One more plumbing puzzle...

PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
85
Tulsa, OK
I have had bubbles in the return lines for a few days. They are coming out of the pool and spa return lines fairly consistently except when the system is in high RPM cleaning mode when they seem to disappear.

I was convinced I had a suction side air leak and have tried several methods for finding them above ground with no success. After adjusting some return valves, the bubbles completely disappear if the spa spillover is working and I isolate all return water to the pool through the two bubblers (so spa return and bubbler return combo yields no bubbles). If I open the valve for the pool returns even slightly, the bubbles return. They are first seen in the equipment pad plumbing through the window on the two check valves (one before the heater which has an internal bypass and the second on the spa return line I marked in the photo).

I have a valve actuator to the spa. Does that valve need to be adjusted in order for the pool returns to function without bubbles? I’m guessing this is a matter of balancing the head loss. Am I way off track? If so, I need to learn how to adjust the valve connected to the actuator.

Edited to say I’m a knucklehead...of course the bubbles stopped coming out of the return lines. I shut them. 🤦🏻‍♀️ What I meant to say is that I no longer see the bubbles through the window in the check valve. Sorry...my brain hurts and I need to walk away from the pool for a bit. There is also no longer a churning sound through the pipes at the equipment pad when I set the return valves to closed. I’ve got no clue what is going on. Maybe I do have a suction side leak?

There is just a tiny bit of air in the pump basket...nothing out of the ordinary there.
 

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mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,611
Pleasanton, CA
Sounds like a suction side leak to me. I would look at the check valve first since it looks like it has a removable lid. The gasket on that lid could be damaged.
 

Arizonarob

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Mar 25, 2018
2,676
Chandler Arizona
Mark, in my signature is a link for a video to help find a suction side air leak. Check the pump and that check valve before the pump with the method described in the video. :cheers:
 
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PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
85
Tulsa, OK
AED0B9B7-5F7C-4CB5-BC84-294BC74660A4.jpegOnly two check valves...one between the heater and the unused chlorinator and one on the spa return line. There are two more but on separate closed systems to the cleaning system and the waterfalls (both on separate pumps).

Henry, the suspicious-looking pup, is afraid of the pool but likes to hang out while I work on the equipment. He also chases ducks out of the pool so he’s earning his keep. 😉

I’ll do the dish soap test again and check out the suction side of the pump this time. I just replaced the gaskets and motor seal so that’s not leaking water anymore. I’ll also replace the three way actuator valve gaskets just to be sure...and the union in front of the pump. The silicone looks ancient there. Wondering why there is silicone there and not on any of the other three pump front unions...hmmm...

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll head out there early in the am before it gets too hot. I’ll attach a photo of the suction side since that’s where the issue seems to be. I really appreciate all of your guidance. I’m learning a lot.
 
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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
21,151
Laughlin, NV
The easiest way to check valves is to remove the handle and wrap with plastic wrap. One valve at a time. Also any connections.

Not sure how the soap thing would work as you are pulling air in ............
 
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PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
85
Tulsa, OK
I’ve found a few plumbing joints that seem to be sucking air (Saran wrap method) so I’m going to attempt to seal those with quick dry glue. I can’t really tell if the valves are leaking so my plan is to replace all of the O-rings on the suction side. I have three to replace so 3 cover O-rings and 6 of the smaller adapter O-rings. Do I need to buy the Waterway brand ($16/each for the larger, $10 for the smaller seems ridiculous)? Are there any compatible O-rings on the market or is each specific to the brand?
 

PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
85
Tulsa, OK
Still having issues with a suction side leak, I think. Attempted to seal all joints with glue and added new silicone to the union before the pump. Haven’t changed O-rings yet. That might be next but they look good so I’m not sure about that. Called Paramount about the air coming into my debris canister and Jim said he thinks there is cavitation caused by a blockage in the main drain leading to the canister. Tried a drain king device and can’t tell if the line is clear or not. The line from the canister to the pump is clear as far as I can tell.

I have shut off the main drain completely. There is still a lot of air coming through the return lines (can see lots of bubbles in window of check valves on return side) and returns in pool. If I shut off all returns to the pool and only return through the spa/spillover, there are little if any bubbles. So, for now, water is being pulled from one skimmer in the pool and returned through the spa/spillover. I have very little pressure in the filter (5psi lower than it was the last time the filter cartridges were replaced).

Went to change the pump seal after seeing water leaking under the motor behind the seal plate and this what it looks like. I’m thinking of replacing the motor, seal plate, impeller, and diffuser. Could that be causing all of these issues?
674BEE76-93FA-40FA-B0EF-13CFDB6C3E3A.jpeg004568F2-8763-49DC-BE9C-D27F2CE7A06E.jpeg
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,611
Pleasanton, CA
The seal and seal plate are on the pressure side of the pump so they will leak water out and could possibly leak air in but only when the pump is off.

Do you also see any air in the check valve that is right before the pump? Have you checked this check valve for leaks?
 

PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
85
Tulsa, OK
I’ll work on checking the valve right before the pump again. I don’t have a check valve there...just a three-way actuator. Should there be a check valve there?

D99FFB93-63D7-4413-B925-67E82AD46694.jpeg
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,611
Pleasanton, CA
Sorry that looked like your main pump in the first picture.

If you do have an in-floor cleaner, then another spot where air can leak into is the leaf canister. Despite what the "expert" at Paramount claims, cavitation at the leaf canister is not possible. Mistaking an air leak for cavitation is common but they are not the same thing.
 
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Arizonarob

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TFP Guide
Mar 25, 2018
2,676
Chandler Arizona
Mark can you give us a picture of your entire equipment setup, so we can see the “big” picture. Also, what is that band clamp for on the suction pipe on the left before the 3 way valve?