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

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
115
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
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.

If there was a blockage in the filter, would that increase psi? If so, i can probably rule that out since my pressure has not increased, right? Would a blockage on the return side cause air in the pump?
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,447
Bangor Maine
Blockage wouldn’t affect filter psi, it affects the amount of water the pumps impeller can pull from the skimmer.

I just noticed you said you disconnected the cleaner hose, possible something got in the bottom of the skimmer?
 

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
115
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Blockage wouldn’t affect filter psi, it affects the amount of water the pumps impeller can pull from the skimmer.

I just noticed you said you disconnected the cleaner hose, possible something got in the bottom of the skimmer?

Nothing in the skimmer. Neither in the basket or below it. Should i take the filter top off and check for a blockage somewhere in there?
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Kevin, something else I recall from another member recently. I know you checked the 3-way itself, but you might try a snake in each direction from the 3-way backwards to the pool just in case something got stuck at an elbow or something. If you had a Drain King or other bladder device you could push pressurized water backwards as well. You never know.
 

zz28zz

Active member
Mar 26, 2018
37
Austin, Tx
One tidbit I've learned is that the instant the pump shuts off, if there's a suction side leak. water will spurt out for abt 1/10 of a second. You gotta be paying very close attention and it helps to have someone else at controls while you're watching the suspect area/s. My theory is the incoming water has momentum and wants to go somewhere. So for a very brief period, there will press on the suction side of pump. It also helps if everything is bone dry then use a tissue to wipe around connections and look for any wetness. I've found a couple of bad pump lid seals this way.
 

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
115
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I opened the filter and checked for blockages
Nothing visible but i don't have anything to run down into the lines. I cleaned the cartridges while i had it open.

I still don't think i understand how a blockage after the pump would cause air in the pump. Wouldn't air have to be sucked from a leak on the suction side? This would include the skimmer and side suction port. If i have one or the other closed off via the jandy valve, it's still sucking air into the pump. That would tell me either both the skimmer and side port now have a new air leak at the same time or the leak is somewhere after those. Am i incorrect in my troubleshooting theory? I'm so frustrated.
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
I still don't think i understand how a blockage after the pump would cause air in the pump. Wouldn't air have to be sucked from a leak on the suction side?
Most of the time that is correct. However like I said earlier using my own pool as an example, when my filter gets stopped-up it creates a backlog and water can't flow through, so it churns in the basket (and filter I suppose) and creates a sort of outgassing effect. When my filter gets dirty like that, my pressure goes up, pump basket water level drops, and I see some bubbles from the returns.

In your case however, it doesn't sound like that's an issue since you opened up the filter, inspected, and gave it a cleaning. That sends us back to the suction side. I would try the snake or water pressure "backwards" thing a bit. If you don't have a bladder, get a garden hose and insert it into the pump basket to push water backwards towards the skimmer. Switch teh 3-way valve from time to time. Maybe something is jammed-up in a 90 degree or something just before the 3-way. It's happened before, but usually in areas where they have acorns and such. But you never know. If the lines are 100% clear, no breaks detected, etc, the only thing remaining I can think of is the pump itself.

By the way, who installed your new pump?
 

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Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
115
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I disconnected the union on the pump suction side and lubed up the gasket and made sure it was inserted correctly. Made no difference.
 

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
115
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Most of the time that is correct. However like I said earlier using my own pool as an example, when my filter gets stopped-up it creates a backlog and water can't flow through, so it churns in the basket (and filter I suppose) and creates a sort of outgassing effect. When my filter gets dirty like that, my pressure goes up, pump basket water level drops, and I see some bubbles from the returns.

In your case however, it doesn't sound like that's an issue since you opened up the filter, inspected, and gave it a cleaning. That sends us back to the suction side. I would try the snake or water pressure "backwards" thing a bit. If you don't have a bladder, get a garden hose and insert it into the pump basket to push water backwards towards the skimmer. Switch teh 3-way valve from time to time. Maybe something is jammed-up in a 90 degree or something just before the 3-way. It's happened before, but usually in areas where they have acorns and such. But you never know. If the lines are 100% clear, no breaks detected, etc, the only thing remaining I can think of is the pump itself.

By the way, who installed your new pump?

I guess I'll get a bladder and flush the water backwards through the suction pipes. The pump was installed by a pool company here. Everything was working fine until last night when i noticed air from the returns.
 

Bperry

Gold Supporter
Aug 20, 2020
221
Knoxville, TN
Pool Size
27000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-60
I guess I'll get a bladder and flush the water backwards through the suction pipes. The pump was installed by a pool company here. Everything was working fine until last night when i noticed air from the returns.
You might try tightening the unions on the pump or re-lubing the o-rings?
 

Bperry

Gold Supporter
Aug 20, 2020
221
Knoxville, TN
Pool Size
27000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-60
I loosened the unions, removed the gaskets/oring and reinstalled after lubing. That didn't fix it.
If it wasn’t leaking before the new pump, all the “fingers” point to the pump or anything that was messed with because of it. I had to crank down on the pump unions to get them to seal well and had to take them on/off a few times. Might try some Vaseline around some of the joints to isolate possible leaks?
For reference, I had air getting into mine for a bit but it comes and goes. Make sure you aren’t chasing air that is really continuously entering and some that just got trapped and won’t escape.
 

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
115
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
The fact that it sucks air in when its switched solely to skimmer OR vacuum tells me it's not an issue with either of those suctions since its unlikely that both developed a leak at the same time or got plugged up at the same time. I can't help but think it has to be at the jandy valve but all the o-rings looked new and i re-lubed them. No visible cracks in the housing and running water over it and putting saran wrap around it does not slow down the air getting in the pump.
 

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
115
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
If it wasn’t leaking before the new pump, all the “fingers” point to the pump or anything that was messed with because of it. I had to crank down on the pump unions to get them to seal well and had to take them on/off a few times. Might try some Vaseline around some of the joints to isolate possible leaks?
For reference, I had air getting into mine for a bit but it comes and goes. Make sure you aren’t chasing air that is really continuously entering and some that just got trapped and won’t escape.

I tightened the unions pretty darn good but didn't want to crank down on them too hard and strip the threads. The air is definitely continuously entering. If i lower the pump speed, less air comes in. When i bring the speed up, the more air in the pump. The more I restrict the suction from the skimmer to the vacuum or vice versa, the more air comes in.
 

Bperry

Gold Supporter
Aug 20, 2020
221
Knoxville, TN
Pool Size
27000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-60
I tightened the unions pretty darn good but didn't want to crank down on them too hard and strip the threads. The air is definitely continuously entering. If i lower the pump speed, less air comes in. When i bring the speed up, the more air in the pump. The more I restrict the suction from the skimmer to the vacuum or vice versa, the more air comes in.
I guess the only other entry point might be the drain plugs or an underground leak. The latter seems unlikely.
 

Kevinr14

Well-known member
Mar 8, 2021
115
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I tried the "shaving cream" trick and put the cream around suspected fittings and the valve. It didn't suck the cream in and leave dimples anywhere so i think I've ruled out the jandy valve and the union fitting and the suction glued fittings. Tomorrow I'll try it on the pump lid and drain valves.
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,447
Bangor Maine
If I get a service call for a suction side leak, this is the order in which I check.

1st I assume the pool owner messed with a connection or the lid and none are closed properly. Lube and retighten and normally this resolves 99% of calls. Visual checks are performed on all connections, unions or valves.

2nd I will check visually for blockage in Return lines and the filter.

3rd I will run a snake down from skimmer to see if any blockage. I will also disconnect pressure side connection and run another line directly to the pool, running speeds up and down will tell me if it’s truly a block or collapsed pipe.

In your case as this is a newly installed pump, I would make a call back to the installer.
 

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