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architectural notes



Ventilation of Indoor Pools and Spas

Natural ventilation is an aspect that needs to be considered in the initial stages of a wet area in the design of a building.

Before the selection and implementation of natural ventilation equipment to wet area enclosures an understanding of the dynamics involved needs to be understood

It is not that mechanical services should not be employed in establishing the correct ventilation necessary, but more that they should be a refinement to the theme and not the theme itself.

Very often one loses focus as to the purpose of venting a wet area.

The two principle concerns are

moisture precipitation & odour

The phenomena of indoor rain, known as moisture precipitation, is a situation brought about by the sharp contrast of thermal differentials within and outside the area, occurring principally of an evening during frost conditions being zero movement of air

The spread of odour created by varying forms of chlorination, mould etc.can also contribute to a degree of discomfort throughout a building particularly those of a residential situation where the natural inclination is to close everything up when the building, or area, is unoccupied.

The problem of odour can only be resolved by air washing (ventilating) the area so as to offset any mould and mildew as might grow as a consequence of moisture saturation in the building materials.

The air volume exchange need to be proportional to the moisture level in the air as well as temperature.

The higher the temperature the greater the venting air flow. This does not mean that the flow of air needs to be high velocity but more higher volume

In initial building design, careful consideration as to the nature and character of the area ultimately determines the necessary equipment required to establish the correct ventilation dynamics deemed suitable

In retro fitting, a complete and accurate assessment of the existing dynamics is required before the solution can be determined. This can be a costly affair in contrast to the implementation of natural ventilation during the initial building construction phase.

It usually means that you'll end up chasing your tail because as you resolve one issue, another takes it's place, as a consequence of the ventilation solution employed in the first instance.

Then you throw your hands up and install a high velocity fan, in the hope that it will resolve everything and when that reveals itself to be less than ideal you'll put the house up for sale

In conclusion, ensure you do not resolve the problem by creating another problem.
It is fundamentally important that wet areas are able to ventilate efficiently without dependency on equipment such as de-humidifiers, fans, and / or other mechanical services, particularly in commercial facilities, when the area is not being used.

Do not presume the architect has the knowledge required to resolve or address the aspect of ventilation in a Swimming Pool / Spa enclosure as the dynamics are unique to the individual area.

Today the concept of indoor bathing areas and the benefits to be derived from them is taken for granted. Unfortunately the necessity of ventilation is forgotten until all manner of problems arise, particularly those of odour.

Deterioration of building materials, due to excessive moisture absorption is a common occurrence. The lack of appropriate ventilation brings about costly repairs, which could have been prevented.

Correct ventilation of enclosure design is paramount in ensuring that the building provides the maximum benefits whilst requiring minimal maintenance. Too much is made of trying to have the swimming pool enclosure conform to the overall design theme of the home without appropriate consideration to the essential fundamentals as is required for wet areas, heated or otherwise.

Wet areas need continuous and effective ventilation, and in an appropriate manner. Fundamental to venting a pool enclosure is peripheral air entry 400 mm from ground level, and a central convergence of the air mass discharging to atmosphere. The higher the peripheral air ingress, the greater the incidence of moisture precipitation within the building, especially with a heated water mass.

Cross Flow venting is inefficient and never appropriate for heated enclosures. Mechanical venting such as exhaust fans are only capable extraction whilst on and can never be as effective or cost efficient as an appropriate natural system.

Whilst drafts may be considered to be a form of ventilation they should be avoided as their presence often promotes thermal shock giving rise to colds and other respiratory problems.

The one aspect that is continually overlooked is that ingress of dust into any area is proportional to the air volume entering the area.
This is why a natural balanced flow according to the needs of the area should be understood rather than uncontrolled ingress by any means.


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