Odd Pump Behavior

SwimmerSam

Member
Dec 3, 2021
5
CA
Hello. I was hoping I might probe your thoughts on some odd behavior with my pool. My pool was built in the late 70s and is about 50,000 gallons. Attached to it is a in ground spa that you can probably seat about 10 people comfortably. All the pumps, filters, and heater have been replaced in the last year. I also have two pumps, a primary and a booster, as well as a bubbler. The booster and bubbler have no issues. The only thing original to the pool are the pipes.

So onto the issue, in pool mode my primary pump behaves relatively normal and primes fairly quickly. In looking at the check valve there are a few bubbles but there are very few. But something strange happens when I switch to spa mode. As the actuators are turning the water level on the pump drops and it takes a couple of minutes for it to re-prime for spa mode. Sometimes it doesn't prime at all and we have to help it by either adding water to the pump or bleeding the check valve on the filter. And while running in spa mode the water level is never all the way to the top of the pump and there are always bubbles in the check valve. My pool guy says it's fine to run it this way and believes that there are either one or two things likely going on. He feels that we lose prime when switching to the spa mode due to a possible crack in the pipe underground. However, I never lose water unless it's due to normal evaporation. He agrees this is odd if there is a crack. I might lose half an inch of water in the pool in a week when hot and sunny. My pool guy also thinks this theoretical crack in the pipe is where the bubbles come from. Surprisingly though he doesn't think the priming issue is related. He thinks I have narrower pipes due to the era in which my pool was built and that this creates poor flow to the pumps and makes it difficult to prime. Do you have any thoughts on the likely culprit? Do you agree with his assessment?

There are no visible water leaks from any of the pipes next to the pump equipment. I can put some silicone at various locations and try and seal things up a little bit but except for the pipe that goes to the spa all the equipment and piping is the same for pool versus spa mode. Any thoughts and questions are welcome and appreciated.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
26,067
Bedford, TX
Sam,

I think you need to find a new pool guy... :mrgreen:

Show us few pics of your equipment pad...

My guess is that your spa drain is partially clogged or your Intake valve is bad or not moving like it should.

In the pool mode the water going into your main pump is coming from the skimmer/main drain. In the Spa mode the input to the pump is coming from the Spa drain. If the pump runs out of water, when the Intake valve moves to the spa drain position, then I suspect something in the flow between the spa drain and the pump is the problem.

While pipes do go bad, they don't go bad very often. The idea that the pipe is just too small is total Bull Feathers... :poke:

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Rocket J Squirrel

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You didn't tell us what equipment you have. Do you have automation? Pentair automation systems like EasyTouch and IntelliCenter have a "valve delay" feature which shuts off the pump while the valves are moving between pool and spa. If you have such a system, check that this feature is disabled and see whether it helps.
 

Rocket J Squirrel

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@SwimmerSam , your pics didn't post. Can you be more specific about your "Pentair system"? Do you have a big yellow metal Pentair box? If so, when you open the box, what specific automation name is visible? It might be EasyTouch, IntelliCenter, or IntelliTouch, for example.
 

SwimmerSam

Member
Dec 3, 2021
5
CA
I think the photos uploaded this time.
 

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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
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Jul 7, 2014
26,067
Bedford, TX
Sam,

Right in front of your main VS pump is a Jandy valve with an actuator.. This is what I would do if this were my pool.

1. Confirm that the valve handle moves 180 degrees when the system is put into the Spa mode, and then back 180 degrees when the system is put back into the pool mode.

2. Just because the handle moves, does not mean the valve itself is moving. I'd remove the actuator and open the valve body. I'd confirm the valve is intact and the seals ok.

3. With the valve "guts" removed, I'd use a garden hose with a bladder (drain king) to force water from the valve down the line going to the spa floor drain.. I'd then want to confirm that there is good water flowing up from the spa drain into the spa.

If you pass all three tests, then the pump should not be running out of water.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Rocket J Squirrel

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Before taking valves apart, I'd check the setting I mentioned above. On the EasyTouch panel, navigate to

Menu > Settings > Delays

and see what it says next to Valves. If it says Yes, toggle it to No and save the setting by pressing Menu to get back to the main display. If it already says No (or if setting it to No doesn't solve the problem), go ahead with Jim's recommendations.
 
Last edited:

SwimmerSam

Member
Dec 3, 2021
5
CA
I can confirm that the setting is set to no. Also can confirm visual inspection of actuator handle is moving 180° on both actuators. Will get take the actuator and valve apart and do a visual inspection and then get a bladder to clean out the pipes and see if I can get some debris out of there. My valves and the actuators both look fairly old to me. They were not changed when the rest of the equipment was. Thank you for your help.
 

SwimmerSam

Member
Dec 3, 2021
5
CA
Hi all. Yesterday I decided to start up my spa and couldn't get the pump to prime so I did a whole bunch of stuff. Some of it as recommended by the group in this thread. Thank you all for your assistance.

First I disassembled both actuator assemblies. I noticed that one of them had a bad O-ring. Also the innards that blocks waterflow in one looked a little rundown so I replaced the inside part thst turns to block water. I also ran a pipe bladder backward through the spa inlet for about an hour. Bubbles came up out of the spa but otherwise no debris appeared. Then I put everything back together and started everything up to see what's what.

Before I took all that apart the pool was priming but the spa was not. After, neither were priming. My theory is I lost my vacuum when I took everything apart and the system was having trouble getting it back.

So then I decided to inspect the filter. My pool guy takes care of the pool once a week but the filter only gets cleaned every six months. Apparently for where I live that's not enough. The filter was, for lack of a better description, filthy. Pineneedles, general muck, and the seeds that fall from some trees nearby. There was also about two or 3 inches deep of muddy dirt in the bottom. Then I put everything back together and started up the pool pump.

At first it had trouble priming but after about three or four minutes it primed very well and pressure settled in at about 17-20 pounds. I let it run for about an hour and a half and then went to check on it. Also of note the RPMs on the pump were set at 2700. When I went back to check on it the pool pump water level had dropped. Psi had also dropped to about 14. I don't know if this is due to the RPMs or what's going on there. But everything was still running just fine.

So then switched over to spa mode and crossed my fingers. For several minutes things had trouble priming. RPMs 3250. But then something happened, I noticed that water was slowly building up and eventually it primed all the way to the top. I let it run for about 15 minutes then went back to check on it. Pressure had settled in at about 27 psi. It was bouncing a little bit but not much. The water level in the pump had dropped again but it was maintaining a high enough level to run the spa quite easily. So that's where I am now. Things running and things running OK but not perfect. I would like to improve it but I'm not sure what steps to take next. Thoughts are welcome and greatly appreciated.
 

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