Service Industry News

For more than 29 years, Service Industry News has served as the voice of the pool and spa service professional. A twice monthly newspaper, the staff covers featured stories on equipment installation, trouble-shooting and repair; water chemistry and business issues facing the industry; and news pertaining to the interests of the pool and spa technician.

In addition to the newspaper, we have produced three technical books used throughout the industry as training and reference guides. The Professional Pool Technicians' Guide to ChlorineGuide to Alternative Sanitizers and the Guide to pH, Alkalinity, Water Testing and Water Balance are compiled from articles that originally appeared in our newspaper.

We've also updated and republished an industry classic on pool care, Charlie Taylor's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Pool Care. This light, easy-to understand and illustrated book has long been a part of any complete library on pool care. Now, it's also available in Spanish!

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Labor pricing structures vary by region

By Marcelle Dibrell

The traditional swimming season runs roughly from Memorial Day to Labor Day but in many parts of the country, the pool is opened year round.

In the truly seasonal regions such as the Northeast, the Southeast, the Midwest and some parts of the Southwest, pools are totally shut down for the winter and re-opened in spring.

In the Sun-Belt regions, like Florida, much of the Southwest and California, maintenance schedules may change as colder weather approaches, but pools continue to be cared for on a year-round basis. 

This is an important fact, because the terms “winterize” is meaningless in some areas, while “spring openings” has an entirely different meaning — and a different pricing structure — in various regions of the country.

Inside the Sun-Belt, while certain seasonal tasks are performed to get pools ready for heavier summer use, pools are never really “re-opened” for spring, because they were never really shut down at the end of the previous season.

Outside the Sun-Belt, winterizing and spring openings represent important profit centers for service companies, and can mark the end and the beginning of the employment season. 

Similarly, service technicians who work in the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest are far more likely to include pool painting in their menu of service offerings than those in the Sun Belt.

With this in mind, we continue to ask our survey participants whether they perform any of five chores — acid washing, pool painting, winterizing, spring openings and pool startups — and if so, how much they charge for these services.

Obviously, winterizing and spring openings are purely seasonal in nature. 

Painting and acid washing, while not precisely seasonal, are tasks that are more likely performed in the spring, after a long winter’s neglect. 

In some areas, new pool startups can be performed at any time of year. However, because pool construction rarely occurs during cold and rainy weather, this job, too, tends to be done in the spring and summer months.

The complete 2014 rundown on hourly labor fees for our seven geographic regions is as follows:

• Northeast — “Average,” $95; High, $115; Low, $75.

• Southeast — “Average,” $107; High, $171; Low, $75.

• Florida — “Average,” $70; High, $85; Low, $45.

• Midwest — “Average,” $85; High, $95; Low, $65.

• Southwest — “Average,” $85; High, $125; Low, $40.

• Northern California — “Average,” $95; High, $120; Low, $36.

• Southern California — “Average,” $85; High, $130; Low, $60.

Nationally, reported labor fees to replace a pump motor range from a low of $90 to a high of $190. Labor fees to replace motor bearings range from a low of $78 to a high of $130. Labor charges to tear down and recharge a D.E. filter vary from $76 to $212 across the country.

The charge to replace a pump ranges nationally from a low of $85 to a high of $195. Fees to install a heater range from $200 to $500. Reported labor fees for the installation of an automatic pool cleaner varies from a low of $45 to a high of $180. Nationally, labor fees to replace a liner range from $1,000 to $3,100. 

All labor fees are organized by region and while not all regions responded to this survey at the same level, the data that inspires the most confidence is based on higher participation, coming from California and the Southwest. 

Information contained in this issue is for informational and historical purposes only and is not meant to encourage readers to set prices in restraint of trade or in violation of any state or federal law. 

Paid subscribers have full access to the complete coverage on the 2014 Industry Survey. Contact our circulation department at 949-916-0292 or email serviceindustrynewscd@yahoo.com for details.