Maintaining a commercial pool is a big responsibility. The health and safety of swimmers depends upon proper water balance and care of equipment. Down time costs the facility money in repair and maintenance expense as well as the potential loss of customers. Commercial pool equipment is expensive and needs to be maintained regularly. Keeping an eye on some key areas will help reduce major maintenance issues.
First, the heart and soul of the pool, the pump and filter. The water in any pool should be properly circulated and filtered but it's even more important in commercial pools which have higher bather loads and the potential for public health issues. To care for the pump, regularly clean out the pump strainer, replace worn gaskets and seals, and use a flowmeter to ensure the gallons per minute are correct for the pool.
No matter which type of filter used on a commercial pool, regular maintenance of the filter and media are critical. Inspect cartridges and D.E. grids to be sure they are intact with no holes to allow debris and D.E. powder to escape. These filter media also need be cleaned regularly. Sand filters should be backwashed and the sand checked periodically for channeling. Remember if your filter is compromised, so is the water quality which causes an increased demand for chemicals. Keep an eye on worn or broken filter parts also and replace gaskets, gauges and valves to avoid bigger repairs down the road.
Chemical levels are another crucial aspect of maintaining a commercial pool. It is also challenging to maintain balanced water because commercial pools can have a lot of traffic and constantly changing needs. Installing a chemical automation system will simplify the maintenance of pool sanitizer levels. Depending on the system, you will be able to measure pH, ORP and sanitizer levels and automatically dispense the correct amount of chemicals to balance the pool. Some systems will also allow you to monitor readings remotely by computer or cell phone.
Another option for sanitizing a commercial pool is a salt chlorine generator. Increasingly popular for residential pools, a few manufacturers, namely Auto Pilot and Pentair, also make commercial pool salt systems. These systems use salt added to the pool water to create chlorine. They are comprised of a power supply which is wired to the electrical supply for the pool equipment and a cell which is plumbed inline with the hard plumbing. Commercial systems typically have multiple cells in order to produce enough chlorine for the greater volume and bather load of commercial pools. Depending on the brand and system, commercial salt chlorine generators can produce from 4 to 32 lbs of chlorine daily.
Commercial salt systems create a form of chlorine without chloramines which is the component responsible for that familiar bleach smell and the irritation of skin and eyes. The result is pool water with a softer feel and no chlorine smell, a definite attraction for patrons. Another benefit is the reduced maintenance time and cost associated with buying, storing and manually adding chlorine. Since salt does not evaporate, salt chlorine generators will continue to produce chlorine from the initial salt added to the pool. If there is heavy rain or excessive loss of pool water, you may need to adjust the salt levels by adding more salt. Eventually the salt cell(s) will need to be replaced.
If chemical automation and salt chlorine systems are not in the budget, you can still simplify pool sanitization by installing a commercial pool chlorinator. This plastic vessel holds chlorine tablets and has a valve to control the flow of chlorinated water to the pool. The chlorinator is dependent upon the pool's circulation pump to dispense chlorine and will not feed chlorine into the pool if the pump is off. When the pump is running, the chlorinator will run automatically. A check valve should be installed with a commercial pool chlorinator to prevent back flow of chlorinated water to other pool equipment. A check valve is particularly important to protect heaters which can be damaged by chemicals.
Commercial pool chlorinators are rated as "high capacity" due to the greater number of tablets they hold and the larger size pools they're designed to sanitize. These chlorinators come in "inline" and "offline" models. Inline units are plumbed directly inline with the hard plumbing for the pool (typically designed for 1" hard plumbing installations). Offline units use tubing to tap into the hard plumbing; the tubing is connected to holes drilled into the pipe. One inch or three inch chlorine tablets may be used. The inline commercial chlorinators can also be used with bromine but the maximum number of gallons is lower. Automatic chlorinators offer a number of advantages. They are a convenient and inexpensive way to sanitize commercial pools. They require no electrical connection at the pool, other than the already existing pool pump, and are relatively easy to install. A dial on the chlorinator allows you to adjust the amount of chlorine dispensed. For maintenance and repair, replacement parts for automatic commercial chlorinators are readily available.
Of course, all of your equipment might be running fine and your chemical levels be balanced but you still need to clean the pool. Commercial pools with high traffic need to be vacuumed daily to remove debris from the floor. Use a commercial pool vacuum attached to a telepole to manually vacuum or invest in a commercial robotic cleaner to automate pool cleaning. A robotic cleaner is programmed to "learn" the pool and will develop a cleaning pattern based on the pool it's used in. Some commercial robotic cleaners are designed to clean the floor only and others will also climb to scrub the walls.
Brushing the walls to remove accumulated dirt and scum is another crucial step to keep a commercial pool clean and safe. Commercial pool brushes will typically range from 18 to 36 inches wide and attach to a standard telepole. The brushes come with either steel or nylon bristles for different pool surfaces.