In-Floor Cleaning Systems

womanownedJanuary 25, 2013

I am curious about what you think of in-floor cleaning systems for your pool for those of you who have them. What brands do you like? Do you find they clean as well as you expected?

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First let me say that I do not own an in-floor system. However, the reason I am responding is because I have attempted to help many people with in-floor systems who were trying to reduce their energy costs. The problem with nearly all in-floor systems is that they require high pressure and flow rates to work properly and both of which require large pumps that use a lots of energy. So not only are in-floor systems expensive to install but they are also expensive to run. Some people care, other don't but I just like to make people aware of this aspect in case they do care about having an energy efficient swimming pool.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 4:55PM
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We put in a handfull of A&A infloor systems in the mid 90s and I maintain contact with 2 of those customers at present and they are happy. They were lower pressure systems with acrylic balls that floated around in the distrubuter valve to change zones. Both customers have had to rebuild the gear mechanisms and replace the heads.

In 99 we switched to caretaker because the equipment was under the pool and the A&A system wouldn't work under those conditions. We have done about 10 caretaker systems since then and rebuilt the valves and replaced the heads on three of those. Caretaker has a really good lifetime warranty program for parts.

I have personally laid out every infloor system we have done and wouldn't trust that to someone unless they had a lot of experience. Its a pain because it really slows down the job progress. We have never charged enough to make a profit if you factor in everything. Texas might be different because you have so many subs and there might be a plumbing sub you could trust it to. We do our plumbing in house so its like building a prototype for the 10th time.

Most of our customers are happy with a polaris.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 7:16PM
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womanowned....we're in Louisiana and have had our Paramount PV3 system since 2007..absolutely no problems with heads or the distrubutor valve.

That being said, we have it matched with a 2 speed pump and the floor cleaning heads and distrubutor valve only see 1.5 hours of high speed operation per day...the rest of their duty is at low speed which does a surprisingly good job of cleaning throughout the day.

Most of our debris is leaves, so that may make a big difference on effectiveness of the floor system.

From talking with Paramount, they said leaves are the easiest to clean and sand is the hardest.

Agree with renovxpt....follow the engineered drawings provided by the floor system manufacturer. I checked and double checked the head position to the print before gunite and had the plumber make adjustments accordingly.

For efficiency conscious customers, place the distributor valve as close as possible to pool and run large pipe to it from the pump. After the distributor, only 2 inch pipe can be used, so the shorter the runs after the valve, the better.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 1:31AM
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Thanks everybody for your feedback. Good stuff!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 10:35PM
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I also encourage not using flex PVC anywhere. Floor systems tend to have some significant pressure in the pipe that causes flex to expand and contract.

Most concrete pools have gravel under them. The expanding and contracting will cause an impingement. I've seen it too many times.

Most floor systems have several heads per zone. Finding the one that leaks now gets that much harder to find and fix. Using hard pipe will go a BIG way towards preventing this from happening.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:20AM
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I have an almost 3 year old PV3 system. I run the system 2 hours a day 3 days a week. For the few weeks a year when leaves are falling heavily, I run it 2 hours a day 7 days a week. I have it hooked up to it's own single speed pump.

trhought, I'm interested in how your system performs at low speed on your 2 speed pump? Do you use this mode more for just better circulation?

I get a small amount of dirt year round and leaves in the fall and winter. The leaves are handled within a few days very well by the PV3 system. The dirt is mostly cleaned up but I usually accumulate some dirt in one section of the pool that I have to manually vacuum every 2 months or so. It's hard to see though with my wetedge primera stone black kona finish.

The system itself has operated well. The pause/run selector on the port has developed a minor leak and the pressure gauge has moisture inside it and needs a gentle tap to get it to read properly. I've had two caps on the heads that have cracked and kept popping off but my pool builder generously gave me the tool to remove the heads and plenty of extra caps to fix that problem.

My wife was adamant about avoiding the creepy crawly cleaners and so that combined with the mostly successful performance of this PV3 installation was a win for me.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 1:10PM
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mudn...yes, my experience is pretty much the same as yours as far as dirt/sand accumulating in one area in our deep end. I vacuum it about once every 2-3 months also. Since it's in the deep end, no one ever notices it except me.

The shallow areas are always spotless which is good because these areas are the most visible.

Now that you mention it, I did replace the pressure gauge on the port a few years ago. The new one seems to be better quality than the original, as I remember having problems with the original gauge after only a few months.

We have not had any problems with cracked caps or anything else with the cleaning system.

We use low speed mostly to get the proper amount of run hours for chlorine generation via our salt water system. The longer run hours also helps with turning and filtering the pool.

Having said that, the main reason we have a 2 speed is to save lots of energy and lower our monthly electricity bill.

Low speed uses about 1/4 of the power as high speed while delivering about half the flow. The half flow still does an adequate job with cleaning leaves while the 1.5 hours of high speed each day takes care of the smaller dirt/sand.

In addition to the low-speed benefits mentioned above, the low speed pressure is about 7 psi at the port rather than 20 psi during high speed. This lower pressure is probably easier on the port and the entire cleaning system because of the lower stresses during operation at low speed.

Another benefit I've noticed by running the system at low speed every day is the constant movement of leaves on the bottom of the pool while it's cleaning. This constant movement eliminates leaf stains that our neighbors, without floor cleaning systems, complain about this time of year.

Clearly, we are happy with our floor system and agree, it's nice looking out the back windows and enjoying the natural beauty of the pool without seeing hoses and creepy crawly cleaners.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 1:23PM
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We do in-floor systems on almost every pool...we are a vinyl builder and we use the Vanquish system from Paramount. We have been installing them for roughly 10 years and while we have replaced a couple gear boxes issues are minimal.

It takes planning and good plumbing skills to get these to work perfectly.

We use all rigid 2" pvc with NO 90 degree elbows....only 45's.

We also now use Pentair intelliflo variable speed pumps on all pools and even in lower rpm settings it moves debris very well. WE program 1-2 1hour cleaning cycles on high speed and the system cranks.

So as far as energy consumption with variable speed pumps and correct plumbing I do not see an issue.

Also if you have a heater it helps heat the pool from teh bottom up thus heating the water more efficiently.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 1:54PM
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Lori B

Sorry for the ignorance -- do the in-floor cleaning systems really help with leaves and such? We got 2 different answers from 2 different PBs if it would help us. Looking at a chlorine pool 18x34 in an older neighborhood with quite a few mature trees nearby. One PB likes the Paramount cleaning system. DH thinks the designer must get a huge commission for selling it as it has been mentioned several times. So, of course, he thinks they are just trying to "up sell". Another PB said it wouldn't help us that much.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 6:33PM
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Lori B

Just found these statements on the Paramount site. Are these really valid statements or glamourous marketing fluff??

1) PCC2000 is a systematic approach to permanent pool cleaning and circulation that will save you time and money through reduced chemical and heating costs.

2) Reduces Your Maintenance Costs! Your pools environment will have a large impact on maintenance costs, and the PCC2000 can really make a difference.

3) Paramount's PCC2000 enhances your pool invisibly, it keeps your backyard pool clean, automatically without your time and labor.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 7:02PM
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In a house we sold last year we had a Paramount in-floor (I believe it was a PCC2000) cleaner installed in a new pool by a very reputable builder in 1998. The first 5 years I thought it was the best thing ever. PB said it needed to be run 10 hrs a day to clean properly, and that is what I did for quite some time. Later on I got more concerned about the energy usage and the pump - never could get below about 6 hrs per day and keep things clean.

Each of what I call the "sequencer" units last about 3 years. Our system had 2 and replacement cost is $267 each. Figure $600 every 3--4 years to replace.

The heads are moving parts, and they wear out after 8-10+ years. There is a lifetime warranty on the part, not the labor. So you still need to pay someone to come out every time heads fail. Even though the heads all really need replacing they still only want to replace the ones that flat don't work. They usually "clean" other heads which work for 2-6 weeks and need "cleaning" again. The heads are pvc(?) and gradually wear out. To work, each head must settle down after it gets it's sequence and in the process make a 1/4 turn. It really got to be a drag messing with heads and the warranty process.

As far as the energy costs - I had to run the in-floor quite a bit to get things clean, even 98% clean. 98% sounds very clean but in reality when the walls are included it is a big spot that never gets clean. My neighbor with his Polaris 280 always had a spotless pool and seemed to barely run the cleaner. I give it thumbs down on energy.

Chlorine and heat distribution - this is where the in-floor really shines, A+.

No hoses or equipment in the pool - this is also a plus with in-floor.

Overall based on my experience the initial cost, additional energy cost, and similar if not inferior cleaning of the in-floor are not worth it.

If anyone asked me in the first five years of ownership about the in-floor I said it was the best thing ever. Now, I'm not sold on the benefits. If I did get an in-floor cleaner I sure would have my pool plumbed for a pressure-side cleaner as a backup.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 9:49PM
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