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Thread: Help for a suction-side air leak

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    Help for a suction-side air leak

    Hi All,
    Iíve been lurking through the site for a week or so getting good info as I troubleshoot my pool issue, and now Iím looking for some feedback/advice. The problem is an air leak on the suction side of the pump Ė see the bubbles in the salt cell and from the inlet.
    Bubbles - Salt Cell and Inlet.jpg

    You can see there are not many fittings above ground on the equipment pad, and theyíve all been re-glued, o-rings lubed, etc. Also, at arrow A, if you put your ear to the pipe, you can hear the water sloshing around the 90 degree bend, and that is pretty much as soon as the suction comes above ground.
    Equipment Pad.jpg

    The pool is full Ė there is no air vortexing into the line. And there are no bubbles seen at the bottom of the skimmer from the main drain line to the suction line. So all this tells me the leak is underground.

    The pool doesnít seem to be losing water, so this makes me think the leak is above the water level. However, I donít see how so much air could be making it into the line that is buried. Which makes me think the problem is at the bottom of the skimmer. But if it was, wouldnít I be losing water when the system is not running?

    Today I called the local pool leak detection people, and everyone is busy for 10-20 days out. Here in Ottawa, Ontario, our season is so short, I donít really want to wait. So hereís what Iím thinkingÖ

    Iíve think Iíve ruled out the leak being near the equipment pad, and I doubt it would be under the patio and be able to pull that much air. So that leads me to the skimmer bottom where there is likely a void and lots of air to pull. Iím thinking Iíll rent a saw and cut a hole about 24Ē x 16Ē between the skimmer and the bricks, dig out to the bottom of the skimmer and see what I find. If the issue is there, then new fittings and itís done. If not, then I forget about the old line, lift the needed bricks, and trench in a new line (easy to say, but should be done in a week or soÖ).

    Skimmer + Deck1.jpg

    Here some questions I have:
    - Is there any value in waiting for leak-detection guy (at $225), or should I just get on with it?
    - Is the hole in deck, 24 x 16 large enough?
    - The skimmer is a Jacuzzi with the floating weir. From inside the skimmer you can feel a 90 degree turn just as the water exits Ė will that be an elbow that I can unthread? Iíll want to change the direction of the fitting by about 90 degrees
    - Have I missed anything here? I also just installed the MaxFlo VS pump -- old one was seized at spring start up.

    Thanks, Geoff
    Inground, circa 1980, Ottawa, Ontario, 16' x 32', vinyl liner, hayward maxflo vs pump, hayward sand filter, Jandy 250k BTU gas heater, Zodiac AquaPure EI chlorine generator.

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a suction-side air leak

    I just had a similar leak, problem was the elbow fitting below the skimmer failed after 35 years. My initial cut out was about the size you propose, although maybe a little shorter and a little wider, then had to almost double the width and cut out next to the skimmer to make the repair, the problem was the fitting is deeper than you think it is, I wear 36 / 37 inch sleeve shirts and could barely reach it with my finger tips in the initial hole.

    p.s. I used a leak detection guy to isolate mine, the best he could tell me was it was either under the skimmer or within a couple of feet of it. Cost was $350 I think
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

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    duraleigh's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a suction-side air leak

    Welcome to the forum.

    Suction leaks can be underground but almost NEVER are.

    Is that tape wrapped around your joints on the suction side of the pump? Why?
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Help for a suction-side air leak

    Yes, that's vinyl tape. After checking them with water and smoke thought I'd put a few tight wraps of tape to see if that reduced the bubble count -- no change.
    Geoff
    Inground, circa 1980, Ottawa, Ontario, 16' x 32', vinyl liner, hayward maxflo vs pump, hayward sand filter, Jandy 250k BTU gas heater, Zodiac AquaPure EI chlorine generator.

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    Re: Help for a suction-side air leak

    Did you check the union on the valve before the pump?

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    Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a suction-side air leak

    Geoff, I've been dealing with a similar problem, and my pool is only 2 years old. I don't lose prime or see a lot of air, but I do see them return and it concerns me enough to where I keep investigating and have considered digging around my skimmer like you. Before you do though, a couple things to consider:
    - Have you accomplished everything listed HERE:
    - Check-out this THREAD: I was considering the temp suction line pipe thing myself.
    Finally, before I consider cutting or digging to get to my skimmer, I will make sure I've replaced all 2 or 3-way valve seals, union seals, etc,. Doing all of these things before cutting concrete or digging "may" save you some time, money, and back-pain. I hope you find the source.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
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  7. Back To Top    #7

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    Re: Help for a suction-side air leak

    Hi Stebs,
    Yes, I've checked the union with both the smoke trick and the water trick. Thing is, when I hear the water sloshing around that 90-degree elbow, makes me think the air is entering before that elbow otherwise it would be quiet. And if that much air was entering at the taped join of the black flex PVC and the rigid white PVC, I'd hear it.

    Hi Texas Splash,
    I've looked over the list, and I've tried to see the "spitting" when you turn off the pump -- no luck though.

    Plan today is to pick up 50' of pipe at lunch and tonight will run a temporary from the main drain to just before the elbow (cutting the short rigid PVC) pipe. I'm thinking that if that is air-free, then I'll just replace the whole line.

    All your thoughts appreciated!
    Geoff
    Inground, circa 1980, Ottawa, Ontario, 16' x 32', vinyl liner, hayward maxflo vs pump, hayward sand filter, Jandy 250k BTU gas heater, Zodiac AquaPure EI chlorine generator.

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    Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a suction-side air leak

    I hope that temp line helps in your process of elimination and gives you a good way forward to resolve the problem. Post a reply please and let us know. I may have to do the same thing in the near future.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
    If you enjoyed your TFP experience, please consider donating to Support TFP!

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    Re: Help for a suction-side air leak

    Taking all the advice to double-check above ground before suspecting the underground line, I ran a temporary from the main drain port on the bottom of the skimmer to the pump, bypassing most of the fittings at the pump -- with this the bubbles disappeared. So tonight I reconnected the underground suction right where it comes out of the ground, and the air leak reappeared -- so looks like the issue is underground between the skimmer and where the line emerges.

    So...back to Plan A of cutting the deck and changing the fitting at the skimmer. Just hoping there's no surprises in disassembling/reassembling the skimmer fittings.

    Question - is replacing the entire skimmer an option? This one is 35 years old and pretty grungy...should I even think about that?

    Thanks,
    Inground, circa 1980, Ottawa, Ontario, 16' x 32', vinyl liner, hayward maxflo vs pump, hayward sand filter, Jandy 250k BTU gas heater, Zodiac AquaPure EI chlorine generator.

  10. Back To Top    #10
    Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a suction-side air leak

    Sounds like quite a job ahead of you. At least you have managed to isolate the area.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
    If you enjoyed your TFP experience, please consider donating to Support TFP!

  11. Back To Top    #11
    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a suction-side air leak

    It is an option, but if you do it you should plan to do it when you replace the liner.
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

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