Broken/Repaired Pipes, Pump won't Prime, No Water Flow

DesertSloth

Well-known member
Apr 26, 2017
131
Phoenix, AZ
Our landscapers broke 2-3 pipes while digging trenches for drip irrigation (apparently state law only requires these pipes to be 3-4" below grade???!!!?) To get the water from flowing out of the holes in the pipes so they can repair them, I drained the pool low enough to stop the backflow (below the skimmer line).

Now the pipes are repaired, and I'm trying to run water thru to make sure there's no leaks. I'm turning on the pump, and it's running dry for quite a few minutes trying to prime, but it never gets water flow in. I have the valve turned to the drain only position (since the water line is below the skimmer level), so water SHOULD BE coming in thru the drains. I'm guessing there's a lot of air in the lines? Do I just let that pump keep running until it can prime? I don't want to damage it at all.

Meanwhile, I turned the refill valve back on to fill the pool back up, but will take at least a day I'm guessing.

Any thoughts?

Thank you!
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
12,165
Bedford, TX
DS,

A lot of main drains don't work and even those that do often have a hard time priming a pump... I suggest that you fill the pool back up and use the skimmers ..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

DesertSloth

Well-known member
Apr 26, 2017
131
Phoenix, AZ
ok- already doing that. I was hoping that was the case... my BIGGER concern is the guy told me he didn't have the right tools to make 'clean cuts' so it's a 'little sloppy', and he coulnd't reach up the pipes far enough to get all the dirt/debris out of there before he sealed them up- but that they'll just blow back into the pool... GGGRRRRRRR.... I'm hoping there's no rocks trapped inside those pipes. I'll update once the water level is high enough.

Thanks!
 

DesertSloth

Well-known member
Apr 26, 2017
131
Phoenix, AZ
UPDATE- filled the pool, got it primed and running- no leaks. HOWEVER- it only keeps water primed/flowing into the pump when I turn the valve to the skimmer. If I turn it to the drains (or too much of drains vs skimmer) it loses all the water in the pump basket and very little comes thru. Is that from air being trapped in the lines? How do I fix this?

Thank you!
 

cfherrman

TFP Guide
May 10, 2017
2,207
Hays, Kansas
Air plays heck on pumps

Try leaving your drain cracked a little for Like a week for the air to work out

You could take the cover off the drain and run a garden hose inside it to try to get water through it.
 
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DesertSloth

Well-known member
Apr 26, 2017
131
Phoenix, AZ
Just so I'm clear- we're talking about the MAIN DRAINS (I have 2) on the bottom of the pool, correct? So you're suggesting to leave the Jandy Valve pointed, say, 75% on the skimmer side, and 25% on the drain side for about a week and see if it works itself out. If not, then take the covers off the drains at the bottom of the pool, push a garden hose up there, turn on the hose full power and see if I can force the blockage clear?

Is that right? How far would I run the hose? How much time would I run it for like that?

I'm concerned we may have to cut the lines back open and try to clear the pipes that way (if that is in fact the problem).

Thank you for all the help!
 

cfherrman

TFP Guide
May 10, 2017
2,207
Hays, Kansas
Yes

Go as far as you can, which will to be a 90 and if they are modern drains will be short. You might have to plug the other drain to do this. Run it as long as you think you should, can set to 100 drains and open the pump basket and see if water starts running out.

If you think there is a blockage or a problem we just recommend not using them, you don't need them anyway
 

jimmythegreek

Bronze Supporter
Aug 10, 2017
795
Morris Cnty NJ
I'm assuming the drains worked before this? If so and the pump is running and primed you should not have much of a problem switching over once the burst of air comes thru. Try what was said above and check it after a day to drains only.

Also wondering if you switch to partial drains open are you getting air bubbles in the pump or solid water flow?
 

DesertSloth

Well-known member
Apr 26, 2017
131
Phoenix, AZ
OK- so the more I close the skimmer down, the lower the water in the pump basket goes, and the louder the pump is (working harder). If I close the skimmers 100%, the water drops completely, and barely a trickle comes thru. If I open the skimmers all the way and close the drains- no issues, pump basket full of water, no air bubbles (minor on the top, but no new ones) and the pump is quieter.

I'm nervous to close the skimmer much as I don't want it to put too much stress on the pump over an extended period of time. Me messing with it, opening/closing the drains doesn't seem to improve the flow whatsoever. Also- the pipes where the repairs were done (still exposed, not buried yet) are noisy when I switch more to the drains, I'm guessing it's air bubbles and whatnot trying to run thru there.

At this point it seems they're pretty clogged. I'm pretty sure they were working previously. I DID use the drains when sweeping the pool down. For me to do the garden hose thing, I assume I'll need to drain the pool a fair amount to be able to access that. What would I plug the other drain with- plastic bags?

I know you said the drains aren't really used anyways- but beyond my little vacuum robot- how else do you clean the bottom well?

Thanks for all the help guys!
 

cfherrman

TFP Guide
May 10, 2017
2,207
Hays, Kansas
Drains to jack for cleaning the bottom. Brush the pool to stir up the solids to the skimmer or just having people swim and stir it up to the skimmers worked the best for me. I have a robot and that does everything we need for the floor.

Use a snorkel to get to your drains, you will extend your time underwater by 2 with it.

I thought of another way

Set 3 way for drains only, pump off, take lid off and shove garden hose in pump basket towards the suction. Might try some rags to seal around garden hose. If this looks like it will work but you need a better seal, take your pump out and hook the garden hose directly to the suction, you will probably have to buy some connections for it.
 

cfherrman

TFP Guide
May 10, 2017
2,207
Hays, Kansas
Can you set your skimmer to 90% for a week?

I thought of another way, pull pump out, beg, borrow, steal a big shop vac, and duct tape the shop vac hose on suction with drains 100%, put shop vac on blow and go for it. You should see a lot air coming out of both of your drains, this will eliminate physical blockage
 

DesertSloth

Well-known member
Apr 26, 2017
131
Phoenix, AZ
These are great ideas! I know it's a little silly- but- any chance I could bust a pipe by doing either the garden hose or the shop vac methods? These pipes have been in the ground for 20yrs or so... ;)
 

cfherrman

TFP Guide
May 10, 2017
2,207
Hays, Kansas
PVC is rated to 150 psi or so, new with proper connections. I see that installers air test the pipes around 30-45 psi

My house water pressure is 60 psi, so if your worried about busting a pipe just seal around the hoses with rags, can get much pressure with that.

Shop vac probably only gets a few psi. They are set up for volume. Mine can lift the water out when I winterize which is 2 psi so at least that.
 

Realaxpooltech

In The Industry
May 12, 2018
51
Phoenix az
Our landscapers broke 2-3 pipes while digging trenches for drip irrigation (apparently state law only requires these pipes to be 3-4" below grade???!!!?)
The reason your pipes are damaged, has nothing to do with them being 3-4'' below grade, but everything to do with the landscape crew that damaged them.

Landscape crews will find a way to break pool pipes no matter how deep, they have been doing it for years, and are getting quite good at it, most of the time they don't even say anything about it, and act surprised as they deny it when asked.,

Before you start tearing everything apart and sticking hoses in drains, etc. lets start with the fact that your main drain line is probably not clogged, having worked on thousands of pools over the years, and having seen many, many times this type of damage from careless landscapers, I think there is an overlooked section of the main drain pipe that still needs repaired, that the landscapers also damaged and is causing the problem with "air" as you describe, because the pick axe they were swinging has either punched a hole or cracked the pipe, which will suck major air if you try to run main drain like you have, causing the pump to fall on its face
 

DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
224
Columbus, Ohio
First, if that doesn't work you can just forget using the mains assuming you aren't loosing water. Second get a plumber with a camera system and run a line down the pipe to see if/where it is blocked. This worked for a friend. Saved a lot of aggravation to know exactly where to dig to fix the problem.
 

jimmythegreek

Bronze Supporter
Aug 10, 2017
795
Morris Cnty NJ
Agree with realaxpooltech. Theres another puncture somewhere. I know you said landscapers did a poor job at the repairs and that wouldnt fly in my world. Idk your relationship with them but I would insist on a pool guy or company come out and repair the lines properly. If this happens down the road you will chase your tail like you are doing now. What are the lines PVC or flex. Anyway you can snap a pic of the equip pad where your pump and valves are. Would help to guide you thru. The water backwards from pump is where I would start as well no need to drain pool water
 
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