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Would You Pay $35,000 to Prevent your PVC Pipes from Dissolving ?

The Englishman Thomas Gray wrote 'Ignorance is bliss'. He might have added that ignorance can also be pretty darned expensive.

This dirty trick is all the more interesting because it pits an old, established pool company against a young commercial land developer new to Central Florida.

The question the developer asked was both simple and confusing. 'How much would we charge to de-contaminate the soil around a new commercial pool and paint the pipes under the deck?'

The only response I had was 'Why?'.

He told me that oil had been found in the muck during excavation and now the PVC would have to be sealed to prevent it from dissolving and the ground treated.... 'they didn't say how. I figured you'd know'.

Florida muck is basically decomposed and compressed vegetation and palm oil is a natural bi-product of that decomposition. Most of the swimming pools constructed in Central Florida are built in muck and I've never heard of this problem before. 'Let us make a few phone calls and get back to you' was all I could think of to say.

I called our PE (pool engineer) and asked if she was aware of any of this. ' Nope' was the response, 'sounds like a scam'. I called our PVC wholesale supplier and asked the same question. 'Nope' was the response, 'oil doesn't dissolve PVC pipe. Sounds like a scam'. But what I did learn was that the old, established pool company had changed hands and was recently having a little trouble paying their bills.

I called the State Engineer in Winter Park for verification and he was as mystified as the rest of us.

'The procedure is entirely unnecessary' I told the developer. He told me the whole thing hadn't sounded right to him either but the pool company had come highly recommended and he didn't think to question their recommendation. 'New owner' I offered, 'from New York. Maybe that's something they worry about up North'.

This scam has many variations. Whether it's 'additional' steel in the deck, more backfill than 'planned for', unusual permit charges or 'special' filtering equipment, question any surprise up-charges or you'll find ignorance can be pretty darned expensive.


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