How Does Swimming Pool Plumbing Work

Overview of Swimming Pool Plumbing

Definition of swimming pool plumbing

Swimming pool plumbing refers to the intricate network of pipes, fittings, and valves that work together to circulate water in a swimming pool. It is responsible for maintaining proper water circulation, filtration, and cleaning.

Importance of understanding how swimming pool plumbing works

Understanding how swimming pool plumbing works is crucial for both pool owners and professionals involved in the installation and maintenance of pools. Proper knowledge allows for efficient operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting when issues arise.

Components of Swimming Pool Plumbing

Main drain

  1. Function: The main drain serves as an essential component in removing debris from the bottom surface of the pool.
  2. Location and installation: The main drain is typically located at the deepest point in the pool’s floor. It should be installed with anti-vortex covers to prevent entrapment hazards.


  1. Purpose: Skimmers play a vital role in collecting floating debris such as leaves, insects, and other contaminants from the surface area.
  2. Placement and installation: Skimmers are strategically placed around the edges of the swimming pool so that they can effectively skim off debris using their built-in baskets.

Return lines

  1. Role: Return lines distribute filtered water back into the swimming pool after it has gone through various stages of treatment.
  2. Installation and positioning: Return lines are positioned on opposite sides or ends of a swimming pool to ensure even distribution throughout its entirety.

Pump and filter system

1.Function:The pump draws water from various intake points (such as skimmers) before sending it through filters that remove impurities.
2.Types:The types include single-speed pumps which operate at a constant speed; variable-speed pumps offer flexibility regarding flow rates; dual-speed pumps provide two preset speeds suitable for different needs.
3.Installation:Maintenance involves periodic cleaning or replacement oof filters along with ensuring proper functioning by checking pressure gauges and lubricating pump motors.

Valves and plumbing fittings

  1. Importance: Valves and plumbing fittings allow for the control of water flow, redirecting it to different parts of the swimming pool system.
  2. Types: Different types include 3-way Jandy Valve, check valve, gate valve among others.
  3. Proper installation and maintenance: Correct installation ensures smooth operation while regular maintenance involves checking for leaks or wear in valves/fittings, replacing damaged components as needed.

Water Circulation in Swimming Pool Plumbing

Flow of water in a swimming pool plumbing system

1.Explanation:The water circulation process begins with suction lines that draw water into the filtration system through skimmers/main drain; next, it is pumped through filters removing debris/impurities before being returned to the pool via return jets.
2.Role of pump: The pump generates sufficient pressure to push the water through pipes efficiently.

Filtration and cleaning of pool water

1.Function:The filter removes impurities such as dirt, leaves, hair particles ensuring clean/pure swimming experience by trapping them within its medium (e.g., sand/cartridge/diatomaceous earth).
2.Use of chemicals & cleaning equipment:Maintaining proper chemical balance using treatments like chlorine/bromine along with vacuuming/cleaning tools helps keep the poolwater safe from harmful bacteria/algae buildup.

Importance of proper water circulation for pool hygiene and clarity

1.Prevention/stagnantwater algae growth:Adequate circulation prevents stagnant areas where algae can thrive,resultingin healthierand cleanerpool environment.
2.Benefitsforefficientcirculationforswimmer’shealth:Circulatingthe waters evenly allowsfor optimaldisinfectionwhilealso maintainingproper distributionofchemicals throughoutthepool,reducing theriskofillness/infectionto swimmers.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting of Swimming Pool Plumbing

Regular maintenance tasks for swimming pool plumbing

1.Cleaning and inspecting skimmers/main drain: Regularly removing debris from skimmer baskets/main drain covers helps maintain proper flow.
2.Checking and replacing filters/valves: Filters should be cleaned/replaced regularly to ensure optimal filtration, while valves/fittings should be inspected for leaks or wear.

Common issues and troubleshooting techniques

1.Identifying and fixing leaks in the plumbing system: Visual inspection of pipes/connections is essential. Repair can involve sealing with appropriate adhesive/tape or replacement if necessary.
2.Addressing low water pressure or flow problems: Issues such as clogged filters/pipes, pump malfunction, or valve restrictions may cause reduced water pressure; these require troubleshooting to identify specific causes before addressing them.

Importance of professional assistance for complex plumbing issues

1.When to seek professional help: For complex problems like major pipe repairs/replacements involving digging/excavation around the pool area, it’s best to consult a licensed pool plumber.
2.Hiring a qualified pool plumber for repairs/maintenance ensures proper diagnosis/treatment avoiding potential costly mistakes.


Recap of key points discussed in the article:

  • Swimming pool plumbing involves an intricate network of pipes, fittings, valves responsible for maintaining proper water circulation in pools.
  • Components include main drains, skimmers, return lines, pump/filter systems,valves/plumbing fittings that must be installed correctly and maintained regularly.
  • Proper water circulation is vital for maintaining hygienic conditions in pools,promoting swimmers’ health,and preventing algae growth/stagnantwater areas.
    -Regular maintenance tasks include cleaning/checking equipment/components within the plumbing system,tackling common issues like leaks/low water pressure when they arise. Professional assistance is advisedforcomplexissuesor majorrepairs.


Swimming Pools: Structures designed for swimming or recreational purposes that contain water.

Pool Pump: A device that circulates water through the pool plumbing system, allowing for filtration and chemical treatment.

Schedule: Refers to the thickness of PVC pipes used in pool plumbing. Common schedules include Schedule 40 and Schedule 80.

Pool Plumbing: The network of pipes, fittings, and valves that distribute water throughout a swimming pool system.

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Pool Walls: The vertical surfaces surrounding a swimming pool that hold the water in place.

Threaded Fittings: Connectors with screw threads on their interior or exterior surface, used to join sections of pipe together securely.

Glues: Adhesives specifically designed for bonding PVC pipe joints together during installation or repairs.

Water Features: Additional elements such as fountains, waterfalls, or jets added to enhance the aesthetics or functionality of a swimming pool’s design.

Piece/Pieces (of equipment): Individual components within the pool plumbing system like pumps, filters, heaters, etc., which work together to maintain proper circulation and cleanliness of the water.

Surfaces (of pipes): The outer layer or covering material of plumbing pipes used in swimming pools. Common types include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and black polyethylene (Black Poly).

Common Types/Types of Pipe/Piping Options/Plumbing Pipes/Plastic Pipes/Copper Piping/Stainless Steel Clamps/Flexible Pipe/Rigid Pipe/Flex Pipe/Rigid PVC Pipe/Flexible PVC Pipe:

  • PVC Pipes: Most commonly used type due to its affordability and chemical resistance.
  • Black Poly Pipe: Flexible pipe often used for underground applications due to its durability.
  • Copper Piping: Used less frequently but offers excellent heat conductivity.
  • Stainless Steel Clamps/Joint Stick/Pressure Stick/Vacuum Port Clamps/Double Clamp:
  • Used for securing connections between different pieces/parts of pipe systems.
  • Provide cost savings by eliminating the need for additional fittings or adhesives.

Return Pipes: Plumbing lines that carry filtered and treated water back into the swimming pool.

Inches (of pipe): Measurement unit used to indicate the diameter of pipes, typically ranging from 1/2 inch to several inches in size.

Ground Movement: The shifting or settling of soil beneath a swimming pool, which can affect the stability and integrity of plumbing lines if not accounted for during installation.

Pool Equipment: Various devices and machinery used in maintaining a functioning swimming pool system, such as pumps, filters, heaters, etc.

Pool Filter: A device that removes debris and impurities from the water by passing it through a porous material or media bed. Ensures clean water circulation.

Inground Pool: A type of swimming pool installed below ground level. It requires specific plumbing configurations designed for permanent fixtures.

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Pool Builders/Pool Installers/Professional Pool Plumbers/Inground Pool Builders:
– Professionals who specialize in constructing and installing inground pools.
– They are knowledgeable about proper plumbing practices related to these types of pools.
– Can provide guidance on choosing appropriate equipment and ensuring efficient operation.

Suction Pipes/Swimming Pool Applications/Wall Returns/Vacuum Hose/Tee Fitting/Jandy 3-Way Valve:

  • Suction Pipes: Plumbing lines responsible for drawing water into filtration systems via suction created by pump operation.
  • Swimming Pool Applications: Specific considerations regarding materials selection and installation techniques when designing plumbing systems specifically for swimming pools.
  • Wall Returns/Vacuum Port/Fittings/Tee Fitting/Jandy 3-Way Valve:
    • Components within the pool plumbing system used to redirect or regulate flow based on desired outcomes like jet placement or vacuuming needs.
    • Allow adjustment between different positions/pathways using valves or specialized fittings/connectors.

Pressure Relief Valve/Flow Meter/Costly Repairs/Air Leaks/Proper Maintenance/
Chemical Treatments/Chemical Levels:

  • Pressure Relief Valve: A safety feature that releases excess pressure from the plumbing system to prevent damage or ruptures.
  • Flow Meter: A device used to measure the flow rate of water within the pool plumbing system.
  • Costly Repairs/Air Leaks:
    • Maintenance issues that can arise due to poor installation, wear and tear, or lack of proper upkeep.
    • Can lead to increased operating costs and potentially unsafe conditions for swimmers.

Proper Maintenance/Professional Plumber:
– Regular care and inspections performed on pool plumbing systems by qualified individuals.
– Engaging a professional plumber ensures correct diagnosis, repair, and maintenance practices are followed.

Robotic Cleaner/Automatic Pool/Poor Circulation/Proper Circulation/Clean Water/
Water Loss/Dirty Water/Harsh Water/Safe Pool Water:

  • Robotic Cleaner/Automatic Pool:
  • Devices designed to autonomously clean pools by navigating surfaces while removing debris from the water. They often connect directly into the pool’s filtration system.
  • Systems with built-in automation features that control various aspects like filtration cycles, chemical treatments, etc., reducing manual effort required for maintaining optimal conditions.

Poor Circulation/Proper Circulation/Clean Water/Water Loss/Dirty Water/Harsh Water/Safe Pool
– Poor Circulation: Inadequate movement of water through the pool plumbing system resulting in improper filtration and distribution of chemicals throughout the pool. It can lead to dirty or unbalanced water quality.

Proper circulation refers to efficient flow patterns achieved via well-designed plumbing layouts facilitating even distribution of chemically treated & filtered water across all areas/parts/features of a swimming pool (including returns).

Clean Water: Desired outcome achieved through proper operation & maintenance where unwanted debris is effectively removed/filtrated ensuring clear/sanitized condition.

Dirty/Murky/Turbid Water: Undesired outcome indicating presence of suspended/particulate matter, bacteria, or inadequate sanitation levels.

Harsh Water: Refers to water conditions with excessive chemical content (e.g., high chlorine levels) that may cause discomfort or irritation to swimmers.

Safe Pool Water: A well-maintained swimming pool environment where the water quality meets established health and safety standards.

Drain Pool Leak/Pool Automation/Pool Cleaner/Pool Filtration Equipment/
Professional Pool Plumbing Repair:

  • Drain Pool Leak:
  • A plumbing issue occurring when water from a swimming pool escapes through a leak in the drainage system.
  • Requires repair by a professional plumber specializing in pool plumbing systems.

  • Pool Automation: The use of technology and control systems to automate various functions within the pool, including filtration cycles, temperature regulation, chemical dosing, etc.

  • Pool Cleaner: A device or tool used to remove debris and dirt from the surfaces and bottom of a swimming pool. It can be manual (operated by an individual) or automatic (robotic).

  • Professional Pool Plumbing Repair/Maintenance:

  • Specialized services provided by professionals who are trained in diagnosing and resolving issues related specifically to swimming pools’ plumbing systems.

Regular Pool Plumbing Maintenance/Clean Water/Energy Consumption/Temperature
of Pool Water:

  • Regular maintenance performed on the entire plumbing system ensures proper functioning and extends its lifespan.

  • Clean water is achieved through regular maintenance practices such as cleaning filters regularly, removing debris from skimmers/baskets & maintaining appropriate chemical balance.

Energy Consumption refers to power usage associated with operating equipment like pumps/filters/heaters/blowers/vacuums/etc., which impact overall utility bills/costs for running/maintaining your swimming pools.

Temperature of pool water is crucial for comfortable/swim-friendly environments requiring regulated heating during colder climates via dedicated heaters/water circulation systems.

Assorted Schedule/Excess Glue/PVC Glues/Chemical Resistance:
– Assorted Schedule: A range of PVC pipes with varying thicknesses (schedule), allowing for flexibility in plumbing design based on the specific needs of each section or feature.

  • Excess Glue/PVC Glues: Refers to unnecessary or surplus adhesive applied during pipe joints, which can create unsightly appearance and may cause interference/blockage issues if not carefully managed.

  • Chemical Resistance: The ability of a material (in this case, PVC) to withstand exposure to various chemicals used in pool water treatment without degradation or failure.

Underground Piping/Wall Return Fitting/Joint Stick/Flexible Pipe Surface Soil Slip:

  • Underground Piping refers to sections of the pool plumbing system that are buried beneath the ground’s surface for aesthetic reasons or protection against damage. Proper installation techniques should be followed.

  • Wall Return Fitting is a specialized fitting placed within the walls/surfaces near/at waterline level where filtered/treated water is released back into swimming pools via strategically positioned nozzles/jets/fittings etc.

  • Joint Stick/Angled PVC Insert Fittings/Tee Fitting/Low Angle Tee Connector:

    • These fittings help establish secure connections between different pieces/parts/features of pipe systems at desired angles and locations such as bends, tees, etc., providing more flexible design options.

Surface Level/Surface Soil Slip/Barbed Fitting/Copper Piping Connection
Fittings/Ultra-Lok Barb Elbow/Rigid Schedule:

  • Surface Level/Surface Soil Slip refers to areas where underground piping comes closer/closer-to-the-surface causing soil slippage which might lead structural damage/movement instability impacting overall performance/integrity over time.

Barbed fitting / Copper piping connection fittings / Ultra-Lok Barb Elbow : These types enable effective joining/securing of copper pipes or flexible tubes in various applications like swimming pool plumbing systems.

Rigid Schedule: Refers to the thicker-walled PVC pipes with a higher pressure rating (schedule), commonly used for main/primary sections of plumbing lines requiring robustness/strength.

Typical Vacuum Port/Vacuum Hose/Flow Meter/Temperature of Pool Water:

  • Typical Vacuum Port: A designated connection point within the pool plumbing system that allows for the attachment of a vacuum hose, enabling effective cleaning and removal of debris from the pool’s surfaces and bottom.

  • Flow Meter: A device used to measure and monitor water flow rates through specific parts/features/equipment/systems within a swimming pool’s overall circulation/plumbing network.

Sealant Tape/Measuring Tape/Sharp Blade/Clean Water/Water Loss:
– Sealant tape is often utilized during installation/maintenance jobs to provide added security/sealing at pipe joints. It helps prevent/minimize leaks due to threading/connection gaps.

  • Measuring tape aids accurate measurement & alignment required when installing/sizing components/fixtures/piping accurately on site.

  • Sharp blade may be required while working with materials such as PVC pipes or sealant tapes where clean/smooth cuts are essential in joining pieces together properly/firmly.

    • Clean water indicates well-maintained conditions ensuring optimal performance/hygiene levels throughout usage.

    • Water loss refers to any reduction in volume due to leaks, evaporation, or other factors causing undesirable imbalance/challenges related-cost/increased utility bills/water conservation needs etc.

This glossary provides definitions for terms related to swimming pool plumbing and aims to enhance understanding regarding how these systems function.

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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