Armed with a new sense of purpose I intend to vacuum the pool today if it kills me. Before turning the pump on for the day I try and remove the grate covering the vacuum line. Kevin has told me it probably screws on. I reach down into the water blind and attempt to unscrew the offending cover. It won’t budge. I get a garden stake and try to thread it through the grate for leverage. The stake breaks. I text out my woes and consider if perhaps Kevin is somewhere right now laughing at me. My friend texts back…have I tried wearing rubber gloves? Am I sure I’m turning it the right way? I ignore the wave of righteous indignation that rises at the assumption I don’t know which way is on and which way is off because the rubber glove idea is brilliant. It works. I grab the vacuum and it’s mish mash of connected hoses and attempt to plug it in. It’s too small. Of course it is. I remember the bucket of odd parts and pieces and after dumping it on the patio I find a piece that looks like I may be able to use it to connect the small hose to the big vacuum line. I don’t know what it’s original use is, but it works. I set the pump to “waste” and turn it on. Success! Smelly green sludge is being pumped down my driveway and creating a lake on my street. I’m sure my neighbors are loving me. I have to vacuum blind because I can’t see the bottom but after a few minutes I imagine that the water is looking less dark in patches of the shallow end. Disconcertingly however there are points where the vacuum becomes impossible to budge and is completely suctioned to the floor of the pool. I don’t know why this is happening but judging from the feeling of panic this creates in the pit of my stomach I figure it can’t be good. I make a mental note to research what is causing this. After about 10 minutes, and a significant drop in the water level, I stop the vacuum and proclaim a successful first pass. I backwash, rinse and return the pump to “filter”. All is well, so far so good.
Now to attack the pool liner issue. The success of the vacuum has me on a bit of a high and I feel as though the liner may just be a breeze. I am, of course, wrong. I heat up the kettle and attack the smallest of the sagging spots. With a garden kneeler to protect my knees and a short screwdriver to help my fingers, I heat and pull and wedge the liner into place under the liner lock. So far so good. I move to the next sag, which is bigger, and the going gets tougher. It won’t stay in place, is harder to pull and I end up catching a finger which results in a bleeding spot under my fingernail. I give up for a while and catch up on other things. I then decide that I’ll go to the store and pick up all the necessary chemicals I’ll need for the weekend and gather my energy to re-attack the liner issue.
At the store I meet a man with a 25’ above ground. We start trading pool stories and I find I’m giving him advice on his pool. To me this is hilarious, given my situation. Another man, this one older than the first, comes over and seeing how much chemical I have in my cart comments that I must have a pretty big pool. “Yes” I say “It is.” He wants to know how big it is and I tell him. He asks me to marry him. I conclude he is joking and he begins quizzing me on the chemical content of my water. We trade pool stories and he jokes about getting slapped in the face by a woman (that’s me) for asking her what her PH level is. We all go our merry ways, wishing each other good luck with our pools, and I conclude that pools are something that strangers can bond over, which is a nice feeling. I also conclude that men feel I’m a bit of a rarity simply because I am a woman who is doing all the pool work herself. There must be more of us, wouldn’t you think?
I go home and fill up the chlorinator and add 2kg of ph- to the pool after dissolving it in a bucket of water. The container says to sprinkle it over the pool surface but the girl at the water desk of ______Pools told me to mix it with water first. We’ll see if I listened to the right person I guess.
I decide I can’t wait any longer to get back to the pool liner. It’s supposed to rain all weekend and there are two huge sags on one long side of the pool that look suspiciously larger than they did a couple of days ago. The last thing I need is to have the whole side of the pool come loose. I heat up more water and give it a try. Three kettle loads of water later and I’ve made no progress but my fingers sure are killing. I’m positive they’re going to swell to the size of sausages by tomorrow morning. Frustrated but unable to give up, I turn to the internet. My problem is that when I heat the liner bead, sure, it becomes pliable, but after putting it back on the track it falls right off when I move to the next section. The internet yields advice about popsicle sticks and pennies. I have no popsicle sticks but my daughter has a whole bucket of pennies that are waiting to be wrapped. I peel three feet of liner lock off the wall and start heating the bead. Every two inches that I put back in I shove three stacked pennies into the track to hold it until it cools. I try not to think about what will happen if the pennies fall out and the entire side of the pool sinks to the bottom. I also find it morosely funny that the answer to yet another pool problem involves money. Just the other day someone, perhaps my neighbor, had said that if you throw enough money at it you can fix it. Not quite what he meant I guess.
While I wait for the first large section to cool I head to a smaller sag and attempt to put it right. The smaller ones, it seems, don’t need to have the liner lock removed to get them back in place. I still need to wedge pennies into the channel until the liner cools off though. Being somewhat clumsy, I lose at least six pennies in the deep end while doing this. I don’t know what will happen if I vacuum them up but I can only deal with one problem at a time and a couple pennies at the bottom of the pool seems pretty small compared to the rest of my issues. Once the small repairs are finished I head back to the large section. I carefully remove the pennies from the track and quickly replace the liner lock, working six inches at a time. I lose more pennies in the process but eventually the first large repair is finished. The second one seems bigger than the last and I’m afraid to remove the liner lock for fear that the section I’ve just repaired will immediately come undone. They are only separated by a one foot section of intact liner. There’s nothing to do but move forward so I start in on the process. This section is worse than the last, or my fingers, which are in fact not only swollen but also turning purple, don’t have enough strength to hold on any more. After a couple of inches I can’t hold the liner in place long enough to wedge the pennies in and I’m getting frustrated. I should stop and re-evaluate but instead I work faster and I put the screwdriver right through a weak section of liner. Crap. It’s only a 1cm tear now but I’m thinking it could be bad later. I make another mental note to research how it can be mended. I take a deep breath and start at the sag from the opposite end. This is easier and the going is faster. Eventually I meet back at the middle and all is well, though that little tear seems menacing. I’ve lost a total of at least 13 pennies and there is currently around a dollar’s worth holding up my liner but I don’t care. The only repair left is the corner. After a feeble attempt I admit defeat and leave it for another day. Since the liner has now cooled I replace the liner lock on the last large section, losing a couple more pennies in the process. When I’m done I figure that I’ve just saved myself about $350, before tax. The unnamed pool company was going to charge me $86/hr for one person to do the work. If that person was as incompetent as I am it would have taken them four hours to get as far as I did today. Even with the liner tear, I feel like I came out ahead on this one.
I hook up the vacuum for another pass through the shallow end, backwash, rinse and return to filter. I add 20L of liquid chlorine to shock, though with the weekend’s expected rain I can’t help wondering if this is a waste of chemicals. Hopefully the pucks I’ve added earlier to the chlorinator will help things along and the weekend will bring me a much clearer pool. I put everything away, declare my pool day finished and at 7:30pm prepare to tackle the rest of my chores. Ha! I’m actually exhausted and don’t have enough energy to attempt to start the laundry, or clean the house, or do the dishes. I do manage to install a new handle on the gate to the backyard, only because the impending rain means it’s a now or never sort of task. I haven’t eaten anything today except a PB&J sandwich at about 11:00am and numerous cans of diet Coke. I’ll probably make something to eat, but only because my body needs food. I’d much rather crawl into bed and pass out.