The National Plasterers Council is rolling out a certification program for builders and servicepeople utilizing the NPC pool start-up method. The group hopes this certification will provide a “seal of approval” that customers nationwide can trust.

“A lot of our members were asking us to develop a certification program around our method,” said Mitch Brooks, the NPC’s executive director.

The undertaking is truly a team effort with manufacturers, plasterers and servicepeople developing the program.

Distributor PoolCorp has come on board as well, agreeing to sponsor the first ten classes held by the NPC. 

“Thanks to them, we’ll be able to offer the course all over the country,” Brooks said.

The program itself consists of a day-long course focusing primarily on chemical start-ups in plaster pools. It’s based on a method the NPC developed in conjunction with industry professionals, and scientists at the National Pool Industry Research Center at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. NPC members have been using the recommended procedure for several years.

To qualify for the class, a student must be a member in good standing of an industry organization, whether that’s the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association, or a similar group.

The class will premiere at the NPC Annual Conference, which will be held Feb. 3-5 in Amelia Island, Fla. Classes will then open for registration in cities across the country.

While each seminar’s teachers will address environmental conditions specific to their areas, all classes will heavily emphasize the roles of water chemistry and accurate testing procedures in a proper start-up.

“Our biggest educational objective is to help people understand the effects fresh plaster can have on fill water,” said Jana Auringer, owner of The Pool Lady in Coppell, Texas, who supervised the water testing segment of the course. “You can’t treat a start-up pool like any pool you’d service once a week. There are so many chemical reactions that you have to be aware of.”

Thus, the class will explore the five major aspects of a proper start-up: History and chemistry of swimming pool surfaces, basic water chemistry, the use of a water test kit, start-up procedures, and problems and solutions related to pool surfaces.

Students must then demonstrate their proficiency with a test kit, and pass a 60-minute written exam. Those who pass will receive a certificate, allowing them to brand their own work with NPC’s official seal of approval. But that diploma will be only the beginning of a lifelong learning process — every three years, they’ll have to renew their certification by taking an updated version of the exam.

“Chemistry, and other scientific fields, are always changing,” Brooks said. “So we want the people who pass this course to be constantly updating their education.”