What You Need to Know About Swimming Pool Plumbing: Pool Owner’s Guide

What do you need to know about swimming pool plumbing? It is important to understand the basics in order to know what your options are. Here is a breakdown of everything you need to know when it comes to swimming pool plumbing.

Pool plumbing seems like something that couldn’t get any easier, right? But there’s a lot of detail to take care of if you want your pool to remain in superb shape for years to come.

You may have heard somewhere that it’s necessary to regularly check your pool plumbing to prevent leaks, clogs, and other damage. 

Top view of a man cleaning and checking pool plumbing

The best way to do this is by staying on top of the simple maintenance tasks that need doing every month. This includes checking your filter for debris, inspecting the main drain for blockages, cleaning out your skimmers and pumps, even checking water levels once in a while.

However, if you’re unsure of the pool plumbing parts or dreading which is which…we get it. It would be a good idea if you reach out for help before any major damage happens. In this article, we’ll get to know the swimming pool plumbing parts.

The Importance of Pool Plumbing

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the sight of the pool components that aren’t on display, such as the pool plumbing. These include the pipes that are below ground, those that are concealed behind the pool walls. And even those that are buried in the deep end are never visible until you’re diving for quarters.

The pool plumbing system is only one component of your pool’s anatomy, but it is vital. Its importance is comparable to that of the human body’s heart and circulatory system. Nothing else can function correctly without them.

Swimming Pool Plumbing Components

Pool plumbing equipment near swimming pool

Nothing about the pool circulation system is more vital than the other parts of it. They each perform a unique function, but they all contribute to the efficient movement of water into and out of your pool, which helps to maintain it clean, healthy, and swimmable for you.


The first component of the pool circulation system is the skimmer, which sits at the edge of your pool. This part works to remove leaves, bugs, hair, sticks, and other debris from your water surface to prevent it from clogging the pump. It will also pull out any small objects that are floating on top of the water.

The skimmer does this by having a basket installed inside of it that will trap any debris that passes through it. The basket can then be emptied into a trash bin or your yard waste container whenever necessary.

Suction Lines

The suction line is a part of the filtration system that ensures that the water being pulled through it will be filtered. This gives your pool a purer-looking and cleaner water with less sediment and debris.


Maintenance of pool pumping system

The pump is the beating heart of the pool. It is used to push water through your pipes. Without this component, the water would not circulate and would sit stagnant until it evaporated.

The pump can also cause problems if not maintained properly, such as if it becomes blocked by debris (which will increase the amount of wear and tear on your pump and increase its energy consumption). You can prevent this by maintaining a close eye on where leaves and debris fall and keeping those areas free of clutter.

Important: "One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a pool pump is for it to run out of water. When the water level in the pump is excessively low or absent altogether, it might cause harm to the motor. To avoid this, make sure that your pool's water level is high enough to allow water to enter the skimmer consistently but not entirely covering the skimmer itself." -Matt, founder of Swim University.


Return can be tricky to work with, as you have to consider the water pressure of the incoming water from your pump. This is because more pressure means that you will have to have a larger line, and if it doesn’t work correctly and leaks, it can cause problems with other parts of your pool plumbing system.

Alternatively, if the return line is too short or doesn’t work correctly for some reason, this can also cause drainage issues and contribute to clogging problems in other parts of the system. For example: if your skimmer basket begins to fill up with leaves, they will soon spill out into the pool as they cannot flow out through your filter as fast as they come in.

Main Drain

The deep end of every inground pool has a primary drain. There may be more than one main drain in your pool, depending on its size.

Important: As much as possible, don’t empty your pool to the bottom. Removing the pool's water pressure can lead to various problems, ranging from minor cracks to the entire structure practically bursting through the ground.

To avoid damaging or destroying your pool, we recommend seeing a professional if your pool has to be drained for cleaning, maintenance, or painting.


Swimming pool filter cleaning water

The filter is the final part of the pool’s circulation system and is used to keep your water clean. This is achieved by removing debris and chemicals that might be in your pool, which would otherwise clog your pipes and damage them.

Pumps, skimmers, filters, and all of these pool plumbing components work together to ensure that you’re getting the right amount of water into and out of your pool consistently, at a rate that will keep it in great shape. When purchasing these essential parts, be sure to check in with your local pool supply store to ensure you get entirely what you need for your swimming pool plumbing system.

Return Lines

These are the final plumbing components of the pool. There should be one return line for every three feet of pipe in your system.

This part of the plumbing system is used to keep all of your pipes properly maintained and prevents them from clogging up and creating a bottleneck, which would prevent water from circulating. They also ensure that your pipes aren’t becoming unbalanced, which can cause other problems such as leaks.

However, if you don’t have enough return lines or lines that are too long or short, this could cause issues with how the rest of the plumbing works.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is swimming pool plumbing, and why is it important for pool operation?

Swimming pool plumbing refers to the network of pipes, valves, fittings, and equipment that circulate water throughout the pool system. It’s responsible for filtering, heating, and distributing treated water to ensure proper sanitation, water clarity, and comfortable swimming conditions.

What components are included in a typical swimming pool plumbing system?

A swimming pool plumbing system consists of components such as the main drain, skimmer(s), return jets, pump, filter, heater, chlorinator or sanitizer system, and various pipes and valves. These components work together to maintain water circulation and treatment.

How does water circulation work in a swimming pool plumbing system?

Water is drawn from the pool through skimmers and the main drain by the pool pump. It’s then pushed through the filter to remove debris and contaminants. The filtered water is heated, sanitized, and returned to the pool through return jets, promoting proper mixing and circulation.

How can I prevent and address common plumbing issues in a swimming pool system?

Regular maintenance is key to preventing plumbing issues. Ensure proper water chemistry, clean or backwash the filter regularly, and check for leaks, clogs, or air in the system. Address any plumbing problems promptly to avoid damage to equipment and maintain water circulation.

Can swimming pool plumbing be customized based on pool design and features?

Yes, swimming pool plumbing can be customized to accommodate various pool designs, sizes, and features. The plumbing layout might differ for different types of pools, such as in-ground or above-ground pools, as well as for unique features like waterfalls, fountains, or spa jets.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, you’ve learned a lot about the parts of the pool plumbing system, and we hope that you continue to use the knowledge we’ve provided for your swimming pool.

If there’s anything else that you’re not completely clear on, please feel free to reach out and ask for help before any major damage happens. Below, you will find more pool articles that you are sure to find useful. Take a look! Click here to read more about pools. Happy swimming!

Leave a Comment