Help me win this plumbing setup debate

Ourad

Silver Supporter
Jun 25, 2019
69
Tulsa, OK
So as I near completion of my renovation the equipment has finally come in and been set, with the plumbing completed. We have two pumps, one is the filter/heater/SWCG, the other runs the in floor (which was already there prior to the reno and I was talked into updating/expanding it) and alternatively the bubblers or deck jets. Currently, as plumbed, the filter pump gets suction from the main drain and one skimmer, while the other skimmer supplies the in floor/feature pump. I also have a debris canister attached to the main pump system. I am not sure this setup makes sense to me.

The explanation I have received so far, which I am not sure about, is that I "want my main drain on the filter pump because it turns over so much more water that you want getting filtered." Fair point on having the debris catching main drain end up in a filter I guess, but the big stuff should be caught by the canister, and the small stuff I would think would get mostly blown into circulation and eventually hoovered by a skimmer. It seems to me that the current setup means I am going to have to run both pumps when I am in floor cleaning, in order to have the main drain sucking while the infloors are working. And when I am skimming in this setup, only one skimmer is doing anything, unless I run the cleaner as well (at a lower skimming speed). I feel like this was probably a goof and they're just trying to excuse doing it this way, but maybe there is something I am missing here.

I would think you would want the main drain as the suction for the infloor/features, with the two skimmers on the filter pump. That way, you could either run the infloor, ideally sucking up all the big debris getting blown towards the drain and into the canister. The rest of the time, this system could be off, or running features as needed. Meanwhile, the main pump would run both skimmers/SWCG as needed, on an entirely separate schedule, and would not need a debris canister, because that's what the skimmer basket is for.

They also did not plumb in a heater bypass like I asked. I am not sure how hard it will be to redo at this point, it looks like I may have to sacrifice the current check valve in order to make a bypass work. I don't even think I need the check valve after the heater before the SWCG based on what I've read here, but all the pool people seem to think it's very important, even when I point out that I don't have an in line. I wouldn't expect whatever small amount of chlorine that is generated just before the pump shuts off to go backwards and cause a considerable buildup in the heater, but they seem to be very concerned about that. Opinions on how best to redo with a bypass would be appreciated, I may try to tackle it myself.

Sadly the guy forgot the check valve on the spa line of the infloor system, so my spa is equalizing every time the pump is off, should be fun for him to dig up and fix.

Pics attached of the current setup. Top tier paint skills included.
 

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HermanTX

Gold Supporter
May 20, 2020
2,348
Katy TX
Pool Size
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I would agree with your logic. There are many pools without a main drain so having the 2 skimmers as suction to your main filtration circuit would be fine in Pool Mode. Your Spa Mode seems to be fine with suction from spa and return to spa as part of the filtration circuit.
Why did they not put the IFCS as part of the main filtration system? This means any thing captured by the main drain is captured by the filter. Furthermore, the IFCS is also a return outlet. It is assumed you must have wall returns as well as the in-floor returns, is that accurate? (it appears that way in the photos). The IntelliFlo VSF pump can drive the IFCS. If they would have done that, then the 1 skimmer and main drain would make sense as suction to the main filtration system with an IFCS as part of the return system. They could have plumbed the IFCS to the main filtration circuit and put a valve before it that open and closes. So if you want to run the IFCS then you open it for a set time then close it. When closed the return goes through your SWCG and wall returns (assuming you have those).

Your water feature pump drives bubblers and deck jets? Then a single skimmer could handle that with a dedicated pump. Their return is back to the pool so suction from a single skimmer makes sense. Just curious, was all of this driven by a single pump before you did the renovations?

What are you trying to show in the picture with the ?????. It seems you have an arrow pointing to something on the backside of the filter but hard to make out.
 

proavia

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Feb 6, 2015
2,458
Chandler AZ
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Having the main drain (and all skimmers) plumbed thru the leaf trap is a good idea. The leaf trap provides one more net or basketto catch stuff before it gets to the filter. This helps keep larger debris from entering the filter.

The IFCS should be run at a relatively high speed to provide the popups with sufficient pressure and quantity of water to give the best cleaning action. While every pool and IFCS setup is different, most usually run infloor systems at 2800 rpm or higher to do the desired cleaning job.

I question why the infloor system is fed by unfiltered water. Most infloor systems are on the return side of the main filtration system. Sending unfiltered water thru the water valves and popups is a clog waiting for a place to happen.

The installation of the infloor water valves is frankly a mess. The only exposed piping should be the input line and lines to popups close to the base of the water valve. Having all those pipes exposed is inviting pipe movement (not a good thing) and possible someone tripping on the pipes and breaking a pipe or themselves.
 
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Ourad

Silver Supporter
Jun 25, 2019
69
Tulsa, OK
I am not sure of the logic behind the current setup. Pre reno I had one pump that went to spa or the infloors, and the infloor was the only return, with suction from the two skimmers and the main drain, and with their own runs to the pad. I wanted to add wall returns, and we were adding some features, so that’s where the 2nd pump came in.

I suppose one idea of this setup was being able to run the spa for the spillover while also running whatever features we wanted with the other pump. I guess we could have just as easily put the wall returns on the feature pump and the infloor on the filter pump, instead of Vice versa like it is. He also mentioned taking it off the filter and heater to increase flow in the IFCS so maybe that is why? Although I would think the filter doesn’t add much head loss, and that’s the point of the heater bypass.

He did mention I need to bury the infloor valve pipes, it’s pretty annoying because I now have to build a small retaining wall around that and it sticks into the lawn a bit. Definitely not the location I would have chosen for it.

the ??? Refers to the return line coming out of the pump that goes into a 3 way valve that only has one exit going into the floor. Sorry bad pic.
 
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Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
623
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Thanks for tagging me. I missed this.

That whole thing needs to be reworked, IMO. Not sure what infloor system you are running but it should have gone through their engineering/design group to review and spec how it should be plumbed. You may need to ask your PB to see them, or reach out to the mfg. directly and see if you can get a copy of the plans.

As Proavia said, you most definitely want the IFCS zone valves and popups plumbed after the filter, as any grit or the smallest amount of debris can gum those up and they will cease to function. Unless these are some how not gear driven valves.

You are correct in that you will have to run both pumps when using your IFCS. That is just ignorant, IMO.

You will need your post heater check in order to install a heater bypass valve. Looks like you have plenty of space for this, but it may require moving the SWCG around, likely into a vertical orientation.

The valve on the backside of your filter is there for if you need to drain the pool at all. I have the same thing, except my PB ran a 2" PVC line underground to a landscape popup outside of my fenced area.

My plumbing is setup so that all my water features are on one pump, and everything else is on the main filter pump. If I run my spa, I can't run my IFCS. Which is fine, because I am not in my spa all day. My features pump pulls directly from one of the 2 return ports on the main drain, the filter pump pulls from one skimmer, and the other port on the main drain. Per the IFCS system diagram, my second skimmer is not plumbed back to the pad (I would have changed this had I realized it at the time) as it is a venturi style skimmer.

I run my IFCS @ 2700RPM. I don't remember what that equates to in flow @ the pump, but above the 42GPM required by A&A on my plans. Someday I will install a flo-vis or other type of flowmeter to actually verify the flow.

This is the most frustrating part of the pool build, to me, because there is no right or wrong way per se, unless of course you have a plan from the IFCS manufacturer, but that's only going to be regarding that portion of it. Barring that, everything should make sense to you and operate how you want it, not the PB.

Not sure what else to say. If you have any questions you want me to answer, let me know.

--Jeff
 

Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
623
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I forgot I had this. I can't remember who did this, but I sent him a crude sketch so he could explain how to bypass the IFCS to his PB. He drew it out all nice and clean looking.

This is how my main system pump is plumbed. I do have a bypass around my heater that is not shown, and also an acid injection tank, but this gives you the idea of how the system should be plumbed. FYI, you currently have dedicated pool returns, and you should have it plumbed so that you can bypass the IFCS through those returns. This will allow you to run at a much lower pump speed and continue generating chlorine. I had to add my bypass since I didn't know any better to ask my PB for it.

I checked my plans from A&A and they state that the valves are to be plumbed through the shared filtration system.

--Jeff
 

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Ourad

Silver Supporter
Jun 25, 2019
69
Tulsa, OK
That’s helpful I appreciate it. I think that return layout makes sense. Blue square 360+ is the in floor brand he went with because he had seen/heard of good results with the valves when used with variable speeds, reportedly. They claim fewer issues with their gears and heads from debris as well, not that that means anything. I did call them today and they also recommended the in floor be on the filter circuit as well. Might be tough to replumb but I think it’s doable, and it would definitely need a heater bypass in that case.

That would leave the second pump just doing the features basically, and using one of the skimmers for suction. I still don’t like splitting the skimmers between pumps, cause it seems like they should both be working when you want to skim, but if the infloor needs to be on the filter then I guess that’s the only way to do it. At least that way the main drain would be sucking up debris while the in floor is on. Also most stuff would theoretically make its way to that one skimmer eventually, and on heavy debris days I could just run both pumps for maximum skimming. Having two main drain ports

interesting that they told you 42 gpm for the infloor, I believe they told me 80, which seems high, but they like 4-5 heads on a zone rather than the other companies that use fewer.
 

Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
623
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
They actually told me 48. But still much less than 80. I verified when I looked at the plans this morning. Forgot to update you on that. Mine have 4 heads on each zone.

--Jeff
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
2,003
Arizona
Pool Size
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@Ourad
Sorry, I do not have an in-floor cleaning system.
My neighbor has one and I'm not a fan. Or he did until I got a hold of it and disabled it for him and steered him to a Maytronics robot instead.
I'd prefer that my Maytronics robot actually pick up the dirt and debris, so that it can be disposed of and not get pushed around the pool or end up in the filter (which btw is a lot more hassle to clean than the Maytronics Robot).
Sorry...
Thanks..
r.
 
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Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
10,352
NY
Hey Ourad !!! I don’t like the IFCS because they cost 10X what the robot does, and unlike the robot, you can’t just throw them out and get a new IFCS when the time comes. I know first hand how many sprinkler heads of mine go bad and I can’t even imagine how much fun they would be to swap out in the deep end. :ROFLMAO:

Plus, there are dead zones and you still will have to brush the pool frequently. The robot handles most of the brushing needs on the caveat that you have to toss him in once a week.

All that said, I don’t have to like them. You do. :). The folks above and maybe some others will help you get them installed the right way for less headaches.