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Thread: Drain plug lost or doesn't fit

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Drain plug lost or doesn't fit

    The whole thread for my previous PVC joint post seems to have been lost so I thought I would recap a little and give you all an update before moving on to my new question.

    I am installing an AutoPilot Total Control system myself. Installing the manifold was tricky as there was very little pipe between the heater and where the return pipe went into the ground. I had a lot of trouble getting the final joint together before the glue locked up, only got it in about half was and slightly angled, and was worried that it might leak. A couple of people told me that it would probably hold, and indeed it seems to be holding. Meanwhile several other things have gone wrong.

    I left our solid pool cover on while doing the rest of the spring startup process, hoping to test the joint with the pump running. I don't have the equipment to do an air pressure test, and it is time to open the pool anyway. We bought the house in the fall and had a pool service close the pool. Then I spent the winter reading up on how to handle the pool myself.

    I found two drain plugs in the pump strainer basket. One fit nicely into the side of the pump, I'm fairly sure the other one has to go into the heater as there was an uncapped hole in the heater that seems to match the drain location in the heater manual. The problem is that the plug doesn't fit in the hole. The hole was full of rust (or something gritty that looked rusted) and I spent some time with Q-Tips and a toothbrush working lots of rust out of that hole. Still the plug just spins, won't go into the hole, and the threads won't catch at all. It is as if this is a plug for a slightly larger hole.

    It didn't seem likely that the people doing the closing had misplaced a drain plug *and* I had missed finding a hole, but to double check I decided to turn on the pump. Sure enough water comes spraying out of the heater and it also comes spraying out of the ground right next to a pipe near where I had been working (but not the pipe I put the manifold into). That was it, two leaks. Digging up that pipe revealed an elbow split in half right through the body of the elbow. I spent today finishing digging that out and replacing it.

    That leaves the drain hole in the heater and the plug that won't fit. This has me totally stumped. There is nowhere else for the plug to go, water didn't come out of anywhere else, yet the hole is just a tiny fraction too small. I ordered a replacement plug, which won't come for several days, but I can't see how I could have the wrong plug. I figured the rust was from draining the entire heater coil through that hole. The PH was 6.7 when we bought the house. I fixed it right away, but who knows how long it had been there before we moved in. The heater doesn't leak (yet), so I figure the rust could be left over from then. But that doesn't explain why the plug won't even start to thread in.

    I have no clue what to try next.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  2. Back To Top    #2
    mas985's Avatar
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    The pump usually has two drain plugs both the same size. Are you sure the other one is not for the pump also? Maybe they had an extra one.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, 1/2 HP 2sp pump, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

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    Jason, want the good news or bad news first?-- Ok, we'll start with the bad, the recieving threads for that plug have rusted out so badly that the plug won't fit anymore, (there's just no metal left to screw into) - it could have been prevented by applying graphite paste or waterproof grease to the threads when the plug was removed . The cracked elbow was, probably, caused by water freezing in it over the winter (the lines either weren't properly evacuated or one of the plugs leaked - I'd put my $ on the former). You know enough about the 'how to's' to install the SWCG yourself, you are here (which says to me that you care about your pool) - next fall, close the pool yourself, we'll talk you through it , I won't say that the pool co. you had close your pool did anything wrong - but you've got 2 problems that strongly suggest a 1/2 a**ed closing (though, it may just be a result of years of neglect )

    The good (?) news is that you can take the plug that won't screw in to a good hardware store and let them sell you a slightly larger plug and the apropriate 'tap' to go with it and retap the hole and install the new plug. If you don't trust any of the hardware stores near you, you could possibly use som eopxy to seal the hole (but with it rusting out, the epoxy plug you make could potentally 'blow out' at any time , leaving you with another leak) There are ways to get the water out of the heat exchanger without pulling all the drain plugs, and as mas said, there should be 2 as well as a 'petcock' or similar on the manifold.

    Welcome to TFP!, good luck with this and if you need more info on what I've said, just ask 8)
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

  4. Back To Top    #4
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Drain plug

    I was already starting to imagine that I might need to drill out and re-tap the drain hole, so no big surprise. I am not too worried about doing the work myself, I am fairly good at picking up new skills. I am going to wait a few days till the replacement drain plug shows up on the off chance that I am somehow trying to put in the wrong plug, then it is off to the hardware store.

    Both the pump and the heater have two drain plugs and in both cases the people who closed the pool only took out one of them. On the pump they are both the same, on the heater they are quite different from each other (different size holes, different part numbers in the manual). I can still use the other one even if I completely seal up the damaged drain hole.

    I was expecting problems with this pool, but not from the heater. The heater is less than three years old while everything else is 12+ years. When we were biding on the house last summer I had a pool inspector to come out and take a look. He said that he would be shocked if the pool lasted till the end of last season, and went on to give a long list of things that were broken or about to break. The only subsystem that he didn't find something wrong with was the heater. Ironic that the heater is the first part to have a major problem.

    When we moved in had the serious electrical problems fixed and hired a pool service company to do routine maintenance. They looked around for 20 minutes and then told me that the water was so far out of balance that there was no hope. He refused to touch the pool and said that the only thing I could do was to have the pool drained and start over, but that since it was a vinyl liner that would mean replacing the liner as well. He wasn't willing to do any of that work, but would refer me to someone who could. His test of the water was:

    TC 18
    CYA 300+ (off the scale)
    PH 6.7
    ALK 40
    CH 60

    The only thing the previous owner left me was a 25 lb pail of dichlor granules and one tub of PH down. Fixing the PH was easy. It took me a couple of spare time days of Internet research to discover that I could get the CYA down by filling with a garden hose while pumping water out at the same time. After a week of that and some tweaks to the ALK we were able to swim and had a few weeks of wonderful swimming.

    Now with more confidence from a winter full of reading the pool forum and my step daughter asking when we are opening the pool at least twice a day it would be nice to be able to get in the water again.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  5. Back To Top    #5
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Waste, thanks for the suggestions! I got the correct thread tap and plug for the size of the drain hole (1/8" NPT, which is actually more than 3/8" in diameter) and retapped the drain hole. With the correct thread cutting oil applied it turned out to be a simple job. I spent more time cleaning up oil drips that actually cutting the threads. I gave the new plug and the threads in the hole a layer of non-hardening teflon based joint compound and the new plug seated perfectly and doesn't leak!

    Last week I finished wiring the SWG controller in (my SWG is also going to serve as the timer for the pump) and so today after fixing the heater I was able to turn on the pump, which started right up. One of the other drain plugs (supposedly not touched by the people who closed the pool) was dripping slowly. I took it out, put on some joint compound, reseated it, and finally all was good!

    Tomorrow it is off to Lowes for 500 lbs of salt!
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Jason, "I love it when a plan comes together"! Glad to have helped, it's the whole reason we're here - to help and learn from each other!

    If you have any other problems, ... you know where to turn

    Now start enjoying that pool!
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

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