Infloor cleaning system, troubleshooting tips and maintenance desired

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,465
Chandler AZ
After reading all the hoops you all have to jump thru, I guess I'm lucky my system works without fiddling with it too much. I have about 25% main drain, 75% skimmer - and don't change it unless we have a weather event (monsoon dust storm, etc) which produces a heavy debris load. I run 2 hours in the AM and 2 hours in the PM at 2900 rpm for cleaning. The rest of the time the pump runs at 1200 rpm. The infloor keeps the pool clean 95% of the time outside of heavy debris loads. I still brush the walls regularly and the floor maybe once a month. I will use a skimmer net if there is a lot of stuff floating on the surface.

All that being said, if I was building the pool today, I would not have an infloor installed. My cleaner would be a robot. And if my infloor developed a leak, I have separate returns so bypassing the infloor would be easy.

I don't have any automation and my IFCS is a different manufacturer, so I'm not sure exactly how the SDX is supposed to function (maybe a check valve inline somewhere?). I do believe that @IaMac automation can be set up to do more than it presently does - maybe our automation expert can weigh in on that @Jimrahbe .... see post #32.
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
407
Gilbert, AZ
After reading all the hoops you all have to jump thru, I guess I'm lucky my system works without fiddling with it too much.
Haha, gene...my system works absolutely great, I would never replace it with a robot, but on a new pool, I’m probably with you. BUT, I continue to wonder. Both our systems are pretty cheap to run (with our run times)...almost free in the scheme of pool ownership...AND there are a LOT more “robot problem” threads than there are IFCS problem threads...maybe not a fair comparison.

I continue to fiddle with my pool, because right now (automation) it’s a hobby and I am having a blast figuring things out.
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,465
Chandler AZ
Haha, gene...my system works absolutely great, I would never replace it with a robot, but on a new pool, I’m probably with you. BUT, I continue to wonder. Both our systems are pretty cheap to run (with our run times)...almost free in the scheme of pool ownership...AND there are a LOT more “robot problem” threads than there are IFCS problem threads...maybe not a fair comparison.

I continue to fiddle with my pool, because right now (automation) it’s a hobby and I am having a blast figuring things out.
Yeah - my system has been basically trouble free for almost 20 years. And being the original owner, my warranty covers pop ups and other moving parts 100% - so that's a bonus. I wouldn't replace it with a robot... unless I developed a leak in the plumbing I couldn't fix. With my pump speeds and run times, it costs less than $20/month in electricity to run the pump. I really have no need for automation as I have a very simple setup. I think my next upgrade will be a SWG.
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
53
Central NH
Looking at the placement at the waterline, do you get air in the system at all? It looks like the SDX isn’t completely submerged.

Also, could you rotate the floor drain at all? I’m not sure if that’s possible. The wide opening of my floor drain faces the downslope of my pool so that those jets seem to push debris straight to the floor drain.
I'm sure the SDX grille is larger than the actual inlet, I've not had problems with air getting into the system and surely I would have if :
- the SDX was above water level AND
- there wasn't some sort of pressure valve, not shown in my diagram, inline with the SDX

I have to believe (?) that the pool designers aren't complete idiots and so the SDX line must have some sort of pressure valve in it. Otherwise the SDX drain would be, as said above, acting as another drain/skimmer and stealing flow from the main drain. On that note I'd think it should be pointed towards the ramp but I'm going on commonsense here, not being an IFCS engineer. When I retrieve the blown-in skimmer cover, I'll see if it can be twisted. Until then I think I'll get some food coloring and see what flows where.
 
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IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
53
Central NH
I have a Hayward Ecommand 4 and assumed it would be comparable. Mine works, but due to many factors (including experiments with my IFCS), I will be replacing it with a homebrew solution soon (within the next 6 months)...for many of the various reasons you mentioned, in addition to just being able to "tinker" more, haha @Dodger.
Count me in as being very interested in your efforts on the above. Is there a thread covering it? Or any thread on that subject ? I found a home automation forum that had "cracked" the protocol Pentair uses for its serial link to its RF (optional) comm module. The controls to the VS pump are shown in its manual. Except for the I/O needed, it sure looks like a simple ESP32 would suffice as the brains of such a system. And having said that, I'm sure I can find ways to needlessly complicate the design, that's where the fun lies!
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
407
Gilbert, AZ
I'm sure I can find ways to needlessly complicate the design, that's where the fun lies
:)Yes, mine is needlessly complicated...and no, I really haven't started posting about it on yet on TFP. Mine is pretty specific to my pool but eventually I will post about it. In the meantime, I carefully look at every thread that comes up and encourage them...I am learning from each and every one of them.

There are actually quite a few threads on home brew automation (search for arduino, photon, raspberry pi, on these forums), here is one of the latest. Lots of others in other forums (github, hackster, smartthings)...a couple pointers to them in the thread below.


But don't try it yet...it is a time sink, get your pool where you want it to be first.
 
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IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
53
Central NH
Good thread that! IIRC I have a couple of Pi3s laying about. One is to be a print manager for the 3D printer and the other...

No, no, must resist ... not going down ... that rabbit ... hooooooole.
 

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
602
Silicon Valley, CA
And it certainly doesn't suck in debris with the authority shown in the video.
I do not think my main drain will suck things in like the sales video either.
That video is complete marketing hype. I'm sure the engineering team hates that Mktg/Sales show that to customers! Animation or time lapse, no main drain should suck stuff in like that.
Note that there are no pop-ups on the deep floor to direct debris towards the main drain.
View attachment 108002
I actually think it is good not to have pop-ups too close. I have a pop-up head less than a foot from the main drain, and I keep trying smaller nozzles in it because the bigger ones spray stuff across and away from the main drain. :mad:
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
53
Central NH
When I retrieve the blown-in skimmer cover, I'll see if it can be twisted. Until then I think I'll get some food coloring and see what flows where.
I had a good look at the main drain and there's no way it's going to be able to rotate unless the base is not secured to the floor.

I dropped some red food dye in front of the SDX drain and ... nothing occured. This was with the valve switched to drain only (no skimmers) and the pump speed at max. I then turned the aux pump on and still nothing. So it really is inactive in normal usage.
 
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Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
602
Silicon Valley, CA
I dropped some red food dye in front of the SDX drain and ... nothing occured. This was with the valve switched to drain only (no skimmers) and the pump speed at max.
I don't know anything about the SDX, but from how you described it as a backup for when the main drain is clogged, shouldn't you test it by CLOSING the valve to the main drain?
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
53
Central NH
I don't know anything about the SDX, but from how you described it as a backup for when the main drain is clogged, shouldn't you test it by CLOSING the valve to the main drain?
If I trust in the plumbing diagram I posted then the valve I'd use to shut off the main drain is downstream of both the main and "safety" drains, thereby cutting off the flow from both. Moreover I was trying to determine if this "safety" drain was leaking, perhaps drawing water when it wasn't supposed to and thus reducing the effectiveness of the main drain. Turns out not to be the case. And now I have red fingertips for no good reason. :oops:

So I think I'm left with 2 branches on the fault tree: either the main drain is partially blocked or the system just doesn't work as well as I expect. I'm not sure how to go about testing the first so I'm open to any ideas there.

Perhaps the answer to the larger question is just a dirt simple robot that cleans that section of floor. Heaven forbid that I should do it manually, egads !! :p
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Well-known member
Jun 5, 2019
77
Corona de Tucson, AZ
Good thread that! IIRC I have a couple of Pi3s laying about.
Pi 4s just came out today. USB 3.0, real gigabit Ethernet, two 4k video ports and available 4 Gb of RAM. Finally as powerful as an old Pentium PC. Still has ac wireless built in as well. 3x faster processor... $55 for the 4 Gb version...

Talk about the rabbit hole....
 
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Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
307
MA
If I trust in the plumbing diagram I posted then the valve I'd use to shut off the main drain is downstream of both the main and "safety" drains, thereby cutting off the flow from both. Moreover I was trying to determine if this "safety" drain was leaking, perhaps drawing water when it wasn't supposed to and thus reducing the effectiveness of the main drain. Turns out not to be the case. And now I have red fingertips for no good reason. :oops:

So I think I'm left with 2 branches on the fault tree: either the main drain is partially blocked or the system just doesn't work as well as I expect. I'm not sure how to go about testing the first so I'm open to any ideas there.

Perhaps the answer to the larger question is just a dirt simple robot that cleans that section of floor. Heaven forbid that I should do it manually, egads !! :p
What pressure are you at now on the distributer with the single mystery valve closed?
Any idea how old the system is? Maybe the nozzles have become worn and enlarged or perhaps there are seals in the distributer that are leaking letting water into the other zones.
Perhaps the filters only "look clean" and are still restricting flow?

I would contact paramount tech support to see if they could be of help.
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
407
Gilbert, AZ
So I think I'm left with 2 branches on the fault tree: either the main drain is partially blocked or the system just doesn't work as well as I expect. I'm not sure how to go about testing the first so I'm open to any ideas there.
I think it is unlikely that you have any kind of blockage in the main drain. If your pump has wattage or gpm measurements you can kinda test it this way.

1) Set your return valve so that 100% of your return goes to that newly discovered step jet
2) Set your suction valve so that 100% comes from the skimmer
3) Set your pump rpm around 2000-2500 and record either watts/gpm or both

4) Now set your suction valve so that 100% comes from the bottom drain
5) Set your pump rpm to the same value as (3) and record the watts/gpm again

The comparison of these numbers should be close, not exact because the head drawing from the main drain will be higher. If the numbers are relatively close then there is likely no blockages in the main drain.
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
407
Gilbert, AZ
Rich asked some good questions:

(1) What pressure are you at now on the distributer with the single mystery valve closed?
PSI at the manifold/distributer is the KEY number that effects "throw distance" of the popups. If there are sections of the floor where dirt/debris are not getting disturbed when popups are directed toward them, that can point to an issue with low PSI at the manifold/distributer (another common reason: a bad/stuck popup, wrong size popup head). @Dodger is an expert on this. That is why you want to make sure the filter is clean (reduces PSI loss throughout the system), a heater bypass is in place (maximizes PSI at manifold, if desired), and that there are no other open water return paths except through the manifold/distributer. Other factors that will maximize PSI: oversized filter, appropriate plumbing such as pipe/valve sizing. Obviously, running your pump at maximum RPM also maximizes the PSI at the manifold...but not really something you want to do...its not as good for your pump and it costs a lot of wattage/money.

Any idea how old the system is? Maybe the nozzles have become worn and enlarged or perhaps there are seals in the distributer that are leaking letting water into the other zones.
Leaking around popups/distributer will reduce the maximum PSI that can be achieved at the distributer/manifold (these are like open return paths that bypass the popup cleaning power). But...if there is NOT a problem with "throw distance (1)" than system leakage actually improves the performance of the main drain/skimmer because it increases the GPM flow through the drain/skimmer (more like the video, haha). But, I wouldn't consider these incidental, uncontrolled leakages a good thing...I would fix those if they can be found.

I've probably missed some, but it is very important to understand how the maximum PSI at the manifold/distributer can be attained and SHOULD be attained. Once your system is tuned to hit its maximum PSI...you make the choice on how to moderate/control that PSI with pump rpm and/or opening additional return paths (ex: your cleaning jet at the step). You almot certainly don't want to run at maximum PSI. You want to run at the minimum PSI at which your pool cleans to your satisfaction For me, that is the PSI value at which the popups can "disturb" the debris/dirt on all spots of the pool floor and causes it to eventually make its way to the main drain. This saves money (potentially a LOT), and it saves your pump.

I run my manifold at 14psi (3 hours/day with IFCS) and my pool has never looked better. It costs me less than $10/month. although during this summer I am running my low RPM skimming (100% skimmer suction/100% wall returns) an additional 7 hours (during all peak electricity hours 1:00pm-8:00pm) for various reasons/experiments. That adds about $5 a month for these summer months.
 
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jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
407
Gilbert, AZ
Just FYI for anybody interested.
Here's a manual for the MDXr3 safety drain installation that's in this thread.
Bama, I don't see anything in there that is special...it looks to me like that side drain will DRAW suction all the time...except for the fact that it's path has much more head than the drain path (maybe much higher...like resisters 1ohm, 10ohm, haha)...the water suction path will be highly preferential to the main drain. That's how I read it. What do you see?

So Mac, not sure why you don't see this with the dye test. I'm probably missing something. You could test by taking a plastic bag down to the main drain and covering it up...I would do that experiment at the lowest possible RPM.
 
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IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
53
Central NH
I think it is unlikely that you have any kind of blockage in the main drain. If your pump has wattage or gpm measurements you can kinda test it this way.
...
The comparison of these numbers should be close, not exact because the head drawing from the main drain will be higher. If the numbers are relatively close then there is likely no blockages in the main drain.
I ran the test above and, probably to no one's surprise. the numbers were the same. So drain is what the drain is.
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
407
Gilbert, AZ
I ran the test above and, probably to no one's surprise. the numbers were the same. So drain is what the drain is.
Well probably, but not quite...the problem is, at higher gpms (corresponding to higher rpms), head increases exponentially for any given piping/restrictions. I had you run the experiment at 2500 because I thought that the differential head (between skimmer draw and drain draw) would be minimal (and it was). But if there is a "small" blockage in the main drain, it might be possible that the differential head between the two tests might still be minimal at 2500rpm.

If you rerun the experiment at 3000rpm (or even 3450rpm), and there is little difference in the gpm/watt readings, than I think you can definitely conclude that there is no blockage...but we may run into the case where there IS a difference which must be "interpreted" as to whether it is due to differential of the drain/skimmer draw OR blockage. I am over my head in this stuff but the site's pump experts would have a good idea IF a rerun indicates a significant difference.

Based on what you've done, I still don't believe there's a blockage, however.
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
53
Central NH
So Mac, not sure why you don't see this with the dye test. I'm probably missing something.
You're not missing anything. It depends on where the drop of dye hits the water. I did a quick repeat but varied where the drop was placed*. If I wasn't careful the drop would hit the water and spread out and the prevailing current would carry the blob past the SDX grille but 2+" away. When I placed the drop closer to the pool wall, some of the blob, as it drifted past the grille < 1/2" away, was slowly sucked in. I mean like a few tendrils would break off the blob and waft into the grille as the rest went by.

So there is some teeny tiny wee bit of suction but you'd never notice it by feel. In any case it's not "stealing" from the main drain in any appreciable amount.


*meaning my shaky hand accidentally placed a drop near the wall and I was lucky to see the result. o_O