Returns/Plumbing questions

ernest787

Member
Feb 13, 2021
20
texas
Background - We bought a new home a little over a year ago and had a pool. Pool was built in the 80s. This is my first experience as a pool owner. Initially had a company come out and check everything. The first gentlemen seemed very knowledgeable. Said we were ready to start service and then recommended we change a bunch of stuff around the pad. A lot of it seemed like he was upselling (installing wifi pump timer, etc). We used them for a bit but they were very unreliable. We were approaching swim season so we switched to another company. The new person was super nice and very reliable but later found that he may not have been as knowledgeable and we ended up having a lot of issues. Algae, etc. After the swim season decided I'd try to tackle things on my own. I just recently found this site and am learning sooooooo much and have a better handle on what I should have been doing and what I should be doing going forward.

Return Issue: My pool has what looks to be 5 returns in the pool and 2 skimmers. That said, it looks like only 3 of the returns actually do anything. 1 is has quite a bit of force. The one directly on the opposite side has some force but not nearly as much as the 1st. The 3rd is down stream from the 2nd and has very little pressure. The other 2 are don't have anything coming out of it. When I start the pump 1 of them will usually have a few bubbles that come out and then it stops which makes me think nothing is clogged or anything.

I've messed with all the valves at the pump and can shut off the returns, skimmers, and the spa area but nothing seems to activate these 2 returns. It has made me question if these are even returns.

Since I'm starting this pool maintenance journey now, I'm just trying to get a grasp on all this and make sure that all my plumbing and equipment are up to snuff. I know the bubbler for the spa does not work and needs to be replaced.

Here are a few pictures:

The biggest issue is the bottom circular area there is almost no movement down there and doesn't circulate. It seems like if there was pressure out of the one in that area it would fix it.

Anyway, any help would be appreciated
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
20,789
Bedford, TX
Ernest,

Do your returns have "eyeballs" at the pool end or are they just pipes with an open end at the pool?

If you have eyeballs, you can change the sizes to balance the return flow out of each pipe.

The "missing" returns could also be abandoned pressure side cleaner pipe, or a fill line.

All of them may well be return lines on your pool, but my experience says that older pools usually have few return lines..

Are there any capped off pipes at your equipment pad?

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

ernest787

Member
Feb 13, 2021
20
texas
no eyeballs just open end at the pool. I actually bought screw on eyeballs towards the end of the swim season and then realized there was no way to attach them.

There are no capped off pipes at the equipment pad. That's what made me start to wonder if they were actually return lines or not. I did read that older pools may have fewer returns than new pools.
 

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
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
You might get a plug or two and try closing off one or more of the returns to see if that forces water to the other returns. Of course being mindful of not deadheading the pump.
 

ernest787

Member
Feb 13, 2021
20
texas
I went out and stuck my hand in the water... very cold, lol... and covered each return with my hand to just see what would happen. The one that has the most pressure didn't seem to change anything when covered, but it's also hard to get a good seal with my hand b/c it has a lot coming out of it.

The other 2 that work, when I covered them, it did cause bubbles to come out of the 2 pipes/returns that don't usually have anything coming out.

Doing this alone, I couldn't go see if it was maintaining with water coming out of it, but it seemed like it just bumped for a 10 to 15 seconds and didn't look like a steady stream was coming out.
 

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
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
If you plugged some of the returns and it effected other returns, they are connected somewhere.

Get some rubber plugs for the returns so you can better troubleshoot. Also scour the equipment pad and the area around the pool for any indications of valves, etc.
 

ernest787

Member
Feb 13, 2021
20
texas
I'll definitely buy the plugs and try them.

Let's say I plug a return and confirm the non functioning return works. If there are no other valves on the pad other than what I've messed with, what would that indicate?

Is it possible my pump is not big enough? Or could I have another plumbing issue?
 

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
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Post some pictures of your equipment pad.
 

ernest787

Member
Feb 13, 2021
20
texas
I posted 2 pictures of the pad on the original post. They should be on the IMGUR link. Let me know if they aren't showing and I can try and repost.
 

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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
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
They should be on the IMGUR link.
Saw them. Next time post a pictures on the forum. Members generally do not like clinking on links to pictures.
The return valves are all set to wide open. You have three distinct sets of return piping. You said you closed off each set of return lines with no effect on the two 'dead' returns. If you shut off the line with the most force, does that effect the pump?
 

ernest787

Member
Feb 13, 2021
20
texas
I apologize. I tried to post them originally but the size was too big. I'll fix that going forward.

I went out and messed with the valves again to see what happens.

If I close the valve for the one with the most force I got a few bubbles out of each dead return but did not get anything that appeared sustained. Additionally it didn't seem to affect the pump at all.

If I turn off all 5 returns it causes the spa to bubble like crazy and over flow. Which would seem to confirm the pressure is all being directed there.
 

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
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
If I close the valve for the one with the most force I got a few bubbles out of each dead return but did not get anything that appeared sustained. Additionally it didn't seem to affect the pump at all.
The water has to go somewhere. It sounds like everything is tied together.
The fact the valves direct the water to a spa (did not know you had one - please fill out your signature) shows the valves are working.
 

ernest787

Member
Feb 13, 2021
20
texas
The plugs showed up today but of course I was out most of the day and didn't get a chance to mess with them yet.

Unfortunately, it's also suppose to rain most of the day tomorrow, so I'm not sure I'll get to test them out.

I did notice a few potential plumbing issues on my pad. Looks like there is a small leak at one of the jandy valves. I also believe I have a suction side leak. There are bubbles coming out of the returns.

I ordered a new rubber gasket for the pump opening and put that on this evening. It was definitely time for a new one but that didn't solve the air bubbles.

I'm really considering replumbing my entire pad and fixing that area up. It's old and was definitely neglected by the prior owner.

I'm wondering how complex it would be to replumb and is it possible the plumbing/suction leak/jandy leak could be a reason the returns are not operating at full capacity‽
 

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
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
A severe suction leak will make your water flow much reduced.
 

ernest787

Member
Feb 13, 2021
20
texas
I went out this morning for 5 minutes before it starts raining and my day gets too busy.

I didnt put the plugs in yet but inspected the sanction side plumbing some more. There is 100% a leak. I turned the pump off and got down and was looking at the plumbing leading into the pump and heard and audible hissing sound. I followed it and found. Whoever installed the pipe used a plastic grocery bad and tied around it really tight. And slid the pipe over that. The bag is now coming out and no longer doing what they intended it to do, which they never should have done in the first place. Was obviously the cheapest and laziest repair possible.

I've never worked with plumbing but it would seem this is a fairly straightforward project of just removing that section and buying a new fitting, pvc pipe, and some glue.

Should I still try the plugs now or see if fixing the suction leak helps and then try the plugs after that if still not working.
 

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
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
First fix the plumbing. For guidance, post several pictures of what needs repairs.
 

ernest787

Member
Feb 13, 2021
20
texas
Ok. So here are the photos of the "pad"

You can clearly see the plastic bag wrapped around the suction line plumbing.

The entire area is a mess.

I'm off for a week in March and am considering just redoing the entire area. Basically clean the leaves, lay some gravel around the pipes and area for aestheics, remove the broken concrete slab, place a new pad down (possibly pavers), and replumb the entire thing.

The one jandy return valve leaks. Not sure if I should look to replace it and the other valves or if I could buy replacement parts for that one, leave the other valves alone ans just replumb the rest.

If I were to do the above, I would love advice and any help on the plumbing parts/tools/etc I would need to order to make this possible.
 

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ajw22

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Jul 21, 2013
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Northern NJ
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