Feature Article - April 2019
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Keep Your Head Above Water

Proper Pool Maintenance Procedures

By Dave Ramont

Dealing With Challenges

Indoor and outdoor pools face different sets of maintenance challenges. Mullins pointed out that without the sun's warmth, indoor pools must be heated, requiring a boiler that must be maintained. And when operating a heated indoor pool, humidity becomes a big concern.

The Apex Centre has a dehumidification system for each of its indoor pools, which Mullins said keeps the humidity in the pool enclosure to a manageable level. "Under normal operations, the humidity can be maintained around 50 percent. Without the units the humidity could jump as high as 90 percent."

High levels of humidity indoors will increase the amount of corrosion on everything made of metal.

Each pool at the Apex Centre also has a UV system, which helps prevent RWIs (recreational water illnesses), removing pathogens in both the indoor and outdoor pools.

"For the indoor pool environment, they also dramatically reduce the chloramines," Mullins said. "Chloramines are the culprits behind obnoxious chlorine smells and eye burn."

Outdoor pools come with their own challenges, including being open to the elements and to animals, according to Mullins. "Each outdoor pool is visually inspected before it's opened to the public. The wind could have blown deck equipment into the pool. There could be rocks or glass thrown over the fence."

He said the pools also must be winterized even for the mild Texas winters, since cold temperatures can still burst water pipes. "We have amenity pumps for water slides, a play structure and a current channel that are located outside in the elements. Each pump must be winterized to prevent damage from freezing temperatures."

Get Help

Some facilities prefer to hire outside pool service companies to handle pool openings and closings, as well as other maintenance. "In many commercial or municipal settings, in-house technicians or pool operators will handle routine maintenance tasks, and service companies may only be called to handle more complex equipment servicing and repairs," said DeRosa.

Back in Homewood, Stephens said if he's out of town he hires an outside tech to come by each day and check on things, and they call the same company if there's a complex maintenance issue.

Mullins said they handle the bulk of their maintenance in-house, but a pool service company is used to work on specific equipment if their Building Operations Department can't resolve the issue.

One service that DeRosa's company offers is facility inspections, and he explained that oftentimes a non-biased third party will see things that managers or operators miss or have grown accustomed to. "Things such as surface corrosion of stainless steel, loss of tread on diving boards and starting platforms, improperly stored chemicals and lack of appropriate chemical safety practices are things that an outside consultant experienced in pool operations may observe."

Post said he observes that preventive maintenance is often not planned. "Many facilities wait for something to break."

Of course, other areas aside from the pool must be regularly maintained as well, from support areas to fences and gates.

DeRosa said it's recommended that pools be inspected for proper grounding and bonding to avoid electrocution from a stray current. "A recent survey of 249 pool operators revealed that over 40 percent of pools surveyed did not conduct electrical inspections and that nearly 60 percent of operators did not know when the last electrical inspection of the swimming pool was performed."

"Locker room maintenance is also important," said Post, "not only from a health standpoint but from a customer satisfaction standpoint, too."

Stephens mentioned that their restrooms and eating areas are constantly having to be checked and cleaned. "So much that we schedule one lifeguard per day who is only responsible for keeping those areas clean and performing First Aid."

"The operation of swimming pools is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation," said Mullins. "No one likes to close a pool due to mechanical or operational issues. The best way to prevent that is to constantly monitor your pools to ensure their continual operation."