Hayward Vari-Flo XL Leaking

Rock Lobster

Member
May 19, 2020
12
Richmond, Virginia
Hi, long time reader first time poster. I have this exact problem with the same model filter. Mine has a Hayward Vari-Flo XL valve, which does indeed have a replaceable spider gasket. I’ve been experiencing small leaks for a couple of years, usually resolved by jiggling the handle. Water pouring out after backwash this year. I have replaced everything not made of plastic in my valve and still it’s pouring water. That’s the spider gasket, key base gasket, spring, spring washers, handle o-rings, and the plastic washer under the handle. And still it’s gushing water in filter mode after backwashing. I can make it stop by putting it to closed or winter and letting it sit for a while and checking for the backwash flow to stop before turning back to filter. I can hear what sounds like bubbling/draining when I have it to closed/winter so maybe a suction issue? I’ve taken the valve apart twice now (once for the spider gasket and again today to replace the spring and o-rings), and all the plastic surfaces are nice and smooth and clean. I lubed up the gaskets. I really don’t understand what else could be the problem. About to just buy a whole new valve but fail to see what’s wrong with the one I have.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

Rock Lobster

Member
May 19, 2020
12
Richmond, Virginia
Thanks! What makes me think it’s something other than the valve key/gasket is that it’s leaking a very large amount of water. If it were just a little water sneaking by my new gasket because the valve body is worn, it would be a dribble. It is really flowing like a bathtub faucet on high. No way that’s sneaking by my new spider gasket.

Thanks again! TFP has been a great resource for me as I’ve become a pool owner (at last).
 

Bama Rambler

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Jun 22, 2009
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What happens if you press down on the handle hub (center) while it's leaking? Does the leaking stop or slow down?
Did you inspect the webs (partitions) of the valve when you had it apart?
 

Rock Lobster

Member
May 19, 2020
12
Richmond, Virginia
Thanks Bama Rambler. I’ll try pressing down on the handle tomorrow and report back. I did generally inspect the inside of the valve but don’t really know what it should look like. I was checking generally to see if the plastic looked to be in good condition, which it was. It’s all together possible one of the webs is missing or broken and I didn’t notice. This issue has come on somewhat suddenly so that would explain it.

I’m more than happy to buy a new valve and install it - I’m planning to take it off to change the sand anyway as soon as the body gasket arrives so not too much trouble to change out the valve while I have it off. I’m just trying to figure out if that’s not the problem before doing so, since to me the valve seems to be in good shape and has just been refurbished. I will say the valve (and everything else) is probably original to the pool in 2003. I just installed a new pump.

What would I be looking for inspecting the webs? I can pop the top tomorrow and have another look.

Thanks again!!
 

Bama Rambler

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Jun 22, 2009
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Try pressing down on the center of the handle before doing anything else. If that stops the leaking then either the spring is installed wrong, it's collapsed, or it's the wrong spring for that valve.

If you do want to open it up, you're looking for cracks in the webs. Since you say that it will stop in certain situations, I don't really suspect cracked webs, but it's possible that one could close up under no pressure enough to almost 100% stop leaking when you turn the pump back on.

As for the sand, we almost never recommend changing the sand. The only time we recommend it is when it's compromised by excessive use of floc's or "filter magic" stuff and is severely clumped. In all but the worst circumstances, a good deep cleaning is all that's needed.
 

Rock Lobster

Member
May 19, 2020
12
Richmond, Virginia
Okay, I tried pressing on the center of the handle while it was leaking to backwash and it did not change the flow. I wasn’t able to feel any play at all in the handle pressing down on it. I also checked the spring (SPX0603S) is correct for my Vari-flo XL (SP0714). I compared the springs before installing the new one and the old one is about 1/8” shorter when both uncompressed (which I assumed is because it is old and worn). I’m attaching a pic of the two springs next to one another before installation. I also checked the diagrams and confirmed I have the key assembly together correctly - diffuser, SS washer, spring, SS washer (also new), key top.

I played around with it some more. To be clear, after I backwash and rinse it pours water out the backwash line with the filter off or on. It continues flowing when I turn off the filter. The flow is steady but dies a little then surges back (with the filter off). To get it to stop the only way to stop the flow seems to be to turn the handle to around the closed or winter settings and press all the way down and hold it there. This seems to break what I’m assuming is a siphon and there’s bubbling in the pump housing and the flow to backwash stops. Very strange. I opened up the valve and checked it over thoroughly and felt no cracks or remotely damaged plastic. I’m attaching pics of the inside and my setup generally. In case it is relevant the pool company removed and plumbed around my old heater at the end of last season. I checked that again today and it seems straight forward - the return goes directly to the chlorinator rather than first to the heater.

Interesting about the sand - thanks. Mine works fine but I was going to replace it because it’s at least eight years old. It filters well so no reason to. My valve body gasket is seeping though so I’ll still need to remove the clamp and valve to replace it. It’s a very slight seep - could that be my problem with the backwash?

Thanks so much again for your help!!
 

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Bama Rambler

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Jun 22, 2009
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Everything looks good with the valve. The only thing I see that could possibly be a problem is the nipple of the pressure gauge is protruding into the valve housing a little and that could affect the diverter.
 

Rock Lobster

Member
May 19, 2020
12
Richmond, Virginia
I had noticed the pressure gauge nipple as well today when I had it open and confirmed the diverted clears it with plenty of room. I just went out and unscrewed the gauge as far as I could without it leaking (put on some new tape), and no change. I will say the hole for the gauge is a little chewed up but it screws in without trouble.

I’m really at a loss here. Since it continues flowing when the pump is off and in the Closed position (and any other), I have to assume it’s a siphon somehow. How it gets past the diverter with a new gasket I do not know. The only way to stop the flow seems to be to hold the handle down for 10-20 seconds while it bubbles and then leave it on Winter until the flow to backwash stops.

Is there anything else that could be wrong in the filter? If not I guess I’ll just replace the valve and see what happens. It’s a really frustrating problem since it appears good as new. But I can’t see where else the problem could lie.

Thanks!
 

Rock Lobster

Member
May 19, 2020
12
Richmond, Virginia
No, it’s slightly uphill of the pool. The backwash line runs into the woods downhill of the pool.

I’m thinking maybe I should take the whole valve off and see what it looks like underneath. I did see a wasp fly into the gauge hole early spring before I put the gauge and everything back on, so I’m wondering if maybe there isn’t a wasp nest in there that’s causing a temporary blockage and the siphon issue. Obviously grasping at straws at this stage.

Thanks
 

Bama Rambler

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Jun 22, 2009
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SouthWest Alabama
If the spring is holding the diverter good and tight against the body partitions, I don't see how it would allow water into the waste line, so I'm at a loss. There's going to be a little water in the line when you stop the pump and change the valve position, but it should stop flowing pretty quickly.
 

Rock Lobster

Member
May 19, 2020
12
Richmond, Virginia
I agree completely - seems to defy physics. The waste pipe run is maybe 30-40’ and I’ve timed it gushing for more than three minutes, so it’s definitely not the line emptying.

I’ll take the key assembly apart again and check out the new spring. I suppose it’s possible I compressed it too far when assembling and damaged it. Although I find that unlikely. I was just using a couple of Irwin quick clamps. Also if that were the case I’d think it would be leaking all the time when running the filter. I am able to get it to stop and run the filter normally. I just have to break this apparent siphon and let it drain, then put it back to filter and turn it on.

Thanks again for all your help.
 

Rock Lobster

Member
May 19, 2020
12
Richmond, Virginia
Okay, I have a new theory. The TFP how your filter works tutorial has my exact valve - and says that the spider gasket isn’t serviceable on that model. I’ve read this elsewhere and Hayward does not sell a replacement spider gasket. The one I used is part of an aftermarket kit, one of several available for the valve.

The spider gasket seems very serviceable to me. The original wasn’t glued in so I just pulled it out, wiped out the channel, put in the new aftermarket gasket and lubed it. These aftermarket kits seem to work or they wouldn’t be selling them. I found it through a YouTube video of someone servicing my very valve.

However, I live on a slope so there’s a good drop from the filter to the end of the waste line. Maybe because of the slope the suction down the waste line after rinsing is sufficient that it pulls the perhaps weaker aftermarket gasket out of place and let’s water through enough to keep a siphon going. It resolves itself when I press the handle and let the siphon clear, at which point there’s no suction to pull the gasket so it seats nicely and works as intended when I put it to filter and turn on the pump.

It obviously defies physics that water is getting through the valve if the gasket is doing it’s job and the valve body is not broken so that must be the problem. The aftermarket one looks fine when I open up the valve but maybe crumples under pressure.

So, new diverter it is. Ironically available for the same price as the rebuild kit (although I got some other gaskets and washers in the kit)

Will report back Saturday when it arrives!
 

Rock Lobster

Member
May 19, 2020
12
Richmond, Virginia
No luck, unfortunately. The spider gasket on the new diverter from Hayward did appear to be a tiny bit taller than the aftermarket one but no change with the problem. I also confirmed the new spring is still a little taller than the original and hasn’t been over compressed.
I’m at a complete loss at this stage. I also ran my finger around in the waste port while I had the top off and confirmed again there’s no crack or any way for the water to be getting through other than past the gasket. I think my only options are call out the pool company or just replace the whole valve. I expect they’re going to tell me to replace the valve so am inclined to just replace it myself but am weary of throwing more good money after bad. I‘ve already spent more than the cost of a new valve in parts for the old one. After three weeks of researching and replacing stuff I’m pretty sure there is no way for water to get down that waste pipe other than through the valve so it must be something in there.

Thanks again for all your help.