Need help with tricky installation of ball valves

BlueBaron

Bronze Supporter
Aug 27, 2020
47
Orinda, California
I have two 2" PVC pipes that run up to the solar on my roof. The pipes are flush with the wall of my house. There is no space between the pipes and my house. I want to install two ball valves in the pipes, but I cant figure out how to do it without removing the pipes. The only unions I can find are a much bigger diameter than the existing pipes and would require me to move the pipes away from the house to accommodate the wider unions. . Does anyone know of any 2" slip joints that might work or maybe some other trick to squeeze in the ball valves without moving the pipes away from the wall? Thanks!
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
13,764
Pleasanton, CA
At some point the pipes come away from the wall to connect to the main plumbing. Why not put the valves there? Post a couple pictures on the plumbing setup.
 
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BlueBaron

Bronze Supporter
Aug 27, 2020
47
Orinda, California
At some point the pipes come away from the wall to connect to the main plumbing. Why not put the valves there? Post a couple pictures on the plumbing setup.
They go straight into the g
At some point the pipes come away from the wall to connect to the main plumbing. Why not put the valves there? Post a couple pictures on the plumbing setup.
The pipes go straight down the wall of the house into the dirt. Where they come out of the ground, it is super inconvenient to put a valve.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,166
Central California
Why do you think valves are needed? Do you have a good reason to add resistance (head) and more failure points to your system? See next point.

And if by ball valves you mean PVC ball valves, those are not recommended, as they have a pretty high failure rate, and they can't be rebuilt.
 

BlueBaron

Bronze Supporter
Aug 27, 2020
47
Orinda, California
Why do you think valves are needed? Do you have a good reason to add resistance (head) and more failure points to your system? See next point.

And if by ball valves you mean PVC ball valves, those are not recommended, as they have a pretty high failure rate, and they can't be rebuilt.
You raise an interesting point. I am going to go look at the system in the morning and try to articulate why I think I need them. I am replacing ones that were in a different location. But that doesn’t mean I need them. I will get back to you. Thank you for your help.
 

Dirk

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TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,166
Central California
We were discussing similar valves in this thread. You might find some of the information useful:


What might be helpful, to you and us, is for you to draw a schematic of your plumbing so that we can all picture what you have. One similar to the drawing I posted in the other thread would be ideal.
 

BlueBaron

Bronze Supporter
Aug 27, 2020
47
Orinda, California
We were discussing similar valves in this thread. You might find some of the information useful:


What might be helpful, to you and us, is for you to draw a schematic of your plumbing so that we can all picture what you have. One similar to the drawing I posted in the other thread would be ideal.
Dirk, in your schematic, what are the three little white symbols (in the shape of home plate)--one located above the 3 way valve, one located above the solar check valve and one between the heater inlet and outlet? Thank you.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,166
Central California
The one by the heater is a bypass valve. When closed, water flows through heater, open and water bypasses the heater. The other two I'm assuming are isolation valves. Probably the very ones you're describing in your setup.

If you google "pool solar system plumbing" and hit the "images" button, you'll get a ton of solar system drawings. It's where I got the one I posted, and where I got the ideas for how to plumb my system (I installed my solar myself, and researched the plumbing quite a bit before I did, so that's the total sum of my knowledge and experience of this topic).

You'll see some systems with isolation valves, some without. Some with those valves in different locations. Some with those valves used for bypass adjustment, not just isolation, etc.

I decided to forgo isolation valves, so I don't have them. And have never needed them (four years now). In fact, I'm hard pressed to come up with a good reason for them. They could be used to isolate your solar panels for repair, I suppose. But when solar is off, the whole system is pretty much isolated anyway. Plus, the ball valves needed to add that nicety would be the most likely two components to need repair! I'm not picturing why isolation valves would be more convenient than just closing the solar three-way valve (assuming you have a check valve on the down flow pipe). What exactly needs to be isolated from what, and why, and for how long? There might be some justification for them for winterizing, but not where you and I live. And, again, I'm not sure how isolation valves would help with winterizing better than just not using the system (keeping the three-way in the "solar off" position). If anything, closing off the valves and allowing the temperature differential between night and day to both expand and contract the air in the panels and roof-top plumbing seems like it could do more harm.

Then there's the dead-heading potential I went on and on about in that other thread.

Maybe if we, or others here, put our heads together to come up with a valid reason for those two isolation valves, you can be better informed about them. But I'm out of ideas. Otherwise, don't bother with them. Or, if at some future point in time, you figure out you do actually need them, install them then.
 

BlueBaron

Bronze Supporter
Aug 27, 2020
47
Orinda, California
The one by the heater is a bypass valve. When closed, water flows through heater, open and water bypasses the heater. The other two I'm assuming are isolation valves. Probably the very ones you're describing in your setup.

If you google "pool solar system plumbing" and hit the "images" button, you'll get a ton of solar system drawings. It's where I got the one I posted, and where I got the ideas for how to plumb my system (I installed my solar myself, and researched the plumbing quite a bit before I did, so that's the total sum of my knowledge and experience of this topic).

You'll see some systems with isolation valves, some without. Some with those valves in different locations. Some with those valves used for bypass adjustment, not just isolation, etc.

I decided to forgo isolation valves, so I don't have them. And have never needed them (four years now). In fact, I'm hard pressed to come up with a good reason for them. They could be used to isolate your solar panels for repair, I suppose. But when solar is off, the whole system is pretty much isolated anyway. Plus, the ball valves needed to add that nicety would be the most likely two components to need repair! I'm not picturing why isolation valves would be more convenient than just closing the solar three-way valve (assuming you have a check valve on the down flow pipe). What exactly needs to be isolated from what, and why, and for how long? There might be some justification for them for winterizing, but not where you and I live. And, again, I'm not sure how isolation valves would help with winterizing better than just not using the system (keeping the three-way in the "solar off" position). If anything, closing off the valves and allowing the temperature differential between night and day to both expand and contract the air in the panels and roof-top plumbing seems like it could do more harm.

Then there's the dead-heading potential I went on and on about in that other thread.

Maybe if we, or others here, put our heads together to come up with a valid reason for those two isolation valves, you can be better informed about them. But I'm out of ideas. Otherwise, don't bother with them. Or, if at some future point in time, you figure out you do actually need them, install them then.
Thank you for taking the time to provide such a detailed response. I re-routed a bunch of my pool plumbing and ended up with almost the identical layout that you have in your drawing. I had two isolation valves (which I hadn't used in the prior 15 years) and I wasn't really thinking about them--I was just going to re-install them in a slightly different location. I don't really see any need for them either. So I am going to hold off for now. I do NOT have the solar check valve that you have. Can you tell me what the purpose of that valve is? Thanks
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,166
Central California
Ha, that was a subject of great debate in that linked thread! Picture the flow of water without that check valve. If the solar valve is in the "solar off" position, and if there is sufficient head (resistance) between that same valve and the pool (like my heater and SWG and plumbing would provide), then some amount of water will travel up, backwards, through the pipe coming down off the roof. How far up it will travel will depend on how much resistance there is in the rest of the system. I claim that check needs to be there to completely eliminate that "wrong way" water. Not only for the flow inefficiency I suspect would exist without it, but also because you definitely don't want water getting up to the roof during the winter freeze season (which you and I can experience where we live). I suppose the isolation valves could serve that purpose in the winter, but not in swim season, so you'd have to remember to use those valves seasonally. More importantly to me, I don't want any potential deadheading in my system. Especially one that could be caused inadvertently by an actuator valve (either by user error, or system error). I digress. The three-way and the check together solve for everything, without me having to remember to do anything.

Further, if you install a FlowVis flow meter there (as I have), then you can optimize your panel's heating efficiency. The FlowVis doubles as a check valve, so you get a two-fer. I determined my solar panel array's optimum flow rate (all solar panels have one). I got mine from the panel's manufacturer (5GPM per panel, times 8 panels = 40PGPM). With the FlowVis inline, if was a very easy task to adjust my Intelliflo's RPMs to achieve 40GPM through the panels. Done. I now know my panels are heating the pool as best they can, without using any more energy (electricity to the pump) than absolutely necessary. To low a flow, less heat. To high a flow and you risk damage to the panels and the roof-top PVC, which can translate to decreased lifespan of the panels.

There are other ways to simulate the optimum flow rate: complicated calculations, and/or something about using the filter's pressure gauge. Other "pros" will stick there hand in front of the return, while the solar is on, and determine optimum flow based on how warm the heated water is. I didn't like the sound of those methods. The FlowVis takes the guess work and math out of the mix.

I justified it's not-inexpensive cost in several ways:
- I would have spent more in time learning one of the other ways to calculate the flow.
- I needed a check valve there anyway, so that deferred some of the cost.
- I estimate if will only take about 1057 years for the FlowVis to pay for itself in terms of energy savings! (I have no idea how to calculate that!)
- I use the FlowVis often, not just for that one time purpose. I adjust my pump's solar RPM setting a few times a year to compensate for my system's declining flow rate due to the accumulation of dirt in the filter. So not only do I start out with the perfect flow rate for my panels, I maintain it all season long.
- I use the Vis for other things, about once a week (monitoring flow for my suction-side vac and for my filter).
- And most importantly, I want the maximum amount of warmth in my pool that my none-too-cheap panels can provide.

So for me, it was money well spent.
 
Last edited:

BlueBaron

Bronze Supporter
Aug 27, 2020
47
Orinda, California
Ha, that was a subject of great debate in that linked thread! Picture the flow of water without that check valve. If the solar valve is in the "solar off" position, and if there is sufficient head (resistance) between that same valve and the pool (like my heater and SWG and plumbing would provide), then some amount of water will travel up, backwards, through the pipe coming down off the roof. How far up it will travel will depend on how much resistance there is in the rest of the system. I claim that check needs to be there to completely eliminate that "wrong way" water. Not only for the flow inefficiency I suspect would exist without it, but also because you definitely don't want water getting up to the roof during the winter freeze season (which you and I can experience where we live). I suppose the isolation valves could serve that purpose in the winter, but not in swim season, so you'd have to remember to use those valves seasonally. More importantly to me, I don't want any potential deadheading in my system. Especially one that could be caused inadvertently by an actuator valve (either by user error, or system error). I digress. The three-way and the check together solve for everything, without me having to remember to do anything.

Further, if you install a FlowVis flow meter there (as I have), then you can optimize your panel's heating efficiency. The FlowVis doubles as a check valve, so you get a two-fer. I determined my solar panel array's optimum flow rate (all solar panels have one). I got mine from the panel's manufacturer (5GPM per panel, times 8 panels = 40PGPM). With the FlowVis inline, if was a very easy task to adjust my Intelliflo's RPMs to achieve 40GPM through the panels. Done. I now know my panels are heating the pool as best they can, without using any more energy (electricity to the pump) than absolutely necessary. To low a flow, less heat. To high a flow and you risk damage to the panels and the roof-top PVC, which can translate to decreased lifespan of the panels.

There are other ways to simulate the optimum flow rate: complicated calculations, and/or something about using the filter's pressure gauge. Other "pros" will stick there hand in front of the return, while the solar is on, and determine optimum flow based on how warm the heated water is. I didn't like the sound of those methods. The FlowVis takes the guess work and math out of the mix.

I justified it's not-inexpensive cost in several ways:
- I would have spent more in time learning one of the other ways to calculate the flow.
- I needed a check valve there anyway, so that deferred some of the cost.
- I estimate if will only take about 1057 years for the FlowVis to pay for itself in terms of energy savings! (I have no idea how to calculate that!)
- I use the FlowVis often, not just for that one time purpose. I adjust my pump's solar RPM setting a few times a year to compensate for my system's declining flow rate due to the accumulation of dirt in the filter. So not only do I start out with the perfect flow rate for my panels, I maintain it all season long.
- I use the Vis for other things, about once a week (monitoring flow for my suction-side vac and for my filter).
- And most importantly, I want the maximum amount of warmth in my pool that my none-too-cheap panels can provide.

So for me, it was money well spent.
This is super helpful. I have a flow vis already but it is in a different spot. If I understand correctly your flow vis only works if the solar is on. The check valve will work all the time, but the rest of the function of the flow viz will only work if the solar is on, right?
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,166
Central California
Exactly right, but...

I fudged a little to keep the post from getting any longer, as I didn't know if you had any other checks or a Vis (ya gotta add that to your signature)! I do have a check valve on the down pipe from the solar. It's a Jandy check valve. But my FlowVis is actually somewhere else in the plumbing. The Vis guts can be installed in a Jandy check body, so at will I can have it in either location. But I don't need to:

With only a few weird exceptions, flow is constant throughout a pool plumbing system. Water velocity varies, but flow is constant. Which means the Vis can be located anywhere and still be used to optimize your panels. If it's on the down pipe, it'll only give you a flow reading when solar is engaged. But if it is in a location that is common to all your valving scenarios, then it can give you flow readings for all those scenarios, including solar. So that's why I can monitor vac performance, filter performance and solar performance full time, whether solar is actually active or not.

Short version: put a Jandy check valve on your down pipe and you, too, can have the full range of options. Or leave the 2nd check out, if you don't think you're getting any of that backflow. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

If you know the panels' manufacturer, see if you can find their spec for optimum flow, and adjust your IntelliFlo to provide that. Or maybe you've already done that.
 

BlueBaron

Bronze Supporter
Aug 27, 2020
47
Orinda, California
Exactly right, but...

I fudged a little to keep the post from getting any longer, as I didn't know if you had any other checks or a Vis (ya gotta add that to your signature)! I do have a check valve on the down pipe from the solar. It's a Jandy check valve. But my FlowVis is actually somewhere else in the plumbing. The Vis guts can be installed in a Jandy check body, so at will I can have it in either location. But I don't need to:

With only a few weird exceptions, flow is constant throughout a pool plumbing system. Water velocity varies, but flow is constant. Which means the Vis can be located anywhere and still be used to optimize your panels. If it's on the down pipe, it'll only give you a flow reading when solar is engaged. But if it is in a location that is common to all your valving scenarios, then it can give you flow readings for all those scenarios, including solar. So that's why I can monitor vac performance, filter performance and solar performance full time, whether solar is actually active or not.

Short version: put a Jandy check valve on your down pipe and you, too, can have the full range of options. Or leave the 2nd check out, if you don't think you're getting any of that backflow. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

If you know the panels' manufacturer, see if you can find their spec for optimum flow, and adjust your IntelliFlo to provide that. Or maybe you've already done that.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful, useful answers. This has been very helpful to me. I think I am going to add the one check valve. Now all I need to do is make sure one of my lines isn't partially clogged and I will be all set.
 
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