Use the Correct Parts For Goodness Sakes
I recommend that pool techs avoid adding water to swimming pools whenever possible. It is too easy to forget to close the hose bib, overfill the pool and flood the customer’s home. Sometimes, though, a pool tech needs to add water when the water level is below the skimmer and the pump runs dry. This is a fire risk, not to mention that you can’t circulate water when the skimmer is sucking air. In these cases I recommend either leaving one’s keys on the hose bib while the pool is filling, or installing an auto-fill valve to eliminate the problem.
I received a call from a pool tech in Las Vegas today asking me about the prudence of using a toilet bowl fill valve for this purpose. She explained to me that toilet valves are basically the same as a pool auto fill, but much cheaper. She wondered whether there was any added liability if she did so. I advised her against it.
There is an old adage Hope for the Best and Plan for the Worst. Parts fail; things break and bad things occur. We’ve handled claims involving defective fill valves and in most cases the valve manufacturer will take responsibility for the damages. This isn’t the case, however, when a part is used in a manner that is contrary to the recommendations. Toilet valves aren’t designed to be submerged in chlorine or acid and a manufacturer would be quick to contend that any failure was the result of an improper usage, rather than a defective part. The result: pool tech is responsible for all the damage.
The bottom line is: use the right parts. You’re professionals. The few dollars you might save by jury-rigging a job isn’t worth the risk of a water damage loss to your customer’s home when the part fails and the manufacture denies responsibility.
Bob Mook (Thespaguy)
Actually, some of the auto fill devices on the sides of pools are the exact same part from the same manufacturer as a toilet float. They are also sold in pond stores. Bottom line is all auto fill devices that are available to homeowners or new builders are bad ideas. They allow water to seep in the pool slowly, diluting chemicals, wasting water and mask leaks that may become very large problems in the future, especially sloped hillsides. The solution: Install a low voltage (24vdc) irrigation valve. Power the fill valve with a spring wound timer found in some restrooms. When water is needed, just turn the timer to 30 minutes, service the pool, and walk away. The timer always shuts off. The homeowner and service tech will never forget to turn off the water! Its the only way to add water to a pool, or spa!