I can't figure out what is wrong, and the pool people haven't been helpful at all :(

Strawberryshortcake

Bronze Supporter
Apr 22, 2019
250
Hot Springs, Ar
I've had a problem with my pump since about the very end of the season last year and I have been trying to figure it out but I have no been successful. I am sure it is an air leak? But the symptoms have changed recently and I'm not sure anymore.

So, at first, the pump basket wasn't holding proper water level. After about an hour of being on, the water level in the pump would drop to about 1/2. In addition, I started noticing small bubbles in the return jets. This went on for a long time, but if I kicked the pump up to really high RPMs the basket would stay mostly full and it was functioning.

I tried several methods to find the air leak: shaving cream, incense smoke, looking for water or water spots around the piping. I changed the gasket in the lid of the pump basket, and lubed it up real well. Nothing helped.

This was a drastic difference from how my pump usually ran, which was that the basket always stayed full to the top.

Then about 3 weeks ago, we had a very very very heavy rainfall and... the pump basket was suddenly holding water, and the bubbles from the jets stopped. Now, the basket pretty much is staying full of water at all times, besides a small bubble, which looks normal.

HOWEVER. After the pump has been running for about an hour or 2, it seems to get very weak. The force out of the jets is low, and there is barely any turbulence on the water surface, and in the pump basket the bubble on the top hardly moves, and you can see a leaf or any debris gently flowing around in the bottom - not at all as turbulent as it should be. But the basket remains full of water. If I drop the RPMs really low (like 900), large bubbles will start coming out of the jets.
This is without changing the speed on the pump, it just slowly seems to lose the power to move water, over the course of an hour or 2. When I first restart it, it looks normal, after completing the prime phase (5 minutes).

I have had two professional installer/repair people come out and they don't seem to believe what I am describing is happening. The one today was essentially insulting my variable speed pump, saying that "people" buy them to save money but they just make you use more chemicals if you don't run your pump on 2800 at all times... even though I told him that the pool was a swamp last year, and even to clear that mess I never had to run it on 2800. I tried to tell him that last summer it was working fine, and that when I ran the pump on 1600 the water on the surface would be turbulent and the basket as well, but he just kept saying no. When he lowered the speed to 900 and bubbles started coming out, I thought he would listen then, but he just went back and set the speed to 2800, just kept going up and up until the bubbles went away and then said "see, no bubbles at 2800".

Last summer I set the pump on a schedule which was 1800 from 6am-noon to clean the surface, 1200 from noon-8pm, and then off from 8pm-6am. It worked great. The only time the pump ever was run as high as 2800 was when it was priming or backwashing.

I did discover today when I put the filter on recirculate, a steady fairly large stream of water comes out of the backwash pipe. I know that isn't good, but I also think that would be a separate issue. I also just replaced that entire filter head piece (you can't just buy the gasket for it anymore), so that was less than 5 months old and I can't believe it's failed already...

At this point I think I have to fix it myself and I could use some advice. Attached is a photo of the setup. The pump and filter are less than a year old.
IMG_3149.jpg
 

crushkittykitty

Well-known member
Mar 13, 2018
151
DesMoines / Iowa
check the clamp that holds the valve to the top of the filter mine was sucking air, Of course mine was also leaking a little at the pump union on the intake. Take a wet towel and wrap the unions one at a time and see if they are leaking. also the leaf basket make sure its mt.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
17,843
Bedford, TX
Cake,

You have two valves in front of the pump, they both appear full open... What happens to the air bubbles if you run just one of them at a time? I assume the valves select the water coming from the skimmer and the Main Drain, is that correct?

When is the last time you back-washed your filter?

Is your pool water clear, cloudy, or green?

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Strawberryshortcake

Bronze Supporter
Apr 22, 2019
250
Hot Springs, Ar
Cake,

You have two valves in front of the pump, they both appear full open... What happens to the air bubbles if you run just one of them at a time? I assume the valves select the water coming from the skimmer and the Main Drain, is that correct?

When is the last time you back-washed your filter?

Is your pool water clear, cloudy, or green?

Thanks,

Jim R.
So there isn’t a main drain on this pool, it seems one of those valves is the skimmer and the other one is for a pipe that seems to have been used for a vacuum. Ive closed and opened the one to the pipe and noticed no difference. I have been worried about trying to close the skimmer one incase the pipe one does not pull in enough water for the pump. Should I try anyway?

I backwashed about a week ago and the pool guy that came out today also backwashed it. The water is mostly clear. My filter pressure is at 8 @ 1880 rpms. It goes to about 19 when priming.

The water is fine. It’s a little cloudy due to pollen and not really being able to keep my pump running as it should (you can see all the pollen on the surface).
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
4,678
Damascus, MD
It's possible you have a valve leak. Can you run the hose over the valves and see if the bubbles go away? The only real thing that could cause your issues is a suction side air leak.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
17,843
Bedford, TX
Cake,

I am not sure what the problem is, but 900 RPM sounds low to me..

I would run at 1300 and see if you still have the problem.

Having bubbles in the top of the pump is normal for a VS pump running at low RPM.. But, if the bubbles keep getting bigger, so that they start coming out of your pool returns then something is wrong..

I don't see a lot of value running at 900 RPM as I am not sure that is fast enough to skim well.. And if you are not skimming, there is no reason to be running the pump.

If this were my pool, I would experiment around with various speeds, and see if I could find one the works better.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PoolGate

Strawberryshortcake

Bronze Supporter
Apr 22, 2019
250
Hot Springs, Ar
Cake,

I am not sure what the problem is, but 900 RPM sounds low to me..

I would run at 1300 and see if you still have the problem.

Having bubbles in the top of the pump is normal for a VS pump running at low RPM.. But, if the bubbles keep getting bigger, so that they start coming out of your pool returns then something is wrong..

I don't see a lot of value running at 900 RPM as I am not sure that is fast enough to skim well.. And if you are not skimming, there is no reason to be running the pump.

If this were my pool, I would experiment around with various speeds, and see if I could find one the works better.

Thanks,

Jim R.
I don't run it at 900 :) It's just where the bubbles from the jets get very apparent. If I run it at 1300, after about an hour, the movement of water through the system and out of the jets is so low that it almost looks as if nothing is moving. That is the main issue at the moment... after the system stays on for a while, it just seems to get weaker and weaker, despite the basket staying full now.

When I first turn it on and set it to whatever speed (1300, 1600, 1800, 2400) it will be running fine and look normal. It will go through a 5 minute prime. And then it will run at the scheduled speed for around an hour. And then it's like it just loses power. This is what I keep trying to explain, that is really odd.
 

Strawberryshortcake

Bronze Supporter
Apr 22, 2019
250
Hot Springs, Ar
that part in the picture is above the water line, check if that is leaking mainly the gasket and the threads. If you dont use that I would take it and plug it,
Didn't think about checking the gasket there. It is a really weird thing the previous owners installed, like it was just too high and they said oh well lol. I will experiment with that tomorrow.
 

RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
699
Cabool, Mo
In my mind, the key is the rain. Why did it stop after it rained? Did the water level in the pool come up enough to cover something, like that cleaner port thing? Or did the dry ground become saturated, the cracked dirt turn to mud and restrict airflow into a cracked pipe underground?
And the flow restriction? Maybe backfill getting sucked in? But why be better at start? Are your rpms higher at start? High enough to suck out the blockage, maybe? That is strange behavior, usually if it is blocked, it is blocked.
Have you noticed any sand or mud in the pump?
If you are blowing sand into the filter valve, that could be getting under the spider gasket preventing it from closing completely, which would account for your waste line leak. Or it may be coincidence. Coincidence is pretty rare in this biz, it's usually all related. But it does happen.
Can you remove your filter valve and inspect your sand for clay or off-color sand?
 
  • Like
Reactions: markayash

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
1,812
Marrietta Ga
In my mind, the key is the rain. Why did it stop after it rained? Did the water level in the pool come up enough to cover something, like that cleaner port thing? Or did the dry ground become saturated, the cracked dirt turn to mud and restrict airflow into a cracked pipe underground?
And the flow restriction? Maybe backfill getting sucked in? But why be better at start? Are your rpms higher at start? High enough to suck out the blockage, maybe? That is strange behavior, usually if it is blocked, it is blocked.
Have you noticed any sand or mud in the pump?
If you are blowing sand into the filter valve, that could be getting under the spider gasket preventing it from closing completely, which would account for your waste line leak. Or it may be coincidence. Coincidence is pretty rare in this biz, it's usually all related. But it does happen.
Can you remove your filter valve and inspect your sand for clay or off-color sand?
What I was wondering, maybe leaking on the bottom and the rain level covered it up.
 

wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
1,262
Spring Valley, NY
Looking at the pictures of the equipment, on the suction side I would redo the plumbing as the connections between the pvc fittings look suspect to me. Not a good condition and should be hard pipe not pvc flex as you have it.
 
Last edited:

Strawberryshortcake

Bronze Supporter
Apr 22, 2019
250
Hot Springs, Ar
Cake,

As the flow slows down does the filter pressure go up??

Does the flow come back right after a backwash?

Jim R.
My filter pressure seems to be around 8. This is actually a change from before, where my filter pressure would read 0 unless I was priming which apparently is standard for a variable speed pump and what happened all last summer. But yes, my filter pressure is unusual compared to last year too.

It's hard to tell if it comes back after a backwash because basically resetting the system at all seems to fix things for a little bit. But I can backwash and still have the weird slowing down 1-2hrs later.

In my mind, the key is the rain. Why did it stop after it rained? Did the water level in the pool come up enough to cover something, like that cleaner port thing? Or did the dry ground become saturated, the cracked dirt turn to mud and restrict airflow into a cracked pipe underground?
And the flow restriction? Maybe backfill getting sucked in? But why be better at start? Are your rpms higher at start? High enough to suck out the blockage, maybe? That is strange behavior, usually if it is blocked, it is blocked.
Have you noticed any sand or mud in the pump?
If you are blowing sand into the filter valve, that could be getting under the spider gasket preventing it from closing completely, which would account for your waste line leak. Or it may be coincidence. Coincidence is pretty rare in this biz, it's usually all related. But it does happen.
Can you remove your filter valve and inspect your sand for clay or off-color sand?
Right before that rainfall I had bought a very long water hose in order to reach the pump and I was going to run the hose over various parts of the pump to try and find the leak. And then we had the rainfall, and it was probably a record amount and it lasted for a few days - sooo much rain. So I couldn't do the hose thing... and I did find it super odd that the original issue of the pump basket water level falling and air bubbles disappeared essentially after this rain.

I don't think the water level in the pool was it because I added water to my pool a few weeks ago and forgot I had the hose on for several hours :) the pool was V E R Y full after that but the pump was still sucking in air.

My RPMs are higher for 5 minutes, as the system primes, usually around 2900. Then it falls to whatever I have it set to, which right now is 1600-1800. When it falls to 1600-1800, it will keep that power level for 1-2 hours. And then it will slow down. The RPMs on the pump, the wattage output readout, etc all remain the same so unless it is somehow kicking down without displaying it it should still be at the same level of power but it's not.

I will remove the valve and look at the sand. Might not be able to get to it tomorrow, supposed to be in for another full day of rain.
 

zea3

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
12,415
Houston, Texas
Hi, I have a few questions. I'll go for the easy one first. When you switch settings on the filter, do you turn the pump off first and only turn the valve one direction? For example if filter is the setting in the middle and backwash is the setting to the left, do you turn off the pump and move the filter handle to the left, complete the backwash and continue turning the handle to the left all the way back to filter, or do you turn the handle back to the right to filter?
After the pump starts slowing down, do you turn off the pump for a while? If you turn it off how long do you leave it off before turning it back on?
 

Strawberryshortcake

Bronze Supporter
Apr 22, 2019
250
Hot Springs, Ar
Hi, I have a few questions. I'll go for the easy one first. When you switch settings on the filter, do you turn the pump off first and only turn the valve one direction? For example if filter is the setting in the middle and backwash is the setting to the left, do you turn off the pump and move the filter handle to the left, complete the backwash and continue turning the handle to the left all the way back to filter, or do you turn the handle back to the right to filter?
After the pump starts slowing down, do you turn off the pump for a while? If you turn it off how long do you leave it off before turning it back on?
Hello,
Yes. I have always only moved the valve in one direction, the same, every time. I have never moved it the opposite way. And I always turn the pump off before making any movement with the valve.
I don't think I've waited very long between restarting the pump. Just a few minutes.
 

duraleigh

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
33,724
Sebring, Florida
I think you have two issues......an air leak and inadequate chemistry. Can you post a complete set of test results and send a pic of your water?
 

Strawberryshortcake

Bronze Supporter
Apr 22, 2019
250
Hot Springs, Ar
I think you have two issues......an air leak and inadequate chemistry. Can you post a complete set of test results and send a pic of your water?
It’s raining today so here is a pic from Friday. My water looks green because my liner is stained yellow with iron :)

9B38ED16-9EB1-41CC-9C1F-56071D840640.jpeg
Free Chlorine: 3.5

CCs: 0

Total Alkalinity: 40

PH: 7.2

Calcium Hardness: 25? This test is always weird for me. It never goes red. It it purple and then 1 drop turns it blue.

CYA: between 10-20. it is very cloudy today so not the best time to test. The dot is visible but cloudy at 20

Temp: 68

All new reagents I just reordered from tf test kits.
My CYA dropped very low due to rain and backwashing over winter. I am currently using pucks to chlorinate because I can’t find any liquid bleach, so my cya level is slowly coming up with those.
 
  • Like
Reactions: gary300