Plumbing renovation advice

suburbiaboy

Member
May 12, 2018
23
Ontario, Canada
I'm thinking about renovating the poor plumbing on my pool and wondering if I could get some recommendations for the most cost-effective route.
I've had a hard time getting any professionals out to look at it, there aren't many local and they're always booked up.

Essentially the plumbing is undersized and the pump is constantly on the edge of starving. I have a hard time vacuuming because it kills the suction which makes it time consuming to clean.

Skimmer (yellow in the attached image)
The skimmer is tiny – the only pool guy I spoke with said it's for a much smaller pool

Drains and returns (drain yellow, return red in the attached image)
There's one suction port and one return. No main drain or floor drains.
The suction port is always open, the skimmer is too small to work on it's own.

Filter
The filter is fine and manages to keep the pool clean but again I've been told it's undersized.

Pump
The pump is fine but oversized for the plumbing (but correct for the pool!). It's old but works ok.

Since all the plumbing is on one side and the deck is pavers, it shouldn't be too much work to get access (relative to a concrete deck).
  1. If I were to replace the skimmer and add another return would that be suitable given the size?
  2. How difficult is it to add additional plumbing/enlarge the skimmer on a steel pool?
  3. Can I keep the liner?
Any help or suggestions would be great! Thanks in advance.

Excuse the dirt in the pool, I only just opened it – pretty clean considering!
 

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Arizonarob

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Mar 25, 2018
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If it were my pool, I’d look into adding a second skimmer on the opposite side, as well as 2 more returns. I’d also redo the plumbing to a larger size from the original skimmer and returns.

I am by no means an expert on that type of install, but, I would think it will be quite the project, as you will be removing dirt from around the pool walls, which could result in stability problems. Let’s see if I can get some people with knowledge to help you out. Hang tight. :cheers:

@jimmythegreek @bdavis466 @PoolguyinCT
 

jimmythegreek

Bronze Supporter
Aug 10, 2017
936
Morris Cnty NJ
Easily done on a steel wall pool. You can add anything anywhere by cutting them in. It's a big job for a solo DIY. You are gonna trash the paver deck unless you just sacrifice one side. How old is pool and how old is liner. What size plumbing do you have now? Where is equipment pad and a pic of whole pool area would help. If you have 1.5" plumbing you shouldn't have a problem with suction yiu may have issues elsewhere or filter blockage. There are lots of large pools around with a single skimmer and 2 returns I take care of a monster like that just need the right pump filter setup.
 
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suburbiaboy

Member
May 12, 2018
23
Ontario, Canada
@jimmythegreek
You are gonna trash the paver deck unless you just sacrifice one side.
Yeah the plumbing is all on one side so I was thinking that I would keep upgrades to that side. Also the pavers are completely out of level so would be a good time to sort that out.

How old is pool and how old is liner.
The pool I have no idea, 20+ years maybe. The liner is around 5-6 years I think.

What size plumbing do you have now? Where is equipment pad and a pic of whole pool area would help.
There's a bit of a mix but it looks like underground (from what I can see) is 1.5". Above ground it's 2".
The equipment pad is about 10' out of the bottom right of the first picture following straight from the red and yellow lines.
I'll attach a picture from a previous post of the pad, it's a bit of a mess to be honest.

If you have 1.5" plumbing you shouldn't have a problem with suction you may have issues elsewhere or filter blockage.
Yes that's possible, I've started a couple of posts on here to try and diagnose but never really got far. I had a guy from the local pool company round and he said the skimmer was undersized which matches the symptoms and issues I've had so that's the assumption I've been going with.
 

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suburbiaboy

Member
May 12, 2018
23
Ontario, Canada
@Arizonarob you are correct, the pump is crooked and the stand is not attached to the ground! The previous owner was a big (terrible) DIYer.

I had thought last year that I might rebuild the whole thing with a more sensible layout but if the issues are more fundamental then I don't want to waste time/money fixing something that will still work just as poorly.

Essentially the issue is (you can check my previous posts for more detail) the pump always has some air inside until the filter starts to get dirty at which point it runs clear.
Vacuuming exacerbates the issue, though it does work, slowly and with a lot of air. Kreepy Krauly type cleaners do not work, the pump loses prime.
If I close either the skimmer or the suction port the pump can't keep prime, both must be open.
 

Arizonarob

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I’m beginning to wonder if there is debris in the suction line causing flow problems. What brand and HP is that pump? Is there a label on the side that you can get a picture and post it?
I wanna grab Mark and see his thoughts on this.
@mas985
 
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jimmythegreek

Bronze Supporter
Aug 10, 2017
936
Morris Cnty NJ
Sound like blockage and possible leakage causing cavitation. Regardless of what you do that needs cleaning up. Cut it all out and make it nice with proper valves. Pentair are cheaper than jandy ditch the home cheepo valves. I'd bet once you cut that all out iys gonna work well. I'd back flush all lines with a garden hose this way you can see the flow and compare to what hose is putting out. When you need restriction on return line to boost auction performance theres more going on. A single 1.5 inch intake line can keep up with 95% of pumps out there and yours easily
 

suburbiaboy

Member
May 12, 2018
23
Ontario, Canada
Well a blockage would make sense for the symptoms but the thing is, the suction port and the skimmer both run separate lines up to the pad and I can close them independently. Closing either will cause the pump to lose prime.

I suppose both could be partially blocked but that seems less likely.

Could be certainly be leakage but I spent hours checking for leaks on the short above ground section before the pump and couldn’t find anything so far. That would leave under ground.
 

Soupy

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2011
106
Maryland
The air-in-the-pump issues make it sound like you've got suction side leaks pulling air in. When you close one of the intake valves, or use the cleaner, vacuum goes up, and it actually pulls more air in, thus losing prime.

Honestly, with your equipment pad being such an amazing mess, I'd just redo everything there first, then re-evaluate the symptoms. Even if you decide to add another skimmer and return, you're going to want to redo the equipment pad anyways.
 

Arizonarob

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Mar 25, 2018
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Yeah I agree with Jimmy and Soupy, I would straighten out that equipment pad first. Get that equipment on flat level solid ground, loose all that flex pipe, and change out those ball valves for proper Jandy or Pentair 2 & 3 way valves.
It’s a pretty cheap fix except for the valves, and will at the minimum give you piece of mind that the problems exist past the pad, if they even remain after the repair. :cheers:
 
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mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,479
Pleasanton, CA
Well a blockage would make sense for the symptoms but the thing is, the suction port and the skimmer both run separate lines up to the pad and I can close them independently. Closing either will cause the pump to lose prime.
But when you leave both open it is fine?

What is the filter pressure with each valve position (Both lines on, one line off, other line off with first on)?

If the filter pressure is not changing substantially, then the issue is likely to be just an air leak somewhere that is dependent on the valve setting. Those union valves can easily leak air into the plumbing so I wouldn't be surprised if that is the cause. Have you taken the valves apart to inspect the o-rings? Check for cracks in the valves too. If they are ok, then lube them and reassemble tightening them as much as possible.
 

suburbiaboy

Member
May 12, 2018
23
Ontario, Canada
@Soupy thank you for that explanation – I think that's the first time it's all really made sense to me.
@Arizonarob – really appreciate your time on this and I think you're spot on with that assessment.

Both: My instinct last year was to re-do the pad and I even started to put a parts list together but it fell by the wayside. I think you're both correct that fixing that up would at least allow me to evaluate things from a sensible starting point and would pretty much be required either way.

@mas985
But when you leave both open it is fine?
No there are some bubbles, not loads but constant.

What is the filter pressure with each valve position (Both lines on, one line off, other line off with first on)?
I'll check that out.
 

suburbiaboy

Member
May 12, 2018
23
Ontario, Canada
@mas985
What is the filter pressure with each valve position (Both lines on, one line off, other line off with first on)?
Both valves open: 15psi.
Suction inlet closed: Immediate drop to 14psi then slower drop to a steady 12psi after more air enters.
Skimmer closed: Fairly quick drop to 0 as air enters and the pump loses prime.
 
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mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,479
Pleasanton, CA
For the skimmer open, that sounds more like an air leak. For MD open, that could be either but given the first, I would look at an air leak as your source.

Have you inspected and lubed the pump lid gasket and drain plug gasket?
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
365
Marrietta Ga
I suspected i had a 1/2 blocked line so ran a line from pump out into that return and blew all kind of junk out. I only ran it for a few seconds.
PVC is cheap and didn’t take long to hook it up
 

suburbiaboy

Member
May 12, 2018
23
Ontario, Canada
I blew out my lines for winter with the shop vac and seemed to get a pretty good result. It’s certainly feasible that that one of the lines is blocked (I guess the vacuum port seems more likely) but due to the current plumbing I’ll have to wait until I can take it all apart before I can try flushing it through.
 
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