Installing a Sheer Descent Waterfall – RB Project #5.5

Pools & Water Features · Written by Roger

23 Comments

Before the concrete was poured for the terrace sub-slab, the existing PVC plumbing that fed the old water feature was located and modified to feed a new 6′ wide Sheer Descent Waterfall. This feature is a self-contained, stainless steel unit that will rest on the cinder block wall.

The sheer waterfall unit must be set perfectly level because the effect of a uniform sheet of cascading water depends on it. Once the waterfall device is securely in place, the balance of concrete work can be added.

The Sheer Descent Waterfall is hidden beneath the bluestone coping on the terrace’s edge by the center portion of the pool. Unfortunately the waterfall was not operating when I took this picture. The homeowner wished to have control as to when the feature would operate. Surely I’ll get a picture of it running this swim season and post it for you all to see.

Check out the previous post for this project, and the final one.

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    23 Responses to “Installing a Sheer Descent Waterfall – RB Project #5.5”

    1. stan jaczynski Says:

      im tring to figure out what i need to do i have a 25k gallan poool my pump is about 20ft from my roof that is about 9ft tall & i want a sheer decent waterfall coming off it what do i need to do

    2. Roger Says:

      Stan,
      I want to run this by Barry Marson, our pool contractor consultant. The issue with adding this sheer descent waterfall on this job was not having enough “intakes” in the existing pool to feed the waterfall. Because we were doing a complete renovation we drilled through the pool wall and installed another intake. That solved the water volume problem. There was an existing water feature that we eliminated for the sheer descent waterfall, so the plumbing and valving was already set up.
      Let me check with Barry on your situation and I’ll post that reply after I speak with him.
      Roger

    3. Roger Says:

      Stan,
      I spoke w/ Barry Marson today on your situation regarding adding a sheer descent waterfall to your existing pool. He says in most circumstances like yours, the new waterfall can be run off the filter pump. Of course, to be sure, certain aspects of your system should be considered. He recommended visiting the Jandy website for specific information.
      http://www.jandy.com/html/products/waterfeatures/
      I did some scouting on the site for you and found this PDF file that looks like it could really help.
      http://www.jandy.com/html/productsupport/launchManual.php?url=SheerDescent_Technical.pdf
      Good luck!
      Roger

    4. Steph D Says:

      Hi I am trying to figure out the best way to install a sheer descent into an armour stone wall. The surface is not level. Descent is 2′ and will be placed 2′ high off the pool edge.
      Thanks

    5. Roger Says:

      Without seeing the wall it’s difficult to give a recommendation. Is the wall retaining earth behind it or is it two-sided? How is the wall constructed? Is it solid stone and mortar or is it a block wall with stone veneer? Does the wall have a cap stone? Is it resting on the pool beam? Zip me a picture at roger@landscapeadvisor.com if you’d like.

    6. Jim Melancon Says:

      I saw where a question came from a person who wanted a shear descent off of his roof. I want to do something similiar. However I need to pressurize my shear descent with presure behind the thin linear nozzle of the shear descent. The waterfall needs to be designed where the water pressure forces the water out of the nozzle thus clearing the pool ledge and landing in the water.
      I am an engineer so I can talk the design jargin, just wanted to know if you have experience with a shear descent similiar to this. Pump volume and pressure of any kind is not a problem. Shear Descent will be a 12ft radius . Length of Arc / length of shear descent 16ft

    7. Roger Says:

      Jim,
      Is this sheer descent a manufactured unit or one that’s custom fabricated? If manufactured, I’d check with the company and their technical/support person. If fabricated you’ll have to test for results. Are you trying to feed the waterfall with the existing pump and filtering system? Consider intake capacity from the pool’s existing intakes (drains, skimmers, etc.) and whether there’s enough to support another return feed (sheer descent). You can always add another pump, but the available water via intake “is what it is”. Unless, of course, you add another intake, but that could be more work than you had intended.

    8. John Smith Says:

      I have a sheer descent waterfall installed in my pool and I’m having trouble with the way in which the water is coming out. Instead of a uniformed sheet of water I get small trickles from some areas and huge jets from another. It has nothing to do with leveling. When I saw some installation instructions they seem to indicate that a “trap” of sorts should have been placed in the line on the exterior of the wall of the pool where the waterfalls is located. I assume this “trap” is to prevent debree from entering the interior of the waterfall and clogging it in places. Any idea? If you have heard of such a problem before let me know how it was resolved. Thanks

    9. Roger Says:

      John,
      I have not experienced this problem before, but it does sound like an obstruction of some kind. I’d check any and all traps and/or filters on the entire system. Are you familiar enough with the system to be sure where all filters and traps would be?

      If debris got past the filters and traps, then the debris could be lodged somewhere in-line. By the nature of how the waterfall is behaving it sounds like the obstruction is “right there” in the waterfall itself. Perhaps something is lodged in a pipe fitting where the feed line connects with the waterfall unit.

      You may have to get an experienced pool contractor in to diagnose and solve the problem. Maybe that filter/trap you mentioned is missing and needs to be installed.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful.
      Roger

    10. frank Says:

      Hi,
      I just installed a sheer decent. It sits about 3 feet from the water line. It is really, really loud. So much so it prevents a normal conversation. If I try to lower the pressure, it affects the way the water cascades. Im wondering if there is anything I can do to soften the sounds while maintaining the cascade effect.

    11. Roger Says:

      Hi Frank,
      I spoke with Barry Marson, our pool contractor advisor, and he says the sound factor is simply an inherent quality of waterfalls. Sometimes, by design, waterfalls are used to disguise undesirable noise like traffic.

      The sheer descent falls are designed to perform a certain way at a particular volume of water and flow.

      Barry does bring up the point that with many folks they get use to the sound over time and it becomes less of an issue.

    12. GERALD HAMILTON Says:

      I’m considering a sheer descent water feature and my pool contractor is recommending a plastic edge for the sheer descent system. I’ve previously only seen copper or stainless steel. Is plastic acceptable for this application? How long will plastic last compared to stainless steel?

    13. Roger Says:

      Gerald,
      I sent your question over to Barry Marson, a pool contractor and contributor here on LA.com. Here’s his response regarding plastic edged sheer descent waterfall systems:

      All Sheer Descent brand water features are plastic, they just give the end of the spillway a color. Plastic will outlast any metal other than stainless around a pool. There are some stainless steel water features, they are very pricey.

    14. Bruce Schmitt Says:

      I am considering installing a sheer decent waterfall but I will only have approximately 12 inches of water fall height. Is this enough? Will I lose the effect?

    15. Roger Says:

      Bruce,
      The effect will be more subtle, but you should still get enjoyment from it. As a waterfeature in a patio setting where people gather I think it would be real nice.

    16. Chris Thomas Says:

      I would like to install a sheer descent waterfall. I would like it to be 3 feet wide and have a height of 6 to 9 feet. Everything I’ve been able to find says not to go over a height of 3.5 feet. Is there a reason for this and anything I could do to over come this and maintain the effect?

    17. Roger Says:

      Chris,
      I don’t think we’ve ever gone over 3 to 4′ with a sheer descent waterfall, but I can’t imagine why that would present a problem given all the pipe and pump sizing is correct.

      I would speak directly with the company that’s supplying the waterfall.

    18. Keith Mosley Says:

      I have a sheer descent that is leaking out the back and needs to be replaced. How do i get the old one out? So forth??

    19. Roger Says:

      Keith,
      Your leaking sheer descent will be unique in every respect, i.e. what type it is, how it was installed, what’s wrong with it?… Can it be repaired, and if not how to remove and replace?

      In short, you’ll need to get a knowledgeable pool person over to diagnose and answer all those questions.

      If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you may have to pay for that help & guidance. Perhaps if you buy the parts through the pool company the help/guidance will be included.

    20. Ronald Says:

      I am installing a waterfall on a block wall and the manufacturer says that mortar will not stick to the plastic. Should I attach something to the waterfall so that mortar will adhere to it? I will be putting one row of block on top of the waterfall.
      Thanks

    21. Roger Says:

      Ronald,
      I’m not sure you need to mortar the plastic waterfall in place. Is it a matter of sealing the waterfall device to the wall so it’s watertight? Or can the waterfall device operate independently and contain water by itself if positioned properly?

      If the waterfall can operate independently without leaking and not allow water to get behind it or the block wall, then you should be fine setting it into position, stabilizing it on a well compacted base, and placing your row of block on top.

      There is special spray foam that we use for our pond waterfalls. That could be useful to you in this situation you have.

      There are also construction adhesives that are waterproof and can be used for bonding different materials. Just make sure you check the product specs. so that the adhesive is compatible with your materials and situation.

    22. Jim Says:

      I recently found this seemingly old(but very good) blog site about Sheer Descent Waterfalls. Is this blog still active?
      I am researching to get a 24in-30in waterfall from a 10ft patio that overhangs my pool. It would look really cool. I have a really good handy-man/poolman who can build the waterfall but I need advice or recommendations on suction pump size and what Sheer Descent Waterfall I should get to give a nice 10ft sheer waterfall. I will be using separate suction and piping which is not more than 20ft from pump tapin.

    23. Roger Says:

      Jim,
      All the waterfall features I design into projects are ultimately spec’d by the contractor. In this case I would show the sheer-descent waterfall concept to the pool contractor and he or she would specify everything from waterfall manufacturer to all the related components.

      We always involve the homeowner in this discussion because there will be questions relating to how the waterfall should perform. The answers to these questions and customer requests tells the pool contractor how he or she should specify and configure things like the plumbing, valving, pump, etc.

      I would suggest you contact a pool contractor for guidance and perhaps buy the components from them. Or, contact sheer descent waterfall manufacturers directly and get guidance from them (presuming you’ll buy the equipment and parts from them, of course).

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