May I borrow that?: Tools such as this portable vacuum are loaned to members of IPSSA's Fort Worth chapter free of charge.
May I borrow that?: Tools such as this portable vacuum are loaned to members of IPSSA's Fort Worth chapter free of charge.

There are certain tools the average pool professional doesn’t typically have on hand. Take a portable vacuum, for example. These rolling self-contained debris suckers are convenient when your client’s equipment isn’t up to the task, but at $1,000 or more, some techs can’t justify the expense.

For certain members of the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association, borrowing is now an option.

IPSSA’s Fort Worth chapter recently began a lending library, giving its 45 members access to a variety of tools and equipment they might not always need.

There are no safety deposits or burdensome paperwork, instead, the program operates with one simple rule: You broke it, you bought it.

“We’re a big brotherhood,” said chapter vice president Lance Rust. “We all know each other.”

Several months ago, Rust came up with the notion of a communal tool shed of sorts and so far has collected about a dozen devices that could make members’ jobs a little easier.

Among some of the more hard-to-come-by gadgets in its inventory are a variety of computer service panels compatible with several major pool equipment brands. The units, which retail between $500 and $600 and aren’t always stocked in supply houses, are used to make updates to an installed system at the control pad. No need to access the control panel indoors.

“Those are a lifesaver,” said Rust, the CEO of Certified Pools serving the North Dallas/Collin County area. “Without that you’ve got to wait for the homeowner to get home in order to get into the house.”

Though state law requires Texas pool pros to carry an electrical license, some lack the tools most electricians wouldn’t leave home without. That’s why it was fortuitous that a Zodiac Pool Systems representative donated not only a multimeter, but a number of other items such as manometer for checking gas volume in a heater, a kit for diagnosing robotic cleaners and several service panels.

These tools are “costly and they don’t use them every day, and when they do, they have this reserve,” said Dan Warriner, a territory sales manager with Zodiac.

Equipment caches will likely catch on with neighboring chapters. “In fact, I know it will because I’m going to talk to them about it,” he said.

Natural Chemistry also contributed metal test kits for analyzing nitrate and copper content in pools.

“These go above-and-beyond your commercial test kits,” Rust said.

Rust will continue serving as the self-appointed equipment librarian as long as he’s on the chapter board, then “all that will go to the next board to keep up the tradition,” he said. “Maybe they’ll add to it.”