The beauty about working in the aquatic industry is learning about all of the information and various components involved in the operation of a pool. It is a natural assumption that there is a hole in the ground and this perfect, pristine body of water is waiting to cool swimmers on a hot day. In actual fact, pool operation can be likened to learning a new language when it comes to the complexity of properly servicing and maintaining this water for people to enjoy.
For instance, there are hundreds of variables that differ for each application and need to be closely supervised to ensure there is no interruption in the pool’s operation, while at the same time safeguarding patrons. The most important component, which can be easily overlooked and can have the biggest impact on the longevity of the pool’s lifecycle, is the basic preventive maintenance practices that need to be policed and properly scheduled.
A small leak, for example, that is not attended to could result in a major leak only hours or days after it starts. If it is not repaired properly, it can result in pool closures and a hefty bill for the owner. It is important every aquatic facility has a schedule of daily, weekly, and monthly preventive maintenance practices in place to ensure the most optimal pool operation for years to come.
WHAT IS PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE?
Preventive maintenance refers to routine upkeep to ensure pool equipment continues to operate efficiently, whereby preventing any unanticipated downtime and the associated costs from equipment failure. It requires vigilant planning and scheduling of maintenance for equipment before there is an actual problem, as well as keeping accurate records of past inspections and servicing reports. Maintenance includes parts replacement, cleaning, tests, and chemical adjustments.
WHAT SHOULD A PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE PROGRAM LOOK LIKE?
Preventive maintenance involves the regular inspection of equipment where potential problems are detected and corrected before it fails. In practice, a preventive maintenance schedule may include things such as cleaning, water testing and chemical adjustments, repairs, inspections, replacing parts, and overhauls that are regularly scheduled, such as filter sand changes. This is why it is imperative that daily, weekly, and monthly checks are completed and recorded.
These inspections should involve much more than simply performing routine maintenance on the pool’s mechanical equipment and water chemistry. It should also entail keeping accurate records of every inspection, water test, and repair, as well as knowing the life expectancy of each part to understand the replacement and maintenance requirements. These records can help technicians anticipate a suitable time to change parts and can also help them to diagnose problems when they occur. If this due diligence is not followed, service interruptions will happen, resulting in downtime to resolve the problem at hand.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Aside from protecting the owner’s investment, and ensuring their pool is operating to the best of its ability, preventive maintenance offers a number of other benefits, including:
Prolonged life of pool and spa equipment;
Minimal unplanned downtime caused by equipment failure;
Less unnecessary maintenance and inspections;
Fewer errors in day-to-day operations;
Improved reliability of equipment;
Fewer expensive repairs caused by unexpected equipment failure that must be fixed quickly; and
Reduced risk of injury.
In addition to being diligent with maintenance, there are also health and building codes that provide a guide for proper daily operation. These are enforced by inspectors to ensure the pool and spa environment is safe for bathers and the laws are being followed.
There are several simple maintenance procedures that can be easily overlooked, but without the proper attention, it can lead to major complications down the road if they are not completed.
PRIORITY MAINTENANCE PLAN
The heart of the pool is the filtration pump—without it the water would not be circulated through the filter, heater, or sanitization system, creating a potential health hazard for bathers. It is critical that regular checks and maintenance are completed on the pumps to avoid cloudy water, or even prevent an unexpected closure due to mechanical failure.
Simple things like cleaning the strainer basket (daily for an outdoor application and weekly for an indoor application) can have a drastic impact on the overall efficiency of the mechanical system. If the strainer basket is not cleaned regularly, a ‘load’ is put on the pump, forcing it to work harder to circulate the water that needs to be filtered, heated, and chemically treated before it is sent back to the pool. The harder the pump has to work, the more wear-and-tear is put on it. As a result, this can lead to mechanical seal failure, water clarity issues, as well as impact the overall performance of the entire system.
If maintenance is not completed regularly, the pump will fail and force a closure until it can be repaired or replaced. The water can become cloudy, increasing the amount of additional labour and chemicals required to get the pool back up and running. By completing simple pool maintenance, owners can improve the overall longevity of their investment.
DO NOT SKIMP ON SKIMMING
In a pool, the first 152 mm (6 in.) of water is the most contaminated. This makes the skimmer or surface water circulation (if applicable) an essential component to preventive maintenance. The powerful pull of the pump leads water into the filter; once dirt has been removed, it is heated, chemically treated, and returned to the pool through the returns.
Pool owners/operators should ensure the baskets inside the skimmers are cleaned regularly as part of a daily routine maintenance program. These baskets are used to catch debris on the surface while also protecting the pump. If the baskets are not cleaned regularly, they will become clogged with debris such as leaves, band aids, and other common waste found in pools.
This blockage will result in an additional ‘load’ being placed on the pump, forcing it to work harder to circulate the pool water and increasing the stress on the equipment.
CHECKS AND BALANCES
Physical pool care is integral to a maintenance program, but one should not discount the importance of water chemistry. Although it is not visible to the eye (in some cases), water care is a priority in any maintenance plan.
If there is an inconsistency in water treatment, there can be considerable consequences. When it comes to the chemical parameters that need to be monitored, they all have an impact; however, one of the most important and commonly neglected is calcium hardness. This water parameter measures the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the pool to determine how hard or soft the water is. It is important to keep the calcium hardness balanced to prevent the water from becoming corrosive or cause scaling.
The nature of calcium hardness has massive ramifications if it is neglected, as the acidic component can impact the longevity of a pool’s structure and mechanical system. All municipalities have a different measure of source water, and because freshwater needs to be added daily, a good preventive maintenance program should include logs of routine water test results.
When the calcium hardness is low, it has an acidic effect on the system. Simply put, it is a form of acid that slowly eats away at the pool finish causing it to slowly deteriorate. This acidity can sometimes become lost in other chemical parameters, but can easily become the culprit if not checked and balanced regularly.
On the other end of the spectrum, when calcium hardness is high, scaling can occur and will be visible along the waterline tile. Behind the scenes, the calcium build-up will also be present in the plumbing. If the calcium hardness remains high for too long, it will eventually cause obstructions in the pool piping. This will cause closures and require costly mechanical retrofits to resolve the problem. This additional cost and inconvenience can be avoided by simply adding a calcium hardness check to the pool’s regular maintenance routine.
LEAVE IT TO THE EXPERTS
There are several components that impact the overall longevity of a pool and its operation; however, an experienced, knowledgeable technician will know the proper preventive measures required to ensure the pool system is running at peak performance.
Neglecting these well-known measures will inevitably impact the pool’s function; therefore, it is of utmost importance for an aquatic facility to not only have a preventative maintenance plan in place, but also ensure it is policed regularly to guarantee a safe and comfortable swimming experience for patrons
With the New Year approaching, many of us begin to reflect on our accomplishments and achievements (or lack thereof) in the past year. This time of reflection gives us the opportunity to identify the areas that we would like to improve in the coming year. Whether we want to live a healthier lifestyle, read more, or dedicate more time spent with family, setting goals ahead of time gives us adequate time to plan and recognize the steps needed in order to meet your goal.
As 2019 comes to an end, businesses and aquatic facilities are also reflecting on the past year and coming up with ways to improve and grow revenue. There are many ways an aquatic centre can become more profitable, however, the simplest solution is the addition of specialized programs to your existing aquatic schedule. The following are tips on designing the perfect aquatic schedule for your pool users.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Offering specialized programs based on research can increase the overall participation of your swimming pool, and facility as a whole. Before building a schedule, it’s important to know your market and understand what your pool users want. Knowing how many users you have on a daily and weekly basis, what programs your users participate in, and their age groups will help you target your current and potential market. Consider conducting a survey of your current members or testing new programs on frequent facility users to find out what programs generate the most interest.
Offering a variety of programs that are appropriate for all different user groups and demographics will open your facility to a wider market and create more reason to use your pool. In doing so, the facility's overall revenue will be increased. The amenities offered vary from facility to facility. This means that not every facility has access to a swimming pool. Encouraging participation in aquatic programs will not only increase the number of pool users, but may even encourage pool users to participate in other programs offered within the facility.
DESIGNED FOR YOUR POOL
The design of your pool can determine the types of programs you are able to offer. For example, competitive swimming requires a cooler, deeper pool than pools geared towards recreational swimming, fitness/therapy classes and swimming lessons. Whether your swimming pool is indoor or outdoor can also factor into the scheduling process.
Offer programs targeted towards youth in the day and programs for adults and young children in the early morning or evening.
Offer programs targeted towards youth in the evening and programs for adults and young children during the early/late morning and afternoon when older children and teens are in school.
KEEP IT FRESH
Keeping programming fresh is crucial in maintaining the interest of your guests. Specialized programming and events can add variety to your regular programming. A great example of a creative and specialized event is “The Pumpkin Patch in the Pool” at the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in Bellingham, WA. This tradition of 19 years is a Halloween celebration in which swimmers can pick a floating pumpkin while they swim. The event costs $5 per guest, and includes a swim in the pool and a pumpkin to take home. Pumpkins are donated by friends of the facility.
Other events could include:
Water safety days
Movies in the pool
Yoga by the pool
Holiday themed pool days
Other ways to generate interest through programming:
Offer incentives for pool users
Offer fitness classes and other programs targeted towards a specific age group or ability (i.e. maternity, seniors, rehabilitation, parents and tots)
Attendance can also be increased by providing educated and creative facility managers and aquatic instructors. Offering continuing education to your staff can benefit the facilities programs and keep instructors and aquatic managers up-to-date in the latest programs, research and techniques which can enhance the quality of the programs offered.
Eliminating Barriers at Today's Aquatic Facilities
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Public pools and spas bring people of all ages and abilities together and, therefore, are designed to be an inclusive space. Swimming, exercise, therapy, relaxation, and water play are all activities that can take place in a pool and/or spa and, thanks to innovative design features and access equipment, people of all abilities are able to participate in these activities in the same body of water.
To make an aquatic facility more accessible, it starts during the design phase. In fact, many provinces and states have made significant changes to building codes when it comes to addressing ease of access to public facilities. For instance, amendments to building codes in Ontario require barrier-free access to, and around, all public pools and some spas. That said, there are several ways to design/build or renovate an aquatic facility to make it more accessible.
Ramps are one of the most common and effective ways to make a pool more accessible. Pool ramps provide individuals in wheelchairs a safe way to enter/exit the pool while remaining seated. They also provide a gradual entry point equipped with railing support for patrons who may have other mobility constraints. Bathers of all ages and abilities can use these ramps as a method of ingress/egress from the pool.
Beach entry, also known as zero entry, is an increasingly popular pool design, especially when it comes to accessibility and overall esthetics. A beach entry provides a gradual slope from the deck into the pool, eliminating the need for steps and/or ladders. The design is similar to a ramp, but spans the entire width of the pool.
This design accommodates a wide range of patrons of all ages and abilities. Beach entries are typically integrated into leisure/lap pool combinations and provide a popular access point for the entire family.
This pool design comprises a wall or curb along an accessible route to enable a bather to leave a mobility device and transfer onto the wall and then in the pool or spa. Transfer walls must have at least one grab bar; however in most cases there are two. This type of accessibility feature is common in spas.
Ballet railings are installed along the walls of a pool and, in some cases, in the interior, to provide a hand grip for bathers to hold onto - similar to the railings used by ballet dancers. These railings provide additional support and security for bathers with mobility constraints; however, they are also commonly used for fitness and aerobics. In certain applications, ballet rails can be removed for storage when not in use.
Movable floors give aquatic facilities the ultimate versatility when it comes to accessibility. In fact, a number of public pools in Europe are equipped with these systems, while in North America movable floors are gaining similar traction and are now being incorporated into many aquatic facility designs.
Movable floors can be installed in new construction or retrofitted into existing facilities giving them the ability to offer a range of programming that could not be provided to patrons in the past. While not a lifting device, pools equipped with a movable floor can be set to multiple depths to accommodate the preferences and/or abilities of different patrons. Further, moving floors can also be built with a sloping functionality. This allows the movable floor to become a beach entry or offer a gradual depth change within the pool.
Platform lifts provide the same benefits and ease of entry as a ramp, but in a fraction of the space. These devices, which are typically a small movable floor, allow a patron to remain in their wheelchair or mobility device when entering the pool.
Capable of stopping at one or more depths within the pool, platform lifts have a greater weight capacity than an anchored or portable lift and are powered by either battery or water.
Similar to a ramp or beach entry, these are the only lifts that give the platform autonomy to enter the pool without assistance. These lifts are designed and built as part of the pool and are typically incorporated in the initial plans. Platform lifts are innovative in design and are increasing in popularity compared to older access equipment typically found in most aquatic facilities.
Many people are familiar with splash pads, as they are often found at most public playgrounds and, in some cases, are also part of many aquatic facility designs. These areas have grown in popularity because of their zero-depth water play design. Not only are they safe, but they are universally accessible. Many aquatic facilities will incorporate either an indoor or outdoor splash pad or water play area into the plans.
Along with the barrier-free design of most splash pads, water play manufacturers are also creating a range of interactive features that are available in various sizes to accommodate patrons of all abilities.
Further, all ground space is flush with the concrete, which allows mobility devices to move over and around a splash pad without any difficulty.
Access lifts provide an additional means of entry/exit with the ability to transfer a patron from the pool deck directly into the water without using a ramp or stairs. These lifts do not have to be incorporated into the design or construction of the pool, as they can be easily installed after the pool has been built.
There are many different manufacturers and models available, which makes it possible to use these types of pool lifts in most aquatic facilities whether new or existing.
Anchored access lifts are installed into supports mounted around the pool perimeter. These lifts can be easily removed and stored if they are not being used. Most anchored pool access lifts are battery-powered and charged by simply plugging the unit into the wall.
Portable access lifts are similar to anchored lifts; however, they are on wheels and can be used anywhere around the pool as they are not limited by anchor locations in the pool deck. Although portable lifts can be used anywhere, they typically have a lower weight capacity.
These lifts are installed in the ceiling of an aquatic facility and are typically used when deck space is limited. They also have a larger lifting capacity than a portable or anchored lift. Powered by a battery-operated motor, a ceiling lift can transport patrons-once they are suspended-lateralling along a track system. They are also well-suited for intensive use, e.g. providing access to the pool for a large number of patrons that use wheelchairs. Further, ceiling lifts have a larger lifting capacity than a standard portable or anchored deck lift and are great for pools that have narrow decks which do not permit the installation of an access system.
The off-season provides the perfect opportunity for campground owners and managers to make improvements in time for the busy upcoming summer season. Improvements may include plans to renovate existing camping facilities or the addition of new facilities, equipment, programs or activities. Planning improvements during the winter allows work to be completed during the cooler, quieter months when campers do not frequent the campground often. Planning ahead of time will decrease the inconvenience your campers may experience, and improve their overall visit.
It is important for businesses, including campgrounds, to be constantly improving. Whether the change is big, or small, or even visible to campers, upgrades to your facility will only enhance your campers experience at your campground.
On hot summer days, children and their families flock to the swimming pool to cool down and have some fun. One way to enhance your facility is to give your aquatic facility a makeover. Whether through a complete renovation, or the addition of an exciting water feature, your swimming pool can become the heart of your campground whatever your budget may be. Here’s a list of ideas to instantly add an element of excitement to your swimming pool or aquatic facility!
MAKE A SPLASH
One of the most popular ways to cool off on a summer day, Splash Pads are the safest water play option and have universal accessibility. Splash Pads are perfect for children of all ages and eliminate the need for lifeguards. A splash pad is an excellent addition to an existing aquatic facility, but also works perfectly standing alone! Whether your campground has a pool or not, custom and themed spray feature can create and exciting and interactive aquatic environment for your guests all summer long!
MAKE THE CLIMB
Make the climb; add a climbing wall to your campground! The addition of an aquatic climbing wall will ehance the aquatic experience at your campground and increase the number of pool users. As a relativley new concept, this awesome feature will add variety and excitment to any facility, peaking interest of new guests as well as maintaining the interest of recurring visitors.
ENJOY THE SLIDE
From complex entertainment structures to elephant water slides deisgned to enrich a young swimmer's experience, a water slide is the perfect answer to elevating your facilty's entertainment value and worth. Custom of popular designed slides can be installed with limited space requirements making an upgrade easily attainable. Fun for the whole family, make your campground the highlight of any visitor's experience.
RESTORE, REMODEL, REJUVENATE
Is your campground's swimming pool starting to show its age both cosmetically and functionally? Does your pool meet code requirements? Whether your pool needs a simple repair, or a complex upgrade, it is important to keep your aquatic facility running properly and in many cases a renovation could mean cost savings in the long run. Why build a brand new pool, if a renovation can bring your existing pool back to life?
Knowledge is Power: The Benefits of Being a Certified Pool Operator
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
During the last several years, the aquatic industry has experienced a major growth. Innovative and continuously evolving technology has not only changed many of the physical attributes of aquatic centres today, but has also improved the overall swimming environment. With advanced operating techniques, tools, and maintenance practices, swimming pools have become safer, and more enjoyable to swimmers everywhere. However, without proper operation your patron’s safety and health as well as the longevity of your facility could be sacrificed. The training and education of your pools operators is crucial to the success of your facility.
LET'S BREAK IT DOWN
The Certified Pool Operators® (CPO®) course is an educational course provided by the National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF®) that teaches students the fundamentals of pool and spa operation. After completing the course, participants will understand how to reduce risks, improve safety, and decrease liability for employers, facilities and patrons. CPO® certification courses are designed to provide individuals with the basic knowledge, techniques, and skills needed for pool and spa operation. The CPO® certification has provided training in the pool and spa industry since 1972, resulting in more than 350,000 certifications in 94 countries.
Who Should Be Certified?
Pool & Spa Operators
Facility Maintenance Staff
Environmental Health Officials
Facility Managers & Owners
The Certified Pool Operator program requires participation in either a two-day class taught by a certified instructor OR the blended format which combines the online, “Pool Operator Primer™”, and one day of the in-class instruction, “Pool Operator Fusion™”, along with a final examination.
This certification program includes:
Pool & Spa Chemistry
Chemical Feed & Control
Local and State Code Regulations
To complete the CPO® program successfully, participants are required to write an open book final exam and obtain a 75% or higher. Once completed, the certification is valid for five years and can be recertified with only a one day in-class review and exam by a certified instructor.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
This internationally accepted certification is a proven educational tool covering the necessary topics for pool & spa operators.
The comprehensive handbook is the perfect tool for participants attending the class, as well as an excellent source of reference for those who have completed the course.
All courses are taught by an NSPF certified instructor. This maintains the accuracy and consistency of the material.
The course provides participants with a better understanding of the operator’s role in pool and spa care, management, and risk reduction.
The CPO® course provides operators with a better understanding of the importance of water chemistry, which will result in a safer and more comfortable swimming environment, as well as improving the life of the facility.
The materials and topics covered in this course provide you with the essential knowledge to perform preventative maintenance and understand its impact on water purification and mechanical equipment.
The growth of the aquatic industry has created a demand for improved safety, and a higher level of education for the management of an aquatic facility. Although this course is internationally recognized, there are still those who have yet to become certified. It is imperative as an industry, that we encourage those who have not yet received certification, as well as those who have, to stay current and up-to-date on proper operation and maintenance of a safe swimming environment.
As the aquatic industry progresses, our aquatic professionals must also progress and improve. As they say…Knowledge Is Power!
Summer may officially be over, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop swimming! In fact, swimming throughout the year can help you strengthen your swimming skills in preparation for summer water activities! No need to worry about weather conditions interfering with your aquatic programs in the fall or winter, indoor pools are open rain or shine…or snow! Here's a list of some of our favourite awesome indoor pools.
FALLSVIEW INDOOR WATERPARK
Don’t let the cold weather get you down! Visit the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark in Niagara Falls and keep your family entertained for hours this winter! This 3 acre indoor waterpark is directly connected to the Sheraton on the Falls Hotel and features 16 water slides standing up to 6 stories high, a large wave pool, Jacuzzis, a tiny tots splash area and more! Children will have a blast splashing in the Beach House featuring a Tipping Bucket that dumps 1,000 gallons of water! The Tiny Tots splash park includes water streams, mushroom water pods, tot slides and much more. This water park is perfect for swimmers of all ages!
MIDCO AQUATIC CENTER
The MIDCO Aquatic Center is a 61,000 square foot recreational center featuring competition, recreation, and therapy pools as well as a spray park. The 50M competition pool hosts ten lanes and a competition diving area with four platforms. The therapy pool is 1,500 square foot and wheelchair accessible. The recreation pool is a multi-use pool that accommodates a variety of programming opportunities and includes a lazy river, water slide, recreation area, and splash area with play structure. With zero depth beach entry, and an ADA lift, the MIDCO Aquatic Center was designed and built to be fully accessible.
REGENT PARK AQUATIC CENTRE
This indoor aquatic facility, located in the heart of Regent Park in Toronto, Ontario features a lap pool, leisure pool, warm water pool, Tarzan rope, diving board and water slide! The first in Canada, the Regent Park has adopted the use of a universal change room. This was a choice made to establish equality, create a fully accessible experience for all patrons and enhance safety at the facility. With programs created to accommodate all ages (from preschoolers to seniors), the Regent Park Aquatic Centre is a great place for the community to spend time this winter!
DULLES SOUTH RECREATION & COMMUNITY CENTRE
This aquatic facility, comprised of a 50M lap pool and a leisure pool, offers features for swimmers of all ages. Patrons of the Dulles South Recreation & Community Center have use of diving stands, a lazy river, a 135-foot Aqua Blue water slide with an adjoining plunge pool, a hydrotherapy whirl pool, and a separate spa. Zero depth beach entry leads swimmers into the shallow area of the leisure pool which features an exciting Vortex play structure. Open all year long, this awesome indoor aquatic centre is the place to be this winter!
GUILDFORD RECREATION CENTRE
The impressive Guildford Recreation Centre in Surrey, British Columbia includes an exciting aquatic centre complete with modern features guaranteed to improve the experience of all swimmers! The state-of-the-art facility features an 8-lane, 50M FINA standard competition pool, a leisure pool complete with a lazy river, spray features and a toddler area, a family hot tub, and a water slide! This aquatic centre has the ability to offer a variety of programming. From aquacise classes to lifeguard courses and diving practices, The Guildford Recreation Centre is open to the public year round!
MITCHELL INDOOR AQUATIC CENTRE
Perfect for both recreation and competitive uses, the Mitchell Indoor Aquatic Center features a competition pool and a leisure pool. To be suitable for competitive swimming events, the competition pool is complete with diving boards, starting blocks, a basketball hoop, accessibility lift and a Colorado Timing System. The leisure pool contains warm-up lanes, two water slides, a vortex therapy pool, a fun zip line, play structures and spray features. The orange water slide plunge zone drops swimmers into the pool at the end of the water slide. Although it's the shorter of the two water slides, the drop adds some suspense before splashing into the water. The blue water slide is the longer of the two and its twists and turns take riders on an exciting ride outside the building.
MOUNT PEARL SUMMIT CENTRE
The Mount Pearl Summit Centre includes aquatic areas and features suitable for all ages and purposes. The facility features a lap pool, fitness pool, whirl pool, water slide and an indoor splash pad with safety foam flooring. The main pool contains a touch sensor timing system for competitive swimming uses and underwater speakers to enhance the synchronize swimming experience! With all of these high-tech amenities, this indoor aquatic centre is guaranteed to provide entertainment for families throughout the whole year!
DR. ROBERT W. BROWNE AQUATIC CENTRE
This state of the art aquatic centre located in Coldwater, Michigan includes an 8 lane competition pool and a separate warm water therapy pool with zero depth beach entry. There is no limit to the types of aquatic programming available at this community centre. The diving boards and starting blocks are perfect for those looking to practice their swimming techniques, competitions and lap swimming. The Badu jets, therapy railings, hydrotherapy bench and pool lift were included to offer rehabilitation and senior aquatic programs. Children will have a blast using the inflatable log, climbing wall, basketball nets and volleyball nets during a leisure swim! The Dr. Robert W. Browne Aquatic Centre really does have something to offer swimmers of all ages this winter!
CRESTON & DISTRICT COMMUNITY COMPLEX
The exciting indoor aquatic facility at the Creston & District Community Complex, located in Creston, British Columbia is a great place to go for a swim this winter! This 5-year old facility offers many modern and interactive amenities within the aquatic centre including a 5-lane, 25M lap pool with a diving stand, a 2,500 square foot leisure pool complete with a lazy river, bubble bench and a tot play area, and a 165 square foot swirl pool. The exciting spray features will keep children occupied for hours! Whether you are looking to get in a good lap swim, practice your swimming strokes, or just a relaxing leisure swim, this aquatic centre is the place to spend the winter and with a variety of features it’s perfect for the entire family.
RICHARDSON RECREATION & WELLNESS CENTRE
The Richardson Recreation and Wellness Centre in Swan Valley, Manitoba opened to the community in 2014. This awesome indoor aquatic centre combines features for recreation and leisure activities along with the necessary equipment for competition and lap swimming. For families looking to spend a Saturday afternoon at the pool, the facility offers a large leisure pool with a zero depth beach entrance, a swirl pool, water slide, lazy river, tot pool and various spray features. For the expert swimmers looking to continue to improve their swimming techniques, or for those in search of an alternative form of exercise throughout the winter this aquatic centre offers a 4-lane competition pool with starting blocks!
As the temperatures begin to drop, the realization that the end of the summer season is approaching sets in. While the colder weather looms in the near distance, our to-do lists grow significantly as we scramble to get all of our summer equipment stored away before it gets too cold. Since most residential, commercial outdoor pools and splash pads close after Labour Day weekend in Canada, closing the pool usually tops the list for pool owners and operators.
For residential pools especially, did you know that it is best to keep your pool open until the water temperature is consistently below 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit)? This allows the water to be a consistently lower temperature which creates a better environment for closing chemicals, ensuring they last until spring.
For commercial pools and splash pads it’s a completely different world. Most large commercial pools are required to be fully drained in order to plug up all of the main drains and ensure all of the systems are completely empty.
Tip! Before winterizing, chemically treat your filtration system. Contact your pool experts to find out how to remove grease and oil from your filters to increase their lifespan and save money for next season!
Use the checklist below as a guideline for closing your outdoor pool.
Remove deck equipment, hardware, and non-permanent objects such as ladders, rails, tot slides, guard chairs, starting blocks, drinking fountains, accessibility lifts, portable ramps, clocks, weirs, and safety equipment to prevent vandalism. Store in a clearly marked, identifiable, weather- protected location. Cap all exposed deck sockets.
Remove the diving boards and store them indoors (upside down and flat to prevent warping).
Follow your manufactures directions for the winterization of any toys and water features in your facility. Some smaller units can be removed, while others, like dumping buckets, remain and have specific procedures to follow for winterizing.
Tip! Isolate your flow cell for your probes before you drain your system.
Completely drain the pool and remove all white goods and skimmer baskets and store in a marked container. Residential Pools only need to be drained down to 1 ½’ below the returns and discharge the lines.
Drain all of the pool equipment including pumps, strainers, heater, UV systems, filters, surge tanks and holding tanks.
Store all probes from chemical controllers in water in a warm environment for the winter months. Do not allow the water to freeze.
Using an air compressor and correct connections, discharge the main drains, skimmer/gutter lines, returns and jets from the mechanical room to the pool.
Plug all of the lines on the pool side with the proper sized fitting or test plugs. Consult your pool specialist for assistance if you need to replace any threaded or test plugs.
Fill your pumps or strainers with pool grade antifreeze to keep the mechanical seals lubricated for the winter. This will ensure a smooth start up in the spring.
Fill the pool for the winter to your recommended depth based on your specific pools requirements. If you're unsure about your facility's requirements, contact your pool consultant or design engineer.
Install pool covers if required in your area.
Turn off the water supply and restroom showers, sinks, and toilets.
Drain all of the pipes to ensure all of the lines are free of water. Remove shower heads and drinking fountain handles.
Open hose bibs and fill spouts.
Have your phone service provider disconnect the pool telephone and discontinue service for the winter season.
Confirm the security of the facility to present unauthorized access.
Ensuring you have winterized properly can be a worrisome, but with the right preparation beforehand and ensuring you have the proper tools, you will be ready. Before you know it, Spring will be upon us and it will be time to open again!
In today's world swimming pools are all around us. Who doesn’t have a pool in their backyard or have a close neighbour with one? Friends and family gather around them, making wonderful memories every day. Fitness clubs have pools, community centres have pools, hotels have pools, and now high rises in the sky even have them. Building a residential or commercial pool on the ground level is a relatively easy task, but what are the challenges of building an elevated pool high in the sky?
When building in a high rise structure, several considerations need to be taken into account during design. Keep in mind a 4 foot deep lap pool that is 75 feet long holds approximately 75,000 gallons of water. Water weighs 8.34 pounds per US gallon, equating to 625,500 pounds of water - and that’s just the weight of the water! Add in the weight of the concrete pool shell, reinforcing steel, interior finishes and mechanical items and it doesn’t take long for a small lap pool to weigh in excess of 900,000 pounds. That’s a lot of additional weight on a building structure or roof top. Structural engineers and architects have their work cut out for them to design and engineer a building structure that’s safe enough to hold all of this additional weight.
One other consideration when designing a swimming pool in an elevated structure is waterproofing and sealing of the structure. Nobody wants 75,000 gallons of water leaking out into a building and running down into the main lobby. Today’s swimming pools have cantilevered edges that hang out over the edge of buildings, windows in the walls, and in some cases glass bottoms. Providing a positive seal in extreme building conditions such as this can be a challenge. Engineers spend countless hours running calculations to provide 100% watertight designs.
Aside from the structural and waterproofing challenges outlined above during design, now there is the challenge of building it. Countless men and women climb story after story of stairs or ride construction elevators 10, 20, even 50 stories up to start construction of these wonderful and challenging pools high in the sky. Hundreds of cubic meters of concrete need to be pumped up, or craned up sometimes hundreds of feet to be poured in place. Thousands of pounds of structural reinforcing steel and mechanical equipment need to be hoisted in place by tower cranes and snaked through the building structure to be constructed in place. Every move in this elevated construction environment needs to have several hours or even days of planning. On the ground it's easy, back up the cement truck and start pouring. When you're 50 stories in the air, it’s a little more challenging.
So the next time you visit a luxury hotel or you're at a resort on your next vacation check out the roof top swimming pool. Challenge yourself to swim out over the cantilevered edge and imagine the challenges of constructing that beautiful masterpiece.
Fun Fact: Some elevated swimming pools in high rise buildings are used to protect the building structure in event of a fire. Some of these pools have a connection so the fire department can quickly pump water out of the pool in the event of a building fire.
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.