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Thread: My Pool Project - Need help with Plumbing

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    My Pool Project - Need help with Plumbing

    I am planning on building my own pool, I have designed it from a size and amenity standpoint and started getting bids, but when it comes to the plumbing layout, pipe sizes, pump sizes, filter size etc. I need some serious help. I have spent hours reading online about pumps, head pressure, etc but the more I read the more I am confused as there doesn't seem to be a "right" way to plumb a pool and obviously a lot depends on the differences of each project. So I am looking for help with plumbing layout, pump size, pipe sizes, filter size etc. for my pool. I will list as much information as I can think of but if I have left out some needed details please let me know.

    Pool & spa details: Pool is a freeform design, but basic dimension of the pool is 50' x 25' (150 perimeter, 1257 sq ft) water depth is 3.6' to 6' in deep end so my guess is approx. average depth of 4' to maybe 4.6' the spa is raised 24" basically 9' circle (41 perimeter, 82 sq ft)
    Water features: 2 waterfalls max height 5' (1 on south end only flows into pool, 1 on north end with 2 flow paths, one into pool, one into spa), also raised wall across back with 5 scuppers, 2 columns on either end with water/fire bowls on top and 5 bubblers on 2 different sun shelves (3 on one and 2 on the other)

    So in my mind this will take 3 - 4 pumps, 2 skimmers, 1 cartridge filter, 1 heater, 1 chlorinator, 1 blower for spa jets and a bunch of valves. Problem is size of pumps, pipe, etc to have the most efficient pool from both a energy standpoint and water turnover standpoint.

    Pump #1 will run the basic pool and spa functions using electric accuators three way valves to switch between pool and spa modes with a check valve to keep the raised spa from draining to the pool level. Not sure how many returns the pool should have and or pump can handle based on pump and pipe sizes, not sure on the main drains in pool and spa what size pipe and is the drains and skimmers should be plumbed together or seperately and what the valve configuration should be. Also how the blower in plumbed in, if a bleeder is needed, areator etc?

    Pump #2 will run the waterfalls, in thoery this seems pretty straight forward, but sure I am correct. In my mind there will be a "t" pair of drains preferably in the deep end wall to draw water to pump, then run to water falls with a ball valve at each water fall to adjust flow. Again not sure on pipe size, pump size coming from drains to pump and pump to water falls, not sure if a bleeder to pool is needed? Also need to figure out how to plumb so that on the waterfall that has a spillway going into both the pool and spa will work so that when in pool mode all water falls work, but when in spa made the spillway going in the spa sucks warm water from the spa returning via waterfall to spa, yet still able to run the other waterfalls going to pool pulling cold water from pool retuning via waterfall spills to pool. I think this could be accomplished with an electric accuator spliting the retuns runs to the waterfall that worked with the accuators on the primary pool pump so when the pool was moved to spa mode it would close off the spa waterfall retun line on pump two, but have a retun line on pump 1 that goes to the spa waterfall and spa jets with the blower only pushing the spa jet return line. Again pump and pipe size I am at a loss for?

    Pump #3 - will run the 5 scuppers/2 water & fire bowls and 5 sundeck bubblers. My thoughts here are "t" drains in deep end wall coming to pump to 3 way valve splitting to scuppers and bubbler with ball valves for each to control flow. If would be nice to be able to control the bubbler flow with something like an intelitouch or similar pool control system, but I think that would require a differnet valve setup that could be electronically controled vs. just manual ball valves. Once again pump and pipe size is a major question?

    So I know that the length of the runs plays a key roll in all this so I will do my best to discribe the length to ket points of the pool and water features or if some can tell me how to insert a jpeg picture I can put one in that has tons of dimension lines?

    From equipment to north end of pool (pool orientation is north and south ends approx. 25' wide, west and east sides approx. 50' long. Equipment is on south end around corner of home, spa is on north end at back corner) is 35' to mid point 90 degree elbow then 10' to pool edge, main drains another 6-7' into pool deep end. Skimmers are 22' and 60' from equip. pad. I assume a closed loop running around entire perimeter for the pool returns (not sure how many) but that would be the total pool perimeter of approx 150'. From pump to spa is 100' then loop with spa jets 41' perimeter. Spa drains to pumps approx. 105'

    Waterfall pump to waterfalls: Drains to pump 45', pump to south end waterfall 55' with 5' waterfall height. Pump to north end waterfall that flows to pool and spa is 105'. I assume approx 3 elbows from pump to waterfall end. I do want these to flow at a very high rate, not just a trickle. Assume ball valves at each location to control flow. Pump and pipe sizes is the question?

    Pump #3 for scuppers and bubblers and water/fire pots: From equip. to first sundeck/bubblers (2) is 35' with 5' between bubblers. From equip. to second sundeck bubblers is 80' with 5' between bubblers (3). Equip. to first water pot 65', to second water pot 85' and from equip. to scuppers 75'. Assume there will be 3-4 elbows to get to each. Also not sure how many different runs is advisable? Size pump and pipe? I assume at least 1 3 way valve splitting scuppers from bubblers.

    So this is my project and not sure all of this can be run on just 3 pumps or if a 4th might be needed? Again main goals is designing for max energy efficiency and water turnover. I can go a big or small in pipe size as needed, can add skimmers if needed etc. as I am purely at design stage. Thanks in advance for any and all help/advice.
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    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Silver Spring, MD

    Re: My Pool Project - Need help with Plumbing

    Welcome to TFP!

    The key is to figure out the flow rates you need and then work backwards from that. The width of the waterfalls and how "active" you want them to be dramatically influence the size of pump you need to use. That gives you the flow rate, and from that you figure out the pump and pipe size.

    You can probably run the scuppers (though it depends on scupper width) and other minor water features and pool and spa with a single variable speed pump. That has pros and cons, but mostly pros.

    For the spa, it is crucial you figure out how many jets and what flow rate each jet needs before finalizing the pump and plumbing.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: My Pool Project - Need help with Plumbing

    Thanks, but I am not sure I understand how to get all the pump and pipe sizes from just the waterfall width, but do understand that this would be information needed. The primary waterfall on the south end will have a flow area about 9' across, the south end waterfall with 2 flow paths are about 4' each with one going to the pool and the other to the spa. As far as how much flow, I guess I am not sure as I don't know what the standard is? I do know I what them to be pretty robust if running wide open, I can then use a ball valve to trim them back if needed.
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