Pump not priming

Chasscos

Active member
Sep 19, 2017
41
Cave Creek, AZ
Hello,

My pump is 13 years old and it has been working well. But recently it is having a small issue that it doesn't initiate with prime. I noticed it about two months ago and fixed it by ingesting some water into the basket; then about a month later, it appeared again...until this week, it has been acting like that three days in a row. Wondering if I should change the pump until it is completely out.

If to change, what would be recommended?

Thanks,
 

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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
34,792
Laughlin, NV
Does the pump basket empty when the pump turns off? It sounds like you may have a suction side leak that is large enough to prevent the pump from priming. Have you inspected the pump basket lid and lubricated the gasket? Is your water level at the mid point of your skimmer? Is your weir door in the skimmer moving freely?
 

Chasscos

Active member
Sep 19, 2017
41
Cave Creek, AZ
Does the pump basket empty when the pump turns off? It sounds like you may have a suction side leak that is large enough to prevent the pump from priming. Have you inspected the pump basket lid and lubricated the gasket? Is your water level at the mid point of your skimmer? Is your weir door in the skimmer moving freely?
I inspected the lid and it is okay. Lubricating has not been done for some time and I did it today.
Water level is at the mid point of skimmer.
Weir door moves freely.

So I guess I need to observe a few days if it is from the lubricating?
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
34,792
Laughlin, NV
Does the pump basket have air bubbles in it with the pump operating? Does the pump basket drain when the pump is turned off?

Using proper silicone based pool lube on the gasket should make for a better seal.
 

Chasscos

Active member
Sep 19, 2017
41
Cave Creek, AZ
Does the pump basket have air bubbles in it with the pump operating? Does the pump basket drain when the pump is turned off?

Using proper silicone based pool lube on the gasket should make for a better seal.
It worked for one day. Today still started without prime. The basket has 1 inch high water. When pump operating in normal, I can see some bubbles but not many. The basket drains when the pump is turned off.

Another thing is every time, large amount of air pumped out from walls after the basket filled up. Not sure if it's normal.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
34,792
Laughlin, NV
You have a leak in the system. It is most likely on the suction side. Use a water hose to run over connections, etc with the pump running. Or wrap plastic wrap around them to seal them.
I still suspect the pump basket lid/gasket.
 

Chasscos

Active member
Sep 19, 2017
41
Cave Creek, AZ
You have a leak in the system. It is most likely on the suction side. Use a water hose to run over connections, etc with the pump running. Or wrap plastic wrap around them to seal them.
I still suspect the pump basket lid/gasket.
I believe you are right. I did observe some bubbles on the top of the basket when pump running. I am also sure these bubbles have been there for at least 4 years as I noticed it when I moved in but it never bothered me until very recent.

And I tried to use water hose to run over all the connections including the ones after the filter but did not see the miracle like the video Homebrewale posted.

I inspected the lid and nothing obvious damage caught my eyes and I re-lubricated the gasket.

So the 'plastic wrap' maybe the only way can try? If yes, how to do it? Using plastic film?
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
34,792
Laughlin, NV
Right. Saran Wrap is the old name. Wrap around connections, etc.
If you had bubble in the pump basket, you have a leak on the suction side.
 

1poolman1

In The Industry
Jul 14, 2014
66
Sacramento
Something often overlooked is the small drain plug on the side of the pump-pot. They have a small "O" ring that can dry, crack, and allow a pump to not prime. I run across these several times each year. As a quick, and near permanent fix, I will take about 2 inches of Teflon tape, fold it in half, roll it into a "rope," and wrap the plug as a ring, not the threads. Put on a little silicone sealant, or even grease, and tighten the plug back in snuggly. Don't overtighten or they can break. After 13 years that plastic can become brittle. You can do the same with the plug on the pump body as well as they will, also, cause a suction leak.
 
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Chasscos

Active member
Sep 19, 2017
41
Cave Creek, AZ
Right. Saran Wrap is the old name. Wrap around connections, etc.
If you had bubble in the pump basket, you have a leak on the suction side.
I wrapped them and it didn't seem to work better. BUT I happened to discover there is water leaking from the joint to the motor. I tried to pour water to the joint but bubble didn't disappear.

Not sure if it is the only issue, but the sealing on the joint is broken for sure. Can you advise on this?
 

Chasscos

Active member
Sep 19, 2017
41
Cave Creek, AZ
Something often overlooked is the small drain plug on the side of the pump-pot. They have a small "O" ring that can dry, crack, and allow a pump to not prime. I run across these several times each year. As a quick, and near permanent fix, I will take about 2 inches of Teflon tape, fold it in half, roll it into a "rope," and wrap the plug as a ring, not the threads. Put on a little silicone sealant, or even grease, and tighten the plug back in snuggly. Don't overtighten or they can break. After 13 years that plastic can become brittle. You can do the same with the plug on the pump body as well as they will, also, cause a suction leak.
I thought the leak would be in the suction side. So the filter plug is also considered suction side?
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
34,792
Laughlin, NV
Need to know what type of connection. Is it a union or not. Picture would be good.

Poolman is stating the drain plugs on the pump. There are two I believe. One on the pump basket end and one for the pump.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,475
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
First off, a common misconception about o-ring lube is that it will somehow fix a leak. It won't. It's function is not to fill up cracks and holes! If it does at all, it will be very temporary. It's to be used sparingly, only enough to keep the o-ring from binding as it slides against other surfaces while rotating into place. More is not better. Tighter is not better.

Secondly, o-rings don't last forever. You should just replace all that you can find (lid, plugs, etc) and eliminate from your troubleshooting the possibility of a worn, cracked or split ring. While I won't challenge the idea of making an o-ring out of Teflon tape (if that's what was described), replacing o-rings with, uh, a new o-ring is the correct fix. Why make more potential problems when looking for existing ones?

Next, before you lube an o-ring, you must first clean it thoroughly. And you must also clean all of the surfaces it contacts (in the case of a pump lid, that would be the lid's surface as well as the channel the ring sits in in the pump housing. Dirt or debris will compromise the seal and cause a leak. A soft, lint-free cloth is best for cleaning, like one you would use to clean eye glasses.

I may have misunderstood your hose technique ("after the filter?"). The water trick only works on the suction side of a pump. That's the area from the pump's basket housing forward (toward the pipes that come from the pool). The video posted above explains that well.

Good luck with your hunt!
 
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Chasscos

Active member
Sep 19, 2017
41
Cave Creek, AZ
Need to know what type of connection. Is it a union or not. Picture would be good.

Poolman is stating the drain plugs on the pump. There are two I believe. One on the pump basket end and one for the pump.
Attached picture to show the leaking point in while circle(I see some glue spill on the joint). And I didn't notice the small plug until I was circling the leak...so is the blue circle the plug mentioned above which also is needed to be replaced/lublicated?
 

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Chasscos

Active member
Sep 19, 2017
41
Cave Creek, AZ
First off, a common misconception about o-ring lube is that it will somehow fix a leak. It won't. It's function is not to fill up cracks and holes! If it does at all, it will be very temporary. It's to be used sparingly, only enough to keep the o-ring from binding as it slides against other surfaces while rotating into place. More is not better. Tighter is not better.

Secondly, o-rings don't last forever. You should just replace all that you can find (lid, plugs, etc) and eliminate from your troubleshooting the possibility of a worn, cracked or split ring. While I won't challenge the idea of making an o-ring out of Teflon tape (if that's what was described), replacing o-rings with, uh, a new o-ring is the correct fix. Why make more potential problems when looking for existing ones?

Next, before you lube an o-ring, you must first clean it thoroughly. And you must also clean all of the surfaces it contacts (in the case of a pump lid, that would be the lid's surface as well as the channel the ring sits in in the pump housing. Dirt or debris will compromise the seal and cause a leak. A soft, lint-free cloth is best for cleaning, like one you would use to clean eye glasses.

I may have misunderstood your hose technique ("after the filter?"). The water trick only works on the suction side of a pump. That's the area from the pump's basket housing forward (toward the pipes that come from the pool). The video posted above explains that well.

Good luck with your hunt!
1. Agree with you on o-rings and where do I find the them? Pool stores?

2. I figured out the lubricating a few days before made it work for one day wasn't lubricating's credit...It was because I filled the basket in the middle of the day and then the water level did not drop too low to make it NOT prime. And the reason why the problem surfaced out recently is also due to I adjusted the schedule for winter to have it end early to make the idle window big enough for water drop.

3. 'after the filter' I mean I tried to pour water to the suction side but did not work then I tried the joints flowing out from the filter...
 
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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
34,792
Laughlin, NV
The white circle is the connection between the pump and motor. If water is exiting there you have a seal problem between the two.
The small drain plug is correct. There are normally two.I have replaced mine with oring from Home Depot, etc.
 

Chasscos

Active member
Sep 19, 2017
41
Cave Creek, AZ
The white circle is the connection between the pump and motor. If water is exiting there you have a seal problem between the two.
The small drain plug is correct. There are normally two.I have replaced mine with oring from Home Depot, etc.
How to fix the sealing between motor and pump?
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,475
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I wouldn't try to discourage you from repairing your pump, especially if the pool budget is tight. But 13 years is getting up there for a pool pump. A new variable speed pump will likely solve most if not all or your leaking issues, cost less to run, and should be significantly quieter. There is some math folks here have done that suggests a VS pump will pay for itself in energy savings in just a few years, depending on your energy costs. And some municipalities offer rebates for switching to VS.

To be fair, if your WhisperFlo is two-speed, and you're running it on low speed all the time, then the above "arguments" would not really apply. But if you have to run at high-speed, or have a single speed (which I think is what your have), then they certainly do.

Some pump motors can be swapped for a VS motor, which would cost less than a new pump, but that might still leave you with the leak.

I remember selling a 15-year-old car after a couple of years of patching up the various components that were failing, seemingly one after the other. And I made a note to remember that experience, and sell my next car right after the start of a similar cycle, rather than trying to get rid of it after pouring good money towards bad...
 

Chasscos

Active member
Sep 19, 2017
41
Cave Creek, AZ
@Dirk, I wouldn't mind replacing it at all:).

So based on my existing pump, what would be a good candidate? What are the parameters I should look to ensure a proper replacement?
And I assume I don't need to change anything other than a pump, like pipes, filter and base etc.. Correct?
Is it a doable project for DIYer? I do most of house fixes, just haven't been on pool pump yet...
 
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