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Thread: Replace copper lines?

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    Mar 2014
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    Question Replace copper lines?

    I have a 18 x 40 foot pool built in 1968 that appears to need the copper pipes replaced. This was recommended by one of two plaster companies that I asked for estimates. Considering pebble sheen.

    My last plaster job was only 12 years ago but the plaster looks terrible now. Man spots missing plaster. Green cast to plaster which I am told is from the copper lines. I did have a leak in the suction line by the filter and was able to solder on a mail fitting and transition to pvc to the pump.

    The questions are...

    1) Is it really time to repipe?

    2) I currently have 1 1/2 pipe. The recommendation is to go with 2 1/2 pipe to a new skimmer . A separate line would go to a new vacuum port (which I don't currently have). I have a very large skimmer and need it due to a massive amount of leaves....the new plastic skimmers look very small. Should I replace the skimmer with plastic or can I just pull in a new pipe? I am in quake country and am concerned about the strength of patches to the old gunite.

    3) Drain pipe is an issue. Company wanted to plug it off but I am concerned about circulation issues. I have seen many posts on this issue and there doesn't seem to be a definite answer. Would it make sense to leave the drain copper but cut in a bypass value below where it T's under the skimmer?

    4)What about returns? Currently have 2 1 inch returns. There are 2 other returns around a long seat in the deep end. There is a value in the deck that appears to bring in air into those lines. Crude jetpool? I would eliminate those. Is two returns enough and what is the proper placement?

    It is a big pool it runs pretty well on a 1 hp pump and a 48sq foot old purex smbw2048 cast aluminum filter. The filter looks very old but my pool guy says they don't make them like that anymore so why replace. Equipment is only 7 feet away from skimmer.

    Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Replace copper lines?

    Hi, welcome to TFP! I am going to address just the copper issue for now. If the pool water is in correct balance, copper will not be leached from the pipes or a heat exchanger. If the pipes are in good condition and not leaking then I would not replace them. You can take a sample of pool water and have it tested for copper if you think it is leaching out into the pool. Post the test results here.

    If the results are positive, is there any other way copper could be getting into the pool? There are pool products that can add copper such as some algaecides, ionizers, and 3-in-1 chorine products. Copper can be leached from a heater with a copper heat exchanger as well, if the pool water is not correctly balanced.

    Please post a complete set of test results, it will help us help you.
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Replace copper lines?

    Welcome to TFP!

    There are many ways to proceed, and none of them are the "one true way". It is much more of a tradeoff between how much you want to spend vs how much old stuff you are willing to keep around, with some risk because of the unknown condition of the pipes thrown in.

    Ideally you would get rid of all the copper, use larger diameter pipe, have separate runs from the main drain and the skimmer back to the equipment pad, more returns, brand new skimmer, etc. But doing all of that is going to get expensive. How much you really want to do depends quite a bit on how much money you have available, since with only minor updates you can leave most of it alone and get by, or just splurge and do everything.

    The trickiest bit (read expensive) is replacing the pipe all the way to the main drain. That requires tunneling, and obviously your builder doesn't want to have anything to do with that project. The next alternative is to cut off the copper and switch to PVC at the point where the main drain appears from underneath the pool. Give you are running a new line to the skimmer, replacing the drain pipe from there should be easy. I wouldn't even consider sealing off the main drain unless it is already leaking.

    1) Yes, perhaps not all of the pipe, but generally worth replacing as much as you can easily access with larger PVC.

    2) Replacing the skimmer has pros and cons. I would replace the whole skimmer. It is going to be fairly obvious that the skimmer was replaced, but an all new skimmer will last far longer than reusing what you have.

    3) Already covered.

    4) Two returns is fine, three if you want is a little better. The trend these days is for many returns, but I don't see any value in more than three. Placement is not critical, just not right near each other.

    Good Luck!
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Replace copper lines?

    Thanks guys for the quick reply. This is an amazing forum. I'll be reading the sticky notes for days.

    I will certainly have the water tested. Since I don't have a heater the green tint must be coming from the copper lines. I have always had pretty cheap poolmen it's possible they have skimped on chemicals.

    The issue of the skimmer has me puzzled. My skimmer has a large 11 1/4 inch opening with suction area being the same size. Seems very large but it's all gunite and tile so I don't see how this has much chance of wearing out. Is an epoxied on plastic skimmer really better than what I have? I thought I would excavate under it , replace with pvc and seal the opening. Less chance for leaking?

    Again many things. Very interesting threads here.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Replace copper lines?

    With the skimmer, as with everything else, there are tradeoffs. Replacing the point where the copper pipe connects to the skimmer requires some careful work, and has some risk of future leaks. Likewise, the new pool surface has to mate up to the edges of the tile, which also tends to be tricky to get to look just right. A new plastic skimmer certainly won't look as good, but it will be fairly easy to install and it isn't likely to leak. It is a kind of three way tradeoff, money/appearance/reliability: more money to look better but likely to be less reliable unless the repair person is exceptionally good at their job. Also, modern plastic skimmers are almost always better at skimming, especially when the pump is running at a lower speed (which is more energy efficient). But these are all relatively minor issues.

    There isn't any one correct answer. If you love the way it looks and can afford the upgrade, then there is nothing "wrong" with keeping it, just some minor tradeoffs.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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