For most inground pool builders the equipment pad is almost a work of art. All the pipes are nice and straight, the valves are all aligned in a row, and every piece to the puzzle is easily accessible. Then there are the those that are just a total nightmare, with pipes leading in all directions, in all different angles - leaving the homeowner wondering what valve controls what.
When you build your own inground pool, designing your pump and filter layout is a small but significant task. The first thing to do is figure out where the equipment pad should be. Take into consideration the noise factor. When you are outside enjoying your pool you do not want to listen to the constant humming of the pool pump. Then think about being in the house with the windows open, again - silence is golden.
However, you do not want to put it too far away, so that it's inconvenient to check on it regularly. And, you will need to run power and pipes to the pad and the longer the distance from the main house electrical panel to your pool equipment sub-panel, the higher the electrician's cost. It also costs more to dig longer trenches and run extra plumbing to a distant location.
As for equipment pad size, generally you would want a 4 x 8 ft pad size. That would fit a pump, filter, heater, salt system and whatever else you may be using. If you are not using a heater or heat pump the pad could be smaller, say 3 x 5 ft.
When placing your pool equipment on the pad keep in mind that you will need to be able to access all of the items for general maintenance. do not squeeze everything into a small area that is impossible to access. Each piece of equipment will list recommended clearances in the installation guide. Pumps and heaters also need adequate ventilation, with large air space all around, and they do better without overhanging plants, trees or bushes.
Also, think about the possibility for flooding. Choose a spot, or construct a high enough pad that prevents this possibility. Rain and snow won't harm your equipment, but do not have a roof eave that drains directly onto the equipment. You can build a roof or structure over the equipment, although it's not usually necessary. Bob wrote a post all about building pool equipment sheds.
When you are running your plumbing lines from the pool to the pad try to keep the suction lines, (skimmer and main drain) on the pump side of your pad and bring up the return line(s) to the filter or heater side of the pad. This will make it much easier to line up your plumbing, for a better appearance.
Keep in mind when you're connecting your pool equipment - the fewer 90 degree elbows you use the better your flow will be. Plan out your arrangements to make the most direct route from the pump, to the filter, through the heater, and back to the return lines. Instead of using a lot of 90's, you could substitute sweep L’s or use two 45 degree fittings. That is one of the benefits of using flex pipe underground; fittings aren't usually necessary when you have to make a turn in the lines. Above the ground however, on the equipment pad - rigid pipe is used for a cleaner look and a stronger structure.
Valves or connections at the equipment should have some type of union connections. Two reasons for that is if you have to replace any equipment and also for winterizing your pool and blowing out the lines for winter.
For the electrical, you'll want a timer or an outdoor switch at the equipment pad to turn on and off the equipment for maintenance. This is useful when you have to empty the pump basket, backwash the filter and for other normal operations.
A separate switch for the pool light is also useful. Make sure you bring enough power to the pad to run all of your equipment. A 50 amp circuit would be enough for a pump, heater and pool light. If you have a booster pump, waterfall pump or heat pump, you'll need a 100 amp service panel.
When gluing pipes and fittings, use a separate cleaner for the pipe and then apply your PVC glue. I feel it works much better than a combo glue and cleaner. The same holds true for the PVC electrical conduit for the pool lights. For threaded fittings, I like to spread some pipe dope over the threads and then wrap the threads 3 times with Teflon tape, in a clockwise direction.
Spend a little extra time on your plumbing and your equipment pad, make it look good and have the ease to access all the equipment - you’ll be glad you did. You do not want to end up with a mess that you have to hide or have a layout that makes it hard to service or repair your pool equipment down the road.
For more information on swimming pool equipment pad design, see these related posts on the topic.
SPP Pool Expert