Clogged Spa jets, and any idea what this knob does?

jgeese9

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Feb 26, 2021
13
florida
first time pool owner and forum user here.

I turned the valve to open the spa jets for the first time today since owning the pool and only 1 of the 5 had water coming out of it. The 6th return in the spa is connected to the main return. There is also no air coming from the 1 working spa jet. Its an inground pool with an attached spill-over spa. Seems like an odd set up where there is a T-joint with an attached valve where you can choose to either keep the main pool returns on or use the spa return jets. There is also this red knob connected to a pipe that also connects to the main return line. I have no idea what it does haha. Picture below of the t-joint and spa currently set to off and red knob below connecting to the main return.

Any thoughts as to why only 1 spa jet turns on when I open the valve and what that red knob might be?
20210226_122900.jpg
 

ajw22

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Welcome to TFP.

The line with the red knob off your pool return line is your "spa makeup line". It lets you have some flow into the spa that spills-over into the pool while in POOL mode. That flow keeps your spa water chlorinated and filtered.

Post some pics of your spa and jets. Some spa jets can be twisted to turn them on or off. Maybe the jets that have no flow have been turned off to get more pressure into the rest of them.
 

jgeese9

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Feb 26, 2021
13
florida
Thank you for the reply! Here are the spa jet pics. the single jet pic is the one with water flow, the pic with 2 other jets are in the no-water flow group.
.16143617560485659008538737339121.jpg16143617992431089236760216791739.jpg
 

Dirk

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How many pumps do you have? We were just working with a guy trying to figure out his spa plumbing. Turns out he had two circuits and two pumps. One was for filtering the pool and spa, so that led to one spa return. The other pump ran the rest of the spa jets.
 

jgeese9

Member
Feb 26, 2021
13
florida
How many pumps do you have? We were just working with a guy trying to figure out his spa plumbing. Turns out he had two circuits and two pumps. One was for filtering the pool and spa, so that led to one spa return. The other pump ran the rest of the spa jets.

There is a 2nd pump by our main pump. During the home inspection our inspector said it was for the spa jets. It turns on by switch on the patio. I figured he was right, but looking at it more i thought maybe it was just old and not hooked up to anything. It has no lid on the basket area and looks really old. Its also completely dry. The plumbing attached to it is completely different than the plumbing of the main pump. From all of that I just assumed it was the original pool pump that they left in place when installing the new one and redoing the pool. If it is attached to the rest of the spa jets would any water backflow into it from the spa returns?
20210226_131148.jpg
 

Dirk

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Not if it's above the pool level. I think a new pump is in your future. You might be able to fix the old one, or it might not be worth the trouble.

You could try feeding the pump with a hose, kinda sealed up to the outlet port in the pump's basket chamber as best you can, to see if any water comes out of any of the "non-working" jets. That'd confirm what the inspector told you, but I think you've solved the mystery of the dead jets.
 
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jgeese9

Member
Feb 26, 2021
13
florida
Not if it's above the pool level. I think a new pump is in your future. You might be able to fix the old one, or it might not be worth the trouble.

You could try feeding the pump with a hose, kinda sealed up to the outlet port in the pump's basket chamber as best you can, to see if any water comes out of any of the "non-working" jets. That'd confirm what the inspector told you, but I think you've solved the mystery of the dead jets.

Ah I see thank you so much! Definitely worth a shot. My only other question with this until i try it out is with the spa jets being separated. There are 6 total in the spa. 1 is always on with the main (based on another users response that is the one controlled by the red knob right?) When i turn the grey valve at the t-joint 1 of the remaiming 5 jets turns on. It seems odd that the other 4 spa jets would have a separate pump instead of turning on when i open the valve. Is that normal to have them separated like that?
 

Dirk

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Sorry, I'm already on the edge of what I know about spa plumbing.

You have two circuits. To run the jets, you need to have that other pump running/working. The red knob just supplies a small trickle of water to the spa, I'm not sure where it comes out. The big black three-way valve above the red-handled valve is one of your spa valves. There will be another one on the suction side of the pump. Together, in different positions, give you your three modes:

- pool mode (where water comes from and returns only to the pool)
- spa mode (where water comes from and returns only to the spa)
- spillover mode (where water comes from the pool, pumps into the spa and returns to the pool via the spillway)

To filter the pool and spa, you'd use spillover mode.

To heat up and enjoy the spa, you'd use spa mode.

And for general pool filtering, you'd use pool mode. Some need to regularly run spillover mode, like for at least 30 minutes a day, to exchange water between pool and spa, to keep the spa chlorinated and clean. But you don't need to do that. That's what the red handle is for.

When figuring out which valve does what, just go slow. Turn valves only part way until you're sure of what they do. Some pools are plumbed such that you can't do anything wrong, there's no way to get into trouble no matter how you turn the valves. Others need to have certain valves set certain ways so that you don't dead-head your pump (cut off either its intake or outflow).

Post more pics of your pad and maybe we can sort out what does what. Others here can if I can't.
 

ajw22

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Show us pics of the bottom of your spa. I want to see how many suction ports you have.
 

jgeese9

Member
Feb 26, 2021
13
florida
I appreciate the detailed responses. Any information is very very helpful. A couple days ago I went through and tested out all of the intakes/drains. I was able to locate and label the pipe for the main, skimmer, and spa drains. All 3 intakes go to the main pump. None of them go to that 2nd pump. I'm not sure how water would get to that 2nd pump without a pool intake going to it. I'm also super new at all of this though too haha. Here are the pictures requested. One is of the spa bottom and the other is the full pump set up. I had to attach them as PDF's. Keep getting an error that the pictures are too big. In the pump set up there are 3 white intake lines in the front right of the picture, left is spa, right is main, middle is skimmer. The return are the set of black pipes, left is main, middle is that red knob, and right, when open, is the 1 spa jet (so far lol).
 

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  • Spa Bottom.pdf
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Dirk

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OK, you've got all three-way valves, so you can't dead-head your pump. Experiment away!

Get some food coloring, squirt it into each pipe of the dead pump, through the two holes inside the basket chamber, one at a time, and flood each pipe with a hose (sealing it up as best you can). When you get blood in the water, you'll know what that pump does and where it's getting its water from and where it's sending it.
 

Dirk

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If there's only one drain in the spa, it's possible it's hiding multiple suction ports...
 

jgeese9

Member
Feb 26, 2021
13
florida
If there's only one drain in the spa, it's possible it's hiding multiple suction ports...

Oh geeze! I forgot about that. Your post just rang a bell. I'm still going to try and test the return line from that 2nd pump. But, when we first got the place we had someone come to a leak detection (nothing found thankfully), but he did mention that in the spa drain something about one of the holes being covered up by surface when they resurfaced the pool. Something like that. I think he used the word sump. Not sure what that is. He said that if that covered hole is what goes to that 2nd pump, then it won't work because no water will be going into the pump. He mentioned a quick fix of just putting a t-joint in where you could turn off the main returns and turn on the spa returns if you wanted. I wonder if the old owner knew that and then put in the t joint to that 1 spa jet so he would have something and just left the rest of the jets dead.
 

Dirk

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At this point, anything could be. Maybe the previous guy abandoned the second pump after its suction port got closed up? On purpose or otherwise? Maybe that pipe had a leak and they closed it all off. Left if for "the next guy" to deal with. Uh, you! Who knows. Continue the exploration. That's all you can do.
 

jgeese9

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Feb 26, 2021
13
florida
At this point, anything could be. Maybe the previous guy abandoned the second pump after its suction port got closed up? On purpose or otherwise? Maybe that pipe had a leak and they closed it all off. Left if for "the next guy" to deal with. Uh, you! Who knows. Continue the exploration. That's all you can do.

Haha yea good call! I'll see what I can do and just go from there. At least I have 2 working jets lol. 1 from the main and 1 with good pressure if i turn that grey switch lol. Thanks again for all your insight. Be well!
 
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Dirk

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I wonder if the old owner knew that and then put in the t joint to that 1 spa jet so he would have something and just left the rest of the jets dead.
I don't think so. I think originally there were two circuits. One to filter and heat the spa, and the second to run the "therapy" jets. I doubt that the replaster guys "accidentally" closed off one port. I suspect there was a problem (a leak) with the pipe running from the spa drain to the second pump, and so they just abandoned the second spa circuit.

You could possibly get the other jets running, by plumbing them to the filter circuit. But you can't then use the second pump. Each pump must have its own dedicated suction port in the pool/spa. You can't run them in series.

A believe by sump he was referring to the chamber just below the spa drain grate. It's probably something like this (one port on the side, the other in the bottom):

images.jpeg
 

jgeese9

Member
Feb 26, 2021
13
florida
I don't think so. I think originally there were two circuits. One to filter and heat the spa, and the second to run the "therapy" jets. I doubt that the replaster guys "accidentally" closed off one port. I suspect there was a problem (a leak) with the pipe running from the spa drain to the second pump, and so they just abandoned the second spa circuit.

You could possibly get the other jets running, by plumbing them to the filter circuit. But you can't then use the second pump. Each pump must have its own dedicated suction port in the pool/spa. You can't run them in series.

A believe by sump he was referring to the chamber just below the spa drain grate. It's probably something like this (one port on the side, the other in the bottom):

View attachment 177201
that makes sense. just checked outside and see an old looking box with some sort of heater timer thats no longer in use. the one return turned on by that t-joint could be the old heat line maybe? oh well!
 

ajw22

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As you guys sort of figured out it looks like this pool and spa went through a major renovation and change. It looks like originally the spa had two pumps and water circuits. One water circuit through the main pool pump and filter and chlorination that fed one return. The other a dedicated spa jet pump that fed the 5 returns. Each pump had a suction drain in the bottom of the spa.

It sounds like during the reno the spa jet pump suction line was filled in and abandoned for whatever reason.

I would open up the return line on the black pump. That bump the arrow is point to looks like a check valve and it may unscrew to open up the line. If not I would cut the line open.

Get a strong air compressor or shop vac and blow down the line and see if you get air bubbles out in your spa or pool.

You can also blow air down the suction line connected to the black pump.

Otherwise sometime you have to dig down around the spa pipes by your equipment and see how the pipes run and are connected. I think you may find some joints tieing thing together from the reno.

Pump Setup-1.png

Spa Bottom-1.png
 
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Dirk

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I like the air idea better than my food color MO. But instead of cutting pipe, you could first trying fashioning a cover of sorts over the black pump's basket chamber with duct tape. Use a good number of layers, and leave the center open, or cut out a hole the size of your blower. Blow the air through that and see what happens. That'll either work or come apart. Then you can cut pipe.
 

Dirk

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What's the HP of the working pump? If the spa returns still work (after your air test), and you connect them to the working pump, that might be enough jet action for you if you crank the pump. If not, you can cap one jet at a time in the spa until you get enough flow out of the remaining returns.
 

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