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Thread: Pool problems and worms...

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    Pool problems and worms...

    I posted about a month ago with issues related to a pump that would not prime. We own a inground pool, gunnite with a raised spa and spillover. It's about 9 - 10 years old, and it was here when we bought our home 4 years ago.

    It's now been about 2 months since our pool has worked properly. The issue remains that our pump will not start without adding water to get it to prime, and even then it is not reliable. We've had most of the valves replaced, as well as the above ground plumbing. We've had the pump repaired (impeller failed after it ran without water for a while), and the inside portion of the filer replaced. This has cost about $1000. Our pool repair person is pulling his hair out, and told me today that each time he has come out to work on the pool and manages to get the pump started (usually after a period of inactivity of a week or two), he gets a huge gob of dead, smelly worms in the pump basket. It usually fills the basket halfway. This has happened a couple of times, including yesterday.

    Unfortunately, the work he did yesterday did not fix the problem. He got the pump started, and I turned it off a couple of hours later. About 6 hours later, my husband tried to start it up (and tried to prime it by adding water) and could not get it going. The pool guy came by again today, claims he got it running, and AGAIN got a huge gob of worms in the pump basket - after only 16 hours of inactivity.


    I have two questions. One - what could possibly be wrong with the pool? The pump is fine, by the way.
    Two - where are these worms coming from?? Do we have a leak in the underground plumbing? And if that is the case, wouldn't we be seeing dirt/mud rather than simply a gob of dead worms??

    Can anyone help me assess this problem? We are at our wits end, and plan to call the company that built our pool tomorrow.

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Adding that the pump basket is losing water, and we even had a check valve installed - to no avail.

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    You almost surely have a suction-side air leak.

    In a working system, the water in the pump and filter would like to naturally return to the level of the swimming pool when the pump is shut off. It is prevented from doing so because a properly functioning system is airtight so the air cannot get into the system to allow the water to drain back to the pool.

    If you have even a tiny, tiny air leak, the water in the pump basket and somewhat in the filter will leak back to the pool and will be replaced by the air leaking in.....causing you to lose prime.

    Somewhere in between the skimmer and the pump impellor, air is getting into your system. The most common place is the gasket (o-ring) that seals the top of the pump basket lid. Another place often overlooked is a drain valve that is located at the bottom of the pump basket may not be tight.

    There are several other less likely areas but a good pool technician should solve this issue pretty handily.

    The worms are most likely seasonal and there may be little you can do until it passes. More detail as to what they are may give some other opinions.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Thanks for your reply, Dave. My husband will be home in a bit, and I am going to have him double check the areas you mentioned. Considering that the pool repair guy has been out a few times now (and the length of time we've had this problem), I would assume he covered these areas himself. We've been told that it's a air leak issue, but why is it not resolved yet??

    As I mentioned, the repair guy is thinking that we have an underground leak due to the fact that he is finding the mass of worms each time he turns on the pump.

    Thanks for your help!

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    And, if you happen to know of a great pool tech in the Charlotte area, please let me know!

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Are the worms in your pool too? Have you ever found them in the pool skimmer basket? What type of pipe do you have underground between the pool and pump? It it'f Flex line it is possible that some bug, or termite may have chewed through the pipe. Not sure, maybe the worms are some sort of larvae and they grow off the water that is leaking out of the pipe. Then they wiggle through the little hole into the pipe, where they remain until the pump is started and they get sucked through.

    HTH,
    Adam
    18' x 42" Intex Easyset Pool, with 16' x 52" deep end in the middle. Approx. 5500 Gal.
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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Just an additional thought: If you have both a main drain and skimmers, and you can chose one or the other, see if the priming works better using one or the other. We might isolate the problem a bit better. If the worms are NOT in the pool and being sucked into the main drain or skimmer, they must be coming from somewhere! If they are in one of the suction lines, and blocking the flow of water, that might be one reason for priming difficulty. Is there dirt (muddy water) coming into the pump basket with the worms? (Might further support the suction line leak theory)?
    http://www.swimmingpool.com/

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Our pool repair person is coming by this afternoon, so I will be able to get some additional answers. I do not know the type of pipe installed underground, as we did not build the pool. I've never noticed any worms anywhere in the pool (including when the problem first started), so I am not sure where they are coming from. The repair guy has described them as a big glob, giving credence to the underground leak theory. But he did not mention anything about muddy water, which I think would need to be present as well.

    To the poster who mentioned some ideas, my husband checked the o-ring on the lid of the pump basket, as well as the drain plug underneath, and said both seemed fine. he also said that the o-ring had been replaced already a few weeks ago, so it was unlikely that it was the problem.

    I'm going to reread the page here on leaks, and see if I can come up with something on my own. I don't even want to think about what repairing an underground problem will be, as we have an extensive concrete deck around 3/4 of the pool/spa. When we bought our home, we were told that our builder (large, national company) provides a lifetime warranty against leaks, but I can't imagine that this covers underground pipes. To boot, our Aquabot broke about a month ago as well. This whole mess just makes me want to cry!

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    As I mentioned, the repair guy is thinking that we have an underground leak due to the fact that he is finding the mass of worms each time he turns on the pump.
    This is just an opinion with no science behind it but experience on the forums........underground suction leaks are the "whipping boy" for everyone who can't find the real problem. In fact, an underground pipe break is almost never the problem.

    I would disassociate the worms from your priming issues. (unless, as budster says, they have completely blocked a line....but that doesn't seem to be the case since you can apparently get the pump to prime occaisionally) The picture of a "gob" of worms all hanging out underground around a broken pipe just waiting to get sucked in doesn't seem very realistic.

    Suction side leaks are almost always found at an above ground junction of the hardware. That could be the gaskets, unions, joints.....any place two pieces are joined together mechanically or with pvc cement.

    Again, it's only an opinion but if my pool repair guy was stuck on the underground worm theory, I'd find another pool guy.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Can you see the main drain? Can you see worms on the bottom of the pool? Can the pool boy show you the worms he has harvested(I would want to see them.) Does the "glob" of worms appear when suction is from skimmer only, or main drain only, or both. As the main drain and skimmer lines are usually ran as separate lines underground up to the pump, I doubt that BOTH are comprimised. You should be able to get it to prime from one, or the other. You have a plumbing leak. Isolating the leak is a matter of step-by-step trouble-shooting, but one that a competent pool person should be easily able to do. BUT it will take more than one 15 minute visit(more like several hours to find and fix.) This is a better job for the pool user, someone who can "babysit" the equipment.
    If you can post pictures of your plumbing, especially the valve arrangement, a more detailed trouble-shooting plan can be given.
    Before I would dig up anything, I would look into a plumber with a video inspection service, and in-situ repair.
    Good Luck!
    22 x 40 IG vinyl lined, 23,570 gal.
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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    To be fair, the pool repair guy has spent several hours trying to diagnose the problem. As I mentioned, he did end up replacing a good amount of plumbing, all on the suction side. He will be over today to replace one more piece that is loose and may be letting in air - but it is between the pump and the filter. I have my doubts about the worms and underground leak issue - not that he is making up the worms, but I think he is frustrated, and feels it may be time to let someone else deal with it. Just my opinion, of course. Here a two photos of our equipment. In the second photo, I placed arrows where the plumbing is new. My husband is in the construction industry, and did mention last night that he may be able to get one of those in-line cameras that plumbers use.


    overview of equipment:





    problem area that has been replaced:


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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Carpool,

    When you finally get the pump to prime, do you see any water leaks anywhere after the pump?
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Hi Dave,

    The repair guy just got the pump running, and no, there is no noticeable leaking. However, if you look in the second photo I posted, the top right hand arrow points to a section that was loose, and he thought it may be letting air into the system after the pump was shut off. He replaced that portion of the plumbing about an hour ago, and will be back to see the result. I mentioned to him the idea of isolating the skimmer and main drains to see if there were any discrepancies to help with diagnosing the problem. and he is going to try that as well.

    Not to belabor the worm issue, but I received more details about this today. Today (for the 4th time), he started up the pump, and instead got a handful of live worms in the pump basket. He said that he started the pump, about 10 seconds later heard it strain somewhat, release, and then saw a gush of worms go through the check valve into the pump basket. It has been about 24 hours since the last start up of the pump. He saved them for us to see, and there was a big handful of enormous, live earthworms - maybe 1/8 - 1/4 inch in diameter, and aat least 6 inches long. There are no visible worms in or around the pool. He referred my husband to a company that specializes in leak detection.

    Even if the plumbing issue is resolved, how is this amount of worms able to get into the plumbing. Very strange.

    Thanks, Caroline

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Does the pump have the same problem whether it is in pool or spa mode?

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Another excellent question that needs to be addressed. I'm thinking that the repair guy did not check this, so I will add it to the list after the sealant dries on the plumbing.

    Thanks, Caroline

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    However, if you look in the second photo I posted, the top right hand arrow points to a section that was loose, and he thought it may be letting air into the system after the pump was shut off.
    Yeah, that's why I asked the question about any leaking there. It's fairly obvious from thje photo that joint is bad and, I'm sure, has the potential for an air leak which would cause the pump to loose prime. I am surprised you didn't have some water leaking there as well since it's on the pressure side of the pump.

    Honestly, the whole plumbing looks suspect to me. You may have more than one leak.

    Who put the check valve in? Why? They are often very troublesome.

    Can't answer about the worms.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    According to my husband, there's always been a check valve in that position, and our pool guy replaced it with one that is easy to clean if need be. It's there to keep the water from flowing back into the pool, considering that our equipment is higher than the water level of the pool. As for the leaking in the area you mentioned, that area has been replumbed once since October, and it was done poorly, which you can see from the photo. I'm hoping that the replacement put in today has better results.

    Caroline

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Im not a genius or a rocket scientist but even a caveman knows worms could not get into a closed system.
    There has to be a hole in an underground pipe. That's where worms generally live too, go figure.

    When the pump is on it will pressurize when the water runs through and saturates the dirt around the hole in the pipe. When you shut the pump down, the water, dirt will eventually drain back into the pipe along with the worms. When you start the pump back up, the worms and dirt get sucked into the pump basket.

    A disclaimer. I am a new pool owner and have never fixed, worked on a pool. I can count to 10 using my hands. This sounds like a no brainer. Worms, dirt coming into a suction pump from an underground pipe. Must be a hole or crack somewhere. Just me 2 centavos.
    25,000 gallon freeform inground gunite pool with 12" raised spa. 3.5'- 6.4' deep.
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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Once the valves get clogged (like with worms, or debris) they are non-functional. They frequently do get debris in them and seem to be a frequent source of problems.

    To help understand the issue, if your system had no leaks, you would have no need for the check valve. The water in the pump and filter cannot go back into the pool unless there is air leaking in to "replace" the water.

    An airtight sytem will never need to prime the pump and will not need a check valve.

    That gets a little off the subject but the check valve could be the source of an air leak as well as any other connection and, once it gets clogged, serves no purpose.

    Gregg123,

    I don't think OP mentioned any dirt in the system. I have overlooked that if she did.

    It is not a closed system. It is open at the pool and worms could easily be sucked into the main drain and/or skimmers then, along with other debris, get caught in the check valve....clogging it so it stays open when the pump shuts off, allowing the pump to lose prime from an air leak.

    Then, when the pump finally primes, there will be a surge of water coming from the pool that may dislodge the debris (and worms) into the pump basket.

    Yes, underground leaks can and do appear but there have probably been less than five reported on this and another forum I've been on for 8 years or so. I would eliminate all the other possibilities (and OP has not) completely before I started breaking up concrete and digging up pipes.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Pool problems and worms...

    Dave, you are correct - there is no dirt in the system.

    What you say about the check valve makes sense. And, we have had many problems with the previous check valve due to leaves and such.

    I'm starting to wonder if our pool repair company can handle this issue. Now that it's stopped raining, I plan to do the "bucket test" tomorrow and see for certain if there is any water loss.

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