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Using water, fire, and lighting to enhance residential projects

Placing fire features in and around the pool perimeter creates the best nighttime effects—especially when combined with other water and lighting elements.

“When we have customers trying to create the ultimate backyard environment, the propane option gets them the fire features they want, but saves them the expense of running a gas line, which would cost approximately $3000 to $4000 to install,” says MacGillivray.

Selling and installing fire features gives backyard projects a unique, high-end look—not to mention the homeowner can use them year-round.

“Unlike water features that are shutoff when the season ends, fire elements remain as mesmerizing and soothing in the winter, with snow on the ground, as they are in the summer when surrounded by moving water,” says MacGillivray.

Now, with the ability to add water, fire, and lighting features easily on a project, some pool professionals are taking the approach of selling clients the idea of a luxury backyard as opposed to the option of buying a second home or cottage.

“The way we position these water and fire features is a big picture approach,” he says. “Many of our clients have expressed interest in either spending $500,000 on a second home or investing $250,000 into their existing backyard so they can come home to an oasis.

“For these clients, a pool project is usually an easy sell simply because of the convenience factor. So many of our clients are short on time; therefore, not only do they spend less by investing in their existing backyard, but they also do not need to drive anywhere. Essentially, they come home to a backyard resort where their kids can have fun and they can relax.”

Fire feature installation tips
The fire feature’s British thermal unit (Btu) requirement dictates the size of the gas line (e.g. length, diameter, number of elbows, tees, etc.). If the fire feature does not get enough Btus, it will not work; therefore, it is important for installers to calculate the size of the gas line correctly. Further, proper gas-fitting practices should be followed (e.g. keeping the pipe’s length and elbow connections to a minimum) to avoid any unnecessary pressure drops. Installers should always check the local codes and use what is required.

Electronic ignition systems
These ignition systems contain valves that regulate the flow of gas to the burner, assuming the gas line is sized correctly. Many builders install main feeds from the gas meter on the house or the propane tank. Installers should never tap off a feed from the mechanical area in the house as these are typically sized for gas consumption in the home and are not able to supply the proper amount of additional gas for any outdoor fire features.

In some cases, pool builders can run a large-diameter main trunk to the pool equipment pad, and then run smaller lines to the fire features. Depending on the project, the use of smaller lines might make more sense, as these can go back to the meter; however, this option often boils down to the total cost.

Installers should remember transformer panels are required for powering all automated electronic ignition systems to convert the incoming power into a useable voltage. Transformer panels and similar electronic control components are typically installed by the pool equipment, if possible, but can also be installed behind the water feature as needed.

Manual shutoffs
Manual shutoffs should always be installed at the meter. If a main trunk feeds the manifold, each line should have a manual shutoff. Should there be an emergency, for example, this enables the user to turn off whatever is necessary.

Further, some codes require a manual shutoff for gas lines that need to be installed within 1.8 m (6 ft) of the fire feature whether or not an electronic ignition system is in place. The manual shutoff is also a great system for adjusting the fire feature’s flame height.

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