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Thread: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

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    Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    Greetings all, long time no see. I had my pool opened Saturday. The pool guy left the hose in the pool running and got the pump running on the bottom drain. Everything was working fine. When the water filled up to the skimmer basket, I turned the bottom drain off and the skimer on to start trying to clean the top of the water.

    The pump runs, and water runs normally into the pump, then slows down, then fills up, slows down...the water bubbled out of the returns in the pool, then nothing, then bubbles...when I say "bubbles" I mean a big eruption in the water.

    When I turn the bottom drain back on, then it runs fine. It was doing the same thing yesterday on backwash...pumps, stops, pumps, stops...Tonight, when I turned it on backwash, it took about 30 seconds, then it pumped out fine, no stopping.

    I had both the skimmer and botton drain going, water coming through the returns, and added CYA s-l-o-w-l-y through the skimmer. When I finished, I took the basket out, and most of the CYA was sitting in the inside of the skimmer. I scooped it up by hand and fed it into the drain.

    Ideas??? This is driving me nuts. Well, this, and the abundance of frogs that have made my pool their love shack.

    TIA.
    18x36 IG oval w/vinyl liner, 21k gallon, sand filter, Aquabot cleaner

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    DaveNJ's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    It would help to have the info about your pool in your signature. Sounds like the skimmer doesn't supply enough water to the pump by itself. Check the skimmer when you run it. Full of water then pump draws all the water out and air enters the plumbing so the pump loses prime. Then the water fills the skimmer and repeats the cycle.
    IG 18x36 oval vinyl, Spill over spa, Northstar 2hp-2spd, 2.5" piping, S310T 500lb Sand filter, 400k gas heater, AutoPilot SWCG
    http://www.tftestkits.net/

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    You sure the water level is high enough in the skimmer (2/3 up)? Sounds like a suction side air leak. Can you post pics of your setup?

    Please update your profile to include your pool info: Go to User Control Panel, then Profile, then Edit Signature, you are allowed 5 lines of text.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    sammm's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    Check that your weir(s) are working/flapping correctly. I had one that was getting stuck once in awhile...drove me crazy until I finally found that!
    WetEdge Satin Matrix, 16K gallon, Pentair NSP-60 DE filter, Pac Fab Challenger, 2HP pump, BBB, Polaris 360

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    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    Thanks for the replies. I've been busy and haven't had a chance to check back in.

    My pool is an 18x36 IG with a vinyl liner. I have no idea what size pump/filter, but it's sand.

    I had my pool guy come out and look at it, and no luck. He put some epoxy substance on the pump lid where he said it looked cracked, thinking that might be the culprit.

    It works fine as long as the bottom drain is running with the skimmer or alone, but if the skimmer runs alone then I have problems. This is the first time this has happened.

    No weir valve, and the water is high enough.

    When I turned the pump off, the water rushed back through the skimmer basket and blew the lid off.

    I know there is an air leak/pressure issue somewhere, but how would I go about locating it?

    Any ideas, or anyone else experienced this before?

    TIA.
    18x36 IG oval w/vinyl liner, 21k gallon, sand filter, Aquabot cleaner

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    Make sure you have let all the air out of the filter.

    You might want to read the leak detection article at Pool School.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    I updated my sig w/pool info. I'm going to take some pictures of my setup shortly when my digital camera batteries recharge. I'll look to see what make filter I have and add to my sig.

    I Googled "pool air leak" and have done a lot of reading. I read several times to get the pump to prime, then shut it off. Where the water comes out is where your leak is, so I tried it. The only place I saw water coming out was back up through the skimmer basket, and it came out pretty forcefully. My sand filter also made a lot of gurgling when I cut it off.

    I have it narrowed down to the skimmer. If I have it shut off and the bottom drain running by itself, then it runs fine. If I turn the skimmer on with the bottom drain, then I get bubbles. If I turn the bottom drain off and run the skimmer only, then it does as described in my OP.

    I think this eliminates the pump and any fittings going into the pump, as the bottom drain goes into the same fittings. I read where you take a garden hose and run water on the joints and see if the bubbling stops. If so, there's the leak.

    Be back shortly with pics.
    18x36 IG oval w/vinyl liner, 21k gallon, sand filter, Aquabot cleaner

  8. Back To Top    #8

    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...


    The pipe on the left is the bottom drain, the right is the skimmer.







    As you can see, the pipes for the bottom drain and skimmer come into a T then into the pump, so I think that would eliminate the pump and the T fitting in the pump since the bottom drain works fine.
    18x36 IG oval w/vinyl liner, 21k gallon, sand filter, Aquabot cleaner

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    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    Any more ideas after I posted the additional info and pictures as requested?
    18x36 IG oval w/vinyl liner, 21k gallon, sand filter, Aquabot cleaner

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    Try this: get everything running correctly on the main drain only, as you had it before. Then slowly open the valve to the skimmer till you just start to see bubbles in the pump basket or returns. Leave things there, with the skimmer valve just slightly open for a while, then open it a little more, leave it there for a while. Eventually, you should be able to open the skimmer valve all the way. At that point, release any air trapped in the filter and you should be fine for some time.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  11. Back To Top    #11

    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    Try this: get everything running correctly on the main drain only, as you had it before. The slowlyopen the valve to the skimmer till you just start to see bubbles in the pump basket or returns. Leave things there, with the skimmer valve just slightly open for a while, then open it a little more, leave it there for a while. Eventually, you should be able to open the skimmer valve all the way. At that point, release any air trapped in the filter and you should be fine for some time.
    Thanks Jason. I actually started doing this exactly as you described. I had the bottom drain on, skimmer off, then slowly opened the skimmer. It's barely pulling anything into the skimmer, but it's running.

    On my pool, I only have 1 skimmer, and I have to run it with the bottom drain off for it to pull anything into the basket.

    I'll open it a little more every couple of days and see how it goes.

    One really dumb question...how do I release any air trapped in the filter? I've never done this and don't even know if I have an air relief valve.
    18x36 IG oval w/vinyl liner, 21k gallon, sand filter, Aquabot cleaner

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    That little nob under your valve at the top of the filter, opposite the guage - that looks like it might be the air bleed valve. Not sure tho.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

  13. Back To Top    #13
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another "Can't get pump to prime" problem...

    Yes, you open that valve a little and let all the air out, when water starts to come out you close it again.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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