Spa Drains through jets only sometimes

DiscipleDavid

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Jun 2, 2021
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I'm pretty new to taking care of pools and this summer I was asked by my father-in-law to manage his pool. He has a spa and pool combo. I noticed the other day when we had the spa suction and return turned off that the spa water didn't drain.

I have also noticed that if suction is set to pool on/spa off and return is set to spa on/pool off that there is no leak. Last year the spa didn't leak at all but he may have had the pump running 24h. So I thought I had figured out a way to use the spa until we could pay someone to break up the concrete and fix the leak. I would just set it to only return to the spa.. it seems like the force creates some sort of suction preventing the water from leaking.. and then when we were done with it I could just set the spa to off and change the valves to isolate it from the system. Essentially holding the water in place.

I haven't been able to test this much. However, last night I shocked the pool and set the pump to run. I turned the return valve halfway to go to spa and pool (suction only on pool) for easier mixing and less aerating. When I woke up this morning the spa had drained all the way down to the jets and flooded the yard. I really don't want to leave the spa unusable all summer, its great for raising ph without alkalinity, and if unused it gets really gross and green.

If you guys have any advice for me, I would really appreciate it. I already know that the real solution is to have the spa/pipe fixed but that is currently out of budget.
 

mknauss

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Welcome to the forum!
I am having trouble envisioning spa plumbing that leaks with the pump off, but not with the pump on? When you say 'flood the yard', have you defined where the water is coming from?
I suggest you read ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry.
 
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DiscipleDavid

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Thank you for your response, I can take some defining pictures tomorrow. There is a opening near the spa that has a check valve in it and unfortunately the water is coming from the ground on the side of the spa before the check valve. If the pool pump is off or set to return to pool/spa then the hole will fill with water and overflow into the yard. If the hole is full of water and I set the pool to return only to the spa (suction from pool as spa suction doesn't seem to work) then the water will literally be sucked up out of the hole. During this time the spa jets slowly build up to a stronger stream with air (presumably coming from the hole in the pipe) during this time you can hear a suction noise, like drinking from an almost empty glass with a straw.

If the pump is running to only return to the spa and the I hear the suction noise then the hole doesn't leak. However, when the pump turns off, since the water is leaking before the check valve, it starts to drain out of the jets, into the hole, and then into the yard. Somehow, I was able to set the valves in a way that the spa did not drain, but I can't figure this out because of where the leak is originating. I was hoping someone would have a better understanding of the physics here. Ideally, I could keep the spa not leaking and not on until we want to use it for some reason and then when we are done somehow set it to not leak and only circulate the pool water.

I'm aware that this would affect the water chemistry in an annoying way but I was considering running it once a week when I shock or do maintenance. I had the water balanced before the first drain then my hardness and cya went down, I've made some correction, but I'm hoping to solve this spa issue before putting in more chemicals that will end up in the yard.

"Flood the yard" may have been hyperbolic but the grass is sopping wet.. underneath is red Georgia clay and the yard is flat so this could explain the "flood" feeling.
 

mknauss

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OK -- so the pipe that is used for air induction into the spa jets has a hole in it. When you run the spa jets, the venturi effect through the spa jet body pulls air in through that line - aka the Hartford Loop.

Why not isolate the spa via the valves at the equipment pad and drain the spa using a sump pump?

From your statements on water chemistry, I suggest you review the link I provided in my earlier post.
 

DiscipleDavid

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Jun 2, 2021
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Georgia, US.
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Thanks again for helping, I really appreciate it. So if I isolate the spa via the valves will it start draining out of the return? Or stay put for me to use the sump pump? Secondly, I just learned what a sump pump is, what would that installation look like or would I need to move the sump pump each time?

Also, despite reading the link you sent me, I am unsure of what you are referring to. Could you just tell me where I'm being dumb, lol? As far I understand the draining water should have reduced calcium hardness and cya levels.
 

mknauss

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If you turn off the suction and return lines at the equipment pad so nothing can come from or go to the spa, you can use a sump pump (buy at Harbor Freight, Amazon, etc) to drain the spa. The spa should then stay void of water unless your pool water level is the same or higher than the spa.
Post some pictures of your equipment pad, spa, etc.

On water chemistry,
once a week when I shock or do maintenance
Again, read ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry, and Pool Care Basics - Trouble Free Pool, pool water chemistry maintenance is more than a once a week 'shock' kind of thing.
 

DiscipleDavid

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Jun 2, 2021
19
Georgia, US.
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26928
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Liquid Chlorine
As an update, I discovered something I didn't know about the plumbing. When I set the valves to pool only but leave the panel set to spill, the water in the spa drains quickly... however, if I set the control panel to "pool" then it drains extremely slowly and the hole will fill about half way and it appears to have stopped at that point.

I didn't see any actuators on any of the valves, just an old one on the ground, so I assumed the control panel would only really be used to turn the pump on and off. I can't explain where/how something changes to cause the leak to slow down but if it has stopped half way through the hole... I may have figured out my temporary solution.

On a side note... I noticed that the spa water is warmer than usual, could this be from the hole in the return pipe sucking in warm humid air? Similar to a mini inefficient heat pump?
 

mknauss

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May 3, 2014
41,501
Laughlin, NV
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Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
So now you have more equipment than you ever stated. Please fill out your signature with all your pool equipment.
You said earlier the suction from the spa did not work. But that is false, as you said the spa drained when you actuated some valves via the automation.
I suspect the heater was running to heat the pool water? Warm humid air will not warm water very much.
 

DiscipleDavid

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Jun 2, 2021
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Georgia, US.
Pool Size
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If you turn off the suction and return lines at the equipment pad so nothing can come from or go to the spa, you can use a sump pump (buy at Harbor Freight, Amazon, etc) to drain the spa. The spa should then stay void of water unless your pool water level is the same or higher than the spa.
Post some pictures of your equipment pad, spa, etc.

On water chemistry,

Again, read ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry, and Pool Care Basics - Trouble Free Pool, pool water chemistry maintenance is more than a once a week 'shock' kind of thing.
Sorry for the misunderstanding. I meant that I would only fill the spa once a week not that my pool maintenance would only be once a week. Currently I am testing daily with strips and every few days at Leslies. I was hesitant to use leslies testing because of bad stories but their machine has been very consistent and has helped me more than my test strips.

I know ideally I would use one of the taylor kits but I don't want to ask for more money to purchase the test kit when my father-in-law swears by Leslies. I plan to get a sutro device for daily monitoring with me checking a few days a week. At this point water chemistry isn't my issue, just the piping problem, thank you for your advice with using the sump pump. It is definitely something I will consider if my current situation doesn't work out.
 

DiscipleDavid

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Jun 2, 2021
19
Georgia, US.
Pool Size
26928
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Liquid Chlorine
So now you have more equipment than you ever stated. Please fill out your signature with all your pool equipment.
You said earlier the suction from the spa did not work. But that is false, as you said the spa drained when you actuated some valves via the automation.
I suspect the heater was running to heat the pool water? Warm humid air will not warm water very much.
Uhh... this is untrue. The spa drained into the hole not into the pool. My best guess is that there is a second pump for the spa jets that is activated by the control panel. There is no water heater attached to this system as the previous owners took it with them. The water was not warmed very much only slightly warmer than usual since it wasn't extremely cold to the touch.. it was however cold when it was knee high.

There are no actuators on any valves. There isn't any more equipment for me to add that I could even tell you what it is. If I can find a way to make the spa suction work then I will let you know but as of now there is no spa suction function. You're comment is coming off as hostile and I didn't come to a forum for this kind of conversation. I will post pictures of my equipment tomorrow if my problem persists.
 

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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
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May 3, 2014
41,501
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
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Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
41,501
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
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SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
So you have automation. There must be actuators if by engaging 'spill' on the automation your water management changed.
 

DiscipleDavid

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Jun 2, 2021
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Georgia, US.
Pool Size
26928
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Post some pictures of your equipment pad, spa, etc.
I was able to get someone to take them for me. Here is what I've got.
 

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mknauss

Mod Squad
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41,501
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I cannot tell what lines go where, but you have valves such that you can isolate the spa and drain it. I do not see any actuators installed so not sure how you got things to change by setting the automation to spill from pool mode.

When you can, set the valves so suction and return is only to pool. If no leaks, then drain the spa and discontinue its use until you can fix the plumbing.

The pictures helped a lot. Thank you.
 

DiscipleDavid

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Jun 2, 2021
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Georgia, US.
Pool Size
26928
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Liquid Chlorine
So you have automation. There must be actuators if by engaging 'spill' on the automation your water management changed.
I agree, there must be something, but unless its underground somewhere I can't find an actuator that is attached to a valve. This actuator is plugged into the control panel but goes no where else. The system is old and we recently moved into this house a year ago.. so a lot of what we have doesn't work. For instance, there is a panel for a chlorine generator, but it doesn't appear to work.. last year the pool guy said it didn't work.
 

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DiscipleDavid

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Jun 2, 2021
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Georgia, US.
Pool Size
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I cannot tell what lines go where, but you have valves such that you can isolate the spa and drain it. I do not see any actuators installed so not sure how you got things to change by setting the automation to spill from pool mode.

When you can, set the valves so suction and return is only to pool. If no leaks, then drain the spa and discontinue its use until you can fix the plumbing.

The pictures helped a lot. Thank you.
Thanks for your advice. However, when the valves are set to pool and the controller is set to pool, the spa doesn't leak. I would drain it but I prefer for it to work in some fashion. Since it doesn't drain in this mode, I will just leave it like this, and every evening I will run the spa spillover enough to cycle the water and keep things thoroughly mixed.

Likely, it will be next year before we can fix the plumbing under the concrete... first I need them to buy a pool vacuum. We sort of solved the problem while trying to get you the information so thank you for leading us in the right direction. I know you only want to help and I appreciate it greatly. It sure would have been nice for the previous pool people to label the pipes for me, but I've just had to try and figure it out.
 

mknauss

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It sure would have been nice for the previous pool people to label the pipes for me,
Label them as you go.

Don't get water back in the pool after it has leaked to the ground. You can pull in bacteria that will mess with your chemistry.
 

DiscipleDavid

Member
Jun 2, 2021
19
Georgia, US.
Pool Size
26928
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Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Label them as you go.

Don't get water back in the pool after it has leaked to the ground. You can pull in bacteria that will mess with your chemistry.
Yes, I definitely need to do that. Ooof, I didn't consider the bacteria or other issues from pulling the water back in. This may lead me to discontinue the spa for the summer but is there any chance pouring diluted liquid chlorine into the hole each time I suck it back in that it will prevent issues? Sorry to keep bothering you with questions... honestly I'm just trying to do whatever I can to please my father-in-law.
 

mknauss

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If you can sufficiently get chlorine into that water, sure, but that is hard when you are pulling in dirt with it.
I would think for at least the summer, it would be wise to isolate the spa. Most folks do not like to use it in the summer, and you do not have a heater, so not sure you want to use it in the winter either.
 

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