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Unintended consequence of a clean pool


There’s a good thing about swimming pools on days like Sunday. They’re full of water. Then there are some not so good things about pools, like trying to keep them clean and closing them up for the winter. Actually the closing isn’t nearly the task of reopening them in the spring.

Of course you don’t hear about all the tribulations at this time of year. Rather, it’s the lure of cooling off whenever you feel like it and having a “piece of the beach” in your backyard. You’ve seen the advertisements: Mom and dad lounging at the pool’s edge, tall iced drinks in hand, while the kids splash about with colorful tubs and inflatable dolphins and swans. It all looks effortless and idyllic.

This weekend was pool weather and I made the mistake instead of enjoying the water deciding I could enjoy the water while doing some cleanup. I should have heeded the adage not to mix work and play, but pushing the vacuum wasn’t really work and, besides, it was justification for wearing a bathing suit and popping in and out of the water whenever I felt like it.

There’s a drawback to cleaning; once an area looks clean everything around it looks comparatively dirty. Such was the unintended consequence when after an hour I shut off the pool filter and admired the sparkling water. Indeed, the pool was inviting but the concrete apron around it was black and green with a mixture of grit and some kind of plant form. I hadn’t really paid attention to the pool surroundings, but now they stood out like a sore thumb.

The power washer – the one Claude gave me when he bought a new one – is made for such tasks.

It was many years ago that Claude suggested I power wash around the pool and that he had just the piece of equipment to do the job. I’d never used a power washer, however, it all seemed simple enough. Claude delivered the contraption with its trigger-activated wand and 6 horsepower engine that promised to deliver 2,400 psi – enough power to peel the paint off a house or drill a hole through a floor. I dutifully followed Claude’s direction, attaching and turning on the hose before pulling the starter cord. It sprang to life with a convincing rumble. I picked up the wand and depressed the trigger. The wand lifted as the power stream bounced off the concrete leaving a line of sandy-colored clean cement about the width of a Band-Aid.

I adjusted the nozzle to get a get a stream about four inches wide and set to work systematically cleaning one concrete panel at a time. My logic was that I could stop at any point, but the flaw was once one panel was clean there was no way I could leave the others filthy.

It was slow work. By the third tank of gas I was half way around the pool when the jet stream and the engine stopped suddenly. I looked back to see the machine, but it was gone – disappeared into thin air or more accurately, as I discovered, into the pool. It had vibrated itself right into the water.

My pool-cleaning project transformed into a lesson in small engine repair. I turned to Harvey Davies, whose service center is around the corner, for advice. He thought I stood a good chance of reviving the engine, it being fresh, not salt water and the fact it was only a brief dip. I took off the air filter, removed the spark plug and drained the oil. I dried everything as best I could reversing the hose on the wet vac. Miraculously when reassembled it came back to life.

I wasn’t going to risk a second swim for the washer Saturday, positioning it well away from the pool. The work was slow, the sun hot. I made periodic stops and sometime after 7:30, the job was finally completed. I’d done it, or had I?

In spite of my efforts to keep the spray directed away from the pool, the fine grit it carried now coated the bottom of the pool.

I’d save that job for Sunday with its forecast for 96.

Sunday lived up to its billing and I was glad to have the water just feet away. It was sufficient rationalization for failing to plan my idyllic day by the pool. Starting with the power washer, instead of cleaning the pool first, would have made for a better Saturday and so would have a bucket of Del’s frozen lemonade.


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