Pool pump not priming

Mclarenf3

Active member
May 24, 2019
40
Vancouver, BC
Hello,

I've been in my home for about a year now, and our pool has been working great. Being and indoor pool, we have run it throughout the entire year. There have been no issues relating to the pump or anything related.

About a week ago, I noticed that the pump was running but the water in the pool wasn't moving at all. So after checking a few things I saw that the pump was not priming and the water level was only about 2 inch up in the strainer basket. I tried a bunch of things and eventually after playing with the Jandy Valves and re-seating the lid on the pump strainer it primed properly. It was good for another week, but last night it did the same thing. The pump was running fine for about 10 hours, we had just finished using the pool and I was changing the position of the Jandy valve when I noticed a few minutes later the pump had lost prime. Here is what I have done to troubleshoot:
  • Pool water level is approximately half-way up the pool skimmer door
  • I have re-lubed the pump strainer o-ring.
  • I have replaced the pump strainer o-ring.
  • I have changed the positions of the Jandy valve on suction side (this separates the flow from the Pool or Spa, generally it is kept at 75% pool, 25% spa).
  • When I fill up the strainer portion of the pump with water, and then turn on the pump the water immediately gets sucked away and there is less than 25% of the basket filled with water.
  • When i turn off the pump, water flows back into the strainer basket area and it stays at about 60% full.
  • If I leave the pump on for a few minutes like this, occasionally the pool skimmer will suck in all the water, even with the water level at 1/2 the skimmer door height. When that happens, the pump strainer will fill up nearly full and bubbles are seen through the pool returns.
    • This normally lasts only about a minute before the pump loses prime, the water fills back up in the skimmer and the strainer loses it's water level.
  • I have used soapy water around all the joints and the Jandy Valve to see if I can see any suction leaks, but nothing that I can notice.
  • I have checked the pump impeller and I don't feel anything unusual.
  • The pressure gauge on my sand filter normally is between 16-18 psi. This hasn't changed and it is currently around 18 psi.
I suspect that the suction leak is between the pump and the Jandy Valve because no matter what position I put the Jandy Valve on, the issue remains (ie: Pool side or Spa side). The issue could be the Jandy Valve itself, but I'm not sure how to test that.

Normally, I would just call a pool guy, but with the pandemic going on right now and us all under self-quarantine, that is not an option. Is there anything that I am missing, or something I can do to narrow down where the issue lays?

Thanks all, over this past year you've got a complete pool beginner to be confident enough to maintain his own pool without any major issues.
 

Mclarenf3

Active member
May 24, 2019
40
Vancouver, BC
I do have another Jandy Valve that is used to separate the filtered/heated water back to the pool or spa. I watched a few YouTube videos on how to repair them and it doesn't seem too bad.

The only thing that I couldn't find, was a pressure relief valve on my sand filter (Hayward Pro series). Otherwise I probably would have opened up the Jandy Valve to look. If it is leaking, wouldn't it be from the outer edge? It's a seamless fit currently. I have photos of any of this if you need.
 

Mclarenf3

Active member
May 24, 2019
40
Vancouver, BC
Another thing I should mention is when I turn the pump off, I can feel the water rushing into the pump from the suction side. I can feel the jandy valve and pipes connected to it rumbling from the water coming in.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
23,586
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Unrelated but if your filter pressure is 18 without your pump running them your gauge is broken. Replace the gauge.

Did you open up and examine the diverter valve? Sometimes the stem has cracked and moving the handle did not move the diverter inside the valve.
 

Mclarenf3

Active member
May 24, 2019
40
Vancouver, BC
Oh I didn't realize that. Yes it shows pressure around 16 PSI when off. I'll look to replace that.

If the Jandy Valve was cracked in the diverter portion, that shouldn't introduce a suction leak, though would it? It's still all a closed system no matter what way it diverts to (or both).
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
23,586
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
If the Jandy Valve was cracked in the diverter portion, that shouldn't introduce a suction leak, though would it? It's still all a closed system no matter what way it diverts to (or both).

It's a WAG but it depends where in the stem the crack is and where the diverter is positioned. I am suggesting you look at the guts of the diverter valve due to all you described.
 

Mclarenf3

Active member
May 24, 2019
40
Vancouver, BC
Thank you, I will give that a shot.

As it turns out, the pump has primed again. I put the diverter valve to only pull water from the spa. After a minute or two it primed properly. Then I put the valve to suction from the pool and it immediately lost prime.

While watching the water flow into the skimmer, I noticed that the skimmer door wasn't coming down. This resulted in the pool level being quite high but the skimmer being empty. I manually pushed the skimmer door down and water rushed in and the pump eventually primed.

Since then I have been putting the Jandy valve in various positions and the pump has not lost its prime. I'm not convinced I am out of the woods here, but for now it is primed and running. I will keep an eye on it.

Hopefully it's just a skimmer door that needs some lube or freeing up.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
23,586
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Sounds like the sticking skimmer door was the root cause. You may need to shave a bit off wherever it is sticking.
 

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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
35,937
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
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Why do you need a skimmer door on an indoor pool? Do you get debris on the pool surface?
 
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