By Ricki Demarest
It’s always fun to enjoy family and friends during special get togethers
at home, but, in the summertime, enjoying the sun by the side of the
pool or grilling on the deck make those times even better.
Now is the time for homeowners to make sure those festive outdoor
spaces are ready for fun times to carry on before the leaves begin to
Approximately 50 million American homes have outdoor decks,
according to the North American Deck and Railing Association. It’s
estimated that about half of them have safety issues. Before the power
washer and the planters come out, it’s vital to check for signs of wear
such as cracks in decking material, weakened joists, rotted wood and
loose railings. Insect invasions from carpenter ants, termites and bees
can wreak havoc as well. Older decks may not be up to present
construction codes either. Building codes are updated about every
three years, and it’s a good idea to check whether the deck’s
guardrails, handrails, lighting, stairs, and landings meet current
safety standards. Mold, mildew, and even wooden slat replacement
can usually be handled by a homeowner or contractor.
If the hurdles of maintenance and replacement have been cleared, its
time to get down to the nitty gritty of deck cleaning.
Nick O’Donnell, the manager at Homecraft Rental Center in
Ledgewood, said customers can usually count on using a pressure
washer to initiate deck cleanup.
“People have to pressure wash first, then let it dry for a couple days,”
he said. “Then they have to sand the surface and stain it right away,” to
create a weather proof and esthetically pleasing surface. “You have a
90 per cent chance of sanding. You have to do that before you stain – it
Although O’Donnell and his staff make sure to explain how the
equipment works, he said most people don’t pay attention. It doesn’t
matter. They are always welcome to call back with questions. The
Consumer Reports website offers a thorough yet concise explanation of
how to power wash a deck.
Deck cleaning comes with eco-friendly options. The website
www.house-painintg-info.com lists mixtures that include white vinegar
and mild dish soap (good for degreasing and mildew), baking soda,
hydrogen peroxide and even OxiClean. All can be diluted with water
and used on the deck surface.
The cleaning, scrubbing and maintenance certainly doesn’t stop with
the deck. Swimming pools, large and small, demand preparation and
routine maintenance to keep them sparkling.
Jim Pagonis, the owner of American Pools in Kenvil said that this year’s
longer winter meant that his clients’ in ground pools were “greener”
when he got them open. “Longer winters breed algae in pools,” he said.
The more quickly the pool is chemically treated, and the filtration
system established, the better it will be for swimming throughout the
The do-it-yourself shopping list for pool maintenance should include
chemicals such as pool shock, chlorine and a chlorine stabilizer. A
telescopic pole with a skimmer head, vacuum head, vacuum hose and
pool brush should become best friends with the pool surface over the
next few months. An entire test kit or new test strips are essential.
“Test the water with a good test kit every two to three days,” Pagonis
He and other pool service professionals are happy to take on the
daunting task of creating a safe and beautiful swimming environment.
A recent release from the Denville office of the Metro Chapter of the
Northeast Spa and Pool Association stated
“pool pumps, motors, filters, chlorinators, feeders, salt chlorine
generators, heaters, heat pumps, blowers, controls, and more are
critical for pool maintenance and are a lot to keep up with for someone
not professionally trained. For safety, a pool professional will review all
aspects of your pool to make sure it is operating safely and doesn’t
pose any safety risks. This includes a review of safety barriers (fencing
etc.), drain covers and in pool lighting.”
Meanwhile, crews from Champs Pool Service in Budd Lake are also
scrambling to ready people’s swimming holes. Everett Demouth, the
store manager, said he noticed that above ground pool covers have
been filling with water. “During the fall and spring people aren’t
keeping water off covers, and that can collapse the pool,” he noted.
Throughout the swimming season both stores follow up with clients,
testing pools and solving any problems that may arise. Demouth said
opening an above ground pool costs about $150, while an in ground
runs about $350 – $500. Broken equipment, pool cracks and other
issues increase the price.
Finally, safety is paramount to enjoying decks and pools to the fullest.
In addition to previously mentioned construction and pool chemistry,
safety precautions include appropriate child supervision around pools
and grills, correct gates, and having life-saving equipment close by.
Professional associations such as NESPA (www.nespapool.org) as well
as municipal officials can help homeowners who have questions about
safety and building code compliance.
With the right planning and execution, the pool and deck can be the go
to areas for the family and maybe even the neighborhood to
cannonball into summer fun.