Trouble with spa draining on activation

Jul 15, 2017
17
0
Cary/NC
#1
Hey all,

I'm having trouble with my pool/spa settings that I didn't have with my first two years with my pool. I have a Pentair EasyTouch remote, and I used to be able to press the spa button to get the spa heating up and ready for use, regardless of the position of my other valves. Now, for some reason, if I have my returns set to go to both pool and spa, as soon as I activate the spa on the remote, my water level drops and will empty the spa within about 15 minutes. We had some issues with really cold weather over the winter, and my pool service company may have switched some of my automatic valve settings, but they claim not to know what's going on.

There is an automatic valve that opens the spa drains all the way when activated. If I change my manual valve so that all of my water is returning to the spa, then the hot tub will stay filled when activated. Leaving the pool returns closed is obviously not ideal. I do get water into the pool via the spillway from the hot tub, but I'd like to be able to use some of the water features on the pool which require some water return to the pool.

My thought is that there must be some way to only partially open or close the spa drain, so that the ins match the outs when the spa is off as well as when it is on, rather than having the drains open or closed completely. I've tried sorting this out with the Pentair manual, but it gets really confusing really fast! Does anyone have some quick tips on changing setting for the automatic valves with this system? Hopefully, this shouldn't be too hard, since it has worked this way properly in the past! Thanks in advance!
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
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TFP Expert
Jul 7, 2014
10,194
3
Bedford, TX
#2
Erik,

Automation system are pretty dumb... they actually don't know where the valves are positioned, they just assume the valves are in a particular position.. If you manually turn them, then the automation system has no way to know where they are...

If you can post a picture or two of your equipment pad showing the valves in front of the pump and the valves that return water back to your pool/spa, we can tell you how to set the valves up to work correctly with your EasyTouch. It could be you have a bad actuator or it could be as simple as the valve not being in the position that the EasyTouch thinks it is in...

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
Jul 15, 2017
17
0
Cary/NC
#3
IMG_2838.jpg

Here are the valves for the returns to the pool. The top split is for water features (to the left, currently off) and returns (fully open). The next split under the returns is for the pool (to the right, currently off) and spa (left, open).

IMG_2840.jpg

Here are the valves along the input to the pump. Closest to us is the near and far skimmer inputs, both open. Those are joined by the pool drain, also currently open. Then, we have the automatic valve for the spa (currently closed with spa not activated). Pump is beyond the spa drain valve.

There are two positions on the spa drain automatic valve. Auto 1 operates as I've already outlined. Auto 2 will actually open the spa drain when the spa is not in use (also drains the spa of all water) and closes the valve when spa is activated, resulting in overflow into the pool (and inefficient heating of the spa since a lot of the hot water is dumping into the pool). There is an off setting for this valve, as well.

Thanks again for the help!
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Jul 7, 2014
10,194
3
Bedford, TX
#4
Erik,

Just so that we are both on the same page... the automated valve right in front of the pump is called the "Intake" valve... Its job is to either select water coming from the Spa Drain or from the Pool (as determined by the two valves that select the skimmers and or main pool drain.

On the Return side, the automated valve normally selects between the Spa Jets/returns or the Pool.. Unfortunately, the picture is not good enough to show what I need to see... It appears that the automated valve is in the lower right side, so I am puzzled... :confused: Would it be possible to get a better picture of the return side plumbing.. Maybe with the flash on... Also, I need to understand what the inputs to the automated valve in the return side picture...

Do you just have the two automated valves? At first glance the EasyTouch valve actuators do not appear to be connected correctly.. But I can't really tell based upon the bad picture.

Here is how the system should work...

Pool mode... water is sucked from the pool (skimmers/main drain) through the Automated Intake valve into the pump... pushed out of the pump and through your filter and then through the Automated Return valve and back into the Pool... (Pool eyeballs or waterfall, etc)

Spa mode... water is sucked from the Spa (Spa drain) through the Automated Intake valve into the pump... pushed out of the pump and through your filter and then through the Automated Return valve and back into the Spa... (Spa jets/eyeballs)

Spillover mode... water is sucked from the pool (skimmers/main drain) through the Automated Intake valve into the pump... pushed out of the pump and through your filter and then through the Automated Return valve and back into the Spa... (Spa jets) Of course water going into the Spa with the spa drain off, causes the spa to overflow into the pool..

The Intake valve and Return valve are preset to operate as above inside the EasyTouch, you cannot change this operation... If you are interested, you can open the little drop down panel at the top of the EasyTouch and see if the valves you have are plugged into the Intake and Return connectors on the circuit card... or if they have been connected to connectors marked as A and B...

Thanks,

Jim R.

- - - Updated - - -

I have no idea what auto 1 and auto 2 are??? Are these buttons somewhere? If so, are you talking about Aux1 and Aux2 or some other buttons???
 
Jul 15, 2017
17
0
Cary/NC
#5
Jim,

Thanks again for the detailed reply! Sorry for the poor picture quality - I had the sun coming in right behind me. I've attached a few more now that the lighting is a little better.

There is actually a second pump that delivers the spa jets and waterfall water flow. So, when the spa is turned on, the automatic valve on the intake changes position, and the water heats up (as long as my manual valve on the returns is set to spa only). There is a separate button to turn on the spa jets, which activates the second pump. This pump is also responsible for running the waterfall function (cannot be run at the same time as the spa jets).

Each of the automatic valves has a toggle switch on the back side. It can be set to Auto 1, auto 2, or off. I can't seem to find how to program either of the auto settings through the remote, but it seems that there can be two functions for each valve, depending on what is needed.

So, in total there are 2 automatic valves on the spa jets/waterfall pump, one on the intake (spa drain), and the fourth is the one you saw in the first picture. I'm not sure what this one does. The line that it is on wraps behind the filter and leads into my salt cell then into the returns. I'm not sure where the other path leads, but I've never tried to re-position this one.

Thanks again for all the help. I know this is probably very difficult to do without seeing all this in person - I'm just hoping for a settings fix that will help all this work like it is supposed to!

Thanks,
Erik
IMG_2848.jpg
Returns...


IMG_2849.jpg
Another view of the returns...

IMG_2850.jpg
Intake valves...

IMG_2851.jpg
Second pump controlling spa jets and waterfall...

IMG_2852.jpg
Close-up of the 4th "mystery" auto valve. Flow goes to the right and back behind the filter, through the salt cell, then up and over the filter leading into the returns.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Jul 7, 2014
10,194
3
Bedford, TX
#6
Erik,

The normal "flow" would be through the salt cell and then into mystery valve #4 and then back to the spa or back to the pool.. ???

Please look at the bottom of the mystery valve and tell me if you can see where that output goes...

Also by the mystery valve there is a pipe on the right side of the pic coming down with black lettering (PRT or something) does that pipe go into the ground or where???

Starting to make a lot more sense now..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
Jul 15, 2017
17
0
Cary/NC
#7
Here are a couple of close-ups of the mystery valve #4. The pipe labeled PRT does not actually connect to the valve, but enters the ground just behind it. The pipe leading into the valve comes up through the ground, there is a pipe leading upwards that is switched off, and the open direction leads back around behind the pad with the filter, goes through the salt cell, and back up top into the returns seen in the original pictures. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the spa problem I'm having, but maybe it ties in somehow! Thanks again for the help!

Erik

Not letting me load pictures today for some reason...
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Jul 7, 2014
10,194
3
Bedford, TX
#9
Erik,

Ok, my head hurts now and I still can't understand how your pool/spa is plumbed.. :p

I've tried several scenarios and nothing works for me.. But, since it used to work, let's try a different approach and see if we can get it running again...

In a normal set up, switching between the Pool mode and Spa mode automatically moves two valves.. One is the Intake valve and the other is the Return valve. Since you say that the Spa drains down when you select the Spa mode, then I have to assume that the intake valve is working... So that leaves the Return valve. I'm not sure how it is connected, but I assume the mystery valve is our Return valve.. But we need to run a test to see if that is true...

Note the position of all four of your valves... Put the EasyTouch into the Spa mode, but do not turn on the jets... My assumption is that both the Intake valve and Return valve will move.. Since we know where the Intake valve is, the other valve that moves should be the Return valve. Please run the test and tell me the following...

How many valves moved??

Which valves moved??

Another test... While in the Spa mode, turn on the Spa jets..

How many valves moved??

Which valves moved??

Have you got any Advil??? :p

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
Jul 15, 2017
17
0
Cary/NC
#10
Jim,

You really are awesome for going through all of this with me! OK, so when I hit the spa button, only one valve moves. The intake from the spa drain opens fully, but the mystery valve (return?) doesn't move. When I activate the jets, no valves move (remember these come from my second pump - this one has two valves that move properly when I switch from jets to waterfall feature). So, if I'm following your train of thought, something with this 4th valve isn't moving like it should. I even tried to flip the toggle switch on this one from Auto 1 (where it had been set) to Auto 2, reactivated the spa, but it still didn't move. Advil is in, what's next? :crazy:
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Jul 7, 2014
10,194
3
Bedford, TX
#11
Ok,

That makes sense... the valve should move... So...

1. The actuator could be bad
2. The wiring to the actuator could be bad (chewed by some animal..)
3. The EasyTouch circuit card could be bad.
4. Or it could be wired in some odd way that we don't understand.

If I were trouble shooting this I would follow the wire from the actuator back to the EasyTouch to make sure it was not compromised.. But more importantly, to know for sure which connector this wire was plugged into... you will need to open the door and remove the metal panel over the circuit breakers.. Being careful, follow the cable up through the low voltage side of the ET up to the circuit card... (You will have to drop the front panel down to see the back of the circuit board.. it is on a hinge..) See if the wire from the mystery valve is attached to the "Return" connector.. They are all marked.

If the wire is good and the wire is attached to the Return connector and the valve does not move when you move the toggle switch, then it has to be either a bad actuator or bad circuit card. Swap the Intake and Return connectors.. Since we know that the Intake valve works, if you temporarily swap connectors the valve should move when you use the little toggle switch on the actuator. If the valve works, the main circuit card is bad (so sorry) but if the valve still does not work the actuator should be bad...

Try that and let me know what you find..

The Advil is working...

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
Jul 15, 2017
17
0
Cary/NC
#12
OK, I'll check the wiring tomorrow in the light. The power to the valve does go underground, but I didn't check the connections in the box. My other thought was that when I had my salt cell replaced last year, the cables for its power were run through the same conduit. I wonder if the cord potentially got damaged when they were feeding the other wires through. I'll try the other steps tomorrow, though. Thanks again, man!

Erik
 
Jul 15, 2017
17
0
Cary/NC
#13
OK, here's how things went...

I am not able to follow the wire from the valve, as it goes through an underground conduit, and there are multiple similar black wires in the same conduit. When I remove the front panel to see the circuit board, I was able to identify the connectors for the return and intake valve actuators. I swapped the two connections, and the intake valve immediately moved from closed to open, without touching any buttons. This moved the valve from the spa intake being closed to open. When I hit the spa button at that point, there is no other valve movement. The return valve still did not move with either the spa on or off. It also did not move when i flipped the toggle switch. I'm thinking that the wiring must be good if the return valve cable resulted in movement of the intake valve when positions were swapped. So, it would seem that we have a bad actuator, correct?

How much do these cost to replace and is this an easy thing to do on my own or will this be something I need to hire out? Thanks!

Erik
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Jul 7, 2014
10,194
3
Bedford, TX
#16
Erik,

I would run the cable above ground and test everything out first... Once you know it is all working the way you want, then I would splice the cable.. It is just three wires...

If you don't test it first you will not know if the original problem still exists, or if you screwed up the splice, or if the original cable is damaged where you can't see it...

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
Jul 15, 2017
17
0
Cary/NC
#17
Good thought! I've got it coming tomorrow via amazon - I'll let you know how it goes... Thanks a million for all the help! You have been AWESOME!

Erik
 
Jul 15, 2017
17
0
Cary/NC
#18
Alright! New actuator is on and looks to be functioning properly! Only one small problem - I was only able to secure 3 of the 4 screws, based on how tightly positioned this valve is with respect to the ground and other pipes right in front of it. This is how the original actuator was installed, so I wasn't too worried, until i noticed some water leaking at the bottom of the actuator. When the valve is turning from pool mode to spa mode, there are just a few drops, but a little heavier flow in the opposite direction. It only happens while the valve is turning, not in pool or spa mode. Is this more likely a problem with the valve itself, or could this be due to the lack of having the 4th screw in there? I definitely don't want water getting in to the actuator itself and damaging it!

Thanks,
Erik
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Jul 7, 2014
10,194
3
Bedford, TX
#19
Erik,

You need to figure out a way to get the missing screw installed... You can get screws with hex heads that you can tighten with a small wrench, or you can get a 90 degree Phillips head screw driver...

Jim R.
 
Jul 15, 2017
17
0
Cary/NC
#20
So, I was able to get that bottom screw in. My 90-degree driver was no good, since there isn't room to move between the actuator and the ground, but I was able to squeeze a stubby little flat head in there and get good torque. I'm still getting leakage when the valve turns. I even took the actuator all the way off and started from scratch to ensure there was even tightening among the 4 screws, but the leakage is still the same. I did notice that a lot of the grease that was on the actuator when I pulled it out of the box had pretty well washed away - any chance that is contributing? So frustrated that it is so close!!!

Thanks again,
Erik