong because it’s acceptable to use Romex wiring for extension cords.
- Nothing is wrong, and the plastic cover for the outlet is a good idea for safety.
- This is not a proper exterior outlet protector cover, and the outlet is not GFCI-protected.
- Nothing is wrong because pool pumps outdoors don’t require GFCI outlets.
Correct Answer 3. This is not a proper exterior outlet protector cover, and the outlet is not GFCI-protected. The “outlet cover” in the picture is actually a scrap of plastic from a pool flotation toy.
Using Pool Covers
Pool and spa covers, properly constructed and maintained, can help reduce evaporation and water waste by 95 percent according to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals.
These covers, manual or motorized, add an important safety feature when the pool or spa is not in use, acting as a horizontal fence. In order to conform to national standards, these covers must support minimum weight limits, be secured without gaps wide enough for pets or children and remove standing water.
Safety covers or solar covers used on pools help heat the pool. Floating covers under spa covers prevent additional evaporation and retain heat. These covers should be replaced every three years for maximum effectiveness.
Attic Maintenance to Avoid Moisture and Heat
In the home, warm air will rise to the highest point, the attic. It is important to have proper ventilation and insulation in this area to ensure proper temperature control.
Here are a few things to remember regarding attic maintenance in the summer months.
- Proper attic ventilation will help move out warm and moist air.
- Make sure that insulation is not blocking soffit vents to keep air moving through the attic.
- All leaks should be noted and repaired to reduce the chance of moisture issues in the attic.
- Insulation should follow local standards for materials and thickness.
With these few adjustments, your attic can more effectively keep out moisture and heat. This will help lower utility costs throughout the year and help keep your home more comfortable.
Did You Know?
Pressure treated wood is protected using a chemical bath. One of the main chemicals used in the bath is copper, which will cause standard-steel fasteners to corrode up to five times faster than when the same fastener is used on untreated wood. Galvanized or stainless-steel fasteners are much better options.
Monthly Trivia Question
What was the first ocean liner to have a pool?
- MS World Discoverer
- RMS Titanic
- SS United States
- RMS Queen Elizabeth II
Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.