Problem Solver - August 2007
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Protecting Your Investment in Aquatic Construction

We're renovating our aquatic center. How do we best protect our investment?

When renovating a pool or building a new facility, air and water quality should be among the two biggest considerations. If these two factors are left unmanaged, substantial harm can be done to both equipment and patrons. The best defense is an industrial ultraviolet (UV) system that will control chloramines and, as a bonus, disinfect chlorine-resistant pathogens.

UV systems treat 100 percent of the water returned to the pool. UV light is a non-chemical, environmentally friendly treatment option for reducing chloramines in swimming pools and spas. Chloramines, or combined chlorine, are the result of chlorine and bathers interacting. They are regulated by law and are the single largest daily headache for aquatic directors at indoor facilities. They cause much of the odor, eye irritation and corrosion often found at indoor aquatic centers.

Chloramines let off gas into the air, then saturate back into the condensation on your air handler and deck equipment. They are corrosive not only to the building, but to humans as well. Simply put, chloramines can compromise your employees' and patrons' health. They cause a noxious vapor that blankets the pool and wreaks havoc on those nearby. They also have caused athletic asthma in competitive swimmers. Aquatic therapists have reported a loss of body hair due to the damage chloramines have caused to hair follicles. Once UV systems were installed, those same therapists reported that the hair returned.

The systems are so effective, the New York Department of Health has required their installation at all spraygrounds statewide. The move was made after an outbreak of Cryptosporidium sickened 1,800 people who had visited a state park.

The UV system is comprised of a power control cabinet and a treatment chamber. The treatment chamber is basically a large pipe with one or more UV lamps inside. The lamps are isolated from the water by a quartz sleeve. The sleeve protects the lamp and allows it to operate optimally. The quartz sleeve can develop deposits from the organics in the water. An automatic internal wiper mechanism keeps the sleeves free of deposits. A UV monitor registers lamp output to assure you that the system is providing the energy required.

For facilities looking to renovate, including upgrades to the HVAC, UV systems can help protect the investment from enhanced corrosion. A UV system plumbed after filtration in the return line to the pool will break down the malodorous irritant associated with enhanced corrosion. Basic electrical service must be run to the cabinet and basic plumbing is required for the chamber. Installation can take as little as six hours, but it's best to schedule a full day; retrofits to older facilities may pose additional challenges. The wires and connectors from the chambers to the cabinet are supplied with the systems. It is recommended that a factory-trained technician make these connections and commission the system. As with any machinery, a vast majority of future problems can be avoided by installing the system properly.

Once installed, they require very little upkeep. The systems are self-monitoring and self-cleaning. Maintenance is limited to once or twice a year. UV proactively and continuously reduces the chloramines in the filtered water. During periods of high bather load, the chloramines will still be formed, but they will not climb anywhere near previous highs and will be reduced to near undetectable levels overnight.

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