Swimming Pool Blog
by Rob Cox January 15, 2019
ELEVATING POOL FILTER SYSTEMS
Image by Pool and Spa News, from "Hurricane Harvey Sparks Interest in Elevated Equipment Pads" May 14, 2018
Recently there has been a lot of interest in elevated pool equipment pads, to protect pumps, filters and heaters from storm surges on the coastline, or flooding from nearby rivers, or excessive rain events. And in protecting pool equipment from flood damage, you may also protect pool owners from electrocution.
Storm surges are floods that come in from the ocean, whipped up by hurricane force winds or at times from underground seismic activity. Storm surges of as little as five (5) feet can have a devastating effect to coastal swimming pools, as it was on the night of Sept. 13, 2018, when Hurricane Florence surged ashore in Wrightsville, North Carolina, raising the ocean nearly ten feet its normal levels.
And you may also remember that during Hurricane Florence last fall, areas of coastal North Carolina received nearly 36" of rain within a four day period (in addition to the storm surge that came ashore!). Swimming pools were filled with mud, and thousands of swimming pool pumps and heaters suffered irreversible damage.
How High for Pool Equipment Platforms?
If your pool equipment and pool is located in a designated 'Flood Plain' or is within coastal waterways, there may already be some guidance on how high pool equipment should be - above the base flood elevation, or anticipated rise of water. In most states, such matters are assigned to a Floodplain Management Office, which sets the expectations so that pool equipment is safe from flooding, and pool owners safe from electrocution.
In-ground pool pumps are commonly 'self-priming', which means that they can create enough suction to lift water vertically, as much as ten (10) feet in most cases. However, when pumps are more than a few feet above the pool water level, it can become easy to develop pool priming issues. Small air leaks on the pool equipment that can cause the system to drain down, or draw air instead of water.
Check valves are used effectively however, to keep pool water in the pipes, instead of allowing it to run downhill, through the pump and back to the pool. Check Valves are one-way flow valves that can be placed in front of the pump, or down near ground level on a raised system, to trap water inside the pump, in front of the pump, for easy pump priming.
In Houston, a town known for flooding during hurricane events, new legislation requires houses to be built at least one (1) foot above the 100-year floodplain elevation. Many builders are also raising equipment another foot, building elevated platforms of 2-3 feet above the surrounding ground.
What is Needed to Elevate Pool & Spa Equipment?
Raising your pool pump and filter is a lot easier than moving your pool equipment to another location in the yard. In many cases, you just need PVC fittings and sections of PVC pipe, to extend the pipes from where they are now, to a new level, several feet higher than before. If you are equally lucky, your pool pump wiring harness, usually a flexible conduit, will retrofit to the new height without lengthening or rewiring the pump.
You will need to use a check valve on the incoming pipes (skimmer and/or main drain), to keep the water in the system when the pump shuts off. Jandy style check valves are the standard, and Waterway's new style Check Valve allows faster access should you need to open up for clearing a clog or to reverse the valve when winterizing a main drain line. Check valves like these accept pipe sizes from 1.5" to 2.5", and can be used with a 1.5" - 2" reducer bushing.
Build a pool equipment platform too high, and servicing the equipment may be difficult or hazardous. A full-on deck can be constructed of heavy timbers, with stairs and guard rails, or give some thought to access for repairs and regular maintenance. Wide and safe steps can be built to perform service and equipment replacement tasks.
Methods to Elevate Pool & Spa Equipment
- Nudge the platform to touch the pipes, and if possible attach the pipes to the platform with plumber's strapping, to provide vertical support to pipes. Rebar stakes can also be inserted into the ground alongside the pipes, and lashed to the pipe.
- Provide several footholds or intuitive ways to climb up higher if needed, so that service persons won't step on the pipes or accidentally knock into pipes and valves.
- Keep in mind that taller and thinner platforms may succumb to tilt and creep over time, especially supporting heavy equipment. Over-build an elevated pool equipment platform to prevent movement.
If you have any questions on raising your pool equipment platform, send me an email!