A nationwide shortage of chlorine tablets is making waves in the swimming pool cleaning industry as local service companies trying to cover the rising costs face a return from customers who don’t want to tell the difference.
The prices of anti-algae tablets have roughly doubled since an Aug. 27 fire at a chlorine plant in Louisiana wiped out what had been the nation’s leading producer of prepackaged chlorine treatments.
Pool cleaners say they were able to absorb the price hike during the winter, but as temperatures rise and demand for tablets increases, they have no choice but to increase their service charges of $ 10 to $ 20 or more per month.
“This is the only way to stay afloat in this business,” said Josh Gonzalez, owner of Imperial Pool Service and Repair in Bakersfield.
Ande Dow, owner of Andes Pools in Bakersfield, said he was getting calls from people wanting to change pool guys. What they do not know is that it is also about to raise rates.
“It will be a tough pill to swallow,” he said.
The shortage made national headlines last week when investment bank Goldman Sachs announced that chlorine tablet prices in March were 37% higher year-over-year. He predicts that prices will continue to rise and, by the summer, will reach 58% more than a year ago.
The CFO of Pool Corp. Mark Joslin told an earnings conference late last month that he expects the industry to be low on supply over the summer.
“Now that just means people are going to move their disinfection method to another product, whether it’s a granular product or a liquid product,” he said.
“But there is no shortage of ways to disinfect the swimming pool,” he added. “It just means that at some point people are going to change.”
Sadly, there’s a catch: Some customers who have turned to alternatives like saltwater swimming pool systems have also encountered supply shortages limiting their availability. And while there are other options, none are as easy as using a tablet.
Dow noted that liquid chlorine may be an option but it’s not particularly good because, unlike tablets, treatments need to be done every day or every other day.
He said he was preparing to send out a letter soon warning customers of an upcoming rate hike. While saltwater systems may be a viable option – and gentler on swimmers’ skin and hair – he said conversion costs start at around $ 1,500, which is enough to keep some people from swimming. look further.
Phoenix-based Leslie’s Inc., a leading supplier of swimming pool supplies, said via email that it has successfully kept chlorine tablets on hand at its 930 locations in the United States, although its online inventory has fluctuated. Spokeswoman Tracy Dick said the company is confident about its inventory this year.
“We know summer is just around the corner and some of the best memories are being created around the pool,” Dick wrote. “We remain committed to providing our customers with everything they need for their pools and spas this season: products, knowledgeable experts and trusted local service. “
Sergio Contreras, owner of Waterway Pool Services & Repair in Bakersfield, said he was finally forced to raise rates last month after seeing his own costs rise.
“Some of them get it, but yeah, some of them kind of looked the other way,” Contreras said. He added that he’s still waiting to see how many of his clients will stay with him and how many will try to find a better monthly rate elsewhere.