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Thread: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

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    Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Hi Everyone,

    Yesterday I completed (or so I thought) our first DIY pump swap, removing the old Whisperflo for a new Intelliflo. Everything went well, pump was installed, got it primed, and ran the pump for the remainder of the night schedule as I had programmed.

    Fast forward to this morning. Before I leave for work I go outside to make sure the pump is turning on per the newly programmed schedule without any issue. To my surprise, there was an alarm on the pump saying it could not prime b/c the basket was dry (and sure enough, it was). There are no noticeable leaks on the pad, but my fear is that there is a water leak somewhere. I should point out that the pad is at a higher elevation than the pool, probably 3 feet or so. We had a leak repaired last year (it was behind the skimmer), and the company that fixed the leak said that there were no other leaks.

    I should also point out with the old Wisperflo, the pump basket would also be dry when it started up, and the pump would usually take 30 seconds or so to pull water through the system as it was starting up. Unlike the Intelliflo however, it would not stop the pump from working.

    What are my options? Is this certainly a leak causing air to get in the system? The only thing I can think to do in the meantime is get the pump primed again and keep it on 24 hours a day so it maintains the prime.
    28k gallon AG pebble sheen, Pentair Triton II Sand Filter, Intelliflo 3HP, SWG, TF-100 test kit, spa
    Pool installed 2005/2006 (we bought house in summer 2014 so our knowledge of pool history is limited)

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    Killer95Stang's Avatar
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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Looks like you need to install a check valve on the intake side of your pump to hold water in the basket. Not sure if you can change the programming of the pump to give a longer amount of time before it goes into alarm, but that might be another option.
    Pool done!! (backyard = work in progress) 32' x 19' inground freeform with 7' spa, baja step w/ (2) bubblers, stonescapes mini pebble finish, rock waterfall feature, 12" raised bond beam, Intelliflo VS, Whisperflo feature pump, (3) 5G Color LED's, FNS + DE 60, 400K Master Temp, Easytouch 8 w/ remote, Intellichlor IC40, Vision Classic Ceramic Kamado smoker, Margaritaville DM1000!!! Party Coming Soon!!
    TF-100 Test Kit w/ Speedstir

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Quote Originally Posted by Killer95Stang View Post
    Looks like you need to install a check valve on the intake side of your pump to hold water in the basket. Not sure if you can change the programming of the pump to give a longer amount of time before it goes into alarm, but that might be another option.
    Thanks @Killer95Stang - appreciate the reply. I've never installed a check valve, is that difficult?

    I'm still concerned that fundamentally there must be a leak somewhere. I can't understand how a closed loop system would allow water to move unless air was getting in somewhere.
    28k gallon AG pebble sheen, Pentair Triton II Sand Filter, Intelliflo 3HP, SWG, TF-100 test kit, spa
    Pool installed 2005/2006 (we bought house in summer 2014 so our knowledge of pool history is limited)

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Quote Originally Posted by Valdeselad View Post
    I can't understand how a closed loop system would allow water to move unless air was getting in somewhere.
    Me neither! Most likely there's an air leak on the suction side. If it was on the pressure side you'd be seeing water dripping from somewhere.
    16' x 34' vinyl in ground - 16,500 gal.
    Hayward EC-75 DE filter with Hayward 1hp Super Pump
    TF-100XL Test Kit with SpeedStir

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    You are correct in that there is a leak. A check valve may will fix it but not always. I am not a big fan of check valves.

    Got to Pool School and read the article on suction side air leaks.....that's likely what you have. My first suggestion would be to go directly to every connection you made with the new pump. Richard320 says, "the last thing you fixed is the first thing that breaks". I believe you will find your air leak somewhere within the work that you did. A pic often helps.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh View Post
    You are correct in that there is a leak. A check valve may will fix it but not always. I am not a big fan of check valves.

    Got to Pool School and read the article on suction side air leaks.....that's likely what you have. My first suggestion would be to go directly to every connection you made with the new pump. Richard320 says, "the last thing you fixed is the first thing that breaks". I believe you will find your air leak somewhere within the work that you did. A pic often helps.
    Thank you @duraleigh - I will be sure to to check everything again but when I look at our new connections everything "looked" ok. I'm concerned because even with the old Wisperflo the basket wouldn't stay full of water after the pump turned off. And when it did turn on, it took a good 30 seconds before water was flowing into the pump and filter would come up to pressure.

    Does this mean there has to be a leak somewhere between the skimmer and the pump? Again, the leak company fixed a leak behind the skimmer last year and checked everything to make sure there were no other problems.
    28k gallon AG pebble sheen, Pentair Triton II Sand Filter, Intelliflo 3HP, SWG, TF-100 test kit, spa
    Pool installed 2005/2006 (we bought house in summer 2014 so our knowledge of pool history is limited)

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    I had the same issue when I installed my intelliflo.. Had a suction side leak I wasn't aware of with the old pump. You can extend the priming time in the controller, but the pump is smart and won't allow you to damage it by running dry, so that may or may not work. I solved my issue by tracking down the suction leak and fixing it. Like others said, check valve will work as well
    18,500K IG plaster, Pentair FNS+60 DE filter, Pentair Intelliflo VF 3HP, no SWG, Taylor K-2006-C, in Southern California (harsh water restrictions)

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    You might inspect any seals you have on the suction side:

    pump basked lid

    threaded union to pump body


    Running the pump dry is never good even for priming in about 30 seconds.

    Anything more than a few seconds, over a period of months the pump seal will eventually fail
    and have to be replaced. That happened with my setup earlier this season.
    16x32 IG Vinyl, 13,000 Gals. Hayward S-244T sand filter, SP2810X15 pump
    (1.5 HP motor) Raypak PR266AEN (266k btu) gas heater. TF-100 Test Kit.
    Dolphin E10 Cleaning Robot.

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    manually prime the pump, take a spray bottle of water and spray joints on the suction side plumbing. It will draw water into the suction leak. Could also be leaking at the pump basket o ring. I believe there's also another o ring on the lower side of the pump, on a thumb screw type device.
    18,500K IG plaster, Pentair FNS+60 DE filter, Pentair Intelliflo VF 3HP, no SWG, Taylor K-2006-C, in Southern California (harsh water restrictions)

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    the fact that this water drop was happening with the old pump and now the new pump leads me to theorize it may not be isolated to the direct pump connections
    28k gallon AG pebble sheen, Pentair Triton II Sand Filter, Intelliflo 3HP, SWG, TF-100 test kit, spa
    Pool installed 2005/2006 (we bought house in summer 2014 so our knowledge of pool history is limited)

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh View Post
    You are correct in that there is a leak. A check valve may will fix it but not always. I am not a big fan of check valves.

    Got to Pool School and read the article on suction side air leaks.....that's likely what you have. My first suggestion would be to go directly to every connection you made with the new pump. Richard320 says, "the last thing you fixed is the first thing that breaks". I believe you will find your air leak somewhere within the work that you did. A pic often helps.
    That pool school article is very helpful...thank you for that.
    28k gallon AG pebble sheen, Pentair Triton II Sand Filter, Intelliflo 3HP, SWG, TF-100 test kit, spa
    Pool installed 2005/2006 (we bought house in summer 2014 so our knowledge of pool history is limited)

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Two tricks that work for finding suction leaks are shaving foam and plastic wrap. Shaving foam, (not the gel, the cheap foam stuff) will be sucked into any leak showing you where it is, and plastic wrap will temporarily seal it confirming the location of the leak.
    chiefwej
    Tucson, AZ
    16x36 rectangular (19k) Pebble Tec play pool/spa, Pentair Intelliflo VS 011018, Super II 2hp (spa), Aqua Rite T-15 SWG, Pro Grid 60 DE, Hayward H400 & Heliocol Solar heating, A&A infloor system, fill water w/high CH and TA, 50 ppm borates,TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Also check the weir door at skimmers just in case they are stuck closed.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by chiefwej View Post
    Two tricks that work for finding suction leaks are shaving foam and plastic wrap. Shaving foam will be sucked into any leak showing you where it is, and plastic wrap will temporarily seal it confirming the location of the leak.
    That is a great idea , will have to store that to memory for future use !!!!!!
    8500 gallon IG Pebble Sheen with Spa. 3hp Pentair VS Intelliflo ( pool ), 3/4 hp WhisperFlo ( water feature ),Pentair Racer, 400K Pentair heater, Pentair 500sqft Cartridge filter, EasyTouch 8, Stenner 45mp2 15gallon wired to ET8

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Quote Originally Posted by chiefwej View Post
    Two tricks that work for finding suction leaks are shaving foam and plastic wrap. Shaving foam, (not the gel, the cheap foam stuff) will be sucked into any leak showing you where it is, and plastic wrap will temporarily seal it confirming the location of the leak.
    @Chiefweg - Awesome idea, thanks!
    28k gallon AG pebble sheen, Pentair Triton II Sand Filter, Intelliflo 3HP, SWG, TF-100 test kit, spa
    Pool installed 2005/2006 (we bought house in summer 2014 so our knowledge of pool history is limited)

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    I don't know whether you have hoses or PVC lines on yours, but I had the same issue when I change my sand and MPV on my filter.

    All mine ended up being is that I had not pushed the hose going from the skimmer to the pump up on the connection far, and tight enough. Although it looked fine, it was in fact sucking enough air to prevent me from establishing, and maintaining prime. Thanks to the good folks here at TFP, and a few more wiggles of the hose moving it further up on the connection, I was up, and running in no time . I hope this helps. Have a nice day.
    24' Round x 4.5 ft deep AGP (15,200 Gallons), Vinyl Liner, Hayward Vari Flo XL Sand Filter- (model SP0714T1),
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, SLAM & the Chlorine/CYA CHART. Support this Site! TFP Totally Rocks.

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Quote Originally Posted by Crackerjack4u View Post
    I don't know whether you have hoses or PVC lines on yours, but I had the same issue when I change my sand and MPV on my filter.

    All mine ended up being is that I had not pushed the hose going from the skimmer to the pump up on the connection far, and tight enough. Although it looked fine, it was in fact sucking enough air to prevent me from establishing, and maintaining prime. Thanks to the good folks here at TFP, and a few more wiggles of the hose moving it further up on the connection, I was up, and running in no time . I hope this helps. Have a nice day.
    Thanks @Crackerjack4u - all PVC connections here, but your point is well taken. We are going to check all the connections carefully to make sure they are all tight and secure.
    28k gallon AG pebble sheen, Pentair Triton II Sand Filter, Intelliflo 3HP, SWG, TF-100 test kit, spa
    Pool installed 2005/2006 (we bought house in summer 2014 so our knowledge of pool history is limited)

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    If you used unions, Did you put the O-rings in them. Do not over tighten pvc threaded connections.....they will crack.

    One more thing to consider, get your pump primed and then with the pump running, check for a WATER leak on the pressure side. That will turn into an air leak when the pump is turned off and it will allow your pump to drain back to the pool.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh View Post
    If you used unions, Did you put the O-rings in them. Do not over tighten pvc threaded connections.....they will crack.

    One more thing to consider, get your pump primed and then with the pump running, check for a WATER leak on the pressure side. That will turn into an air leak when the pump is turned off and it will allow your pump to drain back to the pool.
    Thanks @duraleigh, that's a great point. I should point out we have had some recent issues with small leaks on the sand filter, and recently replaced the main o-ring under the air relief assembly...there may be some other o-rings we should replace as well that aren't showing an "obvious" leak. The filter and pool equipment was close to 10 years old when we bought the house so we have been replacing/repairing quite a few things that were previously neglected.

    I guess there would be an additional o-ring on the drain plug, but not sure else. All the valves have o-rings that need to replaced as well I'm sure. So much fun ahead!
    28k gallon AG pebble sheen, Pentair Triton II Sand Filter, Intelliflo 3HP, SWG, TF-100 test kit, spa
    Pool installed 2005/2006 (we bought house in summer 2014 so our knowledge of pool history is limited)

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Update for tonight - cannot even manually prime pump. loading the basket with water, but it won't stay full. Pump comes on, tries to prime for about 3 seconds and shuts off. I'm at a complete loss for what to do. My pool will be green in no time if I can't get this pump running.
    28k gallon AG pebble sheen, Pentair Triton II Sand Filter, Intelliflo 3HP, SWG, TF-100 test kit, spa
    Pool installed 2005/2006 (we bought house in summer 2014 so our knowledge of pool history is limited)

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    Re: Help! Installed New Pump - will not hold prime

    Random thoughts,
    Do you have an air bleed on your filter? If you do, open and close it while the pump is trying to prime. Ive had to do this.
    Did you use lube on the lid O Ring? Did you use unions on the pump? Did you lube those?
    Is the water level in your pool high enough?
    Is there a Vortex in the skimmer when trying to prime? If so, add water to the pool.
    Are all of your valves set properly? (Spa return should be off and Pool/Spa valve turned to Pool Only)
    Is the pump basket turned the right way?

    Until you get it going, you can add bleach to the water and stir it around with your brush and net. Enlist the family to help.
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
    www.tftestkits.net Experience- it's what's learned just after you needed it most !!

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