Type the words “fix pool heater” into YouTube’s search bar and you’ll get 8,410 results. Clearly, there’s plenty of help out there for the do-it-yourselfer who wants to work on his or her pool. But how has this affected business for pool service technicians?
A mechanically inclined person can use the videos to learn how to make minor repairs. Yet an unschooled pool owner often ends up paying an industry professional to fix the original problem, with an extra bill tacked on for cleaning up the damage caused by the DIY effort.
“[The videos] are actually increasing my business,” said Tom Cucinotta, owner of Cucinotta’s Pool Service in Boynton Beach, Fla. “People give up ... because they don’t know what they’re doing and, because they’re already online, they find your website and come to you right away. It’s a perfect example of why you must have a website.”
Some homeowners don’t realize that equipment repair can be risky. Filters, for instance, present a major hazard if they’re not handled correctly, and some manufacturers even require that service be done by qualified professionals or the unit’s warranty is voided. Of several videos available on YouTube, only about half gave clear warnings of the danger.
“I went to a customer’s house on a home warranty call on his filter,” recalled Bryan Chrissan, owner, Clear Valley Pool and Spa Repair in Temecula, Calif. “His arm was in a sling, the side of his face was bruised and the filter tank was cracked. He hadn’t turned off his solar feed because it didn’t mention that on the YouTube video. I told him it wasn’t covered under warranty. People going online to learn how to make repairs ... make me a lot of money.”
Another problem: The resolution of videos online often is less than high definition. So a novice, not able to see a video clearly, can miss something as simple as installing a seal right side up. “They inevitably put it in backwards,” said Phil Sharp, owner, River City Pool Service in San Antonio. “It runs for a week or so, but it ends up melting the seal plate and possibly the impeller, so the cost is three times what it would’ve been.”