need help choosing the right design for good pool / spa functionality

skaidon

Member
Jul 24, 2019
6
North New Jersey
Hi Everybody,

We are getting into a new pool / spa build very soon - working with several builders and got a few bids. The pool is fairly basic rect 32x18 gunite pool with spa for 8 people that is elevated 16" above the pool and spills over into the pool through an opening that is about 8' wide.

By all accounts - this is a common design. Initially my landscape architect that designed the pool specified two pump system - a variable speed filter pump and a spa booster pump. I read over that line without really comprehending what any of these things mean. Then one PB I talked with suggested I use a single larger variable speed pump (citing such reason as: sufficient, cheaper, less noise, and a few others).

So at that point I started reading about these things and, oh my! In all, I think I spent about a week getting plumbing education, half of it lurking right here in TFP.
I think most of my questions have been answered to a large degree in various threads. The reason for "yet another thread" is to just clear up a few things I did not find, hopefully it is useful to others in my situation that are looking for overlooked details.

Let me first start with design objectives:
  1. I want to control how quickly all of the water circulates over the filter / chlorinator / heater. To accomplish that I want to have a variable speed main filter pump. This pump should be running at slowest allowable speed normally and only increasing when needed (this is both most efficient for energy use and for less pump noise).
  2. While in normal pool mode the water in the spa should spill into the pool as a matter of normal operation, I don't really want to treat this as a water "feature" - with spillover this will look much better.
  3. I want to be able to adjust the volume of water spilled over - this adjustment is probably a one time thing and can be set once - I don't really need/want to "tinker" with it as long as it is spilling evenly and visually pleasing. The spillover does not have a hanging lip/edge, just 1" mosaic tile on top of spillover wall meeting same tile on the wall at a slightly acute angle and water goes down the tiled wall into pool.
  4. I want to have good control over jet performance in the spa when spa is in use (spa mode). We have an air booster specified as well but beyond turning that on and off - I want to have control over how much water is coming out of the jets. Including turning the jets off completely. (and just enjoying the hot soak)
  5. I am concerned that a lot of people have issues with anemic jet performance - so I think being able to adjust it with a powerful variable speed pump and proper size plumbing (2.5" enough?) gives me the best chance to actually get good performance from jets "by design"
Based on what I read, I am currently considering the following (standard?) design:
112346
  1. a primary filter pump (currently a Pentair Intelliflo variable speed 3HP pushing water through filter, heater and chlorinator (I will not be using an SWG).
  2. two sets of drains in spa - set #1 to the primary pump and a separate set #2 to a dedicated variable speed jet pump
  3. a second variable speed (perhaps the same type as #1) connected directly to spa drain set #2 and spa jets distribution manifold without going through heater / filter / chlorinator. This minimizes losses and should maintain flow to jets when it is on. The pump can be operated at 8 different preset speeds and can also be turned off for "soaking" time. I am hoping to put in 8 jets into the spa.
  4. separate hot water returns on spa bottom (not connected to jets)
  5. makeup valve to hot water returns in spa when in pool mode (as I understand, this is what will make spa spillover in pool mode).
  6. standard 3-way valve on pool drain / spa drains #1
  7. standard 3-way valve on pool returns / spa hot water returns
Now comes the questions:

1. Water circulated by the dedicated jet pump is not passing through the heater. It will travel about 50-60' from spa drain #2 through the pipes in one directions before being returned over another 50-60' to the spa jets. Will it be uncomfortably cold by the time it is returned to the spa and through the jets?

2. The two 3-way valves can be set (with actuators to be controlled by Pentair IntelliCenter) as follows:

# drain valve supply valve
A. pool pool some spillover due to make up valve returning at least "some" water to the spa. (pool temp)
B. pool spa this will spillover all water since nothing is returned to the pool. Variable speed controls amount of spillover (pool temp).
C. spa pool apart from draining the spa I don't see use for this - perhaps it can be disabled so electronic valve actuators will not use this
D. spa spa (all good here, no spillover, spa temp, heater / filter / chlorinator work on spa only)

The question is this: in pool/pool setting - how can amount of water sent to spa vary. I want to make sure that spa chemistry is maintained AND that it looks good by spilling some water into the pool all the time. Can makeup valve be adjusted (like a ball valve) to desired amount? Should I just always use mode B above (pool/spa and never return water to pool directly, and if so what would be bad about that?)

3. I understand different jets have different GPM ratings and adding them up will result in the combined GPM that a pump needs to supply. These things are not super expensive it seems, so I wanted to select something that is high quality and can give me 8 jets in the spa. A lot of people express concerns when using more than about 6 jets. But using the design I describe above and upsizing the plumbing to 2.5" what type of jets should I use?

4. Will spa jet outputs be properly balanced? What seems to be common is to use a manifold (usually a ring) with special ports for jets and a supply. I am not sure, but would the jets on the manifold farther from the supply line experience less pressure than those near the supply line? Are there per jet valves that need to be "tuned" to ensure equal amount of water is available to each jet?

5. another question about the jets - are there any that allow user to adjust/close them off? For example if I am in the spa and I want jets and my wife does not - can she turn a "knob" on the jet and temporarily reduce / turn off 2-3 of them? This seems like it should be a thing but I can't seem to find any information on the adjustments like that.

6. My last question is about the noise from the pad. My equipment pad is unfortunately located (due to site constraints and township setback rules) not too far from the "recreational" area so I am a little concerned about the noise. Is the pentair intelliflo pump reasonably quiet when running at low rpm? Are there better, quieter pumps? It is not as important but the heater that one builder I got a bid from recommends is a pentair mastertemp 400btu - and the extra noise from that device is the fan running inside. So same question here, is that heater quiet and are there quieter heaters?

Thanks for reading and any feedback
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
41,018
Tallahassee, FL
Hi and WELCOME!!!

I can speak to some of what you asked.

Spa-look what is out there: JetPaks - Paramount Pool and Spas A couple of builds last summer got them and LOVED them!

Spillover-if you run the spillover all of the time it will do a couple of things-it could be kind of loud AND it will push your pH up. You will already be "fighting" your pH with new plaster. As plaster cures it pushes the pH up. When you aerate water it raises the pH. Now it is easy to lower the pH using muriatic acid but it is not fun to use and you may be using a lot of it to control the pH. It may be worth it to you to have it as it is pretty and the sound may be purrfect for your area.

My pump is a 2 speed pump so it will be different but it is VERY quiet on the low speed. It is not too loud on the high speed. You can always build a sound barrier to help cut down on the noise as well.

Kim:kim:
 

skaidon

Member
Jul 24, 2019
6
North New Jersey
...
Spa-look what is out there: JetPaks - Paramount Pool and Spas A couple of builds last summer got them and LOVED them!
...
Spillover-if you run the spillover all of the time it will do a couple of things-it could be kind of loud AND it will push your pH up. You will already be "fighting" your pH with new plaster. As plaster cures it pushes the pH up. When you aerate water it raises the pH. Now it is easy to lower the pH using muriatic acid but it is not fun to use and you may be using a lot of it to control the pH. It may be worth it to you to have it as it is pretty and the sound may be purrfect for your area.

My pump is a 2 speed pump so it will be different but it is VERY quiet on the low speed. It is not too loud on the high speed. You can always build a sound barrier to help cut down on the noise as well.
Kim:kim:
Thanks Kim,

The spa packs you mentioned I have seen - I guess I kind of dislike it mostly on the aesthetic principles right now. And I know my new spa will never be as good as a dedicated purpose-built hot tub in terms of its water therapy action - so I am looking for more typical wall jets.

Interesting points about pH - in addition to plumbing school I may have to spend some time in the chemistry school :) I assume plaster related pH is temporary and can be managed after construction but ongoing aeration causing pH to rise is something I have not considered at all. If you have a reference for where I can learn about this issue to evaluate how bad it can get please share. I guess one way to fight it would be to only run spillover "some" of the time using programming. Also to consider - the water should not really "leave" the wall - so unlike some waterfalls and other types of water features, it should be relatively undisturbed in my design.

Pump enclosures - another interesting (and new to me) idea, I found a few online now that put a kind of "box" around the pump (like this). This would be excellent - and probably also protect the nice pump from elements for longer as well. Need to see how it deals with cooling and such things and how it affects the plumbing around it and access for maintenance - will eventually run it by the PB (when we pick one!).
 
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d_red1

Well-known member
Jul 21, 2016
58
Keller, TX
1. No the water should not be cold, the distances you described are typical
2. The 3-way valve shown on your diagram between the spa return and the pool return will control the flow. This valve does not have to be all open or closed but can be partially opened/closed to control flow. No need to add an additional ball valve after the 3-way. I would not rely on the spa spill over as your only return to the pool.
3. These are the jet bodies I will be installing (link below). I have yet to decide on the which jets I will install but they have different options, are cheap enough and can always be swapped out in the future. All in I am installing 16. I figure I can always add a bigger pump (and/or booster pump) and blower to get the performance I desire. Currently they will be on a 3hp variable speed pump and 2hp blower. Water supply pipe is 2.5" to a 2" loop connecting all the jet bodies. Air is a 2" supply and a 1.5" loop
4. I don't think they can every be truly balanced but keeping them all on the same loop will keep them close
5. Not sure if they make ones you can shut off. You will have to consult Google
6. Not sure about noise levels as my equipment is not installed yet. Are you able to add an equipment shed so everything is housed "indoors"?

My set-up is similar to what you show but I do not have the dedicated jet pump for the spa.

 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
41,018
Tallahassee, FL
I am going to go ahead and share the set of links I put together for new pool owners. This may help with some of your learning curve. It WILL all start to make sense when you start to use it. I usually wait to share this when you get the shell done so if I DO share them again forgive me as I will have forgotten I had already posted them to you.


Print these out:
Pool School - Basic Pool Care Schedule

Pool School - Recommended Levels

Bookmark these:
Pool School - Recommended Pool Chemicals

Trouble Free Pool

Pool School - ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry

Let me know if this goes deep enough for what you were asking. I can go deeper if needed.

Kim:kim:
 

skaidon

Member
Jul 24, 2019
6
North New Jersey
Thanks guys,

kimkats, I looked into aeration causing build up pH and it is indeed a problem - sometimes a big one - often requiring frequent treatment with acid. So that may affect my desire to run the spillover all the time - its hard to quantify the problem though. It seems to be worse with spa jets (which aerate a lot more) compared to just spillover. I would really hate to have to deal with acid all the time. I see some people adding co2 back in with special systems to combat this - maybe I will leave room on the pad for something like that in case it gets bad.

d_red1, thanks for the link for jets and all your other answers. I have also now learned that actuators can be adjusted using "cams?" to set any position for A vs B and it will toggle between them, so if I want to set the spa return to 25% or something else to control the spillover - as you pointed out, no additional ball valve is needed beyond initial manual adjustment. When I originally looked at the valves it was not clear if these only support 180 or 90 degrees angles - apparently any angle is supported - but angle can not be adjusted dynamically. Basically there is no way to have a command that opens that valve to some custom value other than the two presets.

Based on your description I am a little skeptical that a single pump let alone one with heater and filter can drive 16 jets. It is fairly typical for these jets to ask for 12gpm, so 16 of them will require 192gpm for just the jets - which is higher than MAX gpm than even just a typical heater would allow. Plus there are line flow restrictions: 2" line - 73gpm max, 2.5" line - 120gpm max and 3" line - 160gmp max. So pump/lines for 16 jets would be massive :)

I still feel even after much more reading than dedicated pump for spa jets is the way to go and my only concern is the loss of temperature as this water travels to/from the pump through the buried pipes.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
41,018
Tallahassee, FL
Is your head spinning from all of this new information to process and everything new that you are learning?? It does seem as if you have a good handle on everything we are throwing at you. Keep asking questions and throwing concerns out there for us to help you with!

Kim:kim:
 

skaidon

Member
Jul 24, 2019
6
North New Jersey
This weekend I took a trip out to a pool build and had a lengthy conversation with the guy doing most of the plumbing on the pools for the PB that I like the best so far which was super nice.

He showed me a few things, one of these was a 2.5" spa master jet by CMP. This jet is a nice upgrade and has an adjustable ring that can be used to trim (by user) the desired water output - this information is for some reason really hard to find by homeowner looking to research things.
I am going to use those on my spa, I think they are 10 gpm. He also suggested that I ditch Pentair D.E SNF Plus? filter and use Pentair Quad D.E filter - due it its smaller height (good for my pad location) and considerable ease of cleaning compared to grid filter - seems like a win, so in it goes.

Because I have a curved 9' or so of water drop from spa to pool - one of the concerns was that a makeup valve would not move enough water to be "visually pleasing". So PB suggested I give the second pump (that was previously for jets only in my design) - a dual purpose - which is to boost the spillover in pool mode by adding a third diverter / actuator. In spa mode - this new valve would be fully open to spa so spa jets are isolated and nothing spills over - second pump runs jets only. In the pool mode - I can use this pump to increase (if necessary) the amount of spillover. The primary pump can then run at very slow speed since it is not responsible for the spillover and simply circulates water in pool/spa.

My designed put the drains on the side of the pool instead of the bottom (I think primarily so they are less visible) - does anybody have experience with this kind of setup? Is there a negative to doing this in terms of performance or safety? The pool I saw this weekend had a channel drain - which looked quite nice (but pool was just filled and so water was not super clear - I guess it would be slightly more visible if water was clearer).

I asked about increase in pH due to aeration from running spillover too much - he did not seem too concerned with my design, but I got a feeling that they maintain most of their pools and that maintaining chemistry is one of those things they do for their clients and he did not want to scare me by describing the process in details. I am definitely inspired by this forum to try to learn to do this type of maintenance myself but I am certainly going to let professionals do this for the first one or two seasons, especially due to the temporary chemistry issues caused by the new pool itself, like curing of the plaster.

Getting really close to pulling the trigger :)
 

Chickinvic

Well-known member
Jul 12, 2017
262
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I asked about increase in pH due to aeration from running spillover too much - he did not seem too concerned with my design, but I got a feeling that they maintain most of their pools and that maintaining chemistry is one of those things they do for their clients and he did not want to scare me by describing the process in details. I am definitely inspired by this forum to try to learn to do this type of maintenance myself but I am certainly going to let professionals do this for the first one or two seasons, especially due to the temporary chemistry issues caused by the new pool itself, like curing of the plaster.

Getting really close to pulling the trigger :)
The "professionals" that you want to look after your pool's chemistry often add a bunch of Crud to your pool that you don't need/want in there. You would be far better off educating yourself on the troublefreepool methods to keep your own water balanced.

The more you read this site, the more you will read about the pool "professionals".

Best of luck with your build. Exciting times ahead!
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
41,018
Tallahassee, FL
Sounds like you hit the jack pot finding that fella! SWEET!

Pool service=come by the house once a week, dump a bunch of stuff into the pool in hopes it will hold out until the next week. That means the levels are way out of whack and could ruin your new plaster over time and as such shorten the life span of your brand new plaster :(

Here is what I would like you to do..............get a good test kit. Test your fill water aka water coming out of your hose that will fill go into the pool. That will tell us what you are dealing with from the start.

Now you can let them start it up with our guidance and go from there with your own testing. NO one cares for your pool like you do!!! It is EASY and we will be here the whole way!

Kim:kim:
 

madtv126

Gold Supporter
Jul 30, 2018
90
Fort Mill, SC
Interesting thread here. First I totally agree with kimkats, get a test kit test and handle yourself. My experience with neighbors using services has not been good as several of my neighbors have been through multiple services and still had tons of issues. I spend less than an hour a week doing pool maintainence work (testing, adding chem, brushing, and using my robot). I have never had to "shock my pool" or do any major chemical changes. TFP method rocks!!!!

No for the build. I have a roughly 8ft wide spillway going into my pool. You will need a second pump to handle the flow of water for the spillway and unless you want to run the spillway all the time it needs to be isolated. I programmed my spillway to come on twice a day 30 minutes at a time to make sure that the water is being circulated between the spa and pool as there is not enough pump speed to push the water over the spillway with just the main pump on. I have two 2.7 hp Jandy Variable speed pumps with one handling the main pumping duties and the other for the spillway (probably overkill). I can run it very slow to use less electricity and still hit my 1-2 turns of the pool water a day in about 10 hours with my SWG at 70% and if I need more turns when there is junk in the pool I speed it up and run it longer. I have 6 jets in my spa and added CMP Spa jets that are replaceable like the ones your builder recommended, and its great.

The isolated heat from the jets is interesting to me, why do you want to do that. Instead of pumping the hot water from the jets and simplifying the plumbing slightly? In winter if you still plan on using the spa will this cause any issues? Granted I live in SC so no winterization for me.:cool:
 
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skaidon

Member
Jul 24, 2019
6
North New Jersey
Thanks for all the advice, I think the company that builds the pool is at least at low risk at being negligent in terms of service compared to just anybody from the street but point is well received regarding education and self-maintenance - I think I can do that with a bit more education :)

Here's my plumbing diagram for the interested, I am doing two VS pumps (probably both Pentair IntellifloFX 3hp VS pumps).
The second pump can double duty as jet / spillover generator using a 3rd diverter with actuator with the additional pool drain.

Now a disclaimer: this is "my" diagram and I am a not a plumber - I am a software engineer. 3 weeks ago I did not know a ball valve from the actuator. So the PB will take that and do what is needed to make it work, hopefully it is not too insane. Having said that - if you see something that can be improved/changed for the better - please do say so.

Cheers!
 

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d_red1

Well-known member
Jul 21, 2016
58
Keller, TX
Skaidon, can you provide a link for the CMP product your guy recommended? Is it a different than the product that I linked too? (those jets were rated at 10gpm). I am probably overkill with 16 jets but have yet to install them and can eliminate some if need be or add the booster pump.
As far as mounting drains in the vertical, They typical 8" round Hayward drain is rated for 190gpm in the floor and the drops to 108gpm in the vertical. https://hayward-pool-assets.com/assets/documents/pools/pdf/manuals/ISWG1061.pdf?fromCDN=true
I can't help but think the second pump is overkill and not needed to achieve a describable spill over. I imagine you will only be running the spillover when the pool is in use and the maybe for an hour or so on the off days to keep water properly circulated? I would think that if you kill the returns in spillover mode that your spa jets would be able to flow enough water produce an even flow. That is how mine is going to operate but my spillover is only 4ft and not 8ft. Of course now that I re-read Madtv's post he has the same size spillover and uses the 2nd pump, I wonder if his pool returns are shut-off during spillover?
The diagram looks like a good start. I assume you will have more than one skimmer and return in the pool?
 

skaidon

Member
Jul 24, 2019
6
North New Jersey
Skaidon, can you provide a link for the CMP product your guy recommended? Is it a different than the product that I linked too? (those jets were rated at 10gpm).
Yes, I think it is the same type. I don't have the part numbers (there are a quite a few different parts needed there).

As far as mounting drains in the vertical, They typical 8" round Hayward drain is rated for 190gpm in the floor and the drops to 108gpm in the vertical. https://hayward-pool-assets.com/assets/documents/pools/pdf/manuals/ISWG1061.pdf?fromCDN=true
This is interesting. I did not know that and that may be a concern if flow rate is reduced because of this. I will keep this in mind, thanks.

I can't help but think the second pump is overkill and not needed to achieve a describable spill over. I imagine you will only be running the spillover when the pool is in use and the maybe for an hour or so on the off days to keep water properly circulated? I would think that if you kill the returns in spillover mode that your spa jets would be able to flow enough water produce an even flow. That is how mine is going to operate but my spillover is only 4ft and not 8ft. Of course now that I re-read Madtv's post he has the same size spillover and uses the 2nd pump, I wonder if his pool returns are shut-off during spillover?
The diagram looks like a good start. I assume you will have more than one skimmer and return in the pool?
Based on what I heard and read, second pump for both jets and spillover is better but of course it is hard to know if one pump would have been almost as nice but considerably simplify the design and reduce costs :). I think head losses in the heater, filter, chlorinator and through all of the plumbing and sweeps and elbows to the jets can probably be calculated properly and then compared to available pressure that a single pump can create. Expected GPM for proper spillover is harder to quantify and jets also would expect around 8 x 10 = 80gpm to be at rated output (I guess that would be max?) Once we get going with PB, I will try to review the decision.

Thanks for input.
 

d_red1

Well-known member
Jul 21, 2016
58
Keller, TX
One other thing to keep in mind, the Pentair IntelliChlor chlorinators are best operated at 80gpm (as well as mounted vertically). If flows are anticipated to be greater then that they recommend a bypass loop and flow control valve. However, I would be curious to know if anybody has ever actually installed a flow control valve in this capacity.

Going back to your diagram. That check valve between the pump and actuated valve is redundant. The check valve shown between the chlorinator and heater would stop the water from back flowing before it got to the pump and beyond. I attached my plumbing diagram that I sketched-up so I could do a fitting take-off. This may be able to give you some ideas. (for the not obvious abbreviations, d=waste drain, ss=solar supply, sr=solar return, the tee with the 3-A=3-way actuated valve)
 

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