Suction Leak Diagnosis and Repair

Suction Leaks:
How do I know I have a Suction Leak? 
        You know you have a suction leak when you have air in the system, and, when you open the air bleeder valve at the top of your filter, and let all of the air out, 10 minutes later, you have just about as much air back in the system as you did prior. OR, the air bubbles through your returns or Jets, never goes away. (Note: Spa systems are often designed to blow bubbles. Pool systems are not.)
Is a suction leak a big problem?
        No, not usually. Unless your pump struggles to get prime, or the leak is around the motor shaft (Which will also leak water and have calcium buildup over time, or blows your float valve, skimmer basket, and possibly even your skimmer lid, out of place when the equipment shuts off, ... it probably isn't going to make any difference at all if you have a suction leak or not. If you have any, or all, of these problems, fix it.
What causes a suction leak, or air in the pool system?
1.) Most likely problem: A Pump Lid O-Ring that has not been COMPLETELY pulled off the Lid, had all contacting Surfaces Cleaned, and Lubed with a Pool Lube (Vaseline Eats Rubber. Don't Use It!). I prefer silicone "LUBES", Note: NOT SEALANT, LUBE!!!! This should be done every 3-6 months. Same with backwash valve push pull o-rings and gaskets. (No, this is not included in pool service, nor is hosing down the deck, lawn furniture, cleaning the windows facing the pool area, tree removal (Even from the pool.) Car removal (Yes, a client backed through her garage and parked in her pool.) plane removal (Yes, I got a call on this. very sad story.), ... nor are bowling ball removal or mattress removal from pools covered in the weekly service agreement. And yes, over the years I have had all of these, and then some...


2.) Skimmer Weir is Stuck in the Up Position. If your skimmer weir does not move freely up and down, fix it so that it does. Note: Not having enough water in the pool to go over the skimmer flap (Weir) is also a great cause of air in the system. Water Level is too low: Keep your water level high enough that the skimmer doesn't suck air.


3.) The Fitting at the Front of the Pump is Seeping Air. (Second most common. Pick up some waterproof Tub and Tile Silicone. Shut off pump. Fill Pump basket with water to intake pipe level. Tighten on lid. Spread a dollop of silicone on your finger. As you turn on the equipment, spread that silicone into the joint between the intake pipe and the front of the pump. LEAVE THE EQUIPMENT RUNNING! In 4-5 minutes wipe off the excess from the pipe / Front of the pump. LEAVE THE EQUIPMENT RUNNING FOR ANOTHER HOUR OR SO. )


4.) You have Valves that are Seeping Air. Some valves has multiple screws holding them together. Remove the screws, pay close attention to the lid orientation in comparison to the valve itself, and the valve handle orientation in relation to the lid, as these things will need to be duplicated EXACTLY if you are going to have a working valve when you are done. WRITE IT DOWN! DRAW DIAGRAMS! DRAW ALIGNMENT MARKS WITH A PERMANENT MARKER, ... then, disassemble the valve handle and pull the shaft from the valve cover. See those o-rings. Replace all but one of them. The last one, the one that is the most round, least chewed up, ... you are going to put back on after using an appropriate pool lube to coat the shaft and o-rings. You will have 1 more o-ring than you started with when you finish. This will help prevent future suction leak issues from the valve. Yes, you are going to have to hunt for these. My suggestion is that you go to a pool supply store first, then Home Depot, Lowes, Ace True Value, ... until you find something exactly the same as the original ones. Lube them, lube the casing o-ring that goes between the cover and the valve case, and realign EVERYTHING. Then, without over-tightening and stripping the screws (Which is easy with plastic valves), retighten the lid and put the handle back on.


5.) Your Pump Seal has Failed. (If you can see water, or calcium buildup, coming from the bottom of your pool motor, then this is probably your problem. If you do not replace your pump seal, your motor will start making noise, and will seize up. Don't put this repair off. I also recommend that you utilize a pool professional for this one. This involves shutting off the electricity, pulling the pump housing apart, removing a diffuser plate that needs to be aligned properly, removing the pump impeller, which involves wrenches on the back shaft, carefully placed so that you don't break off important motor parts, an impeller wrench (So you don't bust up the impeller), unscrewing bolts that are put in with Loctite and are probably calcified as well, that hold the rear pump plate to the motor (Usually requiring a breaker bar.), taking off the plate, replacing the pump seal with the EXACT REQUIRED SEAL so that it doesn't fail again in a week or two, then reassembling all of the components with new, and lubed, o-rings, gaskets, seals, ... Unless you look at this and think, Yeah, I do stuff like this all of the time. no biggie. I have those tools right here, .... you are probably better off calling a professional.


6.) Other leaks from the pump area ...
        Sometimes you can see water leaking from the pump, and you can trace it down. Sometimes there are little threaded drain or freeze plugs in pumps that might have a missing or damaged o-ring or gasket. Shoot, it might just need to be tightened. You'll have to look. If the housing is cracked, or you cannot find the leak, it's time to call in the professionals. You could have a broken fitting underground or at the bottom of your skimmer.