Supplement Feature - May 2021
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Smart Strategies

Trends in Pool Renovations

By Deborah Vence

Extending the life of your pool doesn't mean you have to start from scratch. Using smart strategies and innovations can make all the difference in getting your pool into tip-top shape. By establishing a set of goals and conducting a thorough assessment of your facility, you can renovate your pool successfully—without breaking the bank.

Smart Strategies

One of the most important steps in planning for a pool renovation is doing a facility assessment. Maddie Monroe, a project manager at aquatic design and engineering firm Counsilman-Hunsaker, stressed the importance of meeting with staff and finding out what issues there are with the pool.

"What is the scale of the renovation? It gives us an idea of where the pool is at, how old the pool is. We can comment better on the situation when we've been to the facility," Monroe said, adding that many pools are 30-plus years old, and a full mechanical replacement can extend the life of the pool. You will "not only extend the life of the pool, but things are so much more efficient, and [you can] save a lot of energy costs."

In terms of the scope of a pool renovation, it really depends on the goals. Some facilities "need to limp along for five more years and then build a new facility." [They might want to know,] "'What do we need to maintain for five more years?' and then build a new one. Some want a 20-year solution," she said.

Similarly, Robbie Hazelbaker, project director at Water Technology Inc. (WTI), an aquatic planning, design and engineering firm based in Beaver Dam, Wis., said to "Work closely with staff. They have a story to tell."

Find out "What are the programming roadblocks with their current pool? What is their interest level for a renovation vs. new pool construction? Is city leadership/board of management/school board anticipating one or the other? What type of funding might be available and from what source(s)," he said, adding that you also need to conduct pool shell evaluations and look for cracks, horizontal/vertical and diagonally, as well as evaluate tile conditions.

To ensure that the ideas are constructible before they are presented, it's important to first check with a local pool contractor. "Present them to staff for reaction and be flexible to make adjustments. Assist staff in presenting the vetted ideas to their organization/leadership," Hazelbaker said.

What's more, educating pool operators about strategies they can use to extend the life of their pool can be helpful. For example, simply wiping down stainless steel regularly can prevent corrosion, and "draining your pool and doing an interior scrub, especially if you have tile," Monroe noted. "That will dramatically increase the life of your pool because plaster needs to be replaced and tile needs to be grouted. When those maintenance items get slipped by, whenever you do a major renovation, it will be that much [more] severe."

In some cases, older pools have fewer problems than newer ones simply because of good consistent maintenance.

"These facilities drain [their pools] every other year and regrout," and keep up with mechanical replacements and keep chemicals at a good level, she said. "There are pools we walk into that are five years old and the stainless steel is already corroded. A lot of these renovations are about educating."

Another strategy is observing water clarity, noted Jennifer Gerber, business development leader at Water Technology Inc. (WTI). "Many aging pools can benefit from updating to regenerative media filtration. Water usage is an important consideration in the operation of swimming pools. Contributors to water usage include evaporation, bather carry out, splash out and backwash," she said.

"Control of water usage is important because of the operational efforts placed into the water, including chemical treatment, balance and heating. Utilizing regenerative media (RM) filtration, it is possible to reduce backwash loss by over 90%," Gerber explained. "These filters represent a capital investment premium, but one which the client would be given the information to make informed decisions regarding the value of this investment."

Some of the benefits to updating to RM filters include:

  • Payback in two to five years.
  • Reduces water consumption dramatically (325,000 gallons/year).
  • Eliminates the need for backwash tank.
  • Improves water clarity for safer lifeguarding.
  • Reduces sanitation chemical usage.
  • Reduces water heating demands.
  • Fully automated, reducing labor.
  • Saves space in pool equipment room.