Indoor pools are often pretty stunning. In northern climates, they are quite
the attraction in hotels
condominiums & apartment buildings. They provide year round enjoyment for
millions of people around the world as they vacation or just go about daily
living. Indoor pools provide terrific places for low-impact and "zero gravity
exercise" for healthy individuals as well as those who may need physical
You'll find them in many towns and cities across the country. Schools,
community centers, are busy with swimmers twelve months each year. Indoor
pools are not just for the rich!
More importantly, indoor pools require special treating. Yes, they are
swimming pools. Yes, they have the same type of filtration systems that
outdoor pools have. But there are differences in the care that is required.
This article will help you to understand those needs. These same issues are
true of indoor
swim spas (sometimes known as "endless pools").
There are 4 main concerns of indoor pools that need to be addressed: Odors,
Oxidation, Bather Load, and General Care.
Indoor Pool Odors. Who hasn't walked into a hotel or building and
there is that immediate "pool chlorine" odor? You KNOW that the facility has a
swimming pool! The question is why? Why does it have to be that noticeable?
Many people wonder and question - sometimes rightfully so - how well the pool
is being cared for. Indoor pools should not "smell." Will they have an odor?
Yes, but they should not smell. If a pool smells - especially if the odor is
acrid or pungent - you can be sure that something in the pool is not right.
And if your eyes become irritated, the situation could be even worse. Keep in
mind that the problem is NOT the chlorine. The problem is the water balance.
In cases of pools having attached spas, chemicals and bather wastes are
aerosolized and spewed into the surrounding air.
A further problem is the continual formation of chloramines or combined
chlorines or bromines. These form when there is excess waste like nitrogen.
Sanitizer efficiency is severely reduced and a pungent "chlorine" odor is
emitted. Chlorine "odor" is fine. Think of a bathroom or sick room that has
been cleaned with chlorine (bleach). The odor left behind tells you that it is
CLEAN. That's the chlorine odor we want. This leads us to the question of
Oxidation. The bottom line is indoor pools need to be shocked as
often as, if not more often than, outdoor pools. In the oxidation process
(shocking or super chlorinating), unfiltered or not filterable waste (greases,
body oils, body powders, perfume, nitrogen) are oxidized (burned off) are
released into the atmosphere or surrounding air.
But the pool is indoors. What happens then? That's exactly the point. Many
of those "gassed-off" wastes can't fully gas off. What essentially happens is
that these wastes literally hit the ceiling and fall back down into the water.
The problem is made worse in cases of poor ventilation. Ventilation can be in
the form of fans, open doors & windows, ventilation systems, whatever it takes
to change the air and bring in fresh.
similar situation exists with spas & hot tubs where insulating covers trap
heat, but also when not removed for extended periods of time (several hours
per week), odors and chloramines, bromines & other unwanted odors accumulate.
Even in the middle of winter it is a very wise idea to do a monthly super
shock (2 to 3 times the normal amount of chlorine or shock), remove the solar
blanket or automatic cover, open the windows and let all of that stuff just
get out of the house.
Bather Load. Bather load is exactly that: how many people are using
the pool at a time. Obviously, hotels, condominiums and other commercially
operated pools have greater use. The more people using the pool, the more
stuff is being put in (as mentioned above). The more a pool is used the better
from a circulation & even from a "cleaning" (feet & bodies rubbing and
touching the pool surfaces) point of view.
In commercial pools, shocking may need to be done 2 to 4 times each week to
break up swimmer waste, chloramines and other stuff. This is especially
necessary after large events with above average swimming use.
Similarly in residential pools, even though the bather load is less, it
still must be shocked.
Weekly at least.
Do not put the solar blanket or automatic cover back on for at least 3 to 5
hours to allow proper gassing off the oxidized waste.
General Maintenance. A little more care in maintenance is needed
with indoor pools. Why? Three general of reasons: lack of sun, year round use,
perception that "it's indoors, nothing's getting there."
We've already looked at the lack of sun. Regular oxidizing of the pool is
Year round use is just that. The pool is available 24/7 wherever you are.
The filter needs to operate 8 to 12 hours each day. Period. With that in mind,
the pool needs good, regular cleaning. That means weekly vacuuming of the pool
interior. If you don't feel vacuuming is necessary, then at a minimum brush
the pool walls and bottom weekly. Brushing aids in breaking up biofilms,
algae, water mold (even though you may not see these problems).
No matter what type of filter your pool utilizes - sand, cartridge or DE -
be sure to chemically clean the filter every 3 months with a good filter
cleaner. Backwashing of sand or DE filters and rinsing of cartridge filters
only removes dirt and debris; it will not remove filtered greases, oils, and
body wastes. Filter chemical cleaners break up these accumulations. Here's the
analogy: would you rinse dirty clothes or launder them with detergent?
Solar blankets and automatic pool covers need regular cleaning. Solar
blankets should be removed and chemically cleaned (for the same reasons that
you chemically clean a filter) at least twice each year.
Bio-films are the breeding ground that can later develop into algae, pool
mold (white water mold), or pink slime. If there is a surface and it becomes
wet or moist, a bio-film will grow. To remove bio-films in the not so obvious
areas, use products such as
AquaFinesse or sphagnum moss products such as
PoolNaturally; these products will remove the bio-film and further prevent
it from returning. Reports are coming back to us showing that regular use
removes bio-films even on the underside of solar blankets and automatic pool
Enjoy your pool & treat it right. You'll have much less work to do.