Take the Bad with the Good


Interstellar is one of my favorite movies of recent years and probably top 10 all time. Released in 2014, it stars Matthew McConaughey as Cooper, former NASA pilot and father to Tom and Murph. Cooper and his wife named their daughter “Murph” as a reference to Murphy’s Law, which some have passed along as, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

Edward Murphy was an aerospace engineer, and it’s believed the saying came about when he blamed his assistant about a failed test. You can read about it, like I did, on the Wikipedia page titled “Murphy’s Law”—or you can just search for all the urban legends and spinoff sayings.

In the movie, Tom jeers at his sister when they get a flat tire while riding to school, citing “Murphy’s Law” as the reason for the blowout. She asks her dad, “Why did you and Mom name me after something that’s bad?” Cooper says, “Murphy’s Law doesn’t mean that something bad will happen. What it means is that whatever can happen will happen, and that sounded just fine with us.” If it can happen, it will happen. That adaptation is my favorite, because it leaves room for optimism.

But I Don’t Wanna!

Ten and a half years. That’s how long I was able to stay away from owning a pool while working in the pool industry. And then the time came to sell the home we owned and loved for more than eight years and buy our (God willing) forever home. Somehow, my cunning wife figured out how to draw me toward the dark side, so we now own a pool. Just like so many things in this house—which is around 25 years old—the pool and its equipment have needed some TLC and even some costly, time-consuming repairs. I would like to take some time to describe these repairs and maintenance changes I’ve had to make. Hopefully, this will help you see why the right pool pro can make a world of difference for your investment.

The Bad

  • Right off the bat, as I inspected this pool, I noticed a corrugated hose feeding natural gas to the pool/spa heater. I also noticed that the line reduced and continued on to feed a natural gas grill. This is very bad practice and actually voids the warranty for any heater. Natural gas heaters require so many BTUs of input (7–12 times more than your typical natural gas appliance) that anything that restricts or redirects the gas pressure or volume getting to that heater can cause a poor gas-to-air ratio. This causes soot to form on the heat exchanger, making the heater inefficient (waste gas) and shortening the life of a very expensive pool equipment component.
  • The next obvious problem: the spa light had water inside it AND was still functional, because the GFCI failed in the worst way. A GFCI switch, whether it includes a receptacle or not, can fail one of two ways: (1) It will not reset, preventing voltage from traveling to the point of use. (2) It will never trip, even when you press the Test button, allowing voltage through even when the GFCI should trip because of a safety hazard. So, the spa light “worked,” but it also was an electrocution hazard. Friends, please test your pool/spa light GFCIs monthly.
  • The pool chemistry was a wreck. Total alkalinity was a zero, pH was well below 7.0, and chlorine was 15 ppm or higher. Not only did such chemical imbalance make for an uncomfortable swim, but it is a proven fact that unsatisfied water will eat away at the plaster and grout surrounding it. The life of my pool’s finish, relatively new and beautiful, has been shortened by three to five years as a result.
  • The plumbing was abnormal, but it took a while to realize how abnormal. They plumbed the pipes so that water ALWAYS flowed to the cleaner return—even in spa mode. The best way to waste heated spa water is to send it into a cold pool.

Accentuate the Positive

That’s a lot of negativity, and I’m a bit “sorry / not sorry” about laying it all out like that. Pool owners need to understand what can damage pools, the potential hazards that exist, and that repairs are inevitable—and are probably needed right now. Still, I am happily amazed at how much I love having a swimming pool. The kids have a blast by themselves and with friends. I enjoy floating lazily on my personal pool toy. And on hot, summer days, my wife no longer stares at the backyard with a tear in her eye. We take the bad with the good, as that’s the reality for every human on Earth. Whatever can happen will happen, and I’m so glad I’m here to take it all in.

This Labor Day weekend has been a bittersweet one for me. On the one hand, I got to enjoy time away from work, relax with friends and family, and receive some great news about our company. On the other hand, I have seen and experienced how the unexpected illness and subsequent death of a friend impacts a community. No condolences or expression of sympathy can erase the devastation felt by Texans in Midland and Odessa, whose lives will never be whole again after the senseless violence that occurred there on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

We as humans have to relish the good times and the great fortune or blessings that fall on us when they do. We can even say, as humbly as possible, that our labor brings about some of these good things. Let’s celebrate the fact that Americans in decades past had the foresight to bring about changes in the labor force. Then, let us mourn with those who mourn; let us give to those who find themselves in financial trouble; and let us reach out for help when we are in tough situations. Look for ways to overturn injustices. Smile more often, and cry when it helps. But be sure to spend time with those you love, to be fully present with them, and together face all that life brings.

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