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Thread: Converting dedicated return line to return/equalizer?

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Atlanta, GA

    Converting dedicated return line to return/equalizer?

    Hi, TFP. This is my first time posting, but I have been getting great advice from this site ever since moving into my first pool-equipped house last year. Been using BBB from day 1 and never had any problems. Truly great.

    Anyway, I'm posting to ask some advice about a small project I am considering. My pool is 20k gallons, in ground, vinyl liner, with 1 skimmer, no main drain, and 3 return lines (deep, middle near the skimmer, and shallow). My skimmer has no equalizer line attached, but we get quite a few fall leaves here and a few times last year I think the pump almost ran dry as the skimmer choked on leaves. I'm worried that at some point I will get a total choke and damage the pump, so I want to try to rig up a pseudo-equalizer, but wanted to run the idea by you all and see if you had advice/suggestions.

    Here is my plan. At my equipment pad, I have a three way valve that adjust how the return water comes back to the pool. It is set for three possibilities: all returns open, only middle return open (used for my pressure side Polaris, which I love), or only deep and shallow returns open. My plan is to use a few Ts and a ball valve, which I will refer to as the "equalizer valve", to join the middle return line after the three way valve to the skimmer's line before it hits the pump. Then, with the equalizer valve closed, the system will continue to work as it does now. However, when the leaves start to fall, I can set the three way valve to close off the middle return (so no clean water is going through it) and instead open up the equalizer valve, which will convert the middle "return" into something like an equalizer line that sucks water into the pump but below the surface level.

    Of course, there are a few possible issues I have thought of for this, that I hope some of you can chime in on:
    1) when in "equalizer" mode, the middle return will constantly suck water, unlike a true equalizer. I don't think there is necessarily a problem with this, though, but maybe someone here can think of a downside.
    2) my skimmer does not currently have a float assembly, so I think I would have to order one and put it in. Otherwise, if for some reason the skimmer couldn't supply enough water anymore, it could potentially start to suck air and I would lose prime. But, having no experience with float assemblies, I am not 100% sure how they work and if it would still do the job I need (I only need it to close off the skimmer if it runs dry) without a true equalizer line installed.
    3) I would need to be able to put some sort of equalizer fitting onto my return outlet. I don't know if this is as simple as unscrewing the eye that is there now and screwing in an equalizer fitting or not. Would something along the lines of the threaded fitting shown here ( work?
    4) what happens if my equalizer valve fails (or human error is involved...)? That is, if I have my three way valve positioned such that clean water should be returning through the middle return, but the equalizer valve is stuck/broken/left open? Could I potentially damage equipment here, or is the worst case scenario that my pump just keeps circulating the same water in a short loop through the filter (sand, by the way)?

    So, those are my ideas and concerns. I'd be very appreciative if some more experienced and wise members could let me know if this is just a harebrained scheme better left undone, or a potentially useful alteration that might save my equipment come fall. Thanks.

  2. Back To Top    #2
    MitchRyan912's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Madison, WI

    Re: Converting dedicated return line to return/equalizer?

    I'm in the process of going in the opposite direction, having 1 skimmer and 1 "equalizer" (I always thought of it as a dedicated vacuum line) and just 1 return. So far the plumbing seems to be good, but am having motor problems (again!)
    2016 total pool rebuild thread: here. Pool: 26,000 gal IG vinyl liner (20'x40') in Madison, WI. Gear: ​Superflo VS, Triton TR-60 filter, 2" hi-flow MPV, & Raypak 266A heater. Testing: Taylor K-2006C. Manual chems: 12.5% NaClO liquid, granular CYA, baking soda, 31.25% muriatic acid.

  3. Back To Top    #3
    Richard320's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    San Dimas, CA (LA County)

    Re: Converting dedicated return line to return/equalizer?

    Sounds too confusing to me.

    Cutting the pipe and teeing it into the skimmer line somewhere and losing one return would be the best. Then you just drop a diverter valve in the skimmer. If the skimmer clogs, the float closes and all suction goes through the former return.

    It may take hours of searching here, but I know people have installed floating mesh things that looked for all the world like some kind of pitchback in front of the skimmer to catch most of the leaves before they reached the actual skimmer basket.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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