Unlicensed electrical work and switch placement on a gas heater

Horror Stories From the Field

Work injuries industry pros lived through teach imperative lessons

Paul Goebel

owner, Goebel’s Pool and Spa Maintenance
Hidden Valley Lake, California

“When I first started doing pools for a company out of Novato, California, I was adding muriatic acid to a pool. One of the rocks around the edge was not concreted in and it rolled out from under me. I dumped acid all over me and the deck, and skinned my knee pretty good, which the acid helped to make deeper. Lesson: Do not walk on rocks or unstable things such as vanishing edges.”

Jeff Solam

owner/operator, Jeff The Pool Guy
Riverside, California

“Years ago, I was bitten by a beagle — nasty thing. I should’ve gone to the ER, but I took care of it myself with bandages and hydrogen peroxide. It healed fine. Ever since then I carry QuikClot sponges in my truck [which help stop rapid bleeding].

When I first started doing commercial pools, I went into the equipment room and nearly gassed myself. The maintenance guy tried to add tabs himself to the rainbow feeder, but for some reason he left the top off for who knows how long. The whole room smelled of strong trichlor.”

David Penton

Founder/CEO, Fluid Dynamics Pool and Spa
Los Angeles

“We had a tech accidentally put chlorine in the acid tank in a commercial pool mechanical room. So we created safety measures for the room and made custom colored tanks (yellow chlorine, blue acid) to keep things straight. I was not onsite when it happened, but the tech diluted the solution quickly with an available hose and cleared the room very quickly. We have good ventilation in the room, so the fans eradicated the fumes pretty efficiently.”

Michael Lyon

Partner and manager, Top-Notch Pool Management
Alpharetta, Georgia

“My tech was bitten by a dog and had to go to the hospital. I had a serious talk with the homeowner and said we wouldn’t continue service if it happened again. Well, they accidentally let their pack of dogs out on the same tech a couple weeks later. He jumped off the raised spa into the pool so they wouldn’t bite him again.

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We now have notes that pop up every service for whomever is working on their property to let them know the dogs aren’t friendly. All our employees know to leave the gate to their property open during service or repairs so we have a quick retreat if needed. The homeowners agreed to be diligent in keeping the dogs away during regular service (they are always the first stop Wednesdays) and have held to it for the last two years. Any work outside of that normal service and we don’t go into the backyard without knocking on the door and making sure they know we’re back there and to not let the dogs out.”

Brian Taylor

General manager, Atlantic Solutions
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

(see gallery below of images Taylor provided)

“The important takeaway for me is that we have many people in our market who are doing illegal, unqualified, nonpermitted and dangerous work on pools. I focused strongly on the electrical aspect with these images due to the imminent danger it poses to technicians, to pool staff, to structures/equipment and to the public using the pools. Many of these pictures illustrate situations that can kill people. Unfortunately, we find these kinds of things almost daily.”

Tony Arredondo

President, The Pool Guys of Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay, Florida

“I was performing a remodel and the client had a water main break in the front yard. I had to go through the home to get to the pool. Their labradoodle was nipping at the flex hose for the sump pump that I was carrying through the house (she was just overly playful). I went to open the sliding glass door and boom — her jaws slipped from the hose and into my calf. I lost around a pint of blood all over the client’s kitchen floor. Her dad was there, who happened to be a retired physician. He rounded up four gallons of distilled water and had to place his entire pinky finger into the wound to flush and remove torn tissue. It took him over an hour to clean and bandage me up. I was able to get the sump into the pool and headed home late.

[When I returned] to check on the pool, the dog came up to me and put her head on my shoulders, as I was inside the pool. She licked me and wouldn’t leave my side the entire time I was there. It was like she knew she hurt me and wanted to make sure I was OK. This happened two years ago and the wound is still healing. I’m still a dog lover, just a little leery of labradoodles.”

Robert Lowry

Owner, Lowry Consulting Group, LLC and
Pool Chemistry Training Institute, LLC


“In the early 1990s I was technical director for Leslie’s. The warehouse manager came to me in a hurry and said ‘I think we have a problem.’ The Leslie’s stores had plastic bins with attached hinged lids used to return unsellable or damaged merchandise. The manager explained that a store had put a broken 1-pound bag of cal hypo in the bin along with various plastic items, some silicone lube, a bottle of leaking clarifier and some WD-40. I had him take the bin out into the loading dock area away from anything and to hook up a hose and nozzle that would reach. I put on my personal protective gear: Goggles, face shield, apron and heavy-duty rubber gloves.

It was August and near 100 degrees Fahrenheit. By the time I reached the bin I was pretty sweaty. I looked into the bin and one drop of my sweat rolled off my nose and dropped directly onto a few ounces of 65% cal hypo. Within one second the cal hypo caught fire and within a few seconds we extinguished it by flooding the bin with water. Chlorine gas was released but we were in the open and no one breathed any vapor. This could have been a huge disaster if the cal hypo had mixed with any of the liquids or oil in the bin while in the semi trailer on the interstate. Cal hypo and just about anything it touches can cause a fire or explosion.”

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