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.