Moved Equipment but Still a Suction Side Air Leak?

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Hi All,

So I'm at my wits end here with my potential suction side leak and I'm hoping someone can help...

First let me start by saying that my pump basket has never filled up completely to the top. I also knew there was a leak, or more than one leak, somewhere in my pool as it was losing a substantial amount of water every night.

That being said, the leak was located in the spa structure and return line, so I have just had my pool remodeled/re-plastered 2 months ago. I've only lived in the house for 6 months now so all this is new to me.

Once all this was completed, my pump basket still didn't fill up all the way to the top. It gets over the basket... but never all the way to the plastic window on the top of my pump.

Okay, thought there still might be a suction side leak somewhere but my equipment pad had all plumbing running through the concrete so locating the leak, if it was at a 90, wasn't really an option. No big deal because I wanted to move the equipment anyways and I just did that.

I have a new drain line coming from my spa and a brand new vacuum line, that I never had before, running to my equipment. The skimmer line is mostly new, but there is a run of about 6 feet under concrete that I didn't feel like replacing due to the cost. But like I said, the spa drain line and the vacuum line are brand spanking new and definitely DON'T have leaks.

Equipment pad move was just completed yesterday and when the equipment was fired up I thought for sure the pump basket would fill to the top... but it still doesn't. I've tried switching the intake, on my brand new Jandy valves, from solely the spa drain line and solely the vacuum line to see if this would fix the problem as I know they are tight as a drum at the moment... but still only 2/3 of the way full.

Most of the plumbing on the equipment pad is new... but not all of it. You can see in the attached pic, anything that is still a grey line was on the old pad. I'm thinking that the union connections to my pump, or the pump lid, must be the culprits at this point... but obviously, I'm still not sure.

I did lube the heck out of the lid basket o ring and the union o rings with silicone lube, but that didn't fix the problem. granted that was before the equipment move, and I'll try that again but I suspect that won't help at this point.

My contractor says it's this way because my lines are only 1 1/2 inch suction and returns and the pump has 2" unions and that the pump just isn't getting enough water to fill the basket to the top. I thought there was a chance he might be correct, but after reading other posts on this forum I now know that he is not correct.

I'm thinking of buying new/replacement unions and a new o ring for my pump basket lid and having those installed. But if there was an air leak there, wouldn't water slightly drip out at some point? I don't know, I can't think of anything else. My filter is old. My backwash plunger thing is old and sometimes leaks so I'll replace the o rings on that... but theoretically those shouldn't affect the suction side, correct?

Anyways, sorry for the long post but wanted to include as much info as possible.

Anyone else have any thoughts/ideas?

Thanks for reading.
New Pool Equipment Pad.jpg
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
15,014
Bedford, TX
P,

If you have a VS pump, the basket might not fill all the way up depending on what speed the pump is running.. What does it look like with the pump running at 3000 RPM, 2000 RPM, and 1000 RPM? Let it run a good hour between tests?

I have seen a couple of threads where owners replaced the whole lid on their pumps to fix the problem.. The cam, the lid and the O-ring. Not all that expensive, to give it a shot.

What is the check valve for... :poke: :mrgreen:

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Lol @Jimrahbe , I knew you'd see that check valve. The contractor wanted to install it anyways and said that it will help me keep prime... I figured I could just take the guts out later if I wanted. As you suggested in the other thread.

I've had the filter running all night on speed 4, which is close to 3000 rpm's, maybe 2850. But even on quick clean, which is the highest setting that will only run for an hour, it still goes over the basket... but not all the way to the top. I'll test on lower settings today, but I'm guessing it will go a bit lower in the basket and almost certainly not higher.

I'll also take the lid off today and thoroughly clean it to get any gunk off. Any suggestions on what to use to clean it?

I remember trying to remove the o ring and it was VERY difficult. Not even sure I can remove it without a screwdriver or something. I didn't want to risk damaging it so I just lubed the heck out of it last time.

What's the cam btw?

You think replacing the unions with new one's is worthless?

Also, the thing he said about 1 1/2 inch lines being too small to fill the basket is nonsense?

Thanks @Jimrahbe
 

Jimrahbe

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Jul 7, 2014
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Bedford, TX
P,

I think his comment on the line size is total bull.. I have two rent house that both have 1.5" line but 2" IntelliFlo pumps... they run at about 1200 RPM most of the time, and the pump baskets do have some bubbles under the lids, but the water is always above the basket..

The "cam" is the part with the handles that holds the clear lid in place.. It has a cam action that tightens as it turns...

I would not get too concerned about bubbles under the lid, unless it gets worse and worse and the water level drops to where you start see bubbles coming out your returns.. Or if the pump will not prime on start up.

Jim R.
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Ahh, the cam is what I was referring to as the lid, but thanks for the clarification.

I'll clean the heck out of that today, then re-lube it up. Any suggestions on how to remove that o ring. Probably sounds like a silly question but man that thing was not easy to get out of there.

Before the equipment move there were definitely some small bubbles being thrown back to the pool and spa through the returns... hopefully the pump will stay full to at least over the basket now and no more bubbles back to the pool.

Thanks again for the help.
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Well, I've just let my Kreepy Krauly run for the last 45 hours, set at 75% vacuum and 25% skimmer... cleaned the pool pretty darn good and no bubbles are being kicked into the pool via the returns.

Basket still doesn't fill up 100% but close. I just took the cam off my pump and cleaned it up and re-lubed the gasket the best I could... it's impossible to get that gasket out, but we'll see if that makes any difference. Definitely would like the basket to fill to the top glass, but if it doesn't and there's no leak anywhere, oh well.

Thanks for all your advice @Jimrahbe
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Hi @duraleigh ,

Thanks for the tip but I've tried everything at this point... the water will go over the basket but it will not fill all the way to the glass. It's close, but still about an inch away. There are no leaks at this point... and I know this because the suction lines are all new, and after prime is reached, no bubbles are being spit out the returns... but not sure what else to do? Even on Quick Clean, the highest rpm, it doesn't fill to the top of the glass.
 

duraleigh

Admin
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Apr 1, 2007
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Sebring, Florida
If there are no leaks, you should be able to shut off the pump when the water is at it's highest point in the pump basket and it will not go down.....even overnight.

Have you tried that?
 
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Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
@duraleigh I just moved my equipment and haven't tried that yet. But when it's shut down for a few minutes it doesn't go down. However, I do have a check valve installed before the pump intake so not sure that will really provide any answers.

I still have to think there are no suction side leaks as almost all the pipes are new. I even switched to the spa only and the vacuum line only as those are completely new and the pump still doesn't fill up to the glass. And when I put my hand on the vacuum line to check the suction... it's scary strong, won't be trying that again.

Could there be a leak anywhere else? Maybe not on the suction side that would cause this? Maybe my old filter is the culprit?
 
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Texas Splash

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Some things I haven't seen discussed:
1 - Any chance you have an obstruction after the pump? Could the filter be dirty causing a backlog of sorts. My pump basket level drops when the filter is overwhelmed.
2 - Any chance there is a partial obstruction "before" the pump in the suction line? Perhaps unlikely as you mention two new lines, but figured I'd ask in case there's something just big enough to prevent adequate water flow?
3 - How old is your VSP? Also, have you reached in there (power off) and checked the impeller for good movement and/or obstructions?

Just tossing some ideas since you seem to have ruled-out the obvious.
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Hi @Texas Splash ,

1. I feel like an obstruction after the pump is unlikely as the flow seems to be strong. I just cleaned the filter a month ago so that is unlikely as well. Runs at about 14-15 at the highest speed.

2. Also unlikely to be an obstruction before the pump as the lines are almost all brand new. When switching the pump to ONLY the new lines it runs the same. The only old line is about 6 feet of skimmer line. And the suction is strong... I put my hand in front of the suction holes and it's scary strong.

3 I inherited the VSP when I bought the house... seems to be fine and I think it's relatively new and the previous homeowners switched it out for the DWP credits and potential savings. I reached in there a month ago, before the equipment move and the impeller was fine/clean. The basket definitely fills up better after the move btw.

I appreciate the ideas though. Maybe I could try and re-clean and re-lube the suction side union and little drain plug as I'm really running out of options here. Again, the returns are not kicking any bubbles back into the pool or spa once prime is reached... but yeah, I'd sure feel better if the pump was operating optimally.

Thanks for everyone's advice.
 
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Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Well, I just removed the guts from the check valve... did nothing... but when I stopped the pump the water wasn't draining back so I suppose that's a good thing. The real test will be overnight I suppose.
 

wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
518
Spring Valley, NY
Do you have a mpv ? then you can try recirculate setting if it fill up. Sort of bypassing the grids and see if that makes a difference. Something tells me a pump issue as it's not completing prime. Is that check valve you mentioned restricting the pipe size?
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
HI @wireform ,

I have 3 mpv's but they're all brand new and just installed with the pool equipment move. I've switched the intake to the brand new intake lines and still the same. Water barely splashes the top of the glass on one side when the pump is running but doesn't completely cover the glass.

Btw, I removed the guts of the check valve yesterday as it wasn't really serving any purpose so I doubt it's restricting flow.

Today was the first day since the equipment move that I had the filter turned off overnight and, like I said, the water remained in the basket... almost to the top. I'm starting to think that this isn't a suction side leak.

What else could be causing this?
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
I've replaced the o-ring, lubed it up, took out both drain plugs and re-lubed them up... I took apart my backwash plunger and replaced the o-rings there (it's had a small leak for a while), not leaking any more... and the pump is still doing the same thing.

Again, it doesn't lose water overnight and runs pretty well (super strong suction), even on low rpms, but just won't fill all the way to the top. No bubbles spitting out the returns once the pump runs for a couple of minutes. Not sure what else to do.

If the drain plug o-rings were bad I would imagine that I'd see some water draining out... or at least the basket would slowly empty overnight, is that correct?

I tried running some water over the basket lid while the pump was running to see if there was a leak between the clear plastic and the black plastic as the seems do look big around it and not symmetrical... but that did nothing as well.

I was going to replace the suction side union on the pump, but my pool contractor put it on so tight I can't even get it off. I need to get some larger channel locks and that's probably going to be the last thing I try.

Also, the plastic pipes that run to the pump, very short run, are old and couldn't be replace due to how they were originally glued. Maybe I'll spray some flex seal on those joints to see if there's a small leak there... but I can't see how that would make sense either. Wouldn't water leak out the "small leak"? Wouldn't the basket slowly empty over night if that were the case?

Maybe I should just leave well enough alone?
 

JohnT

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Apr 4, 2007
9,629
SW Indiana
How many returns do you have? What does your filter pressure read? I would try rotating some of the eyeballs to create more resistance to flow. The basket may not be filling because the pump has it too easy moving water.
 
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Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Hi @JohnT ,

I have 3 returns. 2 in the pool and 1 in the spa. When I have my valves pointed to Pool intake and return, one of the pool returns splits to the spa return... not sure if that matters but just thought I would share that as others have said that is unique.

That's an interesting theory... maybe I should point the eyeball returns down?

Thank you for your suggestion and for reading my thread.

Sorry, editing: My filter pressure reads below 5 on low rpms and about 15ish on higher rpms

Also worth noting maybe... although my pump basket holds water overnight I believe my filter does not and so system still needs to prime once it starts running again. I know this for a couple of reasons... one, I can still let air out the pressure relief valve, and two, there are usually some bubbles that need to get flushed out the returns when the pump initially runs. But then it's clear sailing all day, no bubbles being kicked out the returns.

Any possibility that my old filter is the issue here?
 
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Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
@JohnT It's kind of funny... my contractor said the exact opposite, he said the 1 1/2 inch line (all pool plumbing except the pad) was not enough capacity to fill the basket and that I should run a 2 inch line from my pump intake to the water as a test to see if that would fill the basket. Pretty sure he's wrong from everything I've read on the forum... and from what @Jimrahbe said. Plus that would really be a pain in the neck.