Pool Info: Plumbing & Valving
Pool Plumbing & Valving
Pool Valving and plumbing confusing?
Some pool plumbing can take confusion to new heights. If your pool was built before the mid eighties, it's probably time to modernize. The Jandy Valve revolutionized pool plumbing with its three-way valve. It allows for consolidation of several leaky, hard to turn gate valves into one simple operation. This makes it possible to reduce the number of valves and prevent pipes from going every which way. Eventually, every pool needs to have the suction side (before pump) valves and the pressure side (after the filter) valves replaced. At least every 20 years.
Many of our visitors find our plumbing schematics page to be very useful in laying out new plumbing designs, or simply understanding their own layout.
Once you understand the flow of the water and name of each pipe above the ground, label with permanent marker or fingernail polish. Names and arrows. Don't be afraid to make other notes, on pump, filter, gauge, timeclock, etc...
If you live in the sunbelt, particularly the Southwest, aboveground pipes are painted to protect the PVC from the harsh sun. In the snowbelt, pipes, valves and equipment are winterized to protect from ice expansion.
Jandy valves and Push-Pull Valves should be lubed every year. Use Teflon based lube, like Magic Lube, for Jandy Valves, and Silicone based lube, like Magic Lube II, on Push Pull Valve o-rings. These o-rings are lubricated by removing the "plunger" from the valve body, sometimes forcefully done, lubing heavily and re-inserting. Jandy Valves, "Grey," have grease caps that can be filled with lube, or the 8 screws can be removed (and must on early "White" Jandy Valves), and the diverter face heavily lubed. "Black" Jandy Valves are "never-Lube", but a little never hurt....
Backwash Valve Leaking?
Multiport valves or push-pull valves have a port on them where backwash water exits. These are used on sand and D.E. filters. If you have a leaking push-pull valve (also called a slide valve), chances are you just need to replace an o-ring on the plunger. If your multiport (usually 6 position) valve is leaking out the waste port (and possibly making a coiled blue snake of hose), then you may have a need for spider gasket replacement. First shut off the pump and try moving the valve handle slightly which may reset the gasket or flush out debris. Sometimes, you can kind of "reset" the valve by jiggling the handle. Eventually, you'll need to replace the gasket, or the entire valve (a much easier job). If you need valve parts, go to our valve replacement parts page. If the multiport leaks not out the waste line, but up and out, from around the valve handle, then this indicates a need to replace the spring and/or Teflon washer.
Air getting into system?
Small leaks in underground suction piping can result in a loss of pressure and air being drawn in where water should flow. If your pool was built using "Black Poly" piping or flexible PVC underground, it's especially likely that you will experience some problems with this at some point. But usually the air leak is found to be something simple and above-ground.
The pump is meant to operate air free. After some time, you may notice air in the basket, especially if you have a clear lid to observe such things. This can reduce filtering efficiency, allow dangerous air to build up in filter, and sometimes prevent your pump from catching prime (being able to move water). The problem is usually located around the pump, aboveground. Many times on the pump lid or the pump drain plugs. Occasionally, we have to look underground for the source of the air. Sometimes air in the pump basket can be caused by something as simple as the water level being too low in the pool. You might also want to check the skimmer weir. This is a plastic flap at the throat of the skimmer that keeps the debris in the skimmer when the pump is off. If the skimmer weir is stuck, it can cause the skimmer to drain and take in air. Also check that the pump basket lid is on tight and the o-ring is lubricated. Also check that all plugs are tight.
A good trick in locating an air leak is to shut off the motor when it's under full pumping head pressure, and look for water to spray back; out of the void where the air was entering. You have to be quick to catch this spray-back! This void will always be before the impeller. After the impeller is what we call "the pressure side." Any leak or void here will leak water out. Any leak or void prior to the impeller (in front of the pump impeller) will draw air in when the pump is on. The pump will "pump" air if it can, it is the path of least resistance. So, your system needs to be almost airtight to run properly. When you find this void, patch with epoxy putty or silicone, or replace the part if needed.
Air leaks can also be attributed to any of the valves on the suction plumbing. Old brass gate valves, in addition to being troublesome and time consuming, tend to leak after many years of use. Air could also be entering through any glue joint or threaded joint in the plumbing before the filter pump.
By putting the plumbing under pressure, we're able to locate the leak and make appropriate repairs. You can do this too, by buying a Drain King at your local hardware store, or from us just by clicking on the link. This connects to a garden hose and puts the line under pressure. Putting this in the skimmer, you can turn on the hose and pressurize the line backwards (Also great for clearing clogged pipes!). Remove the pump lid and use a plug at the pump entrance. This will allow pressure to build up in the line and squirt out at the leak. Many suction side leaks such as this are repaired with pool putty, or a more permanent plumbing repair / pipe replacement can be made.
Pool losing water?
If your swimming pool loses water only when the pump is on, the leak is probably on the pressure side. The leak detection process pinpoints the area under suspicion, where the appropriate repair can be made. If the pool loses water only while the pump is off, we look towards the suction side. And if it leaks all the time, well...it could be anywhere. It is important to repair leaks to prevent erosion of earth that may be supporting key areas of the pool and equipment. In addition, pool leaks can waste several hundred gallons of your filtered, heated and chemically treated water per day!