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Pool Plumbing Basics: A Beginner’s Guide (Pool Plumbing 101)

What better way to beat the heat than by taking a refreshing dip in your very own pool? If you’re a newbie to the world of pool ownership, you might be wondering, “How does all this plumbing stuff work, and how can I keep the good times flowing?”

Well, we’ve got you covered! Our Pool Plumbing Basics Guide will be your ticket to unlocking the secrets of pool plumbing to ensure the summer fun never ends! So grab your sunscreen, put on your favorite swimsuit, and let’s jump right in! 

Why Pool Plumbing Matters?

Just like our arteries keep us alive and kicking, pool plumbing is the lifeline of your aquatic oasis! Think about it: you wouldn’t function without your heart and veins pumping life-sustaining blood. Similarly, a pool without plumbing is like a body without arteries – lifeless and motionless.

Pool plumbing ensures that water circulates, filters out impurities, and keeps the pool’s heartbeat steady. From the pool pump acting as its heart to the filtration system as its purification organs, each component plays a vital role in maintaining pool health. And here’s the fun part: understanding this plumbing magic can make your poolside experience even more epic.

Swimming Pool Plumbing Diagram

If you’re a pool newbie to pool plumbing, this carefully crafted diagram will help you understand all the essential plumbing components orchestrating the underwater flow of your swimming pool.

High Definition Pool Plumbing Diagram

Pool Plumbing Components

From the pool pump, to the filters, every piece plays a vital part in your pool’s circulation and health. No pool plumbing piece is more important than the other. Every piece plays a critical role in keeping water flowing in and out of your swimming pool, which in return keeps your water clean, swimmable, and healthy. Understanding these components will not only make you a pool pro but also ensure your swimming experience remains refreshingly smooth.


In the fascinating world of pool plumbing, there’s a real unsung hero – the Pool Skimmer. Imagine it as your pool’s dedicated cleanup crew, always on duty to keep things looking their best. 

The pool skimmer has a specific spot in your pool plumbing setup, and it’s there for a crucial reason.

Pool Skimmer

So, why does the pool skimmer matter so much for pool circulation? Well, it’s like a guardian that intercepts leaves, bugs, and random floaters before they make themselves too comfortable in your pool. By doing this, it prevents your pool’s circulation system – including pumps and filters – from getting clogged or overwhelmed. The skimmer is connected to suction lines, which connect to the pool pump!

Things to note: 

  • Depending on your pool size, you may have more than one skimmer.
  • The skimmer has a basket that collects larger debris like twigs, leaves, bugs, and sometimes even frogs from entering the plumbing lines.
  • Some skimmers have doors that swing, serving as an extra layer of protection. This door is called a weir or floating weir.

Pool Pump

The Pool Pump is like the beating heart of your pool’s circulatory system, tirelessly working behind the scenes to keep your water sparkling clean and inviting.

The pool pump occupies a vital spot in your pool plumbing setup, and its role is nothing short of crucial. It’s the powerhouse that takes water from your pool, (through the suction lines), pumps it through the filtration system, and then sends it back to the pool all fresh, cleansed, and rejuvenated. 

Things to note: 

  • Never let your pump run dry or with low water, this can permanently damage your pool pump. To avoid this, ensure that your pool’s water level is high enough to continually enter the skimmer!
  • Florida Code 515.29Residential Swimming Pool Barrier Requirements: Residential pool pump motors within the circulatory system (connected to your filter) that have a rating of 1 HP or higher should be upgraded to either variable-speed or two-speed motors when replaced. 

Suction Lines

Suction lines in a swimming pool are the plumbing pipes and fittings responsible for drawing water from the pool into the pool’s circulation system. Suction lines are typically connected to various components, such as the pool skimmer and main drain, which help remove debris and water from the pool. The water drawn through the suction lines is then sent to the pool pump and filtration system, where it is cleaned and treated before being returned to the pool. Suction lines are an integral part of a pool’s plumbing system, ensuring proper water circulation and filtration.


Think of a filter as a giant strainer or sieve that traps all the tiny particles you don’t want in your pool, like dirt, leaves, and even microscopic stuff you can’t see.

Here’s how it works: The pool pump sucks water from the pool and sends it through the filter. Inside the filter, there’s a special material, often sand or cartridges, that catches all the yucky stuff. Clean, filtered water then goes back into the pool, making it sparkly and enjoyable.

So, in a nutshell, the pool filter is your pool’s cleaning buddy, making sure your swimming experience is crystal clear and safe. Without it, your pool would quickly turn into a murky mess.

Return Lines

Return lines in a pool are like friendly jets that send clean and treated water back into the pool after it has been through the filtration and treatment process. They’re responsible for distributing the refreshed water evenly throughout the pool, making sure it stays clean and well-mixed. This not only keeps the water looking inviting but also ensures chemicals, like chlorine, are evenly distributed for proper sanitation.


Also known as “Jets” or “Return Jets”, a “return” in a pool is an opening or nozzle built into the pool’s plumbing system that sends treated and filtered water back into the pool.

Pool Return Jets

Here’s how it works: The pool pump pulls water from the pool through the suction lines, then it goes through the filtration and treatment processes. Once the water is all nice and clean, the return jets send it back into the pool. Think of it as a way to evenly distribute the refreshed water, making sure the pool water stays crystal clear and sanitized.

Main Drain

In the deep end, Every inground swimming pool has a main drain at the bottom. A “main drain” in a pool plays a vital role in keeping the water clean and balanced. It’s a special opening designed to help with water circulation.

Pool Main Drain

Here’s what it does: The main drain sucks in water from the bottom of the pool and sends it through the pool’s plumbing system. This helps mix the water, making sure chemicals like chlorine are evenly distributed. It also helps in pulling down debris that might have settled on the pool floor, sending it to the filtration system for cleaning.


You may not have given it much thought, but water is an essential component of pool plumbing! Without the water, there would be no circulation. Think of swimming pool water functioning like the blood in your veins. Without blood, your heart would have nothing to circulate. It’s the same with pool plumbing, without water, there is nothing your pool pump can circulate or filter. 

Keeping your water at healthy levels protects your pool equipment from getting damaged. Too little water and your pump may run dry, causing damage to your plumbing system. Too much water can lead to excessive pressure on pool components and inefficient filtration.

Keep an eye on your water level to make sure it stays at the right levels all the time. If you live in hot areas such as Florida, Pool Water Level Automation Systems help keep water in optimal levels so you don’t have to worry about it!

Important Note: Never fully drain your pool. Removing all the water from your pool can cause all kinds of damage, from line cracks, to the entire pool popping out of the ground, these damages can cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix, and can even lead to shutting down your pool for good. 

Hire Sublime Pools & Spa for All of Your Pool Plumbing Needs!

Sublime Pools & Spa is a leading pool renovation and maintenance company in the heart of South Florida. Our pool certified professionals can help you with any project of any size, whether commercial or residential! Contact one of your pool professionals to see how we can help you with any plumbing issues you may experience! 

Pool Plumbing FAQ

How deep should pool pipes be buried?

Minimum Depth: In many areas, the minimum recommended depth for burying pool pipes is 18 inches (approximately 45 centimeters). This depth provides adequate protection from surface activities and prevents accidental damage.

Pool pipes, such as PVC plumbing pipes, should be buried at an appropriate depth to ensure they are protected from damage and to comply with local building codes and regulations. 

Is schedule 40 or 80 PVC for pools?

Schedule 40 PVC is typically used for residential pool plumbing. It is sufficient for most pool plumbing needs and is more cost-effective compared to Schedule 80 PVC, which is thicker and often used in applications requiring extra durability and strength, but it is less common for standard pool plumbing.

How long do inground pool pipes last?

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes are commonly used for pool plumbing. When properly installed and maintained, PVC pipes can last for several decades. They are resistant to corrosion and degradation, making them a durable choice.

What type of pipe is used for pool plumbing?

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe is commonly used for pool plumbing.

What is the best plumbing for an inground pool?

For in-ground pools, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is the most commonly used and recommended plumbing material. PVC pipes are durable, resistant to corrosion, and suitable for a wide range of pool plumbing applications. They are an excellent choice for both residential and commercial in-ground pools.

Is pool plumbing different for an inground pool VS an above ground pool?

Yes, pool plumbing can differ for in-ground pools compared to above-ground pools. In-ground pools typically have more complex plumbing systems due to their size and design. They often require larger pipes, multiple skimmers, main drains, and additional equipment like heaters and automatic pool cleaners. 

Above-ground pools tend to have simpler plumbing systems, often consisting of smaller pipes and fewer components. The specific plumbing requirements will vary depending on the type, size, and features of the pool, but the fundamental principles of water circulation and filtration apply to both types of pools.

Is flexible PVC OK for pools?

Flexible PVC, often referred to as “flex PVC” or “spa flex,” can be used in some pool plumbing applications, but it’s not typically used for the main plumbing lines of the pool. Instead, it is more commonly used for shorter runs, connections, or in situations where flexibility is required, such as connecting pool equipment like pumps and filters.

Rigid PVC (Schedule 40 or 80) is generally preferred for the primary plumbing lines of the pool because of its durability, resistance to corrosion, and ability to maintain water flow efficiently over long distances. Flexible PVC can be a suitable choice for specific scenarios within the pool plumbing system, but it’s essential to follow local building codes and manufacturer recommendations when selecting and installing plumbing materials for your pool.

Can I use regular PVC cement for pool plumbing?

Regular PVC cement can be used for pool plumbing, but it’s crucial to ensure that it is labeled as suitable for use with PVC pipe in swimming pool applications. There are specific types of PVC cement designed for pool and spa use, which are formulated to withstand the chemicals and conditions commonly found in pool plumbing systems.

When selecting PVC cement for your pool plumbing project, check the product label to ensure it is compatible with PVC pipes and suitable for use in pool applications. Using the right type of cement will help create secure and leak-free connections in your pool plumbing system, ensuring its proper functioning and longevity. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the cement you choose to use.

How much PSI can schedule 80 PVC handle?

Schedule 80 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe is known for its increased thickness and strength compared to Schedule 40 PVC. It is designed to handle higher pressure applications. Generally, Schedule 80 PVC can handle pressures of around 250 to 280 pounds per square inch (PSI) at room temperature.

However, it’s essential to note that the maximum PSI capacity of Schedule 80 PVC can vary depending on factors such as pipe size, temperature, and the specific application. It’s crucial to consult the manufacturer’s specifications and guidelines for the specific Schedule 80 PVC pipe you plan to use, as they may provide precise PSI ratings for your intended use. Additionally, local building codes and regulations may dictate the allowable PSI for certain applications involving Schedule 80 PVC pipe.

Why do pools need 2 drains?

Pools typically have two main drains for several important reasons:

Safety: One of the primary reasons for having two main drains is safety. In the past, some pools only had a single main drain, which could pose a safety risk. If a person or object were to block the single drain, it could create a powerful suction force that could be dangerous or even fatal. Having two main drains reduces the risk of entrapment accidents by distributing the suction force.
Improved Circulation: Two main drains help improve water circulation in the pool. They create a balanced flow of water across the pool floor, which helps in the removal of debris and helps maintain consistent water chemistry. This circulation also prevents stagnant areas where algae and bacteria can grow.
Efficient Filtration: Proper water circulation facilitated by two main drains ensures that water is evenly distributed to the pool’s filtration system. This helps the filter work more efficiently in removing impurities, resulting in cleaner water.
Compliance: Many pool safety codes and regulations require the installation of two main drains as a safety measure to reduce the risk of entrapment accidents.

In summary, having two main drains in a pool enhances safety, circulation, and filtration while helping pool owners comply with safety regulations.

Do pools need a floor drain?

No, pools do not necessarily need a floor drain, but they are commonly included for various purposes such as debris removal, circulation, safety, and aesthetics.

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Pool Plumbing Basics: A Beginner’s Guide (Pool Plumbing 101)

What better way to beat the heat than by taking a refreshing dip in your very own pool? If you’re a newbie to the world of pool ownership, you might be wondering, “How does all this plumbing stuff work, and how can I keep the good times flowing?”

Well, we’ve got you covered! Our Pool Plumbing Basics Guide will be your ticket to unlocking the secrets of pool plumbing to ensure the summer fun never ends!

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