Masterful Details

By: Paulo Benedetti

Step Tread Detail

Louvered step lights visually detract from the adjacent finishes. They project the light downward and tend to not illuminate wide steps. Wide steps usually end up with louvers in the risers, and on tall staircases they are at the pedestrian’s eye level.

I have developed a detail of recessing rope or led light strips under the lip of the stair tread. This detail provides a soft illumination of the entire width of the step and eliminates any glare. An easier alternative is to place the lighting strip under the lip of the handrails.

Spa Side Remote

The glowing LED display of a spa side remote is another visual distraction that is easily concealed. It makes sense to conceal the remote, given the actual amount of time it is ever actually in use. Concealing it also protects it from UV degradation and from little fingers that naturally want to push buttons.

The lid must be beveled in order to allow for easy removal. A reverse finger cup on the ends also assist in access to the keypad. Care must be taken to slightly elevate the lid off of the buttons, so that foot traffic does not activate the keypad.

Vanishing Edge Standpipe/Overflow

Striving to reduce penetrations and project costs, I’ve developed this combined detail, which incorporates both the auto-fill standpipe and the overflow line. Be sure to drill a small vent hole in the cap, so that a siphon is not developed on the discharge line. The standpipe can terminate in the floor or sidewall of the basin, depending upon your application.

Surge Tank Reverberations

A common complaint on perimeter overflow pools, is the reverberation of the water cascading into the surge tank. This droning echo is transmitted through the freeboard of the collection manifold, where it exits at the slot gutter. I’ve solved this by adding a butterfly valve on the inlet pipe, just inside the surge tank. The flow of incoming water is then easily throttled back just enough to create a solid plug of water in the pipe. Filling the pipe completely with water prevents the sound from transmitting through the pipe.

Anti-Vortex Surge Tank Plate

Pumps are usually already struggling to lift water a significant height. I’ve eliminated the suction lines going deeper underground and connecting to floor sumps, by utilizing overhead suction lines in my surge tanks. The main trunk line T’s off into balanced suctions. Directly above the T, I install a union check valve. The check valve acts as a foot valve and keeps water in the suction line when the pump basket is opened for cleaning. To prevent vortexing from the edge of the suction pipe, we install anti-vortex plates. The plates are sized and spaced off of the floor depending the diameter of the suction line. The space around the plate and between the floor has been calculated to maintain safe velocities and eliminate vortexing. The SS standoff bolts rest on the floor and take the load off of the overhead piping.

Ice Chest

Clients naturally enjoy beverages while soaking in the spa. In order to make it convenient and hassle free, I’ve developed this detail. Easily constructed of CMU column blocks, it can be placed in the deck or a nearby planter. If there is no deck drain line available, a simple posthole filled with gravel will suffice for drainage. After all, we’re only talking about a small quantity of melted ice. The ice chest is covered with a stone or concrete lid to match the surrounding finish materials.

Elevated Equipment Stand Offs

Where pumps or equipment are installed in locations subject to flooding, such as underground equipment vaults, they must be elevated for protection. Again, a simple elevated concrete pad can be created from a 12 or 16 square CMU column block. A few dowels into the concrete slab keep the block in place. The CMU block is used as a form and left in place.

Visual Clutter

Many items required on the pool that create unnecessary visual clutter. Skimmer lids, auto-fills, deck drains and suction inlets, readily come to mind. There are many inexpensive methods to replace or conceal these elements. Stone skimmer lids, concrete pour-a-lid trays, stone drain covers and concealed slot drains are all easily incorporated with just a little advanced planning.

-- Paolo Benedetti / Aquatic Technology