By Phil Bach
Upgrading to a new high-efficiency pool heater not only reduces operating costs for the homeowner, but also lessens the amount of space required for the unit, which provides new opportunities for backyard pool design.
In Canada, homeowners use their pool heaters more often (i.e. early spring and late fall) than most others in North America. Therefore, installing one of today’s high-efficiency pool heaters can significantly lower the homeowners operating costs both short and long-term. As an added bonus, these new heaters are ‘direct-air vent’ and do not require large room openings for combustion air, which means they can vent directly to the outside about 305 mm (12 in.) above the grade.
In contrast, old heater systems were not certified for indoor installation and, therefore, needed a single exhaust pipe (‘B’ vent) to draw air from the room into the combustion chamber through the roof or above the roofline. This venting method can be cumbersome and often results in the heater being placed outside of the house on a concrete pad, which can be unsightly, as well as take up valuable space—especially in smaller backyards.
A hot renovation
When Walter Schmoll, president and owner of Hollandia Pools & Spas in London, Ont., decided to completely renovate his own pool, it also included a revamp of the mechanical room as part of the design of a new pool cabana.
Prior to the renovation, the pool’s 22-year-old heater was located, independently, on a concrete slab, outside of the home and cabana. It was functioning, but definitely not efficiently, said Schmoll. Degradation of pool heaters typically occurs as heat exchanger tubes become clogged with build-up and burners become obstructed. By choosing to install a new, high-efficiency heater with the ability to direct-vent, it freed up space in the backyard allowing the cabana to encompass the old heater’s concrete pad.
The new, 400,000 British thermal unit (Btu) direct-vent heater was incorporated into the basement of the cabana for a more efficient and visually appealing operation of the pool. Further, the new heater is 96 per cent efficient, which will reduce the overall operating cost of heating the pool water.
“We run our heater from May until early October,” says Schmoll. “So we are anticipating a reduction in operation costs with a return on investment (ROI) within five years.”
The new mechanical room
The basement of the new cabana is 3.6 m (12 ft) wide by 12.2 m (40 ft) long, which offered ample space to include all of the pool’s new mechanical equipment (e.g. the heater, gas service, electrical, and controls). The ability to combine all of the equipment in one place makes servicing easier and more efficient.
“It might not seem that important, but having all the mechanical equipment in a clean pump room, away from the elements, not only makes maintenance of the individual components less complicated, but also pool ownership in general,” says Schmoll.