Intelliflow bugs ---> Green Pool

gonekuku

New member
Sep 21, 2007
1
#1
I purchased and installed a Pentair Intelliflow in April 2007. I've had a green pool since April.

This pump acts intelligent, but it's not. At least the firmware in my pump is not. Here my issues with this pump - consider this a warning before your purchase this pump:

1. Clogged supply - Initially after the install I had leaves at the bottom of the pool, only the main drain was on (no skimmers). The pump was priming and after about a minute the pump generated a clogged drain alarm (forgot exact verbiage). The red alarm light came on, and the LCD posted the clog alarm message. Funny how the pump didn't stop on its own....I pressed STOP and nothing happened. I pressed STOP about 10 more times, and the pump never stopped. Had this been a real life emergency (i.e. somebody's hair in the main drain) the situation would have been ugly if not deadly.
2. Priming - After my filter reaches above 20%, the pump can't be restarted for at least 1 hour after it's turned off (sediments dropping to the bottom of the filter). The priming cycle is not very intelligent. I may have a priming flow of 30 GPM, 15 PSI, 400 Watts, no air in the system. Everything looks good....then the pump spikes the RPM's / power to above 2000 Watts for an instant. After this the power drops to 180 W and starts climbing again. This cycle repeats about every 30 seconds until the max priming alarm time is met, and an alarm is generated, the pump stops and the pool turns green if you are not baby sitting.

The 1st time I called Pentair with these complaints, the tech on the phone was no help. He didn't have any intelligence to contribute to the Intelliflow pump operation.

Last week I called again, because I'm tired of babysitting my Intelliflow pump. So far I've waited 7 days. Somebody is supposed to show up tomorrow. So far I've explained these problems to 4 people at Pentair & their service channels, and nobody has been even intelligent enough to ask about my settings.

I don't have time for this. I would rather have a constant RPM pump grinding than a dumb pump pretending to be intelligent, with very unintelligent people to stand behind its unintelligence.

After Pentair provides me the technology to make this dumb pump intelligent, I'll post an update.
 

EskimoPie

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 27, 2007
278
Sahuarita, AZ
#2
Hmm, that's very interesting to hear about the IntelliFlow... I'd heard that they can get confused w/ infloor cleaning systems and 2nd story solar systems. Perhaps they need an option to disable the auto-shutoff feature, although with the way it's designed to ramp up pressure to maintain flow I can see why they added the feature in the first place.

I'm very happy with my 4x160 and you might want to consider that. I know it's not their top of the line, but if you have a controller you can still take advantage of the multiple speeds but guarantee it's always running at that speed.
 

duraleigh

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
31,323
Sebring, Florida
#3
Gone,

Welcome to the forum....very interesting info.

While you're waiting to smarten up your pump, you'll need a lot of chlorine to get rid of that green pool water. If you can post up a set of test numbers, lot's of us here will help you get that done. (if you need the help)

Nothing valuable I can offer on the intelliflo.....even in it's present condition, that pump is still smarter than me.
 
Jan 1, 2009
8
#4
I have the same exact problem. My Intelliflow tries over and over to complete a prime cycle and enters an error condition. I have plenty of water in the pump, it just won't prime - it ramps up, then down, surges, and then repeats.
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,082
San Rafael, CA USA
#6
I have an Intelliflo pump (variable flow) that was installed in June of 2007 and it has worked out great for me. However, priming does seem a bit tricky, especially if water in the pipe has fallen back to a lower level which can occur if one does not turn off the valves to the skimmer/floor drain pipes when opening up a pressure relief valve to clean the pump basket. I found that turning off one of the two input valves, so just having the skimmer first or the floor drains first, helped with priming and that it takes a few minutes.

As noted on page 14 of the manual (linked to in the post above), you can set the maximum priming flow rate so if that is set too low, then the pump won't prime and it's probably not good to set it too high either. I have mine set to 50 GPM which is a reasonable though high flow rate for my system -- the limit for my system (at maximum pump RPM) is probably around 65-70 GPM. I have the Max. Priming Time set to 5 minutes, though they let you set it from 1 to 15 minutes. If this number is set too short, then you'll get an error reported before the pump gets primed. Typically, it takes about 2-3 minutes for my pump to primed if I've let the water fall back to pool level. If the water level hasn't fallen back, then it primes in the 30 seconds or less that they mention in the manual. My System Priming Time is set to 0 since once the pump is primed, the system as a whole doesn't seem to need any additional priming and in any event I can set a manual high flow rate temporarily if I wanted to flush any air out more quickly.

The water you put into the pump basket for priming very quickly gets removed and pushed through the pump. The idea is to wet the pump, but the basket will then remain dry until some water starts to come in from the suction-side pipes after about a minute or so as a small trickle. The priming process has taught me patience -- it always seems to take longer than I like, but for my system it does eventually work always within the 5 minute limit I have set.

Richard
 

budster

In The Industry
Dec 19, 2008
272
Savannah Historic District
#7
If you don't get a better response quickly, I will forward your situation to Pentair's service rep in my area (a long-time pal). By chance, is your equipment significantly higher or lower than the pool water level (5 ft. or more)?
 
Jan 1, 2009
8
#8
My pool is built-in so the pump is probably only a foot above the waterline. The pump primes every time it starts. At the time it starts there is plenty of water in the pump. In fact the pump filter basket is usually completely full or almost completely full with only a few air bubbles at the top. Priming seems to me to be an unnecessary exercise since the water is already there. Yet the pump spends all that time priming and then reaches the alarm state. I've tried setting the prime GPM at 50, 80, and I just set it at 30, but haven't tested it yet.

Does anyone know how the pump detects when it needs to be primed? Seems to me it is sensing something it doesn't like and therefore continues to try to prime itself.
 
Jan 1, 2009
8
#9
The 30GPM didn't work either. Call me stupid, but I thought priming was just something the pump did automatically to ensure everything is in working order. If priming means getting water into the pump, then my pump is already primed and ready to go. Upon start the pump filter basket only has a couple of really small bubbles at the top and the pump still goes through the startup cycle and then into a prime alarm state. I'll call Pentair on Monday and see if I can get any results.
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,082
San Rafael, CA USA
#10
OK, I think I understand. Even when your pump is just turning on after having run for a while working normally and then turning off, it still starts out with "priming" for a while until it errors -- is that right or have you never been able to get it to run in normal mode? You are right that normally it should just continue pumping and not go into priming at all so long as there is water and not air in the pipes. So I have some questions for you. 1) When the pump starts, does it say "priming" or show an indicator that it is in that mode? 2) After the pump starts, is the pump basket full of water not only initially but after the pump is running? If both answers are yes, then this does sound like the pump may be broken in its detection of being in its regular mode vs. priming mode. I suspect the difference is detected mostly on the basis of the resistance to flow (i.e. head). Could it be that air is getting into the system somewhere? If your pump basket is full of water, then it sounds like the suction side is still full of water while the pressure side should also have water in it unless you've got an air leak in your filter so that it drains into the pool (but then I'd expect you to see that as a water leak when the pump is running).

Richard
 
Jan 1, 2009
8
#11
1) The pump does say "Priming". 2) The pump stays full of water the whole time, both when it starts and as it pumps. There is no observable leak in the filter. The pump does occassionally reach a "primed" state and pump normally, but it isn't common. I've also released pressure from the top of the filter to see if there was a bunch of air in the filter - there wasn't. My system does have a few check valves, but I assume that is normal. When the pump is on water does get sucked out of the pool and is returned to the pool as expected. The pressure as reported on the filter is a little over 10 psi. I'll let you know what Pentair says on Monday.
 

New2Me

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 2, 2008
322
SW Indiana
#12
This may not sound right, but I think that you don't have ENOUGH restriction after the pump, ie.. it pumps so easy that it thinks it is still priming, not running, because it does not reach the set clean filter pressure. Have you tried Manually setting the filter mode clean pressure to less than 10? You need to read page 16 (22 of 64 in the PDF) to see how this is set. If you have had a power disruption to the pump, it may have lost all of your pool data, and require re-programming to prevent future errors in all modes. Good Luck!!
 
Jan 1, 2009
8
#13
I tried setting the set clean filter pressure to 5psi, but that didn't work. Here's what I found out tonight. The "Manual" mode seems to have the problem. When I gave the pump a rest (around 30 minutes) and started it in "Feature 1" mode, it went through priming just fine and obtained prime in 30 or so seconds (LCD screen displayed "Priming" then "Primed" briefly and finally "Running"). The "Manual" mode still goes through the priming cycle (ramp up, surge, ramp down, surge...) and ultimately fails with an alert (LCD screen displays "Priming" until the alert). The manual says that the "Manual" mode should just run the flow that is input, which is what I was using for testing (good grief!).

I will call Pentair this week to discuss the "Manual" mode with them and post the results. Thanks for your help. I'm not sure that I'm out of the woods yet, but I'm closer than I was 2 days ago. I'm going to watch my pump closely over the next week to observe what is happening with it.
 

cadillac

In The Industry
Dec 22, 2008
82
#14
There is no sensor to tell the pump if there is water in the basket or not. It will go into prime mode every time unless you are using manual mode in set speed (there are two ways set speed and set flow). The pump will stay in priming mode until it "feels" the correct power draw at the correct rpm for the flow you have selected.

You may need to reset back to the factory defaults if the settings have gotten messed up enough which a tech rep can assist you with, but try these settings.

priming flow - 40 gpm
max priming time - 15 minutes
system prime time - 5 minutes
set that filter pressure back to 10 psi, this is a setting for an increase in pressure over startup.
 
Jan 1, 2009
8
#15
I talked with Pentair support. They told me to set the prime time back to 2 minutes. That just makes the priming error come on that much faster. I was surprised by the tension on the phone. They really didn't want to talk with me. I need to try again.

I just checked my pump on its regularly scheduled daily pump schedule. It's sitting in prime alarm. There is nothing wrong with my plumbing. The basket is full of water. The pump just needs to decide that it's primed. I am ready to throw my Intelliflow pump in the trash.
 

cadillac

In The Industry
Dec 22, 2008
82
#16
Most likely you spoke with someone in california, they are a bit impatient.

I'll explain what each section of the priming mode means and maybe that will help you understand.

Priming flow - the flow that the pump will try to achieve at a constant rpm and power draw
Max priming time - the amount of time that must pass before the pump gives a priming alarm
System prime time - the amount of time that the pump will run at the priming flow BEFORE it starts to check wether or not it is primed

Given that info, you should be able to see that increasing these times will give the water flow more time to stabilize. Keep in mind that there can be things that will disturb the flow such as solar panels, suction side cleaners, and check valves. Remember that this pump will suck water up 8 feet.
 
Jan 1, 2009
8
#17
This is a little late, but I'm hoping someone will learn something from it. I called Pentair support again and this time I got a nice woman that just stated, "Oh, you need to clean your filter." I did and now everything works fine. My guess after cleaning my filter is that I didn't have enough back pressure for the pump (filter pressure was showing around 10-12 psi before and only around 15 psi after cleaning). Most of the diatomaceous earth was sitting in the bottom of the filter. At any rate, once I cleaned the filter, the pump primed quickly and easily. It no longer goes through the cycling and priming alerts. I'm happy.