Infloor cleaning system, troubleshooting tips and maintenance desired

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
408
Gilbert, AZ
Many infloor users don't have the option to route the return flow thru separate returns.
I know...I now consider that to be a design flaw and one of the reasons people sometimes don't have success with IFCSs. I was "satisfied" with my IFCS for 25 years without using that capability, but many aren't.

Granted, eye balling it is probably not that accurate. I guess one could set up some type of high resolution measuring device on the suction size to measure the quantity of water. I don't think a flow-meter would offer precise enough accuracy.
I went through the eye-balling process with my experiments, Dodger knows about that. It didn’t work. The gpm numbers from the FlowVis are "less accurate" at low volumes, but I believe are close to actual...and useful, especially for "comparisons" (~10gpm vs ~30gpm). But those very low gpm numbers (<10gpm] ARE impacted somewhat by the FlowVis itself (which is a check valve, too). So, the large differences between returns via “popups-vs-wall returns” (gpm & EF) may be a "bit" magnified.

As for @Poolmama! - hopefully she will start her own thread so we can discuss her questions there and not bury info pertinent to her concerns in this post.
Yeah, I agree. And I get it...this stuff is more trouble than it is worth for most people...in the pool or in the house is where I am at these days, too! Although I did dig around to install my acid injection tank...that was before the real heat hit, haha.
 
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Poolmama!

Silver Supporter
Feb 20, 2019
62
Dallas, Tx
@Dodger is going to be thinking…”oh, please not again”…sorry Dodger.

Gene, I am rewriting a previous post to you just to make sure people “get it”; unfortunately, it also reveals my rather obsessive beliefs about this topic (haha). That post was important because it contains one of the key, actually measurable values to back up my view. Lots of times we have to "judge" results (does it look cleaner?)...this isn't one of those times...this is real, hard data.

My "experiments" have shown that at low RPMs, my IFCS is, in fact, a giant check valve. And, because of the way IFCSs operate, this is not unique to my system. I haven't yet been successful in convincing anyone to take measurements in their system to corroborate this, Dodger wouldn't play, haha. I keep hoping that someone else will try it, but it really doesn't matter because the data doesn't lie.

Gene, you indicate that you get 2psi "back pressure" when running your IFCS at low RPMs. That is exactly what I get, too. But that deceptively low PSI number should NOT be ignored. 2 PSI (at very low flow rates/RPMs) is actually a substantial "impediment." In fact, in my system, it pretty much negates all the efficiency advantages of running a "high efficiency VSP" at low RPMs. Look at Energy Factor in the chart below.

For now, I am going to ignore this question (and it IS a valid question)…Is it worth it? Cost/Gain/Trouble. But I will answer it for me…absolutely. For those having a new IFCS designed @Poolmama! the incremental changes in cost are pretty much zero. YES Poolmama, you do want a method to take your IFCS “out of the loop”, but personally I wouldn’t count “stubbing your toes on the popups” as one of the reasons :).

For as much talk about VSPs and their efficiency on this site, I find it very strange (as an Electrical Engineer) that there is absolutely NO discussion about the underlying reason for this efficiency. They are efficient because they have the “capability” to move more water (GPM) at a lower cost (fewer watts) than other pumps. But if they are installed inappropriately, or in the wrong circumstances (many are due to the really simple example below), this efficiency “advantage” can be lost or substantially reduced…even in pools with very, very simple plumbing designs. People tend to look at the watts number and think they are saving money because it is lower…not really the case. VSP’s energy efficiency is a function of their GPM/watts ratio, not because of their watts number.

Here is an example for a simple pool with a VSP, an adequately sized filter, 2 wall returns, and a skimmer: A factor as simple as having the wrong size opening (say 1/2” vs 3/4”) on the wall returns can easily cut your low RPM VSP efficiency number by more than half. It WILL cost that pool owner twice as much as it COULD to filter, chlorinate, & skim their pool than if he simply changed out his nozzles. Those nozzles (like our popups) introduce restrictions, and it doesn’t take much, to really impact a pump’s Energy Factor.

I’ve actually tested this example on my pool because I was experimenting with the Venturi nozzle heads…TOO restrictive, my EF (energy factor) was cut by more than half when running at low RPMs.

Who says, “check your wall return nozzle sizes” when a poster excitedly posts that they have installed a new VSP and are going to save lots of money? No-one…it never occurs, except in those rare situations where those posters realize that something is not quite right with their system…and usually they are looking at their GPM numbers…something that is almost considered sinful on this site, haha. But, GPM is the key to a VSPs Energy Factor, and it is really easy to screw it up.

Efficiency improvement is one factor (cost), but in my case it’s actually not the driving issue for my passion. Saving an additional $2/month (off my normally $10/month pool electrical bill) is not why I am so adamant about this. Effectiveness of my IFCS has improved dramatically with this change (unfortunately, effectiveness can NOT be scientifically measured).

Because I bypass the IFCS popups, the much higher water flows that I get when low speed skimming/filtering (@1200 rpm) really does make my pool cleaner. Skimming is FREE and, with the change, it skims at a much higher GPM for roughly the same cost. It is more efficient and more effective to collect debris on the surface than it is to let it fall to the pool floor where the IFCS randomly pushes it around (at a high cost, “high pressure) before it is removed.

So once again, I am going to post my ACTUAL, measured numbers to show the impact of being able to “bypass” my IFCS by using 100% return to the wall returns during low speed skimming/filtering. By the way, some IFCS’s are not even designed with the ability to “add” this capability (PoolMama! take heed). That is a huge mistake in my mind.

RPMGPMWattsmPSIfPSIEnergy Factor
Returns through Popups120711
140​
2​
2​
4.7​
Returns through Popups10359
136​
2​
2​
4​
Returns through Wall Returns120735
161​
0​
0​
13​
Returns through Wall Returns103528
136​
0​
0​
12.3​

I know Energy Factor isn’t discussed on this site (mainly for the reason I stated…you need to know your GPM). But take a close look at it in my chart. It really is THE determining factor for VSP efficiency.

Finally, I will state another time that to take full advantage of a VSP’s efficiency and effectiveness in a system with an IFCS, it really requires automation to change those valve settings when you change your pump RPMs from cleaning (high rpms) to skimming/chlorinating/filter (low rpms). I can’t imagine doing this manually each day, or possibly every few days if that is how you choose to run your IFCS.

Sorry for all the wordiness…based on my experiments with my IFCS, this is one of the simplest and measurable ideas that I have about making your IFCS work well. I’m retired and have time to spend on this (one of my current) hobbies. But, I perfectly understand that these discussions don’t interest many…I will try to minimize these long, boring lectures.
Y'all are really above my head and I've got to go back and read this thread SLOWLY...BUT...part of my big issue is the crappy skimming I'm already seeing if any part of the IFCS is on (and it seems like even off I can't get good skimming less than 2,000rpm which seems excessive based on what others post). And, apparently the A&A told my PB he shouldn't have even plumbed wall returns (thankfully, I think, he did!), and I'm afraid his intention when he comes back out it to basically cut them off. I think he wants everything bypassed so the IFCS and skimmers get all the water all the time (or as much as possible). I haven't figured out once we add the heat pump and SWG what that will do to the configuration. We do have some distance from equipment to pool plus bubblers that apparently suck a bunch of water, too. I've got a bunch of workers here now trying to get this pool project finished (dirt and sod....YAYYYYY!!!!), but I'll definitely post pics of my pool and equipment and appreciate input before this A&A guy comes back.
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,466
Chandler AZ
Y'all are really above my head and I've got to go back and read this thread SLOWLY...BUT...part of my big issue is the crappy skimming I'm already seeing if any part of the IFCS is on (and it seems like even off I can't get good skimming less than 2,000rpm which seems excessive based on what others post). And, apparently the A&A told my PB he shouldn't have even plumbed wall returns (thankfully, I think, he did!), and I'm afraid his intention when he comes back out it to basically cut them off. I think he wants everything bypassed so the IFCS and skimmers get all the water all the time (or as much as possible). I haven't figured out once we add the heat pump and SWG what that will do to the configuration. We do have some distance from equipment to pool plus bubblers that apparently suck a bunch of water, too. I've got a bunch of workers here now trying to get this pool project finished (dirt and sod....YAYYYYY!!!!), but I'll definitely post pics of my pool and equipment and appreciate input before this A&A guy comes back.
@Poolmama! - Please start your own thread and we will be happy to address your concerns there. Posting them here will only confuse your issues with the OP's thread. Also, in your thread, post pictures of your pool, plumbing and equipment pad.
 
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jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
408
Gilbert, AZ
Anyway, the reason I posted all that is because, Mac, I agree 100% with the others that your first step should be fixing your PSI by doing the changes (heater bypass & check valve removal) recommended by Gene & Dodger. But...I did take a quick look at your ET4 and it DOES have the ability to control valves.

If it were my pool, that would be my #2 step, buying two valve actuators (I think about $100 each) and figuring out how to program them to sync up with your pool's cleaning schedule to control your valves.
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
Sorry for all the wordiness…based on my experiments with my IFCS, this is one of the simplest and measurable ideas that I have about making your IFCS work well. I’m retired and have time to spend on this (one of my current) hobbies. But, I perfectly understand that these discussions don’t interest many…I will try to minimize these long, boring lectures.
No need to apologize, I found the above to be very informative and interesting. You've collected my thoughts and summarized them, answering a question before I even asked it (jet orifices). I now have a project for the winter. :geek:
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
Anyway, the reason I posted all that is because, Mac, I agree 100% with the others that your first step should be fixing your PSI by doing the changes (heater bypass & check valve removal) recommended by Gene & Dodger. But...I did take a quick look at your ET4 and it DOES have the ability to control valves.

If it were my pool, that would be my #2 step, buying two valve actuators (I think about $100 each) and figuring out how to program them to sync up with your pool's cleaning schedule to control your valves.
The above is on my To Do list! I think it will take a different controller board though, as the 4 relays available on the existing unit are all presently in use. It could be that there is some digital I/O that could be used to switch some 5V relays but my initial understanding of the Jandy actuators for a 3way valve is that they run on 24VAC power that is switched to run the actuator motor either CW or CCW, the valve moving until a stop switch tells it otherwise.

I have some pics of the PCB if you care to see them but I suspect this is now a topic for a different forum and a new thread.
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
408
Gilbert, AZ
A couple things...and I probably will be off for a couple days...we have the three grandkids all weekend.

You've collected my thoughts and summarized them, answering a question before I even asked it (jet orifices).
The orifices I talk about in the previous looong post correspond only to the ONE on your step (selectable by your return valve). The orifices of the IFCS popups/wall jets themselves are Dodgers expertise, I haven’t played with or changed those on my system. But Dodger’s efforts there make a good case for doing so.

I think it will take a different controller board though, as the 4 relays available on the existing unit are all presently in use.
Not necessarily...valve control on my Ecommand4 system is totally separate from the relays...there are 24v terminal outputs specifically dedicated to controlling the valves. Yours might be the same...and when you read the manual, keep in mind that unused “spa” valve control may be able to be re-purposed for pool control by simply using spa timers/control.

Alternatively, many on this site have added relays (I have) to their existing control system, if you can figure out a “proper signal” to activate it. That might be a bit too complicated in some cases.
 
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IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
It occurs to me (in a bit of insomnia) that if I take a big picture look at the in floor cleaning systems, and buy into automating (electrically) the valves, then maybe I should I into buy the whole farm. That is, bring the IFCS manifold under the electronic control. Add my wall jet, presently outside of the manifold, into a new "electronic manifold". Make all returns, be they pop-ups or wall jets, under individual control of the automation brain. Obviously this would work better as an original design feature rather than an add-on but you play the cards you're dealt. The question is ... does anyone already make such a system ?


(I have a "rule" about such "creative" ideas. 99% of them are Crud. Of the remaining 1%, 99% have already been done. Of the remaining 1%, 99% will cost too much to do. Of the ... )
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
408
Gilbert, AZ
Mac, I have seen a system implemented with independently controlled valves (rather than our manifold), I don’t remember where. But since I am the original owner, I get free parts for my manifold...and with the changes I’ve made to my system, it works really well. There is some attraction to that idea though, along with some variations...

I would suggest before you invest time/effort in that , implement the changes talked about (especially heater bypass) to make sure that your IFCS can even get to a place you are happy with, some can’t. If you CAN get there, the future is wide open, haha.

And, one more thought: if you think you will be “in for tinkering” with your pool system in the long haul, I would consider adding a FlowVis when you add your heater bypass. It can be “removed” at any time by simply replacing the mechanism with a blank. The drawback is cost which is as much as one of those valve actuators.
 
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IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
I want to thank all the people who gave their input in this thread. I now (even today) have a functional IFCS and ways to improve it. I've also learned quite a bit and have some food for thought. I could muse over fun things to "tinker" with nearly endlessly but for the purposes of the OP I consider it answered.

Thx all!
 
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