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Filter Selection: Clearing Up the Differences

Aug 2014

Innovative Aquatic Design, LLC (IAD) knows a thing or two about designing pools and filtration systems. On a daily basis, we are hired to design swim schools, apartment/condominium pools, park districts and many others. But the question is: what makes the needs of these projects different? Why can't you just throw together some plans and keep things consistent for each?  The following article will dive into several different types and "clear up" (pun intended) some of the differences.

Before we go any further, we have to start off by understanding the options for filters in the market. Traditionally, sand filtration systems have been used for various applications. Although these can be effective, they also waste more water through backwashing than other options. Regenerative media filters, which utilize diatomaceous earth or perlite, provide better water conservation.  Perlite, more commonly used in gardening, has a much finer consistency when used as a filter media. Another trend today is the use of salt chlorine generation chemical systems. This is a system in which salt is introduced to the pool at levels equivalent to a teardrop. After passing through an electrolytic converter, the salt is converted into chlorine through an electrical charge. All have pros and cons, which we will touch on later.

Swim Schools

First, we have to start off by mentioning that water quality is the most pressing issue for swim schools. Good or bad water quality is determined by the bather load or the quantity of people in the swimming pool on a daily basis and the type of filter utilized.

Swim schools typically have a high number of people moving in and out on a daily basis. Several hundred kids are learning how to swim or are swimming competitively every day. Experience has shown us that sand filtration systems are inadequate to maintain good water quality in pools with high bather loads. Current technology allows us to filter down to one micrometer or also commonly known as a micron. A micron is one millionth of a meter!

Apartment and Multi-family

As far as a high rise residential building is concerned, the biggest concern is not what filters to use. Your biggest concern is, will the pool leak or not? A stainless steel application will serve you best for this.

In regards to filter selection, it is less critical than a pool that would have greater bather use. Traditionally, a recreation swimming pool will see more activity than apartment or multifamily.

Park District/Park and Recreation

Wilmette Centennial Pool A park district aquatic facility is typically on the larger end. From a design standpoint, a filtration system is an important aspect, especially with advances in technology. Green and sustainable solutions are more frequently being asked to be included in the design in an effort to conserve water. Considering a typical outdoor aquatic facility can have anywhere from 500 to 1,000 bather capacity on a regular basis, this can be a challenging task.

Something on this scale will most likely be using a sand filtration system. A facility of this size could easily go through 100,000 to 200,000 gallons of water per year.

Moral of the Story

At the end of the day, our design (or anyone's for that matter) is only as good as the maintenance of the pool itself. As our President of IAD, Jim Lueders says, "You can have the best design and contractor in the world but if you don't maintain the proper water chemistry, you WILL have problems."

Remember those filter types we discussed earlier? Well, they are only as good as the individual maintaining the pool. There are several components that go into pool chemistry: chlorine, adjusted PH, calcium levels, alkalinity levels, etc. It is important to check the water chemistry twice a day and your strainer baskets once daily. What some folks don't realize is that improperly balanced water chemistry can wreak havoc on your pool. Proactive maintenance is a key factor in the useful life of your pool.

If you have any specific questions or would like further information, please contact the folks at Innovative Aquatic Design at the number below:

Innovative Aquatic Designs, LLC
2675 Pratum Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60192

Phone: (224) 293-6460
Fax: (224) 293-6466

Article by:
Scott Brown, Director of Business Development, W-T Engineering, Inc.
Jim Lueders, President, Innovative Aquatic Design, LLC
Ryan DiFatta, Vice President, Innovative Aquatic Design, LLC