One more plumbing puzzle...

PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
85
Tulsa, OK
Thx...yes. This is the equipment deck. The band clamp is a patch. I missed it completely until looking for suction side leaks. Looks like someone drilled a 1/4” hole in the pipe for some reason. I’m the second owner so I’m still trying to figure out this set-up. The patch seems to hold well for now, though.

I’ll have the leaf canister tested for leaks. I gave in and called a pool service company in town. They’ll be here Monday and I’ll report back with any important findings.

008BA743-66A4-42E4-A5F6-6618ECAB7A53.jpeg

159F85B7-5023-4A59-9DB0-04156BA4F8A3.jpeg
 

Arizonarob

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
TFP Guide
Mar 25, 2018
2,684
Chandler Arizona
Ok, so, (forgive me if you’ve mentioned this) I know you said that you’ve turned off the valves on the suction side and it stops, but have you tried turning off just the main drain? And then just the skimmers? Does it stop the bubbles if one or the other is off?
I’m 99.9% sure your culprit is going to be in the circle of the picture.
109338
 

1poolman1

In The Industry
Jul 14, 2014
24
Sacramento
Not sure the age of the system, but one of the most common places that is often overlooked is the stem "O" rings on each of those valves in front of the filtration pump. I will take the valve apart, remove the stem "O" rings place a small amount of pool grease on the stem, return the rings, place a small amount of grease in them and then one or two wraps of Teflon tape, a little more grease, grease or replace and grease the body ring and tighten the screws gently but firmly (don't use a power driver, not worth the risk). A small bead if silicone sealant at the pump-inlet plumbing, with the pump running to draw it in and you can be relatively sure you have sealed any suction leaks in that area of the plumbing if they exist.

Waterway, Jandy, Hayward, Pentair, generic "O" rings for these valves are all the same and fit each other's valves with no problem. I buy whatever is available from my suppliers and have never had a problem. Even the lids on those check valves will use the same ring.
 

PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
85
Tulsa, OK
Thank you, Rob & Poolman. Yes, the original owner was certainly sold a lot of pumps. Glad it wasn’t me. The system is 6 years old and it runs year-round.

I think it is definitely a suction side issue. I’m also pretty sure it’s a Main Drain issue. It’s possible that there is a crack/leak in the debris canister that is on the Main Drain line so I’m going to have that checked out. I currently have the skimmer pulling water through the pump/filter and everything returning to the pool via the spa spillover with no bubbles present. The minute I open the return lines for the pool or the two bubblers, the bubbles return. I don’t understand why changing the returns produces the bubbles. The thing is...there is not a whole lot of air in the pump basket lid under these conditions. The air bubbles and the churning sound occurs downstream from the filter. I haven’t been able to figure that out.

Thanks for the O-ring info! At least I can save a little money on those. Waterway’s prices are high on those. I’ll replace the stem O-rings and grease them/tape them.

My first few weeks of Pool Management have been rough but I’m learning a lot. Thankfully, the water chemistry is really good and I’ve never seen it clearer. We had a couple of very expensive years with a pool service for maintenance. After figuring out that we were charged several times for filter cleanings and replacement cartridges that never happened and watching them service the pool for a few weeks in a row with no water testing, just throwing in more pucks in the skimmer basket (even though we have an in-line chlorinator) and maybe brushing but not always, I found TFP. Of course, that’s when I started finding problems with the system. I guess I thought the maintenance people would’ve kept an eye on that, too. Not so much. With the help I’ve found here, it’s all getting put back together again. I really appreciate everyone patiently wading through my explanations/issues.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mknauss

Arizonarob

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
TFP Guide
Mar 25, 2018
2,684
Chandler Arizona
Mark, your description of the problem has me seriously scratching my head. Something is not right.
You mentioned that you see bubbles in the check valve that goes to your spa, but yet no bubbles show up in the spa when returning water to it. But if you switch the valve to wall returns, you see bubbles? (Keep in mind that all 3 returns, spa, bubblers, and wall returns come off the same pipe.) So If all 3 are feed off the return pipe that comes out of the heater, and you see bubbles in the check valve headed to the spa returns, then there has to be bubbles in the spa, as well as the bubblers and the wall returns.

I’m still going to stick to my post above, (and as poolman said) that the problem is in the area I circled in the picture above.
If it were my pool, I’d pick up 3 rebuild kits for the 3 way valves off Amazon, (they are super cheap) rebuild them, and see where I stand. I’d also take a real good look at that patch job on the pipe where someone drilled a hole in it.

(I think @PoolGate just picked up a 6 pack of rebuild kits for cheap off Amazon, maybe he can provide a link for you.) :cheers:
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,615
Pleasanton, CA
I don’t understand why changing the returns produces the bubbles.
When you open more return lines, return side head loss decreases (i.e. flow rate per line decreases). This in turn increases flow rate which increases the suction side head loss and likelihood of air leaks.
 

PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
85
Tulsa, OK
Mark, your description of the problem has me seriously scratching my head. Something is not right.
You mentioned that you see bubbles in the check valve that goes to your spa, but yet no bubbles show up in the spa when returning water to it. But if you switch the valve to wall returns, you see bubbles? (Keep in mind that all 3 returns, spa, bubblers, and wall returns come off the same pipe.) So If all 3 are feed off the return pipe that comes out of the heater, and you see bubbles in the check valve headed to the spa returns, then there has to be bubbles in the spa, as well as the bubblers and the wall returns.

I’m still going to stick to my post above, (and as poolman said) that the problem is in the area I circled in the picture above.
If it were my pool, I’d pick up 3 rebuild kits for the 3 way valves off Amazon, (they are super cheap) rebuild them, and see where I stand. I’d also take a real good look at that patch job on the pipe where someone drilled a hole in it.

(I think @PoolGate just picked up a 6 pack of rebuild kits for cheap off Amazon, maybe he can provide a link for you.) :cheers:

Sorry about the confusion. The bubbles show up in the check valve before the heater (yes, all three returns run through this line) and in the spa return check valve which comes after the three way actuator separating the pool returns vs. spa returns. As long as I have the pool returns completely shut off at this point (after the heater), there are no bubbles. If I open that valve even slightly, the bubbles show up but if the pool return lines are shut off at the valve after the heater, there are no bubbles visible in the system. It’s been very confusing but I think I’m beginning to understand what is happening.

@mas985 That makes a lot of sense. I didn’t understand head loss before but this just confirms that the issue is a suction side air leak of some kind. I’m going to read your Hydraulics 101 post, too. Thanks!

Now, to find that leak!
 

PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
85
Tulsa, OK
Just an update...I was able to pick up all of the O-rings for my suction side valves for a total of $16 locally which saved me a lot of $ vs. buying the WaterWay O-rings. Changed all of those out. I replaced a damaged part in the cartridge filter, too. All fitting joints were re-glued (just added fast setting glue to them while the pump was running) and new silicone was added to the union at the pump. After all of that, there was still air being drawn in the pump basket and returning through the pool/spa returns.

I scheduled a service call today because I couldn’t find the leak and I need help figuring out what is wrong with my debris canister. They have confirmed my guess that there is a leak in the line from the debris canister to the main drain and referred me to a leak detection company. I’m praying it isn’t under the pool but deckside near the canister itself. The travertine pavers around the canister are getting unstable leading me to believe there may be some erosion occurring from water leaking around the canister while I’ve had that line shut off. Does that make sense? Am I correct to assume that the suction side air leak turns into a water leak when the suction is not present?

They did manage to find the air leak in the system apart from the debris canister. It was nothing more than a really bad seal on the pump basket lid. 😣 I really thought I’d ruled that out but I watched the service guy lube the O-ring before resealing it and I probably used 1/10 of the Magic Lube that he used. Probably an expensive lesson but at least I am a step closer to figuring out the debris canister issue.

So, thank you all for the help with the suction side leak. You nailed it. It was really obvious when he turned the pump on super high and then shut it off. Because I was standing in front of the pump, I could see the water spitting out of the pump basket lid immediately.

I’ll continue the saga after the leak detection folks take a look.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Arizonarob

PaigeMark

Silver Supporter
Jun 13, 2019
85
Tulsa, OK
Just checking back in to report that after digging up part of the pool deck (travertine tile set in sand saved a lot of headaches in this case), and checking for a leak in the main drain line to the Paramount debris canister, everything is solid. We didn’t find an air/water leak but were able to repair some settling after resetting the travertine so all of the work was not in vain. Fooling around with the VS pump settings and backing off to 1900 seems to be the trick. At that pump speed, there is no air collecting in the debris basket and the main drain still pulls in larger debris when the floor cleaner kicks on with a booster pump. We’ll keep watching it but it looks like the pump setting was just too high for the system to handle. I have that line set to pull mostly from the skimmer line and just a tiny bit from the main drain. The bonus is that my electric bill should be better running the pool pump at 1900 instead of the 2850 that the pool service guys had it set on.

My pool chemistry is holding strong even through the ridiculously high temps we’ve been having. I’ve never seen the water this crystal clear. It’s bad, though...now I go see other people’s pools and can’t imagine swimming in them. I’m swimming at the LifeTime pool to train for a triathlon and the cloudy water is really awful. I doubt I would’ve noticed the water quality so much before TFP.

Thanks so much for all of the help/advice I’ve received. I’ve learned a ton and am finally feeling pretty confident with my pool set-up and ongoing maintenance.90DD0854-74AE-4ABB-80A4-4192170DC325.jpeg
 
  • Like
Reactions: Arizonarob

franks59

Member
Aug 18, 2016
6
Columbia MD
Still having issues with a suction side leak, ....
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 just found this post and have some info and maybe a temporary fix.
If you don't want to read to the end, I can tell you believe I have a leak in the fittings between the canister and the main drain which may be able to be sealed from the inside with pool putty.

I have a Paramount debris canister tied to both the main drain and the skimmer. I have had problems with air on and off for 15 years, Sometimes the air is so bad that it will drain the canister in a few minutes, making the pool unusable. Other times it seems ok. I have heard the cavitation theory and the blocked main drain theory. The drain is not blocked and I find it totally incredulous that the pump can continually pull several gallons of air out of the water in a matter of seconds. There's just not that much dissolved air in the volume of water on the suction side.

Some other variables I noticed were:
1) With the skimmer wide open, the problem is less. Gradually closing the skimmer gradually increases the problem.
2) When the pool is filled to the top of the skimmer, the problem is less. The lower the water, the more likely the problem will increase.
3) When it has rained significantly, the problem is less.

The pool builder, now out of business and pool service companies were of no help so I was left on my own to try and trouble shoot it.

I got a leak detection dye kit, opened up the debris canister and noticed a significant flow towards the main drain. I felt around the inside of the opening and could feel that there was a connector pipe between the canister fitting and main drain that had a smaller diameter.
On a hunch I got some pool putty and filled in that area. I again tested for a leak and it looked good. I started the pool back up and the air problem stopped - sorta. The problem is, the pool putty doesn't stick to the pipe that well and there is tremendous water pressure coming from the drain. It pulled the patch part-way off and dragged some putty onto the threaded opening of the canister. I again puttied the area, waiting 24 hours before starting the pump. This time the problem was completely gone. Even with the skimmer fully closed there was ZERO air in the canister. That lasted only a week. I noticed air again in the canister. I opened it up and saw bits of putty in the leaf basket. I felt around the connection and the putty had significantly pulled away from the pipe. So now I need to figure out how to get the putty to stay in place. Maybe wait 48 hours instead of 24. Eventually it will have to be dug up and fixed/replaced, but I can't get pool repair companies to return my calls or emails, even the ones specializing in skimmer replacements.

I believe all the variables I listed above are consistent with the fitting problem. First, with the amount of air coming in, there has to be a source close to the surface. It can't be an endless pocket of air under the bottom of the pool. Second, with the skimmer closed, a lot more pressure is put on the main drain fitting which opens up that fitting even more. Third, the lower water level, the more water is pulled from the main drain so more pressure on that joint again. And lastly, if the ground is saturated from rain, the source of air is likely cut off.

Anyway if anyone else has this problem I hope this helps because the pool companies won't.