Pump basket not filling

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
I've searched the forum pretty well, including the troubleshooting steps, but I can't get my pump basket to completely fill.

I've only had the pool/house for a few months, but just completely remodeled the pool due to a decent sized leak in the spa structure/return jet. The pump wouldn't hold any water over the suction hole (most of the time) on any speed and bubbles would shoot out the return jets. I thought once the leak was fixed that the pump would work perfectly as it's fairly new.

Well, the returns don't shoot bubbles anymore once prime is achieved and the skimmer sucks pretty darn hard (but to be fair it did that before as well)... but now I have a main drain which I didn't have before, if that matters, and the pump works better... just not perfect.

Seems the higher rpm's I run it the fuller the basket gets. At speed 4, and quick clean, sometimes it does get to the top of the clear plastic lid... but I can see tiny bubbles circulating around in there. When I run it on low speeds it only fills up about half the way.

I lubed up the lid with a ton of Silicone lube, lubed up the pump drain plug, and replaced the suction side union o ring. Still, only working okay... not perfect.

I also added a separate line for a Kreepy Krauly... but it's not even plumbed in to the equipment yet... and my pool is currently in a Start-Up so I'm not using the Kreepy Krauly atm.

I tried running hose water over the equipment but that didn't do anything either.

Any ideas?

Thanks
 
Last edited:

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,661
Bedford, TX
pal,

You should expect to see medium sized bubbles under the pump lid of VS pumps running at less than about 1500 RPM...

The higher the RPM the smaller the bubbles...

Having or not having a main drain will make little difference...

When was the last time you cleaned your DE filter.. (Not backwash, but cleaned..)

Tell us the filter pressure and speed for speed 1, 2 and 3???

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Hi @Jimrahbe ,

Thanks for the quick reply, as always. So the filter... it was baking in the sun for the last month during the remodel and I didn't know to clean it out before I re started the pool up and it was running at about 25 psi after the second day. I backflushed and saw a bunch of chips come out... so I cleaned the filter a couple of days ago. I didn't take all the grids out because I wasn't sure I would be able to put it back together, so I just hosed it off... for literally, like 2 hours because everything in side there was like plaster. I wouldn't say I got it all out, and am planning on cleaning it better in another couple of weeks, but I would say I got it about 85% clean.

I was just running the pump at 2800 rpms and the water went just over the basket, so about an inch away from the top. The psi was 10.

I just switched it to quick clean, I think 3450 rpms (I just brushed a little while ago), and the psi jumped to 15. water want up a little bit and I bet if I check it now it's all the way to the top... but with those little bubbles moving around. Speed 4 runs at about 14 psi.

Speed 1 runs at like 5 psi.

I'll change the speeds after the quick clean runs otherwise I need to stop it and then it primes for 8 minutes. But does that other info help at all?

Oh yeah, I also stuck my fingers in the pump and could feel that there was nothing obstructing the impeller.
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Also, in reading another "related" post just now someone mentioned that even one little grain of dirt can cause a leak in the pump. When I lubed up the o ring, I did just that, lubed up the o ring. It is embedded in the grooves pretty deep and I could not figure out a way to get it out. It looked in decent shape, but I couldn't see the whole think obviously.

Is there some trick to getting it out? I was scared to stick something in there and pull it out as I might damage it or stretch it.

Also, what's the best way to clean it?

What's the best way to clean the threads on the pump?

Thanks
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,661
Bedford, TX
Pal,

I am not sure you have a problem... The reason I asked about your filter was because of my recent experience with my own pool... I run my pump at 1250 RPM most of the time.. At that speed, I usually have one or two nickel sized bubbles under the pump lid.. I hardly ever even look at the pump or the filter pressure, but the other day I looked because of a question here on TFP.. I was shocked to see that I had a large bubble sloshing around that filled the whole top of the pump lid. My normal filter pressure is about 2 lbs and it had gone up to about 4.5 lbs...

Cleaning my filter brought the pressure down to 2 lbs and the large bubble disappeared. My take on this is that a low RPM, the more stuff you have in the way between your pump and the pool, the more likely you are to have air in the top of your pump lid.. And my guess is that the smaller the pump, the harder it will for it to keep the pump basket full of water at low speeds..

The key to me is.. does the air under the pump lid increase over a short period of time.. If the air increases, then to me that means you have a suction side air leak. If the air does not increase, then air at the top of the pump lid is not a real issue..

Keep in mind this is just my theory after seeing quite a few "air under the lid" issues here at TFP.. They almost always come from owners of smaller VS pumps that are running though a multiport valve, DE filters, heaters, etc...

Let's see if we can get some of our pump experts to chime in on this one..

My advice is to run your pump for a couple of days at a low RPM and see if the air in the pump basket increases or not..

I say this assuming the water is always up near the top of the basket...

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Yeah, it fluctuates... I just checked and it's on it normal afternoon cycle now at 2800 rpm's and the filter is at 10... but the water is just below the lid of the basket now, so close to 2 inches under the clear plastic top.

Maybe someone else will chime in. Thanks @Jimrahbe
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,661
Bedford, TX
Pal,

As an experiment, go out and set your multiport valve to "recirculate" and see what happens to the air in the pump basket...

This will basically by-pass your filter...

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Not sure which one is the multiport valve @Jimrahbe . This is how I normally have it set. I will tell you that the pump stopped about 25 minutes ago and the pump basket is empty now, if that matters.Pool Equipment.jpg
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,661
Bedford, TX
Pal,

Sorry, I assumed you had a multiport valve, which you do not...

I agree with Rich,, the pump should never drain back into your pool when shut off.. You have an air leak somewhere..

Why is your filter wet??

When you turn off the pump, do you see any water gush out anywhere, even just a little bit?

Right after you turn off the pump, do you hear air entering the filter at the air relief valve?

Jim R.
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Negative, no water comes out anywhere. The filter is likely wet from me bleeding air out through the guage on top to achieve prime quicker. Also, lube everywhere that always makes it look wet.

Not sure if I hear air enter the filter when I turn it off... will check first thing in the morning.

Anything else I should check? Where are the likely places that I haven't already checked?

My Ortega Valves are old and very hard to move. there was a slight drip coming from the top of the valve closest to the filter. I've taken both of them apart before and Magic Lubed them so that they will twist. I tightened the screws on top the other day to stop the leaking. Not sure if those would have anything to do with it.

You can see the position of the back most Ortega Valve... if I switch that to the middle, or the other side, while the pump is running the basked goes to almost empty, doesn't matter what speed the pump is on.

Lastly, the pool used to lose about an inch or two a day... that was the reason for the remodel to begin with. It doesn't seem to be leaking water now... at least not that much. Hopefully there isn't another leak somewhere under the concrete that we didn't find.

Any other help is much appreciated. Thanks
 
Last edited:

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,661
Bedford, TX
Pal,

Remember when you were a kid and would put your thumb over the end of a straw and then remove it from a glass of water? Of course the water stayed in the stray until you removed your thumb...

Your filter system is similar to that.. When you shut the pump off, nothing should drain back into the pool because no air can get in the system, just like having your thumb over the straw... If the pump is off and you open the air relief valve on the filter, you will hear the air rush in and hear the filter drain back down..

In most cases, an air leak on the pressure side will also produce a water leak when the pump is running, but this is not always true. Unfortunately, the leak could be anywhere...

I suggest that we look at your Ortega valve issue first, as we might be able to kill two birds with one stone...

You have two valves.. The valve to the right side of your pic is called the Intake valve and is what selects if water is coming from your spa or your pool.. The valve near your filter at the top of your picture is called the Return Valve and it sends water back to your spa or your pool..

You would not normally turn the Intake valve to the Spa position unless the Return valve was also set to the Spa position.. Otherwise, you will just suck all the water out of your spa... :)

Since your valves are hard to turn and leaking, I suggest that you buy total rebuild kits for both of them..

******* I reread your posts and am a little confused.. You say you now have a "Main Drain"... Tell us more.. Do you still have a spa? Is this new main drain in the Pool or in the Spa? I don't see any valves that would allow you to open or close a main drain, so where is the main drain connected into the plumbing? What did they do to repair your Spa??

Thanks,

Jim R.


 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Hi @Jimrahbe ,

Thanks for your detailed response. Btw, I still do the straw thing all the time ;)

And yes, I'm finally starting to understand how the plumbing works on the pool... it was very confusing to me initially for some reason.

That being said, and to answer your questions... I've only lived in this house for a few months. The main drain was cancelled out due to a previous leak. I only had suction from the skimmer of which there was a Kreepy Krauly hooked up to. Basically my circulation sucked. I bought a vac mate at the advice of they guy who hooked up my heater... but that made the situation even worse. Plus, I only recently found out, the pool had a decent sized leak around the return in the spa... it was in the actual structure of the spa. And yes I still have the spa, but it is fixed now, they repaired the wall and put a new return pipe before we replastered.

Instead of just paying thousands of dollars to fix the spa leak... I decided to knock out the entire pool remodel at the same time. One of the items on my list was to have them add a split main drain in the deep end, to improve circulation. They did that and pressure tested the line from the main drain to the newly added skimmer... but we didn't pressure test the line from the skimmer to the pump. Probably should have done that. My bad... you live and learn. Suction is quite strong though. Plus I had American Leak Detection out a few months ago to identify where the leak was in my pool and I'm pretty sure they pressure tested that line (I could be wrong though). My contractor didn't however add any additional valves for the main drain... not sure how they would even do that. So Intake comes from the skimmer and the main drain now.

I also had the single drain in the spa converted to a split suction drain and the intake goes to a return on the pool.

Lastly, I had them add a separate vacuum line for the Kreepy Krauly, you might notice the white pipe sticking up by the equipment with a rag over it. That's because they haven't tied that in yet. When they were about to do that, I actually asked them how much to move my pool equipment to a corner in my backyard... they gave me a good price... so we're going to do that once my pool start up is completed.

I've already purchased new Jandy valves for everything. I suppose that once they bust out the concrete pad, I'll see if there is a suction side leak right underneath there before they run the lines to the corner of my backyard. Hopefully it is... or hopefully it's just those old Ortega valves that are causing the issue.

Fingers crossed as I've already gone waaaay over budget on this project... which started out as a simple 2 day saw cut and repair of a leaky pipe leading to the spa return.

Please let me know your thoughts on this and if I should still do any further testing. And sorry for the long post.
 
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Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Hmmm, since I'm replacing those valves anyways, what do you think about me just spraying the heck out of them with some flex seal? Just not the top handle, so I can still turn them if I need to.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,661
Bedford, TX
Pal,

I don't think that the flexseal would work unless you made it so that the valve could not turn, but it can't hurt to try it..

If this were my pool, I would move the equipment pad... As part of the move, I would cut off the pipes and then pressure check them individually if possible. I would replace the push-pull valve and filter O-Ring with the new no lube style O-Ring... or maybe replace the whole DE filter with a large cartridge filter... Obviously replace the Ortega valves with your new Jandy valves.

If you do not plan to move the equipment pad anytime soon, I would rebuild the existing Ortega valves.

I would also remove the floating diverter valve under the skimmer basket and see if that has any effect on the bubbles in your pump.. This sounds odd, but it takes more effort for the pump to suck water from the main drain and this may make any leaking Ortega valve leak worse. It can't hurt and can easily be put back in..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Palpatine

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
87
West Hills, CA
Thanks all. Definitely moving the equipment in a couple of weeks, replacing all valves, and will try and pressure test as many lines as possible then.

I didn't know that there is such a thing as a no lube style O ring... but will see if they make one for my existing filter. Don't feel like dropping the coin on a new filter right now. I'll also get a new backwash push/pull valve. Curious though about all the attention on the filter... I thought suction side leaks can't have anything to do with the filter. Is that not true?

I already took out the floating valve under the skimmer... that thing is annoying.

Hopefully the culprits are those Ortega valves... might just spray them with the flex seal for fun... see what happens for now.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,661
Bedford, TX
Pal,

P/N for the new O-Ring is DEX2422Z2.. It is more like a tire, than a floppy O-Ring.. I put them on two rent house pools that have DE filters.. I really like than a lot better than the old style... One thing that I noticed about your filter is that the bolt does not appear to be come out of the end of the nut.. Every DE filter I have seen has the bolt sticking out of the nut 1/4" or more when the band is tight.. Not saying your is bad, it could just be the pic..

Suction side air leaks do not have anything to do with the filter.. I was just not sure that the problem you have is a suction side air leak. I am also not sure that the fact that your filter drains back into the pool when the pump is off is related to the same problem that is causing the large bubbles under your pump lid.. Troubleshooting over the internet is like looking through a key hole... you often don't get the whole picture. The more info you have the better answers you can come up with..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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