How Many Return Jets Should a Pool Have?

The quality and safety of a swimming pool is directly dependent on the circulation of water in it. Unlike rivers and streams, the water in a pool is not running naturally, and needs skimmers and return jets to ensure adequate circulation.

Now comes the million-dollar question: how many return jets should a pool actually have?

 Most experts agree that a swimming pool should have at least 2-3 return jets. When placed at adequate distances with a common direction, these jets can allow a maximum amount of water to circulate, ensuring that the skimmers get most of the debris out.

Although this function can be performed by one jet as well, which is a common sight for most home sized pools, it is not sufficient and can seriously compromise the quality and life of the pool. Multiple return jets create a vortex, which encourages maximum circulation.

The recommended number of return jets increases with increasing pool size: up to 4 for a pool of 600 square feet, and 6 for a pool of 1200 square feet and so on. Ideally, these jets should be placed around 15 inches below the surface of the water, and can be even lower closer to the bottom.

How many return jets for larger and asymmetric pools?

For large pools with swim outs, additional return jets are required that target the areas around the swim out that might otherwise be missed. This applies to pools with other additional features as well. Thus, it is safe to say that the precise number of return jets required vary with different pools.

How does an inadequate number of return jets affect your pool?

The return jets of a pool work to ensure circulation of water. This is the same water that is taken up by the skimmers and passed through filter pumps to ensure cleanliness. If the number of return jets is less than needed, the process of circulation is slowed down.

The most obvious effect is a decreased amount of water in the swimming pool, as the water that is taken up by skimmers is not replaced at the required rate.

In addition, water stays stagnant in the pool for long periods of time, allowing algae and other organisms to grow. These can have detrimental effects on water quality, making the swimmers seriously sick. These unwanted species can also adversely affect the foundations of the pool and weaken them significantly. 

Moreover, diminished circulation of water means that the distribution of sterilizing chemicals, such as chlorine, is also affected. This leads to a further drop in the quality of water, making it a serious health hazard.

How should I aim my return jets in my pool?

According to the experts, it is advisable that all the return jets in a pool are positioned in the same direction, either clockwise or anti-clockwise. This encourages vortex formation and maximum circulation, while keeping the water surface calm.

Moreover, it is ideal for the return jets to face downwards, as it prevents heat loss and evaporation that are likely to occur on the surface. The ideal angle for a return jet is 45 degrees facing downwards. This also makes sure that the chemical levels are stable by preventing turbulence on the water surface.

What size are typical return jets?

The sizes of these return jets are 3/8, ½ and ¾ inches, and are chosen depending on their distance from the filter system. The jets located away have a smaller size to ensure high pressure. Normally, an efficient pump has a power of 500 watts, which allows the flow of 70 gallons per minute.

How to position return jets for best results?

The functioning of return jets in a pool is greatly impacted by their positioning. Most of the top quality return jets these days are multidirectional, which means that you can position them according to your choice.

Since the jets shoot out water that has been taken up by the skimmers, it is a no-brainer that they should be placed in the direction opposite to the skimmers for appropriate turnover.

Troubleshooting return jet issues

Like any other functioning system, the return jets of a pool are prone to having troubles, which can affect the overall turnover of water. The decreased efficiency can be caused by damage to any component of the system, most often the filter pump.

The most obvious sign of a malfunction is decreased water pressure in the jet. This can be tested easily by placing a hand over the outlet. If you feel that the water stream has a decreased force, it might indicate some sort of damage.

Decreased water level in the pool can also point towards damage.  Alternatively, a malfunction can be diagnosed by keeping an eye on the pool pressure gauge. If the pressure is lower than 10 PSI means that there is trouble in the outflow of water. 

Another cause of compromised operation of the return jets is leakage in the system. If any part of the circulation system has leaks in it, air tends to get trapped and affects the water outflow. This usually manifests as air bubbles in the return jets. Luckily, the removal, fixing and replacement of return jets and the rest of the filtering system is quite simple.

Ways to improve pool water circulation

Up till now we have established that the return jets of a pool are an essential component to ensure circulation of water. However, there are some other factors that greatly contribute to it as well:

1. Water Chemistry

It is imperative that the chemicals in the pool water are balanced. Water with decreased pH or increased amount of calcium deposits can clog the lines, leading to decreased flow and compromised water circulation.

2. Fixing Pump Pressure

The pressure of the pump determines the amount of water that will fill the pool in a certain time. It is crucial to adjust the pump pressure according to the size and requirements of your pool to make sure that the circulation of water is adequate.

3. Frequent Cleaning

Various components of the pool circulation system, especially the filters, require regular cleaning in order to ensure that they keep functioning at the same rate. The filter pumps need to be cleaned and washed after every few weeks to prevent buildup of debris that can decrease the flow of water through it.

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