Is there anything better than slipping into a crystal-clear oasis of blue water in the summer? Having an in-ground pool is a luxury that more and more people are beginning to seek out, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, not many people understand exactly how your pool equipment functions to give you the clean, balanced water you need to enjoy your pool to the fullest. While there are many pool service companies who can fix and maintain your pool for you, it’s smart to have a general understanding of how your pool works. It also will help alert you to potential problems and to make wise decisions when it comes to having parts repaired or replaced.
In-ground pools have almost limitless options in terms of their shape. Concrete or gunite construction are the most popular options for shell materials. Other options include pre-formed fiberglass or stainless steel pool shells. A few in-ground pools are also constructed using a vinyl liner, similar to above ground pools. A vinyl liner attaches to the inside of the frame, forming the basin that holds the water.
Following is a quick and easy tutorial on how your equipment works together in your pool. Many exceptional pool service professionals will also provide personal instruction to owners. Be sure to ask your pool cleaning service if they provide onsite training on pool care basics.
How the Pool Cycle Works
All basic swimming pool systems have the same goal: keeping the water clean. It’s vital for your pool’s water to be free of bacteria, algae, and debris. Your equipment and plumbing creates a continuous cycle of water moving through a filter while distributing sanitizing chemicals and then returning the treated water to the pool. During a normal cycle, water is drawn from the pool using suction created by the pool pump. The water is then drawn into the pump from a main drain and skimmers. The pool pump creates pressure and circulates water through the pool filter, heater, or other equipment. The sanitized water is then returned to the pool.
Primary Pool Equipment
Main drains are usually round or square drains in the floor of the pool. Main drains help direct the water towards the pump and filter. They are generally located at the pool’s lowest point and pull water from the pool floor. Any debris that does not float will eventually make its way to the main drain. Current pool building regulations require the construction of at least two anti-vortex drains, but older pools may have simply one drain. (An anti-vortex design and dual drains are a safety requirement, as they can prevent injury or death due to suction entrapment.)
The skimmer is located at the pool surface and can appear like a small swinging door in a pool wall. The door is called a weir, and as it moves back and forth, it skims any floating debris, like leaves, into a basket behind it. The basket traps the debris while the skimmer sends surface water to the pump. These skimmers should be cleaned out on a frequent basis.
Located in front of the pump, there is another strainer basket for debris in your pool. The water flows from this basket into the filter box. There are different types of filter boxes. Some filter units contain fine sand particles to catch small debris. Other filter units employ the use a diatomaceous earth filter. This utilizes a chemically inert powder made from sea organisms called diatoms. In order to clean these filters, it is necessary to reverse the water flow. This allows the dirty water from the filter to flow out to the sewer system. Another type of filter is composed of corrugated paper or polyester cloth. This type of filter need to simply be removed and washed off periodically. Every two-three years, this type of filter will need to be replaced.
It’s very important to have a filter system that collects all the debris that can accumulate in a pool. City health and building codes frequently mandate the operations of your pool filter. Depending on where you live and your pool’s size, the requirements vary, but the objective is to ensure that all the water in your pool is kept clean and safe for your use.
The pool pump motor spins an impeller. This creates centrifugal force that sucks in water through the pump strainer basket. The pump will then push the water out under pressure. Water leaves the pump and moves on to the filter. The pool pump is responsible for circulating water throughout the pool’s system.
A chemical feeder sanitizes your pool quickly and effectively. It allows the correct amount of chlorine and bromine to be distributed throughout your pool. Rather than having to manually mix these chemicals, a chemical feeder allows you to fill the feeder and let it do the work for you. Chemical feeders can also be referred to as automatic pool chlorinators, chemical dispensers, or erosion feeders. In a nutshell, chemical feeders reduce the amount of work of a pool owner. They also protect your pool equipment from potential damage or staining as a result of placing tablets inside a skimmer or chlorine floater.
An in-line chemical feeder is installed within the plumbing of your pool, at ground level to prevent any kind of back flow. If you have a heater for your pool, a one-way check valve should be installed between the heater and the chemical feeder to prevent damage from corrosive chlorine gas.
An off-line chemical feeder requires no installation and are a popular choice when there is no room to install an in-line chemical feeder. An off-line chemical feeder should be secured on a concrete floor with screws and anchors in order to hold the feeder in place and keep it fairly stationary.
Pool water returns are here water comes back into the pool from the circulation system. A pool usually has two or three returns, but this will depend on the pool size. The return is generally a 1 1/2″ threaded opening. They often have a directional eyeball that fastened onto it. These are used to direct the water and support proper water circulation in the pool. Pool return lines are made of PVC and carry water to the return jets.
Once the filtered water has passed through the return lines, it is conducted back into the pool by the return jets. The return jets also move the water around the pool. While this directs water into the skimmers, it also moves along debris that may be floating on the water’s surface towards the skimmer basket.