Help determining valve setup and spa drain when pump off new to me pool

swadeab

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2013
46
apollo beach,fl
Hi, wonder if someone can help me with a new to me pool, my last one was simple 2 returns with no spa and that was that.

In the valve pic i've figured out thus far

returns (left batch of 4)
[spa wall jet | sconces | pool return | spa fountain thingy in center]

suction (right batch of 4)
[ main or spa? | sweep | skimmer | main or spa?]

the pool has two main drains , then the spa has one. , i'm assuming the pool main drains are connected you think? and one of the 2 suction lines above is the main drain
for the spa. Does that sound like a usual setup i haven't been able to get in yet so i'm guessing.

Also i notice the spa drains down to pool level when the pump is off, i don't see any sort of check valving, should i have the valves in a different position?
it would seem i would need a check valve as wouldn't water return unless the spa return + spa main drain is closed?

I'm also guessing the heater setup, that's just a pump to drive the spa jets as spa wall has those as well as returns , but now that i think about it, where does it get it's flow? Not sure how these are plumbed.

Thanks for any help
 

Attachments

  • IMG_7983.jpg
    IMG_7983.jpg
    147.1 KB · Views: 33
  • IMG_7984.jpg
    IMG_7984.jpg
    255.7 KB · Views: 34
  • IMG_7985.jpg
    IMG_7985.jpg
    238 KB · Views: 32

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
The pic is a little dark. I think you've got it figured right. The main drains have to be connected under the pool (law and/or code), they wouldn't each home-run independently back to the pad, so your "[ main or spa? | sweep | skimmer | main or spa]" is probably right.

I can't see any actuators, so I presume the previous owner was manually choosing the three circulation modes:
- pool only
- spa only
- spillover

So when he was done with the spa, he would close the spa drain and spa jets (one valve from each manifold) to keep the spa from draining into the pool, rather than rely on a check valve. Or he just ran spillover mode when not trying to heat the spa. So you can do it either way, too, or plumb in a check valve in the proper location. You probably should, so that the spa's plaster never inadvertently gets exposed to air/sun.

The heater can probably heat either body of water or both (I can't see all the plumbing, but that would be the normal setup). You can send heat to the pool only, spa only or both by using the spillover mode. In pool only mode, the water is being drawn from the main drains. In spa only mode, from the spa drain only (which is how you get the spa really hot), and in spill over mode the water would draw from the pool drains and return to the spa via the jets.

Did I hit everything?

Unless there is some sort of bizarre plumbing, you can't really hurt anything as long as at least one valve on each manifold (left and right) is open. Never close all four on either side. So you can experiment.

There is one exception: if you have a suction-side cleaner, what you are calling "sweep," there will be a suction port in the side of your pool somewhere. That suction port either has the vac hose connected to it, or it is being covered by a spring-loaded flap. If there is no flap, or the spring is not doing its job, you need to fix that pronto, before anyone swims in the pool. An unfortunate choice of valve positions and pump speed can turn that port into an extremely dangerous thing. Like, life-threatening. I got side-tracked there. In addition to making sure at least one valve is always open on the suction manifold, if that one valve is for the vac's suction port, the vac hose must be connected. If that valve is the only one open and the safety flap is closed (because the hose is not connected), then you'll dead-head your pump, as there will be no path from the pool to your pump. Hope that makes sense.

Once you figure it out, label everything clearly, including arrows for flow direction. A Sharpie will do, or you can use these for a professional look:


There are several varieties of these on Amazon.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: RDspaguy

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
OK, this is a little obscure for a guy trying to figure out his pool for the first time, so maybe come back to this. I'm back on the suction port safety kick. You'll get great performance out of the vac if all the suction-side valves except the vac valve are closed. 100% pump suction on the vac. But if the vac clogs, or the hose pops off, you'll dead-head your pump. Worse, if some kid is fooling with the hose or the port or the vac, well, a lot worse can happen. So you can make vacuuming safer in a couple of ways.

1. Never run the vac when people are in the water. (Mine is on an actuator and it runs at 4:30 am.)

2. When you do run the vac, leave the skimmer valve open about 20-30%, or more. Whatever amount that still leaves the vac functioning well. Should a person or object come into direct contact with either suction port, or the safety flap closes, then the pump's suction will be somewhat relieved through the skimmer. It's the same principle applied to having two main drains. No exposed suction port should ever get 100% suction. Remember, with a suction-side vac, you have two suction ports: the one in the wall and the one in the vacuum head. So respect them both and run your vac safely.
 

swadeab

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2013
46
apollo beach,fl
Hi dirk, thanks for the response i think that nails it, i'll play bit more with the setup today or so but i think you're right too. yesterday that was sorta what i was thinking but the spa was confusing me, Last night i closed spa return and the valve i thought was spa main, that position prevented the water level drop.

So right that all comes together spa heat mode, pool heat mode , both, then spa main closed + return closed to prevent drain back (or add check valve somewhere). Yes that suction cleaner port i don't leave solo, it seems to do ok just slightly closing a few of the others to increase it. Throw in heater i can start to see why people have some of that automated, but simple enough to remember after a few times. I need to remember to set spa mode from (prevent pool drain back) before running heater pump too or you'll dead head that pump too. Wasn't sure how that heater pump drew water but main drain makes sense.

Going to get labels and put direction asap lol lot more complicated than my last pool.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Sorry, I might have missed something, as your pics have a lot of shadows. Are you saying you have more than one pump?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
25,667
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Show us pics from the right side of the filter.
 

swadeab

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2013
46
apollo beach,fl
Hi, yes two pumps, the 2nd is the spa pump connected to the heater looks like, there's some spinners in the spa i believe last i looked, return + some bubble jets.

here's some daylight pics, ignore the mess, place was distressed so good bit of cleanup i gotta work through
 

Attachments

  • IMG_8060.jpg
    IMG_8060.jpg
    21.1 KB · Views: 22
  • IMG_8061.jpg
    IMG_8061.jpg
    305.7 KB · Views: 21
  • IMG_8062.jpg
    IMG_8062.jpg
    164.9 KB · Views: 22

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Ah, I see it now. Weird, and unfortunate and unnecessary. Then only one body of water can be heated. If that is the spa, then I suppose you could use spillover mode to heat the pool a little, but it wouldn't be particularly efficient. Plus, you're running unfiltered water through the heater, and that is not ideal.

So you must have at least two intakes (suction ports) in the spa, and a separate return for the heat. Which is also unfortunate (depending on how it's all plumbed), because some of the spa jets would be nice and warm from the heater, and the others would just be recirculated spa water, which wouldn't feel warmer than the spa, and perhaps even slightly cooler after running through all the pipes on the pad on a cold night.

Plus you're running two pumps when only one is needed (so you're wasting some electricity).

Sometimes you see a second pump on a spa to provide more bubbles. I've just never seen your particular setup.

It probably all works well enough, and you can always replumb that someday if you want a different functionality out of the heater. If the pipes are available, maybe the second pump could be used for a spa blower (I don't know much about how those work.) I'm not sure if running unfiltered water through the heater is that big of a deal or not, but just keep in mind that anything that falls into the spa can get sucked up by the heater's suction port and get sent right into the heater's exchanger. Maybe others here can weigh in on how bad or not that is...
 
Last edited:

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
If you upgrade someday, you can add actuators to the spa valves and a controller that would allow you and the family to start the spa heating up on the way home from a long day, all nice and hot and ready for you when you get there. Plus the actuators make it easier, and more fool proof, for the less pool-savvy members of your crew. Similarly you could automate the vac and have it run in the middle of the night. Lots of possibilities...
 

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support

swadeab

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2013
46
apollo beach,fl
thanks, yes i want to look at automation next, i gotta get caught up on all that.

i was wondering about that unfiltered spa jets with the heater. maybe it's due to flow rates and the spinner jets? I didn't even know they had blower jets for these, all new to me. I'll do some reading up on that, especially since the heater is new.

I thought the pool would be heated from the spillover too some efficiency loss there with the spillover for sure, not a huge deal in florida i don't even know how much we would heat the pool. In spa mode i guess you close spa return, spa fountain, and the spa main, then kick on the 2nd pump and heater and it just reciculates there (no chlorination i suppose).

I'll inspect the spa closer for another intake, that makes sense.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I think you wouldn't have to close down the other spa circulation system. You would just run them at the same time. It might depend on if the heater return is the jets, or some other "hole in the wall." Which pump drives the jets? Or which set of jets?

I'm not a spa guy, so I can't advise on why your setup was plumbed like that. It's not the "normal" way, but maybe it has something to do with something unique to your spa.

And it might have something to do with being able to run the spa in the winter, while the pool is too cold and in effect shutdown. Like a stand-alone spa that happens to also be an in-pool spa?

@jseyfert3, @RDspaguy, any ideas?
 
Last edited:

swadeab

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2013
46
apollo beach,fl
i looked closer today, so spa right has 2 drains , one of bottom and one on side so side is the suction side for that spa pump. There is one normal return , then the 4 spinners which run off the spa pump.
If i kick on the spa pump it's the bubbler spinner jets which crank up. And one of the valves controls that spa return (I think i checked that was the actual wall return, i'll double check that because there's also that fountain thing in the center but that i know has it's own valve.(

So yeah no idea why no filter there, i have a theory if this isnt normal, the heater is only 5 months old and the place was bit distressed sold by the family, not lived in for at least that many months.
It's possible there *used* to be a second filter maybe but maybe when they put the new heater in they skipped the filter? I'm envisioning a scenario where old was bad, and newer has a larger foot print and it was quicker easier to plumb it direct than work in another filter (good enough to call it heated for the sale). Just a theory maybe since it seems out of the norm and maybe i should figure out how to put a 2nd filter there.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
That's one way to go. I would first determine if the separate plumbing circuit is providing any sort of advantage or special feature. If so, then you could look into the filter. If not, I would simplify instead of complicate.

Two motors means two possible failure points rather than one. Two filters means cleaning two instead of one. And I already mentioned that two pumps use more juice. I would make sure a second, separate plumbing circuit was worth what it was costing me.

I'm still hoping either @jseyfert3 or @RDspaguy can check in to explain the purpose of the separate circuit.
 

swadeab

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2013
46
apollo beach,fl
looked more today. Yeah don't think there's anything special just how it was plumbed. Only fresh glue joints from heater replacement are right there at the heater, so doubt any major plumbing change.
Wierd it's a custom home , while distressed the owner who built it doesn't look to have cut corners, odd the pool builder to have done something not standard. Then again the pool heater was just replaced and docs show original was put in 04 when place was finished so maybe that's there's no filter isn't affecting lifespan too much, no idea how much use it got.
 

jseyfert3

Silver Supporter
Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 20, 2017
1,578
Southern WI
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
So I just skimmed this really quick, not entirely sure how it’s plumbed except two pumps and one is filtered and the other is heater?

I’m not familiar with standard in-ground pool plumbing. However my standalone spa has two 3-HP pumps (240 volts, 12-13 amps, listed at 6 HP but the math doesn’t work. Advertising...). A dual-pump setup is quite common in standalone spas, they generally have a lot of jets and need a LOT of water moving for good massage function. In fact on my 6 seat spa, one pump runs only 2 seats at max flow!

That said, I have two filters, one for each pump. That said, each pump also has an unfiltered inlet, so not all the water is getting pulled through the filters, but there is a filter going if either of the two pumps is going.

How many seats/jets does the spa have?

I’m gonna go run, I’ll try to check in later tonight but no promises.
 

RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
1,254
Cabool, Mo
Most pool/spa combos have a spa jet pump for the jets and shares a filter pump with the pool that is filtered and heated. The difference here is that the heater is on the jet pump, not the filter pump. This would not keep you from running the filter pump during winter, unless you are going without filtration. It would allow you to heat the spa while the pool is filtering.
I would get some automation on that mess if I were you.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dirk

swadeab

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2013
46
apollo beach,fl
thanks for the assist. Yeah automation is high on the cleanup list. Correct 2 pumps, heater is on spa pump. there's 4 spa jets, one return in the spa (besides the fountain thing). I think the big question is should this heater be unfiltered, if that's recommended or not lifespan wise.

jseyfert3, yeah my last place we had a big tiger river siberian that finally gave up the ghost before moving, that did have a few unfiltered inlets too for the 24/7 recirculation pump, just a fabric screen filtered that.
 

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support
Thread Status
Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.