Water is one of the most powerful elements on Earth. Understanding the branch of science and technology concerned with the conveyance of liquids through pipes and channels, especially as a source of mechanical force or control is known as Hydraulics. Proper hydraulic systems and mechanisms are so important when building a swimming pool but are sometimes ignored by the builder unbeknownst to the homeowner.
Like the old saying “Beauty is Only Skin Deep”, there is nothing worse than seeing a beautiful pool where it is obvious that a lot of thought went into the design and material selection only to walk around the side of the house to the equipment set finding under powered equipment and a spiderweb of pipe with often too small of pipe diameter to support the desired features of the pool.
All too often I have been called on to assess a pool that can’t get all of its features to work, why their spillway is splashing water over instead of a gentle even spill or why their spa keeps draining. The hardest part of the diagnosis is breaking to the homeowner that their builder did not provide enough pumps to operate all of the features simultaneously or provide a check valve for the spa. Providing the appropriate equipment and plumbing will allow for the most efficient use and total desired effect of the pool design.
What should be important to us as builders is to make sure we start with some basic plumbing principles and also educate the homeowner:
• The importance of preparing dead level trench runs unless slope is necessary for gravity fed systems. Once laid in the
trench, you should be able to walk on top of the PVC without movement.
• Making connections at all points of entry to pool bracing off the connections. Never allowing for pipes to hang off the
side of the pool with out having the proper support. These precautions are critical if/when the backfill, deck material
placement and soils shift.
• Plumb the manifold with valves set at the same height and keep pipe spacing uniform.
• Plumb above and beyond. Increase your pipe diameter to increase efficiency and flow rate potential. It is better to havemore flow available than not enough.
• Make sure the proper equipment and amount of equipment is being utilized to support the pool’s features. When there is also a spa there should be a separate pump and depending on desired GPM’s.
• Don’t skimp out on Pumps, Filters & Heaters. If your pool size and gallons are at the top end of what the equipment specs can handle, move up to the next level.
Taking the time to make a plumbing and hydraulics plan when the project is being designed will pay off in the long run. Homeowner expectations can be managed and any concerns are a lot easier to address while the ground is still opened up. Making this plan helps keep everyone on the same page, helps the homeowner understand how their pool operates and lends to the overall efficiency and longevity of the pool and its equipment.