Feature Article - April 2017
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Essential Aquatic Maintenance

Facilities Need Planned Maintenance, Energy-Efficient Solutions

By Deborah L. Vence

Aging aquatic facilities need a lot of TLC, requiring facility operators to be even more mindful of their daily operations and maintenance requirements. Regular upkeep involves adhering to a set schedule to help keep things in order, as well as budgeting for any repairs or replacements. Everything from energy-efficient products to chlorination systems to lighting can all play a role in helping you to maintain your aquatic facility successfully.

In this issue, we talked with industry experts about what you can do to help keep your older and newer aquatic facilities running smoothly, what renovation options are available and what to do as your facility continues to age.

Smooth Operations

One of the first things to do in running an old or new aquatic facility smoothly is to develop a planned maintenance schedule.

"Whether your facility is newer or an aging facility, a maintenance plan and schedule will assist you with keeping everything in working order," said Juliene Hefter, executive director of the Association of Aquatic Professionals, a nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas.

"This type of plan is put in place so that you will have an idea of how long items will last and a possible timeline for when they will need to be replaced. It also assists with knowing daily, weekly, monthly and annual maintenance tasks that need to be maintained in order to ensure that all of your equipment is working properly," she said.

Brian Bokowy, business manager for a Gainesville, Fla.-based company that provides chemical products for swimming pools and spas, agreed. "Commitment to a preventive maintenance plan is crucial to the success of any aquatic facility. There are two aspects to this commitment," Bokowy said.

Aging aquatic facilities need a lot of TLC, requiring facility operators to be even more mindful of their daily operations and maintenance requirements.

"First, make sure that you budget for parts and replacement items that will be necessary throughout the year," he said. "Second, schedule and plan any physical maintenance items and any shutdowns that may be necessary. Make your customers aware of these items and why they are being done, and stick to the schedule."

For Mike Fowler, commercial marketing manager/sales for a company that specializes in swimming pool, spa and aquatic equipment, the first thing that comes to mind in running an aquatic facility is proper filtration, efficiency in your pump and proper water chemistry.

"As much as pool products have improved in efficiency, materials and durability, just replacing old equipment with more energy-efficient ones and making sure your water chemistry is constantly maintained go a long way to improving the quality of your facility. One other thing is looking at lighting, especially LED," Fowler said.

High-functioning aquatic facilities have plenty of pool deck equipment that keeps pool patrons coming back for more pool time.

"Whether it's rails, pool lifts, lifeguard stands, diving boards, slides, starting platforms or pool games, keeping the equipment in proper working order, and looking good is important for a facility's overall aesthetic appeal," said Karen Andrus-Hughes, marketing manager for a Canby, Ore.-based manufacturer of commercial and residential pool deck equipment (slides, diving boards, games), ADA pool lifts and pool lighting products.

"And, when you find the right products, you want them to provide a long life of service to your facility. Many pool deck equipment products are made with stainless steel or include stainless steel components and hardware," she said. "Pool environments can be tough on these components, but with proper care you can extend their life and keep them looking good."

She also suggested that aquatic facility operators inspect mounting hardware and to be sure to check crevices, weld points, under gaskets and bolt heads, where small amounts of liquid can collect and become stagnant.

"Routine cleaning helps maintain the protective film on the parts of deck equipment that are stainless steel and will help prevent rust," she said.

"To clean, use warm water, a gentle soap or detergent and a soft cloth, and briskly rub along the polish lines of the steel and around hardware. Rinse thoroughly when you're done cleaning. Periodically, you can even apply a soft liquid wax that will provide an extra layer of protection," she explained. "For additional durability and protection, pool deck equipment products made with stainless steel can also be coated with either a powder coating or vinyl coating."