Now that we're half way through the first week of June, we can (finally) say goodbye to cold, wet weather! With temperatures on the rise, more of us are starting to leave our homes and look for ways to soak up the sun. One of the best and most popular ways to spend the summer is poolside. Swimming is the perfect way to cool off for many reasons. It's convenient and inexpensive and with most communities offering more than one public pool at a low cost per use, families of all income levels and in all areas of the community can gather at a local pool for some fun in the sun. Most swimming pools today, offer interactive fun in the form of spray features, water slides, diving boards and even climbing walls! These fun features are great additions that keep kids and adults alike busy, having a blast and refreshed all at the same time! Here is a list of 10 awesome outdoor pools to visit this summer.
FAIR GROUNDS AQUATIC PARK (STRATHROY, ONTARIO)
The Fair Grounds Aquatic Park in Strathroy, Ontario is the perfect place to spend a hot summer day with the family! This outdoor facility boasts exciting features for swimmers of all ages. The 6-lane lap pool is perfect for those looking to get some exercise or practice their swimming technique. The leisure pool, featuring a variety of spray features, is perfect for young children to splash around with their parents. For those looking to take it easy, the lazy river and hydrotherapy bench provide the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax, and cool off, all at the same time! Finally, the exciting 22 ft water slide will have you returning in no time!
HORACE MANN PARK (RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA)
The brand new Horace Mann Park in Rapid City, South Dakota, opened to the public in 2015, following a complete re-build. This exciting waterpark features an outdoor lap pool, complete with diving boards, a recreation pool, water slides, and a Vortex play structure that will have kids splashing the day away! Gather your family and head to the Horace Mann Park for some fun in the sun!
NELSON POOL (BURLINGTON, ONTARIO)
Following a complete renovation, the brand new Nelson Pool opened to the public in 2017. The newly renovated pool is complete with an eight-lane, 50M pool with an adjoining beach-entry leisure pool and an adjacent splash pad. The climbing wall and diving boards are extra perks, enhancing the overall experience at the pool. Ground sprays projecting water upwards and outwards, a giant tipping bucket and small animal spray features are only a few of the exciting spray features you can find at the new splash pad.
SCHULENBURG POOL (WAUSAU, WISCONSIN)
Throughout the summer season the Schulenburg Pool is a popular gathering spot for the local Wausau community. With designated lap and leisure areas, two water slides and a vibrant play structure, there's something fun for the whole family. All areas of the swimming pool are fully accesible, allowing swimmers of all ages and physical abilities the opportunity to enjoy this community amenity. Shade structures are located around the permieter of the swimming pool, perfect for parents or swimmers looking to lounge in the shade.
TOMLINSON AQUA PARK (KINGSTON, ONTARIO)
Located in Kingston, Ontario, the Tomlinson Aqua Park boasts a 25M lap pool complete with diving boards along with a leisure pool featuring fun spray features! When you visit this water park you will also find an exciting, 10M water slide, a lazy river, toddler pool, and zero-depth beach entry. There is no better way to beat the heat this summer than a day spent at the Tomlinson Aqua Park!
TIOGA MUNICIPAL POOL (TIOGA, NORTH DAKOTA)
Families of Tioga, North Dakota love spending their summers at the Tioga Municipal Pool! Renovated in 2015, this family-friendly swimming pool features a frog slide, water umbrella and tumble buckets - perfect for young swimmers! The the water slide, diving board and lap/leisure pool are a great space for older children and adults to refresh in the summer heat.
LAKESHORE SWIMMING POOL ASSOCIATION (KINGSTON, ONTARIO)
The Lakeshore Swimming Pool in Kingston, Ontario officially opened to the public in the summer of 2015! After mechanical room and pool tank renovations, the facility was completely transformed. When visiting this facility, you will find a refreshing lap/leisure pool complete with diving boards and a small water slide! The brand new concrete deck is the perfect place to soak up the sun. Spend this summer poolside at the Lakeshore Swimming Pool Association!
ROOSEVELT PARK (RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA)
The outdoor aquatic facility at Roosevelt Park in Rapid City, South Dakota, includes a 10-lane, 50M outdoor pool with a movable bulkhead. When the bulkhead is in the middle park position, the pool transforms into a 20-lane pool, making this facility perfect for those looking to touch up on their swimming technique, practice for competitions, or even just get in a good lap swim! The facility also includes water polo courses for both men and women, and starting platforms, making this the place to be for aquatic competitions of all kinds!
CARDSTON OUTDOOR POOL (CARDSTON, ALBERTA)
The Cardston Outdoor Pool in Cardston, Alberta is the ideal cool-off spot for children, adults and families! This swimming pool features a 25M lap pool, wading pool, toddler pool, spray features, diving board and zero depth beach entry, making this facility fully accessible to the entire community. The park also includes a lazy river, bubble bench and an exciting water slide – tons of fun for children of all ages!
CANYON AQUA PARK/THE CAP (CANYON, TEXAS)
Beat the heat at The CAP in Canyon, Texas! Enjoy concessions, shade, and over 10,000 square feet of water fun! The CAP is home to a 6-lane lap pool with two diving boards and a basketball goal. In addition to the lap pool, swimmers can splash around on a giant play structure and or the exciting splash pad, relax in the lazy river or enjoy a ride on the speed slides!
It's that time of year again, the birds are chirping the sun is shining and the snow and frost are behind us. When this happens, professionals in both the commercial and residential aquatic world think of one thing...let’s open the pool!
With the warm April weather, the opening season is underway and in full swing. Are you ready to open your facility's outdoor swimming pool? Many of us made lists last winter with the best of intentions, but as with most things in life, those lists still stare us in the face. So here we are. It's time to finally tackle that list and get your pool open for the summer season!
One of the best strategies is to prepare an opening checklist to ensure your hard work doesn't come to a hault when you find you are missing pieces or in need of parts. Check out our sample checklist below.
Take inventory of all the operational parts like jets, return fitting, weirs etc. (in the pool industry we refer to these as “white goods”).
Ensure your flow meters, pressure and vacuum gauges, and o-rings are ready for opening day.
If during inventory, you find missing or find broken pieces, have them replaced and ready for installation.
Once your inventory is complete, ensure all of the necessary replacement pieces are ordered and ready to go on opening day!
"Did I winterize my outdoor swimming pool properly?" is the biggest worry every pool owner or operator has in the spring. Mother nature can be cruel, unpredictable and a powerful force over the winter, but most of the time it is out of our hands. Performing a walk around and checking the deck and pool area for visible damage and/or vandalism is the first step. Once your visual is done you can start your true opening procedures.
"Don't forget to order and check stock of all your chemicals for start-up and season opening."
Once your inventory check is complete, you've done a thorough walk around and you've ensured your chlorine delivery is ready to go, it's time to start opening your pool. If you're working on a commercial outdoor pool, drain out any of that dirty winter water with a submersible pump and use a power wash to clean up the walls and floor.
Remove any winterizing plugs in the main drains, returns and jets. Ensure that the hydrostats in the main drains are clean and working properly.
Reinstall drain covers and perform an inspection to ensure there is no broken, worn or dated pieces. If you find any areas of concern, consult your pool professional for immediate replacement.
Once everything is clean and shiny in the pool area, move onto the mechanical room. Ensure all the equipment is back together, and all of the o-rings on the pump and strainer lids are lubricated and ready to start.
Now that the pool is full and glistening in the sun and ready for start-up, run through all of your valves and ensure they are in proper operating positioning.
"Always start up the system on backwash. This will ensure that all of the left over sitting debris from the winter goes out to waste and not back into your beautiful swimming pool. Once a complete backwash is finished, start up on filter mode."
Your next task is getting the balancing done and ensuring your stabilizer levels are ready to help battle the hot summer sun and keep your operation costs down.
"Stabilizer is sunscreen for chlorine."
Now that the pool is operating and the water features are flowing, you can sit back, close your eyes and visualize the upcoming summer season.
The Ontario and other provincial Building Codes have minimum standards that have been established to ensure that new public pools are constructed to be safe and functional. Following construction, Health Departments are responsible for monitoring and regulating the operation of the pool. The entire content of the code is important, but some items really stand out. For example, strict adherence to the velocity of water moving through suction fittings like the main drains is really important. The velocity of water through main drains is dictated as not to exceed 1.5 fps (feet per second). This low velocity helps decrease the possibility that people might become entrapped or entangled by the main drain fitting.
Another really important factor is the turnover rate of the pool. For Class ‘A’ pools (a pool to which the general public is admitted), the entire volume of the pool has to be filtered and chemically treated every four hours. This ‘turnover rate’ provides some assurance that the pool water will be clean and safe for bathers to use. The Building and Health Codes are very important and have elements that work to ensure pools work really well and up to standards, most of the time. As with most rules, there are some exceptions that should be considered. An important question to consider is: When is it a good idea to do more than what the code calls for?
CLASS A & CLASS B POOLS
In Ontario for example, a Class ‘B’ pool (a pool operated on the premises of an apartment building with five or more units, a pool operated as a facility to serve a community of more than five single-family private residences, a pool operated on the premises of a hotel, a pool operated on the premises of a campground, a pool operated in conjunction with, a club or a condominium, a pool operated in conjunction with a day nursery, a day camp or an establishment for the care or treatment of persons who are ill, infirm or aged) is required to be designed in such a way that the circulation system exchanges the entire volume of the pools water once every six hours, or four times per day. Most of the time, this is totally acceptable, but there are times when it is not sufficient. At some resorts for example, the pools are shallow and the volume of water is small. This coupled with a very high usage, warmer water and bathers who may not shower as well as they should (especially children) can create a condition that makes the water quality very difficult to manage. We often oversize the circulation systems with larger than required pumps and filters in this instance and add secondary sanitation systems like UV to help ensure superior water quality.
The same is true of a Class ‘A’ pool. These pools are required to be designed to exchange the water in the pools every four hours or six times per day which seems like a lot, but again there are some exceptions. If the pool is a therapeutic pool with a higher percentage of elderly users, or users with either a physical or mental disability, there may be a higher risk of contamination by fouling, making it prudent to exchange the water more often and install UV systems. For pools like this we often design the mechanical system to exchange the water every two hours, or 12 times per day, or more.
Another important consideration is the filtration rate of the pool filter system. In all cases this is calculated by dividing the total flow of the circulation pump by the total surface area of the pool and is expressed as GPM/FT2 of filter area. For sand filters, most manufacturers call for a filtration rate of no more than 15 GPM/ FT2. For a pool that has a flow rate of 450 GPM, the total sand area should be no less than 450 GPM/ 15 GPM/FT2 = 30 FT2. This square footage can be achieved by either using one or two larger horizontal or vertical filters, or a ‘battery’ of smaller filters. Is a filtration rate of 15 GPM/ ft2 always enough? For a lesser-used pool with a lower-risk user, and a low bather load, the answer is probably yes, but in instances where there is a high bather load, it may make sense to lower the velocity of water through the filter to improve filtration even more. Sometimes it makes sense to oversize the filter so that the filtration rate is more like 12 GPM/ft2. The same thing can be done with other filter media like cartridge filters or DE (diatomaceous earth) filters.
UV SANITATION SYSTEMS
UV is a secondary sanitizer that effectively renders most bacteria unproductive (and therefore safe) as water passes through the device. UV units are not required by code for pools (UV is required for splash pads) or spas, but may be a really good idea to install anyway. Some bacteria are resistant to chlorine or bromine and can become the source of an infectious condition that can make swimmers sick. This can result in a severe and widespread illness outbreak that could have long term effects or even cause the death of a vulnerable individual. There could also be legal implications for the owner/operator of the pool. Even though the codes do not require it, putting UV systems on a high bather load or high risk pool is a smart and proactive change to make.
Finally, the codes are an effective way to improve the overall safety of pools across the community. As with all rules and regulations, not every scenario can be addressed. It is best to look at the particular conditions surrounding your pool and design it appropriately. Since there is no specific ‘rule book’ to help you decide when code requirements should be exceeded, it is best to consult an aquatic consultant or pool builder who has a long record of experience with a variety of public and private pools. These experienced companies will help you design, build or upgrade a pool that is safe and fun for your clientele.
Dive Stands are a great addition to any facility, but of course have inherent dangers and cost a lot of money to replace. Let’s talk about how you can make your dive stand and spring board as safe as possible, and how to protect your investment!
DON'T SLIP UP
The lifeguard staff should check the surface of the springboard to be sufficiently “non-skid” at the beginning of every shift. This should be done with the board wet, to simulate what it is like when in use. If the board is found to be slippery, it should be taken out of service until the issue is resolved. Nobody want to see anyone hurt or to suffer any legal consequences. The owners, supervisors and lifeguard staff could all potentially share a liability if the board were subsequently shown to be unfit for use.
What is in the Making of a Slip?
There are a few reasons that boards can become slippery:
Dirt and body oil from swimmers and sunbathers can collect on the surface of the board, making it slippery just because of the nature of the material (oils) or by filling in the ‘voids’ of the textured surface so that it effectively becomes smoother and therefore more slippery.
Excessive alkalinity or minerals in the water can cause scaling that again renders the textured board smoother, or damages the textured surface.
Wearing, releasing or damage of the textured surface.
How do I Prevent the Board from Becoming Slippery?
Hose the board down with fresh water (not pool water) every day. This will help keep the textured surface free of contamination. Never use a high pressure washer for this; you will shorten the life of the texture by blasting away the aggregate.
Once a month, give the board a good scrubbing wash with a detergent and hot water. This will remove oils and keep the texture in good shape. Always use a soft bristle brush - never stiff.
If there is a hardness buildup, a muriatic acid solution can be used to dissolve the minerals. Remember to exercise all appropriate safety procedures when using muriatic acid!
The Textured Surface is Gone…Now What?
Take the board out of service. It just isn’t worth the risk of continuing to use it. Most commercial manufacturers offer refinishing of commercial boards. Contact your commercial aquatics provider, and they will help arrange shipping and refinishing of your board so it is like new, and back in tr-action!
The manufacturers use a special epoxy to bond the slip resistant material to the board, and the material itself is designed to reduce surface tension so that water doesn’t stand tall on the board. Don’t try to resurface the board yourself. It won’t be as good as the factory does it, and you accept the liability if there is an accident after you put it back into service.
OK…What Else for the Board?
The rubber channels on the underside of the board must be inspected monthly for signs of wear. If they are getting close to being worn out, they should be replaced BEFORE the metal ridges on the underside of the board come into contact with the fulcrum. If left unchecked, the fulcrum AND the board will be damaged!
That’s Great for the Board, but What About the Stand?
The best and easiest thing to do is to rinse the entire stand with clean water at the beginning and end of every day. This is especially important for indoor pools. When the stand cools off at night, warm humid air will condense on the stand and handrails, leaving a chlorine residue on the equipment and cause it to degrade prematurely.
Keep the fulcrum components clean, especially the tracks.
Keep the roller clamp lock nuts, and anti-rattle lock nuts, snug and adjusted for a "no-rattle" clearance.
The two grease fittings of the roller block should be lubricated every 2 weeks. Use "Mystic JT-6" grease and grease gun.
The hinges that hold the board to the stand need 2 drops of oil every 2 weeks. Use lightweight oil as for door hinges.
The carriage bolts that attach the diving board to the hinges should be checked for tightness periodically. The carriage bolt nuts need to be maintained at 110 lbs of torque (You’ll need a small torque wrench to do it properly).
Check all handrail and assembly bolts as part of a quarterly preventative maintenance program to keep everything up to snuff.
The stainless steel components are 304 stainless, which is a good quality material for swimming pool natatoriums, but like all stainless steel is not ‘rust-proof’. If rust does appear:
Clean it immediately with stainless steel cleaner and a cloth.
Rinse with lots of fresh water (never pool water).
Using an anodizing product or even wax as a barrier will help prevent future rust.
Air quality is critical to the prevention of rust on metal components. Good air handling equipment or the addition of a UV system to the pool go a long way toward improving air quality by reducing airborne chloramines.
Most pool owners and operators have heard the term VGB compliant as it relates to main drains in swimming pools, and may have heard of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act that was brought into legislation in the United States.
As a member of her community swim and diving team, Virginia Graeme Baker was a strong swimmer who could swim unassisted at only 3 years old. Despite this, Virginia (called Graeme by her family) died in a spa (hot tub) after becoming trapped on the single main drain fitting of the spa, even with the frantic efforts of her mother, Nancy Baker to release her from the drain. Eventually, two men were able to release Graeme from the drain, but exerted so much force that the main drain fitting was actually broken in the process. At the very young age of 7 years, Virginia Graeme Baker died from drowning as a result of becoming entrapped on the main drain fitting of the spa.
MAIN DRAINS & THE RISKS
The danger of a single main drain in a pool or spa cannot be overstated; when a single main drain is covered and is the sole source of suction for a pump, a tremendous hold-down force is exerted on the person covering the main drain fitting. For a typical residential pool or spa with an 8” round drain, the hold-down force can be in the order of 739 pounds! Even the strongest person would be unable to overcome this kind of force. The larger the surface area of the drain the greater the force, even if the same pump is used. For a 9”x9” main drain, the force will be about 1191 pounds, and for a 12” x 12” main drain the force will be a whopping 2117 pounds! This is approximately the same weight as a skidof bricks! But becoming entrapped by the suction is only one of the dangers of an improper drain installation. People can also become eviscerated if they sit on an improper drain, or become entangled (hair and jewelry) if the velocity of water through the drain is too high, or the drain openings are improperly designed.
Following Graeme’s death, Nancy Baker worked tirelessly as an advocate for pool safety and through the political clout of her father-in-law, former Secretary of State, James Baker III, and in association with Safe Kids Worldwide, lobbies to congress to bring into law the mandatory use of anti-entrapment drain covers and other safety devices and methods.
Use VGB Compliant Main Drain Covers
Perhaps the most important change was the nature of the drain cover itself. Main drain covers are now required to be VGB compliant, meaning that they have a shape and openings that have been designed to dramatically decrease the likelihood of a person becoming entrapped. The drains are also sized for different flow rates so that the velocity of water moving through the surface of the grate does not exceed 1.5 feet per second. This low velocity decreases the likelihood that things like hair will be drawn into the grate creating an entanglement problem.
Use Multiple Main Drains
Another important safety measure in pools and spas is to never have a single main drain. In Canada, it is law that every public pool and spa have at least two main drains, and that these be spaced apart from each other by at least four feet (1.2m). If one drain fitting is blocked, the water has another path to go though (the other drain fitting) so that an ‘absolute’ vacuum cannot be achieved.
Use a Safety Vacuum Release System
Finally, another measure to improve main drain safety is the use of Safety Vacuum Release Systems (SVRS). These devices are installed on the suction side of the pump(s) and are designed to eliminate the suction force of the pump. There are generally two types (mechanical and electrical) which are designed to sense excessive suction and act to relieve this suction. Electrical units work by shutting of the pump, and mechanical systems work by allowing air to enter the pump so that it loses suction.
Swimming pools and spas provide a tremendous amount of fun, leisure, exercise and therapeutic benefits to families, the public and patients. But we have to always remember that pools are really machines designed for our aquatic needs, and like all machines, pools have inherent dangers that have to be managed. For decades, we drove cars without the benefit of seatbelts, airbags and so many other safety features. At one time, we didn’t even have windshield wipers! Thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Baker after her loss of Graeme, properly designed pools and spas are now safer than they have ever been.
Click here for more information on Virginia Graeme Baker, what you can do to prevent entrapment and other tragedies or to read the Pool and Spa Safety Act.
Movable floors and bulkheads are becoming more common in aquatic facilities throughout North America. Although they offer similar benefits to an aquatic centre, there is a big difference between the two options.
Movable floors change the depth of the swimming pool water, while bulkheads act as a divider in the pool. Adding a movable floor and/or bulkhead will create endless opportunities for many different programs and activities within one body of water. Imagine the difference a movable floor or bulkhead could make in your swimming pool!
With a movable floor system the programming opportunities at your aquatic centre expand; traditionally you would need numerous bodies of water to offer these types of programming:
Swimming lessons (0.5M-1.2M)
Lane Swim (1.1M-1.35M)
Synchronized Swimming (2.0M-3.0M)
Water Polo (1.8M minimum)
Aqua Cycle (1.0M-1.2M)
Water Walking Programs (1.2M-1.5M)
Physical Rehabilitation (Beach entry or 0.5M-1.5M)
Competition Training (1.2M-1.5M)
The photo above shows the movable floor at the new Guildford Recreation Centre in Surrey, B.C where the water depth changes several times a day in order to accommodate various programs at the facility.
The addition of a bulkhead at your facility can allow you to accommodate many different programs and activities individually or simultaneously! Large, single activity pools can be divided easily to create separate swimming areas for:
Swimming lessons, fitness programs and other aquatic classes
Swimming competitions, water polo competitions and other sports events
Diving and synchronized swimming
Other special aquatic programs
The photo above shows the bulkhead installation in action at the Roosevelt Park Pool in Rapid City, South Dakota. The facility includes a 10-lane, 50M outdoor pool and when the Bulkhead is in the middle park position, the pool transforms into a 20-lane pool! This pool also features water polo courses for both men and women.
MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE
When choosing a movable floor or bulkhead manufacturer, it is important to consider the following:
What is the installation time and complexity of the bulkhead/movable floor?
Is the operation of the bulkhead/movable floor easy and user-friendly?
Are the maintenance and service costs low?
Are the metal parts made of non-corrosive 316 stainless steel or special bronze?
Does the bulkhead/movable floor offer an aesthetically pleasing appearance?
Movable floors and bulkheads offer the ultimate aquatic versatility for your facility. The addition of a movable floor to a swimming pool can make it simultaneously a deep diving pool, a child friendly shallow depth pool or a mid-depth pool for exercise and water games. The addition of a bulkhead can transform a large single activity pool into separate swimming areas for classes, sports events, or special activities. Installing a movable floor or bulkhead will increase water usage and maximize the swimming pools potential. One pool with unlimited possibilities!
As temperatures cool and holiday season’s approach, most of our fitness progress made in the warmer summer months is replaced throughout the fall and winter with growing regret. Whether it's due to the cooler weather, the loss of convenient outdoor exercise or our weakness for delightful holiday foods, throughout the cooler months of the year we would prefer to stay at home, cocooned in a blanket with a piece of pie and a TV series to binge watch than take on the cold and head to a gym. Unfortunately, this change of behaviour can lead to a decline in our overall health.
HEART WORK PAYS OFF
An energy surplus (when you consume more energy than you burn) which can lead to many different health issues including insulin resistance – the very first step to diabetes, and other serious metabolic problems. Committing 30 minutes of physical activity daily can go a long way.
Exercising doesn’t need to be a chore. In fact, many of the activities we enjoy during the summer can now be found indoors as well. Many gyms have tracks and treadmills for those who prefer walking and jogging, bikes, basketball courts and for one of the most effective forms of exercise, swimming pools!
SWIM FOR YOUR LIFE
Swimming is a low impact activity that is mentally and physically beneficial. Unlike many other forms of physical activity, swimming is both cardiovascular and strengthening at the same time. Although swimming is easy on the body, it makes use of all major muscle groups including shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, hips, and glutes. Here is a list of some of the incredible health benefits swimming can offer throughout the entire year.
Aquatic exercise has been found to improve cardiac function in mild to moderate chronic heart failure.
Swimming provides a total body workout, as nearly all of your muscles are used during swimming, which can help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, and strengthen your heart – all factors which help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Swimming has been recognized as one of the most effective calorie burners. Regular aquatic exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs.
Swimming reduces the impact on your body, while still providing a complete body workout making aquatic exercise more beneficial to individuals suffering from obesity and osteoarthritis than forms of land based exercise.
Swimming and aquatic exercise increase’s muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance.
Aquatic exercise has been shown to improve respiratory function, and provides an opportunity for individuals with asthma to work out in a moist air environment, reducing exercise induced asthma symptoms and improving asthma overall.
Regular aquatic exercise reduces the risk of diabetes by controlling blood sugar and lowering body weight.
Exercise is extremely important for individuals with diabetes in order to increase insulin action and keeps blood sugars at a healthy level. Due to the buoyancy of the water, swimming does not put pressure on joints and eases the stress on the body, including feet making swimming ideal for people with diabetes.
Swimming can evoke relaxation, alleviate stress and improve overall mental health. The stress relieving benefits of swimming are comparable to those found in yoga.
Swimming improves coordination, balance and posture and improves the quality and quantity of movement for those suffering from joint pain.
As swimmers, swimming pool operators, or facility owners, we are subjected to countless myths and legends that have been floating around the aquatic community for years. These wives tales can lead to misunderstandings, and for operators, can lead to the improper care of your swimming pool. It is important to be aware of the myths, lies, and assumptions, as well as understanding the truths in order to do our part in maintaining a comfortable swimming environment for all. Here’s a list of some of the top 3 myths affecting swimmers, and operators!
"CHLORINE WILL TURN MY HAIR GREEN!"
Although believed to be the causing factor by many, chlorine is not responsible for hair discolouring. If a swimming pool has caused your hair to turn green, it is likely due to the presence of copper in the water. Metal plumbing or algaecide can cause copper to reside in the pool water.
"CHLORINE MAKES MY EYES RED AND SORE!"
We have all experienced irritated eyes and skin after swimming, and likely we have all deduced that our eyes sting and our skin is dry because there was too much chlorine in the swimming pool. Unfortunately, we have been misguided.
Swimmer “red eye” is actually caused by chloramines which are formed when nitrogen (found in urine and sweat) is combined with chlorine. These chloramines are to blame for irritating our eyes, skin and even our respiratory systems. In fact, if these chloramines exist, operators may very well need to add MORE chlorine to the pool water in order to reduce the formation of chloramines. If the pH is too low or too high, swimmers may also feel some discomfort and irritation. Human tear ducts have a pH of 7.5, which means operators must ensure the pH remains between 7.4 and 7.6 and the combined chlorine stays at 0.2ppm or below in order to maintain a comfortable swimming environment.
"THE POOL MUST BE CLEAN BECAUSE I CAN SMELL THE CHLORINE!"
When you walk into an aquatic centre and you smell the strong scent of chlorine, our automatic response is to assume it must mean the pool is clean! Maybe we relate it to the smells of cleaning chemicals, but whatever the reason, this idea is wrong. It is actually the opposite; a properly cleaned swimming pool should not smell like a chemical factory. The strong smell that we have all experienced so many times is really due to chloramines – the result of a reaction caused by the mixing of chlorine and contaminants carried into the water by swimmers.
These contaminants can include but are not limited to:
A strong smelling swimming pool can indicate that the chlorine is working harder than necessary, due to the presence of contaminants in the pool and may really mean that the pool is in need of further chemical intervention.
Swimming pools are an excellent way to stay active and have fun in the summer, but if you live or operate a swimming pool in a colder climate, there comes a time at the end of the swimming season when pools must be winterized. Not winterizing a pool in a colder climate is simply not an option, unless you want a hefty repair bill come spring.
The power of water when it freezes and thaws is absolutely amazing. In colder climates, like Canada for instance, pools that are not properly winterized will experience all kinds of damage, such as cracked and broken pipes, pumps and filters.
In addition to winterizing the entire mechanical system for the pool, the pool shell itself requires protection against frost. The simplest way to protect a pool shell is to leave it full of water for the winter. When filling the pool for a winter hibernation, care should be taken to allow room for the water to rise with rain and snow. Typically the water level in a pool is left 12-18" from normal operating level at the time of winterizing.
To complete the winterizing, the pool should be completely drained, and compressed air used to blow out water from the recirculation piping. All returns, water inlets, drains, etc. need to be capped or plugged to keep water out. Play features in pools also need to have all the water removed from them and in some cases some water features will need to have antifreeze introduced into them to prevent low lying fittings from collecting water and freezing. Items such as skimmers should also have expansion devices installed to prevent these items from damage due to freezing expansion. Once all of the piping has been cleared of water and properly sealed up, the pool shell can then be filled and chemicals added. Items such as pumps, filters and heaters in the mechanical room also need to have all drain ports opened up and drain plugs removed.
When winterizing a pool, it is imperative that the time is taken to do it properly, in order to avoid any future damage and additional repair costs to the facility. Taking the proper steps can not only help preserve the condition of the pool tank and the mechanical equipement, but these simple steps can also help increase the longevity of the grounds, building, and deck equipment. Here are some tips to closing a swimming pool, recommended by the National Swimming Pool Foundation.
Adjust the chemical balance of the pool water to the recommended levels.
Treat Facility water with appropriate products to minimize algae, bacteria, or damage to surfaces.
Clean and vacuum the pool.
Empty and store skimmer baskets and hair and lint traps for the winter.
Backwash the filter thoroughly and clean the filter media or elements.
Drain sand filters. Remove cartridges or D.E. filter elements, inspect for tears or excessive wear, and store.
Lower the water level to below the skimmers and return lines for plaster pools. If needed, remove the remaining water from the recirculation lines using an air compressor or industrial type tank vacuum cleaner.
Open all pump room valves and loosen the lid from the hair and lint skimmer. However, if the filter is below pool water level, close the valves leading from the pool to the filter.
Grease all plugs and threads.
Add antifreeze formulated specifically for recreational water applications to the pipes to prevent bursting. Do not use automotive antifreeze.
Plug the skimmer or gutter lines. Winterize with antifreeze and expansion blocks. Secure the skimmer lids to the deck to prevent their loss. Plug wall return lines and the main drain.
Make sure the hydrostatic relief valve is operational.
Drain and protect pumps. If a pump and motor will be exposed to sever weather, disconnect, lubricate, perform seasonal maintenance of the pump, and store. Add antifreeze to help protect pumps and seals from any residual water left after draining.
Clean surge pits or balancing tanks.
Disconnect all fuses and open circuit breakers.
If underwater wet niche lights are exposed to the elements, remove them from their niches and lower them to the bottom of the pool.
Drain the pool water heater. Grease the drain plugs and store for the winter.
Turn off the heater gas supply, gas valves, and pilot lights.
Install the winter safety cover.
Properly store any unused chemicals as described on their labels to prevent containers from breaking and the mixing of potentially incompatible chemicals. Dispose of test reagents, disinfectants, and other chemicals that will lose their potency over the winter.
Disconnect, clean and store the chemical feeder, (Remember - Only Water can be used to clean out the chemical feeders) controllers, and other chemical feed pumps. Store controller electrodes in liquid and in a warm environment.
Clean and protect pressure gauges, flow meters, thermometers and humidity meters.
Store all deck furniture (chairs, lounges, tables, umbrellas, etc.) Identify and separate all furniture in need of repair.
Remove deck equipment, hardware, and non-permanent objects such as ladders, rails, slides, guard chairs, starting blocks, drinking fountains, handicapped lifts, portable ramps, clocks, weird, and safety equipment to prevent vandalism. Store in a clearly marked, identifiable, weather-protected location. Cap all exposed deck sockets.
Remove the diving boards. Store the boards indoors, upside down and flat so they will not warp.
Turn off the water supply to restroom showers, sinks, and toilets. Drain the pipes and add antifreeze.
Remove shower heads and drinking fountain handles. Open hose bibs and fill spouts.
Inventory all supplies and equipment. Make suggestions for preventative maintenance and repair, upgrading, and needed equipment purchases.
** ALL COMMERCIAL POOLS ARE DIFFERENT – ENSURE YOUR PERSONAL CLOSING PROCEDURES FOR YOUR POOL PRIOR TO COMMENCING WORK.
Every year people die by electrocution, and some of these incidents are associated with pools. In fact, In September 2016, a young girl working as a lifeguard at a swimming pool in North Carolina lost her life when she was electrocuted as she entered the water. So let’s talk a little bit about this, and how we might reduce the risk of electrical injury associated with pools.
Electrical energy acts a lot like other sources of energy in that it moves (flows) from one area to another when there is a “potential difference” in the voltage of those areas. Like a waterfall plummeting from a high point to a low point, so does electricity from a higher voltage (a live wire or battery terminal for example) to a lower voltage (ground).
Electricity generally speaking, needs a “conductor” to move or "flow" through. This flow of electricity is expressed in terms of Amperes or Amps. Some things are better conductors than others. Copper, aluminum and gold are excellent conductors and pass electricity, while things like the human body are less apt as conductors, but can certainly still pass electricity. Other substances like some (but not all) polymers and glass are insulators. Still others are classified as semiconductors (like doped / contaminated silicon). Uncontaminated water is actually an insulator when pure (distilled), but becomes sort of a semiconductor most of the time. In pools, it is usually a pretty fair conductor having been “contaminated” with minerals, chlorine and sometimes salt. The human body is a mediocre conductor, but also a poor insulator. Being that we are largely made up of contaminated water, electricity from a source will pass through our bodies on the way to ground…the lower voltage. On the way through it can interfere with nerve impulses including those activating the heart, and cause damage, seizure or in the worst case death by cardiac arrest.
So how can we make the seemingly unsuitable bed partners of pools and electricity less…shocking?
BONDING AND GROUNDING
Bonding refers to bringing all of the conductors around the pool (the reinforcing steel, handrails, light fixtures, pump cases etc.) to the same electrical potential by connecting them all together with a conductor (a ground wire). This eliminates the possibility of any potential difference between these various items; whatever voltage one item is at, the same voltage will be seen at all of the other items. But bonding alone does not render the items safe. You can’t get a shock between one item and another, but what if a stray voltage is energizing the bonding wire to some higher voltage? Then any of the items could give you a shock if your body is grounded (for example, being barefoot on the deck). To ensure the items are a zero volts, the bonded items have to be grounded. This simply involves running a wire from the bonded loop to the ground lug in the distribution panel.
KEEP ELECTRICAL ITEMS AWAY FROM THE POOL
It is never a good idea to have an electrically powered item near a swimming pool. Things like radios, blenders (for those summer margaritas) if dropped into the pool, can electrically charge the water and potentially shock bathers. Even if the device is away from the pool on the deck somewhere, someone who has recently been in the pool could drip water into the device and create a conductive path with the water from the device, through them to ground…not fun!
USE GFCI DEVICES AND BREAKERS
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupting (GFCI) devices work by comparing the current flow in the hot (supply) wire to the current flow in the neutral (return to ground) wire. In any circuit, the current flow should be the same in both ‘legs’. If it isn’t, it means the current is going somewhere else - like through you! The GFCI device will trip to disconnect the power supply if there is a difference of 6mA (that’s 6/1000 Amps), and does so in a fraction of a second to protect us from being shocked. GFCI devices are a great way to protect people from any electrical device, but are particularly appropriate for things like underwater pool lights where electricity is so close to the water.
PERFORM REGULAR ELECTRICAL REVIEWS
It’s a fact of life on this planet of ours that things change, materials degrade, corrode, erode, oxidize and just plain wear out. Your electrical system is no exception. Electrical distribution boxes and the breakers within become corroded and fail. Plastic wire insulation dries out and cracks, ground points become corroded. Corrosion is exacerbated by exposure to salt water because of its electrolytic properties. Having a reputable electrical contractor visit the site periodically may flag some of these issues before they become a health and safety concern. In addition to a visual inspection, they can perform tests (like high voltage meggering) to assess the condition of various electrical insulators in the system.