New lap pool / spa in northern California, lots of questions

BubbaBasco

Gold Supporter
Aug 28, 2017
30
Los Altos, CA
As a total beginner, this forum has been an invaluable resource in trying to quickly get a grasp on this large project we're about to undertake. Huge thanks to everyone here!

Basics:

  • New build
  • 12' x 75' 30K gallon outdoor in-ground pool
  • 8' x 5' 1K gallon integrated spillover spa
  • Pool and spa glass tiled
  • Automatic cover
  • Location: Bay area in northern California.
  • Hoping to operate the pool/spa year round.

Here are the line items from the PB's propsoal. It's all open to discussion/change, but will attempt to minimize change where possible.

1 x Pool skimmer
1 x Automatic water leveling devise.
1 x Split main drain per VGB rules.
6 x pool returns.
1 x cleaner return line.
1 x split heat suction in spa per VGB rules.
1 x Split spa jet suction per VGB rules.
8 x Spa jet return lines
4 x Spa heat returns.


1 x Automatc pool cover from Pool Covers Inc.
1 x Pentair Intellitouch load center wo/salt
1 x Pentair I7+3 pool/spa Intellitouch Personality kit
1 x Pentair Intellitouch interior controller
2 x Pentair Intelliflo XF variable speed pumps
1 x Pentair Boostrite booster pump
1 x Pentair CCP 520 cartridge filter
1 x Jandy Hi E 2 400K BTU heater
1 x Pentair Intellichem PH/ORP system wo/pumps
1 x 15 Gallon Stenner tank w/pump
1 x Pentair CO2 kit for Intellichem
1 x Clearwater Tech Apex III ozone system
1 x Clearwater Tech 30 gallon degas tank
1 x Clearwater Tech VAS8 off gas valve
1 x Clearwater Tech OCD 11 Ozone Destruct
1 x Paramount 2 lamp Ultra UV
9 x Pentair Globrite white only LED pool lights
1 x Polaris 280 pool cleaner


My main concerns at this point are moving to SWG, need for ozone, need for UV.


The PB is very anit-salt. Automatic cover manufacturers are anti-salt. And we're using limestone, although will be sealed. Despite these facts I want to go with SWG. As a compromise, I'd like to use the following low-salt SWG, which can run on 1500ppm of salt:


Hayward AquaRite AQR XL Low Salt W/ 30K Cell.


Now for some questions:


1. This low-salt SWG isn't available in US market, but I can purchase online from Canada. Any reason this is bad idea?
2. If the 30K cell isn't sufficient, any reason I can't just add a second cell in series with the first?
3. Will the Pentair automation work with multiple AquaRites?
4. Or ditch second cell and keep the Stenner as backup chlorinator for high-demand times?
5. Any thoughts on using CO2 for pH control in this environment?
6. Sounds like switching to SWG will make ORP useless, if it wasn't already?


I know the consensus here is to ditch the Ozone and UV. But..


7. Given the pool will mostly be covered, could UV be beneficial?
8. With pool only, sounds like ozone is useless, but what about with spa?


9. Any other comments on this build?


Thanks for reading and any input you might have on this!




Pool.jpg
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
47,998
Tallahassee, FL
I LOVE your design! I would have told you to do everything you did! I would love to see where this beauty is going please!

I took on most of your questions/concerns. My answers are in purple.

1. This low-salt SWG isn't available in US market, but I can purchase online from Canada. Any reason this is bad idea? Salt is salt. Even liquid chlorine adds some salt to the water. I tried looking this system up but could not find much info on it. Try to find more info and share it here so we can look it over.

2. If the 30K cell isn't sufficient, any reason I can't just add a second cell in series with the first? I like your idea in 4. better

3. Will the Pentair automation work with multiple AquaRites? not sure so skipping

4. Or ditch second cell and keep the Stenner as backup chlorinator for high-demand times? I pick this one

5. Any thoughts on using CO2 for pH control in this environment? these systems have been found to be very finicky and not as reliable as you would want for something as important as acid. I would skip it.

6. Sounds like switching to SWG will make ORP useless, if it wasn't already? correct!

7. Given the pool will mostly be covered, could UV be beneficial? not really as you are going to need to open the cover daily to outgas the cc from the water. Just make sure to do it while it is sunny so you get some free UV.

8. With pool only, sounds like ozone is useless, but what about with spa? The pool and spa will share the same water so.........again nope.

Make sure you get model numbers for everything in writing. Better safe than sorry.

Thanks for letting us come along for the ride!

Kim:kim:
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
5,384
Damascus, MD
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
That is a long pool for only 1 skimmer. I would go at least 2. I do like that heater but any particular reason you are not sticking with the same brand for all equipment? Not a requirement, but they do play better.

Ozone - out. UV - out. CO2 - out. pH/ORP - out. Stenner - out.

Ditch cleaner return line and get a robot.

Also seems like a lot of lights but I haven't seen the design.

Saltwater - insist on this. Get a regular one (3500 ppm). You would not use multiple in series but in parallel if you go 2. I think you could get away with a single 60k gallon rated unit.

That laundry list is a who's who of padding the bill. Have you gotten other bids?
 

Demegrad9

Well-known member
May 27, 2017
362
Coventry, CT
Very cool design!

There was another lap pool build documented here recently: https://www.troublefreepool.com/threads/137367-New-Build-in-West-Houston-Area-PB

For what it's worth I'd be mostly with PoolGate, ditch the ozone, UV, CO2, PH/ORP and the cleaner return line. For cleaning, get a robotic cleaner.

If you want a salt pool, just get a salt pool, do not compromise with the PB. Problems that people associate with salt pools are usually actually due to poor water chemistry.

Personally I have a liquid chlorine injection system and it's great, easy to use, no cleaning the cell, the only thing you have to do is make sure you're using fresh bleach which is easy. So, I see either a stenner or a salt cell as both great options. BUT if you decide to go with a salt pool I really don't see any reason to add a stenner for high demand times as manually dumping some bleach at those times is a better option. The reason is because if you fill up this stenner and it rarely gets used, when you actually need it the bleach in there probably won't be very potent. So instead, if you're going to have a big party or something just grab a few gallons of bleach while your at the store getting the food and drinks.
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
6,784
Central MD
Pool Size
27000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Yes, I’d simplify. SWCG and scrap the other aspects. Circupool is the company that makes the largest salt cell by production volume. Others can tell if it would work well with Pentair automation (Since confirmed it is NOT compatible). I’’d avoid two if possible.

Though the pool does need to outgas CC’s on a regular basis (i.e. open the pool to daylight), it does not need to be daily. Twice a week would be fine.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
36,063
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
You will not be able to control the Circupool SWCG with Pentair automation. You can only control one SWCG with automation.

Take care.
 

BubbaBasco

Gold Supporter
Aug 28, 2017
30
Los Altos, CA
Thanks for all the feedback!

Kim asked for more details on the SWG. Here is link to AquaRite Low Salt Chlorine Generator . And a link to the operating manual.

I like the idea of lower salt levels to alleviate concerns from the various anti-salt factions, and the pool wouldn't have a salty taste, which I have generally found to be the case with salt pools. The only downside I can think of is the capacity of the cell to handle this size pool, which of course is important. Hence the question about running multiple cells. Feedback has been clear that a single larger cell is the simpler, more proven, common approach to this.


Feedback has also been clear about removing the CO2 system. The equipment pad is in a below-grade vault and the PB insists on not have automated chlorine dispensing and automated muriatic acid dispensing in the same enclosed area. This is why he's proposing the CO2 alternative. If the Stenner for chlorine is removed due to SWG, then I suppose that concern goes away and muriatic acid should be fine. Is everyone saying that muriatic acid is better for pH than CO2 for SWG pool?

Thanks again!
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
47,998
Tallahassee, FL
Yes muriatic acid is much better for pH than anything. It is measurable and very controllable. After your plaster is cured you will only have to adjust the pH every once in a while. Some go as long as two weeks before they have to adjust. It all depends on the pool and area. Each one is so different!

Kim:kim:
 

Demegrad9

Well-known member
May 27, 2017
362
Coventry, CT
As an engineer, I'm definitely into and geek out on the whole automating everything, but it's hard for me to see the need to even automate pH control, absolutely automate chlorine but pH control, ehh. Definitely muriatic acid is the right choice, but once I started following the guidance here on the relationship between TA and pH, I barely used an acid at all. Once you get TA right where pH is relatively stable, you're talking about a cup or two of muriatic acid every couple weeks. And you still have to manually test FC and pH every couple days with a TF-100 or K-2006, which takes longer (a few minutes tops) than adding a little acid. With that said, there's absolutely nothing wrong with getting a stenner and automating pH control, just seems hard to justify the cost, then again it's probably a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of your entire project.
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
5,384
Damascus, MD
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
Thanks for all the feedback!

Kim asked for more details on the SWG. Here is link to AquaRite Low Salt Chlorine Generator . And a link to the operating manual.

I like the idea of lower salt levels to alleviate concerns from the various anti-salt factions, and the pool wouldn't have a salty taste, which I have generally found to be the case with salt pools. The only downside I can think of is the capacity of the cell to handle this size pool, which of course is important. Hence the question about running multiple cells. Feedback has been clear that a single larger cell is the simpler, more proven, common approach to this.


Feedback has also been clear about removing the CO2 system. The equipment pad is in a below-grade vault and the PB insists on not have automated chlorine dispensing and automated muriatic acid dispensing in the same enclosed area. This is why he's proposing the CO2 alternative. If the Stenner for chlorine is removed due to SWG, then I suppose that concern goes away and muriatic acid should be fine. Is everyone saying that muriatic acid is better for pH than CO2 for SWG pool?

Thanks again!

The only people you should be worried about alleviating concern from is yourself and this forum. You'll never see your PB again after your pool is done. Most people can't detect salt levels of 3500ppm so that should not be a concern. You should also size your cell at twice the pool volume which would be a 60k cell. I don't think you can get that in a "low salt" version. I also find it strange that you cannot get that model in the US. I'd be wary that it doesn't meet some standard. Chlorine is the lifeline of your pool to be properly sanitized and algae free. You don't want to engineer that part the wrong way.

I also agree to manually add your muriatic. It isn't that big a deal and as your pool ages and gets in balance you will need less and less. Muriatic is actually quite concentrated and dangerous and I would not feel comfortable with an automated system releasing it into the water especially if you have swimmers in the pool.

Bottom line: skip the blue smoke and mirror items and those that simply generate profit for the installer.
 

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Nectarologist

Well-known member
Apr 3, 2015
580
New York
Definitely get 2 skimmers as PoolGate said. I'd skip a main drain before I went with one skimmer. If a skimmer fails you have a second to skim surface debris. I know it's highly highly unlikely to happen but when I worked for a pool company we had a service call due to a pool turning green. The skimmer line had collapsed. And they homeowner needed to fix it right away since it was the only skimmer. So it can happen. The better reason is it will keep both ends of the pool clean. In spring both my skimmers need to be emptied twice a day for a 2-3 week period. With one it just wouldn't keep the pool that clean. The pool is a dream for anyone who loves to swim laps.
 

BubbaBasco

Gold Supporter
Aug 28, 2017
30
Los Altos, CA
Thanks for the feedback everyone! The build is underway as seen in the picture below. Lot of the equipment choices are still TBD, focused on getting the structure right. Plumbing is just beginning and finally have some more detail on it.

The equipment will be housed in a vault below grade. The vault is an extension of the basement, outside of course, but at that level and accessible via the basement. The floor of the vault is about 10 feet below the water line.

From my initial post (with minor mods), high level looks like:
  • 2 x Pool skimmer
  • 1 x Split drain connected to skimmers as equalizer
  • 1 x Automatic water leveling device.
  • 1 x Split main drain
  • 6 x pool returns.
  • 1 x cleaner return line.
  • 1 x split heat suction in spa
  • 1 x Split spa jet suction
  • 12 x Spa jet return lines
  • 4 x Spa heat returns.

The plumbing to the vault consists of:
  • 2.5" skimmer suction (connected to 2 skimmers and equalizer)
  • 2.5" main drain suction
  • 2.5" spa suction
  • 3" spa jet suction
  • 2.5" pool return (connected to 6 pool returns)
  • 2" spa return
  • 2.5" spa jet return (connected to 12 jets)
  • 2" spa air (for blower if needed)

Now for some questions I have:

1. Do I need more home runs? For example, both skimmers are tied together and all 6 pool returns are tied together.
2. The two skimmers are tied to a second drain to act as an equalizer. The PB insists on this. Any reason to push for this to be removed?
3. Any issues with the pipe sizes?
4. Any issues with having all equipment below water line and in some cases quite a bit below?
5. Thoughts on preventing disaster scenario where equipment failure leads to flooded basement?
6. Other comments?

Thanks again!


_DSC0146.jpg
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Am I being a buttinski? Where did you land regarding sanitation? Has anyone mentioned? Most (all?) SWGs don’t work in cold water. I’ve been using bleach manually all winter waiting for spring to fire up my new SWG! You said “hope year’round” which sounds like you intend to heat your pool and spa 24/365. Good on ya, SWG! Just keep in mind your SWG won’t work in the winter if you decide to limit your pool use to the warm months...

Others advised to ditch the vacuum port for a robot. Looks like you’re retaining the port anyway? I would, even if you go robot. You could change your mind, or use the port for manual vacuuming or robot backup. Better to cap off that port and never use it than to later want one and not be able to add it, I say.

I ditched my drains in a recent remodel when I learned a pool doesn’t necessarily need them and my local codes were OK with that. I didn’t like looking at them and they were messing with my cleaner. And no drains are safer than any kind of drain system. Fact. If they don’t bother you, then disregard. Otherwise, you could ask your PB about designing your circulation system without them. If that won’t fly, there are some cool ways to disguise them to be almost invisible.

A few things to ponder, while you still can...
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
5,384
Damascus, MD
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
Only thing I would change is to have main drains homerun back to the pad and not be part of the skimmer plumbing. My PB says no one does the drain into the skimmer anymore.
 

BubbaBasco

Gold Supporter
Aug 28, 2017
30
Los Altos, CA
Buttinski?? Thats why I'm here!

Planning on SWG. We are hoping to keep it heated year round, but also have no issues with adding bleach as needed if the SWG isn't cutting it for whatever reason.

Was thinking the same on the cleaner port. Will probably go with a robot to start, but will maintain flexibility to change in the future.

As for drains, I also didn't want to look at them, so they are going low in the wall and won't be very visible. We'll be using these channel drains that are flush mount and can be tiled over. There will also be two of these in the spa on the foot wall of the bench. So in general shouldn't be very visible and shouldn't have cleaner issues.

In the pool there is one main drain that will home run back to the pad. The second drain is connected to the two skimmers for the equalizer function, which for some reason the PB insists is required by code and is needed to pass inspection. Then again haven't found anything in the code that states this. This 2 skimmer + equalizer drain combo then home runs back to the pad. So two pool suction lines back to the pad.

I've seen people recommend having the skimmers home run separately instead of combined as is the current plan. I also wonder about have a single line at the pad for all 6 pool returns.



 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
47,998
Tallahassee, FL
Me???? I would 3 runs of two each for max control of the returns. It will cost a little extra but for such control I thing it would be worth it.

Each skimmer=one run to the pad to it's own valve.....max control.

Main drain = it's own run to pad to it's own valve.

Yeah I have control issues but..........it makes me happy so..............

Kim:kim:
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Me???? I would 3 runs of two each for max control of the returns. It will cost a little extra but for such control I thing it would be worth it.

Each skimmer=one run to the pad to it's own valve.....max control.

Main drain = it's own run to pad to it's own valve.

Yeah I have control issues but..........it makes me happy so..............

Agree, agree, and... oh... agree. If budget is not a constraining concern, why not leave yourself options. Having everything controllable at the pad makes sense to me. I believe you can adjust, to some degree, return performance by using different size eyeballs, but that seems kludgy when compared to a dedicated valve.

Sorry, was this covered? Has anyone contemplated prevailing wind? Most geographic locations have one. You'll want the skimmer's located so that, most often, the wind blows stuff into them, not away from them.

I know nothing about this skimmer/drain equalization issue, can't weigh in there. But I do know: what "professional" contractors don't know about building codes could fill a book about the size of... well... the building code book! Inspectors are only slightly better. It's pretty amazing to watch in action. The process is a bit like horseshoes and hand grenades, where close enough is close enough with these knuckleheads. Buyer beware, unfortunately. You're doing a great job of getting yourself educated, and TFP is the place to do it!

For example, you spoiled my "surprise" about the drain covers! You already found 'em!! Aren't those cool? I wasn't sure if they could work with tile or not. You'll forget they're there, especially if they're on the wall. Awesome.
 
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