Solving suction side air leak

Bperry

Gold Supporter
Aug 20, 2020
84
Knoxville, TN
I finally got this SWG all up and running. The generator portion seems to be working well, thanks to some of the questions I had answered on this forum.

One problem I do see is that I redid some of my plumbing to install new Jandy valves and I have a small suction side air leak.

My not so genius idea was to find the leak by wiping pipe dope around each joint until the bubbles stopped showing up in the pump lid. The trouble is that I got through all the glue joints and no change and it’s really messy to remove! So now I’m left with the 7 unions as the only possibility left. (Second photo) I was able to carefully crank the union on the pump a bit and lessoned them a bit, but still have some tiny bubbles building up over time.

So a couple questions:
1. The o-ring on the pump fitting is new but very thin. I’m curious if there’s a thicker one available or a different material that seals better?

2. Is there anything I can do to my valve layout to make the seals more reliable? I suspect that one of those unions may not have been lined up perfectly before gluing.

3. Are there any better unions than the standard HD/Lowe’s variety that I used?
 

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PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
4,951
Damascus, MD
The easiest way to find where the (suction side) leak is is to run a hose over each connection until the bubbles stop. Make sure to run the hose on the underside of the pump lid as well. Kick your pump into high speed while doing the test.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,437
Bedford, TX
B,

If you have a few bubbles under the pump lid when running a low RPMs, then that is pretty normal..

If you want to "goop" something up try more pool lube on the O-Ring under the pump lid.

I have three IntelliFlo pumps, as three different pools, and all three have small bubbles under the lid when running at 1200 RPM.. The pumps run 24/7, so they automatically ramp up in speed a couple of times a day, for a few minutes, to clear the bubbles. They have been running this way for over 5 years without any issues.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Bperry

Gold Supporter
Aug 20, 2020
84
Knoxville, TN
B,

If you have a few bubbles under the pump lid when running a low RPMs, then that is pretty normal..

If you want to "goop" something up try more pool lube on the O-Ring under the pump lid.

I have three IntelliFlo pumps, as three different pools, and all three have small bubbles under the lid when running at 1200 RPM.. The pumps run 24/7, so they automatically ramp up in speed a couple of times a day, for a few minutes, to clear the bubbles. They have been running this way for over 5 years without any issues.

Thanks,

Jim R.
That’s somewhat encouraging. The bubbles I notice seem to grow overnight and eventually my sand filter air valve no longer has water visible at the top. My assumption was that air shouldn’t be building up in the filter, maybe that’s not correct? I’d be thrilled if that were the case.
 

Bperry

Gold Supporter
Aug 20, 2020
84
Knoxville, TN
The easiest way to find where the (suction side) leak is is to run a hose over each connection until the bubbles stop. Make sure to run the hose on the underside of the pump lid as well. Kick your pump into high speed while doing the test.
I did try that. Didn’t seem to notice any difference. But I didn’t try the underside of the pump lid. I’ll try that though.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,437
Bedford, TX
B,

I initially played with my pool to see if I could get rid of the bubbles all together.. I replaced the clear pump lid, the O-Ring, and the cam that tightens everything in place. It did not help and might even have made it slightly worse.. I did this because, if I look very closely, I can see very tiny bubbles which appears to be coming in around the O-Ring.. One tiny pin brick sized bubble every few seconds.. Over a long time they build up.. My theory is that at low speeds, the suction that holds the lid down against the pump is much less than at a faster speeds.. Speeding the pump up for a few minutes removes the bubbles.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

1Sammy

In The Industry
Jul 20, 2017
398
Windsor, Ontario. Canada
B,

I initially played with my pool to see if I could get rid of the bubbles all together.. I replaced the clear pump lid, the O-Ring, and the cam that tightens everything in place. It did not help and might even have made it slightly worse.. I did this because, if I look very closely, I can see very tiny bubbles which appears to be coming in around the O-Ring.. One tiny pin brick sized bubble every few seconds.. Over a long time they build up.. My theory is that at low speeds, the suction that holds the lid down against the pump is much less than at a faster speeds.. Speeding the pump up for a few minutes removes the bubbles.

Thanks,

Jim R.
There you go, that's better then saying it is pretty much normal Jim. Bubbles is AIR in the water, period. If everything is tight and the water level in the pool is correct you will have no air even at 100 RPM ;) We are discovering that Many have had leaks for years and never knew it till they dropped to lower RPM motors.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,176
Central California
If your o-ring is leaking, you either need to clean it or replace it. Trying cleaning it thoroughly first, including both sides of the channel it sits in. Thoroughly. Then apply a very light coat of o-ring lube to the ring using your bare fingers. Pull the o-ring through your fingers to spread the lube evenly while simultaneously feeling for any lumps, or bumps, or cracks or splits. If if passes inspection, then try it in the pump. If that still doesn't solve it, then replace the o-ring.

Here is how you find an above-ground suction-side leak:

 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,437
Bedford, TX
Sammy,

I guess by normal I mean that the leak is so small that it was not worth the time or effort to try and identify it.

Jim R.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,176
Central California
I pretty much always have some bubbles under the lid. I don't think I have a leak. They start out there trapped because of the grid of "struts" that add strength to the lid. They don't ever seem to get sucked down no matter the pump RPM. I've been ignoring them because I don't think they are any sort of issue. So I would use the term "normal," too!
 

Bperry

Gold Supporter
Aug 20, 2020
84
Knoxville, TN
Once I opened up all the suction valves, It seems today that no more air is building up. So that’s a good thing. My guess is that once all three valves are open, the suction on each individual line gets lower and that leak stops. I will still try under the lid and some shaving cream on the unions, just because my curiosity is killing me about it.