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Plumbing 101: The Basics of Swimming Pool Plumbing

Many pool builders always skimp or rush through the plumbing. Why? If it is done wrong or looks like junk, no one will be happy. The client will not be happy when the pool isn’t performing up to standard, and you’ll be out there, spending countless hours reworking and fixing your rush job. Ideally, you want to use straight lines and have everything symmetric. It’s more appealing to the eyes and helps water flow, but it’s not always possible. Penguin Pools builds and designs pools to meet Federal Guidelines for flow, turnover rate, entrapment protection, and placement of returns. Differences in plumbing setups and equipment sizing will affect water clarity, chemical usage, and overall operating costs from month to month.

The Basic Tenets of Swimming Pool Plumbing

  • As water moves through pipes it creates friction, slowing it down, just like the air against your car as you drive down the road.

  • Excessive use of 90° elbows will hinder water movement and add a lot of friction.

  • Even a 45° elbow slows the water down a little just like taking a turn in your car.

  • You can go faster down a straight road but must slow down at a bend, and even slower for a corner.

Each time the water slows down due to friction or an elbow, the less water you are moving through your filter and sanitation system. Pools without variable speeds pumps should have their water turn over once (1 time) every 6 hours. If your pool isn’t doing that today, then chances are you have a pool plumbing problem. If something looks wrong, SAY SOMETHING.

What Your Pool Plumbing SHOULDN’T Look Like

There is no way this plumber or pool company got paid, how do you even think to plumb something like that? These are pictures that were taken off sites where pool companies were “showing off” their plumbing setups. If your plumbing looks like this, it’s time to call a professional.

The Correct Way to Build Pool Plumbing: The Penguin Pools Way

Penguin Pools also does some standard things that other companies don’t do in Southeastern Wisconsin and Minneapolis markets.

  • Main drains aren’t plumbed to the skimmer.

  • Each return line gets a dedicated line, not plumbed together. This will make it easier to fix or replace lines years down the road. It also makes for better water pressure throughout the system.

  • Water features, especially fountains, all get dedicated lines with valves. That way you can dictate exactly how much water gets to each water feature.

  • Penguin Pools only uses actuator compatible (diverter) valves for future expansion, ball valves are cheap and less “beefy.”

  • Unions are put on the pump, filter, and heater for easy access and repair.

  • Each suction line gets its own valve, which helps for suction-based auto cleaners.

Swimming Pool plumbing doesn’t have to be brain surgery. You can’t go wrong if you ALWAYS use glue and primer rated for swimming pools. Here are some tips we’ve picked up over the years that will help you build great pool plumbing out of the gate:

  • We use professional-grade product only. Oatley products at Home Depot, Menards, Lowes, or any other hardware store is fine for a temporary repair, but it will dry out and crack over time, leaving you with teardrop leaks.

  • When using threaded fittings, do NOT glue them. We use only top-rated Teflon tape with magic lube or silicone. The seal will be better and you won’t have to worry about getting the fitting out.

Pool Restoration Plumbing Tips & Tricks

When Penguin Pools restores or rehabs a swimming pool, we always try to prevent problems before they occur. We always make sure one of the return lines doesn’t have a valve on it. When water features are present on a pool, we will valve off each water feature and each return MINUS 1. That way if someone (kids) accidentally closes all the valves, there will be one return still moving water so your system doesn’t explode or blow connections. Please contact Penguin Pools if you want a free quote or if you need us to rework the plumbing on your current swimming pool equipment.

Great Swimming Pool Plumbing Examples Built by Penguin Pools