Air in pump basket and bubbles from returns....

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
109
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Hello,

I have a new issue that just popped up last night. I noticed a fairly small amount of bubbles coming out of 2 of my returns. This morning I went out to the pump and noticed there are air bubbles in the basket area when on. The higher the RPM, the more air in it. The new pump was just installed a couple weeks ago and I haven't had any issues until now. Here is some troubleshooting I already did:

  • Disconnected the vacuum hose to rule out an air leak in it but that didn't stop the bubbles
  • Water level is halfway up the skimmer and it is not creating a vortex and is not sucking in air
  • Removed the pump lid and checked the o ring. It's undamaged and clean as is the pump itself where it seals. I emptied the basket which did not have much in it
  • Poured water from the hose over all the various connections and valve and the bubbles did not go away
  • I started playing with the jandy valve which switches suction from the skimmer to the vacuum side port. When the valve is in the middle, there are minimal bubbles in the pump. If I turn the valve all the way to one side or the other, the bubbles significantly increase and it gets pretty turbulent in the basket area. What's interesting is that if I put the vacuum hose back on the side port and turn the jandy valve all the way to the vacuum, the pump starts losing water as if it's not able to suck enough through the vacuum. It doesn't do that when the vacuum hose is not attached. If the valve is all the way to the skimmer, it does not lose water but still is more turbulent in the basket area with more air.
There are no water leaks around the pump area.

I need help!
 
Last edited:

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Kevin, you mentioned the pump lid o-ring being clean and serviceable, but was it lubed? Pump basket drain plugs as well?

Interesting about the vacuum hose and stuff. Did you check to ensure there isn't something stuck in the vacuum hose? As for switching the Jandy valve back & forth, if those other items didn't work, you might need to remove the handle/top section and inspect. Maybe something is jammed in there, or perhaps worn? Some 3-ways can use a little silicone lube.
 

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
109
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Kevin, you mentioned the pump lid o-ring being clean and serviceable, but was it lubed? Pump basket drain plugs as well?

Interesting about the vacuum hose and stuff. Did you check to ensure there isn't something stuck in the vacuum hose? As for switching the Jandy valve back & forth, if those other items didn't work, you might need to remove the handle/top section and inspect. Maybe something is jammed in there, or perhaps worn? Some 3-ways can use a little silicone lube.

Nothing stuck in the vacuum hose. I took the vacuum off the hose and put one end on a return and it flows through just fine.
I went back out and put some lube on both drain plugs and the lid o ring. The issue persists. I'll have to open up the jandy valve. Is it possible it's just sucking air in through that?
 

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
109
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I opened up the jandy valve and it looked good. All the orings were smooth and undamaged. i cleaned them all and relubed. The issue still persists. I am thinking that the reason it sucks more air in when i close one side of suction off is that it is attempting to pull more water in from just one pipe which is increasing the vacuum and drawing air in from wherever it is leaking. Ugh. Any ideas how to find this mysterious air leak?
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Doesn't get much simpler than that. I like the painting on the PVC. Maybe not a reason for the bubbles, but was the old pump the same distance (close) to the 3-way? Seems a bit close.

The only other things that come to mind for me are:
1 - Even though you tried water over the suction fittings, you might also try some saran wrap. Sometimes it gets a good grip around the fittings and might show something.
2 - Focusing on the suction side would be our first order of business, but curious ..... any chance the filter itself is dirty restricting water flow? Some systems will present more bubbles and lower basket water fill when water can't pass through the filter easily.
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,441
Bangor Maine
Pentair recommends 5x pipe diameter on the suction side of the pump, that should be 12”. The reason is to stop cavitation which can lead to pump failure.

What speed are you operating it at?
 

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
109
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Doesn't get much simpler than that. I like the painting on the PVC. Maybe not a reason for the bubbles, but was the old pump the same distance (close) to the 3-way? Seems a bit close.

The only other things that come to mind for me are:
1 - Even though you tried water over the suction fittings, you might also try some saran wrap. Sometimes it gets a good grip around the fittings and might show something.
2 - Focusing on the suction side would be our first order of business, but curious ..... any chance the filter itself is dirty restricting water flow? Some systems will present more bubbles and lower basket water fill when water can't pass through the filter easily.

The old pump was in the same place.

I'll try saran wrap. I cleaned the cartridges last month and my filter pressure hasn't gone up much at all since then.
 

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Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
109
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Pentair recommends 5x pipe diameter on the suction side of the pump, that should be 12”. The reason is to stop cavitation which can lead to pump failure.

What speed are you operating it at?
You mean the pump should be 12" away from the suction pipes?

The max i am running is 2800 rpm but it still sucks air at lower rpms too, just not as much. It hasn't been doing this up until yesterday when i noticed. Didn't do it on the old pump either which was single speed.
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,441
Bangor Maine
Yes it was improperly installed the first time.

What is the PSI on your filter? Do you have similar flow at your returns as to when it wasn’t blowing air?

Suction side leaks are annoying but can be tracked down, you stated it wasn’t doing it before you took the cover off so my guess is something is seated right with the cover. Did you try lubing it up really good?
 

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
109
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Yes it was improperly installed the first time.

What is the PSI on your filter? Do you have similar flow at your returns as to when it wasn’t blowing air?

Suction side leaks are annoying but can be tracked down, you stated it wasn’t doing it before you took the cover off so my guess is something is seated right with the cover. Did you try lubing it up really good?

The filter PSI is around 12-13 at 2800rpm. Flow is similar. I didn't take the cover off until after the air leak started. Nothing changed from the time things were fine and then air bubbles started showing up.
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,441
Bangor Maine
I normally look for the following.

Lube everything and insure proper fitting. Then if that fails I carry a piece of spa flex where I by pass the filter to be sure it’s not a blockage in the filter. If that fails then I pressure test the skimmer line to see if it holds 20psi.
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,441
Bangor Maine
If it’s a block in the line the higher rpm will pull more water and exacerbate any blockage, once you reduce the rpm and the subsequent suction then water flow will increase.
 

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