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Thread: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

  1. #1

    System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    Hey guys,

    I'm using a local pool company with my home warranty to try to keep my system primed. Unfortunately the local pool repair company is having problems and the guy looked at it today for 5 minutes and said he doesn't have parts. Didn't write anything down or take a picture or anything then left.

    What could be causing the system to lose prime slowly after the system is turned off? Keep in mind there are no leaks on the equipment pad.

    Thanks in advance,
    Tom
    -Tom

    17,000 gal plaster with spa. Pentair Clean & Clear cartridge filters. Jandy systems with Aqualink RS and Polaris 360.

    Pool Store free since May 2011!

  2. #2
    Senior Member In the Industry

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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    air is being sucked into the system. If there is no water leakage on the pressure side (from the pump to the returns) then you can expect that air leak to be on the suction side between the skimmers and the pump
    Dave S.
    Site Owner 42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter, No SWG
    TFTestkits owner
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  3. #3

    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    That's probably the worst news i've had since I bought this house
    -Tom

    17,000 gal plaster with spa. Pentair Clean & Clear cartridge filters. Jandy systems with Aqualink RS and Polaris 360.

    Pool Store free since May 2011!

  4. #4
    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    Quote Originally Posted by twoolley
    That's probably the worst news i've had since I bought this house
    Could be as simple as a loose pump basket lid or bad O-ring. It's pretty common to have air leaks in valves too.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

  5. #5
    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    It could also be the drain plug(s) on the pump strainer basket. Clean and reseal them and the lid o-ring and see what happens.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 1.5hp Dynamo pump. 24" Pentair Sand Dollar Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit
    You can stop SLAMing your pool when you pass the OCLT (You lose 1ppm or less FC overnight, & You have .5ppm CC's or less) & your water is clear.

  6. #6
    Mod Squad Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    Losing prime AFTER the pump is off is not ideal, but common. An above-ground leak ANYWHERE in the system (suction- or pressure-side) will cause all the water to drain out of the above-ground plumbing when the pump is off. You may not be able to see the above-ground leak, but believe me, it is there. If you don't have air in the pump basket when the pump is running, then there should be a drip somewhere on the pressure side (pump outlet, filter inlet/outlet/drain plug/air release), etc etc).

    As long as the pump primes with no trouble, I would expect them not to fix it. Home warranties are next to useless, especially if it can be argued that there's nothing wrong. This case fits that description.
    11,200 gal, Pebble-Tec; Tristar 2-speed 1hp - Swimclear 325 ft2 cart - SWG - A & A in-floor cleaner - Heat pump. For the poolside cooking, a Yoder Wichita and a Big Steel Keg!
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  7. #7
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    prime occurs only when pump is on,when pump comes on daily according to times that are set for it to do that,the pump is in a priming state,if all is normal,pump will consistently prime itself every time it comes on,usually 30 seconds or so, maybe longer, might be instantaneous,depends on the pool,but several minutes,or having to put running garden hose in skimmer to prime the pump every day it turns on,etc, indicates a problem, that normally results from what we refer to as "meltdown" this happens when water level in pool has dropped for whatever reason,i.e. splash out,no automatic water fill system,broken auto fill system,etc. now the pump is starved for water,and it gets hotter and hotter,as the day goes on,running dry,boiling the water in the pump basket area,and literally melting the pump basket, who knows how many days pump runs this way until it is noticed,homeowners then go to pool store get there new pump basket and then the nightmare starts,now rock the pump slightly and look at the pipe in front of pump to see if it appears loose,it usually is,this is where air leaks are commonly found,big enough to prevent pump from "priming" on its own,99% of homeowners diy types will never, ever,on there best day, realize the heat that melted pump basket has also compromised the inlet/suction pipe in front of pump resulting in huge air leak,and a water leak on the return/discharge pipe on pump,when pump is off at night its not losing prime,why?, because pump is off!!,what it is doing is bleeding down over time during the night,look inside clear pump lid after it is first turns off,little bubbles,blip,blip,blip,the water in the pump basket area draining down slowly,blip,blip,blip, by morning again the pump has lost enough water in pump basket area,that when it turns on,it cant pick up prime, and runs dry,but by now you have probably settled for your new routine of placing garden hose in skimmer forcing water to front of pump while it is running waiting for it to slowly pick up what? "PRIME" months and months go by until someone like myself is finally called out,to create the "seal" it needs by replumbing in/out of pump,checking valves close to pump,etc. all things effected by "meltdown", that unless you have been a repair tech for 20 years like myself,you will never,ever,especially after listening to joe blow at the end of your block, as he sounds convincing and ends up being nothing more than money stolen out of your wallet at your local pool store again, ask yourself this, are you more comfortable taking advice from someone like myself who does this for a living in ARIZONA!!!! or do you hope the dice your rolling are still hot,for the next guy down the street who's explaining how easy it was to fix his pool,and you let these morons in your backyard,only to create hundreds of dollars of more problems,i see it all the time,i touched lightly on a common problem, and how your situation could be the same,i dont have much info on the history of your pool,but if your still having problems, i will try to assist in resolving them,i dont hang around these forums,but i did land on this site the other day,and now i am saving the world one pool at a time,lol! my first question to anyone, on any forum i found, to solve any problem i might be having with something, would be "how many years have you done this for a living" as to whether or not im going to take any advice seriously from someone,anyway....im killing time here and giving away my advice for free,gotta love that! i will check back, off and on, next few days and if i can help i will....adios

  8. #8

    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    The pump primes itself just fine every time it comes on, it just forces a lot of air out of the return jets. My concern is for two things:

    1) Is repriming once a day going to burn up my pump? As I said before, the pump is capable of priming itself just fine, and is running normally within 2-3 minutes.

    2) Is there a water hammer effect on the return jets that is going to affect their seal with the pool? I don't want to put that stress on the wall of the pool if it's going to break it.

    Thanks guys!

    -Tom
    -Tom

    17,000 gal plaster with spa. Pentair Clean & Clear cartridge filters. Jandy systems with Aqualink RS and Polaris 360.

    Pool Store free since May 2011!

  9. #9
    Senior Member mas985's Avatar
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    As long as the pump is priming fairly quickly, then there should be no long term effects. However, I would try to find the air leak if possible as it could get worse over time and if the pump cannot prime in a reasonable amount of time, that could lead to seal problems.

    As was previously stated, the most likely cause is either a bad pump lid seal or the drain plugs. Use a little pool lube on those and see if it helps.

    Also check the filter air bleeder valve. Sometimes those won't leak water out but will still leak air in when the pump is off.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump and Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study
    18'x36' 20k gallon plaster/gunite pool, 1/2 HP 2sp pump, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge Filter, 450 sq-ft EPDM Solar Panel, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  10. #10
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    1) After pool is running for awhile, bleed the air out of filter tank while pump is still running (air relief valve is located on top of filter tank by the pressure gauge) 2) turn pump off 3) look inside the clear pump lid where the pump basket is, don't remove the pump lid,just look inside do you notice any air bubbles from the pump lid o-ring perimeter, or the pipe in front, or any bubbles anywhere inside the pump basket area, they will be little blips, could be a slow blip, could be several blips in a row,these blips, will indicate possible air leaks 4) so...with pump off,looking inside pump lid, do you notice any bubbles developing from anywhere?watch for a minute or two, 5) Your problem sounds minor ,along the lines of what has been said already,i.e. lid o-ring,pump plugs etc.most likely a poor lid o-ring seal,just try the test above to get a better idea 6)does air always come out of returns while pump is on?or just on start up?

  11. #11

    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    Thank you for all the responses, I'm still looking into this and trying several things.

    My wife and I did try to use the spa yesterday and when we turned the control panel inside the house to "spa mode" it started slowly draining the spa into the pool. I have attached a picture of the equipment pad and labeled the water flow as best I could. The spa is elevated above the pool with a spillover into the pool.



    When I change the mode the pool is in, the 2 Jandy actuators change the flow of water from and into the pool/spa.

    Pool Mode - Water is taken from main drain and skimmers and flows into the pool and spa.
    Spa Mode - Water is taken from the spa drains and flows into the pool & spa.

    In Spa Mode the actuator on the valve that feeds the return jets isn't completely moving over to the spa only and it's putting water back into the pool & spa. Is this normal operation?! Shouldn't the water be pulled from the spa drains and then put back into the spa only? In this picture the handles seem to indicate that the water is coming from the pool drains and skimmers and flowing out through the right side return with the check valve on it. That should be to the pool because the pool jets are working right now yet the spa's spillover is also working .

    In Pool Mode the actuator on the valve that feeds the return jets seems to only point to the pool yet there's water going into the spa and the spillover is working.

    Also in spa mode (no blower on) the pump's filter basket is full of air bubbles, so I think there may be a leak somewhere between the spa drains and the pump because it doesn't pull in air otherwise.

    I'm very confused, we've used the spa before and didn't seem to have these problems like we are now; however, power outages that happen in my area seem to play **** with the aqualink system. Any and all advice would be appreciated. I really need to know what these valve positions *should* be for normal operation and if they are off in some way!

    Thanks everyone!
    -Tom

    17,000 gal plaster with spa. Pentair Clean & Clear cartridge filters. Jandy systems with Aqualink RS and Polaris 360.

    Pool Store free since May 2011!

  12. #12
    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    The return valve should move all the way to spa if the suction valve is moving all the way to spa. Otherwise you're going to drain the spa because you're taking more out of it than you're putting into it. There should also be a spillover mode. That's where you take water out of the pool and return it to the spa so it overflows into the pool.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 1.5hp Dynamo pump. 24" Pentair Sand Dollar Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit
    You can stop SLAMing your pool when you pass the OCLT (You lose 1ppm or less FC overnight, & You have .5ppm CC's or less) & your water is clear.

  13. #13

    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    "Pool Mode" seems to be to be the spillover mode them because that is what happens.

    I guess my jandy valve is broken on the other side because it doesn't move all the way. Is there some way to reset it or manually move it all the way over?
    -Tom

    17,000 gal plaster with spa. Pentair Clean & Clear cartridge filters. Jandy systems with Aqualink RS and Polaris 360.

    Pool Store free since May 2011!

  14. #14
    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    You should be able to take the actuator off and move it manually all the way.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 1.5hp Dynamo pump. 24" Pentair Sand Dollar Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit
    You can stop SLAMing your pool when you pass the OCLT (You lose 1ppm or less FC overnight, & You have .5ppm CC's or less) & your water is clear.

  15. #15

    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    I'll give that a try tonight. The valve seems to think that position is it's furthest that it can move to. Is there some way to "reprogram" the valve to move further over or is just that the valve is broken and I should buy a new one?
    -Tom

    17,000 gal plaster with spa. Pentair Clean & Clear cartridge filters. Jandy systems with Aqualink RS and Polaris 360.

    Pool Store free since May 2011!

  16. #16
    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    Depends on if it's the valve or the actuator that's the problem and what's stopping it. If something in the actuator has slipped then you can certainly readjust it to move it all the way. If there's something stuck in the valve you can probably just remove it and all should be good.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 1.5hp Dynamo pump. 24" Pentair Sand Dollar Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit
    You can stop SLAMing your pool when you pass the OCLT (You lose 1ppm or less FC overnight, & You have .5ppm CC's or less) & your water is clear.

  17. #17
    Senior Member mas985's Avatar
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    Some PBs will setup the actuator so there is a little flow through the spa when in pool mode to keep it filtered and chlorinated. Many controllers do not have a timer setting available for both pool only and spillover only so this is the next best thing.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump and Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study
    18'x36' 20k gallon plaster/gunite pool, 1/2 HP 2sp pump, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge Filter, 450 sq-ft EPDM Solar Panel, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  18. #18

    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    Yeah, I don't have a spillover mode.

    In the picture I posted above the valve looks like it's completely closed to the spa, and yet the spa still runs. How is that happening?

    My pool return has the jandy valve on the left with the actuator on it. I assume 1 side is for pool and the other is for spa. Is it possible that the Pool side of it also has a few jets returning to the spa? I only ask because it appears the valve is completely closed on the pool side and yet there's a healthy flow on the spillover.
    -Tom

    17,000 gal plaster with spa. Pentair Clean & Clear cartridge filters. Jandy systems with Aqualink RS and Polaris 360.

    Pool Store free since May 2011!

  19. #19
    Senior Member mas985's Avatar
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    There looks to be separate pipe that is split off right after the pump and before the filter. Where does that line go to? It goes into the ground right next to the spa pipe.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump and Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study
    18'x36' 20k gallon plaster/gunite pool, 1/2 HP 2sp pump, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge Filter, 450 sq-ft EPDM Solar Panel, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  20. #20
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    Re: System won't hold prime, but no water leaks

    I lose prime every evening as well. When I turn the pump off I can hear a sucking sound coming from the multi valve on top of my sand filter. I am not sure it is the valve or the O-ring. However I do not have a water leak. Hard to believe I can hear sucking air and not have a water leak when the pump is on but that looks like what is happening.
    35K IG Vinyl 20 x 40 self built pool, Hayward Pro Series High-Rate Sand Filter 31" 98gal/min, Hayward TriStar 1.85hp, Hayward 400btu heater, BBB method w/Hypo, Jazz light w/matching fiber optic rope lighting around coping w/syncronized color wheels. Concrete Paver deck.

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