Second Return Location

by John Tice

I am installing an above ground pool. I was planning on a floor drain like I did 15 years ago, but it looks like things have changed. I ordered an automatic cleaner instead.

My question is about adding a second return.


1. Same location 2 foot lower than the first?

2. Same height 1/4 way around the pool?


Hi John

I think it is a good idea to skip the center drain. I also think it is a good idea to add a second return, that is if you have a pump that is 1 HP or greater.

I like your second option as far a placement. We installed pools for many years for a company that sold their 1 1/2 HP systems with two returns.

This same company used flexible PVC pipe as opposed to the regular hose most above ground pool filters come with.

Both of these package additions were excellent. The two returns increased pool circulation and allowed the proper amount of flow for that large of a pump.

The flexible PVC pipe was also great, it lasts so much longer than the standard pool hose. I even recommend it over solid PVC pipe, because it allows the pool wall to flex when it is in use.

When we were installing these pools they were only giving out about 15' of flex hose. That meant we needed to keep the second return fairly close to the first one. The space was less than two foot.

I have seen the second return as far away as the other side of the pool. I am sure anywhere in between would be fine. It just depends on how much plumbing you want to do.

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Return Height

by Tom
(Sydney, Australia)

I have an above ground pool. The pump is 2.5hp and has a powerful jet stream, so powerful that it can move my solar blanket. The return creates a whirlpool that makes a loud terrible gurgling sound every couple of minutes. I think the return is too close to the water line.

When the pool is full (to the top of the skimmer box) the return is 7cm from the water line. I have tried and put a different type of return ending on L shaped. That forces the water downward, but this has not stopped the problem, and it has doubled the pressure on the filter gauge. How far down below the water line should the return be and any suggestions will be welcome.

Thanks, Tom

Hi Tom

A return should normally be several inches below water level. Ideally, it should be angled so that the flow of water reaches the service several feet away from the skimmer. It should point away from the skimmer and create a current around the pool. In theory, that will force all of the debris back around to the skimmer with just enough force that it will enter the skimmer.

Above ground pools are designed for smaller filter systems than what you have. A 1/2 or 3/4 hp pump is ideal for a one return system. A stronger system requires an additional return opening. I know 1 hp and 1.5 hp systems operate most effectively with two returns I am guessing a 2.5 might be better off with three.

Hayward makes a return that is ideal for above ground pools. You would simply need to lower your water level, pull the liner back, cut a hole or two in your wall and reset the liner. The hole is best cut with a hole saw. Hayward fittings are compatible with 1 1/2" PVC plumbing so connecting your returns together should not be a problem.

A 2.5hp pump with three returns should keep your pool sparkling clean all of the time.

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Installing a Second Return

by Don W.
(Central IL)

We have an 18 x 33 54" Sharkline pool. It has poor circulation at the ladder end which is directly opposite of the return and have had algae problems because of it. I want to add a second return but am uncertain if I would need a booster pump to accommodate that.

Also, I'm uncertain of the placement of the second return. If I didn't need a booster pump, what would I need to get the same amount of flow out of each return? Would I have to put a valve in-line to shunt some of the flow to the main return, thus giving the second return equal water pressure? This installation is in the Midwest.


Hi Don

Adding a second return can help water circulation and possibly take care of the problem you are experiencing. It is going to depend on the size pump whether it takes care of the problem or not.

One store that we dealt with sold all their above ground pools with a 1 1/2 HP pump and we installed a second return with each one of them, it was all part of the package. For anything over 1 HP the second return is very advisable. Pumps that size need more area with which to release the water back into the pool or it backs up in the filter, drags down the system, and results in poor performance and wasted electricity.

The second returns we installed did not have a valve, just a T in the line that went to the separate returns. The water flow out of each was always strong. Our second return systems were just a few feet from filter area to keep the plumbing somewhat simplified. I have also installed second returns on the other end of the pool before. On a large oval like yours a second return at the far end of the pool should finish pushing the top water back to the skimmer for better overall cleaning and circulation.

If you have a 1HP or better pump you could probably do this without a booster pump and without valves. Anything less and it would just be a matter of trying it out and seeing how it works.

installing a pool return

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Return Above Water Level

We just purchased a 15'x48" Intex Metal-Framed Pool. Our youngest son is only 5 and we want him to be able to touch bottom and were planning to just NOT fill the pool all the way this year vs buying a pool that would be too small next year.

After putting the pool together, we found that though the intake hole for the filter is low enough, if filled to the height we want, the return hole would be out of the water.

Will this be a problem to operate the pump effectively? Do both intake and return need to be under the pool water?


It makes no difference where the return hole is, you will be just fine. You will actually get some aerating effects from it being above the water level and there is nothing wrong with that. With the filter running at night you might be able to cool the water down a little.

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