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Preventive Maintenance Tactics

In a pool environment, just like any environment, things break. Maybe even more so due to the humid, chemical saturated air and typically high use. It’s an inevitability. But the frequency and severity of those things breaking can be controlled, and delayed. Often times saving you costly down time, and money for repairs that could have been avoided.

Maintenance and Your Pool

Maintenance and pools go hand in hand, much like lifeguards and pools. When recruiting lifeguards chances are you are looking for someone not just to lifeguard (though that is the principle reason), but to perform other duties commonly expected of lifeguards. I’m talking about maintenance.

You probably have responsibilities laid out that your lifeguard staff are expected to complete. And if you don’t, it’s time you started getting more from your employees.

By performing routine daily maintenance on various aspects of your facility you can accomplish several important things at once. Just some of frequent maintenance benefits include:

  • Longer lasting equipment; by performing routine maintenance on your various pieces of equipment you can extend its lifetime and usage, saving you money.
  • Increased job satisfaction from staff; while not all maintenance is full of glory, or even very interesting, even small tasks can give staff a sense of accomplishment and responsibility if done properly.
  • Increased patron satisfaction; while patrons don’t always notice when your pool is spotless, they will certainly notice when it isn’t. Patrons want to come to a clean environment for their swimming, and maintenance can ensure they aren’t discouraged from visiting your facilities due to cleanliness.
  • Visibility of staff; if staff are performing maintenance of some kind during operating hours, the extra exposure to patrons has a twofold effect. First, staff are reminded that patrons are always around and watching. Second, patrons see that the lifeguard staff are keeping busy, and if your facility is part of a municipality, taxpayers see it as their tax dollars at work, even if it’s not truly their money.

Preventative Maintenance and Proactivity

Preventative maintenance is key in maintaining an aquatic facility, both from a physical, and financial standpoint. There are many aspects to preventative maintenance, but what is key in each and every one of them is being proactive. Whether it is hosing food and debris off of decks before you get ants, or refilling your chlorine feed system before your chemicals get out of whack. The key is performing tasks before it’s too late and the issue is larger than it would have been if handled appropriately.

As mentioned before, performing preventative maintenance can serve many functions, not least of which is preservation of equipment. As an example let’s look at a calcium hypochlorite chlorinator. Regardless of the brand you use, the unit that feeds chlorine into your pool will inevitably require maintenance. By cleaning away any calcium deposit and regularly cleaning all parts in the unit you can ensure that it is operating at maximum efficiency. Also, regularly cleaning off any parts that are exposed to the chemicals will prolong their lifespan. Even plastic pieces deteriorate over time when constantly being exposed to hazardous chemicals.

Along with making equipment last longer, routine cleaning of equipment to make sure it is running efficiently, while performing preventative maintenance, can also lead to a discovery of possible worn out parts that can be replaced before they break and you’re unprepared for it.

Performing preventative maintenance is all about proactivity. And can serve many functions. All of them are important, and all of them will save you money in the long run.

Maintenance Checklists

So you now understand the need for your staff to perform routine maintenance in order to prevent costly equipment failure issues, keep your facility looking good, and save you money.

Obviously there are different ways in which you can organize your maintenance tasks. None are more effective in keeping you and your staff on track than maintenance checklists. But designing and implementing a maintenance checklist isn’t necessarily an easy task. For one thing, getting staff to sign off on completed tasks, and be accountable for performing maintenance can be difficult.

So something is needed to have an actual sign off for completed tasks; that way staff can see what they are responsible for during their shift. And you as a supervisor can hold staff accountable if they don’t complete the required tasks during their shift.

Maintenance sign offs are an impossible thing to use with staff. Whether you use paper sheets, or dry erase markers on boards, or laminated sheets, they have problems. Paper sheets disappear, or get destroyed, it can be hard to keep track of paper records with so many people working at your facility throughout any given day. Dry erase is reusable, but you never have any permanent record of people signing off on maintenance, and it is only reusable for so long. We’ve all seen our fair share of dry erase boards that no longer truly erase.

So what you need is something that is reusable indefinitely, can’t be destroyed, or lost, and can provide you records of who signed off on what, and what was missed. DigiQuatics has by far the most comprehensive and useful source for meeting all these criteria, in their Custom Checklists Module. Not only does it provide you the flexibility to assign maintenance, but it maintains the records for all completed and missed tasks, and every staff member can access and sign off on the tasks from any device.

Whatever method you choose, you must be able to have records of the maintenance that won’t get lost or destroyed.

For "one off" maintenance issues such as a broken lap lane needing replacement or sweeping the pump room, you can use the Maintenance Issues Module in DigiQuatics. You can even get alerts when high urgency issues are submitted by staff, this will enable you to always stay on top of issues at your pool.

Positional Maintenance Responsibilities

This may surprise you (though it probably shouldn’t), but maintenance isn’t just for your lifeguards and staff. In order for preventative maintenance and your checklists to be truly effective, it needs to be a top down affair. What this means is that everyone needs to be involved, although every position has different levels of job knowledge. Chances are you wouldn’t ask your brand new lifeguard to fill your acid bin, or clean your chlorine unit. And likewise you shouldn’t have your experienced management staff scrubbing decks as their maintenance. Every position should have its own unique set of responsibilities. Sure, there can, and should be, overlap between positions, especially those close together on your organization's hierarchy. But it’s important for accomplishing the sheer number of things that should be accomplished to individualize the maintenance of positions as much as possible. And this starts with you.

You and your higher-up management team may be CPO, or AFO certified, but even if you’re not, you likely have more knowledge about the pump room mechanics of your facility than your lifeguards, head lifeguards or even managers. Let's go through breakdown of what maintenance tasks might look like in a typical hierarchy:

  • Lifeguard: Cleaning decks, cleaning bathrooms, cleaning lifeguard office, cleaning pool amenities.
  • Head/Lead Lifeguard/Manager On Duty: Assigning maintenance tasks to self and lifeguards, performing any maintenance lifeguards do, writing lifeguard rotations, checking poolside chemicals, making sure lifeguards complete maintenance, filling chemical feed systems.
  • Manager/Assistant Manager:Making sure Head Lifeguards are performing their responsibilities/maintenance, performing backwashes, completing maintenance on chemical feed systems, pump room chemical checks, spotting special maintenance issues/tasks for subordinate staff to complete.
  • Supervisor/Specialist: Make sure Managers are performing their responsibilities/tasks, and performing any maintenance/responsibilities not completed, tracking maintenance logs, spotting special maintenance issues/tasks for subordinate staff to complete.

Again, this is not a comprehensive list of the responsibilities that your hierarchy may or may not have. However, it is a glimpse of how it could be laid out. There are a few keys that are important to note in what has been laid out above that should apply to any organization:

  • Every position is responsible for all responsibilities below their position.
  • Everything needs to get done, no matter who does it.
  • More experienced/skilled/trained positions have maintenance tasks that reflect their experience/skill/training.

If you think of these principles when creating your preventative maintenance checklists through DigiQuatics you will be sure to create a system that it utilized, and effective.

Follow Through

One last key thing to keep in mind when implementing your preventative maintenance checklists is follow through. All the designing, creating, and assigning doesn’t do any good if staff of each and every level aren’t following through on their responsibilities.

And again, that follow through starts with you. If you aren’t following through on making sure your Managers and Assistant Managers are performing their responsibilities, they aren’t making sure the Head Lifeguards are doing theirs and so on.

Everyone has to be held accountable, making sure each level of your hierarchy is completing their maintenance checklists, and doing it in a timely and thorough manner. Hold yourself accountable, follow through on assigning, completing, signing off, and rewarding staff members that perform their responsibilities. Do these things and you’ll create a culture that has great follow through and will keep your facility running smooth, and clean.

Have you had any difficulty with getting staff to perform maintenance? Have some strategies/common issues that could help develop a preventative maintenance checklist? Let us know below!

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