Pump/ strainer basket housing does not fill with water, endlessly draining to the skimmer pipe line.

Acerteli

Member
Nov 25, 2021
5
California
Hi all.

I am new to pool maintenance and am trying to get my Hayward Max-Flo pump to prime.

I had recently took my Pentair cartridge filter out to clean it. Once I placed it back in, my pump is not able to prime.

I am attempting to fill the pump/ strainer housing with water, but it never fills up all the way.
The water gets drained through the skimmer pipe line.

The pool is filled with water, above 50% of the skimmer. The skimmer basket is clear and cleaned.
I’ve checked the impeller and it’s clear of any debris.
The impeller does seem to spin a little slow when I manually turn it.
What’s happening with the water in my pump/ strainer housing?

Note: my pump is above the water level of my in-ground pool.
See attached pictures.
Thank you in advance!
 

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Last edited:

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
27,614
Bedford, TX
I am attempting to fill the pump/ strainer housing with water, but it never fills up all the way.
The water gets drained through the skimmer pipe line.

Ace,

News Flash!!! Gravity at work... :mrgreen: If your equipment pad is above your pool, then water will always drain back into the pool due to gravity.

This should not prevent your pump from priming.. It should take a few seconds and the pump should "self prime" by creating a vacuum and sucking water out of the pool.

Tell us what happens after you put the pump lid on and run the pump for 30 seconds to a minute.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Acerteli

Member
Nov 25, 2021
5
California
Ace,

News Flash!!! Gravity at work... :mrgreen: If your equipment pad is above your pool, then water will always drain back into the pool due to gravity.

This should not prevent your pump from priming.. It should take a few seconds and the pump should "self prime" by creating a vacuum and sucking water out of the pool.

Tell us what happens after you put the pump lid on and run the pump for 30 seconds to a minute.

Thanks,

Jim R.
The pump basket doesn’t fill to 100% as mentioned. I’ve filled 6 4-gallon buckets in the pump basket and it still doesn’t fill, the water gets sucked into the skimmer line and is stuck at 50%…. I’ve let the garden hose run for 10minutes. Nada amigo.
See attached picture.

News update!!!: I know a check valve is used to prevent this (ie when a pool pump is above the pool water level, because gravity). However, my current setup doesn’t have a check valve.

Why would I attempt to prime my pump, when the pump basket doesn’t fill up with water?
That damages the pump.
 

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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
27,614
Bedford, TX
A,

All you need is a little water in the pump basket. It does not have to be full.. As you have found out, if your equipment pad is above the pool, it is impossible to fill the basket more than about 50%.

What happens when you put the lid on and turn on the pump.. In ground pool pumps are designed as "self priming" pumps, they do not need more than half a basket of water.

If you somehow installed an above ground pump on your in ground pool, it will not work.

Tell me what happens after the pump runs for 30 seconds..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

jmastron

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 21, 2014
426
Sacramento, CA
Pool Size
21000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
I completely understand the confusion -- I read my IntelliFlo pump's instructions several times trying to figure out what I was missing before realizing they simply couldn't mean "Fill the pump strainer pot with water" literally, because (as you discovered too) that simply isn't possible to do with the lid off and the pump higher than the pool's water level. Other manuals (like the SuperFlo one I found) say more clearly "Fill the pump pot and volute up to the inlet port with water", which is what they all must mean. I've never seen or heard of a check valve for this purpose (they are used for solar systems or preventing *backward* flows in the return lines from pools higher than the pump)

You only need to do even that when starting up a pump that's new or if the pump's drain plug was opened -- otherwise that water below the inlet port remains in the pump when you're just cleaning the filter or pump basket.

Trust us, put the lid on (good time to check and maybe lubricate the o-ring with silicone grease) and turn on the pump and watch. It'll look like it's sucking air for 5-10 seconds, then you'll see water starting to pour in from the inlet, eventually filling the volute over 30-60 seconds. The pump won't be damaged in that short time; that's how it's designed to work. If it doesn't prime after a minute or two, then turn it off and check the lid, o-ring, and pipe connections, but I strongly suspect it will fill up just fine. Definitely report back -- with pictures or even better video if possible!
 
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Acerteli

Member
Nov 25, 2021
5
California
A,

All you need is a little water in the pump basket. It does not have to be full.. As you have found out, if your equipment pad is above the pool, it is impossible to fill the basket more than about 50%.

What happens when you put the lid on and turn on the pump.. In ground pool pumps are designed as "self priming" pumps, they do not need more than half a basket of water.

If you somehow installed an above ground pump on your in ground pool, it will not work.

Tell me what happens after the pump runs for 30 seconds..

Thanks,

Jim R.
I’ve actually been able to fill it to 100% in the past.

It’s just when I took out the cartridge filter, I'm not able to fill to 100%...
There also is no leak in the pipes.
I completely understand the confusion -- I read my IntelliFlo pump's instructions several times trying to figure out what I was missing before realizing they simply couldn't mean "Fill the pump strainer pot with water" literally, because (as you discovered too) that simply isn't possible to do with the lid off and the pump higher than the pool's water level. Other manuals (like the SuperFlo one I found) say more clearly "Fill the pump pot and volute up to the inlet port with water", which is what they all must mean. I've never seen or heard of a check valve for this purpose (they are used for solar systems or preventing *backward* flows in the return lines from pools higher than the pump)

You only need to do even that when starting up a pump that's new or if the pump's drain plug was opened -- otherwise that water below the inlet port remains in the pump when you're just cleaning the filter or pump basket.

Trust us, put the lid on (good time to check and maybe lubricate the o-ring with silicone grease) and turn on the pump and watch. It'll look like it's sucking air for 5-10 seconds, then you'll see water starting to pour in from the inlet, eventually filling the volute over 30-60 seconds. The pump won't be damaged in that short time; that's how it's designed to work. If it doesn't prime after a minute or two, then turn it off and check the lid, o-ring, and pipe connections, but I strongly suspect it will fill up just fine. Definitely report back -- with pictures or even better video if possible!

I ensured the air release valve is open on the filter.

I filled the strainer basket with water.
I left the pump on for 5 minutes and nothing!


I then turned the pump off, opened the strainer basket, and the water went from 50% to about 5%... What's happening?

See my uploaded YouTube video below:
 

skimmerswimmer

Well-known member
Jul 30, 2013
515
Long Island, NY
Sounds like you have a vacuum leak somewhere. Are you sure the valve at the top of the filter is closed? You can always re-open it once the water is flowing to get rid of the air in the filter. Maybe put some o-ring lube around the pump lid as well to make sure the pump chamber is sealed. Check for damage to any seals.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
27,614
Bedford, TX
A,

For an inground pool pump to work, it needs to create a vacuum, which sucks the water from the pool. It sounds like you do not have a vacuum or it is weak.

The number one reason for a pump not priming is the lid O-ring is missing, damaged or not lubed.

The pump lid could be cracked..

It is also possible that your impeller is clogged or broken. With the power off, you should be able to stick you finger into the bottom of the pump basket and make sure nothing is in there and that you can feel the impeller is connected to the motor.

I assume this is not a new pump and it has been working well before.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

SacPoolPro

In The Industry
Aug 23, 2019
19
Sacramento, CA
I would also suspect the Oring and/or lid is cracked.
Next I would suspect that copper to pvc adapter I see in the picture. Those have an Oring and will create a vacuum leak when they go bad.
Lastly I would say your copper plumbing is beginning to fail and has pinhole leaks on the inlet side. This will create air in your line and sometimes little to no water leakage.
 

Acerteli

Member
Nov 25, 2021
5
California
Sounds like you have a vacuum leak somewhere. Are you sure the valve at the top of the filter is closed? You can always re-open it once the water is flowing to get rid of the air in the filter. Maybe put some o-ring lube around the pump lid as well to make sure the pump chamber is sealed. Check for damage to any seals.
It is definitely an air leak! I used incense smoke to check where the air leak was.
It's on my seal plate (see pictures attached)
My defuser and impeller seem ok too.

I noticed there's a hairline crack on the top right bolt.
Could this be the culprit?

What else should I do, now I know the air leak is at my pump's seal plate?
 

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tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
2,120
Houston, TX
Ace, you stated the air release valve on your filter WAS OPEN, that is wrong. Close it and it will fire-up & fill up.. That is the problem.

Try it w air filter valve closed, then post back. Also, when you clean your filter, two things: (1) Fili-up your filter system w water on the lower half after cleaning cartridges; (2) Close pressure relief valve before starting pump, but once the pump is fully primed and basket is full of water, purge the air out of the filters upper half.

post back and let us know
 

jmastron

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 21, 2014
426
Sacramento, CA
Pool Size
21000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Ace, you stated the air release valve on your filter WAS OPEN, that is wrong. Close it and it will fire-up & fill up.. That is the problem.

Try it w air filter valve closed, then post back. Also, when you clean your filter, two things: (1) Fili-up your filter system w water on the lower half after cleaning cartridges; (2) Close pressure relief valve before starting pump, but once the pump is fully primed and basket is full of water, purge the air out of the filters upper half.

post back and let us know

The filter is (almost always) on the outlet side of the pump, so it shouldn't matter if the bleed valve is open -- if anything having it open would reduce the pressure on the pump and help it prime. You generally want that valve open until water comes out to clear all the air out of the filter. It can't hurt to try with it closed once just to rule out something weird there, of course (but if you do get prime you want to bleed that air out right away).

It sounds like OP has found an air leak in the pump housing itself. I have not been successful at repairing leaking pumps (I now have a robot because I gave up after trying to fix the Polaris booster pump), so will defer to others on the repairability. If you do replace it, I agree that a variable speed pump is the way to go.
 

SacPoolPro

In The Industry
Aug 23, 2019
19
Sacramento, CA
Having the air bleed open won't matter. That pump looks shot. I'd replace it with a Hayward Maxflo VS pump. You have copper plumbing, I wouldn't use the Intelliflo or any other 2.7 or 3HP pump. It's over doing it. You have to be easy on the old copper lines if you want them to last. Your system only needs a 1.65hp and using the Maxflo VS you won't have to do a lot of replumbing. I would replace that copper to pvc pipe in front of the pump and use the nice unions that the pump comes with.
 

Acerteli

Member
Nov 25, 2021
5
California
Ace, you stated the air release valve on your filter WAS OPEN, that is wrong. Close it and it will fire-up & fill up.. That is the problem.

Try it w air filter valve closed, then post back. Also, when you clean your filter, two things: (1) Fili-up your filter system w water on the lower half after cleaning cartridges; (2) Close pressure relief valve before starting pump, but once the pump is fully primed and basket is full of water, purge the air out of the filters upper half.

post back and let us know
SOLVED!!!

Thank you all so much.

Solutions:
1) I filled it up the filter with water, and made sure the valve “closed” as well when I placed the lid back on.
I then turned in the pump, but noticed a lot of air bubbles in the pool, and no return jet flow.
I turn my pump off, I then solved it at 2)

2) I noticed the water level of my pool was drastically low. It was definitely below 1/3 of the skimmer opening.
This finally filled up my pump basket!
I then filled the pool with water to ensure the water level sat at 1/2 the skimmer opening.
And then I turn my pump back on, voilà, my pump starts self-priming again!!!
I wait 30 seconds and finally see the return jet flow :)

Thank you all again for the quick replies and community care! This site is great.
 
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