Regular maintenance of slides, splash pads will prolong equipment lifespan
Maintaining water slides and in-water spray features at commercial pools and waterparks keeps the attractions safe for visitors and prolongs the life of the equipment.
Because of ownership turnover and communication gaps, however, operators of these facilities don’t always have the necessary information on how to service these features, which can result in inadequate maintenance of assets valued in the millions of dollars.
“The manufacturers are providing [maintenance] information at the point of sale,” says Katie Crysdale, founder of Lakeview Aquatic Consultants Ltd., in Okotoks, Canada. “The breakdown is providing it to the people who work in these places day to day. The education exists but not to the people who need it.”
To correct the problem, commercial pool and waterpark owners need to obtain maintenance manuals from the manufacturers and pass that information to staff who operate the pool features to ensure structural integrity and pool companies who perform regular maintenance and repairs.
There is no standard maintenance regimen for the full range of water slides and in-spray features at commercial pools and waterparks. The frequency and type of service depends on the equipment, municipal codes, its material and whether it is located indoors or outdoors.
Despite the varying maintenance protocols, commercial pools and waterparks should follow some standard guidelines. First, all equipment should be checked daily to ensure it’s safe for visitors, says Ryan Jones, owner of HUB Aquatics Solutions in Calgary, Canada.
While staff can conduct visual inspections of water-spray features, they should physically examine waterslides by running their hands across all interior surfaces to make sure there are no rough areas or cracks that could injure someone, Jones adds.
“You’re looking for blisters, cracks that are more than surface cracks, seams that are no longer aligned that people will feel along their back,” Jones says. “There may be chips in the slide that you didn’t have yesterday. You have to correct that before you let somebody [use it].”
Water features at commercial pools and waterparks should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year at the beginning of the season, Jones says. Surface defects should be corrected by using an electric buffer or other tools, then polished to protect it from body oils, suntan lotion and contaminants.
Like water slides, in-water spray features and splash pads also need to be inspected and cleaned, but the process and products used may be different because of the equipment’s material. Inspectors should look for oxidation of the gaskets, seams that are unaligned and surface damage from contaminants.
Ensuring a Maintenance Schedule
Pool professionals who obtain a new service contract for a commercial pool or waterpark with slides, splash pads and other features should ask facility owners for any and all maintenance manuals that manufacturers provide.
“The people who are opening the facility are not necessarily the people running the facility three or four years later, so there’s not communication of that information or good storage of records,” Crysdale warns. If facility managers don’t have it, pool pros should consider going straight to the manufacturer, she adds.
Regular maintenance of water features will save commercial pools and water parks money because they won’t have to replace their equipment as frequently. The average life span of a water slide is 15 to 20 years, but they should last 20 to 25 years, Jones says. And while the average lifespan of a spray feature is five to eight years, they should last more than 15 years, he adds.
Commercial pools can choose to maintain the water features with their own staff or contract with an outside company. Either way, a regular schedule should be set to ensure the equipment doesn’t deteriorate and that visitors are kept safe.
“Far too often, we let things go,” Jones says. “Water slides and spray features are all very noble features, and they will perform well if you take care of them.”