Feature Article - April 2017
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Essential Aquatic Maintenance

Facilities Need Planned Maintenance, Energy-Efficient Solutions

By Deborah L. Vence

Clifton said the best options now are fully integrating an energy plan that includes solar systems, high-efficiency pool heaters, LED lighting, pool cover systems and VFDs into your pool operations.

"Introducing these products into any facility, new or when renovating, will help your facility be the most efficient, which allows you to maximize your cost savings," Clifton said. "Solar systems and high-efficiency pool heaters reduce energy usage. LED lights save money by reducing the amount of power used, reducing the time and labor required to change incandescent bulbs, since the LED lamps last much longer than standard lights."

Pool covers also help to dramatically reduce heat loss and water evaporation, which also reduced the amount of chemicals that are used.

As an example, "A local pool operator recently added a solar energy system to their facility and saw these technologies dramatically reduce their energy consumption and operating costs," Clifton noted. "Additionally, the facility was able to receive generous rebates and incentives from their local utility, that further reduced costs and return on investment (ROI)."

What to Do as Facilities Age

There are plenty of things you can do to ensure your aquatic facility lasts a long time.

"Maintain your facilities and your pool to make everything last longer. Make sure to have balanced water and proper airflow. Balanced water and proper airflow will increase the lifespan of all of your pool equipment," Hefter said. "Keeping everything clean makes a big difference in how your facility operates and keeps it running smoothly."

Fowler agreed that proper maintenance is key, and suggested that if your aquatic facility closes for the winter, to slow it down through the use of VFDs instead of shutting it all off.

"Maintaining proper chemical levels at all times is crucial for proper pool operation, and improper chemical balance can lead to other issues including damage to heaters, pumps and pool surfaces," he said.

"One of the benefits of using VFDs in commercial pools these days is the ability to slow the pumps down, if allowed, during non-operating hours, and if the pool is shut down for the winter season, it's possible to leave the pools full of water and just slow the pumps down to the lowest possible speed to keep water moving, but saving the cost of having to empty and fill a pool each year," he added.

Bokowy reiterated the importance of maintenance.

"It sounds like a broken record," he said, "but preventive maintenance and scheduled replacement of older equipment is even more critical with older systems; maintenance or repairs by 'crisis' is not a plan, and only leads to frustration for the facility and your customers."

What's more, Clifton noted that regular facility audits by the aquatic staff will let you focus critically on aging equipment at your facility.

"This should be part of your useful life analysis of all products in use at your facility," he said. "This will also allow you to budget for timely future replacement of your pool components. Proper budgeting and planning will help you run the most efficient facility possible."

And, training is a key component for all pool operators.

"You need to make sure anyone who has responsibility for pool operations receives proper training. There are two main training classes offered nationally to train facility staff- the CPO Course (Certified Pool/Spa Operator) and the AFO Course (Aquatic Facility Operator) that will provide a proper foundation to operate your facility," Clifton said. "Your best opportunity to keep your facility running smoothly is having competent, trained staff, with the ability to recognize safety and operational issues at your facility.

"A well run pool," he added, "makes you look good and your patrons happy to be swimming at your facility."