new spa never bubbled

kevin.gt

Bronze Supporter
Aug 7, 2020
24
Atlanta, GA
We had our gunite pool and spa built in July. The spa blower has never produced bubbles and the jets aren’t really any more powerful than the pool returns. Pool builder is struggling to troubleshoot the problem and I’d love some suggestions.

Equipment is about 15 feet from the spa, slightly above grade, but the air and return lines go down under the pool up the wall and into the spa (way more than 15 ft of pipe). VS pool pump. 6 jets in spa. 1.5 hp blower.

Blower kicks on, blows a little air through the spa returns, then no air, blower continues and will shut itself off in 30 seconds or so. PB has tried a second identical blower and second valve. He has snaked the air line with no improvement. He tried a shop vac in the air line. He lowered the water level to below the jets and put a hose in the air line and water came out of the jets (guess it’s not clogged?). His plumber suggested a larger air blower (has not been tried yet; he believes the 1.5hp blower should be making it erupt).

I have pictures from before concrete is poured. Inside the concrete, air line looks to have a Hartford loop without check valve and drops into each of the spa jets in what looks like Venturi tee’s. I recall the PB commenting that the plumber didn’t mark the lines by the equipment (my PB did all the plumbing at the equipment).

Could it be that the water and air lines are crossed at the equipment meaning the pool pump is hooked to what’s supposed to be the air line and the blower is hooked to what’s supposed to be the water line causing the blower to try to push air through the Venturi restriction while water is being pumped in from the top? PB dismissed this suggestion saying the plumber always leaves the air line away from the rest. My thought: unless he didn’t this time or he made a mistake.

Any ideas are greatly appreciated. This has dragged on way too long. Supposedly he’s hiring some help to try to diagnose it, but I don’t mind offering suggestions or being firm to have him try replumbing the blower and return lines if that could be the issue.

I’ll dig up the construction photos I took and post those soon in case that helps.
 

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mknauss

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May 3, 2014
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With only 6 jets and an Intelliflo, you should get plenty of air without a blower. Something is not right with the jet assemblies or the plumbing. The PB needs to fix it. Have they taken the jet inserts out and made sure they are installed correctly?
 

kevin.gt

Bronze Supporter
Aug 7, 2020
24
Atlanta, GA
With only 6 jets and an Intelliflo, you should get plenty of air without a blower. Something is not right with the jet assemblies or the plumbing. The PB needs to fix it. Have they taken the jet inserts out and made sure they are installed correctly?

I know he had one end piece off when he was diagnosing. Please excuse my ignorance; I assume that’s the jet insert. To my knowledge, he has not taken all the inserts out. I’ll ask him about that. Also, the ends look the same as my pool returns jets. Is that typical for a spa?
 

mknauss

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Also, the ends look the same as my pool returns jets. Is that typical for a spa?
No. A jet insert normally has an adjustable end to change the water flow and is movable to direct the flow. But something is blocking the air flow as your blower is shutting down (probably from overheating) and your system should pull air in to it without a blower.
 

kevin.gt

Bronze Supporter
Aug 7, 2020
24
Atlanta, GA
I attached some photos of the plumbing for reference. Do those look like venturi tee's and does the hartford loop look appropriately positioned? Okay that it doesn't have a check valve? @mknauss I really appreciate your opinion and expertise, by the way.
 

mknauss

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I am no plumbing expert but that looks fine. My system does not have a check valve. My air inlet is in the yard about 10' from the spa. We have lots of bubbles with no blower.
 

mknauss

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The only oddity I see and may be no big thing is your air and water flow lines run from the spa under the pool to the pad. That is odd. Mine run back just buried a foot down or so like the rest of the pool lines. I do not think that should be a big deal, but it just is something I have never seen.
 

kevin.gt

Bronze Supporter
Aug 7, 2020
24
Atlanta, GA
UPDATE: I have bubbles! 😆

As suggested, it was a blockage; water in the air line that our 1.5HP blower couldn’t push out. External 3hp blower had no problem clearing the line and so far they are staying cleared. The assumption is the lines were pressure tested with water that was never cleared. I’m hoping it’s as simple as that and it doesn’t fill with water over time.
 

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kevin.gt

Bronze Supporter
Aug 7, 2020
24
Atlanta, GA
@mknauss earlier you mentioned “with an intelliflo...plenty of air without a blower”

Does pump speed impact the Venturi effect?
I now have an eruption from all jets with the blower on. Without the blower, only one jet has the Venturi effect going on. Do you know what speed I should be running my vsf in spa mode? I think the tech just set it to ~3000 rpm (which ScreenLogic is saying is 55-60 gpm) which feels pretty strong, but only one jet with Venturi bubbles.
 

mknauss

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I have my Intelliflo set to 3000 rpm for our 6 jet spa and we get plenty of bubbles. I suspect the air intake to your spa has a lot of resistance - blower on it, far away?, goes under the pool and back up, etc.
I think that line will fill with water each time. So do not be surprised if you have issues going forward.
 
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JJ_Tex

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Mine was doing something similar, the blower was having a tough time blowing water out of the line and was prone to overheating/shutting off.

The plumber added a hartford loop between the spa and the blower (hidden behind a wall) that prevents the spa water from backing up into the air line. It works like the p-trap under your sink, but with air. Everything works like a charm now, and even has enough bubbles in the spa without the blower that we rarely use the blower.

1602537912778.png
 

mknauss

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hartford loop between the spa and the blower
It appears in the pictures posted above one has been installed. Not sure about locating a check valve though.
 

kevin.gt

Bronze Supporter
Aug 7, 2020
24
Atlanta, GA
Yeah I don't think there's any check valve in the air line, but there is that hartford loop inside the spa. The water line gets pretty high so I'm still unsure if the hartford loop will prevent all water.

Regarding venturi effect without blower: I unscrewed the eyeball end caps this afternoon and got venturi bubbles with no blower from 5 of the 6 jets. As soon as I screw the caps on, venturi bubbles are limited to just one. I need to search the forums again; I believe I read a post with someone having similar symptoms.
 

JJ_Tex

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Yeah I don't think there's any check valve in the air line, but there is that hartford loop inside the spa. The water line gets pretty high so I'm still unsure if the hartford loop will prevent all water.

Mine had a hartford loop inside the spa as well, but it was very close to the water line. The PB offered to demo the wall and fix, but I was fine with the 2nd "external" hartford loop as long as it worked. Knock on wood, it did the trick and I had actually forgotten about it until this post.
 
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