Guest Column - January 2013
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Swimming Pool Lift Maintenance

By John Caden

Over the past several years, swimming pool accessibility has become a significant issue for aquatic facilities throughout the United States. More than 300,000 public swimming pools have been affected by the 2010 revision of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which now requires that all such pools be made accessible to everyone. This mandate set off a chain of events that has created both challenges and opportunities for every facet of the pool industry. Manufacturers have developed new products. Dealers and installers have these new products to sell and install. Service companies and facility operators now have the added responsibility of maintaining these new products.

ADA regulations name five approved means of access for swimming pools. Of these, swimming pool lifts, besides being the most widely used, are devices most likely to require preventive maintenance. It's only common sense that if you spend upwards of $5,000 on a new piece of equipment, you want to make sure that the asset not only works, but also lasts a long time.

This is not only a good idea—it's the law. ADA regulations stipulate that any equipment used to provide accessibility must be maintained in proper operating condition. Obviously, if a means of access is not working, the result is a swimming pool that is not accessible.

There are general steps that can be taken to help maintain a swimming pool lift. The general steps provided here should be useful, but always check with the manufacturer of your product for specific maintenance suggestions. Follow all instructions in the product operating manual and on product labels.

All lifts, regardless of the type, have some common elements that should be maintained.

  • Seats should be kept clean, and seat belts should be checked regularly to make sure they lock properly.
  • The structure of the lift should also be inspected on a regular basis to make sure there is no corrosion building on the surface. Most lifts are made from corrosion-resistant materials, but the harsh environment of a swimming pool, especially an indoor pool, will always present a challenge in managing corrosion.
  • Additionally, any hardware, such as nuts and bolts used for fastening, should also be inspected on a regular basis to look for signs of developing corrosion, such as pitting. Most manufacturers will use stainless steel and marine-grade components, but these items should be checked regularly to ensure their integrity.

For these common components, there are steps that can be taken to provide a level of preventive care:

  • After a day's use next to a pool, rinse the surfaces of the lift and seat with fresh water. This will remove salts and other chemical residue that may settle on the lift while it is sitting on the deck. Dry the lift with a clean cloth following the rinse.
  • Periodically wax the lift with a soft liquid wax, like Turtle Wax, three or four times a year. This will provide an added layer of protection to the lift surface.
  • Finally, replace any pitting or corroding hardware. Even though manufacturers usually specify stainless steel, marine grade hardware, they are at the mercy of their supply chain, and never know whether the quality of the parts received will be up to specifications.