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Open Floatation Pools – The challenges

on August 30, 2018

Opening a float center with an open pool?

There is a small growing market worldwide, especially among spas, for open floatation pools, or baths. In essence, the whole room becomes the float room.

This can work more easily if the site room is small, but in normal to larger suites, it is critical to get the environment absolutely right. Here are the top 3 considerations when creating and maintaining a successful open floatation room;

  1. Temperature.
    • If ambient air temperature and movement are not well controlled the floatation experience will not be comfortable. Feeling cold in an open float room is the most common complaint.
  2. Corrosion.
    • Highly concentrated salt solutions can be very corrosive on insubstantial materials. Correct choice of wall and floor finishes and of other fittings will provide years of durability and service and reduce the necessity for costly refurbishments. We advise on all of this.
  3. Humidity.
    • Excess humidity is a further issue created by a lack of proper control of air and floatation temperature. A certain level of humidity is part of the environment in an open floatation pool; however, excess humidity will degrade the fabric of walls and ceiling and put an undue corrosive pressure on fittings and electronics. There are easy ways to reduce the humidity level.

The most practical way to convey the challenges and potential problems in creating an open float room, or bath, is the following example of false economy – the most common mistake clients make when asking for this sort of product

In 2005 Ocean Float Rooms put a quote in for 2 open float rooms for a high quality London spa and beauty centre. Our quote for a complete fit out (the whole suite) was a little higher than our competitor’s.

In our quote we stressed our years of experience and our ability to create a more aesthetic, open float room than any competitor we know. We also pointed out the unique challenges of an open float pool and how important it was to create a stable and hard wearing environment. We also stressed our marketing experience and support.

After much deliberation the centre went with the competitor.

We kept in touch because we liked the owners and felt they would have problems. We spoke to them often over the following 30 months.

Their Experience:

The installation, once it began, took months to complete and the filtration system, which, among other things included ozone, was so complicated that it wasn’t understood by the centre. Eventually, they asked us to help sort out their filtration/sanitation problem but our solution would have been to pull it out and start again. We didn’t propose this, but instead, declined the offer to help. The centre eventually hired a pool company who advised them to have the system removed and in its place they put a simple filtration system with an inline Brominator – the same system we use in the UK.

Hydro Healing received no marketing support from the company and weren’t running the open float rooms correctly. Within a few months they had one of the float rooms removed: a complete waste of 50% of their investment.

Problems with their remaining float room:

Their float room design had an in-line, back up heater because the mat heaters they used were not considered reliable enough to be dependable for the long term. Extraordinarily, there was no temperature probe in the pool water (required to maintain float bath temperature); instead it was in the pipe work, so the mat heaters could only receive reliable water temperature feedback during the post float filtration cycle when the solution was completely mixed. This meant that during the float, and when the float pool was not in use, the heaters were on continuously, merrily heating the water in the bath while the water in the pipe around the probe slowly cooled to the ambient temperature. This was a tremendous waste of electricity and generated a large variation in water temperature.

Also, had the centre used the pool cover during the day when the bath was not in use, so as to minimise evaporation, there would have been serious risk of overheating. (At night the heater was shut off)

Environment control:

Although the suite was no more than 3000mm (approx 10’) by 4000mm (approx 13’) it was not well thermally regulated and the clients complained of being cold. Ideally, the floatation solution should be maintained at 35°C to 35.5°C (95°F to 96°F), with an ambient temperature in the air above the client of 30°C to 31°C (86°F to 87°F), but due to poor heating control the solution was kept between 36°C and 37°C (96.8°F to 98.6°F), which is above core temperature, and the ambient temperature at 27°. This created a poor floatation environment and there was a sense of warmth and cold. The reason the centre did this was because they felt that if they turn the ambient temperature up (and the float water down) the client would feel too hot while showering, but this showed a complete lack of understanding of the correct float environment: if the client is truly in a state of thermal neutrality (neither warm nor cold) a shower is pleasant and the user instinctively adjusts the water temperature to suit.

Durability in the salty environment:

The float room finish did not stand up to the severe environment of the open float room. Three times within in 2 years the centre had to re-do the suite. Much float time was lost not to mention the very significant, added expense.

The cost of completing and maintaining their remaining float room sky rocketed above our original quote, not to mention the removal of 50% of their initial substantial investment.

Due to all these reasons the centre eventually removed the 2nd float room.

Had they used Ocean float rooms in the first place, they would still have 2, low maintenance float rooms being regularly used by satisfied customers experiencing the real float benefits of a correct environment.

chris brownOpen Floatation Pools – The challenges