How a Pool Professional Builds a Vinyl Liner In Ground Swimming Pool

In ground swimming pools should always be built by professionals, but how do they do it?  let’s assume that all of the leg work going into the build has already been done (ie. the sale of the pool, the planning stages etc.)  This brings us to the start of the dig.

The Dig:

This is the part of the process where the builder will actually break ground and start removing dirt.  Typically this part will be completed in one day.  In some cases they may actually get to building the pool.  However before they get that far they will need to make sure that the dig is to the specifications of the plan.  This means that if the plan dictates that the pool be 8′ deep in the deep end, then the dig should reflect that.  However, they have to allow for 2″ of bottom material. The bottom material is typically either vermiculite, or a sand/ cement mix. So technically they would have to over dig the pool by at least 2″. They would have to be careful not to over dig it too much because you cannot replace dirt that has been taken out. If the pool is over dug too much they will have to bring in stone to bring the dig back within specs. Throughout the dig, someone will have to check the depth with a transit (laser) to ensure that it is being dug correctly.

The Build:

At this point the builders will begin to assemble the pools walls. The pool walls come in individual panels of different lengths. They will also come with a detailed layout showing which panel goes where. These panels are fastened together with nuts and bolts. Once the structure is built, they will square it (provided that it is a rectangular shape). Next they will stake the corners, then straighten the walls and stake the rest of the pool. Next they will level the pool with a laser/ transit.  After the pool has been straightened and leveled, the plumbing and electrical conduit is ran to the appropriate locations. At this point the footer is poured.

The Backfill:

The next day they will come back, and install the coping. Once the coping is installed they will backfill, typically with pea gravel or stone chips. If the pool will have an auto cover the auto cover box is installed as well. Lastly they will bond. Copper wire is ran around the entire pool. If the pool has steel walls every panel gets bonded as well as anything else metal within 5′ of the water. Next they do the rebar (sidewalk prep).

The Sidewalk:

This day they will come back and pour the sidewalks. Every foot away from the waters edge the side walk has to fall 1/8 of an inch. This ensures that when it rains the water will run away from the pool rather than into it. Once all of the sidewalks are formed they will pour the concrete.

Prepping The Bottom:

Next they will come back and take the forms off of the concrete. After all of the forms are off, they saw the concrete into sections to attempt to control cracks. Over time the concrete will crack and sawing lines in it will essentially coax the cracks to be where the lines are already placed. After they saw the concrete they pressure spray it to clear off any dirt or dust. Next they prep the bottom of the pool and clean the walls. After the bottom of the pool is prepped and the walls are cleaned they will place stakes in the bottom of the pool to run string for the exact transition points, where the bottom will ultimately be.

The Liner:

This day they will do the bottom by using either the vermiculite or the sand/cement mix. This process usually takes roughly 4 hours to complete. Once the bottom is done, it is time to drop the liner into place. They will start by securing the liner. Once they have the liner completely secured they will use a vacuum to suction the liner tightly to the pool walls. After the liner is vacuumed to the wall they will cut out around the steps, skimmer, main drains, lights and any returns there may be.  Once this is completed they are able to begin filling the pool with water!

Auto cover install: If there is going to be an automatic cover installed for this pool, it would need to be completely full. Once the  pool is completely full they are able to install the cover and you are ready to enjoy your new pool.

This is just the steps that are taken when pool professionals install vinyl liner in-ground pools.  I must insist that if you are planning to have a pool installed you allow a professional to install it. For more information on vinyl liner in-ground swimming pools please check out the rest of my blog.

How pool professionals plumb a Paramount Swing Sweep system

                Paramount Swing Sweep Plumbing

There are some things that as the customer, you may not know about your pool.  The more bells and whistles you have on the pool the more there is that you will likely not know.  I think that it is important for a customer to know as much as possible about their pool and how it works.  Today I am going to go into detail about how a pool professional would go about plumbing a Paramount Swing Sweep in floor cleaning system.  However before I get into that I think I should first give you some general pool plumbing information to start from.

A basic pool will have a skimmer, main drain, and returns.  The skimmer is what removes debris that are floating on the pool surface.  It has a basket inside of it that can be removed and emptied.  The plumbing line for the skimmer goes to the pump and hooked up to a valve.  The main drain is the drain that is located on the floor of the pool.  If you have a newer pool then you will likely have two main drains on the floor.  The reason for having two main drains is for safety.  Both drains are plumbed into one line which goes to the pump and hooked to the same valve as the skimmer.  This valve will allow you to turn on either the skimmer, the main drain, or both at the same time.  This type of valve is ideal for vacuuming the pool as it allows you to isolate the skimmer, which will give you better suction for vacuuming.  From the valve, the water goes through the pump, into the filter, and then either through a heater or heat pump if you have one, or through a chlorinator or salt cell before going back to the pool. The water goes back into the pool through the returns.

Returns are the jet like fittings on the walls of the pool.  You will likely have two or more in your pool.  When you have more than one they will likely be plumbed together into one line.

That is just a basic explanation of how swimming pool plumbing works.  When you get into using a Paramount Swing Sweep system things will get a bit more complex.  First you will notice that the main drain, and returns are different than that of standard returns and main drains.  This is because these are specially designed for the Paramount system.

The MDX-R3 is the main drain that will get used for this system.  It is designed to receive large amounts of debris and remove it from your pool.  Another thing you will notice is that there is only one of them.  That is because this system uses a secondary drain called an SDX.  This allows there to be only one drain on the floor of the pool if desired.

The SDX can be installed on the wall of the pool, or the floor if needed.  This is again a safety precaution.  If the MDX-R3 gets blocked off then the SDX is fully capable of taking on the full suction of the pump.  This allows whatever is blocking the MDX-R3 to be easily removed.  Like standard main drains, these two are plumbed together underground.


More often than not you will also have a Debris Canister as well.  This is a device much like a skimmer that takes all of the debris removed by the main drain and stores it until it is ready to be emptied.  Also, like a skimmer, you can gain access to the debris canister through the deck of the pool.  You simply have to remove the lid and pull out the full net and dump it out.  Without the debris canister, all of the debris removed by the MDX-R3 will go all the way to the pump and get trapped in the pump basket.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, you will just have the inconvenience of having to shut the pump off every time the basket gets full, which would be more often than when using the debris canister.

You will also notice that the returns are very different than a standard return.  This is because they are specially designed to Move back and fourth in a 90 degree pattern.  This is what moves all of the debris to the main drain for removal.  These are very unique returns and very effective.  They function in zones.  There will be a few going at a time for around 30 seconds or so.  Then they will switch to a different zone where a few more will kick on.  Every time they turn off they change positions, so that when they come on again they are aiming a different direction.  They do this by being plumbed into a water valve.

The water valve acts like the brains of this whole operation.  It uses a system of gears to open and close different ports and actuate the different SwingJets.  To give you a better idea let’s pretend that you have a pool that has 9 SwingJets on it.  That many jets would require a 3 port valve.  That is because you can have 3 jets on one port.  The water flowing through the valve turns the gears and opens the ports individually.  Every time a port is opened you will have three jets working.  As the gears continue to turn that port will close, the jets will change position, and another port will open.  It continues cycling in that way the entire time the pump is on.  So how does all this get plumbed together to make it all work?

I always start at the pool.  I will get the MDX-R3 set where it needs to be and then determine where I want the SDX.  A lot of the time I will choose to put the SDX on the wall of the pool but toward the bottom.  From there I will start to plumb.  With the MDX, there will be a 4″ section of PVC, and a reducer bushing to reduce the 4″ down to 2 1/2″.  The 4″ pipe must be used for the system to work properly.  However you can again reduce the 2 1/2″ down to 2″.  After that I will Tee in the SDX line and run the plumbing up the wall of the pool to the debris canister.  See the image below.

The line will go in one side of the canister and out the bottom.  From there it will go all the way to the pump to be hooked into a valve.  At this point I can switch to 1 1/2″ pipe if I choose, however with hydraulics, the bigger the pipe the better.  Here the system will be plumbed into the equipment like normal.  It will go into the pump, then filter, then heater/ heat pump, and then through a salt cell or chlorinator.  Coming out of the salt cell or chlorinator is where it gets different again.

This is where the water valve comes into play.  The center of the valve is where the water comes in.  In the example above there will be three other openings in the bottom of the valve that represent the different ports.  Each opening will get a line plumbed into it.  From there the lines will make their way back to the pool.  Being that there are 9 jets to deal with I will have already planned out what zone each jet will be on, keeping in mind that each port will get 3 jets.  Once I have that figured out I can take the lines from each jet and plumb them into the appropriate port.

To do this I will create a branch from each port of the valve.  Basically I will make it so each of the 3 lines coming out of the valve plumb into the three lines coming from the pre determined jets for that port.  This may sound more confusing than it really is.  Once you have all of the lines in the appropriate ports you are finished.  From there the system is ready to go once the water is in the pool.

For more information on Paramount please check out their website at or take a look at my 3 part blog posts on how to have your vinyl liner in ground pool clean itself.

How do pool professionals pour sidewalks around your vinyl liner inground swimming pool?

First of all I am going to assume that they are using  removable cantilever coping forms on the pool.  This type of coping will allow you to have a formed concrete look around the inside perimeter your pool rather than a one piece coping that would result in an aluminum inside edge to your concrete.  So assuming that is in place they will then make sure that the ground around your pool where the concrete will be is free of sod (the top few inches including the grass) loose dirt and is down to virgin soil.  This will prevent the concrete from settling.  If there was loose dirt in the area where they are planning to pour concrete than they would most likely run into an issue where the concrete decking around the pool settles resulting in it ending up lower than you want it.

The concrete should also fall about 1/8″ per foot.  That means that for every foot away from the inside edge of the pool they will want the top of the concrete to be 1/8″ lower than the top of the coping.  So for example if on one side of the pool you want the concrete deck to be 4′ wide then the outside edge of the concrete should be 1/2″ lower than the top of the coping.  The reason for this is to ensure that any rain water that lands on the deck will flow away from the pool rather than into it.  You also want to keep in mind that they will pour the concrete at a minimum of 4″ thick all the way around the pool.

That being said they will also typically want to lay a layer of stone in the area where the concrete will be poured as a base for the concrete to sit on.  So with that layer there they will need to make sure that they have 4″ available and still have the fall you need away from the pool.  The easiest way to do this is to use a transit.  If at this point the pool is still empty and without a liner, they may put the tripod for the transit in the shallow end of the pool, and set it so that it is just higher than the coping.  This will enable them to use only one stick of the story pole rather than two.  It doesn’t sound like a big deal but the longer that pole is the more difficult it is to keep it straight up and down.

Once they get all that set up they will probably use the coping measurement as a reference point.  You might see them put the story pole on the top of the coping and adjust the eye so that they get a solid tone.  This means that the eye is perfectly level with the laser on the tripod.  Next you will see them adjust for the amount of concrete which is four inches.  To do this they will move the eye up on the pole four inches.  From there they can adjust for the fall.  Keep in mind that up is down.  So in an area of the decking that is four feet away from the inside edge of the pool they will move the eye 1/2″ up on the pole.  The level of the ground including the layer of stone will give them a solid tone when setting the story pole on it.  Doing it this way you will easily be able to determine the height of the stone in any given spot.

Next they will form up the concrete deck.  There are a number of ways this is done.  They may use either 2×4’s or forms specifically made for forming concrete.  Once all of these are in place you will see them secure the forms in place and set the height using stakes and nails or screws.  To set the height of the forms they will again use the top of the coping as a reference.  This time however they will not compensate for the thickness of the concrete.  Instead once they get the solid tone on the coping you will see them just adjust for the fall of the concrete at any given point and set the height of the forms at that point to give them a solid tone with the transit.  Once they get it all formed up and set to height they will add rebar to give the concrete additional strength.

They could in fact do this before forming if they wanted, it doesn’t make difference.   It is a good idea and in most places enforced to lay the rebar forming a grid type system creating squares about 2 feet by 2 feet while cutting off the excess that may stick out passed the forms.  When they have the grid system in place they will start tying it all together using specific rebar ties and tiers.  At this point they are ready to pour.  Just before the concrete truck arrives it is a good idea for them to put oil on both the cantilever and concrete forms.  This will make it easier to remove the forms and clean them later.  Depending on how big of an area they are pouring it may require two concrete trucks to do the job.  If this is the case they will determine where they want the cold joint.

There are special tools that are used when pouring concrete including a magnesium float, a steel trowel, and an edger.  these all serve specific purposes that aid in making the concrete look nice.  In addition to those tools you might see them using a bull
float and broom to get to areas that cannot be reached from the outside of the poured area and to give it a nice textured look when They are all said and done.  Another handy tool to have is what we refer to as a  concrete vibrator.  This is used to help remove any air pockets in the concrete which is ideal for around the cantilever forms.  Because these forms will be removed they will want to make sure that there are no voids in the concrete behind them.  If any voids remain then you will definitely be able to see them when they remove the cantilever forms.  When they have the concrete poured out they will go around the edges with the edger to give it a more rounded edge rather than a sharp angle.  You will also see them go around with the magnesium float and smooth out the top of the concrete filling in any voids or really rough patches.  At this time they will have someone using the bull float to get the center of the concrete area that cannot be reached with a regular float.  When they are all finished with the floats it is time to move on to the steel trowel.  This tool gives the concrete a really smooth finish and gets even the tiniest little voids out that they may have missed.  When that is complete they will let it set up a little then go over it with the broom to give it a more textured look and feel.

They will let the concrete set up overnight and by the next day they should be able to remove the forms for cleaning.  They will also want to saw the concrete into sections to control where it will crack.

When it is all sawed up you might see them pressure spraying it to remove left over dust from the cracks and surface.  When doing this they are careful no to get to close to the surface.  The pressure sprayer is powerful enough to remove the surface of the concrete if they get too close. When that is finished you are all set to enjoy your new deck.

I realize that there is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo in this post and that some people may do things a little differently but the point remains the same and you will end up with similar results.  If there are any questions regarding this post please feel free to ask.