A draining experience


The swimming pool at the Union County Family YMCA stands empty as caulking work has to be redone. The project was initially finished earlier this summer, but defective material has caused the pool to close again before the work is completed. YMCA officials expect the pool to be refilled by Sept. 11.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
YMCA forced to empty pool a second time because of sealant issue
“This is like déjà vu.”
Those were the words that Steve Ormeroid, the building and grounds volunteer at the Union County YMCA, used to describe the pool situation at the facility.
The 230,000 gallons it takes to fill the pool had to be re-drained last weekend, due to a problem of defective caulking.
Work on the swimming pool was originally completed in July, when routine maintenance was performed.
“We originally drained the pool, starting on the Fourth of July,” said YMCA aquatics director Tracy Zimmerman. “It had been about five years since we had completely drained the pool. We repainted the entire bottom, including the racing lanes, and resealed and caulked it.”
“The paint job had held up well for the past five years, so there wasn’t any reason to completely drain it,” she said. “We do drain about a third or half of the water each year to replace it with fresh water.
“We are also constantly monitoring the chemicals we use.”
Pool patrons and staff began to notice a problem shortly after the pool reopened on July 21.
Bits of caulk were coming loose and sticking to swimmers as they emerged from the pool.
“A week into it, we noticed something was wrong,” said Zimmerman.
“The caulk was basically disintegrating,” said Ormeroid. “It wasn’t completely set.”
The problem, Ormeroid said, wasn’t with the work done by the company involved with the project.
“The manufacturer changed the type of (caulk) product it produced,” he said. “They didn’t give any notice to contractors.”
The Union County YMCA isn’t the only facility that experienced a problem with the new type of caulk.
“We know of at least two other pools that had the same problem,” said Ormeroid.
The pool did not lose any water and there were no injuries associated with the defective caulk.
“Nobody was ever at any health risk,” said Zimmerman. “It did not affect the quality of water in the pool. We were lucky with that.”
The situation, though, is causing quite an inconvenience for YMCA members who use the pool.
It took another two-and-a-half days to drain the pool, a project that began last Saturday evening after the YMCA closed for the day.
The water was pumped out into the storm sewer, according to Ormeroid.
A different and reportedly improved caulking was scheduled to be delivered today, he said, from a different manufacturer.
“I’m not sure of the names of the manufacturers, but I know this new caulk is supposed to be more expensive,” said Ormeroid.
The manufacturer of the first caulk is supposed to pay the cost for having the project done over, it was reported.
“I’m not sure how much it costs to do this,” said Ormeroid.
The three expansion joints and all of the pool’s edges will be gone over again, to the tune of approximately 800 feet of caulk.
Ormeroid said it will take one day to reapply the caulk and then seven more days for it to cure, or dry.
Once that is accomplished, it will take approximately three days to refill the pool and an additional three-to-five days to heat the water to its usual 80 degrees.
“We’re hoping to reopen the pool on Sept. 11,” said Zimmerman. “However, it may be chilly for a couple of days.”
“Everything’s going to be based on the caulk drying,” said Ormeroid. “You can’t ‘hurry’ time.”
Zimmerman admitted that the pool’s closure has been an inconvenience for many.
“It has been for members who use the pool for water exercises and our lap swimmers,” she said. “We have retroactive agreements with the YMCAs in Delaware and Bellefontaine. Our members can go there for water exercise classes or to swim at no charge.”
Local swimmers may also use the local Y’s smaller, warm-water therapy pool as needed. It was not affected by the bigger pool’s situation.
The closure has also thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into a couple of local sporting activities.
The Corporate Cup Challenge, which is sponsored by the YMCA, is scheduled to begin with various sporting activities this weekend. It will run for the next four weeks.
Included is a water polo challenge that has been pushed back to a later date when the pool reopens.
Practice sessions for the YMCA Hurricanes swim team have also been pushed back a week.
“The team normally begins to practice the first full week after Labor Day,” said Zimmerman. “This is going to push them back a week, so it’s not going to be a huge delay.”
Zimmerman said Hurricane coaches will do swimming evaluations on Sept. 13 and 14.
“We tried to be proactive in getting the word out to people about the pool,” she said. “We used social media to try to get the word out.
“We’ve also been proactive in getting our members swimming or exercise times at neighboring YMCAs.”

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