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Thread: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

  1. Back To Top    #1

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    Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    Hi,
    I am new to this forum so I apologize if I am missing a simple answer. I have a 40x16 in ground concrete pool with 1.5 horse power pump, sand filter, hose solar system, and 4 return jets. I lose about 1 inch a day of water for the second season in a row and have air constantly in the pump. One jet has constant small bubbles coming from it. When I either close the skimmer or use a vacuum hooked to the skimmer the same jet gets large air bubbles. (Sometimes these bubbles may push to 2 other jets, but mainly just the one) Last year I had a pool guy come out and confirm there was no leak at all in my skimmer line. So we plugged the main drain at the bottom and completely disconnected the line thinking that was the problem. (His other choice was to tear everything up, cut the side of the pool out and replace the entire line for $5000-$10000) Started the pool this year and still lose the same amount of water with the same amount of bubbles with the main drain disconnected. (Thank God I didn't go with the $10,000 plan since that wasn't the problem) With understanding there is no problems with my main drain or skimmer line there is still air in the pump. Not just tiny amounts but the water does not reach the lid of the pump. The structure is in great shape with only surface cracks that we repair when closing, and we didn't lose water after it was closed for 9 months. (Canadian winters) We have connected and unplugged the main drain so we have proper circulation.
    So if it isn't my main drain, skimmer, or structure, I can only assume my problem is the jets. We are going to re plumb the jet lines above ground and give each jet it's own shut off valve, so we can isolate which one is the problem, avoiding having to dig up all the lines and destroy all the concrete patio around the pool. Two pool guys told me we only needed 3 jets for our size of pool. So here are my questions: 1. Is our plan a valid one or am I wasting time 2.. money? 2. If there has been confirmation that it isn't the skimmer line or main drain why is there still significant amounts of air in the pump?
    Could an air leak in the return jet force some air to go to the pump?
    Please let me know if there is anything I can clarify. I would love to figure this problem out but am getting frustrated paying for professionals to come out but not find the problem.
    40x16 inground concrete pool
    1.5 horse power pump
    cycles through new solar pipes for heating

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    Re: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    1) Don't let those "pool professionals" on your property anymore, there diagnostic approach sounds like...well that's not the problem... okay,it's got to be this...( jack hammering away at the pool wall )..well i guess that wasn't it either..(they ask for more money, because they didn't expect to have to tear out the other side of the pool now to)...(then they look at you and say)..."sorry we can't find the problem"

    2) These guys actually, after cutting your main drain line ( that probably wasn't necessary ) as part of there diagnostics, looked you square in the eye and told you ..." we have to rip out part of your pool and it will cost $5000-$10,000

    3) Your "jets" as you call them, from the pool wall where they end, and all of the pipe they connect to all the way to the pump where they start, only have water pressure, any leaks from the "jets" will be "water leaks" they are not suction lines, suction lines are in the front of the pump, and end up at the main drain and the skimmer, this is where the pump draws the water from, when air is noticed in the system, it comes from the "suction" side of the pump, although technically the skimmer, and/or main drain, and anywhere along the pipes they connect to that lead up to the front of the pump, have the potential to develop air leaks, it could be a broken pvc fitting underground, or a loose fitting underground that may have a very small drip when the pump is off, but when the pump is on, the suction from the pump, as it pulls water in, will now suck air through that area on the fitting that was dripping water when the pump was off, the suction lines when the pump is off, can drip water ( not always, but they can ) from a loose or broken fitting underground, but will suck in air when the pump is running. After the suction side of the pump, the next pvc fitting on the top of the pump is the pressure or return side, instead of feeling suction like you would at the skimmer, the pressure side expels the water like a garden hose that's turned on, the pressure side does not suc water, the only leaks that ever occur are water leaks only, where the front fitting on the pump can pull in air if it's loose, the return fitting on top of the pump if it's loose leaks water only where the water starts to be pushed back to the pool, any air that is pulled from the suction side air leaks, is passed through and is noticed at the pool "jets"

    4) The 1st area to check for possible air leaks is where they are most commonly found, the front pvc fitting that threads into the pump can become loose and suck air, from overheating the pump if the water level has ever been low, and the pump has ran dry, any valve for main drain, or skimmer, can be a source for air leaks, anything front the front fitting on the pump leading back to the skim/drain valves, and the pipes there connected to before they go underground, so the pipes for skim/drain where they come up from the ground, and anything they connect to ending at the front pump fitting can all be potential sources for air leaks, these are the 1st places to search for air leaks..NOT the skimmer or main drain lines underground !!

    5) You mentioned something about new solar lines, did all of the problems your now having start after the new solar lines were installed? ( i don't know what you mean by new solar lines )if so, explain more about what that means, are they on the roof? how far is the pump from the pool?

    6) DO NOT do anything with the "jets" that is not where the problem is,
    you have to verify whether or not any air leak, or leaks, can be found at the front of the pump as i described, if they did not look there 1st or even at all, i don't know, bottom line is this could end up being a very simple and easy to find problem, like a loose fitting on the pump.

    7) I need details also, on when you 1st noticed this, did it seem to happen after something else was done to the pool..solar?
    pool age, pump type, what kind of valves, how far away is the pump from the pool, is the pump ground level with pool,or above grade, anything you can think of.

    p.s. I have been a pool repair/remodel tech in Phoenix, AZ. for 25 years , i have worked on thousands of pools...( I DO NOT CLEAN POOLS )

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    Re: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    HI,
    Thank you for your reply. I understand your explanation of the suction side so I will leave the jets alone. (Please let me know what they are actually called) I was using a process of elimination because after testing the main drain and the skimmer the air and leakage remained the same. Here are the answers to your questions, hopefully this can find a solution for me. (without paying $10,000)
    1. We have replaced the pvc lines from the shut off valves for the main drain and skimmer to the pump. From the pump to the sand filter, then to the heating system. The lines that have not been replaced is of course underground, up to the shut off valves of the main drain and skimmer line. And from the solar heating to the return jet lines, including their underground lines.
    2. The solar system was done this year and consists of pex pipe and all new connections. It had made a significant change in the temperature. They are on their own platform about 50 feet downhill from the pool. There was still the same amount of leakage and air in the pump/jets before and after the solar heating. So I can't imagine this is the problem.
    3. The pump itself was replaced last year. It is about 10 feet from the pool. We have checked all the seals and o-rings. I do notice when I stop the pump it always squirts out water. Not sure if that is normal. The pump itself is ground level with the pool. The sand filter was replaced 4 years ago because arms were broken inside and pumped sand all over the pool.
    4. We bought the house 4 years ago and noticed the leak pretty much from there. The air bubbles have become more consistent in the last 2 years. Since the first year we have consulted with someone, replace and fix something (or disconnect) and the following year find it wasn't the "fix" needed. The pool, guessing was install about 15 years ago.
    The shut off valves on the main drain and skimmer lines, and the solar heating are all single union ball valves. (white with blue handles) the parts with the original plumbing I believe is the old ball valves, copper/metal with the red circle for the handle.

    5. 2 things I have noticed with the pool today when I am taking really close look myself. First is when I shut off the skimmer and ran just the main drain, the pump was not filling up with water and just had a steady stream flowing in. The 3 of the 4 jets had bubbles. The second thing I noticed, even though I backwash the sand filter on a regular basis, it was running at 25 psi, which I thought was high.

    6. Also, the skimmer does not have a hard suction. Not sure how much pull it should have. It does work the vacuum fine.

    Last to mention, we live on a rock bed so it is very hard to see any water/puddles because it seeps right into the ground. I have no problem at all replacing all of the lines above ground, just to see if that is the problem. I guess my big fear is it is underground and looking at big money. But again, after being told there isn't a skimmer leak and after the main drain being plugged and disconnected, am I being optimistic that it is just a line above ground I haven't replaced?

    Thanks again
    40x16 inground concrete pool
    1.5 horse power pump
    cycles through new solar pipes for heating

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    Re: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    With the pump running, bleed the air out of the filter tank, then shut the pump off, then look through the clear pump lid, see if you notice bubbles, or air blip bubbles, that look like they come from the lid, or if bubbles look like they come from the pipe in front of the pump when looking through the clear lid, bubbles with be like blip, blip, blip, also as your doing this, listen to the equipment, is there an obvious bleeding down sound that can be heard, where you here the filter tank blub, blub , etc.

    A pool that has a tight seal, will be quiet when turned off, and no air blips in the pump lid area, and it will stay like that, the water in the pump will stay full to the top of the pump lid, no bubbles, etc. this is the most ideal condition for being sealed, many pools will have some kind of bleed down that varies from no bleed down, to a few blips, and an occasional blub,blub,
    a pool with a bad seal when the pump is turned off, will back flow water back to the skimmer and blow the skimmer lid off, and water will land on the pool deck,

    Also does the pump have any problems picking up prime after it's been off for several hours, priming is the state the pump begins with as it slowly pulls water and gradually builds up to being primed and the pump is pumping 100%, pool equipment that has a good seal, and holds that seal overnight when it's turned off, when it turns back on the next day it will prime in seconds,
    pools that have trouble priming can take several minutes before they show signs of water starting to flow from the front pipe into the pump basket area, and gradually more and more water comes out of the pipe until it primes,
    and pools that have been run dry many times because the pool water level got to low and the pump had no water to pull because the level got lower than the skimmer, eventually have damage to any thing in front of the pump potentially, the pipe fitting gets loose, so loose that as the pump tries to prime, it can't because air is being pulled through the loose fitting, and it can't create the necessary suction to prime, remember pool pumps only pump water, air is to a pool pump, like kryptonite is to superman

    Anytime you have to use a garden hose to fill the pump to get it to prime, or stick a hose in the skimmer line to force water to the pump, something is wrong, self priming pumps that no longer are able to prime on there own indicates air leaks, also remember there can be multiple places air leaks develop over time that add up to eventually cause the pump to have problems, etc.

    Also when turning the valves for either skimmer or main drain, does the pump get noisier when one is shut off from both having been on, how does the pump lid look when both valves are wide open? what about when drain is open, and skimmer off? then drain off, skimmer on?

    What brand of pump do you have?

    Does the solar have any bypass valve to just return pool water back to pool and bypass solar?

    Does the other heater have a by pass valve to

    25 psi sounds high to me also

    Does the water squirt around the pump lid area?
    this can indicate an air leak, that little squirt of water that happens when pump is turned off, can also be an air leak when the pump is running
    after it squirts water, does it bleed down rapidly or anything while its off? do bubbles appear at the are where water squirted with pump off?

    when you vac pool, or otherwise create more suction by restricting a suction line, it can make an air leak worse or more obvious as it tends to want to pull more air through that leak area as the suction line gets more restrictive

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    Re: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    I followed your steps and here are my observations.
    When I close the main drain and run just from the skimmer, there aren't any bubbles in the pump that I can see but there are burst of bubbles from the return lines. When I close the skimmer and run just the main drain the pump is not full, just a steady stream of water pouring from the line, also it gets noisier.
    When both lines are open there is bubbles at the top of the pump lid, with a steady stream of bubbles coming from the line. When I stop the pump it remains full with a bubble gap at the top.
    So these observations are from running only the skimmer:
    When I bleed the air out and shut the pump off it remains full of water. Every night I turn the pump off and it starts right up in the morning, no problem priming.
    The solar does have a bypass valve. When we shut it off the bubbles and leak remains the same.

    As for the pump squirting water around the lid. There isn't any when it is running. Only both sides squirt when I turn it off when both lines are open. I did notice when only the skimmer line is open it did not squirt water.

    Our pump is a Hayward 1 hp Super pump. model c48k2n143b3. I honestly thought we were sold 1.5 hp, so is the pump strong enough for our size of pool?

    So I am assuming I have leak in my main drain. But with it shut off and only running the skimmer, I still get burst of tiny bubbles from the return lines. Does that mean I also have a problem with my skimmer line? Tonight I will measure the water levels and see if I still lose water.
    40x16 inground concrete pool
    1.5 horse power pump
    cycles through new solar pipes for heating

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    Re: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    The main drain/line sounds as if it may have an obstruction in it, that is exactly what the pouring of the water in the pump, and the extra noise from the pump indicate to me, this should also show lower filter pressure on the gauge.

    The solar bypass was about the high 25 psi on the gauge, what are the difference, if any, when it is bypassed, to when it is not? does the psi go down when solar is bypassed?

    The squirting of water can only occur when the pump shuts off, not when it is running.

    The bubble on top of the pump lid when its off is normal, the squirting of water from the lid can indicate an air leak location, but that is minor, your system seems pretty sealed for the most part, at this point, i would say as old as the pool is and such, it is not that bad, a few bubbles is not really a problem, there is a test you can do to confirm water loss, it is called the bucket test, which this site i believe provides instructions on how to do, it measures against any normal evaporation loss to actual pool water loss, although i don't think evaporation loss is much of an issue for your location, when compared to mine in Phoenix AZ. the test does eliminate any concerns of water loss that may be evaporation caused.

    The bottom line here is that i can only do so much without actually being in front of your pool, i cant see the bubbles from here to gauge an effective response as to whether or not it's to much air, or not, type thing, but what i can say to you is to stop stressing out over this, its a swimming pool, its old, and everything so far is manageable, i have to run, i will stay on top of this for you, and follow up in a day or two, and provide a final thought on how you should pro cede.

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    Re: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    I wanted to thank you for your help. When you mentioned that the main drain sounds like it has an obstruction, a bunch of light bulbs went on. The previous owners never covered the pool for the winter, and we are located literally in a middle of a forest, so the pool would have a crazy amount of debris on the bottom.
    This made me think that the pool guy who "tested" the skimmer could have been wrong. I was going on the information that he provided me that it did not have a leak. I ran the bucket test many different ways, and surprise, the only time I lost water is when the skimmer was open. Not even the line but only when the skimmer box was not plugged. I am glad to know that it isn't a line running deep, and now we just need to replace the skimmer box.
    So, the one question I have for you is what is the best way to clear the obstruction from the main drain? Could we do it from the union near the pump, or from the bottom of the pool? I want to avoid emptying my pool completely for the 3rd year in the row. Also, should we use just a garden hose in the line, or use a plug with an air compressor? The only thing I am worried about the air compressor is building too much pressure and actually blowing the main drain.
    Thanks again, without your guidance this would have continued being very frustrating and expensive.
    40x16 inground concrete pool
    1.5 horse power pump
    cycles through new solar pipes for heating

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    Re: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    When you were describing your bucket test(s) results, you described how the skimmer was plugged at the box, and this was when you noticed no more water loss, when you say "plugged" do you mean a threaded pvc plug that was threaded into the hole at the bottom of the skimmer where you connect your vacuum hose, or was it a rubber expansion plug that you gradually tighten inside the hole? (not that the type of plug really matters to much) i am just trying to get an idea that's more descriptive and accurate for me to process, due to your generic descriptions, and inaccurate terminology, that scrambles things a bit when i try to make heads or tales of what you are trying to say, which in know way am i faulting you for.

    So, as i understand it, when you don't notice water loss,. it is when the skimmer is plugged at the skimmer box, which i take that to mean, the skimmer line, that connects the skimmer to the front of the pump, is now isolated from the box because you have a plug of some type in the port or opening inside the skimmer where the pipe 1st meets the skimmer.

    If this is correct, than you obviously cannot use the skimmer when it is plugged like that, so does that mean you are using just the main drain to circulate the pool water when you do this test? or because the main drain is only able to draw so much water due to possible/likely obstruction, are you determining this without the pump running?

    I guess what I am saying, or trying to say is, very specific, and highly detailed responses to my questions are helpful.

    At what point has the skimmer box, or line, been isolated as the leak source? do you think it is where the pipe 1st connects to the skimmer port at the bottom of the skimmer?

    This is a common location for skimmer leaks to occur, where the fitting meets the skimmer, and makes sense when you vac pool and notice more air from the jets, (pool return line) but when the pump is off, would leak water from this area, but when pump is on it would suck air, and not leak water because the pump is on, get it? and may not necessarily involve total skimmer replacement, at this point just try to stick to diagnostics and not assuming a specific this, or that, needs to be done, like total skimmer replacement.

    I want to know, via bucket test for 24 hours, how much pool water loss occurs with the skimmer unplugged, and in its normal state, with the pool pump "off" for 24 hours, this is a "static" loss test
    Then how much loss with the pump running for 24 hours, remember you have to verify bucket level matches pool level before each test

    This should further isolate a leak from a fitting, because the water loss should be less when the pump runs, because it will suck air through the fitting during the 24 hours of run time, vs more noticeable water loss when the pump is off for 24 hours, because the fitting is not under suction and should leak water.

    Your skimmer probably leaks air when the pump is on now the way it has been running, and leaks water during the hours it is off at night, or whenever its off, understand?

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    Re: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    I will also tell you that pics would help tremendously, of everything, at least the skimmer, put me in front of your pool as much as possible type thing if you can, although it does appear progress is being made here, pics would help.

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    Re: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    As far as the drain is concerned, i would tread carefully here, compressed air is not something i recommend, a garden hose will not work, the best way in my opinion is to have access to the drain itself, remove the drain cover, (assuming there even is a cover) and clear what you can that is obvious, there is a 90' elbow somewhere and it is usually the first fitting on the drain before it continues to the pump, this is where the problem usually is, there is something i use occasionally called a "drain jet" it is a 8'' long or so bag that attaches to a garden hose and inflates inside the pipe from the water pressure to allow as much pressure to go to obstruction to dislodge it, this would be attached at the pump area or at a point there about that can be directed towards the drain as far as water flow from the drain jet, and yes the union area you mentioned would be where the drain jet could possibly be inserted and reverse the normal flow direction to push the obstruct out the same way it came in, while this is on, you should notice water returning out of drain area, and possible debris being forced out also, indicating its working to clear it out, this unfortunately requires the pool to be drained, or a scuba setup perhaps.

    I myself, because i have experience clearing out lines, use a co2 tank, this is not something i advice using unless you have cleared hundreds of lines using it before, and i might be more comfortable myself draining the pool and carefully clear the way i describe to you above, because it is the drain area and it has the kind of overwhelming debris problem you describe with the forest, i am trying to suggest to you a saver alternate approach inline with your limited experience, and to be careful who you entrust this job to if you do not involve yourself in it.

    I would drain the pool, run a drain jet from the top pipe at the pump that directs water to drain, and carefully try to remove debris with a piece of stiff wire that can be stuck in drain opening to help remove debris.

    You can even try the drain jet now, with water in the pool, and having the drain cover off, and diving down to try and remove debris with a piece of wire that won't get stuck in the line, just enough to poke and prod, for that matter you might even find that the drain jet alone when turned on at the drain line at the pump may even be enough to dislodge it, although i doubt it will work so easily, but you never know, hope this makes sense.

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    Re: Losing water and lots of jet bubbles

    Add your state to your sig, please. Few of us know where Owen Sound is.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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