Plumbing and Skimmer Issues

btk1017

Member
Jan 8, 2021
16
Tampa, FL
Sorry for the lengthy post but I want to make sure I cover everything. my wife and I recently purchased a home with a pool. Its roughly 15 x 30 20k gallon inground pool. When we purchased the home we had a few contractors come out to look at the surface and equipment as they were on the last third of their life. All contractors agreed we could wait on the resurface for another 5-7 years but that we should replace the equipment and re-level the pavers on the patio as they were washing sand into the pool. We had our pavers re-leveled and since then I've had nothing but issues with the pool. There was a ton of cavitation and air coming through the pump. The old pump wouldn't prime so I chalked it up to my pump finally quitting on me.

I installed a new 1.6hp Jandy VSP pump, salt chlorinator and Jandy sand filter. Prior to the install I advised the tech that my pool was acting funny and not priming. He said all areas were pulling water and went ahead with install. Well...it was not fine. Same issue was occurring with the brand new equipment. We determined that the Skimmer was not pulling. We tried clearing the lines with pressurized air, and messing with valves and couldn't get it to work. We replaced the O-rings on all valves and checked for leakage at the pump side and saw no air escaping.

Fast forward a week I just had a leak detection/repair company come out to see if maybe the paver installers cracked a pipe or clogged the drain with concrete. We tested all the lines and the skimmer failed pressure tests, and static tests. Then it passed another static test. We then ballooned filled with a water hose to pump water into the skimmer and the pump seemed to prime a little better. It looked as though it was allowing water through but not air? In the 10 years the gentleman has been working on pools he said he has never seen anything like this. The odd thing is that my main drain and spa main drain cant keep my pump primed either. We had our paver people dig up the area where they were cutting into the concrete and did not find any leaks or cracked pipes.

My question I guess is this, does anyone have a hypothesis on what this could be? The service tech thinks it could be a cracked pipe with a clog which is why I'm seeing almost no significant water loss. I don't want to keep speding $ on techs who cant figure out what is wrong. Any suggestions on companies that could assist in the Tampa Bay Area? Also, am I better off forgoing the techs and just having someone come out and re-plumb the pool? What would something like that cost if anyone has experience re-pluming the main drain, spa and skimmer.
 

Jimrahbe

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Jul 7, 2014
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Bedford, TX
BTK,

Show us several pics of your current equipment pad and maybe we can come up with a plan.

So far it sounds like your tech's are trying to kill a mosquito with a shotgun... At this point I would have zero faith in what any of them have said and I would start over..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

btk1017

Member
Jan 8, 2021
16
Tampa, FL
Here is a picture of the dig area where they believed my paver installer may have cut the line. There were not breaks in the line.

IMG_0058 (1).jpgIMG_0060.jpg

Here is the current state of the pool. There is a ton of sand and debris from when the pavers were installed. This is what i believe to be the issue, a serious clog of some sorts. The new drain line was also installed and they believe that could be an issue where they cut a pipe further down my deck?
IMG_0063.jpgIMG_0064.jpgIMG_0065.jpg

Here is the new equipment i had installed.

IMG_0066.jpgIMG_0057.jpgIMG_0067.jpgIMG_0069.jpg
 

JJ_Tex

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Jul 17, 2019
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Prosper, TX (DFW)
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Wow, seems like they tackled the expensive options first with replacing pumps and digging up your deck.

I would start with the vales controlling suction. Its hard to tell from the pics, but I'm assuming the far right pipe is skimmer, middle is pool drain and left is spa drain?

I would run it in various modes to try and isolate the problem:
1. Run it in pool mode, with both the skimmers and drains open all the way
2. Run it in pool mode, with just the skimmer
3. Run it in pool mode, with just the drain
4. Run it in spa mode

See how it performs in each of those modes and let us know. Also, I assume the installer properly lubed the o-ring on the pump basket? That is usually the first place to start for suction leaks, but you also said you were having the same issue with the first pump.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
22,802
Bedford, TX
BTK,

Not trying to be a pain but I need to see some bigger individual pics of your equipment pad..

Use the insert image icon, just to the left of the camera..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

btk1017

Member
Jan 8, 2021
16
Tampa, FL
Wow, seems like they tackled the expensive options first with replacing pumps and digging up your deck.

I would start with the vales controlling suction. Its hard to tell from the pics, but I'm assuming the far right pipe is skimmer, middle is pool drain and left is spa drain?

I would run it in various modes to try and isolate the problem:
1. Run it in pool mode, with both the skimmers and drains open all the way
2. Run it in pool mode, with just the skimmer
3. Run it in pool mode, with just the drain
4. Run it in spa mode

See how it performs in each of those modes and let us know. Also, I assume the installer properly lubed the o-ring on the pump basket? That is usually the first place to start for suction leaks, but you also said you were having the same issue with the first pump.
We actually tried all of that...Neither one was very conclusive outside of the Skimmer not working. As soon as we open up the skimmer it cavitates and drops. What we found was that when we run it in pool mode with spa maindrain and pool maindrains open all the way is the only time it gets close to priming. Yes all o-rings were actually replaced on both pump and all valves. If you look at the last photo I just posted where all the valves are located that is the most optimal position that the pump runs in and its still not great...
 
Last edited:

btk1017

Member
Jan 8, 2021
16
Tampa, FL
BTK,

Not trying to be a pain but I need to see some bigger individual pics of your equipment pad..

Use the insert image icon, just to the left of the camera..

Thanks,

Jim R.

Hopefully this helps...i have to upload the last one as its stating its too large.
IMG_0068.jpgIMG_0069 (1).jpgIMG_0070.jpg
 

Jimrahbe

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Jul 7, 2014
22,802
Bedford, TX
BTK

Thanks for the great new pics...

What do you mean..

As soon as we open up the skimmer it cavitates and drops.

Do you mean the water in the skimmer drops or the water in the pump drops?

Was your plumbing always like this?? You can't shut off your pool's main drain.. :scratch:

To make it worse, you can't run your spa (spa drain open) without sucking water from your pool's main drain?????

Have you tried to temporarily run your filter in the "recirculate mode" to see what happens?? This will by pass your filter.

I see the heater is out of the circuit, but I don't see any extra plumbing sticking out of the ground.. Where did it go?

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

btk1017

Member
Jan 8, 2021
16
Tampa, FL
BTK

Thanks for the great new pics...

What do you mean..



Do you mean the water in the skimmer drops or the water in the pump drops?

Was your plumbing always like this?? You can't shut off your pool's main drain.. :scratch:

To make it worse, you can't run your spa (spa drain open) without sucking water from your pool's main drain?????

Have you tried to temporarily run your filter in the "recirculate mode" to see what happens?? This will by pass your filter.

I see the heater is out of the circuit, but I don't see any extra plumbing sticking out of the ground.. Where did it go?

Thanks,

Jim R.

My apologies, i'm still a novice when it comes to this stuff. I'll try to respond to your questions the best that I can...my responses are in red.

Do you mean the water in the skimmer drops or the water in the pump drops? The water in the pump drops and there is almost zero flow to the pump.
Was your plumbing always like this?? You can't shut off your pool's main drain.. Plumbing configuration was like this when we purchased the house, you can see where the new pvc was added for the pump and the sand filter but all valves were like that when we bought it. As far as functionality, the pump was always pushing air (bubbles always coming out of the returns and never really pushing with much force) but the skimmer was working when we purchased the home
To make it worse, you can't run your spa (spa drain open) without sucking water from your pool's main drain????? Not sure I understand? The tech told me that both my spa and or main drain should still allow my pump to prime with the skimmer closed and its not...that's what I was getting at. The technician tried every configuration imaginable at the pump and nothing really worked. What you see in my last picture is how it functions best. Hope that helps.
Have you tried to temporarily run your filter in the "recirculate mode" to see what happens?? This will by pass your filter. Yes, this did nothing to the affect that the technician was hoping for.
I see the heater is out of the circuit, but I don't see any extra plumbing sticking out of the ground.. Where did it go? It was an old gas heater that was broken and cost more to fix than to replace so when I got the new equipment installed they took out the old pump. The plumbing was capped before we purchased the house.
 

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Jimrahbe

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Jul 7, 2014
22,802
Bedford, TX
BTK,

Thanks for the info.. Obviously, it is harder to troubleshoot over the internet, than it is in person, but here are some things I would try...

1. I would put a drain king into the pump and set your intake valve with the skimmer open and the main drain shut off.. Then I would force water from the pump back to the skimmer and see what happens.. In theory, water should be forced out of the suction port at the bottom of the skimmer.. If this works, it should mean the pipe between the skimmer and the pump is not plugged. I would also put the drain king in at the skimmer end and force water from the skimmer into the pump with the pump lid off, as a double check.

Drain King... https://www.amazon.com/G-T-Water-Pr...in+king&qid=1610155321&sr=8-3&tag=googhydr-20

They sell the same thing by a different name at Lowes and Home Depot..

It will make a little mess, but I would take the pipe between the pump and the sand filter off at the sand filter. Basically, hold it off to the side and turn on the pump for a few seconds.. If the pump sucks water from the pool and blows it out the open pipe, then the problem is most likely, the filter, MVP, or something down stream...


Tell us about this "drain line" that they added???

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

btk1017

Member
Jan 8, 2021
16
Tampa, FL
BTK,

Thanks for the info.. Obviously, it is harder to troubleshoot over the internet, than it is in person, but here are some things I would try...

1. I would put a drain king into the pump and set your intake valve with the skimmer open and the main drain shut off.. Then I would force water from the pump back to the skimmer and see what happens.. In theory, water should be forced out of the suction port at the bottom of the skimmer.. If this works, it should mean the pipe between the skimmer and the pump is not plugged. I would also put the drain king in at the skimmer end and force water from the skimmer into the pump with the pump lid off, as a double check.

Drain King... https://www.amazon.com/G-T-Water-Pr...in+king&qid=1610155321&sr=8-3&tag=googhydr-20

They sell the same thing by a different name at Lowes and Home Depot..

It will make a little mess, but I would take the pipe between the pump and the sand filter off at the sand filter. Basically, hold it off to the side and turn on the pump for a few seconds.. If the pump sucks water from the pool and blows it out the open pipe, then the problem is most likely, the filter, MVP, or something down stream...


Tell us about this "drain line" that they added???

Thanks,

Jim R.
Hey Jim,
We actually tried this already. That was the balloon item I referenced. Didn’t realize it had a name. When running it from the skimmer end with top of the pump off we could see water coming in. However, when running it from the pump we could not see bubbles or anything coming through the suction port. Not sure what that means but it was odd that it worked one way and not the other. Same with pressure test no air was coming through. We got it up to 70lbs of pressure and nothing!

I will try the filter test tomorrow and report back.

The drain line I was referring to was the channel drain on my patio. This was for runoff or rain so that the water can escape my enclosed patio. The previous owner covered the old one up with their pavers. This required my paver company to use a concrete saw a d cut it out. That’s where I’m thinking a pipe further down my patio could have been cut.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
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Jul 7, 2014
22,802
Bedford, TX
BTK,

If you could force water from the skimmer into the pump, but not the other way around, then I would have to assume you have a check valve in your skimmer line..

I would dig down a foot or so right by the skimmer line at the pump... I bet you'll find a check valve... If you find one, I'd remove it.. Once you get your priming issue solved, I would also think about getting your plumbing/valves configured so that they work normally.. What you have is very odd..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

btk1017

Member
Jan 8, 2021
16
Tampa, FL
BTK,

If you could force water from the skimmer into the pump, but not the other way around, then I would have to assume you have a check valve in your skimmer line..

I would dig down a foot or so right by the skimmer line at the pump... I bet you'll find a check valve... If you find one, I'd remove it.. Once you get your priming issue solved, I would also think about getting your plumbing/valves configured so that they work normally.. What you have is very odd..

Thanks,

Jim R.
This was super helpful. I’ll take a look tomorrow. I agree abound the valves it’s so confusing the way they did it! I can’t stand it. When we had the pool inspected the inspector laughed out loud at the setup and said “you’re gonna want to change those to avoid headaches it will cause in the future.” Thanks again!
 

HermanTX

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May 20, 2020
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Katy TX
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Just a point to consider. In Florida does the seller purchase a 1 yr warranty for this buyer? This covers things like dishwasher, water heater, AC, etc and if you have a pool that policy can include pool equipment. If you have that and it is still within the warranty period, you may be able to have a claim. Hope this helps.
As what Jim said and your house inspector - really need to get the plumbing configured properly to function.
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
3,507
Atlanta Ga
Just wanted to throw it out there I had a semi blocked return that would pass water using the hose attachment but wouldn't draw enough water to stay primed..It ended up being a couple pieces of plaster stuck in the pipe..Only way I cleared it was took my old pump and hooked it up to the return backward and let it blow water in reverse and the pieces came out after a few seconds.

Hopefully your is a bad check valve like Jim said
 
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btk1017

Member
Jan 8, 2021
16
Tampa, FL
So I dug it up and see no check valve at the skimmer. The only piece I see in my setup is the ribbed pipe connecting to what appears to be the main drain.
810451E5-35C0-49EB-8AC4-C99B38BFEA5C.jpeg0F8F64CD-272A-43AB-8D05-29D0509F94ED.jpeg
 

ajw22

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That suction plumbing is screwy enough that I wonder if the pipes are mislabeled?

Have you observed where each pipe is connected to by blowing air into a pipe with other valves closed and seeing where bubbles come out? Like what is used to winterize pools.
 
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Jimrahbe

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Jul 7, 2014
22,802
Bedford, TX
BTK,

I can't think of anything, other than a check valve, that would cause water to flow one way and not the other... :scratch:

I like Allen's idea of making sure that all the pipes go to where we think they go..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

dschlic1

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Oct 5, 2007
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Valrico, FL
If you are having water in the basket of the pump, then the leak is in the drain/suction side. I can't tell if the pump has a PVC to threaded adapter on the suction side. If it does, then that might have a crack which is invisible from the outside.
 

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