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Thread: Pump Filling with Air

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    Pump Filling with Air

    Hello folks,

    I am a very new pool owner and trying to learn as much as possible. We bought a house with an in ground, SWG pool, already installed approximately 2 years ago.

    I feel like I have a fairly good understanding of the mechanics of the equipment but I have a problem now that is worrying me somewhat.

    I went back to look at the pump yesterday evening and noticed that on low speed (I have a variable speed, Hayward NorthStar 2hp pump) the basket was half full of air, water was just below the intake line. Water was entering the basket area at a good rate, but it was not filling the pot.

    If I turn it on high, after a few minutes of running, the pot will fill up, I can bleed air out of the top of the filter and it will slowly fill to 100% with a lot of small bubbles...kind of like cavitation bubbles. If I turn it back to low, there is about a 2" diameter bubble that increases in size. In about 20 minutes, the water will be back below the intake line.

    If I turn it on high and let it fill up, then turn it off, air will bubble into the pot until it appears like it is almost emptying. If I turn the Jandy valve on the intake side to just skimmer/vacuum the bubbles get smaller but faster, if I turn it to drain the bubbles get larger and slower. If I turn off the jandy, bubbles stop and water level holds in the pot. I noticed this morning, I turn it off and left it open to both skimmer and drain and no bubbles. I went and moved the lever while it was off, and heard what sounded like an air release or hiss and bubbles started again. Moving it back and forth just slowed or sped up the bubbles. Turn it to off, and it stops bubbles.

    Is this normal behavior? To me, it sounds like I have an air leak somewhere into the intake side...not sure where to start though. It wasnt doing this 24hrs ago, this seemed to just start last night. We bought the house with a warranty that includes the pool equipment, so I called them out for a 75$ service fee. I just want to know what I am talking about when the tech comes out.


  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    SW Indiana

    Re: Pump Filling with Air

    Is your pump significantly higher than the water level in your pool?
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Re: Pump Filling with Air

    I wasn't a part of the install, so I don't know the exact numbers, but I would say no. 6" to 8" at best.

    I will say, what seemed to spark off this problem wife asked me to show her the basics of operating the valves on the pool. I showed her the suction side, how one valve path led to the skimmer, the other to the drain. While doing this I flipped it to drain only and this is when the basket almost emptied out immediately...I kind of thought that was strange and put it back in the middle filled back up, but since that point I have been having the above stated problem.

    Is it something simple I am missing? Did I break something when I changed the valve over? I don't know what to check at this point.

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Northern CA

    Re: Pump Filling with Air

    Sounds like you have some kind of suction leak. If all this occurred from operating a Jandy valve, you may need to replace the Jandy valve o-rings on the shaft (you have to take it apart) sometimes just a good lubing of o-ring works.

    While your at it when the filter basket is full of water turn the pump off, look for bubbles entering the basket area, if they are coming in around the pump basket lid you can lube that big rubber o-ring that seals the lid to the pump.

    Rubber o-rings is where I would check first if nothing else is obvious.

    Any o-ring leak not fixed by lubing should be replaced (I might replace the easier to access ones anyway). For the smaller Jandy valve size o-rings, I match the size of o-ring from an assortment o-ring pack I bought from Harbor Freight, (lube the new o-rings before installation). You can get lube at the pool store at order online. Only use a lube specially meant for o-rings, other kinds of lube (Vaseline, Wesson oil, automotive grease, nose grease ) will attack the rubber.

    I have a solar valve which gets multiple automatic daily uses and o-rings last about 1.5 seasons before I see a leak and have to replace, it's on the pressure side so I only see drips.

    Buy the lube and o-rings might save ur $75 deductible next time.
    34'X 15' 3'-8' depth 22,000 gallon in-ground Grecian style built July of 2004, Blue Tahoe PebbleSheen, Poolpilot DIG-220 w/SC-60 SWCG, Pentair WFE-4 1HP filter pump, 6' S/S Waterfall and WFEDS-6 2 spd Waterfall pump, Letro Legend Platinum cleaner w/LA01N pump, Sta-Rite DE filter S8D110 53 sq. ft., 648 sq ft. East facing Solar panels w/Pentair LX 220 solar control, 6' Pewter Gray SR Smith Glas-Hide dive board on black powder coated cantilever stand w/SS hardware

  5. Back To Top    #5
    techguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Antelope, CA

    Re: Pump Filling with Air

    Sounds like you moved the Jandy from 100% skimmer to 100% main drain and then lost prime? ... when you leave the valve in the 50% Skimmer/50% main you get bubbles? ... and if you run the garden hose (rain) over the valve you get... what?

    Absolute guess on my part... leak in the main drain line, possibly right at the valve.
    -- Guy --
    10K gallons in 21' Round 52 inch wall Aqualeader AG, Hayward Power Flow LX 1.5 HP pump motor, Hayward Perflex EC50AC DE filter w/Cellulose, Wide mouth skimmer, 2013 new Diver Dan (craigslist) to replace the faded old Hayward AquaBug. TF-100

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Re: Pump Filling with Air

    It looks like this may have been just a goof on my part and it fixed itself while I was at work yesterday. When I got home all was well. I noticed wet cement around the small hole next to my skimmer. I vaguely remember the previous owner telling me about that hole and how if you want to clear the drain, plug it with a wet cloth or it will suck in air. I think it is a safety feature for the drain, so that if someone gets stuck in it, that tube clears and the suction releases.

    When the bubbles were coming into the suction side, that hole was clear, with no water in it. Yesterday when I got home, it had water in it and the problem disappeared. I think what happened was, when I switched the valve to 100% drain, it sucked that dry and pulled in air and it never reprimed itself.

    At least that is my theory. Yesterday I can run on high or low and have 0 bubbles in the pump after multiple hours of running.

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