Waterfall pump tripping breaker

Billrector

Well-known member
Nov 3, 2013
134
Fort Worth, TX
We are getting ready to put our house on the market and pool gremlins have made their presence known!
Today, I checked on our waterfall (this is a separate waterfall over rocks at the end of the pool) and our spa/pool heater. I was running the pool pump and turned on the waterfall. It started no problem. I then went from pool to spa mode to test the heater and I heard two loud bangs. Everything shut down and it turned out it blew the pool equipment breaker in the main panel. I turned the breaker back on and the pool worked again. I started the waterfall and again heard two loud bangs and everything went off due to the breaker.
I then tried the spa heater which would come on and run for a short period of time and then give me an SNS error. I tried this several times with the same result.

This afternoon I went back to the pool equipment and decided to try everything again. We’ve had a lot of rain lately and today was warm and sunny. I tried the hot tub and it started and ran fine! Big but pleasant surprise!
On the waterfall, I started the pump and it came on like it was priming, which is normal, with no loud noises like bearings going bad. But then the pitch would change and I turned it off. I tried priming it with a bucket of water but that did not help. I removed the pump from the motor and the pump seems to turn freely. When I did this, the motor was very hot which was surprising as it was not on long. I obviously don’t have a short since the motor runs for a while before tripping the breaker. Maybe the capacitor? Last week it ran fine, but I did open another valve at the waterfall which had been closed for years. Could this starve the motor for water? I ran it for hours last week with no issue, but the motor was already running when I opened the valve. Ideas?
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
28,522
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
So your waterfall pump motor runs for a short time before tripping the breaker and it gets very hot during that time.

Post pics of your pump and motor data plate.

Do you have a multimeter?

Do you have a clamp on ammeter?

Easiest path between now and selling your home may be to replace the motor or pump.

@JamesW
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
27,687
Seems like a lot going on with incomplete information.

You probably need to have a service check everything.
 

Billrector

Well-known member
Nov 3, 2013
134
Fort Worth, TX
So your waterfall pump motor runs for a short time before tripping the breaker and it gets very hot during that time.

Post pics of your pump and motor data plate.

Do you have a multimeter?

Do you have a clamp on ammeter?

Easiest path between now and selling your home may be to replace the motor or pump.

@JamesW

i do have a multimeter with a clamp amp meter. This is a one speed motor with a Pentair pump. I will post pics later but the nameplate is no longer readable.
 

Billrector

Well-known member
Nov 3, 2013
134
Fort Worth, TX
Seems like a lot going on with incomplete information.

You probably need to have a service check everything.
If the information is incomplete to the point that you are unable to help, would you mind telling me what information you need that I have not provided?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
28,522
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Post a pic of the pump CB.

What amps is the pump pulling when the breaker trips?

What is the voltage at the pump?

It will be hard to know what is going on without the motor data plate.

If the motor is that old it probably needs to be replaced.
 

Billrector

Well-known member
Nov 3, 2013
134
Fort Worth, TX
More on the waterfall pump. I spent the day redoing the plumbing to the pump housing, changing and lubrication all the O-rings and seals to make sure I had no air leaks. I disconnected the motor and pumping from the housing and making sure there was no debris in the impeller and checked the impeller and diffuser for cracks. I ran the motor/pump dry for a very short period of time and it sounded smooth and normal and started up without tripping the breaker.

Hopeful, I put the motor/pump back in the housing and primed the pump for a few minutes with power off. I then turned the pump on and it ran for 20 seconds or so sounding like it was trying to prime but then the sound changed and it seemed to bog down like it was now struggling. This is a century 1hp pump with a challenger pump. I have been unable to check the capacitor as the capacitor housing screws are rusted and it seemed the motor had no issues when not under a load but maybe I should?

All other pool equipment is working fine. The waterfall system seems to be a completely separate system with no link to the main pool other than the water source. I don’t know where the waterfall gets it’s water from however (main drain, hot tub drain, skimmers, or other source and I’m not sure how I can figure that out. My current assumption is the main drains in the pool. Any other ideas?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
28,522
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
There should be an independent suction for the waterfall pump somewhere in the pool. Often it is placed on the wall in the deep end.
 

Billrector

Well-known member
Nov 3, 2013
134
Fort Worth, TX
I had a friend suggest the same....to check under the waterfall for an inlet. I checked again and I see nothing on the walls or th bottom. I have two bottom drains right next to each other and I have an auto water fill....thats it beside the jets to move surface debris.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
28,522
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Use a shopvac or other air source and blow air into the suction side of the waterfall pump and look for where bubbles come out.
 

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Billrector

Well-known member
Nov 3, 2013
134
Fort Worth, TX
Okay.....went to waterfall pump this morning and removed the capacitor. It measured 29.5 micro fareds and the capacitor nameplate is 30. So that is not my problem. I tried the shopvac blowing air into the suction side of the pipe in the basket, but it was very difficult to seal and I had water coming back into the basket pretty quickly so I doubt air was making it to the pool (50'). We saw no bubbles in the pool. One other observation.....I did recently replace the spider gasket on my multiport valve. I can't remember if it was just before or just after I cleaned out the waterfall and all was good. However, the pool seems to be working fine and with the multiport valve on "filter" the pump is showing pressure. I have also backflushed and that seemed to work fine also. Just thought it was worth mentioning.
 

Billrector

Well-known member
Nov 3, 2013
134
Fort Worth, TX
One other note. I did buy a Drain Flusher (nozzle with inflated bag to seal pipes and clear with water pressure) and used it on every line into and out of the pool. When I used it on the suction side of the waterfall pump basket, water seemed to flow freely......I just could not tell where it was going. It could have been going to the main drain at the bottom of the pool and I would not be able to tell.
 
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