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The recent economic downturn has created new opportunities in every tier of the Central Florida swimming pool market. $50,000 homes sit as dark and empty as $3,000,000 homes. No neighborhood is unaffected.

It's a shame to think you might be trading on another human beings hopelessness and desperation but these homes are sitting empty and need to be salvaged. The previous owners are gone; hopefully on to a better life. But, the worst thing for any home is to sit empty and uncared for.

When a household budget becomes strained, one of the first expenses to be eliminated is the weekly pool service. Later, when it comes down to an unimaginable choice of filtering the pool or running the home air conditioner, the pool pump gets shut off.

Lately, the average non-performing homeowner stays on property 18 months before a bank sends a sheriff to push their possessions to the street. By then, the pool water hasn't been filtered in two years or more. Underwater, the muck is so thick it's emitting methane gas. A pool can get pretty nasty.

green pool So, what's a clean pool worth to a bank? A blackwater pool is a quick indicator of an out-of-control property that has many other, less obvious flaws. They cannot 'sell' a home with a blackwater pool, they can only hope to give it away.

To revive any pool, you must have electric service and potable (drinkable) water available. Your choice is to either treat the existing water or drain the pool and start fresh.

There are advantages to both:

Treat the water chemically and you won't lose any sleep over popping the pool, but you'll spend $200 or more on chemical shock treatments, flocculant and clarifying agents. Two tools are essential when you're cleaning a blackwater pool, a garden hose powered Leaf Master and this deep pocket drag net. (left) Note the angle of net from pole allowing thick debris removal. A standard pool vacuum stops up way too quickly to be of any help and you chance adding a clogged vacuum line to your troubles.

black poolA homeowner will spend two to four weeks cleaning the pool filter and, in the end, will swim in the residue of their own toxic chemical reactions. Our pool-side water processor will clean up the pool in about a week but some of the residue will remain.

Or, use a sump pump to drain the pool one day and refill it the next and you'll have the entire job completed in just three days. Municipal water goes for around $1 per 1,000 gallons in Central Florida, so most residential pools can be refilled for less than $20. But you better know what you're doing or an empty pool will rise up out of the ground and a simple clean-out suddenly becomes a major renovation.

Rinse algae from pool walls and floor as it becomes exposed. Keep the algae stirred up and the sump pump will do most of the work without having to shovel any of the green glop. It's best to rake up thick leaf debris and remove it in heavy-duty garbage bags.

And, how do you find these homes? By Law, any foreclosed property must post a notification (usually in a front window) that this property is under the control of a property manager with their contact information. This is the person you'll want to talk to. Just be sure your license and insurance is current, these people are sticklers about paperwork. And take plenty of pictures before and after and of every service you perform. The person writing the checks will usually not visit the property.

So seriously, what's it pay to clean a blackwater pool? Our charges run from $400 to $3,000 depending on the complexity of the job and how much of the filtering equipment has been stolen. But watch out for yourself when dealing with any nation-wide or federally funded financial institution; while there are tens of thousands of these blackwater pools to be revived, the larger the company, the slower they pay.

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