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Reconfigure equipment, plumbing lines for better efficiency

Q: I noticed the water in my pool and spa does not look as crystal clear as it once did, and the fountains don’t seem to flow as full as they used to. My pool-cleaning service technician said that my pool water doesn’t stay as clean as it should because there is poor water circulation. My pool is 12 years old and still has the original equipment. What is the solution to this problem?

A: Most pool equipment, if taken care, of will last for many years. However, after a decade or more of wear and tear, equipment will not perform to the optimum efficiency that it was originally designed to do.

There could be many reasons why there is poor circulation of the water and, yes, poor circulation can definitely result in poor water quality and an inefficient system.

With the homeowner’s permission, I recruited two experts to analyze the current situation and provide their opinion.

Michael Paradis, owner of MP Pool Plumbing, has more than 22 years experience in the pool industry, with 15 of those years dedicated specifically to pool plumbing. Paradis was tasked with evaluating the plumbing situation.

At initial glance, he described the plumbing as "a bowl of spaghetti with piping going every which way.

"The water flow was severely constricted because of the numerous 90-degree angles built into the system. Each angle caused further and further restriction," he said. "The pump was using a tremendous amount of energy in an attempt to push the water through the lines, resulting in low pressure at the filter, water features and return lines."

Paradis also noted that over the years, the homeowner had introduced many new devices into the system, including solar heating, an in-line chlorinator, an ozone unit and a salt-chlorine generator.

"Each time something new is added to the system it will have an effect on everything else," Paradis explained.

Last but not least, Paradis said the system still had the older-style check valves installed in the plumbing. The older-version valves were more restrictive than the models available on the market today.

Paradis’ recommendations were three-fold — remove all piping directly accessible to the equipment and start from scratch, minimize the number of 90-degree elbows and change all the valves. He also noted the goal of efficient plumbing design is to analyze the entire system and design the layout to integrate every piece of equipment, including the water-quality units and solar to create a system with a straight line from the pool to the equipment and back. Estimated labor costs for the project was $1,500.

Next, I called on Steve Gutai, product manager for Pumps, Filters, Valves & Water Features for Jandy Industries to evaluate the equipment situation.

Known throughout the globe as the industry’s hydraulics expert, Gutai said that while the new plumbing setup will certainly increase water flow and improve water quality, replacing the older units with modern-day equipment will add additional benefits to the system.

"The original equipment was still functional and could possibly last for a few more years," said Gutai. However, with the plumbing redesign, it only made good sense to replace the pump and filter with new units instead of waiting for a system failure that would require repairs and cutting into the plumbing once again. New equipment with better operating efficiencies would greatly enhance the overall performance of the system.

Cost for a new filter, pump and new valves would run approximately $1,400, Gutai explained.

The lesson learned: It’s best to get several opinions when seeking to invest in costly repairs. That way, not only will you feel comfortable about the need and investment in your project, but you will gain a better understanding of what went wrong in the first place.


Joe Vassallo is the president of Paragon Pools, as well as a member of the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, a certified building professional and a representative of the APSP National Builders Council, Region XI. Send questions or suggestions for column ideas regarding pools and spas to him at jvassallo@paragonpools.net or 251-0500.

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