Air in Pump Basket

ChrisDK

Member
Apr 7, 2021
9
Chapin, SC
Hello, I am brand new to pools. We purchased a house and inherited an inground pool with a raised spa (details in sig). Best guess is that the pool/plumbing is around 15 years old. It had serious plaster issues so just had it re-tiled and re-plastered...currently 2 weeks into the plaster cure process and doing lots of brushing. Over the last several weeks I have been reading as many articles and posts on TFP as I can, so starting to understand which end is up (barely).

Anyway, was looking at the pump basket lid and noticed a lot of bubbles and the water in the pump was making a thrashing noise. Checked the suction valves and at that time system was running on main drain only (skimmer valve closed). Pic attached Main_Drain_Only.png. I then opened the skimmer valve as well and after a minute or two the pump basket cleared up...no more thrashing sound...just clear water and a couple of small bubbles near the lid. Pic attached Main_and_Skimmer_Drains.png. Then I closed the main drain valve so system was running on skimmer-only. Really no change...clear in pump basket and just a few small bubbles near lid. Pic attached Skimmer_Drain_Only.png.

Pic also attached of the suction-side valves. We have the main drain on a Jandy valve which then T's into the skimmer drain pipe which then flows into an automation valve on it's way to the pump (Suction_Valves.png).

Sand filter pressure shows around 10psi when main-drain only is open, and around 15psi when both main-drain and skimmer valves are open. It has been about 4 days since I last did a backwash.

So trying to figure out what all of this is telling me, if anything. Skimmer & Main Drain both open and pump basket is relatively clear, skimmer only and pump basket is relatively clear, main drain only and lots of bubbles and thrashing. I would have thought that if there is a main drain valve or plumbing problem then the skimmer-only valve open would have shown the least bubbles, skimmer and main drain would be next "best", and main drain only would show bubbles and thrashing. But Skimmer-only and Skimmer + Main Drain look pretty much identical in terms of bubbles in the pump basket....it is only when I move it to main drain only that I see lots of bubbles and the thrashing.

I pulled out the garden hose and ran a gentle stream of water over all of the valves and connectors (from pump drain plug on back to where the drains go underground) and did not notice any difference in terms of the bubbles in pump basket. I did this both with only main drain open and with skimmer and main drains open.

Not sure if it is related in any way, but I have noticed that when I turn off the pump I do hear a gurgling noise coming out of the sand filter for about 5 seconds. No visible water spitting out anywhere that I can see.

Pump is on a schedule...10pm off and 8am on. I looked at the pump basket this morning just before 8:00am and it was empty. Pump kicked on at 8am and it only took a few seconds to prime, so while it did drain a bit it would seem that most of the water was still in the intake pipe. This was with main-drain only open (no skimmer).

Lastly, our lot is very steep. So the equipment pad is on the side of the house near the gas/electric hookups and the pool deck is about 8 feet further down in terms of height. In terms of distance the pool is about 40-50 feet away from the equipment pad.

Would appreciate any advice! Thanks,

Chris
 

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YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
15,619
Evans, Georgia
The hose trick you did to find a leak in the valves- did you also do it on the pump itself? Start at the bottom and work up to the pump basket lid.

Your skimmer plumbing sounds like its working just fine. Your main drain sounds like its compromised somehow?
Its not unheard of for a main drain or the plumbing from it to become damaged and people then close them off.

I'm confused by your pressure gauge changes, and I'm unsure how much effect the placement of the equipment pad counts on this problem?? Perhaps someone more knowledgeable will have an answer?

Maddie :flower:
 

ChrisDK

Member
Apr 7, 2021
9
Chapin, SC
Hi Maddie, thanks. Yes, I did flow water over the pump, especially the pump basket lid and the drain plug...made no difference that I could see. I'm starting to think that the thrashing and the bubbles when on main drain only might indicate a blockage of some sort...as in the pump can't pull enough water through the drain.
 

Nordy-que

Active member
Apr 2, 2021
27
Florida
Pool Size
13000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Just a couple of ideas, since I’m currently going through the same thing. I’m 3 weeks into a plaster cure and had to fix a bunch of stuff since. I’m very new as well, so just sharing what I did that solved my issues, YMMV.

1. There was a bunch of plaster residue in the main drain and spa drain that took over 2 weeks to clear out. Moving valve positions around to force more water through the drains than the skimmer seemed to help clear it.

2. Moving the valves to drain only let a ton of air in. I replaced and lubed the pump cover o ring, and (the biggest affect) I replaced and lubed the O rings in my 3 way Jandy valve on the intake side. Boom, zero air in the system and the remaining drain gunk immediately cleared out. Once those 2 things were resolved my system is running normally again.

I got 12 sets of Jandy gaskets off Amazon for like 8 bucks. Really easy to swap out.
Good luck!
 

ChrisDK

Member
Apr 7, 2021
9
Chapin, SC
Just a couple of ideas, since I’m currently going through the same thing. I’m 3 weeks into a plaster cure and had to fix a bunch of stuff since. I’m very new as well, so just sharing what I did that solved my issues, YMMV.

1. There was a bunch of plaster residue in the main drain and spa drain that took over 2 weeks to clear out. Moving valve positions around to force more water through the drains than the skimmer seemed to help clear it.

2. Moving the valves to drain only let a ton of air in. I replaced and lubed the pump cover o ring, and (the biggest affect) I replaced and lubed the O rings in my 3 way Jandy valve on the intake side. Boom, zero air in the system and the remaining drain gunk immediately cleared out. Once those 2 things were resolved my system is running normally again.

I got 12 sets of Jandy gaskets off Amazon for like 8 bucks. Really easy to swap out.
Good luck!
Thanks! Yes I'm seeing those white plaster globs in the pump basket. I have a new O-ring and some lube for the pump lid and will do that this weekend. Will get some Jandy gaskets ordered as well.
 
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ChrisDK

Member
Apr 7, 2021
9
Chapin, SC
Hey Chris, did you solve your problem?
Not yet, but things did get better after replacing the pump basket o-ring. The goal is to replace the one Jandy check-valve and all of the o-rings/seals in the various Jandy and Pentair valves on the intake side...just having trouble getting the correct part numbers so I can place an order. For example, the Jandy check valve has a 7305 P/N on the clear cover...only P/N I can find. I assume that is for the clear cover only, but I can't find the P/N's for the actual check valve component or the o-ring. And the Pentair valves don't have any identifying numbers that I can find.
 

ChrisDK

Member
Apr 7, 2021
9
Chapin, SC
I'm still in the process of ordering the correct O-rings for the Pentair and Jandy valves, but I have replaced the O-ring on the pump basket (and lubed it) and I did clean out and lube the seal on the Jandy intake-side check valve a couple of days ago. I have also attached a diagram of the intake plumbing which is a lot clearer than the previous pictures. Over the last two days I ran the same tests again with main-drain only open and main-drain plus skimmer drain open. Again I will point out that equipment pad is around 8' above pool deck (16' above main drain in deep end) which is why (I guess) we have an intake-side check valve.

Test #1: Main-Drain Only (Skimmer drain closed)

Pump still looks frothy, full of bubbles and lots of thrashing. On the pool side all looks ok...no bubbles coming out of any of the returns that I can see.

Pump goes off at 10pm and I go to the equipment pad just before the 8am auto startup. Pump basket is full so check valve is doing its job. Pump kicks on and goes empty almost immediately, but water starts flowing back into the pump within a couple of seconds. Pump is running "normally" within 10-15 seconds. Again, still frothy and thrashing...but running. And pool looks Ok.

Test #2: Main-Drain AND Skimmer Drain both open

Pump basket looks almost perfect. One small bubble near the lid but otherwise clear..cannot really see any water movement at all. Pump sounds quieter as well. On pool side all looks good and no bubbles coming out of any returns.

Pump goes off at 10pm and I go to the equipment pad just before the 8am auto startup. Pump basket is full. Pump kicks on and goes empty almost immediately. In this case, though, it stays empty and it takes about 5 to 6 minutes for water to begin flowing into the pump and for the pump to prime. Once running, though, pump basket looks perfect with just one or two bubbles near lid and no thrashing.

Filter Pressure

Filter pressure when main-drain only is being used is around 10psi. Filter pressure when both main drain AND skimmer drain are open is around 15psi.


In both cases it looks like the Jandy check valve on the intake side is now doing its job in keeping water in the pump overnight. So the air leak is somewhere before the check valve. Given the difference in morning startup between main-only and main+skimmer scenarios, it sure looks to me like the problem is in the skimmer intake somewhere between the Pentair valve on the equipment pad and the skimmer housings in the pool. Does that sound right? If so, what would be the best plan of attack to narrow down the location of the air leak?

Thanks,

Chris
 

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Nordy-que

Active member
Apr 2, 2021
27
Florida
Pool Size
13000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
In your diagram - the automation valve for spa mode - is that a Jandy 3 way valve as well? I thought that's what you were referring to earlier. That's my guess as to where the air leak is. The reason I think you're pulling more air when the main drain only is on is that it's still clogged, and it's pulling as much water as it can. Since it's restricted, it's more likely to pull air.
 

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ChrisDK

Member
Apr 7, 2021
9
Chapin, SC
In your diagram - the automation valve for spa mode - is that a Jandy 3 way valve as well? I thought that's what you were referring to earlier. That's my guess as to where the air leak is. The reason I think you're pulling more air when the main drain only is on is that it's still clogged, and it's pulling as much water as it can. Since it's restricted, it's more likely to pull air.
Thanks. Not sure if it is a 3-way or not...and pretty sure it is a Pentair not a Jandy...I know it is connected to the Aqualink system...it is currently set to turn off the spa main drain. If I turn on Spa mode (which I have not done since the pool replaster) that valve will automatically rotate 180-degrees (I think) to only pull water from the spa and not from the MD/Skimmer.

If it is that Spa valve...then why (when in MD only mode) will it prime the next day very quickly whereas if I'm in MD+Skimmer mode it takes 5-6 minutes? That's why I was thinking the air leak must be before the Jandy check valve (which sits right in front of the Spa valve) and not after it.

Edit: I guess it must be a 3-way valve :) In current mode it only allows water from MD and or Skimmer drains into the pump. When flipped the other way it will only allow water from the Spa into the pump.

Chris
 

Nordy-que

Active member
Apr 2, 2021
27
Florida
Pool Size
13000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Thanks. Not sure if it is a 3-way or not...and pretty sure it is a Pentair not a Jandy...I know it is connected to the Aqualink system...it is currently set to turn off the spa main drain. If I turn on Spa mode (which I have not done since the pool replaster) that valve will automatically rotate 180-degrees (I think) to only pull water from the spa and not from the MD/Skimmer.

If it is that Spa valve...then why (when in MD only mode) will it prime the next day very quickly whereas if I'm in MD+Skimmer mode it takes 5-6 minutes? That's why I was thinking the air leak must be before the Jandy check valve (which sits right in front of the Spa valve) and not after it.

Edit: I guess it must be a 3-way valve :) In current mode it only allows water from MD and or Skimmer drains into the pump. When flipped the other way it will only allow water from the Spa into the pump.

Chris
Hmm - both your MD and your skimmer go through the check valve, so I suppose it could be leaking there, but the last thing before the pump is the automation valve. If it was just a regular old Jandy, that's an easy fix to test it, but not sure what's involved on the valve you have.
 

ChrisDK

Member
Apr 7, 2021
9
Chapin, SC
Hmm - both your MD and your skimmer go through the check valve, so I suppose it could be leaking there, but the last thing before the pump is the automation valve. If it was just a regular old Jandy, that's an easy fix to test it, but not sure what's involved on the valve you have.
Yep, but I recently cleaned and lubed the Jandy check valve and I think it is operating as intended. Also, if it were the check valve or the spa automation valve then I would think that the morning startup would be the same whether I'm running MD-only or MD+Skimmer. But it is not. MD-only primes very quickly (just a few seconds) while MD+Skimmer is basically priming the pump from scratch. By process of elimination I think that leaves me with the Skimmer valve being the culprit (or something between skimmer valve and the skimmer housings in the pool).

I don't have new o-rings/seals for the Pentair valves yet but I guess there is no harm in cleaning and lubing the Skimmer drain Pentair valve and then repeat the test. If no joy then I will also clean/lube the MD Pentair valve and, just for kicks, the Spa automation valve (if I can figure out how to dismantle it without breaking anything :) )
 

ChrisDK

Member
Apr 7, 2021
9
Chapin, SC
Ok, so I replaced the o-rings (one large and two small o-rings for each unit) in the 3 Pentair valves on the intake side. Was hopeful since the existing o-rings looked in bad shape. However, once I started the system back up I found that the pump is still losing prime when it is off overnight. Maybe a little better than before...but not much difference. I'm out of places to look on the intake side.

Question...when the pump is off, can air leak into the plumbing from the filter side of things?? I didn't notice this before, but I'm pretty sure I have a bad spider gasket on my sand filter. Based on what I have read about the sand filter and the multi-port valve it sure sounds like nothing should come out of the filter discharge pipe unless the multi-port is on Backwash or Rinse, is that correct? My system has yet another Pentair valve on the discharge pipe and if I open it when the pump is in Filter mode water still comes pouring out.
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
15,619
Evans, Georgia
Based on what I have read about the sand filter and the multi-port valve it sure sounds like nothing should come out of the filter discharge pipe unless the multi-port is on Backwash or Rinse, is that correct?
Yes, theoretically that's how it should work if in primo condition.
Let me ask a couple of pump smart folks to chime in here..... @ajw22 @Jimrahbe @mas985

Maddie :flower:
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
23,986
Northern NJ
Pool Size
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Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
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Show us some pics of your filter, MPV, and that Pentair valve.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
20,931
Bedford, TX
Chris,

If you have anything coming out of your discharge pipe when the MPV is in the Filter position, your spider gasket is leaking.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
13,950
Pleasanton, CA
Pool Size
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Ditto on the spider gasket.

But to your original post, if you are getting a lot of bubbles on MD only but few with MD + Skimmer, that could be a blockage in the MD. The filter pressure also indicates a blockage because the filter pressure drops on the MD which means the flow rate is reduced and that the suction side head loss has increased. This increase in head loss can cause high suction in the pump basket forcing a leak to occur when it normally would not. The 8' pump height doesn't help either.

Since you recently plastered the pool, my guess is that the MD line is plugged with plaster or plaster dust. You might try back flushing the MD line. Arrange the valves for MD only, put a hose into the pump basket inlet hole and seal with a rag. Turn on the water and see if anything comes out of the MDs in the pool.

Are you pushing the dust into the MDs? You are better off using a manual vacuum than the MDs.
 
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ChrisDK

Member
Apr 7, 2021
9
Chapin, SC
Thanks for all of the responses! Attached are some pics of the filter, etc.

I will get a spider gasket ordered ASAP.

Mark, thanks for the confirmation on the blockage, and I will try back flushing the line as you suggested. I assume I need to dive in remove the MD drain cover screens first? I'm in week 4 of the plaster cure and, while I do still brush it once or twice a day, I'm not seeing the plaster dust and chips like I was in week #1. But, yes, I was brushing to the MD...the pool has been vacuumed once a week but that probably was not enough.

Chris
 

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