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Apartment Building Swimming Pool Care

Two major things changes have happened suddenly over the last three years in Brisbane when it comes the Apartment Building Swimming Pool.

  • There is a hell of a lot more of them.
  • They are getting used like they have never been used before. The mix of apartment building inhabitants is changing. We are seeing a lot more children using the pools during the summer months. Great, isn’t it? Yes, it is, if the pool filtration and sanitation equipment is designed for a high usage pool. Unfortunately, quite often this is not the case, especially in some older buildings or, where the ongoing maintenance has been less than satisfactory. This means that the person responsible for the health and well being of those using the pool has a far more difficult job to do.

An apartment building swimming pool needs

  • filtration and sanitation equipment capable of handling high bather loads during the summer months. This means more than your basic backyard pool installation.
  • someone looking after the pool who is trained and knows what they are doing.

 

On Site Apartment Building Swimming Pool Operator

You have just been given or just taken on the responsibility of an apartment building swimming pool. Where do the  responsibilities start? Even if you use (and you should use) a pool service company you still have a number of things that you need to do in order demonstrate your diligence . While there are no laws as such, keeping good records and using the advice given in the Queensland Health Guidelines will go a long way towards ensuring the health of the users and I would think, display evidence of due diligence. Seek professional legal advice if in doubt. I suspect that the pool care responsibility carries through to the Body Corporate Committee, just like WH&S issues carry through to Company Management Boards (which is why you might see the group of Company Directors doing a safety inspection walk-around of a work-site as part of their monthly gathering).

Currently, Apartment Building Pools are not yet classified as Public Pools in Queensland as they have been in some other states.

WHERE TO START?

Print a copy of the Queensland Health Swimming and Spa Pool Water Quality and Operational Guidelines (October 2004). Read it.

Pool Category

Each apartment building swimming pool needs to be assigned a ‘Category’ based on the risk assessment that you carry out. That ‘Category’ will change with the seasons. See page 4 – “Types of pools”. You need to take into consideration the quality and efficiency of the pool equipment that you must deal with, as well the pool’s hydraulics and the level of usage. To simply label a pool as a Category 3 because it’s an apartment building swimming pool would be erroneous in our opinion. A well-used spa would not be a Category 3 pool and that’s for sure. The category level dictates the chemical testing frequency and degree of attention the pool needs.

  1. Water Turnover Rates – See page 6. Calculate the volume of your pool/s. Water turnover rate is an often-neglected area in apartment building swimming pool operation, especially as the old standard pumps have been replaced by variable speed pumps. In the mission to save on power costs, care needs to be taken to ensure that those power savings are not done at the expense of efficient pool operation. By all means, reduce the flow rate during periods during which the pool is not in use but remember to re-instate the flow to the correct level during periods of use. Some variable speed pumps, such as the Hayward TriStar VS, can be programmed to run at different flow rates throughout the day. You can run a low flow overnight with a higher flow throughout the day.
  2. Frequency of testing (chemical) – See page 25. Chlorine and pH tests are the most important and the most frequent that need to be carried out. We would suggest the following test frequencies.

 

Total Chlorine According to the category of the pool
Combined Chlorine Weekly
pH According to the category of the pool
Alkalinity Weekly
Stabilizer Monthly
Calcium Hardness 6 monthly
Phosphates 3 monthly
Salt Weekly

 

It is very important to keep good records. They may be needed if someone tries to blame the swimming pool for a health problem. That happens.

TEST KITS

Domestic test kits and test strips are not at all suitable for testing apartment building swimming pools. If you are colour blind, then your results won’t be much good. If you have a weekly pool service by an external pool service business, then you will only need to test the chlorine level and pH read on a regular basis. All you will need is small photometer (such as the Photometer 3) that tests chlorine and pH. Your service company will do the rest and it is best left to them because an experienced service technician (and that takes at least three years) will see a much broader picture of what is happening and will question the results and know what to look for.

OPERATION MANUALS

An operating manual should have been supplied when the pool was commissioned. It is probably long-gone. Download the operating manuals for the equipment items that make up your filtration system. These will help tremendously.

DAY TO DAY PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

If you are unsure of how to do the day to day pool care requirements it is best that you go over these with your pool service company. It is also important that you let your pool service technician know of any odd occurrences or observations you may have experienced since your last visit. Things like excessive topping up of pool, unusual noises or equipment turning off are important items of information for your pool service technician. Put those types of observation in writing, via email.

AUTOMATIC POOL CLEANERS

We recommend that you do not operate automatic pool cleaners in an apartment building swimming pool when the pool is being used or during pool opening hours. There is a very good chance that the cleaner will become damaged. We have seen where suction cleaners have been removed from the pool while the system is running, resulting in a burnt-out pump. Both pool lights and robotic cleaners run on low voltage, so that they are electrically safe while in a pool.

Building Management Agreements

The section in an Apartment Building Management Agreement that terrifies a lot of building managers is the clause relating to pool care. I am told that some of these agreements go back 20 years. Combine that with the changing levels of apartment building swimming pool usage, it is perhaps time for building management committees to review some of these agreements. The current Queensland Health Guidelines (2004) are under review and I believe a new set is in the final stages for release.

Building Managers and Body Corporate Committees would be well advised to download and read a copy when it is released. There may be some need to review a management agreement and the standard of pool care.

 

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