My pump has been running dry for days. How screwed am I?

coilerman

Bronze Supporter
Sep 29, 2008
148
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I went on a one week vacation. Left my teenage son in charge of the pool. Throughout the week, my son keeps telling me the pool is running fine.

I got home today and I see that the pump is running but the pump chamber is dry and there is no flow through the system. I let the pump cool down, restarted and the pump will no longer prime. It used to have enough power to pull water into the chamber and prime from empty. No longer. It does work if I completely fill it with a hose.

The pump also makes a slight squealing noise on start up but settles down once it runs for a few minutes.

It's a Pentair Superflo VS that I installed 2 months ago.

Any speculation on the damage done and how long I have left before I have to spend another $1000 on new pump? I suspect the pump has been running like that for at least 5 days.
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
3,887
Damascus, MD
I suspect the impeller was damaged running dry. Sounds like the motor itself is probably ok. Once you manually prime it does it run fine? Not sure if that is a serviceable item. Take it out of his car fund.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
11,287
Northern NJ
Teenagers! I hope you used that as a teaching moment. In the overall scheme of what a teenager can cost you the new pump is a drop in the bucket.
 
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coilerman

Bronze Supporter
Sep 29, 2008
148
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I suspect the impeller was damaged running dry. Sounds like the motor itself is probably ok. Once you manually prime it does it run fine? Not sure if that is a serviceable item. Take it out of his car fund.
Yes, runs fine after I manually prime.

I have to give myself credit for not getting angry. I just sighed and slunk back into my workshop. It have amended my will. My daughter gets 50%, my son gets 50% - $1,000.
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
3,887
Damascus, MD
Yes, runs fine after I manually prime.

I have to give myself credit for not getting angry. I just sighed and slunk back into my workshop. It have amended my will. My daughter gets 50%, my son gets 50% - $1,000.
I learned never to give teenagers anything important to do. Sad fact of life. I don't think they lose their narcissism tendencies until late 20s.
 

1Sammy

In The Industry
Jul 20, 2017
210
Windsor, Ontario. Canada
The motor don't care if there is water being pushed or not, heck it don't even know what it on the end of its shaft, lol. I would think the water in the pool dropped to lose prime ? You need to find why it lost prime. Running dry will only cause damage to the seal and even that will not always happen. Keep an eye between the pump and motor for a drip drip leak.
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,443
Chapel Hill, NC
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? What I'm saying, is a problem with the suction side causing the pump to lose prime or is the pump damaged so that it is losing prime?
 

mguzzy

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2015
835
OV, CA
No leaking? The squeal might be a bearing or the seal. Seals are easy to replace and not that expensive. It might be worth it to throw a new seal in there and see if that helps. Also check your other gaskets to. You can get a gasket/seal kit for around $30bux at most Pool websites. While you have it open inspect the impeller for damage.

Teenagers... I trust them as far as I can through them. even my own.
 

coilerman

Bronze Supporter
Sep 29, 2008
148
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I believe what happened is that the water level dropped and the pump lost prime. I filled the pool to the max but it was a hot, dry week and there was more evaporation than I anticipated. I've had this happen before and I can tell by the sound that the pump was starved for water. My kid didn't figure it out.
 

frogabog

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
2,833
Portland, Oregon
Really, the only thing you need to be worried about is the seal or the bearing, due to heat from running without water. The impeller won't be affected by heat, nor will the motor (motor runs in the heat normally, just fine).

Make the kid take the pump apart and replace the parts. There are videos that will teach him how. He knows how to find them.
 
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mguzzy

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2015
835
OV, CA
Really, the only thing you need to be worried about is the seal or the bearing, due to heat from running without water. The impeller won't be affected by heat, nor will the motor (motor runs in the heat normally, just fine).

Make the kid take the pump apart and replace the parts. There are videos that will teach him how. He knows how to find them.
What he said.... I like that...:mrgreen:
Tell him its a new version of MineCraft with real tools. :p
 

tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
1,694
Houston, TX
First, being in Canada, I would like to know what your opinion of hot and dry is? I live in Houston and it's 102 degrees and has been triple digit heat for the last 3-4 days and still going to be 99-101 for 7-10 more days. Pool water is 90+. If your pump ran dry in this climate, I would be inclined to say that the motor would be toast.

Next, teenagers are predicaments at best: daughter that just turned 20 and another girl that just turned 17. I would not promote your son working on your pump unless he is very mechanically inclined, or so you want more problems and have to be back in your shop again for another seal/etc job. If the water did go down, it would be hard to blame him for that, esp if he was not told to look for that. If he was, then that's a diff story. Did he call you or tell you anything?

Finally, I would encourage you to put a list together of the basics: Check the e-pad 2-3 times daily, check breakers if display says [Pump Error, etc], check water levels/flow and basic FC & pH testing and to take pics and send to you; heck and clean out skimmers. Clean/net daily and brush weekly and show him how to do both as well as anything else. Mine know how to take out shark [by handle not cord], take apart/place on side not on rollers and how to change out hair nets. Teenagers are attached to their phones...I make them take pictures of everything and text me w them...this is dual accountability.

Finally, pls blow hard and push a cool front our way, along w some rain - good luck, tstex
 

frogabog

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
2,833
Portland, Oregon
I feel that our children are capable of many things with instruction, that is comparable to ourselves.

Heat in the northern climates is not comparable to TX. Very much not the same. Still, it's a pump seal and a bearing. This is a very teachable moment.
 

1Sammy

In The Industry
Jul 20, 2017
210
Windsor, Ontario. Canada
OP, if you topped off the water should not have dropped low enough to let the pump run dry in a week. I'm just a few hours down the road and have not had to add water till this week. Temps are in the mid 90's with a few going over 100 as again this weekend i see.
 

coilerman

Bronze Supporter
Sep 29, 2008
148
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
OP, if you topped off the water should not have dropped low enough to let the pump run dry in a week. I'm just a few hours down the road and have not had to add water till this week. Temps are in the mid 90's with a few going over 100 as again this weekend i see.
I'm guessing my evaporation rate is higher because I have a spillover spa. Plus, my pool is shallower and has more surface area. Pretty hard to compare really.

In the last 24 hours, the pump seems to have recovered it's ability to prime from empty. I'll keep an eye on it and possibly replace in the spring.
 

1Sammy

In The Industry
Jul 20, 2017
210
Windsor, Ontario. Canada
First, being in Canada, I would like to know what your opinion of hot and dry is? I live in Houston and it's 102 degrees and has been triple digit heat for the last 3-4 days and still going to be 99-101 for 7-10 more days. Pool water is 90+. If your pump ran dry in this climate, I would be inclined to say that the motor would be toast.

Next, teenagers are predicaments at best: daughter that just turned 20 and another girl that just turned 17. I would not promote your son working on your pump unless he is very mechanically inclined, or so you want more problems and have to be back in your shop again for another seal/etc job. If the water did go down, it would be hard to blame him for that, esp if he was not told to look for that. If he was, then that's a diff story. Did he call you or tell you anything?

Finally, I would encourage you to put a list together of the basics: Check the e-pad 2-3 times daily, check breakers if display says [Pump Error, etc], check water levels/flow and basic FC & pH testing and to take pics and send to you; heck and clean out skimmers. Clean/net daily and brush weekly and show him how to do both as well as anything else. Mine know how to take out shark [by handle not cord], take apart/place on side not on rollers and how to change out hair nets. Teenagers are attached to their phones...I make them take pictures of everything and text me w them...this is dual accountability.

Finally, pls blow hard and push a cool front our way, along w some rain - good luck, tstex
Can you please share with me the brand / model of pump - motor you have where the pool water is used to cool the bearings ?