New Pool - Spa (& Pool) Losing Water

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
Pool finally completed its initial fill yesterday! While it was extremely exciting, the enjoyment was short lived. I noticed that the spa was not holding water which based on my researching I immediately checked the Spa Suction valve. It is on an Intellivalve valve actuator and when I checked spa suction was open. I closed and proceeded with priming the pumps for my Day 1 startup. Fast forward a handful of hours...my wife alerts me that she can hear the pump. I head outside and notice spa appears to be holding same water level but pool is now low and skimmers are sucking in air. I dialed back the VSP and slightly closed the skimmers. Lines balanced out and returns to pool seemed good. I added some water back to the pool at this time to ensure the skimmers were good. However, when I walked over to the raised spa, I noticed a few trails of water running away from the spa. It was at this moment I began to freak. I let it be until I was awoken at 3:30AM to the sound of suction again. Back outside, pool level down again. Water trails outside the spa. Being that it was dark and I couldn't stay up to babysit, I shut down the VSP.

I am currently awaiting the plumber to hopefully make it out to my place today to troubleshoot. However in the meantime, I am trying to see if there is anything I can check or confirm prior to there arrival (hoping they actually come today). I'm attaching a few photos of both the leak trails I have, as well as my equipment pad. I began labeling everything yesterday, however, I am struggling with the way the plumber configured the return side of things. I have 2 lines past the chlorinator (1 with a 3 way valve & 1 with a check valve). Assumption is check valve is for the spa return. I am guessing the other line (with 3 way valve) is for pool return.

Questions I have:

1) What is the purpose of the 3 way valve on the return side of the chlorinator? If that check valve is in fact for the spa return, is that 3 way valve used for diverting all to pool or all to spa if wanted?

2) To the left of the intellivalve valve actuator that is on the chlorinator line, there appears to be another return. Now I do have both SWG & Chlorinator, so part of me thinks that 3 way allows to completely bypass the chlorinator portion of the return, but would that not also exclude the spa return (line with check valve)?

3) Friend of mine who owns a pool service was over to help with priming the pumps. He had some questions on the check valve. The way it was installed it was flap at top and opened towards bottom. When we first got everything primed, that line was full pushing up on the check valve flap. In looking at the plumbing that appears to be the correct positioning (I would think) because you'd want water to push that flap open, but not flow back up into that 3 way valve line?

Apologize for the length in post, but ultimately I am hoping & praying that my losing of water is just due to the way things are configured, but my major concern is the fact that I noticed the trails outside the spa. Plumber did tell me everything was pressure tested which I inferred included the spa, but I am struggling to see what else would explain water on the outside of the spa. We do have a dual suction channel drain installed in the spa, which I was told we could use to also act as a return to the spa (since we did not install dedicated return).

Happy to give more context or clarify anything mentioned above but want to wrap this up before it gets any longer. Anything anyone can offer is greatly appreciated. Not the way I was looking to start this process :(
 

Attachments

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,791
Bedford, TX
n4,

1. The valve on the right side of the tab feeder is called a "make up valve".. It allows some water to go to the spa when in the pool mode, so that the spa overflows into the pool. It appears you are currently sending all your water to the spa which is just all wrong...

2. The valve to the left of the tab feeder is called your "Return valve" it is there to select between the pool mode and the Spa mode. It should send all the water to the right, which is your pool return side or send all the water to the left which is the Spa side.

I suspect that you are just over flowing the spa when the pump is running at a high RPM..

I suggest that you look at your Return Valve and Intake valve and make sure they are set up correctly..

In the Pool mode, all the water should be sucked from the pool and then return to the pool. When in the Spa mode, all the water should be sucked from the spa drain and return to just the spa.. When switching between the Pool mode and Spa mode, both valves should turn 180 degrees at about the same time.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
Jim,

Thanks for the reply.

1. This does help clarify the intent of this valve. I should have captured a picture prior to me turning this valve, but I can confirm that nothing was running when I had it in this position (100% to spa). When I noticed/had the issue of low pool water and those images of trails of water you see, this valve was 50/50. I guess my question based on my understanding of the make-up valve is: Should this be set and essentially left alone? Should I have put another intellivalve actuator on this to automate spillover?

2. So to confirm, the pipe to the left of the intellivalve actuator on the left of the feeder is for spa? And so if flow down the line to the feeder and beyond is completely closed, everything would be going to the spa, correct? I can confirm that at this moment that valve is completely closed of on what you've called the spa side. I believe when I looked at it first thing this morning it was about 70-80% pool side return & 20-30% spa side.

Currently have the VSP running @ 2000 with spa side closed, and also with the manual 3 way valve (to right of feeder) 100% to pool (no spillover action). My spa is currently low at the moment and I am trying to determine if I should just fill back up and leave everything as is to ensure it holds. Would you (or anyone) recommend anything different?

Sorry major newbie to this and while I've got a fair understand of most, I know I have plenty to learn.

Thanks
-Nick
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,791
Bedford, TX
Nick,

Once you know for sure that when in the pool mode, all the water leaves the pool and returns to the pool.. and that when in the Spa mode all the water leaves the spa and then returns to the spa... Then you can open the make up valve a little to adjust the amount of spillover your spa has.. That is what the make up valve is for.. to control the amount of spillover. It is pretty much a set and forget type of valve.

A constantly running spillover will cause your pH to continually increase.. but for now, I would not worry about it...

In theory, when you open the make up valve, the spa level should come back to normal, this will cause the pool level to drop a little but it should not be an issue.. I would make sure the water level in the pool is right about the middle of the skimmer..

Try that and then tell us how things are running and if you still have a "leak" of some type..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
Jim,

Again, appreciate the follow up. I just went through and filled the spa back up to the appropriate level, and actually as it was filling up I started to notice water seeping out from between the spa wall and the concrete decking. I uploaded a video to try and depict it...I ended up taking the blower to blow that water out and watched it with my own eyes come right back. Currently everything is running in Pool Mode (nothing to Spa) which is where my continued concern for "leak" arises.

I will add that water level was essentially just below the top level jets in the spa prior to me beginning filling....and I did not appear to notice any seeping of water out the sides. As mentioned though, once the pool filled up, the seeping began again. I am by no means a plumber, but I am beginning to wonder if any one of the top jets (or combination of) could be a culprit? Just thoughts at this point while I am still waiting for my plumber to take a look.

Water Seeping Between Spa Wall & Decking

Regards,
Nick
 

JJ_Tex

Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
1,857
Prosper, TX (DFW)
So it looks like you have a couple of things going on:
1. Your valves need to be programmed correctly to go between pool mode and spa mode on your intellicenter
2. You have a leak somewhere with the spa

Both of those should be remedied by your builder. Have you called him and is he aware?
 

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
JJ,

Sadly I made what is beginning to feel like an extremely regretful decision of doing an Owner PB. So needless to say, I'm the one on the hook. I have a guy who does startups and is assisting me with the valve programming. However, my bigger issue currently is #2 with the leak somewhere in the spa. I just spoke with the plumber who did our work and unfortunately he won't be able to make it out today, but tomorrow plans to pressure test the spa lines to see what happens. If it holds we may be able to eliminate the internal lines as the problem, which then leads us to plaster or jet wall fitting. Extremely big bummer as we just had plaster completed on Tuesday and finished filling yesterday to start the process. Not being an expert by any means, my only hope at this point is that the pressure test on the lines internally goes good so that hopefully there is less to demo? But I fully expect there is no way to correct a leak without breaking something.

-Nick
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jimrahbe

rcerf

Gold Supporter
Aug 22, 2019
53
Bastrop , Tx
Pool Size
5300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-9)
Nick ,

I had a similar problem to yours last year with my new spa. When I changed my from having my spa spill over continually, to just having it spill over for an hour each day , I noticed my spa would lose water over night. The plumber came out and pressure tested all the lines and we ruled out them leaking. I then isolated the spa so no water would be fed from the pool , and let the water leak out till it finally stopped. We ended up discovering the plasters did not seal well around the wall fittings for one of the spa makeup lines and the light. When the small voids were filled with epoxy , the leaks stopped. The whole time that it was leaking I never saw any sign of water leaking. I was losing about a quarter inch of water an hour.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Richard2020

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
Sorry for the delayed reply...busy weekend! But @rcerf thanks so much for the info & that sounds like a 100% match to our findings! Plumber was able to finally make it out yesterday afternoon and as they were preparing to do some pressure testing on the lines, we noticed that on my bottom set of jets I had 3 that were leaking just behind the wall niches. At this point they were leaking back into the spa because the water was lower than the jets & that water was underneath the spa and flowing back in. That said, as you can imagine, when the spa was full and had all the weight & pressure, it forced the water the opposite way and was most likely pooling up under the spa. We have not yet had our mastic work done so it is still the foam barrier between which is exactly where water was seeping through. So looks like this is a somewhat common occurrence. Just extremely glad plumbing isn't an issue. I will be contacting the plaster company tomorrow to get someone out ASAP so I can get the spa filled back up and running through its startup. But super glad and appreciative to belong to an awesome site like TFP to have support and insight from folks much more experienced than me! Thanks again for all the guidance!
 
  • Like
Reactions: rcerf

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
Hey folks!

First off Happy Thanksgiving!

Wanted to share that I was able to get the plaster crew to come back out yesterday and make repairs. They ended up “patching” all 7 of my lower spa jets. Filled the spa back up and everything seemed to be running smooth. Since I have been behind on chemicals with the startup as it relates to the spa I ended up letting it run for a little while and everything held steady. However I shut it down before bed and this morning water was down to the top level jets. No leaking on the decking so I’m thinking we are repaired correctly there. And I’m wondering if I’m now needing to identify if my configuration is correct and/or if I’ve got any issues related to valves. This is all brand new equipment so while I know that you can get bad eggs, I would be surprised if that were my issue. As for configuration when I shut it down I did have the make up valve partly open to allow water to the spa. And I did have the dedicated spa return getting about 10-15%. Spa suction was 100% closed.

Anyway, spa has been returned to appropriate level. Currently in “Pool” mode with suction only from main drain & skimmers, returning to pool only. Water in spa is appears to be steady. I plan to flip to ”Spa” mode soon to have suction only from spa drain and return only to “spa”. I suspect shouldn’t be any issue here. I wasn’t planning on “Spillover” mode test as that was where I was yesterday and noticed no issues. Which now lies the question if/when I shut everything down, my config should reflect spa suction closed, spa return closed completely, and make up valve left as it is for “Spillover” mode. With that, if I am losing water in my spa, am I needing to investigate a check valve issue? I opened it up this morning and it is setup correctly (though vertical and not preferred horizontal) and flap looks to be in good shape.

Again, keeping in mind first timer here, but based on explanation above (and previous images of equipment) if I’m losing water in spa am I on the right track with my investigation?

Thanks!
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,791
Bedford, TX
N4,

When spas drain down to the return jet level, when the pump is off, 90% of the time it is a bad check valve.

Obviously, this happens on older builds most often.

To prove it is the check valve, you should shut off the make-up valve when you power the system off and see of it no longer drains. The make-up valve is the one that allows you to control the amount of spa water overflow..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
Thanks for the replies gentlemen. Switched over to spa mode and it has been running for almost an hour now and looks to be holding steady.

Jim, I will go ahead and shut the make up and see what we get.

@mknauss Also good point. And correct no check valve there so could see it also being another place where water could leave the spa. Will let you both know how it goes. Thanks for the holiday replies!
 

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
Good Evening. Had some good rain here the last day and a half so haven't made it outside much but did want to share that I did have the "makeup" valve closed since my post Thursday (11/26) and water has held just fine.

I did need some clarification on things as it relates to this makeup valve and spillover since I have a raised spa. Before rain moved in I was configuring automation and the actuators so I am now setup for a Pool Mode and a Spa Mode. Pool Mode shuts spa suction & spa return off completely, and Spa Mode the opposite. But here are my questions:

1) I am running Pool Mode now, and I have opened the makeup valve fairly substantially to allow water to flow into the spa. What I am not seeing is any sort of spillover action. The water level prior to me opening that valve was maybe 2-3 inches lower than the spillway, but my assumption is if we are pulling water via the pool and I have the makeup valve opened, it would eventually fill up start pushing water over and into the pool. Is that incorrect thinking?
*Note: I do not have any dedicated "return" jets in my spa. Only 7 upper level spa jets tied to my VSF, and 7 lower level spa jets tied to a dedicated Single Speed Pump. I did put my hand over all the upper "spa" jets after opening up the makeup valve but did not feel anything coming out. I do have a Dual Channel Main Drain, and I thought there was a 3rd opening on that drain that my plumber mentioned could be used as a return line. Could that be where my spa makeup is tied to? I know that could be a rhetorical question given no one was here for the installation, but that may actually explain how the spa was able to drain so fast if I did have a bad check valve (because the weight and pressure of a full spa would be pushing down on that "return" line in the drain and forcing it through that makeup line. Just some thinking out loud but trying to further understand my setup as well as identify where water is going when it passes the check valve and flows into the line leading away from the equipment pad.

2) Depending on answer to above, does Spillover Mode require that I open up the Spa Return slightly? And if yes do I even need the makeup valve opened ever? Do I need to reach out to my plumber and ask where that check valve line is tied to? Basically wondering if the manual makeup valve is pointless in my setup, and if it is possible to have a secondary configuration on the return actuator for Spillover mode to allow to slightly open spa return?
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,791
Bedford, TX
n4,

Just to make sure we are all on the same page..

After your SWCG is a IntelliValve.. Going right out of the valve is a tab feeder.. After the tab feeder is the Make-up valve.. It the make-up valve is off, all the water will go down and back to the pool.. Opening the make up valve will let some or all of the water go up and then through the check valve and back to the spa.. No matter how little water you send to the spa, when in the pool mode, it should eventually fill the spa up and cause it to overflow. The more you open the make-up valve the more it will overflow.

If that is not happening, then you either have a problem, or you are doing something wrong. It does not matter where the water enters the spa.. Most of the time water is coming in at the jets.. In your case, it may be coming in on one of the other pipes.. If you turn the make-up valve full on (this will close off the pool input) then you should be able to either see or feel where the water is entering the spa.


Thanks,

Jim R.
 

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
Jim,

Appreciate the breakdown and I can with 100% certainty say we are on the same page based on your description above. And based on what you explained above with regards to the make-up valve and its positions, that is absolutely what I was expecting. If it is 100% off, everything goes to the pool return. If I begin to open, then some flow will head up and over through the spa check valve. I will plan to fully open the make up valve tomorrow and see if I am able to notice anything (or feel anything) within the spa. If I do not, I am going to suspect a potential problem then as I believe I have a full understanding now of all other aspects of my equipment setup. This pipe where the check valve is connected is the only real question mark that I have outstanding.

Regards,
Nick
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jimrahbe

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
Well I went ahead and fully opened the Makeup Valve for the Spa while in Pool Mode. I went over to the spa and did not notice or feel anything coming out and let it run for about 1-1.5hr and noticed no change in water level (nor any spillover). Went back to the equipment pad and noticed something unusual at least from my point of view with regards to my flow and the makeup valve.

I've attached some pictures and tried to name them accordingly, but if you look at the MakeupValveOpenForPoolReturn you will see I highlighted 2 areas: the SWCG light which is reflecting that I have FLOW, as well as the check valve post heater which you can see the white gate is open indicating water flowing through.

Now fast forward to me switching the Makeup Valve to Full SPA (makeupvalvefullspa.jpeg) and you will see in the MakeupValveFullOpen_SPA_ONLY.jpeg that not only is the check valve gate not open post heater, but also the SWCG light has gone from Green to Red indicating there is no flow. As soon as I slightly start to shift the Makeup Valve back to some pool return, the light switches back to Green and I also see flow in the Heater check valve. To me this makes ZERO sense because in my EquipmentReturnSide_OverheadView.JPEG you can clearly see that the flow should not be impacted by the Makeup Valve which is in my words "downstream" of the SWCG & Heater Check Valve. Am I missing something here or did they plumb something wrong?

Apologies for having to keep this thread running but man this seems like it is more complex than it has to be. :scratch:
 

Attachments

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,791
Bedford, TX
N4,

The check valve, after the make-up valve, is in backwards or broken.. Open it up, remove the guts and try it again with the guts missing.. The flow light on the SWCG should be green..

Take some pics of how the check valve guts are currently installed before you remove the guts..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

n4trombl

Active member
Aug 9, 2020
43
Porter, TX
Thanks Jim!

Just got back in from pulling the check valve and performing the exercise you mentioned above. Did not know exactly how to remove the guts so I actually just rotated it so the gate is completely out of the way. You can see it on the short video clip I posted. That said, with the pipe completely unrestricted by the check valve, I began moving the makeup valve towards full spa, and I was still receiving the same result where the SWCG went red, and flow appeared to stop. From the video you can see inside the check valve it looks like the water does fill up but it does not appear to be going anywhere. And with us moving the check valve gate to be out of the way, this should be free flowing I would think.

Here is the link to the video clip I took while operating the Makeup Valve: Check Valve Operation
 

Attachments