Raleigh, North Carolina
Eliminating “Rust Rain” at the Pullen Aquatic Center
Aquatic Centers are not easy to manage. Their unique functionality gives them a host of issues other public buildings don’t have to deal with, from insurance and staffing to cleaning, maintenance, temperature/humidity control and other infrastructure concerns. The City of Raleigh’s Pullen Aquatic Center is a classic example.
Originally built in 1997, this 18,000 square-foot municipal pool was designed with an extensive network of traditional metal ceiling ducts to moderate indoor air quality. Unfortunately, within four years the intense humidity and chlorine in the facility’s air caused the ducts to corrode prematurely, creating a host of problems for facility managers.
“The stainless-steel ductwork was literally raining rust into the pool,” said Terri Stroupe, aquatic director for the City of Raleigh. “We needed to make changes to protect our patrons and swimmers.”
The city turned to fabric duct manufacturer DuctSox for a solution. A network of air porous fabric ducts with pool grade suspension was installed over the pool to eliminate the dangerous and undesirable rust issue and improve air flow throughout the pool space.
“Rust dust” removal wasn’t the only benefit, however. The traditional metal ducts featured air diffusers placed several feet apart along each duct, resulting in inconsistent airflow and patron discomfort. The DuctSox system uses an air porous fabric and strategic linear vents to disperse airflow uniformly eliminating hot and cold spots.
A Second Renovation
The facility was renovated again in June 2019, featuring a bevy of upgrades. Not only was the roof, pool gutter, and natatorium lighting replaced, but new HVAC units, a warm therapy pool, skylight and a dehumidification system were also added. The only equipment not needing replacement? The fabric ductwork.
“When we started our most recent renovation, our team did not hesitate to keep the original DuctSox, said Stroupe. “In fact, we expanded our usage of the fabric ducts to further improve air distribution and comfort.”
In addition to the two rows of fabric ducts extending across the pool, the air distribution system was extended to cover the deck and patron area. These secondary rows were slightly different than the originals as they incorporated fabric diffusers to allow for more specific directional airflow control, cooling people who weren’t in the water.
The new set-up has received rave reviews. “The public loves the expanded air flow,” continued Stroupe. “People tell me how much better the facility smells, on top of their increased level of comfort.”
The City of Raleigh has now incorporated DuctSox networks into renovations in other aquatic facilities. “Fabric ductwork is definitely the way to go for this type of facility,” notes Stroup.
For more information about Raleigh Aquatics and DuctSox, visit their websites at www.raleighnc.gov/ parks and www.ductsox.com.