My pool pump stopped priming after I modified some piping...

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miamicuse
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My pool pump stopped priming after I modified some piping...

Postby miamicuse » Sun 26 May, 2019 16:49

Hi, first time posting here looking for some help to trouble shoot a problem.

In summary, this is a property I just purchased and so everything is new to me, and I do not have any prior experience in dealing with pool equipment, but am handy and know my way around home repairs, plumbing and electrical. Basically I had some leak(s) and after fixing those leaks my pump no longer seem to prime.

My apologies if the post is too long. It may take some explanations and pictures to clearly illustrate my situation.

Existing conditions: I have an in-ground pool and a separate spa, and the pump and piping are working for both. The pump is on an Intermatic timer and runs from 8am to 4pm daily and didn't have a problem for the few weeks I have owned the property. Recently I noticed a slow leak on the outlet joint of the pump, where a 1.5" male adapter threads into the pump.

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Now to fix this leak is not a big deal, just need to cut the pipe above it and tighten the male adapter and remake two joints. But after looking at the entire plumbing, I concluded that I need to take care of a few things at the same time.

Here are some additional pictures of the entire setup from different angles.

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As you can see, and hopefully agree, that there are some issues.

(1) Both the pump and the filter next to it, are buried under leaves and dirt. The pictures you see here, are the ones taken AFTER I cleared most of the leaves out. At the time, I didn't know the bottom of the pump and filter were strangled in tree roots as well.
(2) Between the pump and the suction side manifold, there is no exposed piping. In other words there is no easy way to disconnect the pump for service or replacement.
(3) I have a leak at the outlet joint of the pump.

So my plan was to redo the outlet connection to the pump, raise the pump, raise the filter, and put a union on each side of the pump to allow for future disconnect.

The first problem I ran into was the pump and filter had lots of tree roots enveloping them, and clearing them was a real pain. Second problem is since there is no exposed piping between the pump and the manifold, the only way I can disconnect the pump is to excavate enough roots and dirt from under the pump so that I can rotate the super heavy pump in reverse to save the male threaded fitting. Despite all that I was able to do that and here are some pictures of the revised outlet side plumbing.

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I put some blocks under the pump to raise it about 12". I also put some stepping stones to raise the filter about 3". During the process to excavate the pump and filter's bottom I found another leak coming from the drain plug of the filter. It was loose and it was losing water much faster then the pump's outlet joint. The leak caused the dirt there to be all mushy and I believe attracted all the roots towards it.

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So far I fixed two leaks. I then turned the pump back on after all the new joints had 12 hours to set. The existing leaks are gone, a new leak developed on the return side (more on that later). The pump runs and I noticed it seems to take longer for it to prime but it did prime after a few minutes. I declared victory and problem solved (or so I thought).

A day later I was reading about some pool maintenance blogs and ran into an article that says you should never, ever have a 90 elbow into the pump inlet side. Oh oh...that's exactly what I did. Not one, but two as I needed to raise the pump off the ground, and I inserted two 90s to offset the pump higher. So my question #1...did I make things worse by doing what I did? Do I need to take it apart and redo everything differently?

Another day gone by and I noticed a new leak on the return line. I say new leak only because it's one I may not have noticed before. I don't think it was leaking because I looked and touched all the pipes and joints when I recon the system the first time around, but now I am not 100% sure. The leak occurs where there is a "loop" between the pool return line and the spa return line. I also do not know the purpose of this loop. Let me see if I can illustrate the loop in these pictures. Here is a picture of the overall system again.

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Here is the same picture, where I traced the return line in green lines. As you can see, the return line runs into a Jandy 3 port valve then splits into the pool line on the left and the spa line to the right. But before those two lines enters the ground, there is a tee from each and the two are connected via a U shaped loop (in orange color). I have no idea what that loop is for.

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Here is a picture of just the loop. From the pool return line, a tee. The tee then goes into a ball valve (which is always in a CLOSED position), then it turns around into a check valve (with a flow direction going to the spa line). My question #2...any idea what this loop between the pool and spa lines is for, with a ball valve and a check valve it seems to be deliberate?

Image

At the inlet to the ball valve, connected to the pool return line, is another leak. It looks like someone had attempted to fix it before, as I can see some putty like substance all over it.

Here is a schematic of the piping. The section in red is the loop I am confused about, and there is a leak there. I called the previous owner, and he said he has never messed with that ball valve, it has always been in the closed position, and he has no idea what those pipes are there for.

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Not knowing what the loop is for, I am not sure how to properly fix this leak. But knowing the ball valve was always in the closed position, I decided to cut the loop and terminate both sides as a temporary fix. So here is a closed up of what was existing.

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and this is what I plan to change it to, for now.

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I went ahead and cut the loop out and this is what I have at this point. Added in a new coupling to each, then a male adapter, then capped. I can always open them and join them if necessary.

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After that, I turned on the pump and it will not prime anymore, I let it run for an hour and still nothing.

I rechecked everything. On the suction side, I had cleaner OFF, skimmer OFF, main drain ON. The 3 port valve is set to close off the spa side and pool is wide open. On the return side, the 3 port valve is set to open to the pool and closed to the spa. The pump runs and runs and won't prime. I scratched my head and turned it off to think it over.

Next day at 8am the pump kicks on, I already left for work. I came back around noon and heard the pump running. I saw it still hasn't primed. The PVC pipe on the outlet side is very warm. I turned the pump off and opened the lid, steam came out. The water inside is HOT.

Any idea why my pump won't prime? Is there any chance what I did to that loop caused this? I can't imagine it is related. It is on the return side and usually the priming has to do with issues on the suction side, right?

The strainer basket is clean. Pool water level is normal. I checked and rechecked all valve lever positions.

There is no visible leak on the suction side. It was priming even after I raised the pump and put in the two 90s. Now that I tried to fix the slow leak on the return line, it won't prime.

Any recommendation what to check next?

or is this a pump failure just at the wrong time?


Teapot
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Re: My pool pump stopped priming after I modified some piping...

Postby Teapot » Mon 27 May, 2019 14:04

I am of course guessing, but It could be a bypass loop for connecting a heater, hence the temperature probe on that electrical gland fitting.

Why are you only using the main drain, main drains do practically nothing, open up the skimmers, close off the main drain and see if the pump holds prime. Dirt enters from the surface, that is the best place to skim it out, not wait for it to sink. The main drain won't do anything if it does sink, you'll just have to vacuum your pool more often.

Great photos and diagrams though! look and learn people!
Denniswiseman
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Re: My pool pump stopped priming after I modified some piping...

Postby Denniswiseman » Tue 28 May, 2019 02:50

Have you tried filling the pump with water to help prime
miamicuse
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Re: My pool pump stopped priming after I modified some piping...

Postby miamicuse » Wed 29 May, 2019 08:40

Teapot wrote:I am of course guessing, but It could be a bypass loop for connecting a heater, hence the temperature probe on that electrical gland fitting.

Why are you only using the main drain


I am using the main drain and turned off the cleaner and skimmer because well, the pool cleaner was broken by the pool maintenance service person (long story :( he also broke my spa blower my fence gate in a matter of three weeks so I am leaning to stop service and do it all myself). Also I had a leak which caused the pool to lose water about an inch every two days so I don't want to turn the skimmer on and the water fall below that. As soon as this is all fixed I will go back to using the cleaner and skimmer. :thumbup:
miamicuse
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Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Re: My pool pump stopped priming after I modified some piping...

Postby miamicuse » Wed 29 May, 2019 08:47

Denniswiseman wrote:Have you tried filling the pump with water to help prime


Yes I did and at the time it didn't help. But the problem is now resolved. It was the union on the inlet side that may have been leaking.

Here is what I did. Once I did the reconfiguration involving the new unions, I tested everything and the pump primed without issues.

I then remember that I didn't lubricate the unions o-rings. So I took the unions apart to add some silicone grease onto the o-rings.

Image

When I did that, my hand probably got some of that grease on and that may have prevented me from tightening the union on the inlet side. I toiissue ok apart the unions, tightened them again, filled housing with water, and turned the pump back on and it primed now.

So this issue is resolved...another issue has developed, the original leak on the outlet side is back, I will start a new thread on that. Thank you so much for the help!
Denniswiseman
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Re: My pool pump stopped priming after I modified some piping...

Postby Denniswiseman » Wed 29 May, 2019 09:51

That leak on the outlet should easily be resolved now that you have unions
I don't understand why unions aren't fitted by everyone. Here in the UK all the pumps I've seen have unions supplied
miamicuse
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Re: My pool pump stopped priming after I modified some piping...

Postby miamicuse » Wed 29 May, 2019 21:03

Denniswiseman wrote:That leak on the outlet should easily be resolved now that you have unions
I don't understand why unions aren't fitted by everyone. Here in the UK all the pumps I've seen have unions supplied


I know. I was surprised there were not unions up and downstream of the pump. In addition there was no bare pipe that I can cut and introduce a union. It was a real pain to dig out all the roots under the pump so I can rotate the heavy pump seven revolutions to save the PVC fitting so I can put on a female adapter. :thumbdown:

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