I’m preaching to the choir when I say this, but some things are better left to the pros.

Case in point: My disastrous attempt at putting D.E. in the pool filter.

D.E., if you don’t already know, stands for diatomaceous earth, a fine powdery substance consisting of fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae. (I always thought it was made from crushed dinosaur bones, but Wikipedia set me straight.) It does a mighty fine job removing gunk from pools, but only when all the mechanics are in good working order. I learned this the hard way.

I followed the instructions on the box, added what I thought was the right amount and watched it jet out of the return lines. My pool looked like a giant bowl of skim milk.

That’s odd. Maybe it will clear up, I said to myself. The following day, my pool had a lovely sandy beach bottom, lending it a tropical feel. All that was missing was a coral reef and a school of flounder.

Of course, it just came pouring through the return lines again when I tried to vacuum it up.

Then I began thinking about the filter grids I recently replaced.  I ordered eight and had one to spare … or so I thought. My father-in-law and I popped open the canister. Yep, all seven grids are there and locked in place. What could possibly be the problem?

We did some more troubleshooting. Upon closer inspection, we found the canister had eight slots for grids. What I assumed was a spare was actually grid No. 8.

Problem solved.

My point: I royally bungled a really simple task. I can just imagine some of the disasters pool techs run into when well-meaning do-it-yourselfers try to tackle more complicated projects.  On one hand, they make money fixing the damage. On the other, maybe they should’ve handled the job from the get-go.