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Thread: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP...

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    Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP...

    I'm about at my wits end. Three weeks ago I purchased and installed a HayWard Ecostar 3400SVP pump. This is my third or fourth pump install, so it's not like I'm a stranger to this sort of task, but except for one time at the initial start-up, this pump simply will not prime.

    I let all the PVC fittings sit for 24 hours before turning the pump on, so I am quite sure of their integrity.
    I drained my pool, had it acid washed, and put a brand new cartridge in the filter.
    I used a jet drain and even snaked the suction line to ensure there wasn't a blockage.
    I used silicon lubricant on the o-rings of each coupling as well as on the pool filter and the basket lid o-rings.
    There are no air bubbles coming out of the pool returns.

    ...and still this pump isn't drawing in enough water to prime itself and the filter basket is barely half full of water.

    After running out of things to try, I suspect the pump is sucking air right at the basket lid, because I don't see how the o-ring can possibly be making a seal. I took some pictures so you can see what I'm talking about.





    It's a little more obvious in the bottom picture, but if you look closely you can see the o-ring is sitting below the clear plastic outer rim of the lid, and given that, I suspect the clear plastic lid itself is what's making direct contact with the pump surface and the o-ring is actually not making contact with anything.

    Short of getting a Hayward pump technician out here to look at it, do I have any other options?

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Buy a new O-ring. The local pool store probably has a whole bunch hanging within arm's reach of the cash register.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Okay, I'll do that this afternoon, but this is a brand new pump and it really shouldn't need a new o-ring.

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Looks like you either got the wrong lid or the wrong o-ring.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    Looks like you either got the wrong lid or the wrong o-ring.
    Again, this is a brand new pump that was delivered to my door in the original Hayward packaging. The lid is a perfect fit and the o-ring, whether right or wrong, came with the pump.

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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    So I took the lid to the pool store, where there was a brand new 3400VSP on display. The sales guy compared my lid with his display model and they are identical, as are the o-rings. Every method of troubleshooting he suggested I try I've already done, some of them more than once. I guess there's nothing for it but to have Hayward send someone out.

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    phalcon51's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Is your main concern that the filter basket won't fill past half full? If so, don't worry about it. I have the same pump and had the same concerns about air being drawn into the system somewhere. I pressure tested my system from one end to the other, including through the pump itself. No air leaks at all, anywhere. I've since come to the conclusion that for these pumps that's standard operating procedure. If you run the pump at high speed, i.e. 3000-3200 rpm, you can get the pump basket to fill to the top but shortly after lowering the rpm back to say 1500-2200 rpm the water level will again drop to about half full or so. This presents absolutely no problem to the operation of the pump - it will move the appropriate amount of water depending on rpm. I find the filter pressure on my system runs from about 2 psi at 1100 rpm to just under 10 psi at 2200 rpm ( that's with a clean DE filter in a 48 sq ft Hayward filter ). I've never had any sort of problem with the operation of the pump and I've had it since March 2011.

    In regards to the contact area of the lid to the pump, I don't see anything out of the ordinary in your photo. The way the o-ring is recessed in the lid it makes it look like it won't reach the sealing surface, but it actually does. If you clean off and then put a little bit of silicone grease (Pool Lube or the like) on one part of the sealing surface of the basket and then install and remove the lid I'm sure you'll see that the grease has transferred to the o-ring.

    If your pump is actually not priming and your not building up any pressure in the filter after it's had a chance to purge the air out then that's another story. What's the actual problem?

    Gary
    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    My concern was, regardless of pump speed, the pump would not generate enough suction to clean the pool.

    I knew water was circulating, as I could feel moderate suction at the skimmer as well as water coming out of the returns, but if I connected my Hayward Navigator it would sit on the bottom of the pool without moving until all the hose sank to the bottom and eventually the Navigator went belly up. In addition, if I connected the hose to a vacuuming head attached to a pole to clean the pool manually, the vacuum head would just roll over bits of dirt and blades of grass without picking them up.

    Because I'd never seen it happen before, I thought the hose sinking to the bottom of the pool might indicate there was an inordinate amount of back pressure after the pump, "blocking" the return water flow which, in turn, was limiting the amount of water the pump could take in, thus filling the hose completely with water and causing it to sink. With that in mind, I did the one thing I hadn't yet tried, that being removing the cartridge from the filter. This was a new cartridge that I'd put in on Sunday; the pool was drained and acid washed on Monday, at which time I cleaned the cartridge and I also cleaned it a second time before starting the pump after I'd finished refilling the pool.

    So, with the filter empty I replaced the lid and turned on the pump. This time it primed and ran with only a single moderately-sized air bubble at the top of the basket. My past experience agrees with Gary's conclusion that such a bubble does not affect pump operation and is perfectly acceptable. Still, not having a cartridge in the filter wasn't going to do me any good, but fortunately I had purchased a 2-pack of filters and I put the second new cartridge in. When I started the pump again it ran with more air in the basket than previously, but I figured the real test would be to connect the Navigator and hit the Quick Clean button.

    The Navigator scooted along the bottom of the pool doing its job, so apparently the filter cartridge was the problem all along. Go figure...

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    phalcon51's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Glad to hear that you found and fixed the problem. Just out of curiosity, do you have a working pressure gauge mounted on the filter? if so, what pressure reading were you getting before you put in the new filter? What is it reading now?

    Gary
    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Well, I thought I'd found and fixed the problem, but I was wrong.

    After running the pump for 24 hours, the water level in the basket dropped down to about half-full, and now I have a steady stream of little air bubbles coming out of one of my returns, which I did not have before. I took the basket lid off and put lubricant directly on the lip of the basket itself, as opposed to trying to get it on the O-ring, because I still don't think it's making a proper seal. Then I blocked the skimmer inlet and topped the water level up to the top of the pump strainer and turned the pump back on. Now I just have a single moderately-sized air bubble underneath the lid, but there is still a steady stream of bubbles coming out of the return, a little smaller than before I stopped the pump, but they're still there. This makes me think the filter cartridge may not have been the issue at all and my pump is now sucking air, but for the life of me I don't know where the air leak is.

    All of the new PVC fittings I made for the install are above ground directly in front of the pump. Can I test the line using a drain jet? I'm thinking if I block off the pump inlet, put the jet in the skimmer, and turn on the water slowly, if one of the fittings is bad I should see water dripping from it, no?

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    phalcon51's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Quote Originally Posted by nyteowl
    Well, I thought I'd found and fixed the problem, but I was wrong.

    I'm thinking if I block off the pump inlet, put the jet in the skimmer, and turn on the water slowly, if one of the fittings is bad I should see water dripping from it, no?
    Might work, but it's usually easier for a system to suck air in than to pump a fluid out.

    Is you pool set up with a salt water chlorine generator (SWG)? If so, that would be where the tiny bubbles are coming from and it's normal.
    Depending on the settings of the SWG the bubbles will come when it's on and go when it's off. They don't run continuously .

    Were the bubbles present previously or did they just start?

    Gary
    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Bubbles just started, but the SWG was off up until today...

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    techguy's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Have you tried running water over the pump lid, while running, to see if it will suck in water, instead of air?

    It is possible you have a cracked housing due to shipping damage?
    -- 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

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    phalcon51's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Quote Originally Posted by nyteowl
    Bubbles just started, but the SWG was off up until today...
    Easy enough to check - turn on the SWG to max output, i.e. make sure it's producing chlorine, and check to see if it's making little bubbles at the returns. Then turn it off and see if the bubbles disappear within 30 sec. or so. If so, you're back to "found and fixed the problem". Then go swimming!

    Gary
    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Well, it was easier to just turn the SWG off, and when I did that the bubbles disappeared, but once again the pump basket has more air in it than water, which can't be good for the pump. Also, after thinking about it, if that was the norm for this particular pump, wouldn't there be some Hayward documentation to that effect?

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    phalcon51's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another priming issue with Hayward EcoStar 3400VSP..

    Quote Originally Posted by nyteowl
    Well, it was easier to just turn the SWG off, and when I did that the bubbles disappeared, but once again the pump basket has more air in it than water, which can't be good for the pump. Also, after thinking about it, if that was the norm for this particular pump, wouldn't there be some Hayward documentation to that effect?
    It doesn't matter how much air is in the pump basket as long as it's not passing through the pump which, as noted by the absence of bubbles at the returns, it isn't.

    In terms of documentation of an air bubble of various sizes in the pump basket, just ask anyone who has one. I haven't found anyone yet who hasn't had a significant amount of air in the basket with no related problems. Try running a poll on the site: just start a new topic, scroll down to "Poll creation" and follow the prompts. Could be interesting and might put the issue to bed once and for all.

    Or, if it's still active, we could continue my poll on the exact same question from back in April of 2011. My poll can be found here:

    http://www.troublefreepool.com/post249113.html#p249113

    Gary
    26,200 gal. 35' x 16' Plaster IGP (50 yrs. old), Hayward 48 sq. ft. DE filter, Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Intellichlor IC-40 SWCG, The Pool Cleaner 4X suction, Pool Skim and Pool Devil skimmers. Re-plastered Sept. 2010.

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