General Notes on Fiberglass Church Baptistry Installation
(The information below does not apply to portable baptistries or some of the round models.)
Framing & Support
- All baptistries require framing on sidewalls to prevent the walls from bowing out. You can fill an unframed baptistry with water and it will not burst, but the walls will bulge out and nobody will want to get in.
- If you want to use a baptistry as a stand alone model, without any framing, we can have one fabricated with a tubular steel collar for side-wall support. Please call for details.
- You will probably want to raise the baptistry off the flooring at least 6" (and preferably more) to leave room to attach the drain or for future access if the drain needs to be repaired or replaced.
- You will want to place 2x4 support framing underneath the lip, particularly if people could step on the lip when entering or exiting the baptistry.
Variances in Measurements
- Baptistries are made by hand on a mold. When they come off the mold, there can be variances in the dimensions. Usually, these variances are minor but for this reason, we do not advise churches to pre-frame for the baptistry. You can prepare the general area and the flooring, but it's usually best to wait and add the framing once the baptistry is on site.
- Most baptistries have a lip around the edge. The width of the lip can vary by model and by production run, but generally it's about 1" to 3" wide and runs the perimeter of the pool. This lip is designed so you can trim it on site to make the baptistry fit.
- Overall length and width measurements typically include the lip. You can usually trim 2" to 4" off the overall dimensions by trimming the lip
- Your baptistry may have a lip that is not "square" and this is nothing to be alarmed by. Again, most units are trimmed in the field as each installation is unique.
- A filled baptistry can weigh anywhere from 3000lbs to upwards of 12,000lbs. Depending on the number of people, you could also have another 1000lbs so be sure you have adequate reinforcement in your flooring or if the bottom is on framework, the joists.
- For most installations, you should plan on adequately supporting 400lbs per square foot.
- Finished walls can be butted up against the lip and caulked and trimmed with modling for a finished look
- Some churches apply rubber threshold or bullnose trim to finish the edges
- We HIGHLY reccommend you clean and WAX your baptistry with a good quality fiberglass wax and cleaner before your first use.
- A popular practice we are seeing is that of the recessed baptistry vs the traditional installation behind the choir loft or back wall of the church. Given that most platforms are shorter than the baptistry, many churches elect to either excavate the flooring if they desire a flush mount, or to leave part of the baptistry exposed so it extends above the platform floor and is finished off with carpet or other materials. Below are a couple of pictures to give you an idea of what others have done.
Here's an installation where the baptistry protrudes above the platform
Here's an installation where the slab was excavated and the customer poured a concrete slab. Note the reinforced cinder block walls as well as the metal framing for sidewall support
Here's a Traditional Baptistry Pool Installation (note 3-4" wide lip around perimeter). You can see the drain, overflow and heater ports in the left corner and the fill port in the middle step.
Baptistry Plumbing & Drain Installation
Exact plumbing instructions will vary depending on the situation, but here are some general things to remember:
- Unless you are using a sump pump, you will want to plan a drain for your baptistry. We sell drains or you can buy your own at a plumbing or hardware store. The big advantage of buying a drain from us is that our drains have trip lever overflows so you don't accidentally overflow your baptistry when filling. A baptistry is plumbed much like you would a bathtub. But where a bat tub drain and overflow has a 10" spread, our baptistry drains are designed for the taller walls of the baptistry.
- Water level will generally be about 6" below the top of the baptistry.
- Overflow drain should usually be about 4" below the baptistry rim. (Consult the directions for your specific unit.)
- Many customers use PVC or similar materials to piece together their own drain, overflow and shutoff valve. If you go this route, be be sure that the overflow is piped back in to the drain line AFTER the drain valve shutoff so the overflow line cannot be blocked.
Here's a baptistry drain with overflow. Note the chain to activate the drain.
Here's a similar unit but this one's toe activated, meaning someone has to be in the pool to open the drain. We sell both styles, but for ease of use, the chain activated drain is obviously better.
- Drains will be cutout on-site during installation, they do not come pre-drilled. Refer to your specific model's instructions, but as a general rule, the drain should be located in one of the corners of the baptistry, not the middle. Provide at least 1/32" of slope towards the drain.
- Look on the bottom of your unit for specific, non-reinforced drain locations. (Should look like indented circles)
- Some models have a reinforced core that will compress if the drain is not located in these non-reinforced sections. Placing the drain in the wrong section can cause it to leak and may also void the warranty.Always refer to the instructions included with your unit before installing the drain. If you don't have the instructions, please call us and we will be happy to fax or email them to you.
Pictures below show models with round recesses for possible drain locations. If your unit comes with recesses, be sure to locate the drain in one of these holes, otherwise you risk leaking and voiding of warranty.
You may order most of our baptistries with a drain recess but please contact us prior to ordering to discuss placement and potential cost. All FSI model baptistries may have a drain recess added for $100. This does inlcude a drain, just a recessed location for a drain to allow water to drain completely out of the unit.
MAKE SURE you install an overflow drain on your baptistry.
How to Fill Your Baptistry
- Baptistries can be filled by a variety of methods including fill ports, deck mount faucets, wall mount faucets, etc. Fully automatic systems will have a special sylenoid activated valve that utilizes a wall port. Make sure to locate wall ports low enough so they don't cause water to splash out of the unit when filling.
Deck mount faucet. Wall mount fill port Wall mount fill port with cutoff (to pvc)
Heater Installation (Wall Mounted Circulation Heaters)
- Connect the heater to the pump as shown except for the 1.5" union fittings
- Ideally, locate the inlet hole (2-1/8" diameter) about 4-1/2" above the bottom of the pool.
- Smoothe the hole and install the chrome faced inlet flush port by loosening at slip joint nut.
- Apply clear RTV sealant under the chrome port flange. Remove any outside insulation so port rubber-gasket fits flush against outside of baptistry wall.
- Measure center of bottom hole to center of top hole and drill top hole (refer to unit instructions for exact distance)
- Repeat 3 & 4 for top flange
- Assemble the complete heating system onto the installed ports
- Place blocking or support under the heater or pump. If you leave the baptistery heater suspended directly on the wall, it can pull away from the wall causing leakagefrom the wall fittings
- (Cold water intake is at the bottom, hot water outlet is at the top.)
Here's an example of a baptistry layout showing the possible locations of the various ports, drain and overflow. You can locate these openings according to your own requirements.
- NOTE You can install the heater sideways, or parallel to the floor, but heating efficiency is greatly reduced. For best performance, install unit vertically.
- Depending on the model, the heater will require either a 240v or 120v GFCI protected circuit. The pump runs on 110v which can be branched off of the 240v