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Thread: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

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    Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    Morning

    I've lurked the forum for over a year now...my turn to ask a question and hopefully contribute to the conversations

    Background
    My wife and I purchased our house in September 2016. One of the main selling points to us was the beautiful pool the previous owners had installed. About 2 weeks ago, the bearings on the pump motor failed. The existing pump was a Hayward with a 1HP Century motor on it. To leverage some energy savings, we upgraded to an IntelliFlo VS. The new pump was installed yesterday and I've gone through and programmed the schedule and played with the settings.

    In an effort to leverage as much efficiency as possible, I am looking to run the pump at the lowest RPM needed to achieve proper skimming. As of current, I am running at 1800 RPM to ensure I have enough suction to pull surface debris into the skimmers. Anything lower makes one of the skimmers useless (this is the further skimmer). I ran across several threads on this forum that stated that I could likely close my main drains so that all suction is coming from the skimmers. This would allow me (in theory) to turn the RPM down further and still correctly skim the water.

    Issue
    The issue I have is that if I close the main drain valve, the pump does not hold full prime. The pump keeps water in the basket, but it is not full...maybe 75%? The sand filter gurgles, returns blow out air, etc. On my old pump, I seemed to have an issue similar to this. If I valved off my skimmers, the main drains would not hold full prime. I do not remember trying to valve off the main drains and only use the skimmers other than when I was vacuuming. The pool tech did point out that my above ground plumbing is 2 inch, but my discharge plumbing is 1.5 inch. It steps down at the T where it splits for the booster pump and return to pool. This is not ideal, but it was I have to work with, unfortunately. With having the smaller plumbing, I understand that the pump has to work "harder" in order to achieve higher flow. I might not get as much energy savings since the pump will remain at a higher speed due to the flow restrictions of the 1.5 PVC.

    Any ideas on what might be causing this? I suppose I could have a leak in one or multiple lines underground, but it seems like it wouldn’t hold prime under any circumstance if this were the case. Maybe one of the Jandy valves is work out? From what I've read, the valves are pretty resilient.

    Things I have tried:
    • Different RPM while the main drain is valved off. Seems to be the same...pump will not hold full prime on a high or low RPM. With skimmers and drains open, low RPM holds prime. Just doesn't move enough water to skim or hit my check valve on SCG
    • Partially closing the main drain seems to help a bit, but I cannot tell if I am then partially closing the skimmer line as well. I have Jandy valves and the way they are setup has the skimmer supply next to the drain "closed" position. Pictures below make more sense
    • I’ve checked my sand filter for a tight seal on the drain plug and relief valve on top
    • Multiport valve on the filter is seated in the filter position
    • No visible leaks above ground. All fittings seems tight
    • Both skimmers have a plug in one of the holes. I believe this is correct as the second line is for a bypass?
    • I opened up both of the Jandy valves last summer to inspect them. All seemed well at that time and there was no visible damage.
    • My right skimmer has always had less suction than the left one. I've assumed this is just do to it being 8-10 feet further out and being installed slightly higher than the other skimmer

    Details on equipment:
    • Filter Pump - Pentair IntelliFlo VS
    • Booster Pump - Polaris 3/4 HP
    • Filter - Hayward Pro Series S244SLV
    • SCG - Pool Pilot DIG-220
    • Skimmers - Hayward SP108410M

    Pictures:
    Pump Setup - Album on Imgur

    1. Pump setup
    2. General view of pump with valves
    3. Top (closest to pump) is the my main drains (two drains, plumbed from 1 line). Bottom is skimmers. 6 o'clock position is right skimmer, 3 o'clock if left skimmer
    4. More pump setup
    5. More pump setup
    6. This is the T where the 2 inch steps down to 1.5 inch
    7. Pentair IntelliFlo VS - Primed? - YouTube This is what the pump basket looks like under full prime. Main drains and skimmers open. Old Hayward wouldn't have the bubble at the top. Is this standard on the Pentair for a small bubble to be there?


    Final Thoughts:
    Please let me know if you need additional pictures or if there are any questions you have so that I can get you the details needed. I'm very pleased with the new pump. Even at 1800 RPM, it is very quiet and I am still only pulling 440 watts vs. the 1300+ my old 1 HP was using. My goal is to get maximum efficiency and make sure my system is working correctly.

    Thanks in advance for your input!

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    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    M,

    Welcome to TFP... a great place to find the answers to all your pool equipment questions...

    For reference, I run my IntelliFlo at 1200 RPM, most of the time. I used to have it set up to 'skim' at 1500 and 2000 RPM.. While the water appears to move better at the higher RPMs, I found that my pool skims just fine at 1200 RPM... If you try to make the water movement look the same as it did with your old single speed pump, then you will have to run at a much higher RPM than is actually necessary to skim the pool..

    Having small bubbles, about the size of a half dollars is normal when the IntelliFlo is running at low RPMs. I don't consider this to be a priming problem at all. I assume that the water level in the pump basket is 90% full and does not go down over time????? If so, I see no issues.

    I am not a fan of where your valves are located.. Most people run their main drain at 10% and their skimmers at 90%.. In your current setup if you try to only use 50% of your main drain, you will shut off 50% of the input to the pump... I would reconfigure the valves something like in this link... http://www.poolcenter.com/images/sta...iagram_pg3.jpg

    BTW, The check valves in the link are not required...

    Thanks,

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Caldera Spa.

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    Thanks for the warm welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimrahbe View Post

    For reference, I run my IntelliFlo at 1200 RPM, most of the time. I used to have it set up to 'skim' at 1500 and 2000 RPM.. While the water appears to move better at the higher RPMs, I found that my pool skims just fine at 1200 RPM... If you try to make the water movement look the same as it did with your old single speed pump, then you will have to run at a much higher RPM than is actually necessary to skim the pool..
    I based my assessment on the 1800 RPM by trying to watch if the skimmers actually pull debris into them. At the lower RPM, it seems that debris would run right next to the skimmer and never actually pull anything in. Is there a better way to figure this out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimrahbe View Post

    Having small bubbles, about the size of a half dollars is normal when the IntelliFlo is running at low RPMs. I don't consider this to be a priming problem at all. I assume that the water level in the pump basket is 90% full and does not go down over time????? If so, I see no issues.
    I'll make a video shortly to show you what it does when the main is 90-100% closed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimrahbe View Post

    I am not a fan of where your valves are located.. Most people run their main drain at 10% and their skimmers at 90%.. In your current setup if you try to only use 50% of your main drain, you will shut off 50% of the input to the pump... I would reconfigure the valves something like in this link... http://www.poolcenter.com/images/sta...iagram_pg3.jpg
    I'll look into this. Makes a lot more sense to be able to isolate the drain without cutting flow to the skimmers! Do I need a check valve on the return like in the picture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimrahbe View Post
    BTW, The check valves in the link are not required...
    I'm not sure what you mean by this...can you please provide more details?

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    M,

    Do your skimmers have an operating Weir doors? Sits between the skimmer mouth and the skimmer basket... bobs up and down with the water...

    In my mind the best way to see if the skimmers are working is by looking at what is in the skimmer baskets, and not what small items might float by.. But each pool is somewhat different, so whatever works for you...

    If this were my pool, I would first determine the lowest possible speed needed to turn on the flow switch in my SWCG.. I would add a hundred RPM and that would be the lowest speed I would use.

    In my case, my salt cell's flow switch closes at 1100 RPM, that is why I run most of the time at 1200.. just to make sure it stays closed. The main reason I run my pump is to generate the chlorine that my pool needs... Since it takes way longer to chlorinate my pool, then it does to skim, I have no need for additional skimming run times. It just automatically happens while the SWCG is running.

    The two checks valves that are shown in the link, one on the suction side and one on the return side are not required.. This does not mean you can't be of use, just that they are not necessary for the plumbing to work..

    I would set your Skimmer valve so that both skimmers have the same amount of suction at the skimmer... This would mean that the skimmer valve might only be open to the near skimmer at 25% while open to the far skimmer at 75% (or so...)

    Thanks,

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Caldera Spa.

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    The skimmers do have the doors. On lower RPM, they didn't seem to retract to allow debris to get in. Some debris can get through under the door at the hinge, but larger debris would hit the door and not go into the skimmer.

    I played with my flow switch yesterday. It opens at 950 RPM. I had set the pump @ 1000 RPM, but that is what I noticed the skimmers not doing much.

    I like the idea of playing with the valve to allow my far skimmer more suction. In theory, this should allow for more cleaning since both are picking up debris. Does that sound right?

    I'm uploading a few additional videos

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    Pentair IntelliFlo VS - Primed? Part 2 - YouTube

    This is after 5 minutes of leaving main drain 100% off and both skimmers open. You can see the level of agitation in the basket vs. the first video I linked when it was holding prime. Sand filter gurgles, return jet in the pool is shooting air bubbles. The salt cell also has a waterfall sound to it. This does not happen when I get full prime.

    Pentair IntelliFlo VS - Primed? Part 3 - YouTube

    This one I am trying to show you the vibration of the pump on lower RPM. If has a pretty bad vibration at RPM under 1400. It vibrates enough that my piping on the discharge side of the filter shakes

    Pentair IntelliFlo VS - Primed? Part 4 - YouTube

    This shows you how low the water level gets when the main drain is closed. On a higher RPM, the water kicks around. On 1000 RPM, you can see just how low the water gets inside the basket. If I let it run for a few hours, it might get even lower

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    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    M,

    You definitely have air getting into your system...

    Let's look at your skimmers first.. The weir door should be laying down on the water and water should flow over the top of it.. While not technically correct, the basic idea is that the door acts like a little dam making the water on the skimmer side lower than on the pool side... Water flowing 'down hill' quickly falls over the weir and into the skimmer. When the pump is running it sucks water from the skimmer, which lowers the door and more water pours in.. it should be constant... So if you can see water being sucked into the skimmer and then the skimmer fills up and then it gets sucked out again, etc.. This is wrong. Either the water in the pool is too low or the skimmer door is not working correctly... The water in the pool should be at about the middle of the skimmer mouth. The weir doors should float on top of the water and move easily..

    What is your filter pressure?? If too high it could mean the water in your pump has no where to go.. If your multiport valve has a recirculate position you can try that.. You are basically bypassing the filter..

    If you have not backwashed your filter lately, you can put it in backwash and see how the water in your pump looks..

    My pump vibrates a little at low RPMs but I suspect it is because my equipment pad is not level or smooth. Putting a small shim under one of the pump's feet stops the vibration.

    While the pump is running.. if you just turn it off... does water rush backwards into your pool? Does any water leak out around the pump lid, or at any of the valves?

    You can also experiment around with the pump's input.. Run 100% main drain and nothing else.. what happens? Turn off the main drain and run on both skimmers.. what happens? Run on just one skimmer at a time and no main drain and see what happens???

    Another trick is to slowly run water from a garden hose over suspect joints while watching the air in the pump basket.. If (for example) one of the Jandy valves was leaking air, when the water flows over the leak the air in the pump basket will quickly decrease...

    Thanks,

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Caldera Spa.

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    That gives me a lot to check on. I think I have rain coming in tomorrow, so might be a little before I can get to all of them

    Both skimmers are at the little arrow or just above. My understanding is that this is the sweet spot for them to work correctly. As long as I have the RPM high enough for suction in the skimmers, the doors are acting as the dam and I can watch the waterfall downhill into the skimmer.

    Filter pressure depends on the RPM set at the pump. I'll get you some readings and report back. I do have a multiport valve for recirculate. Is the idea to set it to that and then see if I am still getting air in the system?

    I backwashed less than a week ago, so I do not think this will be na issue.

    When I turn the pump off, I do not see any water leaking from valves or joints. I am not sure if water rushes into my pool.

    If I run 100% main, same thing...air in system. This is actually how I noticed the issue at first with my old pump. One of my booster lines broke. After the water level got under the skimmers, the pump was starving for water as it was not able to keep prime. I though the mains were clogged, but I do not believe this to be the case anymore.

    Main drain off with both skimmers is actually what I linked in the video. Cannot keep a full prime. It seems to be the same issue if I just pull from one skimmer, but I will have to experiment more on this.


    Any chance I have an underground leak or do you feel it is above ground at this point?

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    M,

    One of the reasons to try different valve positions is to try and determine where the problem is located..

    It is unlikely that the Main Drain, and each of the two skimmer lines all have broken pipes under ground... If (for example) one skimmer pipe was broken, then the pump should work fine when the bad skimmer is shut off..

    Thanks,

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Caldera Spa.

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    It's raining this morning, so I haven't been able to get out there

    Question - if the pump stays primed with mains and skimmers 100% open, would you think my air leak is somewhere within the Jandy valves themselves? I cannot wrap my head around why it stays primed with them open but loses prime when closing.

    Hopefully the rain clears up today so I can toy around with it

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    I have a question, of water does rush back into the pool, either when you turn the pump off or when you move your multiport valve, what does that mean?


    16k Gallon, IG Vinyl, 16 x 34 x 25 Lagoon. Pentair Intelliflo VS2, ScreenLogic 2, Pentair Sand Filter, Colorlogic LEDs, TF-100, Speedstir, Pentair 920 Prowler (Rosie), and all wine is fine.





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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunnymosmile View Post
    I have a question, of water does rush back into the pool, either when you turn the pump off or when you move your multiport valve, what does that mean?
    Sunny,

    Remember when you were a kid and would put your thumb over the end of a straw in a glass of water? When you removed the straw, the water would stay in the straw until you removed your thumb..

    Your pool pump/filter system should work the same.. When you turn off the pump nothing should happen because there is no air in the system. If you open the pump lid, open the filter air vent, or move the multiport to the right position, you let air in (Just like taking your thumb off the straw) and the water that is above the level of the pool will try to drain back to pool level.

    This can also happen if you are sucking in a lot of air which builds up in the filter or if you have a leak on the pressure side...

    Thanks,

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Caldera Spa.

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    Mod Squad mknauss's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunnymosmile View Post
    I have a question, of water does rush back into the pool, either when you turn the pump off or when you move your multiport valve, what does that mean?
    Typically it shows you have a restriction on the return side of the pump and air is building up in your filter and when you turn the pump off it expands due to pressure relief and forces water back through the suction piping.
    6000 Gallon IG Fiberglass with integrated Spa;Pentair CCP240 Cartridge Filter with Pentair Intelliflo VS Pump and HTR250 heater. IC40 SWG. EasyTouch 4. Dolphin Active20 Robot "Roadrunner", TF 100 Test Kit w/SpeedStir!
    CLICK HERE to Become a TroubleFreePool.com Supporter!! Pool Math App
    Marty

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    I haven't forgotten those who have offered to help. Just haven't had time to get outside and work on the pool further

    I hope to provide an update soon

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    I'm happy to report that replacing the o-rings inside my Jandy valves has fixed my reported issues! The larger o-rings were in decent shape, but the smaller ones on one of the valves was pretty rough and actually was broken as you can see in the album:

    Imgur: The magic of the Internet

    I did find that a chunk of the interior valve is actually broken. I believe it is not actually affecting anything since it is just a piece that holds the diverter "centered". Worst case, it allows a little water through when I close the diverter on the main drain.

    I'm now running @ 1500 RPM with my mains almost entirely closed (as close to a 90/10 as I can with my plumbing setup). Flow in the skimmers is great and the system is no longer sucking in air.

    Thanks everyone for your help!

  16. Back To Top    #16
    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    m,

    Glad you got it fixed and really appreciate the feedback, as it can often help our other members..

    Thanks again,

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Caldera Spa.

  17. Back To Top    #17
    Mod Squad mknauss's Avatar
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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    Great that the fix worked!

    This forum is run by volunteers and as you can see, there is no advertising! So we rely on the generosity of forum members to pay the bills for web hosting, server use, etc.

    If you are so inclined, consider providing support by going to CLICK HERE to Become a TroubleFreePool.com Supporter!.

    Another option is if you use Amazon, use AmazonSmile. Select TroubleFreePool as your charity and 0.5% of your eligible expenditures is donated to this forum by Amazon.

    Take care.
    6000 Gallon IG Fiberglass with integrated Spa;Pentair CCP240 Cartridge Filter with Pentair Intelliflo VS Pump and HTR250 heater. IC40 SWG. EasyTouch 4. Dolphin Active20 Robot "Roadrunner", TF 100 Test Kit w/SpeedStir!
    CLICK HERE to Become a TroubleFreePool.com Supporter!! Pool Math App
    Marty

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    Re: Pump Upgrade - Prime, Plumbing, and Skimmers

    Well...I spoke too soon. After the pump ran for a few hours, sand filter is making noise and bubble on the pool return. So I guess the o rings fixed part of my air leak, but I have another.

    Any chance the broke portion of the diverted valve could cause this? It's inside the sealed portion of the valve, so I wouldn't think so.

    Maybe I have a leak in the plumbing joints somewhere now to find.

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