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Thread: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

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    Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    Hi All,
    I've discovered this fine forum whilst browsing the web for pool advice, I'm very new to this all so please go easy on me! I've read as much as I can and am starting to go cross-eyed, its time to start asking stupid questions

    I'm a few weeks away from starting pool construction, something I've been dreaming about my whole life. We're in Scotland/UK building an indoor concrete pool as part of a new house, we've built a few houses now so I've taken it upon myself to do the pool as well, the structural engineer and building control guys have signed off on the drawings, now just the finer details. Unfortunately budget is tight so no money has been allocated for a fancy designer to tell me what they think I need in terms of equipment!

    Initially I'm looking for some advice on the location of the Drain(s), Skimmer(s) and Returns. Hopefully the plans are attached showing my first stab at a layout, pool volume is 53m3 (around 13700 US Gallons) with a depth of 1500mm (around 5ft).

    My questions are as follows:

    1) For this volume of pool do you think the single drain, single skimmer, and two returns are about right?
    2) Placement wise is what I've shown sensible?
    3) What is the convention for a vacuum inlet, next to the skimmer?
    4) We would like some jets in the seating area, I suspect the complexity of water jets will be too much so at the moment I'm thinking air jets only fed from a blower in a nearby utility room (not shown), if I'm going to this much trouble am I mad not to plumb for water jets in the spa area?

    Thanks in advance for any advice offered,

    Kind Regards,
    Duncan

    Pool.jpg

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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    No stupid questions at all! Welcome to TFP, and good luck with your project.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    Welcome to TFP!!

    1. A single skimmer and floor drain line should be fine. It is indoors, how much debris can you get? Note, that for safety the floor drain should actually be 2 plumbed together. May not be required over there, but a good idea. Google "VGB pool drains" for more info. I would likely go up to 3-4 return jets just to improve circulation.

    2. Skimmer location does not matter, you have no wind to worry about. Floor is in the deepest location. Jets, you want to setup a circular water flow. Might add a jet below the skimmer on the drawing and maybe one on the end of the sitting area?

    3. In the middle of long walls, so that the hose is as short as possible. On the skimmer side would be fine.

    4. Hard to say since you did not provide much in the way of details

    Don't forget to think about the HVAC / humidity control system. That is extremely important for indoor pools.

    Also, you may want to consider a UV or ozone system in addition to your chlorine sanitation since you will not have the benefit of the sun to help breakdown the CC byproducts.
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    Welcome to TFP and congrats on the new pool!

    Maybe move the lower right return to the lower left. The idea with pool returns is to create a circular flow pattern. One skimmer should be fine in an indoor pool.
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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    Ah, thanks for the welcome and instantly helpful information. Also for bringing up a few points I hadn't considered!

    I was unaware of the VGB case, two main drains it is, regardless of regulations over here that's common sense. I'll also add some extra return jets, I see the logic in creating a circular flow in the pool and these parts are cheap.

    Space heating wise we have underfloor pipes for a bit of background heat, I'm intending to use a wall mounted dehumidifier (Vaporex 34 - common over here) with integral heating loop for extra space heating, the windows in the pool room are tripple glazed and the insulation is well above standard. In addition I'm planning a heat recovery fan/extractor to handle the air changes, and of course a pool cover to keep things in check.

    I'd not thought about UV/Ozone as most of the water treatment guides I've seen have been for outdoor pools. There is about 20m2 of (South/East facing) glazing to the pool enclosure so I expect a fair bit of natural light, although not to the extent of an outdoor pool in sunny climate! I'll make sure we have space on the wall in the plant room.

    And finally going back to the spa area..... I'd like some advice and opinions on this. We aren't looking for a full hot-tub experience with hundreds of jets, just somewhere to sit with a few bubbles. From what I can find the convention would be to have a separate pump and drains, 2" water and 1.5" air pipework and Gunite jets. I suspect we are getting screwed on costs over here at over $100 per jet outlet in parts? This had led me to think that a simple blower and air jets was going to be a better solution for us. I'm wondering therefore if you were in my position of starting from scratch would you pay the extra for water jets? Are there any parts suppliers that I should look at who would ship to the UK?


    Thanks in advance for the continued help!

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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    Let me start off by saying that I have an indoor pool (it is a 20x40 traditional rectangular hopper end pool built 35 years ago), however I am in a MUCH warmer climate than you are, and at this point in time only have solar pool heating which allows for a 9 month swim season, maybe 10 months if you don't mind swimming in cooler water. In my climate we often have hot summers so a lot of my concern is summer heat extraction through the use of high volume exhaust fans, winter time temperatures here get below freezing at night commonly, however it is rare to go over 24 hours below freezing, and very rare over 48 hours (once every 2-3 years). My pool has only one skimmer and 2 returns, no main drain in a general similar layout as you show, which provide adequate circulation, at times a do wish I had a main drain due to colder water sinking to the bottom of the hopper area in the deep end, which I have been able to mostly solve by adding a modern venturi eyeball return in the deep end pointed down. Infusion Pool Products - Save Time, Energy and Money with our new, easy to install Venturi Return Fitting. with your limited depth however I think you could get away without having a main drain, although I would probably add a 3rd return to eliminate dead spots in your circulation. I tend to get one on the wall opposite the skimmer, remember there is no wind to speak of indoors, although the high volume exhaust fans I added a couple of years ago when I had the roof replaced will make all the pool floats gather in the deep end if the circulation pump is off. My not indoor pool at the moment

    Now that you know where I am coming from here are a few thoughts on your layout and design:

    First your questions,

    1, mentioned above

    2, same

    3, vacuum inlits are not particularly popular, personally I use a robot now for almost all cleaning, before that I used a suction side cleaner, most debris I get tends to be small (dust, insects from outdoors when the doors are open, a few leaves, etc.)

    4, I would tend to go with water jets only with air induction, no separate blower (most of the effect can be done without one with proper air induction) and use a single variable speed pump, these style pumps have become very popular the last few years.


    Now the stuff I see that I feel I should comment on. First thing is the windows, make sure they are sealed and don't breath, all the sliding glass doors you see around my pool were originally double pain insulated glass (replacing them with french doors is next on the ongoing pool renovation project, maybe next year), I say originally because moisture made its way into every one of them and would heat up, expand and make one or both of the glass panes shatter. I don't know that they all have failed over the years (you can see in the link there are a lot of them) however I don't know of one that still has both panes intact. Hopefully the quality of multipane glass has improved over the years. If you put in a skylight, be warned they will tend to form COLD condensation and it will rain down on you. Now the stuff I see in your design that I would change, first off you want a door into your mechanical room from the pool area, an outside door is nice too, but does tend to turn the layout into a hallway and limits where equipment can go, there will be a surprising amount of stuff you will want to store in there to keep out of sight most of the time, also make the door as sound proof as possible, mine is a indoor style door and lets too many mechanical sounds through, it will be changed out at some point . I would also move the spa area where you have the steps and put the steps going across the pool where you have the spa allowing for one full depth lap lane along the edge. I like the fact that you have a separate bathroom from the shower, mine is combined, the pool is also in a separate building from the house about 50-75 feet away, and changing room area, along with bathroom access is always a problem when we have a group over and someone takes a shower. I know you have budgetary concerns, but if possible I would add more walkway space, as you can see in my photos I have walk around space around the pool which is about 5 ft wide on deep end and one side, 10 ft wide on the other side, and about 6 ft at the shallow end. The 5ft wide sides can feel a bit narrow particularly with 2 people passing going opposite directions, in fact I find people tend to stay on the 10 ft side unless they have a need to go to the narrow side (where the skimmer is, etc.). Another thing I want to address is how do you plan to use your pool, the feel I get from the layout is mostly an exercise room, however you also talk about a soaking spa. If for general entertainment I would consider that as well, we enjoy doing extended family pool movie nights in ours where we set up a projector and 120 inch screen across the shallow end (you can see it covered in a paint drop cloth in the corner by the floats in my last photo in the link) and float and watch movies, however there is always someone that wants to stay dry at such events. If you plan to socialize in such ways you may want to consider space for dry area seating, maybe a table, etc.

    Ike

    p.s. I am not sure about your design is it 5 ft constant depth or is there a slope to it, personally I would include at least a portion of the pool with a 3.5 ft depth and slope to deeper.
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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    Ike, thanks for such a comprehensive reply and sharing your experiences. Great to see your own setup in the link, I wish we could get away with solar heating for 9 months of the year! To fill you in on a few details and some of the logic:

    Windows - We should be ok, the plan is to use a very good quality triple glazed system, not an area I'm scrimping on especially given the temperature difference for most of the year. No plans for skylights for exactly the reason you mention. Our building codes are pretty tight, down to computer modeling of interstitial condensation!

    Layout - We're lucky to have two properties, unfortunately the pool is going in the weekday home where we sit on a 0.25 acre lot, our "cottage" has 7 acres so could accommodate a much better pool enclosure. We're totally maxed out on footprint so I'm trying to pack in as much as possible, hence the walls dropping into the pool on two sides. In a previous drawings revision we did have a wider walkway and a door to the plant room, but the pool suffered in volume so we decided to go down to a minimum on the walkway (its mainly there for safety so you are never that far from an exit point) and drop the plant room door from the pool. That bought us more pool, more plant room wall space, and some acoustic isolation.

    Usage - I'd love a crystal ball to see in the future, I'm sure I'd do things differently but I'm hoping I can make a relatively flexible design. We've got two young boys (3 and 5) and neither me or my wife are into swimming as exercise, as such its not designed as a lap pool. We toyed with loads of layouts including having the spa with a separating wall but kept going back to the design above. It won't be ideal for laps for sure, but if the need ever arose I'd just build a wall of some kind between the main pool and spa area, perhaps even something removable or just under the surface to kick against.

    Depth - The roof/ceiling height is also limited by our planning laws, its a relatively flat roof with only 8ft of headroom, diving was never an option hence the lack of a deep end. Since two of the pool walls hold up the roof I needed a proper foundation slab under the pool, our building codes (and structural engineer) have dictated a pretty complicated construction, I'd love to do a sprayed concrete pool with varying depth, but within our building codes the only way to have a variable depth would be to back-fill some of the completed pool which seems like a waste of money! After a lot of thought we have decided to set out depth at 1400mm, about 4'6" which allow my wife to stand in the pool without a snorkel, that should be a safe enough depth for our boys jumping in.

    I've attached one of the sections through the pool room for your curiosity, the insulation and tight lot sure make things complicated!

    All the best and thanks again for your input!

    Duncan

    Pool2.jpg

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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    It does sound like you are fairly locked in on what you can do, however if possible I would still advise a doorway to the plant room, I just can't imagine dealing with equipment / control issues without easy line of sight access to the pool, then of course there is the storage of pool chemicals, toys, etc. Another thing if you are installing an exhaust fan, you also need a way for air to be drawn in, and whatever size exhaust fan you are considering, double it. I added the pair of high volume exhaust fans you see in the pictures during the roof replacement and they make all the difference in removing humidity in the summer, and even other seasons without removing too much heat even with cool outdoor air as the concrete and water do a good job of retaining heat even with a rush of cool dry air coming into the building. I did the math when I bought these fans and they can exhaust 100% of the air in the building in under 6 minutes, at the moment one of them is broken and I am missing it even this early in the spring. (it stopped working about a week ago, I have someone coming to look at it next week).

    Ike

    p.s. I notice a lot of wood mentioned in your construction, my only comment is be ware wood and humidity don't get along, also plan on using outdoor wet location rated light switches and electrical outlets. All of my exposed wood is pecky cypress which naturally rot resistant, one mistake made with my pool is the kitchen cabinets originally had regular wood shelves which sagged in this environment, also be careful of any exposed metals, use stainless steel fixtures if you can, which is thankfully popular these days.
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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    What about a pocket or folding door into the plant room? They would take up less room. Even if it were the smallest door ever you will be glad you had it for storage of stuff.

    Kim
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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    Great stuff thanks, I think that what I'll do is put the lintel in for the door so its ready to be cut out when required, I don't really want the delay of changing the plans at this stage but appreciate the sense in doing this. We do have another large storage area on the other side of the pool not shown on the drawings you've seen so perhaps we will find that's enough storage for us. But I've taken the advice on board and we'll get ready for the door even if goes in later.

    Hopefully all the timber is going to be hidden away behind the ceiling, good reminder about the fixings being stainless throughout. Lighting is our business so hopefully we can do something pretty special, I'll post some updates as things progress!

    Do you have any preferred online suppliers of pool plumbing? I can't help but think the sellers over here are adding a premium onto US prices because pools are less common here.

    Thanks,
    Duncan

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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    It depends on the equipment, but for many things it seems Amazon is very competitive, however I suspect you will want to buy locally due to plumbing standards, the US uses NPT (national pipe thread), I suspect you have either BSPT (British Standard Pipe Thread) or you have gone metric like the rest of Europe. I am dealing with that in reverse problem at the moment as I bought a kitchen sink from the UK for our kitchen remodel where we needed a corner sink that fits into an 45 degree corner Suter JAZZ IL95 Inset Stainless Steel kitchen sink It is sad, but shipping was almost as much as the sink.

    On a side topic what sort of wall covering are you using?

    Ike

    p.s. for lighting I have indirect lighting, part of the roof replacement project was to replace the old fixtures with IP65 rated plastic florescent fixtures with good warm full spectrum bulbs in the wood troughs that are above the glass doors, of course that was 4 years ago, today I think I would be temped to go LED, but you say you are in the business so probably know more about it than I do. However from other indoor pools I have used in hotels, etc. I find direct lighting and indoor pools do not go together due to glare which is worse with wet eyes.
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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    Hi All,
    Sorry for the radio silence, we've been very busy building! Managed to dig down and put a sump in so we could deal with the high groundwater, we are constantly pumping out at the moment to keep things above the water table. We got our high compressive strength insulation under the slab, a huge amount of reinforcing mesh and rebar and 33 tons of concrete poured for the base. I'm now working on the hollow walls which will be backfilled with concrete, 18" thick, my structural engineer wasn't taking any chances!

    I've got a quick question, what depth below the surface of the water would you have your return jets (4 in my case) and pool lights?

    Thanks in advance,
    Duncan

    IMG_6847.jpgIMG_6819.jpg

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    I would say the light you want mid-depth. And the returns around 1 foot below the water surface. I am not sure what the normal spec is for these though.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Newbie Constructional Advice - Drains/Skimmers/Returns

    Ah that's great thanks, confirms what I seem to be seeing in pictures online!

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