Besides offering energy savings, pool covers also conserve water by reducing the following: the amount of make-up water needed by 30%–50%, the pool’s chemical consumption by 35%–60%, and the cleaning time by keeping dirt and other debris out of the pool. ASTM F1346-23: Standard Performance Specification for Safety Covers and Labeling Requirements for All Covers for Swimming Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs provides performance requirements for safety covers for swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, and wading pools.
Swimming Pool Energy
Swimming pools lose energy in a variety of ways, and knowing how to minimize energy losses will result in lower swimming pool operational costs. The largest source of energy loss is evaporation, causing 70% of total energy lost in both indoor and outdoor pools. It occurs at the surface of a pool where water is constantly changing into water vapor. The heat required for this chemical reaction leaves the pool water, lowering its temperature. The higher the pool temperature and wind speed and the lower the humidity, the greater the evaporation rate. Although indoor pools are not subjected to these environmental factors, they still can lose a lot of energy due to evaporation and therefore require room ventilation to control indoor humidity (which is caused by evaporation). The ventilated air to control evaporation must be conditioned, adding to the energy costs.
At possible savings of 50%-70%, pool covers minimize evaporation from both outdoor and indoor pools. Covering a pool when it is not in use is the single most effective means of reducing pool heating costs. Pool covers on indoor pools reduce evaporation. They also minimize the need to ventilate indoor air and replace it with unconditioned outdoor air. You can also shut off exhaust fans when an indoor pool is covered, which saves even more energy.
What Is ASTM F1346-23?
ASTM F1346-23 establishes requirements for safety covers for swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, and wading pools (hereinafter referred to as pools, unless otherwise specified). It includes performance tests to demonstrate the compliance or noncompliance to requirements stated for safety covers. The standard also includes marking requirements for all covers—something that covers, protects or shelters, or a combination thereof, a swimming pool, spa, or hot tub.
When correctly installed and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, ASTM F1346-23 is intended to reduce the risk of drowning by inhibiting the access of children under five years of age to the water.
How did Swimming Pools Become Popular?
Swimming pools became popular in Britain in the mid-19th century. In 1828, the first public indoor swimming pool, St. George’s Baths, opened in England. By 1837, six indoor pools with diving boards existed in London, England. In 1839, Oxford created its first major public indoor pool at Temple Cowly. Swimming grew in popularity as a recreational sport when Captain Matthew Webb became the first documented human to swim the English Channel.
Due to concerns over drownings in the River Medway in Kent, England, the Maidstone Swimming Club was formed in 1844 and is believed to be the oldest surviving swimming club in Britain. The club would hold races, diving competitions, and water polo matches as well as an aquatic breakfast party; coffee and biscuits were served on a floating raft in the river. Furthermore, The Amateur Swimming Association was founded in 1869, and the Oxford Swimming Club was founded in 1909 (with its home at Temple Cowley Pool). The presence of indoor baths in the cobbled area of Merton Street, Oxford, England may have influenced more common people to join these clubs. Hence, bathers gradually became swimmers, and bathing pools became swimming pools.
The popularity of swimming pools continued to grow, with more swimming sports such as diving, freestyle events, and women’s swimming events added to the Olympics in the early 1900s. By the 1950s, post-WWII America embraced community swimming pools as a leisurely activity. Swimming pool fashion, particularly bikinis, catapulted the nation to a new level of swim culture that would lead us to modern-day society, where in-ground swimming pools are available for individual homes.
Pool Cover Performance Tests
ASTM F1346-23 specifies the following test methods for pool safety covers:
- Static Load Test: conducted to demonstrate that the cover is capable of supporting specified weights for pools or spas
- Perimeter Deflection Test: conducted to demonstrate that if a child under the age of five were to fall onto the cover neither that child nor another child could slip through any openings that may occur between the cover and the side of the pool
- Surface Drainage Test: conducted to determine thatthere should not be an unsafe amount of water (i.e., any quantity of water which completely covers the torso of the surface drainage test object)
- Openings Test: conducted to demonstrate that any openings remain small enough to prevent a small child’s head from gaining access to the water