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Hall Of Shame Pool Plumbing

This spectacular pool plumbing installation was destined for fame. If you were to ask me, prior to seeing this pool system, how many mistakes you could possibly make in a very simple pool plumbing system installation...I would have been wrong. This pool system has so many mistakes that it is almost impressive if it were not so ridiculously bad. How bad? This plumbing installation is so bad that it actually hurt my feelings.

This plumbing system looks like someone blew it up and then repaired it using only $5.00 and shopping exclusively from yard sales...like some sort of twisted reality TV meets pool plumbing hybrid reality TV series. What makes this system so exclusively terrible is that it is still running on the pool and the pool owner does not see the value in making changes to a system that is "not broken". While there is something to be said about fixing unbroken things, I think that we can all agree that this is as broken as they come while still able to potentially filter a little water. Since everyone is not a trained swimming pool plumber I will break down the video into sections to show just how terrible this plumbing installation is.

pipe material - Swimming pool pipes should be rigid PVC, potentially flex PVC (depending on who you ask), or HDPE pipe. Pretty much anything other than these examples is wrong for one reason or another. Most commonly, as seen in this video, ABS makes a suitable replacement since hardware stores carry 1.5" and 2" ABS where the schedule 40 PVC versions of these pipe sizes are less commonly found in hardware stores. ABS however is not suitable for use on a pool system as ABS is reactive to chlorine, and also ABS is not pressure rated. Since your pool system operates with chlorine, and at pressures up to 30 PSI, ABS is a very poor and short sighted choice for pool plumbing. A failure is inevitable. In addition to the ABS there are at least 6 or more different types of pipe and fitting materials being used on this system. Without a doubt the worst offender is the galvanized steel barbed union coupler that is installed on the pressure side of the system. As you can see in this video the rust has already started and will introduce metals into the pool system as well as potentially causing a blowout failure at some point in the future. If you would like more information on pipe material choices for swimming pool applications then you can read this article on pipe materials suitable for swimming pools.

pipe connections - There is most certainly a right way and a wrong way to make pipe connections for a pool system. These connections will be under dynamic pressure loads and if you use the wrong material, or the wrong connection method, or both, you are going to have a leak. In this pool plumbing installation not only do they choose the wrong materials to plumb the system with, but they also have failed to make sufficient pipe connections. Of minor note would be something like how the pipe clamps are used on barbed fittings. When you use pipe clamps you should always use two and the nut should be 180 degrees reversed so that the nuts are both on opposite sides of the pipe, but the nut is facing up on both clamps. This is often mistaken for simply rotating one clamp half of a turn, as this is not the same thing as having the clamps reversed as one of the nuts would be facing down if you only rotate the clamp. The poor quality of pipe clamps used on this system are hardly worth mentioning when you consider that they actually attempted to clamp rigid pipe onto a barbed fitting on the pressure side of the system. I can only assume they used a lot of heat before tightening the clamps, as evidenced elsewhere in the room, but I have to say that clamping rigid pipe onto barbed fittings was a new one for me...and I thought that I have seen it all by now. If you want to learn more about how to properly make pipe connections on a pool system you read this article about what materials to use for pool threaded connections and also this article about what do PVC glue colors indicate.

incorrect equipment installation - In addition to everything else that is wrong with this installation, the equipment itself is also installed in such a way that it will almost certainly fail early. The pump has very poor flow dynamics on the suction side from the elbow tight to the inlet, in addition to the flow resistance from the swiss cheese of a suction manifold. The big transgression is actually the fact that despite all of the deficiencies in this system, the pool has a brand new, huge, electric heat pump installed which is basically the most expensive piece of pool equipment that you can buy. Not only did they spend money on heat for the pool without first addressing the glaring problems with the system, but the heat pump is installed so poorly that it is likely to fail within only a few years time. With a salt system installed on this pool, and not check valve in between the heat pump and the salt cell, you can bet the chlorine generated by the cell will track backwards through the system and rot out the internals of the heat pump.

It is possible that this is not the worst pool plumbing installation out there, but this one certainly deserves an honorable mention. If you want to continue seeing examples of the worst swimming pool installations ever then you will find them all listed in the swimming pool hall of shame section.

Swimming Pool Steve

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