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Thread: Abandon or replace floor returns?

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    Abandon or replace floor returns?

    I have a customer that has an old concrete pool that they are thinking about renovating. Its in rough shape, but the owner is a mason, and can do the concrete work himself, which I think is going to be the hardest part. They brought me in to check out the plumbing and equipment before they sink lots of time and money into everything else.

    The pool has a lot of plumbing. There are two skimmers, a lower suction in the wall, a main drain, four returns, and eight floor returns. The pool is only roughly 18'x36'. I'll be pressure testing all of the plumbing in the near future, but I'm wondering if we will be able to find replacement return covers for the floor returns, or if the floor returns will even be necessary. Can they be abandoned and covered with concrete? Is it worth chipping away the concrete and replacing them with more modern and readily available fittings? My experience is mostly with Vinyl Liner pools, so I'm not sure what the best options would be with an old concrete pool.

    Any suggestions or ideas?
    TreeFiter

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    Saugerties, NY

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Abandon or replace floor returns?

    In almost all instances, "floor returns" are actually part of an in floor cleaning system. Is that what they are or are they actually returns?
    Returns in the floor do not make a lot of sense.

    the returns are supposed to be angled so as to provide a circular current on surface of the water and that circular current carries debris to the skimmer(s).
    Floor returns would be extremely disruptive to that.
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
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    Re: Abandon or replace floor returns?

    I don't think they are part of an in floor cleaning system. I'm familiar with systems like the caretaker, which usually have the big control head valve and various other components that are necessary for them to work.. I have seen several pools over the years with floor returns. I don't know why the builder wanted them there, but they are definitely returns. They look like a main drain, but usually about half the size.

    TreeFiter

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    Saugerties, NY

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Abandon or replace floor returns?

    I did some research a while ago and discovered that for a while, it was fashionable to return heated water via the floor so the hot water would rise and warm the water above rather than just evaporate off the surface.

    You see any funky looking valves like this? It's a 4 port.
    4wayvalve.jpg

    More information on it. The Palmer Flowreversal Module - Pool Flowreversal Technology Not sure if you need special software to read that. Let me know.
    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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    Re: Abandon or replace floor returns?

    No, there are no strange valves present. Much of the plumbing has been hacked out. There are just a bunch of pipes coming out of the ground at this point. I have gone through and identified which pipe goes where, and the floor returns are on their own pipe. In fact there are two pipes going to floor drains. The main drain has its own pipe, the two skimmers share a pipe, and the four (near surface) returns share one pipe.

    I've seen a handful of older concrete pools with floor drains, and I have a customer that just built their pool this season, and the builder installed floor returns for some reason. Oddly enough, I maintain two other pools from this same builder, but neither of them have floor returns. In the older pools, there are no other returns in the pool. Only the floor returns.

    So given that these floor returns are on their own plumbing, and the pool has a main drain and surface returns, what would be the harm in eliminating them? Is it worth the effort to fill them in with concrete and plaster over them? Or would it be better to cut out the fixtures and retrofit new ones. My big concern is that there aren't any grates to cover the holes. I can't imagine they will be easy to find. Its probably not a good idea to leave big holes open in the bottom of the pool like that.
    TreeFiter

    Pool Technician
    Saugerties, NY

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Abandon or replace floor returns?

    I'd fill 'em in. You'll already have dual main drains to comply with Virginia Graeme Baker Act, right? That's enough. One is plenty. People have giant oval above ground pools that size and manage just fine without a drain.
    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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    Re: Abandon or replace floor returns?

    I don't think there is a dual main drain. Its an older pool, so I'm assuming one. Can't see right now because the sump is full of nasty green water.

    I think you are right though. Just about every pool I work on does just fine with a skimmer, main drain, and a few surface returns. Some do just fine with significantly less. There are a few dinosaurs out there in really bad shape where we have put "temporary" lines above ground to keep them going, and they manage to stay reasonably clean.
    TreeFiter

    Pool Technician
    Saugerties, NY

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Abandon or replace floor returns?

    I would fill in the floor returns. No real purpose in having them. Who knows... maybe way back when it was built, that was the fad for new pools!
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
    www.tftestkits.net Experience- it's what's learned just after you needed it most !!

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