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Building Products April 2017

HOTELS, LEISURE AND HEALTHCARE <<< Continued from page 13 stage, with specifiers understanding the long-term implications of cutting corners. Cost should be viewed in the ‘whole life’ context, as what might seem cheap initially, could end up making a far bigger dent in budgets where systems breakdown prematurely over a period of time. Valueengineering choices are often a false economy. A common solution that fits in the ‘value’ camp is magnetic water conditioners and other supposed ‘fit and forget’ options. Claiming low energy and maintenance credentials, in reality, however, we have found that they produce varied results when compared to traditional salt-based water softeners. Problems such as lime-scale formation can present themselves after commissioning, putting paid to any savings made from the price of equipment. Once installed, in many instances water treatment systems are not used properly or switched off all together. When bacterial counts do inevitably rise, the knee jerk reaction is to throw in more chemicals rather than understanding and dealing with the actual problem. In the case of pools and spas, more chemicals means more chlorine, increasing discomfort for end users. To prevent equipment breakdown and the potential risk of a legionella outbreak, maintenance must be planned and fit for purpose, taking into account the way a water system is used 14 BUILDING PRODUCTS | APRIL 2017 and the surrounding environment. Monitoring is essential as without it maintenance staff have no way of getting to the root of problems; small issues will also be flagged up before they become big ones. Monitoring also helps water treatment be tailored to suit, contributing to the minimisation of the overuse of chemicals. There are a number of ways to reduce chemical reliance – often a simple adjustment to the backwash or filter settings can be a more effective method of improving hygiene. Increasingly, we are seeing a move towards nonchemical alternatives to water treatment, which most commonly act as a supplement, allowing chemical usage to be significantly reduced – in some cases chemicals can be removed from the equation all together. Examples such as photo-catalytic water purifiers are installed at the construction stage, or retrospectively, to continually purify the water, which, apart from effectively reducing bacteria levels also means flushing volumes are reduced, saving water as well as cutting chlorine. From a maintenance point of view this continual treatment, also minimises the time spent ‘dosing’ the system. Inspired by nature, a specific frequency of light and photo-catalytic surfaces are used to create free radicals that break down harmful microorganisms and other pollutants. Commonly, we see chlorine usage cut by up to two-thirds, which also means a reduction in its smell, creating a more pleasant atmosphere for a leisure facility’s users. Non-chemical treatments can also be used in cooling towers, allowing for a reduction in the use of bromine, which, as mentioned, can cause issues such as corrosion. Overall, reducing chemicals in any process is far safer for the maintenance engineers involved. In conclusion, a bespoke approach to water hygiene will not only improve safety, it could also significantly reduce a building’s reliance on chemicals, cutting the maintenance time associated with these processes. It is really important that proper thought is taken at the specification stage. While guidelines may be adhered to, they do not always go far enough ... and focusing too much on the initial price tag usually costs more overall. By laying down the groundwork at the specification and construction stage and choosing a tailored and monitored approach to ongoing maintenance, the customer experience is improved and safety ensured. Steven Booth, Associate Director for Guardian Water Treatment


Building Products April 2017
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