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Thread: Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

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    Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

    In what must be a right of passage for new pool owners, I have to admit that I can't seem to prime my pump (Intelliflo vs3050). I've read through the many other posts on TFP and followed the various tips as best I can, but it still fills up with air immediately when I turn it on. Unfortunately, I don't know enough yet about how the various valves work to know if everything is open properly. Hopefully all you wise pool owners can help...

    Here's what's going on: When I turn on the pump, with the lid on tight, all the water in the pump it is immediately sucked out, but no water comes from the intake. I've taken the lid off, put a hose in and filled it up, and tried again -- but same issue.

    And the back story: The pump appeared to be running fine yesterday but was filled with debris. The pool guy came out this morning for weekly service, and I'm almost certain he cleaned out the basket because it was empty when I went out in the afternoon and noticed that the basket area was full of air. (Unfortunately I haven't yet been able to get in touch with him yet to verify this.) I imagine he didn't prime it afterward, or didn't seal the lid properly.

    So I took the lid off, put a hose in the basket and filled it back up with water. Only, it seemed to take forever because the water kept draining down past the first pipe (what I think is the intake.) I even stuck the hose in the intake pipe and tried filling that up but it drains down quickly.

    So first question: Should I be worried about a leak or is this just the water draining back to the pool? The pump is about 2 feet higher than the water line in the pool.

    Eventually I filled the whole thing up, got the lid back on real tight with the o-ring, and turned the pump back on -- only to have the water sucked out of the basket immediately, but no water from the intake.

    And so my second question: Do the position of the valves in the attached photos provide any clues as to what's going? Is there some arrangement that will allow me to prime the pump more easily?

    Thanks! I'm going to have the pool guy come back out tomorrow, but I'd like to be armed with some knowledge when he does.

    pool1.jpgpool2.jpgpool3.jpg

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    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

    I don't see anything obvious wrong with the valve positions that would make your pump not prime. It is normal for the water to drain out of the pump and back into your pool when you take the lid off unless you have a check valve which you do not appear to have.

    Without knowing more about your pool I can't be sure what each valve does, but I can tell you that the electric valve is allowing water to come in from the two pipes on the right side of your picture. The other valve is letting more water come in from the top than is coming in from the bottom. The pipe on the left of the electric valve is closed.

    If it worked yesterday and does not now, then I'd suspect the lid O-Ring. Asking just to make sure... are our sure it is not priming? When running, clear water almost looks like air. Does the pump shut off after a minute of so of trying to prime, or does it continue to run?

    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: Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

    Thanks, Jim. I'm guessing that the electric valve controls intake from the two skimmers and main drain. I'm not 100% positive, but the main drain may be the pipe that's closed.

    I'm fairly certain the pump isn't priming. Aside from seeing visually that there's water low in the basket, the pump makes a higher pitched sound now than it did previously, and there's no pressure in the system -- not in the filter, and the the waterfall and pool cleaner don't get started.

    Will try to seal the o-ring and try again. I'm surprised it would be the o-ring, though, since it's on very tight and that would be more of a slow air leak, right? In this situation, all the water is getting sucked out of the filter basket immediately and none is coming from the intake/suction side.

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

    I had a piece of debris, stick or something, that prevented my o-ring from sealing one time. Double check the lid, o-ring and pump housing for any debris. It is possible that some debris got into the impeller and is causing problems. How long are letting it run in prime mode? Is your pump above the water level? You should still be able to fill the basket and suction pipe with a hose first. Leave it in there for a while to see if it will fill up the plumbing. Sometimes opening the air bleeder valve on the filter helps to push any air out.
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    Re: Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

    If the impeller had debris in it, the pump would have trouble even sucking water out of the basket, right? In this case, when I turn the pump on, all the water gets sucked out of the basket immediately.

    I'm letting it run for a minute or two to try to prime it. The pump is a couple feet above water level, so the water on the intake/suction side flows back to the pool pretty quickly when I open the pump lid. (At least, that's what I think is happening.)

    I've left the hose in there and filled up the intake/suction pipe, then quickly closed the lid before the water drops back down, and turned on the pump. The water gets sucked out of the basket and drops below the intake pipe very quickly, leaving only air.

    Will try wrapping the lid and also the valve on the intake side in saran wrap tomorrow, to see if there's any indication of an air leak from there.

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

    Quote Originally Posted by aasarava View Post
    If the impeller had debris in it, the pump would have trouble even sucking water out of the basket, right? In this case, when I turn the pump on, all the water gets sucked out of the basket immediately.
    No, not really. It doesn't take much suction to clear the basket. It takes a lot more suction to pull water from the pool.

    Is it pulling from main drain and skimmer? Is there water in the skimmer baskets? Check to see if the skimmer weir door is stuck, I've seen that before too.
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    Re: Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

    What is the speed of the pump when you are trying to prime?
    How long are you trying to prime?
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    Re: Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

    Ok, I'll check and see if there's any debris in the impeller.

    I'm waiting a couple minutes when trying to prime. Should I give it longer even if there's just air in the basket?

    I don't know the exact RPM because it's an old vs3050 without an LED display. But I'm using the "cleaner" setting, which generally is high enough RPM to cause the filter to go to 20PSI an the waterfall to run.

    I believe it's pulling from the skimmers, but I'm not familiar enough with the pool yet to know what the valve positions mean. It looks to me like the main drain is off (but again, I'm not positive.)

    There is water in the skimmers. I'll double check the weirs.

    Thanks!

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    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

    I'm seeing two pumps.. I had assumed that the pump on the left was for your waterfall, but maybe not.. Do you have a Spa?

    I doubt the electric valve selects between your Main Drain or Skimmers. More likely between the Spa/Pool or Cleaner/Pool.

    If the electric valve selects Cleaner/Pool and you are in the "Cleaner" mode, then if your cleaner is plugged up with leaves, just as you said the Pump Basket was, that my be your issue.

    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: Yes, yes, another &quot;trouble priming pump&quot; newbie post :)

    Ok, got it to work! A few things that may have helped: The cleaner head was gunked up with leaves, as Jim suspected. I opened the bleed valve at the top of the filter to let air out that way. I turned on the pump on high speed and let it run for a few minutes and finally saw that it was sucking a little water from the intake, so that was a good sign. Finally, I turned the lower/manual valve and that seemed to let in enough water to finally get things going.

    It still took a long time (several mins) for all the air to get out of the system and the pump to fill completely. I suspect that the pool guy left the o-ring off, which caused all the water in the pipes to drain down to pool level.

    Still, the question remains: What are the various valves doing? Unfortunately they're not labeled. Jim, you said you doubt the electric valve selects between main drain and skimmers. However, I noticed that once I got the pump primed I was getting good suction in both skimmers and the cleaner at the same time.

    Tips on reverse engineering this? Just go ahead and turn valves and see what happens?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimrahbe View Post
    I'm seeing two pumps.. I had assumed that the pump on the left was for your waterfall, but maybe not.. Do you have a Spa?
    Ah, sorry for not being clear. Yes, there's a spa, raised above pool level. The waterfall just comes over the side of the spa when the main pump is running on high. The pump on the left must just be for spa jets, right?
    First-time pool owner. 30K-40K gallons (unsure) in-ground, with elevated spa that has small waterfall into pool. Mostly rectangular. Built in 1997. Pentair EasyTouch. Intelliflo vs3050 pump. 600-sq-ft pool solar. Triton Minimax 400 heater. Two skimmers, one leaf sucker. Auto-fill.

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Yes, yes, another "trouble priming pump" newbie post :)

    Good news!

    Yes, feel free to turn the valves and see what happens. Just be ready to turn it back quickly if the pump starts cavitating. You can take a couple of pics of the equipment pad and we can take a swag at how it is plumbed too if you need more help.

    Yes, the other pump is most likely spa jets.
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