Pool School 115 Returns and Circulation

EcoBluEyeballThe most overlooked aspect of swimming pools is the lonely Return Jet. When I refer to a return jet I am speaking about the port on the side of the pool where water enters the pool from the filtration system. Returns Jets are so simple yet vitally important and always overlooked. I want to take a moment and give these simple devices all the respect they deserve.

The way water returns back to your pool from the filter is important to keeping your pool clear and algae free. The first thing to keep in mind is that water is like all of us, it is lazy. That is right we are all lazy, we do things the easiest way possible, we don’t want to work hard so we find the least resistant method of doing something. Water is the same way it takes the path of least resistance. With that in mind if you have more than one Return Jet in the pool most of the water will go to the jet closest to the filter system because that is the easiest route. In order to make the water flow efficiently we have to use different size returns eyeballs. Return Eyeballs are the devices we screw into the fitting in the pool wall that allows you to direct and restrict the flow of water back to the pool. For proper water flow balance you want to put an Eyeball with a smaller opening on the fitting closest to the pool filter and the return or returns farthest from the pump you want to install an Eyeball with a larger opening. But be careful you want some back pressure on the Eyeball to get it to project the water further into the pool. Think of a garden hose if you take the spray nozzle off the end of the hose and just let the water run out of the hose it only projects a few inches from the end of the hose, however if you put your thumb over the opening and restrict the flow you can get the water to project a few feet from the hose. This same principal applies to your Return Jet.

With the advent of two speed and variable speed pumps, projecting the water flow becomes even more important. When you run the pump on the lower speed the water flow back to the pool is reduced, so restriction becomes even more important. In order to achieve the best water flow you would have to change the Eyeballs out each time you switched the speed of the pump. To resolve that issue we have a new style Eyeball called a EcoBlu iBall. This Eyeball has a special silicone eyeball that expands and contracts with the change in velocity of the water flow. With the EcoBlu iBall you don’t have to worry about what size eyeball you put in the port as it will automatically adjust to the optimum opening size. Problem simply solved. We have these Eyeballs at Aegean Pools.

Now that we have the return jets balanced we need to configure the eyeballs so that the water flows in a pattern that includes the entire pool. We don’t want to have dead areas in the pool. Many people, including a lot of service technicians, overlook this very important aspect of pool care. First, if you are like most people you have your Eyeballs pointed at the surface of the pool water because it is cool to see the water moving; however, this is not helping your water circulation. The best direction for the Eyeball is pointing it to the side and down at a 45 degree angle. Next we want to get the water moving in the same direction, so make sure when you turn your Eyeballs they will be consistent with the first Eyeball you set. Also, if your return Eyeball is next to the automatic surface skimmer you want to point the Eyeball away from the skimmer. It is counterproductive to have the water that was just filtered going directly back to the filter, we need to bring in that stale water from across the pool back into the filter system, so point the Eyeball away from the skimmer. With the Eyeballs pointing the water in the same direction we can drive the debris on the surface of the pool to the skimmer so it can pick it up.

You have now been to school on how to properly adjust your water flow to keep your pool looking its best and stop algae dead in its tracks. Now stop ignoring your Return Eyeballs and go spend a little well overdue quality time with them! Class dismissed.

Pool School 114 Automatic Skimmers

SkimmerDiagramEAlmost every pool has an automatic surface skimmer, this is the device that is on the side of the pool that draws water into it, and it is probably one of the least understood pieces of equipment on everyone’s pool. Don’t feel bad it was years after I got into the pool business before I understood how they worked and why they were there.

So let’s travel back in time, to say the early 1900’s, and pools were coming into vogue with the wealthy. The problem with pools in the early days was there wasn’t a filtration system; the pool was just stagnant, nothing moved. After a week or more the water did not look so good at that point they would open the drain at the bottom of the pool and drain all the water out and refill the pool with fresh clean water. Not a very efficient system but water was cheap and that was the best you could do. Without a filter system you had debris collecting on top of the pool and it had nowhere to go, you had to get a leaf skimmer out and skim the surface of the pool by hand. This is an arduous and boring task. With the advent of filter systems they solved the dirty water problem but the skimming issue was still a problem. Along came the invention of the automatic surface skimmer. The concept is to skim debris off the surface of the pool so you don’t have to, when done properly you will have very little debris to remove from the surface of the pool.

The operation of the skimmer is very simple, at the mouth of the skimmer is what people like to call a flapper, the technical name of the flapper is a weir. The weir has two functions; first it enhances the skimming action on the surface of the pool by creating a drop on the back side of the weir which pulls debris from further out into the pool. The second function is to block the flow of debris out of the skimmer when you turn the pump off. If your weir is missing or not working properly you will not pull debris off the surface of the pool as well as you should, and when you turn the pump off all the debris you collected will end up back in the pool. So it is wise to make sure your weir is in place and working properly. When I say working properly I mean it should float freely on the surface of the water leaning back slightly when the pump is running.

One of the other functions of the skimmer is keeping large debris from getting stuck in the pipe that goes between the skimmer and the pump. Inside the skimmer is a basket that strains the water keeping large debris out of the pipe. Ideally you should never run the pump without the skimmer basket in place. The skimmer is also used to vacuum the pool, when you use it for this purpose you must use a vacuum plate on top of the skimmer basket when you connect to the system. If you don’t use both the vacuum plate and the basket you may pull something into the plumbing that will be too big for the pipe and block the flow of water. The only solution for this is to use a second pump to blow the suction line out backward. Not a pleasant process, so be smart and use the vacuum plate.

As I said earlier the skimmer is one of the most miss understood components on the pool system and one of the most confusing things is when you have more than one skimmer. When you have more than one skimmer there is a balance you need to achieve to get the maximum skimming action from both skimmers. If you don’t balance your skimmers then you will have one skimmer that draws water really well and one skimmer that has very little draw. To equalize the flow you will need to use what is called a trimmer plate. The trimmer plate is located at the bottom of the skimmer and can be slid over the hole farthest from the pool at the bottom of the skimmer. The skimmer closest to the filter system will always draw more water than the far skimmer. So you would slide the trimmer plate over the hole farthest from the pool at the bottom of the skimmer closest to the pump about half to three quarters of the way over the opening, and you would make sure the far skimmer’s trimmer plate is not covering the hole at all. You would play with the position in the skimmer closest to the filter until you feel you have even flow. So you are probably wondering why there is a trimmer plate in the far skimmer. Clearly you are thinking about what is going on and that is excellent! I like that! The purpose for the trimmer plate in the far skimmer is for vacuuming the pool. When you vacuum the pool you usually use the skimmer closest to the pump and we need to block the flow of water into the far skimmer, so you would take the trimmer plate and slide it over the hole farthest from the pool blocking the flow of water from the skimmer and completely uncovering the hole in the skimmer closest to the pump.

Class is over it is time to hit the pool and have fun. Class dismissed!