We've done several posts on how to plumb an inground pool, connecting the skimmer and main drain pipes into the pump via a 3-way valve, and then returning the water to the pool via the wall returns.
Today's post is a bit different. I want to cover some of the smaller details of the pool plumbing process. Not just how, but when and why, too. These are details that apply not just to new plumbing, but for plumbing repairs.
Pool Plumbing Tools & Equipment
PVC Saws: A typical hacksaw will cut through PVC just fine. A sharp blade can cut twice as fast as a dull blade, and the blade should be tight within the saw frame (tighten the wing nut). But - if you have more than a couple of cuts to make, a reciprocating saw is the tool of choice.
Circular saws or grinders can be unsafe and should be avoided. A Jig Saw works well, or a Band Saw, if you happen to have one. When working in a tight space (underground or when pipes are close together), a Cable Saw can be used, which is basically picture hanging wire with two handles. The braided steel cable cuts surprisingly fast through PVC, but is best used only when needed.
PVC Tools: Sandpaper or Emory cloth is used to de-burr the edges of freshly cut PVC pipes. Sanding the edge avoids bits of PVC from scraping off the glue as the pipe is pushed into a fitting.
Another often used tool for pool plumbing is a pair of large Channel Lock® pliers, to turn fittings past hand tight. Medium to medium-large size is needed for 1.5" or 2" threaded fittings. A strap wrench can also be used, or a large pipe wrench can be gently used. Be careful not to overtighten PVC fittings, when tightening into a pump or filter valve - it could crack what you are screwing it into!
Pool Plumbing Sealants and Glues
Thread Sealants: When plumbing pool pumps, filters, heaters, etc - you will use threaded fittings, usually MIP (male internal pipe) threads, found on nipples or MTA's (male threaded adapters). You can glue threaded PVC fittings together, but you should never glue a fitting into a pump or filter.
Most pool guys use Teflon thread sealant, either Liquid or Tape. do not use Pipe Dope, that's for steel fittings. For extra sealing, you can spread a thin layer of silicone over the threads before wrapping it (several times) with Teflon tape. For high temperature threads, like on an old Cast Iron heat exchanger, use a High Temp silicone gasket maker.
PVC Glue: A medium body PVC cement is fine. Pool Tite is a brand that is made specifically for pool and spa plumbing, but I do not know if it's any better than any other brand, for pool plumbing. Just make sure that you use FRESH glue, and plenty of it. Keep a rag handy to wipe up any drips that run down vertical pipes.
Before gluing PVC pipe, use PVC primer to soften and heat up the pipe and fitting. Primer cleans the PVC surface and helps it meld together when glued. Cleaner also does some softening, but not as much as primer. When priming vertical pipes, wrap a rag around the pipe to catch any unsightly drips down the pipe, and scrub the surface of the pipe or fitting with the dauber. Wait 10-15 seconds after priming to glue the pipe, but do it quickly, before the chemical reaction cools and the pipe hardens again.
If you have questions about how to overcome a challenging pool plumbing problem, give us a call at 800-983-POOL, or send an email to [email protected] - we're happy to help!
SPP Pool Expert