Behind the scenes
There are also constant improvements being made behind the scenes of a commercial pool in the mechanical room.
1. Ultraviolet (UV) light water treatment
Ultraviolet (UV) light water treatment is now the standard on municipal/public pools in most areas. Further, an increasing number of residential pools are now using them as well.
UV water treatment eliminates micro-bacteria that are not eradicated by other sanitizing agents and works to improve the performance of chlorine or bromine. The latter are still required to be used in residential and public pools as the primary sanitizing system, while UV complements them. Together, they create a safe environment for swimmers, which is the first priority.
As pool water circulates through the UV system’s plastic or stainless steel casing, which contains a quartz tube that houses the UV lights (sometimes only one depending on the size and design of the system), dangerous bacteria in the water is destroyed.
The UV lights and quartz tubes do need to be replaced at various intervals depending on the system. Most will last at least a year, and the benefits far outweigh the cost, which again has come down in recent years.
2. Saltwater systems
Saltwater systems are not new, either; however, demand is still increasing. They do have their drawbacks, but if saltwater is what the client wants (because it does feel better on the skin), then many options are available.
Problems arise when the complete pool system is not designed for salt, and the system is added later as a retrofit. Anyone living in an area with winter knows salt corrodes metal. Most have also seen what it does to cars and infrastructure. The pool is no different; therefore, all pumps, filters, and other equipment must be selected appropriately.
It is a myth that pools using a salt system contain no chlorine. The owners/operators must also understand that a saltwater pool does not mean they will be swimming in ocean water. (These pools contain approximately 3000 to 6000 parts per million [ppm] of salt, while the ocean is about 35,000 ppm). The salt cells in these systems generate chlorine to sanitize the pool water. Salt can also be added to a pool (without a generator) to get up to 3000 ppm to make the water feel softer; however, chlorine or bromine will still be required for sanitization.
3. Heat exchangers
Heat exchangers are another item that is increasing in popularity in the residential and commercial pool markets. This is because they reduce energy costs dramatically, pay for themselves quickly, and are long-lasting.
When used in conjunction with a boiler, heat exchangers offer a great way to heat a pool. A typical boiler is gas-fired and used to heat an entire building; therefore, tying it into a heat exchanger to heat the pool is a great idea. The location of the boiler and the availability and cost of fuel (either natural gas or propane) affects whether this option is viable. Further, the boiler must also be sized properly; therefore, consulting with a professional pool designer, not just at the start, but throughout the project, is always a good idea to make sure there are no problems when the facility is constructed.