Hydrotherapy pool air handling systems: what you need to know

Hydrotherapy pool air handling systems need to be installed for several reasons and there are a few different things you need to include in your designs to facilitate them.

Here’s a quick guide of what you need to know when it comes to hydrotherapy pool air handling systems and how they work!

What is an air handling system?

An air handling system (also referred to as environmental controls) is used in both hydrotherapy and swimming pools to help regulate the air temperature and the humidity of the room. It works constantly in the background to create a comfortable, consistent environment for everyone in the room.

Your hydrotherapy pool air handling system will help regulate both the air temperature and the humidity level in the room.

Why do hydrotherapy pools need air handling systems?

Hydrotherapy pools need air handling systems just like swimming pools do. In fact, the need for a hydrotherapy pool air handling system is probably much higher because of the increased temperature of the pool.

With the water being kept warmer, more of it will evaporate and heat up the room. Not only does it make the room much warmer, but it also makes it a lot more humid.

Condensation on a window pane.
Air handling is important because it maintains a healthy level of humidity and prevents condensation from settling on windows and other surfaces.

The higher levels of humidity can actually damage the finish of the room, so the air handling system will help to prevent this from occurring. The air handling system will remove the hot humid air and replace it with warm, dry air.

The idea is that the air handling system will be set to one degree below than the temperature of the hydrotherapy pool water as this will help maintain the temperature of the room and the water itself (the ideal relative humidity of the room should be 60-65%).

Different pool air handling systems

There are different hydrotherapy pool air handling systems depending on the size of the room it’s going into.

Smaller rooms

For smaller rooms, there is a more basic system to keep the air warm. This is better suited for domestic properties but not effective enough for multi-user environments where the pool is being used a lot more.

The unit is mounted on the wall and blows out hot air to maintain the room temperature. This is a good solution for rooms up to 260m³.

Although it’s a good solution for smaller rooms, this system isn’t completely effective. It will only circulate the hot air from one point, and it doesn’t bring any fresh air into the room.

Larger rooms

For multi-user environments or rooms larger than 260m³, you will need a bigger air handling system. We would recommend using a heat recovery system.

This is a much more thorough system that will help to keep the whole room at the same pre-set temperature. It should also manage the humidity of the room and create the optimum conditions.

Using this system, the heat is dispersed in the room through different ducted points, which helps to prevent cold spots. Because hot air rises, it’s a good idea to install these ducts on the floor for better air circulation.

This air handling system also has a return air extraction function that pulls hot, humid air from the room. The energy from this air is then used to heat the cold, fresh air coming into the room and it heats the pool water itself.

This is much more efficient and cost-effective.

Some small air ducts above windows.
Subtle ducts like these can be installed by recessed windows to maximise air circulation and maintain the right temperature of the room.

Design considerations for air handling systems

An important thing to note when designing a hydrotherapy pool is to always factor in the air handling system. It’s integral that the system is included with the pool so you should keep it in your designs from the start of the project.

You will need to include two external louvres in your design – one for fresh air intake, one for return air extraction.

You will also need to consider the windows in the room. With air handling systems, floor level or floor-to-ceiling windows are preferred to help maintain a consistent temperature.

It’s also important to try and make sure that the windows aren’t recessed to reduce the chances of condensation. Triple glazing will also help to prevent this.

You can also have roof windows in your hydrotherapy pool room, but these should be kept closed to maintain a consistent temperature and humidity.

Summary

Air handling systems are integral with hydrotherapy pools and you should include them in your designs from the start. This will help to keep the pool room a consistently comfortable temperature with good levels of humidity.

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