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Thread: Chronic suction leak found! Previous owner hack job.

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    Backglass's Avatar
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    Chronic suction leak found! Previous owner hack job.

    We have lived in our house nearly six years now and I have had a suction side leak since the day we moved in. It has driven me to the brink of insanity. It was minor when we moved in and has gotten worse and worse over the years to the point that this year the pump would even lose prime. I have changed pump seals, changed EVERY exposed joint and pipe around the pump & filter. I have done everything short of digging up the entire yard, which it turns out is what I should have done. I had nearly resigned myself to the fact that the leak must be in the skimmer or under the 8 inches of concrete and stone pool decking which would be a major ordeal to dig up and fix.

    My kids had a few friends over to swim. They were playing that game where they all jump in unison and try to make the biggest waves possible. My wife happened to be in a lesser used area of the yard and heard faint surging/gurgling as they jumped! She followed the sound to a large rock, flipped it over..it got louder! She started digging and this is what she found. A total kludge by the previous owner.



    There was no doubt this was the leak. It looks like he had a break and instead of re-plumbing with PVC used TWO of those rubber "fernco" pipe connectors. Unbelievable! A temporary coupler made for unpressurized waste lines, placed on a suction line and buried in the ground. Talk about the wrong part for the wrong job! Websters defines a "Kludge" as "'An ill-assorted collection of poorly-matching parts, forming a distressing whole". Yup...the word fits.

    I dug everything out, re-piped with hard PVC, waited a good hour to burp the lines, flipped the switch and...no air. HOLY **** it's fixed! No more huge bubbles, no more noise, no more surging pump, no nothing! We have been SO used to the noise and bubbles. You could hear the pool pump running from inside the house! Once fixed my wife looked in the pool and had to ask "is it even working?". I had to reach into the stream to show her it's pumping better than ever! Its amazing what you get accustomed to. The silence is deafening!

    So. Don't rule out the previous owners stupidity! You may have leak where you least expect it. The irony is that those two crappy connectors cost twice as much as the correct PVC fittings and some glue.

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    duraleigh's Avatar
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    Re: Chronic suction leak found! Previous owner hack job.

    Great post, backglass. I can imagine how relieved you are. very nice detective work.

    For newbies reading this post, you should note that OP exhausted every above ground possibility first.
    I have changed pump seals, changed EVERY exposed joint and pipe around the pump & filter.
    Suction leaks are always hard to find but they are ALMOST never underground. backglass' leak was the rare exception and making it even more troublesome.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Chronic suction leak found! Previous owner hack job.

    So glad you found it ...wow...using ferncos underground
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Backglass's Avatar
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    Re: Chronic suction leak found! Previous owner hack job.

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    Great post, backglass. I can imagine how relieved you are.
    You have no idea. It had become my "pool albatross"...my curse! I couldn't look at my nice pool or enjoy it without seeing the bubbles and getting disgusted. I am a fixer, and I couldn't fix it!

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    very nice detective work.
    I owe it all to my wife's spidey sense! I never would have heard it.

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    For newbies reading this post, you should note that OP exhausted every above ground possibility first.
    Yeah, you would never expect something like this in the middle of the run.

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    nuklhed's Avatar
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    Re: Chronic suction leak found! Previous owner hack job.

    I think our best frame of reference is to ALWAYS presume the former owner left shoddy work behind. Pools are always troublesome, expensive, and difficult to fix, so everyone tries to get away with least cost and hassle. Still more, as an owner nears sale-date and moving away from his headaches, those fixes become even worse. Link these directly to the general public's lack of skill or determination and we inherit a formula for rolling catastrophe.
    I compliment this Poster's tenacity to finally fix it right, and suggest henceforth that whenever a problem presents itself, spend more time on the diagnosis. If on first evidence of a suction leak you had simply put garden-hose pressure on that line, that "kludge" would have shown itself straightaway. Point being: don't fear the diagnosis, invest the care to get it figured out right. Bad as the news may be, you'll cut straight to the proper solution in the first effort.
    In my own home just bought, I discovered landscape lighting around the pool planters were driven by 110v THHN wire buried directly in the soil without conduit, and the circuit was not even on a GFI breaker. Never underestimate the power of the previous guy to overlook everyone else's risk.
    23,000g IG plaster, slate tile and masonry cascades. Three levels, two pumps: (upper wading 12" dp, with 3.5-ft slate cascade); secondary (double 2-ft waterfall cascades); lower main swimming, two skimmers. New Ultraflex II. Hayward: 3hp pump, 4-cartridge filter. Las Vegas, NV (desert enviro). Water temp: winter avg. 45f, summer avg. 86f. Water service: private well, TDS hard @ 250+ppm but NO Ca+ !! Persistent mustard algae.

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    Backglass's Avatar
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    Re: Chronic suction leak found! Previous owner hack job.

    Quote Originally Posted by nuklhed
    If on first evidence of a suction leak you had simply put garden-hose pressure on that line, that "kludge" would have shown itself straightaway. Point being: don't fear the diagnosis, invest the care to get it figured out right.
    Agreed. Hindsite, et all. I ***-u-me'd that all the lines were intact and had fixated on the "pool house" end of things.

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    harleysilo's Avatar
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    Re: Chronic suction leak found! Previous owner hack job.

    Any indication as to why may have caused the initial break? Any reason anyone would have been digging in that area and caused it?
    18'x43' Sport Pool
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    Backglass's Avatar
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    Re: Chronic suction leak found! Previous owner hack job.

    Quote Originally Posted by harleysilo
    Any indication as to why may have caused the initial break? Any reason anyone would have been digging in that area and caused it?
    Not really. It's kind of off by itself.

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