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Thread: Pump Will Not Prime

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    Franceslin's Avatar
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    Pump Will Not Prime

    First of all, I'm new here. I have a pool for 5 years but had a pool service. Last month I got my pool resurfaced. I decided to start do the maintenance myself. So, I will have a lot of questions to ask.

    I have a similar issue here. I took my Intelliflo pump apart this afternoon. After I reconnected the pump and ran it, there weren't any water came into the pump (I ran the pump for 2 mins.) I poured a bucket water into pump and ran it again. The water level dropped to the bottom of the basket as soon as I turned on the pump, but 2 mins. later, still no water came in from the suction pipe. As soon as turned off the pump, water flowed back to the basket from the line lead to filter. Also, I noticed (first time) there was strong air blowing around motor part of pump. Is this normal?


    Wondering if there something I should do but I didn't after I reconnected the pump. Please help me?
    16 x 35, inground pool with Ultra Poz finishing, Pentair Intelliflo pump, Pentair filter with new cartridges, Brand new Pentair MasterTemp heater. Test Kit: Taylor K-2006

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    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    I'm curious what you mean when you say you took the pump apart? Just what did you do? Did you just take the basket lid off or did you completely remove the pump from your plumbing? What else??

    Most of the time when a pump will not prime (fill up with water) it is because there is an air leak on what is called the suction side of your plumbing. You need to double check that the lid on the pump basket has a good O-ring and that you have installed the lid securely. Then double check that the coupling at the front end of the pump has a good O-Ring and that it is tightened.

    One trick is to turn the pump on and then run a water hose over the front part of the pump, around the basket lid and input plumbing. If the pump primes then that is an indication that you have an air leak somewhere in the area that you were running the hose over.

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Calder Spa.

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    Franceslin's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    My found my pump was leaking; so I googled the problem. It seemed that I need to replace the shaft sealer. I bought shaft sealer and attempted to replace it. In the middle of dissembling the pump, I found that there were four bolts were corroded and I couldn't loose them. I put the pump back together and reconnected it with pipes. I'm going to Homedepot tonight after work to get WD-40. I checked all O-Rings (they are in good condition) before I put every back together. I also applied a little Magic Lube around O-Ring before I tightened unions. It got dark last night when I started to run the pump. I only pour half bucket water into the basket before I run the pump. I noticed that pump did suck the water in the basket and the basket was almost empty while the pump was running. The minute I turned it off, the water was pushed back to the basket.

    I will test your trick tonight. Should I take the basket lid off and let water run into the basket from there?

    Thank you for you tip.
    16 x 35, inground pool with Ultra Poz finishing, Pentair Intelliflo pump, Pentair filter with new cartridges, Brand new Pentair MasterTemp heater. Test Kit: Taylor K-2006

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    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    You must have the lid on and secure. With the lid off, you will have the biggest possible air leak that could ever happen.

    With the lid off, pour water in the basket, then quickly put the lid back on and turn the pump on. If it does not start to suck water from the pool within 15 seconds or so, run the hose over the lid and the incoming plumbing.

    Do you have any valves connected to the input pipe to your pump? Pretty easy to drop an O-ring in the dark.. might want to looked on the ground and make sure.

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Calder Spa.

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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    Yes. I have an old Jandy diverter valve (pool & spa suctions) connected to the input pipe of pump, and another one at pool suction side to control flow from skimmer or main drain. I didn't touch the valve when I disconnected the pump. I will double check the O-Rings tonight.
    16 x 35, inground pool with Ultra Poz finishing, Pentair Intelliflo pump, Pentair filter with new cartridges, Brand new Pentair MasterTemp heater. Test Kit: Taylor K-2006

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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    Hi and welcome! I noticed a few things in your intro that might be related to this problem. I think it will help the trouble-shooting if those aspects are included in this thread.

    Did you mention that your spa drains back to pool level? If so, approximately how much higher is the spa water (when full) than the pool's normal level?

    You replastered because of plaster falling off in the spa. Was the damage mostly above the level that the spa drains back to?

    You also mentioned that the pump is only three years old. (this may be relevant with respect to the corrosion you mentioned).

    As far as priming and what I've read so far, and if it were mine, I'd start at the easiest possible fault and make sure valves are in the right positions (in case they got closed by someone else, or by accident).

    After that, I'd think about why the spa is draining down to pool level. To isolate the spa from the priming question, you could change the suction and discharge valve positions so that you're only circulating the pool water, and see if it primes (after you check the O-rings previously discussed).

    Some pictures of the equipment pad and the current valve positions would be helpful.

    Good luck with it, and again, welcome to TFP
    12k IG salt; glass beads in plaster; K-2006C, K-1766, CCL, and Aussie 4in1 (HTH); Pentair Eco800 1.2HP VS; Zodiac SWC 1.3 lb/day (25 g/hr); 25" filter recycled glass; OKU solar panels; 1/2 HP solar pump; Rebel (Warrior) pool cleaner; FlowViz; prior pool AG 10k | Read Before Posting to get the best possible advice | ... and this helped me a lot!: TFPC for Beginners

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    Franceslin's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    Good News: After disconnected pipes and separated the pump motor and the basket part, cleaned O-Rings and applied Magic Lube on each of them, and put everything back together in the dark with only a headlight, I filled the basket and turned on the pump. Water poured in the basket in 2 second. Hooray.


    Not so good news: Still cannot unscrew the impeller and 4 bolts from seal plate to the motor. So cannot change shaft sealer.
    16 x 35, inground pool with Ultra Poz finishing, Pentair Intelliflo pump, Pentair filter with new cartridges, Brand new Pentair MasterTemp heater. Test Kit: Taylor K-2006

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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    needsajet, thanks for asking.

    To answer you question, the spa water should be approx. 15 in. higher than pool water; yes, the damages of the plaster was above the back down water level. The pool company replastered my pool installed a check valve at the spa return; however, the spa water still drops down to pool water level. I tried to tu the diverter valves to make water only circle spa sucking and spa return after turned off the pump. No use, the water in spa still dropped down.

    Upload two pictures here to show the equipment. I will take a couple pictures of the spa in the morning.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    16 x 35, inground pool with Ultra Poz finishing, Pentair Intelliflo pump, Pentair filter with new cartridges, Brand new Pentair MasterTemp heater. Test Kit: Taylor K-2006

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    needsajet's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    I sent a message to one of the experts, and they or another expert will chime in soon.

    Does your pump stay full now and/or prime itself after a normal shutdown as part of your filtering cycle? Is the pump doing its job and the only problem now is that the spa is draining back to pool level?
    12k IG salt; glass beads in plaster; K-2006C, K-1766, CCL, and Aussie 4in1 (HTH); Pentair Eco800 1.2HP VS; Zodiac SWC 1.3 lb/day (25 g/hr); 25" filter recycled glass; OKU solar panels; 1/2 HP solar pump; Rebel (Warrior) pool cleaner; FlowViz; prior pool AG 10k | Read Before Posting to get the best possible advice | ... and this helped me a lot!: TFPC for Beginners

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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    Pool remodel-er should have replaced the suction side valves, and re-plumbed the Hartford loop out of the system. That is where some of the priming problem is. You can still make do with what you have by replacing the "guts" of those two valves. There is a kit available, Zodiac 4720. This is a diverter replacement kit designed to replace the old style diverter that had a rubber sealing surface AND includes a just as important RED plug. This is to replace the old diverter grease fitting that is no longer needed with the new Teflon diverter. This plug goes (looking at pic #2) On the top of the valve between the pool suction sticker and the spa suction sticker. Looks like that hole has been makeshift-ly plugged, or the grease fitting had gotten broken off. Can't see for sure from the picture. The other valve has it's grease fitting still intact. If not sealed up properly, those small holes can be a priming problem. You can also have problems with the sealing o-rings that are on the diverter shaft, as well as the cap o-ring.

    While Hartford loops serve a needed purpose, mainly in the boiler industry and in some cases with spa blowers, i think in your case that it came about accidentally and without intent. I think the plumber just ran out of room, and the only way out was to go up! The plumbing should start at ground level (of course) and rise into the pump without falling first.
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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    One thing that I see from your photos is that the lid on your pump basket is not on all the way. The lugs on the side of the top should be perpendicular to the pump body. If not, it can leak air and not allow your pump to prime.

    Second thing is that you mentioned you were going to use WD-40 on your stuck bolts. That product will not do a thing to loosen bolts, you need to use penetrating oil such as liquid wrench on the bolts. Let the oil penetrate for a good while before trying to loosen the bolts.
    38000 Gal, IG, Plaster, 20' x 40' x 10', Attached Raised Spa, Intelliflo VS 3 HP (011018), Pentair Quad DE 60 Filter, Raypak (Rheem) 400,000 BTU (407a low Nox), Easy Touch 8 upgrade, Screenlogic 2 with wireless, IS-4 Spa Side Remote, Stenner 45MPHP10 w/15 gal tank, Intellibrite 5g (3), Dolphin Triton Plus robot with PRO remote, Water Tech Catfish handheld vacuum for spa, TF100 with SpeedStir.

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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    Thank you guys for chiming in.

    Sorry for not signing in for a few days. I have been busy to fix the pump. I finally gave up to loose the bolts. I took the pump to a local pool supply shop. I'm glad I did since I saw how difficult it was for a man to loose up those bolts. The guy also replaced shaft sealer for me. Now the pump is working great. No more leaking.

    Pool Clown, you were right about Hartford loops. There is a hole (pipe) at one side of spa near the bottom of the wall. Water went out from spa to pool from there. The plumper from pool remodel-er figured the solution. He gave me a piece of what I called plunge-in spring check valve and I plunged it in the little hole. Now, the water level in spa stays normal when the pump is turned off. I bet there was a plunge there before and somehow it fell off and nobody knew it.

    I'm planning to replace the two suction side valves myself. I want to cut the pipes shorter and place the valves at pumps level, but it is a very tight spot. I'm wondering if I can re pipe the jet (the guy with a tin hat on in picture #1) by moving the elbows lower to almost ground level.

    Another problem I have been dealing with is there is fine greyish powder at the bottom of my newly re-plastered pool. I think it was in the filter. The pool remodel-er did not check the filter before they turned on the pump. The powder was leased to the pool right after the water was refilled and the remodel-er turned the pump on. I don't what the powder is, and the remodel-er thinks it was DE. I let go of my pool guy a few month ago. I don't know what he put in my pool before. The only thing I know is that right after we told him not to come any more, the pool was little cloudy for a few day. I didn't pay much attention since we planned to drain the water soon. Now, the water look clear, but the water gets cloudy when I brush the bottom. I cleaned the filter yesterday. There was a lot of greyish powder in the filter. Does anyone know how long (if even possible) it will take to clear out the powder by filtering water and cleaning filter cartridges?

    Thank you again.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Forgot to ask if anyone know what the black small filter like thing is?
    16 x 35, inground pool with Ultra Poz finishing, Pentair Intelliflo pump, Pentair filter with new cartridges, Brand new Pentair MasterTemp heater. Test Kit: Taylor K-2006

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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    That first photo of his equipment...in the lower right, that check valve....is it just me or is that mounted improperly, I thought all check valves have to mounted horizontal.
    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.
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    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    You said "Forgot to ask if anyone know what the black small filter like thing is?"

    Are you talking about the black dome device on the far left of your first picture? The dome just below the pressure gage and above a group of pipes going into the ground?

    If so, my guess would be a control valve for an old in-floor cleaning system. Maybe some one else will know for sure.

    Do you have an in-floor cleaning system?

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Calder Spa.

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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    It looks like a Caretaker cleaning system valve.

    Check valves can be installed vertically with the flapper opening up so that it falls back down by gravity.

    Jandy instructions say not to mount vertically with the flapper opening down.

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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesW View Post
    It looks like a Caretaker cleaning system valve.
    Yep, thats a caretaker.

    Check valves can be installed vertically with the flapper opening up so that it falls back down by gravity.
    Jandy instructions say not to mount vertically with the flapper opening down.
    Sometimes the only way to plumb them is like that. You can. Jandy says not to because they don't trust the spring in them to remain sealed (after time). I think once they start to leak, just replace the insides and you're good.

    You can move or replace the elbows on the air line (tin hat), but you need to keep the elevation of the blower outlet (the bottom) at least 18" above the waterline of the spa.

    Lastly, that powder is probably plaster dust from the re-plaster. It occurs naturally after replaster. You need to either vacuum it out or brush to the main drain. You should be brushing the pool several times a day until you stop getting the dust stirred up by brushing. Failure to keep that plaster dust moving around until it gets cleared will result in it becoming permanently adhered to the surface (rough).
    Factory Warranty Station for:
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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    Yes. I do have an old in-floor cleaning system that doesn't work. The pop-ups don't pop up anymore. I'm googling on how to fix it.
    16 x 35, inground pool with Ultra Poz finishing, Pentair Intelliflo pump, Pentair filter with new cartridges, Brand new Pentair MasterTemp heater. Test Kit: Taylor K-2006

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    Re: Pump Will Not Prime

    Post a picture of them (The nozzles in the pool). And Google "caretaker water valve" You will more than likely need one of those.
    Factory Warranty Station for:
    Jandy/Zodiac, Pentair, Sta-Rite, Raypak, Polaris,
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