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A deeper dive into humidity and swimming pool design

A deeper dive into humidity and swimming pool design

In a previous article, we discussed some of the common blunders associated with indoor swimming pool design. The conclusion was, ultimately, you need the right expertise; and that’s because swimming pool construction takes a whole team, not just a builder. Often, when things go wrong, it’ll be the contractor that’s blamed. However, there are problems that can occur further up the chain of command, with architects, engineers, and building owners themselves making poor judgement calls.

One of the most delicate issues to manage is humidity. We touched on this before, but here, we’ll look a little closer at the things swimming pool designers have to navigate. Excessive humidity can manifest as foggy glass, premature degradation, or even full-blown rotting of building materials. Getting the right consultant on board is key – and here’s what they should be evaluating.

Architecture and construction

Problems with indoor pools often arise as a result of inexperience or plain corner-cutting. In some public or commercial buildings, owners will have opted for some swish interior design flourishes over-investing in the fabric of the building. Naturally, this leads to significant problems later down the line.

The other scenario is if the architects, engineers, and contractors aren’t familiar with indoor pool design. They select building materials for normal environments, neglecting the fact that the temperature and humidity factor in an indoor swimming pool is far higher. This means that normal dry wall isn’t going to cut it; you have to use a specialist green board, which uses an oil-based additive to resist water.

Equally, vapour barriers are often installed incorrectly. The material needs to envelop the entire pool area, whether it be a plastic sheet, foil-backed sheet, or vapour-retardant paint coating. If a plastic sheet is applied, you can’t just staple gun it the whole way around, as you’re introducing lots of little holes. Experts recommend something more precise, like a hand-applied roofing nail.

Air circulation

The second critical factor is air circulation, which will be driven by a large dehumidification system. These units function a lot like industrial-scale air conditioners, except they discharge warm air instead of cold. However, these systems can’t manage humidity alone. The ductwork also needs to be strategically placed, something which is often given too little thought.

Experts report seeing ducts located near the floor away from rising hot air, diffusers fitted near ceilings, or installations blowing air at the surface of the pool instead of the walls. This leads to poor distribution of warm, moist air that can undermine building materials. The best airflow designs are planned long before construction, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), a computer modelling system that checks for proper air circulation.

Dehumidifying systems

All the careful work done selecting materials, fluid dynamic tests and strategic duct placement will all be in vain if the right dehumidification system isn’t chosen. You’ve got to consider the size of the room, the outdoor temperature and the building materials. That’s not all; you also have to evaluate the human factor.

How will the owners use the space? What temperature will they use for the air and water? These factors are critical in calculating the size and strength of the dehumidifier. Once installed, there’s no going back, so it’s essential these decisions are made carefully. This interaction between equipment, use and material selection highlights the need to get all the relevant experts involved in the early planning stages.

Get the consultancy you need

To conclude, we’ll double down once more on the key message: experts are essential to successful swimming pool design. When it comes to selecting these key elements to control humidity, an experienced MEP engineer is an essential member of your design team. DJHC is on hand – click here to get in touch.

 

 

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