New Pool in Houston, TX

travelfeedsthesoul

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Jan 21, 2021
46
Sugar Land, TX
Pool Size
17500
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The size of the pool generally dictates the cost, but the smallest system usually goes for $3500 and doesn’t perform half as good as the $700 robot. And the IFCS sucks a lot more electricity to run on top of that, year after year after year. It’s a dead issue for me IMHO before it even starts.
How much more in electricity are we talking? Would anyone have some sort of estimate? That would definitely help me decide if I want to pay a change free and cancel the infloor.
 

Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
502
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Sure thing...

I run my IFCS @ 2700RPM which equates to roughly 52GPM ish. The IFCS zones are designed for 48GPM of flow. At that RPM I am pulling between 1100 and 1200 Watts. @ 1200RPM my flow is roughly 25GPM and power consumption is 127W. So roughly 1/10th of the IFCS consumption. I run my system for 5 hours a day. When the IFCS is not running, I am running @ 1000RPM, which is 78W. That speed is plenty to keep my SWCG flow switch happy, now that I have a heater bypass installed and operational. I think I was able to drop it to 600RPM before it tripped. Before the heater bypass I had to run 1600RPM to keep the flow switch satisfied.

I will say I just purchased a robot to do my brushing for me. I wasn't as impressed with the robot as I was hoping I would be. Finally getting a robot cleaner

--Jeff
 
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HermanTX

Gold Supporter
May 20, 2020
1,416
Katy TX
Pool Size
14600
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Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
When I asked my PB how many returns I would get, he said I wouldn't have any returns when doing the in-floor cleaning system.

I'm not sure how often the in-floor pop-ups turn on, but am I right in assuming if I have automation, I should be able to control when these turn on? I'm not sure how standard returns work except for the fact that they bring the filtered water back into the pool. Does this mean my IFCS popups would be on often, or only when I'm running the pool pump?
An IFCS operates on pump pressure, so yes you have to have the pump on. Also, the IFCS simply pushes debris around to the main drain suction to the filter. It does seem very strange that the PB does not want to put in any standard returns. What happens if your IFCS system breaksdown? You have zero circulation. Also, there was a discussion earlier on 1 skimmer vs. 2 skimmers - if you have no standard returns, my thought is that you lose efficiency of moving debris to the skimmers so maybe that is why PB recommends only 1 skimmer.
I have been in pools with a IFCS however, based on my memory, every one of them have had standard returns as well. The IFCS (through automation or a timer) would turn on at various times to push around the bottom debris to the main drain. Also, there was a bypass on the plumbing that you could go to either the IFCS or the standard returns (cannot remember if you could do both but that seems logical that a 3 way valve would allow that given you have sufficient pump volume to operate the IFCS). That way, you would selectively use the IFCS or the standard returns. That way, you are confident that you always have a circulation method to the pool. One advantage of an IFCS is that if you wish to heat your pool then pumping warm water from the bottom up is helpful to heat the entire pool, but not sure how often you would want to that.
As some else stated, the IFCS would be a deal breaker if there were no standard returns. Have both, or just standard returns but not solely an IFCS with no returns.
 

Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
502
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I'm not sure how often the in-floor pop-ups turn on, but am I right in assuming if I have automation, I should be able to control when these turn on?
Do not assume this. My IFCS was designed to be the only return to the pool. Although one of the zones is 4 standard wall returns. I assume that this was to assist with the skimming action.

I replumbed mine to be able to isolate that zone of wall returns using a 3 way valve, with a check valve to prevent backflow through the zone valves, so that I could turn it on/off as I wished. And also so that if there were ever any issues with the zone valves, I could run my pool using the wall returns.

Knowing what I know now, I would only install an IFCS with a bypass to wall returns. I didn't know anything about pools and plumbing them when I started my build, so I didn't think about any of that. Fortunately I was able to modify my system to do that.

I don't know all of the IFCS system manufacturers, but I'm pretty sure Paramount and A&A both design wall returns as part of their system. @Rattus Suffocatus installed an IFCS in his pool and I am pretty sure his builder plumbed a bypass around the IFCS.

I would hesitate to use a builder, or at least have him install the IFCS, if he is refusing to put in standard returns.

Looks like HermanTX just stated all of my points also. I was busy typing and not paying attention and then got sidetracked and never posted it. :mrgreen:

--Jeff
 
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Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
502
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Actually, speaking about the automation side, I suggest you sit down with your builder and specifically go through how you want the system to operate. I also replumbed my water features because my builder told me I was limited on the number of actuators. So they plumbed it with the scuppers running off the filter pump, and the deck jets and bubblers on a 3 way valve so that I could have either bubblers, or bubblers and deck jets, but not just deck jets. And my scuppers would shut off if I turned my spa on. So I couldn't sit outside and relax listening to the soothing noise from the scuppers, if my kids wanted to be in the spa.

I reworked everything so I can turn any single water feature on regardless of if I'm running the pool or the spa.

I will say, at that time I believe my PB was still learning the Intellicenter, but they should have at least gone to Pentair and asked.

--Jeff
 
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Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
502
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I just went back and re-read, and you indicated your PB was using A&A. I would ask to review the A&A plans prior to beginning. My A&A plans have wall returns as a zone. In that case a bypass is as simple as adding a 3 way and a check valve to the system.

The IFCS, if there is no bypass, will be on all the time. You can reduce the speed of the pump, and the popups won't lift, but that will be the only returns to the pool, through the zone valves to the popups.

A&A has their manuals online. I would suggest possibly getting in touch with them and requesting the plans for your pool.

I swear, plumbing reviews should be a hold point for pool builds. It will be on my next one for sure.

Sorry for the multiple posts. I had a rough day and I'm not as collected as I usually am. I am all over the place this evening.

--Jeff
 

OrangeAndBlue

Silver Supporter
Aug 19, 2017
99
Houston, TX area
Another Houston area (Katy) pool owner here chiming in:

We're in the 4th year of owning our pool now. Our coping and perimeter are all flagstone and natural moss rocks, including the water line. We have an SWG and have followed TFP methods since day 1. A few points:
  • There is no damage, corrosion, or anything else wrong with our coping or perimeter natural stones. There's a little flaking and some white calcium hazing here and there in some spots on the flagstone, but nothing I haven't seen on friends' pools who don't have a SWG (ours looks far less severe).
  • Once I learned how the pool behaves after a few months, maintenance is cake: I test FC and pH 1-2 per week and add a few ounces of muriatic acid. I test the other chems monthly and adjust as needed - that has usually required some CYA every couple months during swim season and bag of salt 3-4 times per year. That's all I've ever had to do, and I've bought almost everything at Home Depot or Wal Mart. I've yet to ever set foot in a pool store. This is the HUGE benefit of the SWG in my opinion.
  • No one has ever had any issues with the water being harsh. My daughter has sensitive skin / eczema and she has never had a problem. I have very sensitive eyes and cannot dive without goggles in any other pool without burning eyes, but I can open my eyes under water in my pool and not have problems (I still usually wear goggles and generally avoid opening eyes under water out of habit though).
  • I always keep my FC on the high side for my CYA level based on the FC/CYA chart and I still get the results mentioned. The skin and eye irritation issues are not because of high FC. It's usually due to poor pH balance and/or too high CCs.
  • Our pool builder did a nice job building our pool efficiently. When he was done and handed it off to me, the instruction during "pool school" was to take a water sample to Leslie's once a week and do what they told me.....that's how much he knew (or cared) about pool water chemistry. Thankfully I found TFP before "pool school"....
I can't comment on IFCS.
Regarding the earlier question about the width of the spa spillover - I wish ours was either narrower or the "staircase" type instead of a waterfall. Even with our big overpowered single speed pump, in normal pool mode with the spa spillover running, there is not enough flow to create a nice and full looking waterfall unless I direct the return flow 100% to the spa. If your spa will be plumbed so that it runs continuously, and then coupled with a low rpm VSP, I'd think you want a narrower spillover in order to get a proper waterfall effect and not just a trickle spilling out of the spa. Our spillover width looks similar to those in the design pics posted in this thread.
 

OrangeAndBlue

Silver Supporter
Aug 19, 2017
99
Houston, TX area
....oh I forgot to mention: We only have one skimmer in our pool. It has never been a point of complaint for me, but I guess I don't know what it would have been been like if we had 2 skimmers. I can see how 2 skimmers are probably better, but it's not something I have ever noticed or wished I had done differently in our pool build. My biggest regret was not getting a VSP (which is a requirement now anyway since earlier this year), followed by the spa spillover being too wide for our setup.
 
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stevo777

Member
Mar 25, 2021
13
St George, UT
Pool Size
450
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
The IFCS, if there is no bypass, will be on all the time. You can reduce the speed of the pump, and the popups won't lift, but that will be the only returns to the pool, through the zone valves to the popups.
OK I did not know that even if not deployed, return water still can flow through the cleaning heads in the floor. This is good news, I think. I was concerned that any time water was being circulated, they would be protruding, even when the pool is occupied. And looking at A&A's design, with the hole in the top of the popup, I can see how that can work. Not so with the Paramount system, I think.

I run my IFCS @ 2700RPM which equates to roughly 52GPM ish. The IFCS zones are designed for 48GPM of flow. At that RPM I am pulling between 1100 and 1200 Watts. @ 1200RPM my flow is roughly 25GPM and power consumption is 127W. So roughly 1/10th of the IFCS consumption. I run my system for 5 hours a day. When the IFCS is not running, I am running @ 1000RPM, which is 78W.
Great data, thanks. From this, i calculate, at electric costs of $0.10 to $0.14 per kWh (in my area at least), that daily cost to run the IFCS is $0.60 - $0.84. Cost to run the lower flow during that period would be $0.05.

Maybe if I added another 4 panels to my (already maxed out) solar system....
 

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Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
1,301
Corona de Tucson, AZ
Do not assume this. My IFCS was designed to be the only return to the pool. Although one of the zones is 4 standard wall returns. I assume that this was to assist with the skimming action.

I replumbed mine to be able to isolate that zone of wall returns using a 3 way valve, with a check valve to prevent backflow through the zone valves, so that I could turn it on/off as I wished. And also so that if there were ever any issues with the zone valves, I could run my pool using the wall returns.

Knowing what I know now, I would only install an IFCS with a bypass to wall returns. I didn't know anything about pools and plumbing them when I started my build, so I didn't think about any of that. Fortunately I was able to modify my system to do that.

I don't know all of the IFCS system manufacturers, but I'm pretty sure Paramount and A&A both design wall returns as part of their system. @Rattus Suffocatus installed an IFCS in his pool and I am pretty sure his builder plumbed a bypass around the IFCS.

I would hesitate to use a builder, or at least have him install the IFCS, if he is refusing to put in standard returns.

Looks like HermanTX just stated all of my points also. I was busy typing and not paying attention and then got sidetracked and never posted it. :mrgreen:

--Jeff
Yes, I can turn on the standard returns-- I have Jandy valves so I even think I can run both at once. It's really the only way I can aerate the water to bring up pH when I am fighting TA-- though this year I bought a secondary cheap pump to play with to do that and do a little "ghetto" solar heat experiment.

You definitely want to be able to switch to standard returns, the extra plumbing is minimal honestly. If you are doing a Venturi skimmer you also want the valve and plumbing to switch over to suction installed as well. My pool is on the cheap end of features (no heat) but those came standard and yes I have used both.

As for the liking the Paramount IFCS? I'm still doing the agree to disagree thing. My dogs like to knock the xeroscaping rocks into the pool (and the youngest one has a taste for the solar covers... :( ) -- I think If I relied on a robot those rocks would have destroyed the robot by now. They tend to not get sucked into the main drain with the floor system either.. they end up in "clumps" or groups that I need to vacuum out, but even that little $20 garden hose Venturi vacuum from Wally World does an adequate job of that. That little bit of work I can live with.

Again, if I weren't in the Arizona high desert with just gravel and desert plants for landscaping I suspect I wouldn't like the system as much. But it works great here. I suspect if I had grass and actual living plants that it would clog on that material.

The other thing I like about it, is that when it starts to slow down, the filters need to be cleaned. This works on volume, of course, and that starts going down before the pressure differential starts showing.. and what do I mean by that? I put on the second pressure gauge on the Paramount head... you know it's getting time when you see more than a PSI or two difference in between the pressure gauges. Then if it occasionally starts skipping a zone (hangs on the last one) you know right then and there it's time to clean the filters out.

As for a SWCG? Do you like to wash dishes by hand, or do you prefer the convenience of a dishwasher? And in this case the long term price differential isn't even as much as that example. I had no less than three family disasters happen right after Christmas at the same time. I still haven't resolved any of them, but I am pretty close now on one.

I have been neglecting my pool honestly, but the SWCG has keep my pool looking really good (yeah it needs a really good brushing before we swim). I honestly don't know if I would have kept the pool looking that good this year because of lack of time without. I am sold that it is the best way to maintain a pool, especially if you are following TFP. It's an expensive toy, but I am glad I just sucked it up and got one.

The worst thing I am guilty of because of the SWCG running is letting TA and pH get too high a couple of times... one time I didn't test for a month...

I don't recommend this at all.. but .. no issues at all with that abuse. Yes I would check on the unit every other day.. make sure it wasn't reading "lo" temp, etc.. if so I'd reset and it would then come on.... but I was terrible on doing proper TFP testing....
 

travelfeedsthesoul

Gold Supporter
Jan 21, 2021
46
Sugar Land, TX
Pool Size
17500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I spoke with my PB and he said we can return the IFCS without any issue. He did say that he has many customers with the A&A in-floor system and literally zero have had issues.

He said this about standard returns when I asked if we can add them with a 3 way valve for extra cost:

"We do use the gv4 heads. We won’t do the infloor with the returns though, it really just doesn’t work as well. If it did, I promise we’d do it. The infloor heads come with lifetime warranty so not a huge issue therr. Plumbing comes with a 5 year warranty and if it does break after it’s not a terribly hard fix. I do understand where you’re coming from but I have the same system on my pool and it there was a better way I definitely would have done it. "

When we had initially met him at their office, he did show me pictures of his fairly new pool so I'm confident he's not lying about having the system.

And finally, my wife's coworker went thru the same PB with the same A&A system and has only good things to say. She said her husband doesn't do much in terms of cleaning and it's been really nice, even when they went on a 2 week trip this past spring break.

With all this, I've decided to keep the IFCS.

I appreciate the knowledge you all have openly shared. I look forward to hearing more advice as I move forward with the pool.

Thanks!
 
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travelfeedsthesoul

Gold Supporter
Jan 21, 2021
46
Sugar Land, TX
Pool Size
17500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Sure thing...

I run my IFCS @ 2700RPM which equates to roughly 52GPM ish. The IFCS zones are designed for 48GPM of flow. At that RPM I am pulling between 1100 and 1200 Watts. @ 1200RPM my flow is roughly 25GPM and power consumption is 127W. So roughly 1/10th of the IFCS consumption. I run my system for 5 hours a day. When the IFCS is not running, I am running @ 1000RPM, which is 78W. That speed is plenty to keep my SWCG flow switch happy, now that I have a heater bypass installed and operational. I think I was able to drop it to 600RPM before it tripped. Before the heater bypass I had to run 1600RPM to keep the flow switch satisfied.

I will say I just purchased a robot to do my brushing for me. I wasn't as impressed with the robot as I was hoping I would be. Finally getting a robot cleaner

--Jeff

Jeff - When you are not running the IFCS...what are you running the pump for at the 1000 RPM? Is it for the standard pool returns?

With no standard returns in my pool, and the IFCS being the only return, would I basically be running at the higher RPM for the entire 8 hours that I may need to circulate the water?

Or, if I'm not trying to clean and only want to circulate the water, would I be able to run the IFCS at a lower RPM?
 

Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
502
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I am able to activate a 3 way valve to send water directly to the wall returns, or to my IFCS. Attached is a schematic I drew and @texantoasted prettied up, of how my IFCS is plumbed. So when I am not running my IFCS @ 2700 RPM, I actuate the 3 way valve and send water only to the wall returns, and run @ 1000RPM to satisfy the SWCG so that I can keep making chlorine. If you don't have the bypass, then you can turn your pump down to a speed that will satisfy the SWCG and it will return through the IFCS popups, without actually popping them up. If that makes any sense.

--Jeff
 

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Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
502
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I find it a little amusing that your PB says they won't do that. Because they should do whatever is shown on the A&A plans. Which is what my PB did. Here is my plan. You can see it clearly notes wall returns to be a zone, per the note in the upper portion of the drawing that says "Port 6B for automatic surface return"

I would want to get ahold of the IFCS plans if it were me, just to verify. You have that right. You are paying for it and you should know that it is being installed correctly. Maybe you don't have a note stating a need for wall returns, and that is fine. But if there is one, and you should have them, you should know. I know it will likely rub your builder the wrong way but if I were A&A I would want to know if people weren't following the installation instructions.

If I had known that A&A supplied the plans like this, I would have requested to have them prior to the dig.

--Jeff
 

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Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
502
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
We won’t do the infloor with the returns though, it really just doesn’t work as well.
I don't understand this. Is he thinking that you want returns to run at the same time as the IFCS? It works just fine because you are either running the cleaner, or not. It literally has zero effect, if you have it valved on a 3 way so you aren't running both at the same time.

I agree, if they are both on at the same time, the IFCS won't work because there would not be enough flow to the heads.

--Jeff
 

travelfeedsthesoul

Gold Supporter
Jan 21, 2021
46
Sugar Land, TX
Pool Size
17500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I called A&A and the rep said that while she cannot share the plans with me directly, since they are owned by the PB who pays them, she said the wall returns zones depend on how the PB requests the system. I asked if my PB does indeed use their products and she said yes they do use their products often. I asked my pool builder for the design and he had given me this before, but it doesn't seem to identify what types of heads they're using which is why I asked and he said they do use the latest G4 popups. He also said they use the A&A AVSC drain and the LeafVac canister. I don't see any wall returns on the plans.
 

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travelfeedsthesoul

Gold Supporter
Jan 21, 2021
46
Sugar Land, TX
Pool Size
17500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
It's come up before so I figure I'd add it. Attached is the details for the 2 VSPs and how they are set up with the water features.
 

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Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
502
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
My plans didn't show any wall returns either. Just that one note. I think the PB should at least sit down with you and go over those plans, if you request. Did you ask A&A if they design systems with a bypass?

I would keep pushing on the IFCS bypass, if it were my pool. You have to live with the pool, not the PB. It should be exactly as you want it. He should be willing to work with you to add whatever you want to the plumbing, as long as it has no negative effect on the system, which we've established, it can't if it is plumbed properly, and you are willing to pay for it.

I design industrial fuel gas systems and if a customer wants something added that makes no sense to me, as long as they are paying for it and it doesn't negatively effect the system, no problem. I just don't understand this mentality from some PB's that they know best, when everything I have learned in the last year indicates that most every part of building a pool, with the exception of the structural integrity, is a matter of opinion.

--Jeff
 
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