Spa draining - so is the wallet.

imrodee

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2012
920
#1
IMG_7469.jpg

Hope the picture attached correctly.. Here goes..

Spa drops 4-5 inches at night while pool is off.

This has been going on for 3 years on and off. Spa was draining into pool after shut off. I have had the check valve replaced 5 times now, a pump replaced (because it burned up..) every gasket removed, replaced, & lubed, had a automatic jandy valves replaced twice, leak test performed (no problems at all.)

Yesterday they sent a plumber out and replaced my 2 way valves with 3 way valves, cut out the entire plumbing where the check valve is, replaced with new pipes and a new checkvalve.

This morning the spa was down about 10 inches, the jets were spewing water into the spa. I looked at the Pentair panel, apparently the plumber left it in "Service" mode. How did the spa come on? Freeze alert? Heater not on.. I refilled the spa and once it got full, I turned off the hose. Ran the pool as normal.

At this point, I need to let the water drain from the spa 100% and just run the pool. Is there a way to set that up. I'll turn the spa into a flower pot I guess.

Thank you in advance..
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,643
Tucson, AZ
#2
Sounds to me like your suction side of the pump is not sealing the spa drain properly and you're actually sucking water from both the spa and the pool but only returning water to the pool. So as the system runs, the spa is being very slowly drained.

Has anyone opened up the two automated valves to see that the seals are correctly aligned? Are the actuators moving in unison?

Is your only return to the spa through the jets or is there another spa return to create the spillover without using the jets?


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JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,643
Tucson, AZ
#3
Also, is there a check valve between the pump and the filter?

Has anyone check to see if water is leaking into the air pipe where the blower is attached?

Was the proper Hartford Loop installed in the spa?


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OP
OP
imrodee

imrodee

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2012
920
#4
Also, is there a check valve between the pump and the filter? Just the one you see in the picture..

Has anyone check to see if water is leaking into the air pipe where the blower is attached? I don't think so.. Believe it or not - That was replaced the first week.

Was the proper Hartford Loop installed in the spa? I'm not sure what that is, but I'll google it and ask PB tomorrow.


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Thank you for your help!! I welcome all thoughts - everyone here is stymied.
 

ps0303

TFP Expert
In The Industry
Jul 6, 2011
3,959
FL
#6
Does the spa drain down past the returns? If so, then you're looking at something in the drain portion of the piping.

You say this has been "on and off" for three years. So at times it never drains?
 

Foosman

Bronze Supporter
Jul 21, 2016
358
Austin, TX
#7
The first step is to determine if the leak is through the spa jets. As the water level drops over night, does it stop dropping when the level gets around the jets or does it ever continue below the jets?
 
OP
OP
imrodee

imrodee

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2012
920
#8
Does the spa drain down past the returns? If so, then you're looking at something in the drain portion of the piping.

You say this has been "on and off" for three years. So at times it never drains?
Yes, it seems that during the summer everything runs normal. I think when the freeze mode comes on, it moves valves to switch from spa to pool, then the problem starts the nightly spa drain problem.

It used to be a slow drain, so it did not go below the jets. To isolate the problem, we turned off the pool entirely for a few days and it drained completely to the floor drains.

It is draining into the pool, then out the overflo pipe.

Two months ago we had a leak test done by a pool man, and he said it held pressure just fine. So he eliminated that problem. Yesterday after the plumber cut out pipes and replaced the check valve, the spa is draining 1.5 inches an hour, much faster.

When freeze alert comes on, the spa jets refill the spa, which takes water from the pool..

Thank you for asking!
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,643
Tucson, AZ
#9
This is one reason why I disabled Freeze Protect on the SPA mode (and you should too). All these automation systems have this annoying feature where the freeze protect feature oscillates back and forth between POOL mode and SPA mode every 15mins!!! It is totally ridiculous and puts a lot of wear and tear on the actuators and valves for no good reason. Unless you live in a northern climate (where you'd winterize your pool anyway), there is simply ZERO chance of your pipes freezing in the Dallas area.

The problem is this - when the valves switch constantly between POOL and SPA, there is a moment when BOTH the pool floor drains and spa floor drains are being pulled on by the pump. Because the suction side head loss of the spa is going to be lower than the suction side head loss of the pool drain, more water will be drawn from the spa with each cycle than is returned to it. So basically each iteration of the valve motions removes a small amount of water. Do it enough times and you can completely drain the spa.

It's a stupid feature in the EasyTouch programming that is easily removed. Simple DISABLE the freeze protect on the SPA circuit so that it only runs on the POOL circuit. I actually created a "LOW SPEED" feature circuit that activate the spillway and runs the pump at a very low speed; just barely enough flow to move water though the pipes. I disabled the freeze protect on both the POOL and SPA circuits and only have freeze protect running on that LOW SPEED circuit. I did this because not only would freeze protect activate my POOL circuit and run the pump at fairly high speed, it would also activate my WATERFALL feature which would engage a 3HP WhisperFlo pump. Those two combined would draw a HUGE amount of power and drive up my electric bill in the winter.

You need to reprogram your EasyTouch8. Are you comfortable doing that?
 
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OP
imrodee

imrodee

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2012
920
#10
Thank you! That makes total sense.

So if I am understanding correctly, disable the Spa Freeze Protect circuit. That would allow the freeze protect to run only on the pool.

I should set up a low speed feature circuit for just the pool. I'll sure try that... One problem I MAY have is that my grotto doesn't get enough pressure to turn on the falls at low speed. (It's pretty far away from the equipment.) But, I will try!!

Thank you sooo much!!! I'll be back to let you know how I make out.

Helen
 
#11
I had something similar to the OP but I was losing water at a rate of 1 inch per day. My raised spa would drain to the height of the returns every night and I could not figure out why. I looked at all my equipment and could not figure out where the water was going. I had a crack in my Pentair whisperflo pump volute & housing so I replaced that myself. That was not leaking enough to lose 1 inch of water per day so I knew that could not be the source of my problems so I looked elsewhere. I turned my spa on to heat up on a cold night and the spa would drain to the returns after 20 minutes. The spa jets would be shooting water out of the pool. I was very worried at this point and I knew I had a bigger problem on my hands.

My troubleshooting began in the spa light housing. I shut off the pool completely and sealed up the conduit to the spa light and waited over night. The water would still drain to the height of the spa returns eliminating the spa light being the culprit. I then capped every hole in the spa and filled it up with a garden hose. That confirmed I did not have a leak in the plaster as it did not leak. I then pulled the plugs on the spa suction drains and water supply on the bottom of the spa and it did not leak leaving the only item left are the spa returns. At this point, I had nothing plugged in the spa and returned the next morning to see the water level dropped to the height of the spa returns confirming I had a leak in that line specifically.

I took off the spa qt blower and glued on a 2 inch pvc tee so I can put on a pressure gauge and a connection for my water hose as well as a connection for my air compressor. I plugged the 4 spa returns with inflatable rubber test plugs. Then I proceeded to fill the line with water then air to 10 psi and it would drop rapidly confirming I indeed did have a leak in the line between the pool equipment and the spa.

A pic of the 2 inch tee with the pressure gauge, water hose and compressor connections:
20170218_085830.jpg

I do not have any high tech equipment so my tool of choice was a styrofoam cup with a hole in the top. After hours of wasting water trying to keep the line pressurized at 10 psi, my idea of laying down on the concrete using a styrofoam cup listening for leaking water paid off as I saw a small crack with a very small amount of water seeping through it. It wont let me attach more than 1 picture so I cant show you the leak that I spotted on the concrete decking. After seeing the water, I began to drill a series of 1/4 inch holes in the concrete to see if I can hear water seeping out of the line. BULLSEYE!!!! I not only heard water leaking, but I also saw the water coming out of the hole. I drilled several more holes in the vicinity and determined that is where I had a leak. I saw cut a hole in the concrete and found very wet soil but no pipe. I was off by about a foot so I decided to saw cut a 2x2 hole in the concrete and found the leak. I shut the compressor and water hose off then began to dig out all the dirty water and mud so I can see the crack. It was a leak in the 45 degree elbow going straight to the spa returns. I fixed the leak by using the 4 90's method and waited for it to dry until the next day. After about 24 hours of it drying, I turned on the spa to fill it up then left it over night and woke up the next morning to a full spa. After battling this problem for a few weeks, I enjoyed a couple of cold beers sitting inside the spa watching the sunset.

I would love to post all my pictures but it wont let me probably because I'm a newbie. If a moderator can help me post some pics, that would be great.
 
OP
OP
imrodee

imrodee

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2012
920
#13
Thank you JoyfulNoise. I was able to disable the spa freeze alert quite easily. The grotto waterfall may or not come on.. I'm not sure. It's not on a separate circuit.

My circuits are as follows:
1 - Spa
2 - Pool
3 - Cleaner
4 - Air Blower
5 - Pool Light
6 - Spa Light
7 - Pool High
8 - Pool Low
9 - Aux
10 - Feature 1
11 - Feature 2 and so on until...
18 - Solar (which I don't have)

Usually, the way I manipulate my grotto is through valves. I have a ledge bubbler and the grotto waterfall. I can usually manipulate them by the "water feature" and water fall" pipe valves next to the pool return valve/pipe.

What I posted above is the position of how the plumber left the valves. I'm always nervous to change what the professionals leave me with. (Not that I have ever moved things..)

I don't think our temp will hit freeze tonite. I am currently filling the spa/pool back up to normal levels and will check back in the morning.

I can't THANK YOU enough for setting me straight on the SPA freeze alert settings. It says that right on the Easy Touch Quick Reference Guide!! Whoda thought... Right?? The Builder's people set it up, I've never looked at that particular setting. I'll bet you've answered a zillion problems on here! Thank you.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,643
Tucson, AZ
#14
You're welcome./ I hope it indeed solves your problem.

I don't want to lead you down the wrong path, but I honestly think freeze protect is a waste of time for your climate. I'm in Tucson which is not that much further south than you in latitude and we do get the occasional overnight freezing temps but it's not enough to cause problems. Unless you get days on end of freezing temperatures, and I mean night & day it is below freezing, then there is almost zero chance of the water freezing in your pipes. This is why I took both my waterfall pump and pool/spa circuits off freeze protection; it was just a waste of energy.

Do what you think is right for your climate but not having the grotto run or the bubblers going is not going to matter.

Fingers crossed.
 
OP
OP
imrodee

imrodee

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2012
920
#15
I had something similar to the OP but I was losing water at a rate of 1 inch per day. My raised spa would drain to the height of the returns every night and I could not figure out why. I looked at all my equipment and could not figure out where the water was going. I had a crack in my Pentair whisperflo pump volute & housing so I replaced that myself. That was not leaking enough to lose 1 inch of water per day so I knew that could not be the source of my problems so I looked elsewhere. I turned my spa on to heat up on a cold night and the spa would drain to the returns after 20 minutes. The spa jets would be shooting water out of the pool. I was very worried at this point and I knew I had a bigger problem on my hands.

My troubleshooting began in the spa light housing. I shut off the pool completely and sealed up the conduit to the spa light and waited over night. The water would still drain to the height of the spa returns eliminating the spa light being the culprit. I then capped every hole in the spa and filled it up with a garden hose. That confirmed I did not have a leak in the plaster as it did not leak. I then pulled the plugs on the spa suction drains and water supply on the bottom of the spa and it did not leak leaving the only item left are the spa returns. At this point, I had nothing plugged in the spa and returned the next morning to see the water level dropped to the height of the spa returns confirming I had a leak in that line specifically.

I took off the spa qt blower and glued on a 2 inch pvc tee so I can put on a pressure gauge and a connection for my water hose as well as a connection for my air compressor. I plugged the 4 spa returns with inflatable rubber test plugs. Then I proceeded to fill the line with water then air to 10 psi and it would drop rapidly confirming I indeed did have a leak in the line between the pool equipment and the spa.


I do not have any high tech equipment so my tool of choice was a styrofoam cup with a hole in the top. After hours of wasting water trying to keep the line pressurized at 10 psi, my idea of laying down on the concrete using a styrofoam cup listening for leaking water paid off as I saw a small crack with a very small amount of water seeping through it. It wont let me attach more than 1 picture so I cant show you the leak that I spotted on the concrete decking. After seeing the water, I began to drill a series of 1/4 inch holes in the concrete to see if I can hear water seeping out of the line. BULLSEYE!!!! I not only heard water leaking, but I also saw the water coming out of the hole. I drilled several more holes in the vicinity and determined that is where I had a leak. I saw cut a hole in the concrete and found very wet soil but no pipe. I was off by about a foot so I decided to saw cut a 2x2 hole in the concrete and found the leak. I shut the compressor and water hose off then began to dig out all the dirty water and mud so I can see the crack. It was a leak in the 45 degree elbow going straight to the spa returns. I fixed the leak by using the 4 90's method and waited for it to dry until the next day. After about 24 hours of it drying, I turned on the spa to fill it up then left it over night and woke up the next morning to a full spa. After battling this problem for a few weeks, I enjoyed a couple of cold beers sitting inside the spa watching the sunset.

I would love to post all my pictures but it wont let me probably because I'm a newbie. If a moderator can help me post some pics, that would be great.
(I edited for space..)

Thank you Nedgro20! I was able to determine through a leak detection company that determined I didn't have a "leak". However after the last plumber was here I may have one now.. the water is going down whether the pumps are running or not.

Previously, I was losing 1-3 inches overnight, when the pumps were off. After he left yesterday, I'm losing that in an hour. Plumber also said that I needed to replace an activator because it "wasn't turning." When I got home I tried the toggle and it moved. He had the top nut screwed down so tight, it COULDN'T move! %#@(&^%$# The actuator valves are set to come on at freeze alert - but if they can't budge because they are too tight. Oh my.. NO WONDER the actuators are burning up! I'm too old to go to plumbing school, but I may have to.

This is my first pool, and I am learning the HARD way.

I did want to mention that I did have a leak detector company come a few months ago and check out the spa, and we passed with flying colors - a few months ago. But you have me thinking for other possibilities for sure!

Have you ever thought of that "Fix A Leak" stuff? I saw that after your suggested video.
 
OP
OP
imrodee

imrodee

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2012
920
#16
You're welcome./ I hope it indeed solves your problem.

I don't want to lead you down the wrong path, but I honestly think freeze protect is a waste of time for your climate. I'm in Tucson which is not that much further south than you in latitude and we do get the occasional overnight freezing temps but it's not enough to cause problems. Unless you get days on end of freezing temperatures, and I mean night & day it is below freezing, then there is almost zero chance of the water freezing in your pipes. This is why I took both my waterfall pump and pool/spa circuits off freeze protection; it was just a waste of energy.

Do what you think is right for your climate but not having the grotto run or the bubblers going is not going to matter.

Fingers crossed.
Thank you!! The thing is, your rationale for not doing it makes 100% sense to me. NOT to mention the "Easy Touch Pool and Spa Automation Guide" says the same thing! I just figured my pool people would know that. I've never delved that deep into the settings because that's not my thing. I can set basic settings, schedules, LED colors, but that's about it. NOT that I won't try... I just need to be guided.

Pentair is not known for the best directions on anything they sell... but they are the best in my opinion.
 
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OP
imrodee

imrodee

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2012
920
#17
I just filled the spa and pool to capacity.
It's 57 degrees at 9:45pm so I don't know if freeze protection will come on tonite.

We'll see if levels lower... fingers crossed!
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,643
Tucson, AZ
#18
You can always simulate a freeze by submerging the air temperature sensor at the panel in a bag of ice/salt/water. Once air temp sensor registers less than 34F, the freeze protect will activate.


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imrodee

imrodee

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2012
920
#19
You can always simulate a freeze by submerging the air temperature sensor at the panel in a bag of ice/salt/water. Once air temp sensor registers less than 34F, the freeze protect will activate.


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Thank you.. but that's a bit over my head. :shock: Not really, it's ALOT over my head.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
13,031
#20
He had the top nut screwed down so tight, it COULDN'T move!
The locking nut on the automated valve is not supposed to be able to lock the handle.

The handle on the return valve looks like the wrong one.

It should look like the one on the suction side.