By Matt Wiley
During what we Floridians like to call our version of “winter,” it’s hard to take the plunge into a cold pool, no matter how sunny it may be outside. Luckily for New Tampa residents, GasTek Pool & Gas Services is here to transform chilly pools into oversized hot tubs.
Newly opened in January 2011 by New Tampa resident Paul Schaller, GasTek Pool & Gas specializes exclusively in propane and natural gas pool heater repairs, sales and installations.
Schaller saw a need to be filled in the New Tampa area when he moved here 11 years ago.
“When I moved here, there weren’t that many gas companies in the area,” Schaller says. “Since moving here, there has been an increase in gas pool heaters. There are more than I initially thought.”
Noticing the increase in gas heaters and the lack of service and installation companies, Schaller decided to make a move.
“I was out of work and looking for something to do,” Schaller says. “I had previous construction experience and a relative doing the same kind of work. I saw a possible niche.”
Schaller’s first step was to obtain a gas installation license from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). This required him to attend a one-day class and take a three-hour exam in order to be licensed to service, install, repair and sell liquefied petroleum gas equipment, appliances and piping.
This license is one of the things that sets GasTek apart from other gas heater and pool companies in the area.
“A lot of other gas heater and pool companies will come and hook up a new heater through the pool’s PVC plumbing pipes,” Schaller says. “Then, they’ll contract out all of the other work. But, here at GasTek, I’m licensed to do it all.”
He says that many pool companies tend to take advantage of customers once they are on site, attempting to sell them products or services they may not need.
“If they don’t need it, they don’t get it,” Schaller says of his clients. “I don’t try to oversell anything to my customers.”
The most common problem Schaller says that he sees in gas pool heaters is a lack of service. He notes that heaters do get old and rot out, a problem that he is more than happy to help solve.
Schaller says that the average price for a gas pool heater runs between $2,000 and $3,000 for a total replacement, including installation and removal of the old unit, which, as GasTek’s lone employee, he does himself. He says that on average, he can have a gas heater replaced and installed in less than two hours.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gas pool heaters run on gas or propane and are great for heating pools quickly. Gas heaters work by circulating pool water through a filter and then a heater, where the gas is burned. The heated water is then transferred back into the pool, and the cycle continues.
Schaller says that from what he has seen in the area, about 75-percent of pool owners use gas pool heaters, while about 25-percent use electric heaters or heat pumps. He says that some people use both — a heat pump for their pool and a gas heater for their spa.
He says that gas heaters are especially good for use in spas because they can heat the water at an average of a degree or two per minute, whereas a heat pump could take up to a day or two.
In addition to installing and servicing gas pool heaters, GasTek also features pool-cleaning services to ensure that pools stay clear, as well as warm. Schaller offers monthly cleaning packages ranging from $45-$80.
GasTek normally services the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel areas, but Schaller says that stretching his boundaries is no problem. He says that he will happily service all of Hillsborough County as far south as Sun City Center, and all of Pasco County as far north as the Pasco/Hernando County line.
As far as the future is concerned, Schaller says he plans to keep on servicing his current regular customers while continuing to advertise and trying to expand his business.
“I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing,” he says. “I plan on picking up more parts for different brands so that I can keep my customers happy and serve them in a timely fashion without having to wait for parts I have to order.”
GasTek Pool & Gas Services can be reached at 335-7491. For additional information, visit GasTekServices.com.