Heater bypass with A&A in-floor cleaning system

JRB100

Member
Mar 20, 2019
18
Dallas, TX
My pool/spa is 21 years old with an A&A in-floor cleaning system. I have often had issues with the pop-ups not fully popping-up. I replaced all popups after four or five years (which helped greatly). I am replaced two last July and will replace many of the others in the next month.

My Sta-Rite cartridge filter (with new filters) registers 25-30psi (depending on zone), the popups registering only 6-7psi. I cleared all the popups and skimmer lines last summer after I found bits of CPVC causing blockages. (The CPVC pieces came from a recent heater replacement installation.) I also manipulated the inflow and outflow valves in many combinations in order to find the greatest psi at the pop-ups. A&A states 10psi at the pop-up is desirable.

While my warranty with A&A is excellent, getting detailed information regarding the operation of their systems is severely lacking. My question - Would having a heater bypass added to my plumbing increase the psi at the pop-ups? Note: this is a Raypak heater, not solar, not a heat pump. (I do have a slight leakage at the actuator and will have it replaced when I have the pool replastered in the coming months.)
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,628
Chandler AZ
Having a heater bypass should increase the flow rate at your returns - whether they are standard returns or infloor pop-ups. It will also lower your filter pressure a little do to less restriction on the return side.

Post a picture of your equipment pad and someone should be able to advise on the best way to set up a heater bypass.
 
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Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
641
Silicon Valley, CA
We have a different brand infloor cleaner, but installing an external heater bypass made significant improvement to our downstream pressure so that the infloor cleaner could work as spec'd.

Your leaking actuator may be contributing a lot to the problem too. I'd try to fix that beforehand to see how much improvement is gained there.
 

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
641
Silicon Valley, CA
JRB,

You have a lot of splits (4?) on the Pool return side. Just want to make sure you are closing off all of them except the one that goes into ground and comes up to the A&A valve when you try to get more infloor pressure. And are all those diverters properly sealing when closed? I'm assuming the Pool/Spa Return actuator is the one you mentioned with a slight leak.
 

JRB100

Member
Mar 20, 2019
18
Dallas, TX
JRB,

You have a lot of splits (4?) on the Pool return side. Just want to make sure you are closing off all of them except the one that goes into ground and comes up to the A&A valve when you try to get more infloor pressure. And are all those diverters properly sealing when closed? I'm assuming the Pool/Spa Return actuator is the one you mentioned with a slight leak.
With this A&A system, the skimmers work by a venturi of water coming from the returns rather than using the suction lines. The skimmers actually work well with this setting, so this is taking some of the return psi away from the popups.
 

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
641
Silicon Valley, CA
With this A&A system, the skimmers work by a venturi of water coming from the returns rather than using the suction lines. The skimmers actually work well with this setting, so this is taking some of the return psi away from the popups.
Have you quantified how much psi this is taking away?
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
423
Gilbert, AZ
Jrb, your plan for the heater bypass looks good. However, In my opinion, a three way valve is not necessary for bypassing a heater...a simple (still Jandy type) valve that can just open the new path (both heater and new path in parallel) would accomplish the same thing, perhaps even better and would allow a tiny flow through the heater to prevent any problems that could develop with stagnant water in the heater...not sure if any problems like that exist. Opinions?

Also, from the characterizing I’ve done on my system, I would be surprised if the PSI drop you see at your cleaning manifold (by keeping the Venturi skimmers partly open) is only 1 psi. I think it could be much higher. I ended up putting a psi gauge right near my cleaning manifold to monitor the PSI right at that spot, like Dodger has in his caretaker manifold...no guessing then.

A couple other questions..do your Venturi skimmers have suction paths (to the pump) and return paths (for the Venturi action)? What is that little gadget/pipe that seems to be attached to one of the outputs out of your cleaning manifold?
 
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JRB100

Member
Mar 20, 2019
18
Dallas, TX
Jrb, your plan for the heater bypass looks good. However, In my opinion, a three way valve is not necessary for bypassing a heater...a simple (still Jandy type) valve that can just open the new path (both heater and new path in parallel) would accomplish the same thing, perhaps even better and would allow a tiny flow through the heater to prevent any problems that could develop with stagnant water in the heater...not sure if any problems like that exist. Opinions?

Also, from the characterizing I’ve done on my system, I would be surprised if the PSI drop you see at your cleaning manifold (by keeping the Venturi skimmers partly open) is only 1 psi. I think it could be much higher. I ended up putting a psi gauge right near my cleaning manifold to monitor the PSI right at that spot, like Dodger has in his caretaker manifold...no guessing then.

A couple other questions..do your Venturi skimmers have suction paths (to the pump) and return paths (for the Venturi action)? What is that little gadget/pipe that seems to be attached to one of the outputs out of your cleaning manifold?
1. I am interested in the type of valve you mention (and agree that having a slight flow through the heater could be a good thing). Would you post a photo or link to the type of valve you mentioned?

2. I was very surprised the psi difference with the Venturi skimmers was only 1psi. I have been using an A&A system pressure test device that fits in place of a popup to measure the psi. I want to measure it in my other zones too (once the water it a bit warmer). I do not have a pressure gauge at the actuator, but that may be a good next move. The A&A documentation with the pressure test device mentions pressure measurements at the filter, actuator, and popups too.

3. The Venturi skimmers have suction and return plumbing. A&A recommends the return be open with the suction closed. I have the return partially open and also partially opened the suction after discovering the psi increased slightly at the popups with that setting.

4. The "little gadget" is a check valve. I remember when the pool was built someone from the builder commented that they had to add a check valve at that location. (Something, I have read in the A&A installation requirements.) The pipe with the check valve is the return line to the popups in the spa. The spa only has three popups instead of four or five as the pools zones, so the flow seems adequate despite the design of the check valve. (The check valve has two 90 degree elbows.)

Thank you for the comments and suggestions!
 

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
641
Silicon Valley, CA
Just for reference as you decide what you want to do: my heater bypass is an actuated 3-way valve. The input side is on the straight edge, so the 2 stop points are only 90 degrees apart. I don't have to close off the heater path to get maximum pressure to my infloor valve. But, pressure at the ifcs manifold is compromised if I close off flow to the bypass below the 45 degree mark (halfway between both stops). I don't know how specific that is to my plumbing, so just an fyi data point for you.

The A&A pop-up pressure device is interesting. If I had such a device for Caretaker, the one thing that may mislead the readings is picking which pop-up in each zone to measure at. Since the nozzle sizes in each zone vary, I would get different readings at different pop-ups. Curious if that is the case for you, JRB.
 

JRB100

Member
Mar 20, 2019
18
Dallas, TX
Just for reference as you decide what you want to do: my heater bypass is an actuated 3-way valve. The input side is on the straight edge, so the 2 stop points are only 90 degrees apart. I don't have to close off the heater path to get maximum pressure to my infloor valve. But, pressure at the ifcs manifold is compromised if I close off flow to the bypass below the 45 degree mark (halfway between both stops). I don't know how specific that is to my plumbing, so just an fyi data point for you.

The A&A pop-up pressure device is interesting. If I had such a device for Caretaker, the one thing that may mislead the readings is picking which pop-up in each zone to measure at. Since the nozzle sizes in each zone vary, I would get different readings at different pop-ups. Curious if that is the case for you, JRB.
Checking the psi at different popups is something I want to do more thoroughly. When I initially tested three different popups, I had trouble getting the device to even register. There are two different screw-on pieces for the device, one for low flow and one for high flow. I used one specific popup to base my measurements. A&A states that the psi measurement will be the same at every head in the zone. I will pursue that in the coming weeks to verify and well as testing heads in each zone. (So, I too am not entirely convinced in the accuracy of A&A documentation...after all, I also have an in-deck Leaf Vac which is no longer made...I'm guessing it is because it is plastic and when part of the internal parts break, there is (almost) no way to repair or replace it. Fortunately, someone on this message board gave me some good ideas and I was able to fix it (rather than close it off or replace it as suggested by A&A).



system-pressure-device.jpg
device-instructions.jpg
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
423
Gilbert, AZ
I'm with Dodger on different PSIs for different zones. PSI readings are going to be very dependent on the number of popups and types (high flow, low flow) of popups in each zone. If your popups also have a "medium flow" option (I think some A&A popup types do), AND there are some in your pool, then your gadget will not be accurate if you are testing on a medium flow popup (because putting on the correct flow attachment for your gadget actually impacts the PSI reading for all of that zone's popups).

Dodger's bypass is a good one. The bypass valve I describe is simply a standard 2-port Jandy valve with an input from the heater input side, and the output to the heater output side. 1) If you want 100% flow through the heater, close the valve. 2) If you want no PSI loss to your IFCS, open the valve. Whether or not there is a partial parallel flow through your heater with case (2) depends on whether your heater has a check valve within it or not. If it does, then there would probably be zero flow through the heater unless you start partially closing the new bypass valve once again. But that in-turn would eventually cause PSI loss to the IFCS. @Dodger, does that make sense...I know your implementation is different.

Dodger and I have had quite a number of discussions on IFCS operation (haha, just like old times, Dodger). There are a number of other IFCS users as well that give great advice. This earlier post from today in another thread might give you some ideas about what I would recommend if you were going the automation route.

Going DIY - Making changes to pool setup

If you had automation, I would definitely recommend something different for your venturi skimmer settings.
 

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
641
Silicon Valley, CA
Dodger's bypass is a good one. The bypass valve I describe is simply a standard 2-port Jandy valve with an input from the heater input side, and the output to the heater output side. 1) If you want 100% flow through the heater, close the valve. 2) If you want no PSI loss to your IFCS, open the valve. Whether or not there is a partial parallel flow through your heater with case (2) depends on whether your heater has a check valve within it or not. If it does, then there would probably be zero flow through the heater unless you start partially closing the new bypass valve once again. But that in-turn would eventually cause PSI loss to the IFCS. @Dodger, does that make sense...I know your implementation is different.
The 2-way valve Jon describes is what is in the Caretaker manual for a standard install. Not sure why our original plumbing did not have it; either it was removed at some point, or it pre-dated Jandy's current install recommendation.

I added two 3-ways one 3-way and a tee* because we weren't sure if we would need to shut off flow to the heater completely to get the infloor result we wanted. Also, we were trying to shorten the run from filter to in floor manifold.

In hindsight, the 2-way would most likely be sufficient in our install to get the infloor pressure we seek. We never need to close off the heater all the way for the infloor to work at spec. In fact, the actuator cam stops are set at 0 degrees (bypass closed, full to heater) and 45 degrees (sharing to bypass and heater.)

*edit: thanks to jon's post below, I realize that I should consider adding a check valve on the heater exit.
 
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jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
423
Gilbert, AZ
For a different opinion on bypassing a heater, read this thread. Dodger’s implementation (two 3-ways) goes beyond the one 3-way + a check valve. The concerns expressed in the below thread are if the heater core develops a leak and/or if you want to remove the heater entirely (service or replacement)...but given that many systems have no heater bypass at all...


Personally, if I had and used a heater (regularly), I would put the heater bypass valve (valves) on an actuator to allow or limit flow through the heater depending on whether I was using the heater or not...especially when running with an IFCS.
 
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JRB100

Member
Mar 20, 2019
18
Dallas, TX
One more question...
98693
After looking at several options for the plumbing to bypass the heater I noticed I could reduce the number of bends in the bypass line if I use a Wye. I have never seen anyone use a Wye in pool plumbing and wondered if there could be a problem. The Wye would go at the point where water from the heater and water from the bypass line merge.

PVC Sch 40 Wye
98694
 
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jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
423
Gilbert, AZ
Jrb, as long it is not a DWV pvc pipe (it looks like sch40), I say go for it. You’ll probably end up replacing that 45 and a couple of the 90s to make everything lineup and snug.
 
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JRB100

Member
Mar 20, 2019
18
Dallas, TX
Jrb, as long it is not a DWV pvc pipe (it looks like sch40), I say go for it. You’ll probably end up replacing that 45 and a couple of the 90s to make everything lineup and snug.
Thank you. (Today, I discovered that I have overlooked for two years that DWV PVC was used to install my heater. I will be able to replace the DWV piping when I install the heater bypass. I cannot believe I did not notice.)
 
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JRB100

Member
Mar 20, 2019
18
Dallas, TX
A big THANK YOU to those who offered feedback to my efforts to design a heater bypass to help with my in-floor cleaning system. After ordering all the parts needed, I finally got the nerve and confidence to plumb the bypass. Project done. The only hiccup was having to relocate the check valve. (Additionally, I just noticed the Raypak manual shows how to plumb a bypass, shown at the bottom of this post....BUT there is no way to make it fit as shown.) I am very happy with the result and I am getting better pressure at my pop-ups.

IMG_5800 (2).jpgRaypakBypass.JPG
 
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