Pump Won't prime

Perpetual summer

Silver Supporter
Feb 17, 2017
279
Ohio
View attachment 59478I have read the past posts about priming problems and checked my set up and tried the tricks for air leakage. This is my first opening with pool. I have grownup with pools and had pools for my kids so I am not totally green to this. A company closed pool for winter. I would like to get pump going to apply chems and I need to add salt as it never was put in. I took plugs out of returns, put drain plugs back in heater, pump and pump basket. SWG was in place but loose, so I tightened couplings. I applied silicone grease to all o-rings. Installed cartridge filters and cleaned and installed filter gasket and tightened top to filter. When I add water to basket to prime it holds water to inlet pipe opening. When I turn on pump it goes to high speed, water gets pulled out of basket, 15 sec. later, water starts to get pulled in from pool, basket fills to the top, pump goes to lower speed and water gets pulled out of basket to halfway full. No suction at skimmer. Water coming in I guess from main drain. When I shut down pump most all water gets sucked out of basket. When I take top off basket there is a suction and when I take off lid, water, I guess from filter comes runnning back into basket. I can also hear water returning to pool on pressure side. (There are no leaks on pressure side.) There is water halfway in skimmer opening, weir is working properly. I am wondering why pump basket holds suction and why water drains out of filter when suction is broken? What can I check next?
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
When I take top off basket there is a suction and when I take off lid, water, I guess from filter comes runnning back into basket.
That part's normal. Mine does it as well. Curious, in everything you mentioned above about preparing to open the pool, you didn't mention what was installed or what you had to do for the skimmer. Was it closed with a Gizmo or some other device? Any chance something could have found it's way into the suction line?
 

Perpetual summer

Silver Supporter
Feb 17, 2017
279
Ohio
Forgot to mention, gizmo was removed.... when pump first starts water is pulled into skimmer but appears to stop when pump kicks to low speed. It seems to prime fully with skimmer closed off than with main and skimmer open. Wasn't much in pool, winter cover still on and at first didn't have skimmer basket in
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
It seems to prime fully with skimmer closed off than with main and skimmer open.
That would seem to indicate a suction side air leak. Almost always above ground, but odd things can happen. I suspect the only thing exposed above ground is that one skimmer 3-way valve huh? Have you tried any of the air leak tricks over that valve (water flow, smoke, shaving cream, plastic wrap)?
 

Perpetual summer

Silver Supporter
Feb 17, 2017
279
Ohio
Forgot to also mention, I didn't take off cover on dedicated vacuum line, possible it is holding air and causing a problem.?
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Forgot to also mention, I didn't take off cover on dedicated vacuum line, possible it is holding air and causing a problem.?
Well, if I'm reading your image in post #1 correctly, VAC is on the left all on its own right? So if the pump is priming fine with MD and VAC open but skimmer closed, I'm kind of leaning towards a skimmer line issue. But definitely do anything you can think of to rule-out any possibilities.
 

Perpetual summer

Silver Supporter
Feb 17, 2017
279
Ohio
I tried the running water trick. I have three lines from pool each has its own valve. I tried opening some, closed others. Maybe I'll try plastic wrap.
 

richierich

Bronze Supporter
Jul 12, 2013
584
Long Island, NY
I had mine halfway up the skimmer. I have a pentair cartridge filter and pump also. Had so much air in the pump it was crazy. Finally started researching it and the #1 thing was water level! Filled mine to 3/4 up the skimmer and there is not a pocket of air in my pump. Try that
 

Perpetual summer

Silver Supporter
Feb 17, 2017
279
Ohio
Rich, I will try that, thanks. .........I tried plastic wrap, wrapped everything on suction side. No dice. Started pump with skimmer line closed, primed ok and when pump went to lower speed stayed primed. Opened skimmer valve just ever so slightly and water lever dropped in pump basket and appears to lose prime. What I don't understand is when I start pump most of water in basket gets sucked out, normal? And if I close pressure valve it fills back up, normal?
It most definitely has to do with skimmer and suction side. I will add more water and try again.
Edit.... with skimmer valve closed pressure builds up in tank quickly, normal?
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Before we consider something with the pipe itself, which again is not all that common, I would consider taking a hose and running it from the pump intake backwards towards the skimmer. Make sure to shut-off the pump and close-off the other valves first so that water is flowing from the pump to the poolside skimmer alone. You might need a second set of hands to hold the hose or watch the skimmer opening. Perhaps wrap a rag tightly around the hose where it enters the pump inlet to try and seal it.

I wondered if there was the possibility of trapped air in the suction line from winterization, but if water flows well in that hose test, there shouldn't be much air. Still, you could always try running the skimmer suction only for a minute or two just to see if that results in any positive change. If not, the only other thing I can think of is inspecting the skimmer inlet area surfaces really well for any signs of damage from the winter. Perhaps drop some food coloring inside to ensure the drops go only through the inlet pipe and don't seep anywhere else. Just a thought.

If none of those things work, we'll call-in the Calvary for any other ideas.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
2,711
Pacific NW
Another thought, while this is going on with the basket filling then emptying, is your skimmer vortexing and gulping for air
every couple of seconds?
 

Perpetual summer

Silver Supporter
Feb 17, 2017
279
Ohio
Borjis, it hard to see since I was a work force of one, I am adding more water and will have my wife check later once I add an inch or so. Also take Texas's suggestion with trying to push water back to skimmer from pump.
 

Perpetual summer

Silver Supporter
Feb 17, 2017
279
Ohio
Ok, so I had the pool installer stop over to help with priming pump. When pump is turned on it starts in high speed, then cuts to low speed. I found out you can't finish priming on low speed and there was not enough time while on high speed to finish the prime. I just needed to bump up speed long enough to finish the prime. Easy. Next time I'll know. Thanks to all who answered with suggestions.
 

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