Swimming pool design is constantly evolving as new chemical treatment technology is developed, inserts and anchors are strengthened, and play features are reimagined. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the industry, operators and owners are not always eager to have a brand-new product installed at their facility. It is difficult to find a “guinea pig” to test a new pH buffer system when muriatic acid and CO2 are so tried and tested. Often, no one wants to commit large sums of money and manpower based on information from a manufacturer.
Counsilman-Hunsaker regularly reviews products to determine if they are worthy of being specified for use in a new facility. It takes a great deal of confidence in a product for it to be considered our basis of design. This confidence is only gained over time and positive feedback from those who deal with the systems on a daily basis. However, if a test facility were developed solely for researching new products on the market, what would it include?
Solid pH Buffer System
The Acid-Rite pH adjustment system is manufactured by Axiall and utilizes sodium bisulfate tablets as opposed to a traditional muriatic acid feed system. Axiall is a major player when it comes to chemical treatment systems and this new product is exciting because it appears to eliminate many of the concerns operators have with their pH buffer systems. Solid bisulfate tablets are provided in 45-lb resealable pails that eliminate the need for muriatic acid transport and storage. Muriatic acid has a very strong odor and can irritate eyes (and certainly harm skin) if not handled properly. The Acid-Rite system is said to be more consistent at balancing pH.
Acid feed systems, regardless of whether the acid is a solid or liquid, should be housed in a chemical room separate from the mechanical room. Muriatic acid feeders require regular maintenance to the small chemical tubing that delivers the acid to the main pool water line. If this tubing is compromised and the muriatic acid is exposed to the surrounding air, the equipment and ventilation systems become susceptible to corrosion. Even the vapors released while filling the muriatic acid storage tank can be enough to damage the HVAC system ventilating this room. The effects of solid acid tablets on the HVAC components will need to be studied before the Acid-Rite system can be considered a viable replacement to muriatic acid.
Silent Gutter Grating
Assuming our research pool uses a perimeter overflow system, Daldorado’s Silent Flow parallel gutter grating would be installed as it looks to be a promising new addition to the grating market. The grating has 40% open area, allowing more water to pass through it when compared with a typical 35% open area grating. Water is less restricted when passing through the grating which leads to greater noise reduction, hence the “Silent” name. The parallel grates are thin and frequent across the gutter, but still comply with entrapment guidelines. Additionally, the grating can be installed along radii.
Taking this into account, along with noise reduction and pleasing aesthetics, the Daldorado parallel grating would work best on a freeform leisure pool. However, our research facility would subject the grating to “surges” of water created during competition as swimmers near an end wall. If the grating cannot capture enough of the water, specifically on a deck level gutter, puddles may form on the deck and the pool will slowly lose water over time.
Convenient Zip Line
Zip Lines are a cheap way to incorporate play value into a leisure pool, however they require full time attendance to regulate use. Full-length zip lines also take up a large amount of water area when in use; usually a lap lane or the width of the pool. The AquaClimb Aqua Zip’N combines the excitement of traditional zip line with the convenient functionality of a rope swing. Comprised of powder coated 304L stainless steel, the structure of the system stands eight feet tall and is mounted to the deck using two footings. The selling point of the Aqua Zip’N is a self-retracting trolley that eliminates the need for a life guard to be constantly stationed at the feature. Riders up to 250 lbs. can swing one after another as the rope will retract into the starting position after each use.
This feature seems like a no brainer for facilities that are tight on space or under-staffed, but there are still some considerations that need to be studied. For example, play features by nature are susceptible to scratches and chipping which can present issues for power coated stainless steel. Life guards will also need to be vigilant of the potential threat of a rider swinging out and over another swimmer.
Several facility owners are confident enough in these new products to already be implementing them. For lack of a multimillion dollar research facility, Counsilman-Hunsaker will monitor and evaluate their performance to determine their validity. Although, it may be some time before we see these products regularly installed as word of mouth is often the only way for people to become comfortable with new ideas in our industry.