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Thread: Caretaker 99 cleaning system troubleshooting

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    Caretaker 99 cleaning system troubleshooting

    Hi all,

    I've recently taken over a 30,000 gallon in-ground pool from my father-in-law. It was installed in 2000 with the Caretaker 99 system (5 port), but the system has never worked fully. The main symptom I've seen over the years is that the heads haven't stayed down. Not sure if that's an install issue or not, but not being the owner (and this is my first pool), I'm largely ignoring that symptom (for now) and focusing on whether I can figure out how to get the right amount of pressure into the system to determine whether it's worth the time, energy and money to get it going again (including whether to get the pressure gauge replaced as it doesn't have the cover on, so I'm not sure how reliable it is!).

    As of now, I can get water flowing through the system (evidenced initially by a healthy amount of gunk that was shot through the lines from years of non-use), but I'm pretty sure it's not sufficient pressure. The gauge reads about 4-8psi when I have all four returns closed. Opening returns drops the pressure further. The filter is newly cleaned and running about 12-14psi. The heater has not been turned on (a post for another day ).

    I'm adding a few pictures to help illustrate. I have a wider shot showing the Caretaker system in line with the four returns. I have a tighter shot of the Caretaker system. Then I have a shot of the catch/filter at the side of the pool. This filter basket sits in a well at the side of the pool. There's a breather about 12 inches below the surface inside the pool wall. There's a clear plastic lid that covers it to seal the well presumably while the system's running. With the Caretaker valves open, I see activity in the well, but am not sure what it's supposed to look like (heavy agitation, slow swirling, etc.). The activity I see is fairly mild.

    My main questions:

    1. What is the valve just to the right of the Caretaker valve? How should I use that? So far I've been opening it when the Caretaker valve is open. I do notice that pressure increases when it's closed while the Caretaker valve is open, but I'm not sure what any of that means. (In the picture, the four returns are closed as is this valve I'm asking about, while the Caretaker line is open)

    2. In that filter basket well, there's a 2 1/4" (I think) PVC pipe cap that's threaded on with teflon tape and has a 1" long bolt (maybe 1/4" or 3/8" in diameter) threaded into the middle of the cap to close it. Is that cap supposed to be removed when opening the pool? Should that bolt be removed if the cap stays in place? With that bolt removed (cap still on) and the system running, there's a stream of water that flows through the hole the bolt was in an streams about 5-6".

    Answers to these questions (and any other questions or comments you have for me) will help me feel like I'm testing the system properly to help me decide whether it's worth trying to get the system fully operational.

    Thanks so much for any questions, comments, advice you're willing to give me. I really appreciate it.

    -Tim
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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Caretaker 99 cleaning system troubleshooting

    Welcome to TFP!
    That valve just to the right of the caretaker must be returning water to the pool somewhere. I'm not sure what you're supposed to see in the little well...I don't have one of those with my system

    Is everything run off the same pump? Have you tried removing one of the heads from the pool floor and cleaning it out? Mine start to stick (up or down) when they get little bits of sand in them.
    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!
    TF Test Kits -- PoolMath -- Pool School
    Make each day your masterpiece. - John Wooden

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    Re: Caretaker 99 cleaning system troubleshooting

    The well on the pool side is called a Leaf Trapper. It works in conjunction with the floor heads. I have two main drains and a third drain that takes in leaves from the bottom of the pool and shoots them into the leaf trapper. The leaf trapper will have its own valve to adjust the flow to a jet on the bottom of the leaf trapper well. This bottom jet creates a draw that pulls water from the 3rd drain, it will usually allow leaves to pass through the drain hole, this water then comes through the hole in the side wall of the well. It appears that the hole on yours is plugged with some kind of cap. Does this cap move when water passes into the well?

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    malcolmb5325's Avatar
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    Re: Caretaker 99 cleaning system troubleshooting

    the 5 port water valve should be running between 15 to 19 psi and you use the valve to adjust the flow into the 5 port to reach the 15 - 19 what water flow is left will return to the pool via your normal pool wall returns. close that valve and all water will return to the pool and none into the 5 port, etc etc. the 5 port and cleaning heads come with a lifetime warranty to the original pool owner so i would be doing a "rebuild" of the 5 port water valve.
    the cap in the leaftrapper looks like they have capped off the line connecting the leaf trapper canister to the safe main drain in the deep end of the pool. you pump water through the base of the leaf canister through a high jet nozzle, the jet of water then pushes the water in the canister back into the pool and normal hydraulics say that the canister must fill with water and the only place it can suck water from is the main drain in the pool, sucking water and any debris that is pushed into the main drain via the caretaker cleaning heads.
    16,000lts Fibreglass, Magna Mineral Pool Water
    Jandy CV340 Cartridge filter, Zodiac TRi SWC, Z4 iAqualink, Jandy Laminar Jets, Solar Heating, Spa Jets with Jandy 1.5hp Epump operating everything.

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    Re: Caretaker 99 cleaning system troubleshooting

    Quote Originally Posted by malcolmb5325
    the 5 port water valve should be running between 15 to 19 psi and you use the valve to adjust the flow into the 5 port to reach the 15 - 19 what water flow is left will return to the pool via your normal pool wall returns. close that valve and all water will return to the pool and none into the 5 port, etc etc. the 5 port and cleaning heads come with a lifetime warranty to the original pool owner so i would be doing a "rebuild" of the 5 port water valve.
    the cap in the leaftrapper looks like they have capped off the line connecting the leaf trapper canister to the safe main drain in the deep end of the pool. you pump water through the base of the leaf canister through a high jet nozzle, the jet of water then pushes the water in the canister back into the pool and normal hydraulics say that the canister must fill with water and the only place it can suck water from is the main drain in the pool, sucking water and any debris that is pushed into the main drain via the caretaker cleaning heads.
    @malcolmb5325, thank you so much for the response! I'm in process on working the rebuild angle, so am hopeful on that front, and your description of the leaf trapper setup is really helpful. The thing I'm not yet clear on is whether that cap should be on or not? Is that a winterizing thing that comes off for the operational season, or is it on all the time? Also it has a screw/bolt in the center of the hole that I currently have removed (and thus have water shooting out the hole when the system's on). Should that be in or out as well?

    Many thanks,
    Tim

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    malcolmb5325's Avatar
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    Re: Caretaker 99 cleaning system troubleshooting

    down under we don't have issues with winterising but yes that is what is done if winterising your pool. remove the cap for normal operation also sometimes they may have one in the return line into the pool from the canister.
    16,000lts Fibreglass, Magna Mineral Pool Water
    Jandy CV340 Cartridge filter, Zodiac TRi SWC, Z4 iAqualink, Jandy Laminar Jets, Solar Heating, Spa Jets with Jandy 1.5hp Epump operating everything.

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    Re: Caretaker 99 cleaning system troubleshooting

    Thanks again, @malcolmb5325. Supremely helpful (and jealous you don't need to care about winterizing! ). I am familiar with the wall mounted return winterizing cap, so good there. I will remove the cap in the canister and see if that helps things! Thanks much.

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