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Thread: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

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    Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    Hello, this is my first post on this forum as I've spent a lot of time trying to fix an issue that wasn't really an issue (leak). So I'm looking for some advice from others as I have a lot to learn. Hoping this is the right place.

    I recently bought a new house with a pool/spa combo (spa overflows into pool). Pool was in decent condition but I had to replace the pump right off because it was fried. I stayed with the same manufacturer but went from a 1.0HP to a 1.5HP pump. Before and after the replacement it appeared like I was getting air in the system because the basket would never completely fill with water. At some points it would fluctuate like it pulls in a blob of air before trying to fill up again. I replaced all of the o-rings on the valves thinking they were pulling in air. That didn't quite work so I continued to try various things. One thing I learned was that if I isolated the spa input and jets it cleared up and ran perfectly. So I felt like I had a leak inbound on the pool side. I have a main drain, skimmer, and a wall port for a vacuum. No combination of closing valves on this time seemed to make a difference in the air in the line. Furthermore when the system was off the water would take big gulps like the pressure wasn't holding.

    So I threw a hail mary and replaced the 3 valves on the pool side hoping one or more of those connections were the cause. One issue I ran into was that I had multiple pine roots growing through the area, so I thought for sure one of them was causing an issue. After getting them all clear it was obvious they just went around the pipes and didn't appear to cause any problems. After replacing the valves the problem continued. I initially took a step back because even the spa wasn't acting the same now. I redid the connecting from the valves to the pump and lubed it up well and that got me back to where I started.

    At this point I suspected I had a leak somewhere on the pipes coming from the pool because my levels were dropping more than I figured they would. Since this is a new pool I have no way to judge. So I filled it up on Saturday and noted where the level was. 2 days later I easily lost an inch of water. I did some research and then made a mark in the skimmer bucket. Overnight I lost about a 1/4 inch of water. So today I marked it again and ran the pump all day. My hope was that with the pump running and constant suction that I wouldn't see much water loss if a pipe was leaking. Came home and turned off the pump and let it settle and still noticed a little bit of loss.

    I also have been digging up the pipes before the valves working my way back hoping to find an issue as I clear more roots. Before calling it a night I wanted to check and see if the wall port along with the spa opened up would clear up. In my attempts at checking different scenarios I discovered having all suctions open (main drain,s kimmer, wall, and spa) along with sending the output to the spa only; ran completely clean. This pretty much tells me that there isn't a leak on any of the pipes coming in. I did discover the valve for the output to the jets of the pool or spa was dripping a little but nothing major.

    After working through a few different things it almost seemed like in some cases I was not getting enough water in to pump out even though having multiple drains open. So now after all of this work I'm starting to confuse myself a little. An example of this is with the spa jets open (splits out to 4 jets) everything seems to run great. However with just the pool jets (2) open it runs like its pulling in air. The water loss is still baffling because it seems to be more than evaporation accounts for. Its possible its leaking through the surface which needs to be re-done but have no way to determine that without calling a pro in. I was thinking it could be from the constant bubbling of the jets with air in the system but thats just theory.

    Any help or advice you all can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Brad
    12,000gal in-ground pool/spa 12x26/plaster, 1.5hp Sta-Rite Max-E-Pro pump, Pentair Clear & Clear RP 100 filter

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    Agent99's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    Your spa has a 'spillover' into your pool. That is the pool industry term.

    Main Drains can be problematic. More than a handful of folks, me included, have had to shut them down, cap them, etc., due to leaks. (Read about my fake MD in my sig if you have a couple minutes to burn).

    Suction leaks can be difficult to find and it sounds like you've covered all the obvious spots. Anything on the suction side with an o-ring is suspect. I've heard of folks using foaming shaving cream on joints to see if air is being sucked in.

    As to pool water leaking out, use the bucket test: Fill up a 5 gallon bucket, mark the level, set it on the top step of your pool or near the pool. The normal evaporation between the two should be the same. This will tell you if you indeed have a leak in your pool (which it sounds like you do).

    For grins, jam a hose turned on into all your pipes to make sure there are no clogs/debris causing any problems. A plumber's snake or electrician's tape might also work.

    Finally, make sure the pipes after the pump (filter, heater, etc.) are not leaking. These, of course, are easier to spot but make sure nonetheless. We can't see your setup from here (pics might help) so do your due diligence.
    ----Chris----
    25k IG/Spa Figure 8, 18x36, Pebble Sheen Blue Granite, Sta-Rite S8M150 Cartridge Filter, Pentair 460805 400k BTU Heater & 011018 IntelliFlo VarSpd
    Liquidator, Fafco Solar Heat, Polaris PB460 Booster Pump w/280 cleaner, Katchaleaf Cover, TF100 Test Kit, FAKE MAIN DRAIN

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    Re: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent99 View Post
    Your spa has a 'spillover' into your pool. That is the pool industry term.

    Main Drains can be problematic. More than a handful of folks, me included, have had to shut them down, cap them, etc., due to leaks. (Read about my fake MD in my sig if you have a couple minutes to burn).

    Suction leaks can be difficult to find and it sounds like you've covered all the obvious spots. Anything on the suction side with an o-ring is suspect. I've heard of folks using foaming shaving cream on joints to see if air is being sucked in.

    As to pool water leaking out, use the bucket test: Fill up a 5 gallon bucket, mark the level, set it on the top step of your pool or near the pool. The normal evaporation between the two should be the same. This will tell you if you indeed have a leak in your pool (which it sounds like you do).

    For grins, jam a hose turned on into all your pipes to make sure there are no clogs/debris causing any problems. A plumber's snake or electrician's tape might also work.

    Finally, make sure the pipes after the pump (filter, heater, etc.) are not leaking. These, of course, are easier to spot but make sure nonetheless. We can't see your setup from here (pics might help) so do your due diligence.
    Thanks for responding. Sorry my terminology isn't completely there yet. I've lived in rentals for 3 years with pools but didn;t have to worry about them too much since they weren't mine. This is the first real venture and I am still learning the ropes. Although in the last month I have learned a ton. Your main drain issue is kind of comical but not too surprising for me since I've seen it all down here in Florida. People tend to do crazy and weird things here.

    So I am pretty sure I no longer have any suction leaks since I can run the pump in certain scenarios and have the basket look like nothing is going on (full). I am more convinced than ever that the pump I now have is too much for the pool and spa. I am a bit baffled though that a half horsepower increase on the pump would cause so much of an issue. One thing I dont know though is how the 1HP functioned before I bought the place. It sat vacant for close to a year and the existing pump definitely ran dry for some unknown time and previous owners also drilled holes to put bolts through the casing and punctured the insides of the pump. They attempted to cover it up with Epoxy but that wasn;t holding a seal.

    One thing that surprises me is I'd think I'd have more issues with the spa returns closed than I would wiht the pool returns closed. There are 4 jets in the spa and 2 in the pool. When the pool return is closed the 'spillover' from the spa is like a gigantic waterfall; so its an insane amount of water pushing through there. I would think with fewer points of output in the pool that closing the spa would allow less water to be pushed out than the other way around. This weekend I am going to take apart all 6 jets and make sure they are all together right. I know in the spa one likely has the end broke off so it comes out differently than the other 3. Another jets directional thing that fits inside wont fit properly but the jet itself is in good condition. When I initially started work none of the 4 jets would properly spray. Once I took them apart I found clumps of sand and small pieces of plastic jammed in them.

    Last night i filled up a bucket and placed it on the steps and am monitoring it for evaporation. The rate may be higher than I expected so that could account for at least some of the water loss.

    I am in the process of having a heat pump installed (pool was originally installed with a gas heater which was still in place but long from working). So a local pool company was out to review the area for installation yesterday and I was able to ask the guy a few questions and show him what I was experiencing. He believed the pump was too big for the pool and cartridge. He said I could go to a bigger cartridge but after looking at some basic prices the cost of that was way higher than I was thinking for something with no moving parts. Also the one I have is only about a year old. I am hoping the extra path through the water heater may compensate some but it likely wont be much.

    The last thing I am going to try is hitting a few different spots I suspect could be leaking with food coloring to see if it gets sucked in (lights in pool and some patched area in the spa). I wouldnt be surprised if one of the light fixtures wasn't sealed properly.

    I dont have a new picture of its current view but this was before I bought the plae. Configuration is the same though, minus the chlorinator. I removed it because it was leaking. I'll have to take another picture later that shows everything better.
    Attachment 43409

    This is the current filter
    Attachment 43408

    Here is a picture of the spa, you can see the one jet on the left has a wider stream of water than the other 3
    Attachment 43407
    12,000gal in-ground pool/spa 12x26/plaster, 1.5hp Sta-Rite Max-E-Pro pump, Pentair Clear & Clear RP 100 filter

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    Re: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    I did some reading tonight and although I am way more informed thanks to the info in the pool school; I think I am more confused now.

    One thing that caught my eye that is making sense is this: "On the return side of the pump, multiple lines can help reduce head loss as well but the number of return lines should never exceed the number of suction or pump cavitation could become an issue."

    Assuming each return in the pool or spa is counted as one and not just the two pipes that split off past the filter, I am at a total of 6 right now. If I have the main drain in the pool and spa opened, the skimmer running, and the cleaner attached to the wall, I am at 4 suction points and 6 returns which seems like it could cause an issue. The scenario where I see the best performance is when I close the pool return and keep everything open. That leaves me with 4 on each side. Unfortunately with 4 returns on the spa, it easily causes a situation where the returns are greater than the suction. I usually keep the drain on the spa closed so it spills over and don't alwyas have the cleaner in the water which leaves me with the pool main drain and skimmer. Am I misunderstanding the statement above?

    Another issue I seem to be having is that everything is telling me 2" pipe should be used, yet everything from and to the pool is 1.5". So when I replaced the pump and then the valves, I used all 1.5". Would I benefit by using 2" from the valve that divides the pool and spa returns from the pump inlet? If that were the case it seems like I should make the connections between the other valves to the valve mentioned above 2" as well. Two other valves are used; 1 between the main drain and pool/spa valve and the other that takes inputs from the wall port and skimmer. The filter cartridge is a Pentair Clean and Clear RP 100 and the docs on it and the Max-E-Pro 1.5 pump both say to use 2". I can't seem to determine what the flow rate is on the pump from the manual I have so I'm just not sure.

    Another issue that could be making a difference in flow is the check valve on the spa side. Of course it says not to use the standard store valve but that is what I have in there. When I bought the place the existing valve was shot so I replaced it with another that was like it.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated here. I am slowly getting my head wrapped around all of this and would rather get it right now so that when spring rolls around everything is working well and I don't have to worry about it. I want to believe the pump isn't too much for this setup and that the setup around it just needs to be adjusted to support that.
    12,000gal in-ground pool/spa 12x26/plaster, 1.5hp Sta-Rite Max-E-Pro pump, Pentair Clear & Clear RP 100 filter

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    Re: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    Quote Originally Posted by tpabrad View Post
    One thing that caught my eye that is making sense is this: "On the return side of the pump, multiple lines can help reduce head loss as well but the number of return lines should never exceed the number of suction or pump cavitation could become an issue."
    That means return lines (i.e. pipes) not returns. Return lines are the pipes going from the pool/spa all the way to pump. A single line that is split into multiple returns at the pool/spa is still one return line. Although if the distance is short, then there could still be an issue.


    Have you checked the weir door on the skimmer to make sure it isn't getting stuck?
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

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    Re: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985 View Post
    That means return lines (i.e. pipes) not returns. Return lines are the pipes going from the pool/spa all the way to pump. A single line that is split into multiple returns at the pool/spa is still one return line. Although if the distance is short, then there could still be an issue.


    Have you checked the weir door on the skimmer to make sure it isn't getting stuck?
    No door, I have one of those inserts that goes into the bucket. Sorry I dont know what the actual term is for this. It functions normally though.

    On another note, based on differences overnight from my bucket test and the line in the skimmer I do have a leak somewhere. I have to try and find that this weekend.
    12,000gal in-ground pool/spa 12x26/plaster, 1.5hp Sta-Rite Max-E-Pro pump, Pentair Clear & Clear RP 100 filter

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    mas985's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    On another note, based on differences overnight from my bucket test and the line in the skimmer I do have a leak somewhere. I have to try and find that this weekend.
    Was the pump off during this time? It could be a suction side leak that leaks water out with the pump off and air in with the pump on.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

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    Re: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985 View Post
    Was the pump off during this time? It could be a suction side leak that leaks water out with the pump off and air in with the pump on.
    Yes I marked it when the pump was off last night and checked this morning before leaving for work. However, based on previous tests I have no reason to believe air is coming in the system since I can have all suction on with limited returns and it runs clean with no sign of air coming into the system. Its not to say that its not the issue but it seems less likely to me. I do suspect its one of the pipes on that side though based on the number of roots I had to fight digging earlier in the week. There is about a 4-5 foot area between the pool and the pump where all the pipes run relatively close together before they go in different directions and the roots appeared to be growing in number the closer I got tot he pool. If there is a water source from a leaking pipe that could certainly help feed them based on previous experience with a pipe leaking underground.
    12,000gal in-ground pool/spa 12x26/plaster, 1.5hp Sta-Rite Max-E-Pro pump, Pentair Clear & Clear RP 100 filter

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    Re: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    Regarding the 2" and 1.5" pipe size, the volume of water that can flow in the 2" is about 50% more than the 1.5" (just compare the cross-sectional areas as it is proportional to the radius squared: good old pi*r^2).

    Now on my system, installed in the late 70s, all my suction lines are 2". However, all my return lines are 1.5". Now why that was done, I do not know. One guy told me it was to create some back-pressure. Had I redone all my pool plumbing, I would have just made everything 2". But everything appears to work fine in my pool. All the exposed plumbing for my pool IS 2" but I know under the new stamped concrete, all the returns are 1.5". I put the 2" to 1.5" bushings in myself. Now I have TWO return lines: one for the pool and one for the spa. I have a 3-way valve at my pad that allows me to adjust the flow between the two (I leave it in the middle so that the flow is split between the two). I also have a 1" line that is for the pressure cleaner. It can be thought of as another return line but I have my little Polaris 280 guy (we call it Huey) running around the bottom of the pool cleaning things up there. Huey requires a separate booster pump to work properly.

    I kind of ran-on there and I don't know if any of it helps you but is sounds like you are going in the right direction looking for the leaking plumbing. Owing to all the tree roots you are encountering, I think you do have a leak. One spot that is prone to leaking is where your suction pipe(s) connect to the skimmer. Shine a strong light into the bottom of your skimmer and see if you notice any cracks at all there. They can be hard to find but you might just see something. Digging to get under your skimmer: no fun...been there done that.
    ----Chris----
    25k IG/Spa Figure 8, 18x36, Pebble Sheen Blue Granite, Sta-Rite S8M150 Cartridge Filter, Pentair 460805 400k BTU Heater & 011018 IntelliFlo VarSpd
    Liquidator, Fafco Solar Heat, Polaris PB460 Booster Pump w/280 cleaner, Katchaleaf Cover, TF100 Test Kit, FAKE MAIN DRAIN

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    Re: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent99 View Post
    Regarding the 2" and 1.5" pipe size, the volume of water that can flow in the 2" is about 50% more than the 1.5" (just compare the cross-sectional areas as it is proportional to the radius squared: good old pi*r^2).

    Now on my system, installed in the late 70s, all my suction lines are 2". However, all my return lines are 1.5". Now why that was done, I do not know. One guy told me it was to create some back-pressure. Had I redone all my pool plumbing, I would have just made everything 2". But everything appears to work fine in my pool. All the exposed plumbing for my pool IS 2" but I know under the new stamped concrete, all the returns are 1.5". I put the 2" to 1.5" bushings in myself. Now I have TWO return lines: one for the pool and one for the spa. I have a 3-way valve at my pad that allows me to adjust the flow between the two (I leave it in the middle so that the flow is split between the two). I also have a 1" line that is for the pressure cleaner. It can be thought of as another return line but I have my little Polaris 280 guy (we call it Huey) running around the bottom of the pool cleaning things up there. Huey requires a separate booster pump to work properly.

    I kind of ran-on there and I don't know if any of it helps you but is sounds like you are going in the right direction looking for the leaking plumbing. Owing to all the tree roots you are encountering, I think you do have a leak. One spot that is prone to leaking is where your suction pipe(s) connect to the skimmer. Shine a strong light into the bottom of your skimmer and see if you notice any cracks at all there. They can be hard to find but you might just see something. Digging to get under your skimmer: no fun...been there done that.
    Since I have multiple 1.5 inputs it would seem plausible that the other ends of the valves those are attached to would do well as 2in because multiple are coming together, allowing for more water to come in. I'm sure there could be a physics reason against this though. Since it would cost me at least a 100 bucks to replace the valves again and use 2in I'm less inclined to do so very quickly without just reason to do so.

    Thanks for the suggestion on the skimmer, I'll take a look down the hole and see if I get lucky. That wouldn't be a lot of fun. The skimmer is about 2 feet in on the deck so I wouldn't have to dig too far to make that pipe accessible if it was an issue.
    12,000gal in-ground pool/spa 12x26/plaster, 1.5hp Sta-Rite Max-E-Pro pump, Pentair Clear & Clear RP 100 filter

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    Re: Pump Flow - Not Keeping up

    I had one positive thing happen today. Using dye I was able to find a leak around one of the returns which appears to be newer than the other returns. The dye was sucked right in and after watching it a few minutes I could see it escaping through the side. I got some pool putty and patched it up and after a few hours the level of the pool appears to be holding. I will be happy to wake up tomorrow and not have any loss.

    So that is where my successes end and my frustration begins. If i have all of my suction on and the pool returns closed, the pump runs great. However, when it is in this condition the filter pressure is higher than it should be (~25psi). A pool technician told me a bigger filter would help compensate for the higher HP pump but thats a few hundred bucks. Unfortunately that is not ideal as normally the spa suction is closed and all returns are on. That leaves the main drain and skimmer of the pool open (and the wall for the vacuum if I have it in). Rather than running clear and full it continually cycles through and never fills the basket up completely. Although in the normal way I run it stays steady (about 95% full) I am sure it is pushing the pump more than it should which could be costing me more. Everything I am reading says that 2" pipe should be used. Now previous to me buying this place a 1hp pump was in place. I am assuming that it worked well with the current pipes but have no way to confirm because it was shot when we moved in. Place was bought from the bank so I have no previous owner to go back to and possibly check on history.

    So here is what I am proposing and I am curious if I am totally off. Since I have 1.5 coming in on the suction from multiple places it seems logical to me that a 2" on the top side of the valves (pictured below) could be used going into the pump. With multiple 1.5's coming in the volume is limited where they come together. From the pump to the filter I would switch this to 2" as well. Then I would run 2" back to the valve where the returns get split to the pool and spa. I have a heater going in this week so that would also be in the 2" section. One positive to this is I should only need to replace pipe and fittings because if I cut the existing at the top of the valve just flush with the output side I can slip 2" over the top. I'd like to avoid spending another ~120 bucks on valves.

    So here is a better picture of the equipment. The valve on the far left is a 3 way. The far left pipe is the wall/vacuum line. Next over to the right is the skimmer, then the MD, and the spa is on the right. The valve more in the front to the right is the returns going to the pool and spa.

    Attachment 43468

    Really hoping someone can confirm this will solve my problem as I dont want to experiment with this since it will likely take a few hours and cost for pipe and fittings.

    Thanks!
    12,000gal in-ground pool/spa 12x26/plaster, 1.5hp Sta-Rite Max-E-Pro pump, Pentair Clear & Clear RP 100 filter

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