Feature Article - November 2006
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Special Supplement: Problem-Solver Guidebook

By Stacy St. Clair and Emily Tipping

Choosing a UV System for a Commercial Pool

For indoor aquatic facilities, there are no two bigger concerns than air and water quality. Left unmanaged, substantial harm can be done to both equipment and patrons. The best defense is an industrial UV system that will control chloramines and, as a bonus, disinfect chlorine-resistant pathogens.

Q: I keep hearing about UV systems. How, exactly, would one help my pool?

A: Ultraviolet (UV) light provides a non-chemical, environmentally friendly treatment option for indoor pools and spas. Most microorganisms, even cryptosporidium and giardia, are inactivated in less than a second by relatively low doses of UV light. Additionally, UV will break down organic and inorganic pollutants in water. This is particularly true in the swimming pool industry, where a significant reduction in combined chlorine, known as chloramines, can be achieved.

Q: What causes chloramines?

A: 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.

Q: Why should I be worried about chloramines?

A: Chloramines let off gas into the air, then saturate back into the condensation on your air handler and deck equipment. They are corrosive to not only the building, but humans as well. Controlling chloramines will remove the odor and irritation, thus making the environment healthier and more enjoyable.

Q: What are the side effects of human exposure to chloramines? Am I putting my employees at risk without a UV system?

A: To put it simply, yes. Chloramines can compromise your employees' and patrons' health. They cause a noxious vapor that blankets the pool and wreaks havoc on those nearby. They have caused athletic asthma in competitive swimmers. Studies show that aquatic managers have developed allergies from prolonged exposure and have been forced to leave the industry. 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.

Q: Can you tell me more about the system?

A: 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.

Q: What kind of infrastructure is needed?

A: Not much, fortunately. Basic electrical service must be run to the cabinet. Basic plumbing is required for the chamber. Installation can take as little as six hours, but it's best to schedule a full day. The wires and connectors from the chamber 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.

Q: How much maintenance does a UV system require?

A: UV 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.


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