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Thread: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

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    Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Last year we determined that, for my setup (which includes the pump equipment being about 10 feet higher than the water and about 40-50 feet away), that my Intelliflo VS running at 2200 rpm would turn the pool over and be the right setting. That worked perfect.

    Now, however, if I use that setting, it won't even fill my pump basket all the way as it only fills to somehere along the intake line (where the water flows in). If I crank it up to 3400, it will fill to the top and look like it used to, but, over time, it will gradually drop back down to that same level. Over night, it will completely drain 100%.

    I've already fixed a non-airtight plug but I have no idea where to tackle this one. What makes the pump basket drain over night or lose volume even while running? This is only my second season with the pool, so I'm still pretty dumb around here.
    15,400 gal, 16x32 vinyl rectangle (sport dig), Intelliflo VS, 240 sqft cartridge filter, Intellichlor IC40, Mastertemp 250, Dolphin supreme M4 cleaning, Pentair EasyTouch4

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Quote Originally Posted by doncaruana
    What makes the pump basket drain over night or lose volume even while running?
    Check to see that you are not sucking air in at the skimmers (vortexes) and that you skimmer weir is not stuck closed. If neither of those is a problem, then you likely have a suction side leak. Most typical culprits are a leak at the basket gasket (try relubing), or pump drain plugs. If neither of those fix it, then you may have a leak somewhere in the plumbing (unusual).
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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    The weir is the door right? Skimmer seems to be okay and is working fine, no vortices or sucking air or anything. I just pulled the pump lid and cleaned the o-ring and put fresh silicone grease all around it. Should I try teflon type or some pipe compound on the drain plugs?

    Also, I forgot to mention that I have check valves on the suction side also. So, one of the things I don't get is where the water in the pump basket goes overnight, because it can't recede back down to the pool as the check valves have that avenue blocked.
    15,400 gal, 16x32 vinyl rectangle (sport dig), Intelliflo VS, 240 sqft cartridge filter, Intellichlor IC40, Mastertemp 250, Dolphin supreme M4 cleaning, Pentair EasyTouch4

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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Quote Originally Posted by doncaruana
    The weir is the door right? Skimmer seems to be okay and is working fine, no vortices or sucking air or anything. I just pulled the pump lid and cleaned the o-ring and put fresh silicone grease all around it. Should I try teflon type or some pipe compound on the drain plugs?

    Also, I forgot to mention that I have check valves on the suction side also. So, one of the things I don't get is where the water in the pump basket goes overnight, because it can't recede back down to the pool as the check valves have that avenue blocked.
    What kind of check valves do you have? Some are not very good at blocking low flow and can be jammed by small debris. The weight of the water in the inlet plumbing creates a significant negative pressure on your plumbing when the pump is off. Using high quality check valves that work with little reverse pressure is important. Even the slightest leak in your multiport will allow the pump to lose prime.

    Your high lift is the major part of your problem. From the manual: "Do not install the pump more than (8) feet above the water level."
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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    What kind of check valves do you have? Some are not very good at blocking low flow and can be jammed by small debris. The weight of the water in the inlet plumbing creates a significant negative pressure on your plumbing when the pump is off. Using high quality check valves that work with little reverse pressure is important. Even the slightest leak in your multiport will allow the pump to lose prime.
    One of the check valves is a jandy with the see-through body. I've checked that one and it seems to be working and I know there's no debris in it. The other one is solid white and looks something like below.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    Your high lift is the major part of your problem. From the manual: "Do not install the pump more than (8) feet above the water level."
    Yeah, if I knew then what I know now, the pool would have been built a lot different. But I thought the dumba** builder knew what he was doing. Silly me. Even so, I wasn't having this issue last year, at the same speeds, so I know this is a new issue, just can't figure out exactly where the issue is.
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    15,400 gal, 16x32 vinyl rectangle (sport dig), Intelliflo VS, 240 sqft cartridge filter, Intellichlor IC40, Mastertemp 250, Dolphin supreme M4 cleaning, Pentair EasyTouch4

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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Somewhere between the skimmers and the pump, air is being sucked in when the pump is running. It is easy enough to say that but it is often VERY difficult to find the leak.

    You're not leaking any water (pump running) on the pressure side, are you?
    Dave S.
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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    Somewhere between the skimmers and the pump, air is being sucked in when the pump is running. It is easy enough to say that but it is often VERY difficult to find the leak.

    You're not leaking any water (pump running) on the pressure side, are you?
    I need to do the bucket test, but I don't believe I have a pressure side leak. If I do, it's very small.

    I thought I read something about skimmer box seal or something. Could that be a possibility?
    15,400 gal, 16x32 vinyl rectangle (sport dig), Intelliflo VS, 240 sqft cartridge filter, Intellichlor IC40, Mastertemp 250, Dolphin supreme M4 cleaning, Pentair EasyTouch4

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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    If you cannot find SOME visible water, chances are you do not have a pressure side leak........leading to the only plausible remaining answer......the leak is on the suction side.


    I don't understand the part of your post about "skimmer box seal".
    Dave S.
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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    I don't understand the part of your post about "skimmer box seal".
    That's probably 'cause I don't really know what I'm talking about. I thought I had read that one common leak source is around the skimmer "box" where the line attaches to it and where the box attaches to the pool.
    15,400 gal, 16x32 vinyl rectangle (sport dig), Intelliflo VS, 240 sqft cartridge filter, Intellichlor IC40, Mastertemp 250, Dolphin supreme M4 cleaning, Pentair EasyTouch4

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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Quote Originally Posted by doncaruana
    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    I don't understand the part of your post about "skimmer box seal".
    That's probably 'cause I don't really know what I'm talking about. I thought I had read that one common leak source is around the skimmer "box" where the line attaches to it and where the box attaches to the pool.
    That's on above ground pools.
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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    I'm still a bit confused and apologize for being thick...

    Not filling the basket makes sense to me as a suction side leak. But what I'm still not getting is why does the basket drain overnight? The picture below is a shot of my setup and when I look at this, I see that the water has to go up to leave the pump. Assuming they are working, the check valves should be preventing it from going out the way it came (right?). So how does the pump basket drain?
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    15,400 gal, 16x32 vinyl rectangle (sport dig), Intelliflo VS, 240 sqft cartridge filter, Intellichlor IC40, Mastertemp 250, Dolphin supreme M4 cleaning, Pentair EasyTouch4

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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Check valves frequently don't seal tight enough to stop ALL water flow. As long some air can get into your system, it is pretty common for the water to seep through the check valve and back to the pool.

    PS - I don't see a check valve on the suction side in your picture ???
    Dave S.
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    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    PS - I don't see a check valve on the suction side in your picture ???
    Oops! Old picture before check valves were installed (see below).

    So I'm assuming that the basic idea is that the water column in the line is creating a pull as it wants to recede to the pool on both pressure and suction side and, in either case, air getting in will allow that water line to essentially siphon the water out of the pump basket - right?

    Last year, I had an ugly water leak around the SWG that I fixed by just tightening the collars on the plumbing there. That's pressure side but could it be still allowing air in, at least overnight? Should I consider taking all the fittings off and putting something like rectorseal on them? I realize that doesn't address suction-side don't even know where to start there - but I figure the tighter the system is, the better, regardless.

    The thing that's frustrating to me is trying to figure out how and what got crappy over the winter so that I have this issue now (not filling the basket). And the thought of an underground leak just makes me depressed.
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    15,400 gal, 16x32 vinyl rectangle (sport dig), Intelliflo VS, 240 sqft cartridge filter, Intellichlor IC40, Mastertemp 250, Dolphin supreme M4 cleaning, Pentair EasyTouch4

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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Your focus is not where it should be. Everyone wants to agonize over broken underground pipes and that is ALMOST NEVER the source of the leak.

    Richard320 posts a saying that I love about finding a mechanical problem like yours...."the last thing you fixed is the first place to look"

    Are those check valves the last thing you put in?

    PS - I had a white check valve like yours for about 10 days.....I threw it so far away from my pool I considered entering the discus toss in the next Olympics.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    PS - I had a white check valve like yours for about 10 days.....I threw it so far away from my pool I considered entering the discus toss in the next Olympics.
    I quite literally laughed out loud at that! What check valve would you recommend? One of the Jandy ones like on the other line?

    Now a little history...
    The pool was built fall of '11, so last summer was the first season for it. The check valves were put in by the builder in last July because I griped and complained to him about what was going on before they were in, as I was having a heck of a time pulling prime every single day, needing to run the pump full tilt for 5 minutes and sometimes longer.

    After that, it worked okay and the basket got filled, etc, although I still had the overnight thing. By this time, I had fixed the water leak around the SWG and an O-ring issue on the valve in front of the pump (it was strung across the body, instead of around it, see below) and installed an actuator on the valve for the deck jets and things operated decently. The only thing I had really noticed afterware was that the deck jets had lost some power, but didn't really care all that much and didn't think it had much to do with my issues (don't use them all that much, can always readjust the actuator). Of course, that is another potential pressure-side leak.

    In any case, I had a company close for me (not quite ready to do it myself) in the fall and had them back to open this spring. I didn't use the builder because I was tired of all the screwups and nonsense. To give you a quick flavor, I had to argue with them about automation because they insisted it would only work if I had a remote - I personally wired the pump and heater to the ET4 panel and got the lights working.

    Anyway...when the new company came out in the fall, they drilled drain plugs below the check valves. After opening, they put the pump on program 2 (which is 1500rpm, I run it at 2200, max is 3450) and, shortly after they left, the pump lost prime. This was my first huge clue there was something wrong, of course. Long and short of that is some teflon tape around the drain plugs and I don't have giant bubbles flowing through that check valve anymore. But, where I used to run at 2200, with no prime time needed at the end of last year, I need a minute or so at 3400rpm to prime and the basket won't fill at 2200.

    So, suction side, the only thing that is really new is the drain plugs and I have to assume that the teflon tape is doing the job (bad assumption?) Last week I put a fresh set of filter cartridges in (plan to rotate them over time) and cleaned and relubed the lid to the pump basket, but the non filling the basket was happening before that anyway. Should the drain plugs on the pump need anything like teflon tape or would those even have anything to do with any of this?

    Sorry for the novella, but I wanted to at least show where I am with this. I'd like to think I've sort of addressed the stuff that I've touched, but maybe not. Maybe the drain plugs (below valves and/or on pump) should have something besides teflon tape? Should I just go get another o-ring for the valve - could that have started to fail by now?

    Ugh...gotta head off to work - someone's gotta pay for this pool! Thanks so much for all your (collective) help!
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    15,400 gal, 16x32 vinyl rectangle (sport dig), Intelliflo VS, 240 sqft cartridge filter, Intellichlor IC40, Mastertemp 250, Dolphin supreme M4 cleaning, Pentair EasyTouch4

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    Re: Why won't my pump basket fill (or stay filled?)

    Those white check valves are pretty easily jammed open with a leaf or something, are restrictive to forward flow (could contribute to your basket not filling) and a lot of them need 2 or 3psi of pressure to keep the water from flowing backwards through them. That means that you can't pump water through them backwards, but it can trickle through backwards. Normally there aren't any published specs on them, so you don't know how they work. There's a reason the Jandy costs $35-$40 more than the white one.
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