How to troubleshoot an air leak?

wags22

Well-known member
May 14, 2016
50
Yucca Valley, CA
Pool Size
12500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I've got an air leak, evident by the bubbles in the inlets. I've replaced and lubed the pump basket lid. Also re-piped the pump inlet from the ground to the pump (due to trying to tighten the thread on the union to eliminate the leak and busting the union.)

Looking for suggestions on how to find the leak. Wife is ready to call a pool person.
 

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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
23,110
Bedford, TX
22,

Show us some pics of the equipment pad showing the input valves to your main pump..

Generally you want to try and eliminate the source.. So, if you have the ability to run off of Skimmer #1, Skimmer #2, Main drain, and Spa.. You'd want to try each one by itself and see what happens.. If you get bubbles when running from skimmer #1, but not skimmer # 2, then you have at least narrowed the problem to something in the skimmer #1 line... If you have the same identical problem when running from all 4 inputs, it is unlikely that all 4 inputs are bad, so then you would need to look at where all 4 inputs join. Maybe a valve or maybe a union or ???

Is that big blast of air I see in your second pic there all the time, or just when you first turn the pump on?

When you turn your pump off, does the water in the pump basket drain back into the pool?

When you turn you pump off, do you hear the water in your filter draining???

When was the last time you opened and completely cleaned your DE filter??

Do you have a SWCG (saltwater chlorine generator)???

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

wags22

Well-known member
May 14, 2016
50
Yucca Valley, CA
Pool Size
12500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Here are some answers to your questions:
My pool is a unibody with a single pump for spa/pool with Ortega valves for manually switching between the two. To run my pool vacuum I use a vac-mate in the pool skimmer. The spa has only a main drain split between bottom and side.
The pic with the cloudiness I had just turned on the SWG (Intellichlor).
No, I don't hear it drain back into the pool. The system runs normally but then eventually loses suction due to the air leak.
I took the filter apart about a month ago when I was starting to open up the pool. I do it every year as part of opening the pool.

You did remind me that I need to check the ortega valve as a potential source of air. I had to replace the handle a couple of months ago and may not have gotten it sealed. I went out this morning and lubed the seal again, still have a leak.

Pictures in order are: Equipment pad, Pool viewed from south side with inlets circled, location of 3-way valves, top view of valves.

Thanks for help.
 

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Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 22, 2014
33,622
Texas, San Antonio/Marion, South-Central Area
Pool Size
17888
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-45 Plus
If I'm looking at the pic correctly, there is nothing in front of that pump except the PVC which goes into the ground right? If that's true, then the most obvious places for a suction side air leak are:
- The union fittings or joints in front of the pump
- Any valves before the pump that may be located in a different location
- Plumbing between any of those locations to the pump inlet

Does it make any difference in bubbles if you are able to switch suction ONLY from spa or pool alone? Also be sure the skimmer weir door is not stuck and operating properly with the pool water level high enough. If all of these checkout good, you may need to have someone do a leak test on that suction line.
 

wags22

Well-known member
May 14, 2016
50
Yucca Valley, CA
Pool Size
12500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Update: I replaced O-rings on the suction side ortega valve. I then cleaned the filter following the chemically cleaning section of DE Filter Use and Care. I left the pump running over night, when I started it last night my cleaner was running with the vac-mate set to 5 (no restriction on the skimmer). This morning I had to switch it over to 1 (all suction to vacuum) to have it moving again. I'm still getting air bubbles in the inlets.
The only options left that I can think of are 1) I'm not getting it sealed properly in the places I've already checked: a) Ortega valve, b) pump union, c) pump basket; 2) the seal on the pump itself has broken; 3) there's a break in the pipe(s) somewhere between the skimmer and the pump.

Final questions: Is it possible to get air bubbles from the pressure side. I've been assuming it is a suction side because pressure side would show as a leakage of water not suck air in. But is that true of the filter?
Also, I have a lot of algae, my water is clear, but the bottom and sides are covered with algae. How often do I need to backwash the filter? Could my loss of suction over night just be the filter is "full"?
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 22, 2014
33,622
Texas, San Antonio/Marion, South-Central Area
Pool Size
17888
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-45 Plus
Right now you appear to have two separate issues - suction side air leak and algae. As long as there is no water loss to the pool, I would focus on the SLAM Process first. I have no doubt that's why you had to increase the vacuum suction pressure because the filter is getting full of algae quickly, especially a DE filter. So run the SLAM Process thoroughly following that page until you pass all 3 criteria, then we can focus on any potential air leak without distractions. By the way, pressure side will not push bubbles. If you had a pressure side leak, you'd have water on the ground.
 
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