Baptistry Water Care
Can we leave water in our baptistry?
How do we keep our baptistry water clean and clear?
Is it okay to use chemicals in our baptistry or will this damage the fiberglass?
We get these questions and others quite frequently. Read below for answers to some of the more
common questions about leaving water in your church baptistry.
"Is it okay to leave water in our baptistry continuously?"
Fiberglass church baptistries can be affected by long term
exposure to water. Water can seep under the gel coat (the surface you see) and
leave moisture in the underlying fiberglass. Eventually, this moisture can cause blistering, just
like on the bottom of a fiberglass boat.
Another concern is algae and bacteria growth.
Both algae and bacteria can grow quickly in baptistry water. Not only can these present a
health hazard, but the growth of algae and bacteria, if left unchecked, can cause blistering and
spotting on the baptistry walls.
"So what should a church do with the baptistry when
it's not being used?"
We recommend draining the baptistry immediately following the
service and allowing it to dry thorougly (a week or two) before filling it
again. Generally, you don't want to leave water in a baptistry for more than
three days. Fill it on Friday, turn the heater on on Saturday afternoon and drain
it Sunday after service.
What do we do after draining it?
Use a clean towel to wipe down the sides and bottom
and to mop up any standing water left around the drain. If you really want to
do it right, use a good quality fiberglass cleaner and a quality
fiberglass car or boat wax and apply once or twice a year (depending on
how much usage your baptistry gets).
Caution: Don't use strong detergents or anything that is caustic to clean your baptistry. You
also want to stay away from cleaners that might scratch the fiberglass (Comet, etc.) Using any of these cleaners
will usually void your warranty. If you don't properly clean your baptistry, you can cause problems with decomposition of the
resins used in the fiberglass which may be considered misuse and void factory warranties
If you plan on Leaving water in the baptistry:
"We need to use our baptistry every week, or more
frequently than just 3-4 times per year; what should we look for in a new
baptistry system? What happens if we DO leave water in the baptistry? Are there
steps we can take to protect the baptistry?"
There are several considerations.
Child Safety- Your first consideration is making sure no child can access a filled baptistry.
AquaGuard- If you plan on leaving water in your baptistry for an extended period
of time, then you should order a baptistry with AquaGuard or WaterGuard gel coat finish.
The cost is about 25% higher, but you get a 5 year warranty against
surface problems caused by the constant presence of water in the baptistry.
NOTE: Even when ordered with AquaGuard/WaterGuard, you will still need to drain your baptistry and clean it reguarly as directed by the manufacturer. Some manufacturer's suggest monthly and other 4-6 times per year.
Sanitize and clean the water
Step #1 Clean the water of surface debris using a hand skimmer
After use, your baptistry water will contain dirt, hair, debris, etc. and water will begin to grow algae and bacteria if not properly treated.
DO NOT use standard chlorine based pool or spa chemicals on a fiberglass baptistry.
Spas are made differently than baptistries and have a surface that will stand up to chlorine chemicals;
To clean your baptistry water, we reccommend getting a good quality cartridge filter and optional skimmer that
should be installed in-line with the heater/pump system. The filter will
remove suspended dirt and debris from the water and will also help extend the life
of your heater element.
A skimmer helps remove surface debris that floats on top of the water. If you don't have a built in skimmer, you can instead use a handheld net/skimmer to remove debris.
Step #2 Sanitize (kill germs and algae) the water
For baptistry water sanitization, a UV
(ultra-violet) light sanitizer can be used to kill most of the bacteria in the water
and will help to keep it clean and sanitary. The UV sanitizer is installed in
line with the water circulation system and as water is pumped past the UV
light, micro-organisms are affected by the UV light and die.
UV light sanitizers are only able to treat water that flows past the light. Residual water may remain at the bottom of the pump or in some lines so water will still require some limited chemical treatment. Some UV light manufacturer's claim a 90% reduction in chemical use.
As an added precaution, you may want to consider testing your water for micro-organisms
periodically. Since no mechanical, or non-chemical treatment method is
perfect, you may need to supplement your mechanical sanitizing methods with
occasional chemical treatment.
What chemicals can we use to treat and sanitize our baptismal pool water?
Some churches elect to treat their baptismal pool water with chemicals as an adjunct to UV
treatment or as a stand alone treatment. If you decide to use chemicals, here are some things to know:
You should be aware that not all pool or spa chemicals are suitable for use with a fiberglass baptistry. Make sure whatever
treatment you use is guaranteed by the manufacturer to be safe for use
with polyester resins. Many churches use chlorine-free oxidizers, and bio-film
There are three types of chemical sanitizers for baptistries: chlorine based, bromine and biguanides (Baquacil).
Chlorine is not recommended with fiberglass baptistries as it can harm the surface finish or damage the heating equipment, especially at levels over 3.0 ppm. If you use chlorine, there are mineral water sanitzation treatments on the market that allow for lower levels of chlorine than normal. With mineral water systems, the EPA recommends a minimum chlorine or bromine level of 0.5 ppm
Baquacil Standard and CDX Systems may be used as long as you do NOT have a HydroQuip circulation style baptistry heater, as Baquacil can negatively interact with some components of the circulation heater (water level indicator, stainless steel and others) Always refer to your equipment manufacturer for approved chemical solutions.
Which treatment you use will depend on the individual system and your specific requirements. Consult
with your chemical dealer to make the right decision.
Bromine based sanitizers are probably a good solution for most churches, but check with your baptistry manufacturer and heating equipment manufacturer to make sure, as the use of some chemicals can cause issues and or void your warranty. Bromine is safe to use with Little Giant, Hydro Quip, EQAS, Fiberglass Sepcialties and Fiberglass Unlimited baptistry heaters
Baptistry Water Testing
Most pool supply stores will test your water at no charge. This invloves filling a clean
container with about 6 oz of water and taking it to your pool store for a check. They can advise
of the required chemcials, just be sure to tell them it's for a fiberglass baptistry and you cannot use
chlorine and that the chemcials need ot be approved for use with fiberglass resins.
It's important to keep on top of your water and not let it get cloudy or green before you decide to treat it. It's much better and less
expensive to maintain good water than to react to bad water quality.
As a note: the use of chemicals may void
your baptistry warranty, but that may just be the price you have to pay if you
want to keep water in your baptistry for extended periods. I personally would
be more concerned with the health of the candidates than with the longetivity
of the baptistry. How often to use chemicals really depends on each
church's unique situation, but you can also check with your local county
extension office, water utility or a local university/school lab for testing and
- For the filter and UV sanitizer to work properly, water has to be
circulated through them regularly.
- By leaving water in the baptistry, you will notice a drop in the water
level due to evaporation.
- Most baptistry heaters/pumps are not designed to regularly
(long-term) circulate water thru a filter and sanitizer. They are
really just for heating the water. Be sure the unit you select can circulate the water even when the heater is off.
- By selecting an automatic heater/circulation system, you will make everybody's life much easier.
We offer a solution...
You will want an Automatic Baptistry Heater pump system that periodically circulates the water
through the filter and sanitizer, and that detects a drop in water level and adds water as needed,
to maintain the proper water level.
Our S-5 - EQAS Automatic Baptistery Heating System 5.5kw is a great solution if you plan on leaving water in the baptistry.
To sum things up on how to keep your baptistry water clean, clear and safe:
Infrequent use (3-4 times a year) of baptistry
- Drain after use, wipe down and allow to dry at least a week between fillings
- Don't leave water in pool longer than 3 days
- Clean and Wax your baptistry once or twice a year
- A regular (manual) baptistry heating & circulation system is
Frequent Use and or Continuously filled Baptistry
- Order a baptistry with AquaGuard coating
- Get a fully automatic heater/pump/fill system
that circulates the water regularly
- Add a filter unit to clean the water
- Add a UV sanitizer to disinfect the water and/or use a non-chlorine chemical
treatment system as outlined above
- Regularly have your water tested, or purchase a water testing kit from a pool supply store
- Periodically drain your pool according to the mfg. directions and allow it to dry for a week or so before refilling.
Baptistry Safety -If You Read Nothing Else, Read This!
As a child, we loved to play hide and seek when we were at church,
the building was so large and there were many, really great hiding spots. We
would often end up in the sanctuary, when all the adults were gone and the lights were
off. Our parents were off working in the nursery or singing in the choir room
(and this was the 70's when kids were allowed more freedom to roam). The
baptistry was a really fun place to play. You see where I am going with
You should treat a filled baptistry as you would treat a swimming
pool. It is a hazard to children. Erect and maintain barricades to prevent
entry to the baptistry area, from both the sanctuary, as well as from the
candidate entrances. There are national codes that govern swimming
pool safety and numerous local codes that may be in place, check with your local governing body to see which departments may have
a say in baptistry safety. You should be aware
of these codes and check with your insurance provider for additional
recommendations. We can also tell you a few things that other churches are doing
that may or may not be appropriate for your installation
- Locking doors with strict controls on access (but allow for adults
to access the pool in an emergency- don't allow a child to be locked in the
- Self closing gates with pool latches
- Hard surface pool covers that can't be removed by kids
- Make sure the upper level of the baptistry window or front is high
enough so kids can't cimb over using readily available furniture (choir
- Posting of signage warning of the danger of drowning to alert
adults and older kids not to prop open doors, etc.
- Post CPR signs near baptistry entry
- Pool alarms can be good backups, but do NOT rely on these as your
first line of defense-they may malfunction or there might not be anyone around
to hear the alarm
Caution: Electrical outlets should be at
least 10 ft from your baptistry or as required by code. Under no circumstances
should anyone in a baptistry touch a microphone or other electric device when
in the water.
Always turn off all heating and circulation equipment before using the baptistry. It is not enough to just switch the heater off as electricity is still present at the equipment; be sure to turn off the breaker to the electrical equipment!
By treating your baptistry and the water in the above manner, you are
going a long way towards keeping your water clean and healthy, protecting your
baptistry and protecting the health of your congregation.
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Q and A on Baptistry Water Care
What products do you recommend for keeping the water sanitized?
There are a lot of variables but pool and spa stores can provide you with a sanitizer if you feel you need it.If you are filling the baptistry from a clean water source and then discarding the water afterwards, most churches we know of are not sanitizing the water.If you are baptizing really young, elderly or health compromised individuals, you may wish to add some type of sanitizer.
There are three types of chemical sanitizers for baptistries: chlorine based, bromine and biguanides . Chlorine is not recommended with fiberglass baptistries as it can harm the surface finish. The use of biguanide based sanitizers may damage some heating and circulation equipment. Bromine based sanitizers are probably a good solution for most churches, but as always refer to your equipment manufacturer for approved chemicals.
We do not recommend keeping water in a baptistry any longer than needed (1-2 days is usually okay). If you do keep water in the baptistry for extended periods, we recommend checking with your local pool store for testing and chemicals.
If you use chlorine to sanitize your baptistry water, you run the risk of potential damage to the tubs and equipment when too much chlorine is used (over 3.0 ppm when tested, possibly lower in some instances).
Water chemistry is the true killer of Incoloy heater elements and other metals. used in baptistry heaters. When the pH of the water is too high or too low you will damage Incoloy heater elements. Tap water can also be an issue if not pH balanced and/or has an excess of metals. Titanium heating elements are not effected by chemicals or pH and have proven to be longer lasting in all applications.