Help with waterfall selection for purchased pump. DIY IG Vinyl in progress

Hojo76

Silver Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
48
Central Arkansas
Hello, We are currently in the middle of a DIY inground vinyl build. I have read and read until my head is spinning about plumbing, and I honestly don't think I will ever get to the point where I am confident on plumbing decisions I make on my own. Any chance y’all would be willing to help me? If so, thank you so much! If not, I totally understand and thank you for reading this far.

We have 16x36 plus 8 ft steel steps. Main drains, two skimmers, three returns, 30" sand filter and Ecostar VS pump. Planning to use 2" pipe. Equipment pad 30' from pool. I was told by poolwarehouse.com and a pool builder that gave us an estimate that I could add a waterfall without adding a separate pump. I would really like a 5-7' sheer descent or rainfall waterfall on the raised wall in the deep end (which would be approximately 28 or so additional feet from the pump.) I have not purchased the waterfall, valves, or any pipe for the pool except what's set in concrete for the main drains. Can you tell me if this is possible and any special ways to plumb this to be most effective? I am very open to any suggestions you may have and I really appreciate your help.

Thanks so much!
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
804
Bangor Maine
Lots of pools run water features on just a single pump. I recommend over sizing your vs as it will save you more due to being able to run at lower speeds. Just be sure you use a Jandy 3 way valve where the waterfall will be plumbed. By upping the speed you can send water to waterfall plus the returns.
 

Hojo76

Silver Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
48
Central Arkansas
Great! Thank you! The pump that we bought for our kit is the Hayward EcoStar VS SP3400VSP. The book says it is 2.7 total horsepower. Does this mean that I don't need to be concerned with calculating head loss, pipe size, type/size of waterfall or having separate suction or return lines for the waterfall? I just don't want to get it all plumbed and installed and find out we didn't do something right. Appreciate any help anyone wants to give!
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,548
Pleasanton, CA
While it is possible to run a waterfall with that pump there are a couple of considerations. A sheer descent requires about 10 GPM/ft or about 70 GPM for a 7' run. If you do not plan on running anything else while running the waterfall, then it should work find. However, if you wanted to run the returns at the same time as the waterfall, then the flow to the return maybe somewhat limited and you may need to run the pump at close to full speed to run the waterfall and still get good skimming action. If you had a spa, I would say two pumps would be better. But with your setup, one pump is probably going to be ok.

But given you are going with a VS pump, plumbing efficiency is important. 2" is an ok size but only if you are planning to have separate runs pool to pump for each skimmer and MD. If it were my pool, I would go with 2 1/2" individual suction runs. There is always a benefit to having as little head loss as possible on the suction side of the pump to minimize air leak conditions plus reducing the likelihood of blockage.

Great! Thank you! The pump that we bought for our kit is the Hayward EcoStar VS SP3400VSP. The book says it is 2.7 total horsepower. Does this mean that I don't need to be concerned with calculating head loss, pipe size, type/size of waterfall or having separate suction or return lines for the waterfall?
No need to do that. It should have more than enough power for the waterfall. Although you may not want to run the waterfall all the time as it will use quite a bit of energy and tend to increase PH quite a bit.

However, one other piece of advice. The EcoStar may not be the best choice for a pump. There have been more than it's share of failures for members on the forum. I am assuming the builder only uses Hayward equipment? If so, the TriStar may be a better choice although it uses a lot of the same components as the EcoStar so at this point it isn't clear if that too will eventually have the same issues as the EcoStar.
 
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Hojo76

Silver Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
48
Central Arkansas
Thank you very much for the info! I can definitely do 2.5” individual suction lines. We don’t plan to run the waterfall all the time, just when we are out there and sometimes at night to hopefully cool the pool down when the summer sun heats it up. Do you think we need to do 2.5” everywhere or just for suction? Also, would having 2 or 3 smaller waterfalls be better would it make the problem worse? I would be willing to consider this if it helps.

That stinks about the EcoStar. This is DIY so we are only able to go off of what reviews, salespeople and the good folks on this site can tell us. We upgraded the pump to the EcoStar from the base pump that came with the kit. So I guess it’s what we are stuck with until it goes out. Maybe we will get lucky. 🤞
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,548
Pleasanton, CA
Thank you very much for the info! I can definitely do 2.5” individual suction lines. We don’t plan to run the waterfall all the time, just when we are out there and sometimes at night to hopefully cool the pool down when the summer sun heats it up. Do you think we need to do 2.5” everywhere or just for suction?
Just the suction is sufficient. The larger pipe size is nice to have for the scenario when you want to clean the pool surface very quickly. You would isolate the skimmer and run the pump at high speed. This would create a lot of head loss with 2" plumbing but not as much with 2.5" plumbing.

Also, would having 2 or 3 smaller waterfalls be better would it make the problem worse?
The number of waterfalls doesn't really matter. What matters is the total linear length of all the waterfalls. So a 7' waterfall will have the same flow rate requirement as 3' + 4' waterfall.

One thing to also consider is that main drains really don't have a lot of benefit but do have some associated risk, specifically entrapment and leaks. So unless there is a specific reason to have one, you might consider dropping it. If you have only then 1 skimmer, then I would definitely go with 2.5" suction. But even with the MD, most times, you will shut that off so that you can reduce the flow rate as low as possible, to save energy, while still preserving the skimming ability. I have a MD in my pool and basically don't ever use it.
 

Hojo76

Silver Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
48
Central Arkansas
That’s very interesting. Main drains came with the kit. We went back and forth as to whether or not to use them because we had 5 feet of solid bedrock to deal with and I was sick to death of the rock. By the time we hit depth, it really wasn’t much more to break rock for the two drains. The are set in the concrete in the hopper, but we absolutely can just fill them in and not use them. We have full sun all day and our liner is almost black. The thought was that they might help keep the water from getting crazy hot in Summer. I like the “less leaks” aspect a lot. What would the cons be for not installing them?

I really appreciate all the help!
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
804
Bangor Maine
There are a few interesting articles (which I can’t find now) that go into depth on how larger size piping is causing issues by not have enough turbulence or movement to aid in the removal of bio films in pools.
 
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mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,548
Pleasanton, CA
What would the cons be for not installing them?
None that I can think of. Like I said before, they really don't provide a benefit for anything that something else couldn't do better.

Many people try to use them remove debris but this is a very bad idea as they are easily clogged with large debris. A robotic cleaner is a much better solution.

Many people will try to argue that the provide more circulation. To some extent they do but not any more than a return pointed towards the same location would.

Many pools are now being built without them and many who have them, like myself, have found that they can just shut them off without any impact. In fact, for energy savings and a cleaner pool, you are better off not using it (i.e. reduced RPM for the same skimming capability).
 

Hojo76

Silver Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
48
Central Arkansas
Thanks so much for the advice. I will probably have questions when we get to that stage. Hopefully, it will be soon. But now I can order my waterfall in confidence. You’ve been a huge help.
 

jimmythegreek

Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Aug 10, 2017
1,040
Morris Cnty NJ
I agree with what's said but I would be very careful when you lay out your plumbing. If you are DIY the plumbing you need some help. You will have to order a bunch of valves and such. I would try to go smaller with the waterfall 5-6 ft I wouldnt go 7 you will be at almost full speed with the pump to run it. You are going to need home runs on everything to have a good setup
 
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Hojo76

Silver Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
48
Central Arkansas
I agree with what's said but I would be very careful when you lay out your plumbing. If you are DIY the plumbing you need some help. You will have to order a bunch of valves and such. I would try to go smaller with the waterfall 5-6 ft I wouldnt go 7 you will be at almost full speed with the pump to run it. You are going to need home runs on everything to have a good setup
I will take all the help I can get! I can definitely keep the waterfall to 6, maybe 5'. And I definitely want home runs. What else am I missing? What exactly do you mean by careful?
 

jimmythegreek

Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Aug 10, 2017
1,040
Morris Cnty NJ
You need a diagram planned with proper valves and individual homeruns for main components. Your gonna need specific items avail only online to you and sweep 90s for suction and waterfall at least. The ecostar is a great pump the older ones had issues I have one myself they are good. If you are DIY this pool you need support for this waterfall or wall feature and setting up waterfall is tricky. I build them out of steel studs and cement board with stone veneer like an outdoor kitchen to avoid the weight steel wall pools cannot support masonry without separate footings so plan now for the future. If you want help pm me with your email and make a drawing or show plans