Feature Article - February 2004
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In the Swim

The Best Strategies for Aquatic Center Peak Performance

By Kim Tobin


Commercial pump metal baskets can rust and corrode over the years from improper water balance. This allows debris into the pump and can potentially damage the impeller and diffuser. Routinely make sure your pump's strainer basket is c eaned out and in good condition and that all o-rings and gaskets are lubricated and serviceable. Be sure your pump is airtight to prevent loss of prime or decreasing circulation. If operations are seasonal, take the pump apart in the off-season, inspect it and replace the shaft seal if necessary.

Skimmers, main drains and return inlets

A pool's circulation system relies on surface skimmers or overflow gutters, main drains and return inlets to remove debris and provide uniform water and chemical distribution. Skimmer baskets should be regularly cleaned. Skimmer weirs or floats need to work properly to control the flow of surface water into the skimmer to facilitate the removal of surface debris. Make sure skimmer covers are securely attached to prevent tampering and ensure the safety of walkers on deck.

Main drain covers should be checked regularly for their condition and also should be securely fastened to prevent entrapment and keep large debris from entering the main drain line. Main drains often have a hydrostatic relief valve to relieve ground-water pressure. They should be checked to make sure they're properly working and should be replaced as needed.

Return inlets are often adjustable. Adjust the flow of the inlets to prevent pockets of stagnant water. If your pool is winterized, these procedures for securing the main drains and return inlets are of paramount importance.

Chemical feeders

If feeders are not working properly, they can upset the water-treatment balance by limiting the amount of chemicals in the mix. Since liquid chemical feeders may be exposed to corrosive chemicals, you may want to completely overhaul your feeder annually.

Lighting fixtures

Loose-fitting lights can be hazardous to swimmers and can be banged around, causing the bulb to burn out. When changing a bulb, check the gasket as well, and change it if necessary. A simple light wedge can help firmly secure the light in the housing.

Other equipment checks

DECK EQUIPMENT: Check ladders frequently to make sure steps are not broken and that nuts and bolts are tight. To prevent corrosion on stainless-steel railings, use warm water and a nonabrasive gentle detergent with a soft cloth regularly. Also be sure ladder, handrails and grab rails are securely fastened into anchor sockets and anchor wedges are tight.

DIVING EQUIPMENT: Make sure diving boards and stands are securely fastened. Check to ensure fulcrums are in good condition. Check nonskid diving board surface for wear and tear.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT: Set up a regular schedule to inspect safety equipment. You should be notified by your local board of health if any regulations change and if you need to make any additions or modifications to your safety equipment list.

ROPES AND FLOATS: Constantly check their condition. Floats crack; ropes fray. Hooks should be in good condition and tight on the end of the rope.

MANUALS ONLINE: Many major manufacturers have made their equipment manuals available on the Internet. Refer to your individual manufacturers' manuals or contact your supplier.

Taking care of what's out of the water
Expansion joints and tile grout

Expansion joints should be checked annually for failure. While replacing old, non-watertight expansion joints is time-consuming, it is relatively inexpensive and can prevent major masonry repairs to coping and tile.

Coping prevents pool water from splashing on the deck and also provides a level nonskid surface on top of a pool wall to join it to the deck. Tile enhances appearance, and it is also relatively easy to clean the staining that usually occurs around a pool's waterline.

Painted pool surfaces

Painting pools is usually done every few years for appearance and to provide a protective coating. In many seasonal climates, it is done yearly. Whether a pool is concrete or fiberglass, painting can provide a UV-, chemical- and water-resistant finish. Each paint manufacturer provides specific guidelines on how to paint a pool and paint compatibility. For existing painted pools, many manufacturers also offer chip analysis that can check a paint's durability and compatibility. Surface preparation is also extremely important in ensuring that any paint adheres well.