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Thread: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

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    Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    OK, some brief background.

    I just moved into a new house and am now the first time onwer of a pool/spa. I've been reading up the last couple months and trying to learn as much about my setup as possible (I'm more of a DIY person...I always modify, tweak everything I own..it's a bit of a sickness ) Anyway, I just made my first mistake...completely my fault for not researching and learning enough. But, here's what happened:

    My spa is above the pool and has the water cascade over one edge into the pool. I have a two pump system, cartridge filter, heater. The spa has 2 main drains, a number of jets. The pool has a main drain and a skimmer. This setup is from somehwere in the early 90's (my guess). The two pumps are identical 2HP Pentair Ultraflow pumps. One pump is for the pool and one is for the spa. Well, I think a better description is one is for the pool and the other is a booster pump for the spa. That's sort of where my mistake comes in.

    The 'main' pump for the pool has three suction lines coming in. One from the skimmer, one from the main drain (each with valves to open/close) and a third pipe without a valve. I wasn't sure about this one, but I thought this might be the inlet from the pressure return of the booster pump? All three of these pipes join to a three way jandy valve before going into the inlet of the main pump.

    The second pump (booster pump) has one suction line coming in with a valve. I'm nearly certain this is simply coming from the main drain from the spa, since the water will flow from the pump basket continoulsy if I have the cover off and the valve open (since the spa is higher than the pump). The pressure return from this booster pump goes into the ground to I 'assume' that third inlet to the suction side of the main pump.

    Here's where my mistake today came in: I have been filtering and vacuuming the pool for the last few weeks/months, getting used to the setup and beginning to check my water chemistry, etc. The water flows back to the spa and pool, overflowing from the spa. This is all from the main pump. The booster pump had never been turned on before today. I wanted to see how that pump operates and the effect on the spa, etc, and to get a better undertanding of the system. Well, that jandy valve that I mentioned above didn't have a handle on it, so I never even thought it through that it may be closed coming from the pressure side of the booster pump. I almost thought it purposely didn't have a handle so you don't mess with it. The breakers on the main and booster pump are keyed so that the main pump has to be on first (seeming to reassure that the third line into the main pump is the pressure return from the booster pump).

    Immediately upon turning on the booster pump, the pressure built up too high and cracked the housing (part # v38-130). I immediately turned the booster pump off, closed the suction valve, and the water stopped spraying/leaking out. Then, I decided to troubleshoot.

    Turns out that jandy valve without the handle had that third line closed. If I'm right and that is indeed the pressure return from the booster pump, that pressure had no where to go until it broke something. It was my mistake for not checking it, but seeing that there was no handle on it, that is probably why I overlooked it (and me being green to the whole new setup didn't help). Well, lesson learned.

    I see that there is another jandy valve on the return from the heater exit...assuming you can direct where you want most the returned water to go (pool or spa). Well, I took that handle off (didn't know they even came off that easy) and put it on the jandy valve in question. Of course...it was closed to that third inlet to the main pump. So, I'm 99% sure that is what caused my problem and the booster pump housing to crack. Completely my fault and I can admit that it was my mistake for not checking better.

    OK, time for my options: The good news is that I don't even plan on using the spa as a spa. I don't feel like paying high gas bills to have a spa that I will probably never use or grow out of very quickly. The pool, on the other hand, I will use a lot. So, that being said, I'm in good working order even with the broken booster pump. My spa will simply act like an extension of the pool. The main pump is still filtering the pool/spa and running the skimmer/vacuum.

    My question comes into whether I should even replace the broken part or to go to a single variable speed pump system?? Since these are pretty old pumps in the first place, I'm not sure if it would be wise to invest more money in them. Doing a quick search on the replacement volute, the part is about $90 shipped at the cheapest find and then complete disassembly is needed to replace it.

    I was looking at the new Intelliflo variable speed pumps. Not only would it save me probably 70% on electricity costs, but I could run my pump longer each day and use it at the higher speed if I ever did want to use the spa. Would that be a viable option for me? Can one variable speed pump replace my two pump system? Or is that just a bad choice for some reason? I was just telling my wife that I was thinking about replacing our main pump with a variable speed to save costs...maybe this booster pump breaking was a sign for me to go that route.

    If anyone can save me a little time and research, it's much appreciated. I like learning myself, but others more experienced can always speed up the process and help avoid common issues. Sorry for the long post.

    The pool size is roughly 20,000-25,000 gallons. I can give any additional info that is needed.


    Thanks,
    Eric
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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    How about some photos? It sounds live you've got some things mixed up and pictures will help greatly in sorting that out. For example, a Jandy valve on the suction (inlet) side of the pump would not have anything to do with a booster pump; it would control the flow from one of your suction sources (skimmer, main drain, and/or vacuum port).

    Welcome to TFP! The variable speed pumps are said to be very nice, but pricey. Depending on your electric rates, their high cost may not ever pay itself back.
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    I can definitely add some pics for clarification. I know pictures are much easier to see than read a ton or wordy descriptions. I'll get some up later today.

    As far as the variable speed pumps, the intelliflo can be found online in the $800 range. Doing some quick math, I would save roughly $60/month in electric charges switching from my current 2HP pump. I hate having high recurring payments. I would rather pay more upfront as long as the cost can be recouped within a year or two.
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    OK, here are some pics to help out my explanations.

    This is the overall setup where you can see both pumps.[attachment=2:3nu6wm6w]overall.jpg[/attachment:3nu6wm6w]
    This is the 'main' pump (on the right). The skimmer inlet is on the right, the main drain is in the middle. The third line I have questioned is on the left. Is this the pressure from the other pump? This is what was closed with the jandy valve.
    [attachment=1:3nu6wm6w]mainpump2.jpg[/attachment:3nu6wm6w]
    A closer view[attachment=0:3nu6wm6w]mainpump1.jpg[/attachment:3nu6wm6w]
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    More pics

    Closer view of 'booster' pump. Where is that pressure exit (pipe on left) going? Is it going to the pipe on the left to the inlet of the main pump? [attachment=1:3srkuv04]booster.jpg[/attachment:3srkuv04]

    View of the exit from filter to heater, etc. Another jandy valve here.[attachment=0:3srkuv04]filterheater.jpg[/attachment:3srkuv04]
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    There are a couple of parts of your explanation that can't be quite right. No pool pump will destroy it's self in seconds just because a valve is set wrong. Many pumps will overheat after a couple to several minutes and then melt/deform the plastic parts of the pump housing eventually getting to destroyed. But that process takes time, you said something happened quickly, and if it happened quickly it wasn't just because a valve was closed, or open, incorrectly.

    The booster pump as you call it most likely draws from the spa drain and feeds to the spa jets. It should be completely independent of the other system. The main pump most likely can feed from either the pool or the spa or both and return to either or both through separate pipes.

    There will be a Jandy valve to select between pool and spa on the suction side of the main pump and another to select between pool and spa on the output of the main pump. There are also likely to be multiple pipes coming from the pool, perhaps as many as one for each skimmer and one for the main drain(s).

    I also see in your picture that there is a ball valve on the "booster" pump input that is closed in the pictures. That valve needs to be open when you are using that pump. No doubt it needs to be closed right now to keep the broken pump from leaking.
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    Hi,
    This is quite straight forward. (if done right)
    From your filter pump, the two suction pipes on the right, as you said go to the skimmer, and maindrain. On the other side of the 3way, that pipe goes to you spa suction. The little thing with the cap on it is an old check valve to keep the water from backing through the pump when off.
    The second jandy by the heater is hard to see, but I would assume it returns water to either the pool or spa. Should be a checkvalve on the spa return.
    The spa booster pump would be for the spa jets. That should go directly to the spa, it would be crazy of them to plumb it back into the first system. I cant tell what that lump is on the booster return pipe, is it a coupling over two couplings, or some kind of inline check valve. If it is the later, then maybe it is stuck shut.
    It is also possible the spa jets are all clogged for some reason. Has this pool had any recent work, or been out of service for some time. Maybe a line froze and was capped?

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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    Thanks both for the replies.

    Yes, at first I was thinking that possibly shut/stuck jets on the hot tub or a clogged pressure line coming from the spa pump. I only gave the thought of the spa pump being plumbed back into the main pump after I saw that suction side jandy valve closed for that third suction line.

    But your explanations sound more reasonable that the third line is simply a suction from the spa for the main pump and it was closed to keep the water overflowing from the spa to pool. Also, there is a jandy valve (hard to see in the pics) on the return side after the heater...my assumption and yours that it simpy is used to divert the return to the pool, spa, or both.

    So, if we are to assume that this wasn't plumbed in this weird way and the spa pump return is truly separate, then it must be either clogged jets or something stuck in the return line. That 'bump' in the return line from the spa pump seems like just a coupler of some sort, but I will take a closer look. Maybe it is a check valve that got stuck. As far as frozen, I don't think that's possible...it's 80* here and I'm in California, where we would be lucky to see freezing one night a year. But, I'm all for hearing possibilities on what happened.

    And yes, this housing cracking immediately after turning the pump on. I mean like a split second, water gushing everywhere from the crack. Only then did I shut off the pump and close that valve on the suction line. It was open to start.
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    Just checked...yes, that 'bump' on the spa pump return is a check valve. King Brothers 2" check valve.

    Another side question for you guys...

    What are the two open pipes for? One is a 1.5-2" open pipe with a 90* bend at the top and one is a 4" open pipe, with a couple 90* bends pointing down to the ground. You can see both of them in the pics I posted (in front of the filter area). I was thinking that the 4" was a tie in to the main sewer line to ease draining of the pool (assuming it was legal at the time of the pool being built) since the 'P' trap built into it. But, I don't want to make any more assumptions at this point.
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    Also, one last question.

    If this second pump wasn't tied into the first in some way, why are the breakers keyed so that the main filter pump needs to be on before the spa pump is turned on?
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    One of the open pipes is going to be air for the spa jets, probably the smaller pipe. I have no idea what the other one would be. If you had the spa pump working, you would be able to cover the air intake pipe to verify that is what it was, and when you got the right pipe the bubbles in the spa would stop.

    Something was wrong with that pump before you started it up, otherwise it wouldn't have done what you describe. It sounds like freeze damage to me, but it could be several other things. At this point it probably doesn't really matter how it got broken.

    My guess is that there is little else wrong beyond the broken pump, missing handle, and everything being several years old. Of course it is difficult to tell at this point. With the jet pump broken you can't really test to see how the jets and associated plumbing are working.
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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    The breakers were likely tied together because you probably wouldn't be in the spa, with the jets on, but the heat off. Since the heater is in the other plumbing loop, you've gotta run both.
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    Makes sense about the breakers being keyed that way.

    I guess freeze damage is a possibility...maybe the cover was just weak and it finally cracked at initial pressure load? I don't know...like you said, I can't test it now. But I'm still curious if I have a clog or stuck check valve now, though. In any event, I'm OK for now, since I won't be using the spa anyway.

    I'll leave the rest of the troubleshooting/investigation to me (unless there are other clever suggestions), but on to my other question then:

    Can I replace this entire two pump setup with one variable speed pump, like the intelliflo VS-3050? Any major advantage/disadvantage?
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    Since you have to buy a pump anyway, that would be a good option. Just make sure you put in a heater bypass, so you dont strip out the heater on higher speeds.

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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    Installing an IntelliFlo will require some re-plumbing and requires either sending 100% of the spa jet flow through the filter and the heater or some clever plumbing and valve setup. Most filters aren't so good at handling flow rates that high. There will almost certainly be a efficiency improvement in pool mode, but in spa mode you either lose a little efficiency or need some clever plumbing to get the spa jet flow to bypass the filter while still insuring sufficient flow goes through the heater.
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    Re: Broke housing on spa pump (my mistake) - need options

    Thanks for the replies guys.

    As far as plumbing, from what I can see, I think most everything is already setup to convert this to a single pump. The two pump setup now consists of the main pump pulling from the pool's skimmer and main drain and from the one of the spa drains (jandy valve to choose either pool or spa, or both). The return is jandy valve to pool, spa, or both.

    The second pump seems to be a separate loop that pulls from the spa's second drain and returns to the spa. The only common plumbing here seems that the main pump and the second pump both return to the spa via the jets and returns. I'm guessing, like you guys said, one of those open air pipes simply pulls in air when the spa pump is on to give you the bubbles in the spa.

    So, I was simply going to replace both pumps with just a single Intelliflow VF or VS (maybe VF to keep all programmability on the pump itself without needed separate automation). For the plumbing, on the suction side, I only need to tie in the one separate spa drain and on the return side, I just need to valve in the one separate return path (to include the spa return with air bubble path). This path already bypasses the heater and filter, so, I was thinking one jandy valve to be able to operator 'spa' mode would do it...and then run the pump at a high enough speed to produce the air bubbles. The main return already goes through the filter and heater, so if I truly wanted a spa only mode, I could set the existing jandy pull and existing jandy return to go to only the spa.

    An alternative, I was thinking was to keep my completely functioning old 2HP pump and keep it in the separate spa side and run it only when I wanted the 'spa' mode and run the intelliflow for the main filter/heater side. But, seeing that I most likely will rarely run the heater or spa mode, I was simply thinking about option 1 instead. This would give me an overal much more efficient setup with the ability to still run the spa as a true spa when I wanted.
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