Infloor cleaning system, troubleshooting tips and maintenance desired

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
Up until a week or so ago the infloor cleaning system "worked". That is the floor jets would pop up and do their dance. The wall jets would synchronize and switch on/off around the pool. I wouldn't call the result fully clean but it did reduce the areas needing vacuuming.

That was then, now I dont see the wall jets changing, one seems permanently stuck on. I don't see the pop-ups popping. As the pool is new to me this season, I have no idea if it was troublesome to the house's prior owner. A black thingee, buried in the ground, says it was made by Paramount. I assume this is the controller / valve unit, that uses water flow to do its job, akin to a simple water timer or sprinkler system.

Does anyone have any tips, or links to tips, to T/S this plumbing Rube Goldberg device? Do these things require periodic maintenance, that the prior owner may have skipped?

FWIW the system only worked when the Pentair VS pump was set at high speed. That pump setting has not changed.
 

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
602
Silicon Valley, CA
1st thought: have you noted any filter pressure change from when the pop-ups were coming up versus now? Wondering if the filter has become clogged.

2nd thought: any changes to valve positions so that even part of the flow is being diverted away from the in-floor valve (the partially buried black dome)

A photo of your equipment pad may help us. And maybe one of the (buried) Paramount control valve area.
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
1st thought: have you noted any filter pressure change from when the pop-ups were coming up versus now? Wondering if the filter has become clogged.
I had reason to hose out the filters just yesterday (algae bloom) and they were full of ... snot ... Is the best description I can give. That said after cleaning the pressure change was only a few PSI and the jets and pop-ups remain non-functioning. I do wonder if the snot observed on the filter cartridges might somehow be gumming up the mechanical works of the timer/valve controller? There's a band clamp that seals that black dome, similar to that used on the filter dome. I can open up the unit but, not being familiar with its innards, I wonder if it's wise to do so. Unless someone has an easy fix, it's my next step towards solving this issue I fear.

2nd thought: any changes to valve positions so that even part of the flow is being diverted away from the in-floor valve (the partially buried black dome)
No, nothing changed there. There is a manual valve upstream of the black dome (timer/valve controller), which I assume diverts some flow around the dome in proportion to its position. I rapidly cycled that from full on to full off a few times to see if I couldn't water hammer anything stuck back to moving. Nothing changed so I set the valve back to its original position.

I'll add that's there is a small switch on the top of the dome with labels for "run" and "pause" for its 2 positions. I cycled that as well, no change resulted, and left it in the "run" position.

A photo of your equipment pad may help us. And maybe one of the (buried) Paramount control valve area.
I believe I have some pics on my phone and will post them when I can.

Thanks for responding.
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
Turns out that I don't have pics of all the plumbing but I'll post what I have.

In one pic you can see the aux pump (top) and the main VS pump. Not seen to left is more intake plumbing as well as intellichlor and black dome on the output side. Below and right would be the filter dome and heater.

In the other pics you can see the black dome and it's valve.

Well you could see those pics but presently they are too large to be uploaded. I'll edit this post after resizing.

poolplumbing1.jpg

blackdome1.jpg

blackdome2.jpg
 
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Bama Rambler

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Jun 22, 2009
23,391
SouthWest Alabama
First, has somebody inadvertently changed the position of the run/pause switch on top of the distributor? Just for the heck of it, I'd switch it back and forth a time or two.

Do you know what the 'clean' filter pressure was when the heads were running? It's important to know the number.

Infloor cleaners are temper-mental beasts and require a certain amount of maintenance. Also they can have problems when there's an algae bloom. Algae tends to clog up the pathways.

I see that your distributor doesn't have a pressure gauge on it. While that's not absolutely required, it's nice to have, especially when you're having issues.
 
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PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
84
Tulsa, OK
I think I have the same system and am having very similar issues so I’m following this thread. My in-floor cleaner also only runs on the highest pump speed but I thought that was normal? It still seems to run at that speed but one floor pop-up is always up even after the cleaning cycle is over and my skimmer baskets only work fully when in cleaning mode. I’m thinking my VS pump settings are not set high enough for “pool” mode. Not sure how to tackle the stuck pop-up yet.
 

PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
84
Tulsa, OK
Just a thought...does your system have this set-up? There is a net in it that needs to be cleaned (just like a skimmer basket would). Could yours be full of debris from the floor drain/cleaner?

D15CF455-041F-494C-A708-EF7825F43377.jpeg
 
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Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
602
Silicon Valley, CA
For pop-up heads stuck in the up position, are you able to press it back it back down? It may be sticking in the up position because there is not sufficient pressure during that zone's cycle for the pop-up to fully engage.

The manual valve after the salt cell should be full open to the side that feeds the in-floor valve when you want the in-floor to run properly. I don't see labels, but I assume one way is wall jet returns and the other way feeds the in-floor valve. I would completely close off the wall return direction and set it full to the in-floor valve when you want it to clean. The mid-way point is fine for non-cleaning times. For example, when you are just heating your pool and want that heated water well-distributed from the floor.

Hopefully you'll develop good TFPC chemistry to avoid algae blooms. If you haven't already done so, read up on it in Pool School. I haven't had any algae in 2 years since I learned TFPC.

Also going to ask @proavia for some additional eyes on this.
 

beez74

Well-known member
Oct 15, 2018
48
Phoenix AZ
My system will run at 50% pump speed unless I have the waterfall running which will divert some of the pressure. If the heads pop up but dont go down something is stuck or gummed up in the head as they should always be down unless running. Also did you remove the black lid??? that lid has marks to allow adjustment of pressure to the system so if you removed it you may have changed the pressure to the system.
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,466
Chandler AZ
After you have done everything mentioned above, I think the next item is to open the water valve. Here is the manual: https://www.1paramount.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/041715HomeOwnersManual.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwifpd-V8PXiAhUorVQKHSNWC5EQFjAAegQIAxAB&usg=AOvVaw2EfJdgAjXQitQMZuhqKUnY

Check for any debris or broken parts. If there is a filter screen inside, clean it. Reassemble carefully, lube the o-ring seal with a little pool lube.

As with anything that moves, parts start to stick and wear out. Also, small debris can become stuck in the moving parts. For the infloor and wall heads, if they are stuck up, pull them up a bit before pushing them down. You may need to remove the heads - one by one so as not to put them back in a different location - and flush them out to remove any debris. Also, while each heads is out, run the system to purge any debris that may be in the lines behind the heads.

You've already confirmed the pump is running on its highest speed (3450 rpm), so it should be supplying good return flow. And all return flow needs to be directed to the infloor system. As you know, with algae, the filter will plug up quickly and you will need to clean the filter more often. Do you happen to know how old the cartridges are? They may need replacement or a soak in TSP to clean them more thoroughly.
 
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proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,466
Chandler AZ
My system will run at 50% pump speed unless I have the waterfall running which will divert some of the pressure. If the heads pop up but dont go down something is stuck or gummed up in the head as they should always be down unless running. Also did you remove the black lid??? that lid has marks to allow adjustment of pressure to the system so if you removed it you may have changed the pressure to the system.
The A&A water valve operates differently than the Paramount one. As you mentioned, the A&A system has an adjustment inside - but it is an adjustment for how quickly each zone cycles, not for pressure to the system. It is actually a water diverter to adjust how much water goes to or is diverted away from the impeller. I believe the Paramount system needs high pressure to function correctly also. Like you, I can run my A&A system at a lower rpm and the pop ups still extend. At a lower rpm, the system still sufficiently cleans the pool - but each pool and each install is different.
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
Thx for all the timely responses!!

Let me see if I can answer some of the questions.

The pop-ups worked at 3450 RPM, and then only weakly and slowly when the pump switched to speed #2, which I think was/is 2600 RPM. I did flip the run/pause switch back and forth to no avail. I left it on run.

The pressure gauge on the filter dome now reads 20-21 psi at 3450 RPM. I see it vary down to 19 psi sometimes. It was more like 25 psi when the filters were full of snot.

My system does have a basket/net in the main drain line as shown above. It, like the skimmers, has been cleaned daily due to all the blow-in (weather has been wet and windy at times).

I did remove the top of the distributor (is this the proper term?) a while ago but it was working afterwards. IIRC there was a translucent plate with some gears that were controlled by the run/pause switch. I didn't investigate any further, I do prefer to have a parachute when I jump out of a plane!

I am waiting on a tester kit to do a SLAM but had nuked the pool with cal hypo prior to cleaning the filters. I've also been adding some liquid chlorine to keep the FC level up (a pseudo SLAM before I knew of it) and the pool is looking better. I expect to remove and clean the filters before the SLAM, just to remove as much stuff as possible. I do not know of how old the are, they look to be in servicable shape, certainly not new. I am going to get anotber set so as to have a spare set to switch in during cleanings.

ETA: Here's a pic of the worst filter. Ignoring the snot, you can see the pleats are a bit wavy. The others are not that way. All are replacements from Pleatco.

IMG_20190617_134738078-02.jpeg
 
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IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
The manual valve after the salt cell should be full open to the side that feeds the in-floor valve when you want the in-floor to run properly. I don't see labels, but I assume one way is wall jet returns and the other way feeds the in-floor valve. I would completely close off the wall return direction and set it full to the in-floor valve when you want it to clean. The mid-way point is fine for non-cleaning times. For example, when you are just heating your pool and want that heated water well-distributed from the floor.
I want to respond specifically to the above because I don't understand the plumbing re:the distributor. I counted 8 wall jets and perhaps the same number of pop-ups (can't quite see the deeper end). Right now only 2 of the jets are spewing water, there's no flow from the others. It used to be they all flowed but in sequence. I think they are plumbed in pairs given what I mentioned above. So my question is are some, all of the wall jets sourced from the distributor? If it's all then where does that valve you mentioned go, one side to distributor, one side to ?? When I get a chance I'll do a test to put it fully one way and then the other, with a few minutes wait between the switch. I post back what I observe.

TIA
 

beez74

Well-known member
Oct 15, 2018
48
Phoenix AZ
not sure about how yours is setup but mine has wall jets and floor jets(in-floor heads) ....I have a valve in my equipment pad next to the in-floor unit (the black lid thing) where I can choose between in floor and pool return(wall jets)...do you have a valve in your equipment setup??? if so maybe the valve is stuck halfway open or shut??? EDIT::: looking at the pic, as mentioned before that valve after your salt cell looks like you are sharing pressure between both infloor and wall jets...have you tried moving that ??? one way should work in-floor only and the other way wall jets only.
 

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
602
Silicon Valley, CA
I think in smaller pools they sometimes route one or more of the in-floor valve ports to wall returns, so that is certainly possible in your case. When you test it out, I would do the 100% to in-floor valve for about 10 minutes, to make sure it has enough time to rotate through all the zones a couple of times. If you can see activity, note down the zone sequence and which pop-ups or wall returns go together at each zone.

Also note that it's possible to repeat a zone in a smaller pool within one full rotation of the in-floor valve. The repeat is not likely sequential. For example, in a 5-zone system, it could go Shallow End -> Middle -> Deep End -> Shallow End -> Wall returns, and then start over.

It is possible that the other direction on that manual valve just goes to the 2 wall returns that are currently spewing water. Definitely good to figure it all out.
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
I had a few minutes to do my test and I'm not quite sure what to say. With the valve turned full CW, the one active wall jet became hyper active. Another spewed water more noticeably. I believe they are all plumbed in pairs, 2 wall jets, 2 pop-ups. After 5 mins of watching nothing changed.

Flipping the valve 180 degrees, full CCW, goy the pop-ups to activate in pairs. The funny thing is that the aforementioned 2 wall jets were included in the whole cycle. At times in the cycle nothing was active. My guess is that during this dead time the other wall jet pairs were supposed to be active.

The above was all done with the pump at 3450 RPM.

I know that the valve was at the center position when this was all working just after opening. Also I was told that the pop-ups were supposed to rotate when up. I don't recall them doing that before but they weren't above. Should they be ?

ETA: There are 8 wall jets and 8 pop-ups.
 
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Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
602
Silicon Valley, CA
Good job. Sounds like what you call "CW" valve direction shuts off the in-floor system and puts the whole return to 1 or 2 wall jets. That is like a typical pool without an in-floor and is a static return, i.e. water should just continue through those return(s) only. Nothing should change.

What you call "CCW" is feeding the in-floor valve (aka water valve or distribution valve). You are probably correct that the non-active time is going to other wall jets. You can try to use some food dye to show the flow in the case you can't feel it.

It would be good to more properly define your "CW" and "CCW". The manual valve has a handle side and an OFF side 180 degrees away from the handle. So the handle points to where the water flow is going. Beneath the OFF side is a door that seals off flow to that side.

If you have rotating pop-ups, like I do, they will only rotate when they have enough pressure from underneath to fully extend. And, there needs to be no other impediment to full extension (like pebbles or debris). I'm not sure how algae will affect them. One idea is to get a pop-up head removal tool for your type of pop-ups. Remove them one at a time to clean and inspect.

Or, test all this again after you've SLAM'd and passed OCLT. If you do SLAM, run water at least partially through the floor system to kill what is in those lines.
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
Sorry, I should have been clearer. CW means turning the valve handle clockwise, as viewed standing above the handle. CCW, as you can now guess is counterclockwise, as can be seen in the pic below. That's where I left it, both to exercise the system and to run some highly chlorinated water through it.

I note that the manual, kindly provided by an earlier poster, says 20 psi is needed. Seems like a pressure gauge on the distributor is a good idea. My filter reads just a tad above that. How much drop there is across the heater and SWG and piping between ... I cannot guess.

poolpic4.jpg
 

IaMac

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2019
54
Central NH
After you have done everything mentioned above, I think the next item is to open the water valve. Here is the manual:
...
Check for any debris or broken parts. If there is a filter screen inside, clean it. Reassemble carefully, lube the o-ring seal with a little pool lube.

As with anything that moves ...
Thx for the manual, it's exactly what I needed. Armed with some idea of how this is supposed to work, I can pull the unit apart for inspection and cleaning.

Is there any reason not to leave the valve discussed in the above post in the "cleaner" mode, even when my pump goes to a lower speed where the pop-ups don't pop ?
 

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
602
Silicon Valley, CA
Sorry, I should have been clearer. CW means turning the valve handle clockwise, as viewed standing above the handle. CCW, as you can now guess is counterclockwise, as can be seen in the pic below. That's where I left it, both to exercise the system and to run some highly chlorinated water through it.

View attachment 107353
If I was you, I'd get my label maker out and stick a label on the left side of that manual valve that says something like "To In-Floor Cleaner". And one on the other side "To wall returns" or something like that, perhaps designating which wall returns (left/right/deep/shallow/near steps, or some descriptor like that.)

I note that the manual, kindly provided by an earlier poster, says 20 psi is needed. Seems like a pressure gauge on the distributor is a good idea. My filter reads just a tad above that. How much drop there is across the heater and SWG and piping between ... I cannot guess.
Head loss after the filter is a big topic for me. Before last year, I was losing between 7-9 psi between filter and my Caretaker in-floor valve, so I couldn't even get to the minimum ~15psi. I did some replumbing to add an external heater bypass, which dropped that head loss to about 3-4psi.

It is difficult to predict head loss for any given equipment pad given all the unique plumbing. Some people on here with in-floor systems have installed a pressure gauge on the line before the water valve.
 
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