Home | Order Pool and Spa Parts

Tips 'N Tricks

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list | Order Pool and Spa Parts

How to Clear Up a Green Pool(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

Some homeowners are under the impression that all they have to do is say a few magic words like "Abracadabra," snap their fingers, and their pool will be crystal clear and ready to use instantaneously. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A pool does require some work and a little diligence. Most pool owners encounter a green pool at some point in time. Whether it be just after opening the pool or during the heat of summer, there are many variables that contribute to turning a pool green or "swampy". Use the information below as a basic guideline to aid you in clearing up your pool.

If there is any large debris on the pool floor, remove it with a large leaf net, not a hand skimmer. Initially, this will stir up the water, and may make your pool look much worse temporarily. The stirred up debris will settle within a few hours. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO VACUUM THE POOL IF YOU CANNOT SEE THE BOTTOM OR IF YOU HAVE A LOT OF DEBRIS ON THE BOTTOM. YOU MAY CLOG YOUR SKIMMER, FILTER OR UNDERGROUND PIPES !

Adjust the PH and Alkalinity levels of the water using PH Plus, PH Minus, and Alkalinity Plus. These levels must be within the proper ranges (a PH level of 7.2-8.0 and alkalinty level of 80-120) or the water will never clear.

Shock the pool, multiple times daily, if possible. This means super chlorinating the water to kill off any bacteria and algae. If your pool is very dirty, it may need MANY gallons of liquid chlorine (shock) over several days before the water begins to clear. Start off by adding 3 or 4 gallons, and if you see no results overnight, add 3 or 4 more gallons the next day. Continue this process until you notice the water changing color to either a cloudy white, light green, or clear color. YOU CANNOT OVER SHOCK A POOL !!! The more you add, the quicker it will clear !!!

Run your filter 24 hours a day and backwash 3 or 4 times a day for quickest results. Green or cloudy water will quickly clog a filter. Therefore, you may have to backwash your filter multiple times a day until the pool clears. THIS IS NORMAL !!! You cannot over backwash a pool filter either. The more you run your pool, and the more you backwash the filter, the faster the pool will clear up. If you have a D.E. filter, remember to add new D.E. to the skimmer closest to your filter after each backwashing. A D.E. filter requires more attention than a sand filter, but the D.E. filter will clear a green pool approximately 50% faster than a sand filter.

If you follow these instructions and your pool does not clear up within 4 or 5 days, your filter may not be functioning properly. Also, you want to avoid spending a lot of money on chemicals that will be futily wasted because the pool will never clear up if the filter is not working properly. If this is the case with your pool, have the filter system checked out by a professional.

If you have a sand filter, it may mean having the sand changed. It should be changed approximately every three to four years. So, keep that in mind. If you have a D.E. filter, you may need an acid washing of the filter. This is where all the grids and fingers of the filter are cleaned with muriatic acid and removing all of the D.E. that is caked inside the filter system.

Once the water does clear up, you will most probably see some debris on the pool floor in the form of dead leaves, algae, etc. If there is only a small amount of debris present, you may want to vacuum it up using your own pool vacuum system. If there is a lot of debris on the pool floor, you should have the pool professionally powervacuumed. This will save a lot of wear and tear to your filter system, as well as assuring that no debris gets clogged in your pool pipes.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

Swimming Pool Chemistry(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

The Purpose of Chlorine

Disinfection is the most important factor in maintaining a pool which is to remain safe and healthy for the entire pool season. Chlorine is the most widely applied disinfecting agent for swimming pool water.

The most common form of chlorine for swimming pool consumption is calcium hypochlorite containing 70% available chlorine. This solid, white material is available in either a powder, or tablet form. Both have excellent stability under all normal storage conditions. In use, this material dissolves quickly, and releases free available chlorine which is needed to kill bacteria.

There are a number of factors which affect the rate at which chlorine is consumed in the swimming pool. Chlorine dissipates more rapidly in warm water than in cold water. The presence of organic matter such as perspiration and bacteria carried in bather’s skin all affect the rate at which chlorine is consumed as well as affects the amount of chlorine needed to maintain an adequate chlorine residual. For these reasons, it will be necessary to add more chlorine on sunny hot days and when there are more people using the pool.

Calcium hypochlorite should be added to the water by means of a chemical feeder or a dispensing basket. If tablets are used, remember that it may bleach a spot on the floor of the pool if permitted to rest there. Extreme caution should be taken to make sure that they are beyond the reach of children. Don't ever mix chlorine with any other chemicals !!! Always use a clean dry measuring device when handling this material since any contamination may result in a chemical reaction which may cause a fire.

Chlorine should be added to the pool approximately 15 minutes prior to swimming. Tests for the presence of a chlorine residual. Adjustments should be made frequently and additions of chlorine made as needed.


In your pool it will manifest itself in the form of slime on the sides and floor of the pool, and a general cloudiness in the body of the water accompanied by a sudden increase in the pH. In an advanced stage of growth, it will take on a green color and if allowed to progress further, a brownish color with an obnoxious fish type odor. Intense sunlight is very conducive to algae growth due to higher than normal water temperatures and an increased rapid loss of residual chlorine.

As a rule of thumb, algae growth will not develop where a proper chlorine residual is maintained. However, it is most difficult to maintain a proper chlorine residual in situations when intense sunlight and higher water temperatures increase the consumption of chlorine. Therefore, making it more expensive to control the growth of algae. When algae build up gains an advantage on your pool, a "shock" treatment(s) is often necessary to remove the growth. This consists of applying from five to ten times the normal amount of chlorine, when the pool is not in use. Allow the chlorine residual to settle back to normal before resumption of swimming.

Another factor in favor of algaecides, is that they require much higher concentrations of available chlorine than do bacteria in order to kill them. There are many types of algaecides, the most popular of which are the quaternary ammonium compounds and copper based products. Most quaternary ammonium compounds are in liquid form. Since they tend to decompose rapidly, frequent additions are required in order to maintain the proper active residual. On the other hand, copper based products are predominantly in a granular form and require only a single application of a proper dosage with occasional additions to compensate for dilution due to addition of new water.

While chlorine may be considered an effective algaecide, in order for it to be effective, its presence must be felt. Conditions under which algae grows most rapidly is precisely the same when it is most difficult to maintain an adequate chlorine residual. Therefore, it has become common practice to employ algaecides to control the growth of algae leaving the chlorine free to act on bacteria.


PH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity. To help us express numerically how acidic or alkaline, we use the pH scale.

The PH scale runs from 0 to 14. A PH reading between 0 and 7 is on the acidic side. A PH of 7 is neutral, and pH readings between 7 and 14 is alkaline. The PH of swimming pool water should be controlled within the range of 7.2 to 7.8.

Water that is decidedly acidic or alkaline is uncomfortable to swim in. Irritation to eyes, skin, and bleaching of hair and swim suits is usually caused by improper PH. Human beings feel comfortable in a relatively narrow PH zone (7.2 to 7.8) and the effectiveness of chlorine is greatest in this same range.

Pool water which is acidic, (PH below 7) is corrosive to filters, pipes, and other metal fixtures. It will result in excessive chlorine consumption. An overly alkaline water (PH above7) tends to form unsightly white-ish deposits called "scale," which adhere to pool fixtures. In this alkaline range, the effectiveness of chlorine is greatly reduced.


Adjusting the PH of water is a simple matter. To raise a PH which is below 7.2, soda ash or PH positive powder (PH Plus) or briquettes must be added. To reduce a PH which is above 7.8, muriatic acid or PH negative powder must be added.


Swimming pool water is considered hard when it contains dissolved solids. Calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese are the chemicals of primary concern. These minerals enter the pool in the water supply, and/or may be picked up from piping and pool accessories used in the pool system. The presence of calcium and magnesium contribute to white cloudy water,while iron and manganese usually cause discolored water.

Most hard water conditions can be alleviated through the addition of water softening agents. Cloudy water conditions caused by calcium and magnesium are usually the result of too high a PH and may be easily corrected by adjusting the PH to between 7.2 and 7.8.

Well water or ground water usually contain high percentages of iron and manganese. Pool waters which contain these minerals may not initially appear to have any color, but upon adding chlorine, they may be oxidized and will appear as a yellow to brownish color. Colored water may be eliminated by the addition of water softening agents.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

How to properly close (winterize) your pool(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

Inground Pool Closing (Winterizing)

Do a quick physical check of all your winterizing supplies. This should include the cover, the water tubes, the plugs for the skimmers (gizzmos), return jets, and your winterizing chemicals. You will also need an air compressor or a powerful shop vac for proper winterization. If you are using the green Gizzmos to plug your skimmers, check them out and make sure that they are not cracked. Using a cracked Gizzmo can lead to having water seep into the pipe lines of the pool and lead to having it freeze.

Backwash the filter very well to clean it out. This will clean the majority of the filter, but some DE particles will remain in the filter. Drain DE filter tanks and leave backwash valve open. On sand filters, unplug the filter drain plug and leave off. Put drain plug with other removed items in the pump basket. Make sure multiport valve has no water in it. Blow it out with a compressor or shop vac. Although it is not recommended to "Acid Wash" DE filters at the time of the pool closing, an "Acid Wash" should be done in the Spring/Summer so that you can immediately run pool water through the system. It is not good to use muriatic acid on a DE filter and then just rinse it off and immediately putting it away for the winter. The acid may degrade the filter parts over the winter.

Disconnect your pump and filter. Make sure the pump is totally drained out. Remove any drain plugs from the pump. It is a good idea to store any small plugs or parts in the pump basket. This way you will be able to find them easily come Springtime. If there is a heater, drain it and make sure there is no sitting water inside. Blow it out with a compressor or shop vac. Drain heater totally and remove all drain plugs (if any). Also put drain plugs in the pump basket for safe keeping. We do not recommend removing the heater tray. You can remove it if you want, but you may encounter trouble putting it back in come Springtime. It is not necessary to remove on most units.

Unscrew and loosen any quick disconnect fittings or unions at your pump and filter system. Remember, the objective is "no freeze cracks". If the water is all drained out of your pipes and fittings, it cannot freeze and expand and crack.

Remove all return jet fittings, the entire fitting. If you crack a fitting while removing it, you can simply replace it next year. They are relatively inexpensive. Remove all skimmer baskets. Put fittings and any other items that you remove in one of the skimmer baskets or the pump basket to avoid losing anything.

Blow out all return jet pipes using an air compressor or shop vac. Hook up air compressor or shop vac to the return lines at the filter system. Some people prefer to screw the compressor fitting into the drain plug of the pump. This will give a good seal and allow you to blow out the entire system from that one spot. Keep the air blowing until bubbles start to become visible from the return jets in the pool. Put a plug in the fitting under the water when you see bubbles blowing at full force. This will mean that 99% of the water is out of the pipe. Make sure plug is in tight !!!

Blow out all skimmer (suction side) pipes in a similar fashion. Put a Gizzmo-type screw in plug in the skimmer when bubbles start to become visible. We know that this is sometimes difficult, but proper gizzmo installation is important. Make sure that you put Teflon tape on the gizzmo threads before installing. This insures a tight seal. If you don't want to use Gizzmo plugs and want to use black rubber-type plugs instead, that is sufficient as long as there is something in the skimmer to allow for water expansion when it freezes. Usually a closed plastic empty soda-type bottle will work. Do not just plug the skimmer lines and forget about them. Water can easily freeze in a skimmer and crack the plastic. Also, if you have a slide, an auto vac system or a waterfall, you will have to drain and blow out those pipes as well. We do not recommend putting anti-freeze type products in the pipes. It is unnecessary if the lines are properly blown out. The anti-freeze can cause a mess in the Spring when you go to start your system and it gets sucked into your filter and blown back into the pool. Try to avoid antifreeze.

Blow out main drain line (if any). When you see bubbles coming out of the drain, plug the pipe on your end or close the gate valve. This is as much protection as you can give to a main drain line. By doing this you will cause an "air lock" in the line and no more water should enter the pipe from the pool side. Put duct tape on all exposed pipes to prevent anything from getting into them.

Remove rope and floats from pool and put with the rest of the supplies. Remove dive board and ladders. Put in a safe spot, usually a shed or the garage. Also, put the pump and filter in your shed or garage. You probably are not going to want to move your filter if it is a sand filter. You can leave that outside ! Remember, do not lose dive bolts or ladder bumpers. Put them in the skimmer or pump baskets.

Mix any granular winterizing chemicals in a bucket so they totally dissolve. Dump mixture into the pool. You want to avoid any undissolved granules from settling on the pool floor and staining the liner. This is very important. If you are using any liquid winterizing chemicals, pour them in the pool as well. Test the pool for PH and Total Alkalinity. Adjust to normal levels using PH plus or minus and alkalinity plus. The PH level should be between 7.2 - 7.6 . The Alkalinity level between 100-150 ppm. Make sure one of your winterizer chemicals consists of a shock-type product. You want the chlorine level in the pool to be rather high (over 3.0 for wintertime).

You do not have to drain any water out of the pool provided you have properly blown out and plugged all your underground pipes as outlined above, and you do not have a pool that has decorative ceramic tiles at the water line. This might conflict with others pool industry. Some people are used to their pool being drained down past the skimmer. This is usually done instead of blowing out the pipes and using gizzmos. Realize that the higher the water level is through the winter, the better it is for the pool cover. Pools that are drained down low because of alot of undue stress on the pool cover, and thereby shorten its life. It also exposes the pool liner to the air and acn possibly cause it to prematurely dry out. The use of gizzmos prevents the skimmers from cracking, plugs the pipes and allows the water level to remain high for the cover. This prevents the rain water from causing huge puddle formations on top of the pool cover and possibly causing it to collapse in. We feel the only valid reason to drain the water down in a pool is if it has tile. The water level must be a few inches below the tile, otherwise, this could cause those tiles to crack. Aside from this situation, we feel that there is no valid reason to lower the water in the pool. Also, you do not have to remove or "lower" the pool light provided that you keep your water at the normal level.

Place the cover on the pool. If there are rips or tears in the cover that are repairable, patch them with either vinyl pool patch (for vinyl covers) or with pool cover patch tape (for lightweight covers). Remember, if your cover has been on life support the past couple of years, give it a proper burial and invest in a new one. If there are sharp points that extend into the pool, like step units or "ELS", then it is a good idea to put rags or cardboard between the cover and the points on the pool which extend out. Do this right or the cover may rip on those stress points.

If you use water tubes, lay out the water tubes, placing them through loops on cover. Fill tubes with water about 3/4 full and tightly seal all tubes. Do not overfill the tubes. When they freeze, you do not want them to expand and split. Tubes should ideally be touching each other end to end. However spacing them one (1) foot apart is acceptable. If you find that tubes are leaking, do not fill them. Replace them with new ones. It is not a good idea to patch the old tubes. Allow enough slack in the tube for water expansion!

Above Ground Pool Closing (Winterizing)

Locate all your winterizing supplies. This should include a cover, air pillow, plugs for the skimmers ( gizzmos or rubber plugs ), winter plate ( if used ) and your winterizing chemicals. You need these items for proper winterization. If you are using the green Gizzmos to plug your skimmers, check them out and make sure that they are not cracked.

Backwash the filter very well to clean it out. Drain DE filter tanks and leave backwash valve open. On sand filters, unplug the filter drain plug and leave off. Put drain plug with other removed items in the pump basket. Make sure multiport valve ( if any ) has no water in it. Blow it out with a compressor or shop vac. Please note that it is not recommended to "acid wash" DE filters at the time of the pool closing. It is best to do in the Springtime so that you can immediately run pool water through the system. It is not good to use muriatic acid on a DE filter and then just rinse it off and put it away. The acid may degrade the filter parts over the winter.

Plug return pipes and skimmer and remove all hoses.

Disconnect your pump and filter. Make sure that pump is totally drained out of any water. Turn pump upside down once to make sure. Remove any drain plugs from the pump. It is a good idea to store any small plugs or parts in the pump basket. This way you will be able to find them easily in the Spring. Store in a shed or garage.

Some people like to remove the skimmer box and install a winter plate with gaskets. If you do this, make sure it does not leak. Most people simply plug the skimmer hole with a black rubber plug or a gizzmo. It is easier. You can let the water in the pool go down to the bottom of the skimmer, then you do not have to plug the hole at all. This method is also acceptable, but realize that the pool cover will sit lower in the pool. Therefore you might want to use a cover that is one or two sizes bigger than your pool so that you have the extra material available. Any of these methods are good. It is simply a matter of personal preference.

Blow up and install your air pillow. Air pillows are usually used but are not absolutely necessary. They are a good idea in case the water in the pool freezes, expands, and breaks the pool wall. If no pillow is available, a tire or tube will suffice. Throw them into the pool to take up ice expansion. Tie air pillow at two places and position in center of pool. Tie strings to the pool wall so the pillow does not move during cover installation. If the pillow is leaking, either patch it or get a new one.

Remember, the pillow is there to take up any expansion of the water which may occur due to freezing and possibly causing the above ground pool wall to split. Pillows are not to keep the rain water off of the pool cover. The rain water will always settle around the outside of the pillow and will need to be pumped off occassionally. Remove all deck equipment from pool ( i.e ladders, rails, slides, etc.). Add chemicals. Mix any granular winterizing chemicals in a bucket until they are totally dissolved. Dump mixture into the pool. You want to avoid any undissolved granules from settling on the pool floor and staining the liner. If you are using any liquid winterizing chemicals, pour them in the pool as well. Test the pool for PH and Total Alkalinity. Adjust to normal levels using PH plus or minus and alkalinity plus. PH levels should be between 7.2 - 7.6 and alkalinity between 100-150 ppm. Make sure one of your winterizer chemicals consists of a shock-type product. You want the chlorine level in the pool to be rather high (over 3.0 for wintertime).

Place cover on pool and secure. Make sure that cover cable wire is tight so that cover does not blow off or fall in pool. Make sure the pillow is still in the middle of the pool after cover installation. If not, reset cover and pillow.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

How to properly open your pool(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

Overview of Pool Opening Procedure

A pool properly maintained during the winter months can prevent many headaches and make preparation for a new season of swimming involve a minimal effort.

Pump, hose, or sweep away water, dirt, or debris from the cover and deck. Remove the cover and plugs from all openings.

If the water was in good shape at the end of last season, proper cover removal will ensure that your pool should open relatively clear.

If they were removed at the pool closing, raise the underwater lights from the bottom of the pool and install them in their niches.

Turn on the electric power and start up the support system. Check for leaks and proper operation. If you find any problems, consult your owner's manual or contact a local pool service company. Have the heater professionally serviced before you use it.

Super chlorinate and adjust the PH & Alkalinity levels of the water. Run the pump 24 hours a day at the beginning of the season when it may be difficult to get the pool water balanced. You can reduce the pump operating time once you've got the water in shape. Treat the water with an algaecide. After several hours of operation, test the chlorine level and adjust it as needed. If the chlorine level is high, do not use the pool until it drops to normal levels.

Opening the Pool (General)

The reopening process begins the moment the pool is closed. By keeping an eye on the pool over the winter, the reopening process becomes that much easier. Snow or rain can raise the water level or sink the cover. Since heavy debris can fall in, it is better to remove it immediately than waiting till the spring. Reopening the pool entails reversing the instructions for closing it. The following is a handy checklist:

Supplies- Take the supplies (chemicals) out of storage and replace those that have exceeded the expiration date.

Uncover Pool- Remove the cover, and then clean it. Allow it to dry (to prevent mildew) before folding and storing it for the summer.

Equipment- Reinstall or reassemble the pump, filter, and other removed items.

Deck- Reinstall ladders, diving board, and other deck fittings. If used at closing time, most of the petroleum jelly used to coat exposed metal fittings will have weathered off. Use a dry cloth towel to wipe off the remaining residue.

Plumbing- Remove the plugs and replace return outlet fittings.

Refilling the Pool- Bring the water level up to normal.

Electrical- Restore circuit breakers, switches, and time clock trippers to normal operating positions.

Cleaning- Restart the circulation equipment and clean the pool.

Chemistry- Balance the water chemistry and check the levels frequently during the first few days (until they stabilize).

Run the circulation system 24 hours straight for several days or until the water has cleared completely. Depending on how dirty the pool became over the winter, the filter must be backwashed frequently during this period.

Opening the Pool (Detailed)

Remove the leaves and debris from the pool cover with a leaf net and/or skimmer net. Pump off any excess rain water with a submersible pump. If an above ground pool, the excess water may be siphoned off instead. Remove cover. Try to minimize the amount of water and/or debris that gets into the pool water. You will be adding shock to the water and filtering it soon, so don't fret if some dirty water makes its way into pool.

Lay out pool cover and sweep or brush off any remaining debris. If you do not store your cover indoors, then you do not have to be meticulous about getting the cover particularly spotless. If you do keep it in the garage or basement, you may want to clean it to a greater extent. Properly fan-fold cover and store away. Empty the water out of any water tubes you may have. On above ground pools, deflate the air pillow.

Unplug all piping, both in the pool and at the filter system area. Re-attach any deck equipment you have such as ladders, rails, diving boards, etc. Make sure to reconnect any grounding wires or straps that may have been attached to the metal parts last year. Lubricate all bolts on the dive board, ladders and/or rails. This will prevent them from rusting over the summer. Remember, you are probably the one who will be closing the pool, so you want the bolts to come off easy at closing time. Re-install the skimmer baskets and any return jet eyeball fittings. If an above ground pool, you may have to re-attach the actual skimmer and return fittings onto the pool. If an above ground pool, also hookup any hoses from the skimmer and return jets to the pump and filter.

Hook up pump, filter and any other additional equipment you might have like booster pumps, spa equipment, waterfall circulation pumps, heaters, etc. Turn on the power to the pool system. You may have to turn on the circuit breaker from the house. Start and check system. Check for leaks or drips. Make sure any grounding straps or wires are properly connected to the pump and any other components that need them. Make sure pump primes properly and check for proper flow. Backwash the filter thoroughly. Add new DE if you have a DE filter. If some pieces of equipment do not appear to be operating properly, and you cannot repair the problem yourself, contact a local pool professional for assistance.

Shock the pool with any chlorine shock product. This is available in liquid or granular form. You want to add enough to raise the chlorine level of the pool to at least 3.0 ppm. This will be a darker yellow color in most liquid test kits. If you use granular shock, do not throw it directly into the pool. You could bleach and stain the liner. It is best to mix the granular shock chlorine in a bucket and then add that mixture into the skimmer while the system is running. If your pool water is relatively clear, accurately test your water for chlorine, PH and Alkalinity levels. Adjust these chemicals to the proper levels. Add a high quality algaecide to the water. Let pool run for at least 24 hours. Vacuum any debris out of the bottom. Retest water. Do not go into pool until water is crystal clear and chlorine level is under 2.0 ppm. This is a medium yellow color on most test kits.

Pool Opening - The Soap Opera

Sometimes things don't go so smoothly after you open your pool. Here are some common problems and solutions for them:

Obvious drips coming from filter tank, pump or visible pipes...

Try tightening the fittings. If you cannot get leaks to stop, contact a local pool professional.

Sand in pool under or near the return jets...

It could be the pool has an underground pipe leak or it could mean that something in the sand filter is cracked. If you are loosing water as well, we suggest contacting a local pool professional. If you are not losing water, then take apart the sand filter and look for a cracked part.

DE in pool under or near the return jets...

This means there is something in the DE filter that is ripped or cracked. Take the filter apart and look for cracked part or ripped element.

DE filter isn't putting out enough water pressure and/or isn't effectively filtering the pool...

You should backwash the filter immediately. Add new DE. If problem persists, filter may be in need of an "acid wash". If you do not know how to do this, we suggest contacting a local pool professional.

Sand filter isn't putting out enough water pressure and/or isn't effectively filtering the pool...

You should backwash the filter immediately. If problem persists, filter may be in need of a sand change. If you do not know how to do this, we suggest contacting a local pool professional.

You notice many air bubbles mixing with the water coming out of the return jets...

Probably means that there is a suction line leak, usually under or by the skimmers. You could try digging down and see what you can see, but we suggest contacting a local pool professional to repair something like this.

You notice settled or wet dirt. You see bricks or patio blocks around the skimmers or return jets settling or sinking into the ground...

Probably means an underground pipe leak at that point. You could try digging down and see what you can see, but we suggest contacting a local pool professional to repair something like this.

Pump makes a loud squealing noise, it heats up or is not running to its full capability...

This indicates that the pump is in need of professional service. Either remove it and bring it to a pool store or pump shop for repair, or simply replace the pump.

You notice that your pool is losing water...

If the pool water level goes down to the bottom of the skimmer and stops, this usually means that it is a suction line leak. Most likely directly under the skimmer. We suggest contacting a local pool professional to repair something like this.

If the pool water level goes down to the bottom of the skimmer and stops, this usually means that it is a suction line leak. Most likely directly under the skimmer. We suggest contacting a local pool professional to repair something like this.

If the pool water level goes down to the bottom of the return jets and then stops, this usually means that it is a return line leak. Most likely directly by the wall jet return fitting, but it could be anywhere in the return line. We suggest contacting a local pool professional to repair something like this.

If the pool water level goes down to the top, middle or bottom of the light unit, this usually means that the light is leaking. This is usually the fitting in the light niche where the metal or plastic conduit pipe is attached to the metal niche. We suggest contacting a local pool professional to repair something like this.

If the water level goes down to any other level on the side walls and then stops, this usually means that the leak is in the liner on the pool side wall or possibly in the step unit gasket. Inspect the pool visually around the water level and check to see if you can see a hole. Check the area where the ladder comes in contact with the liner. This is a very common leak point . If you cannot clearly see a leak hole, we suggest contacting a local pool professional to locate & repair the leak.

If the water level goes down past they side walls, then it usually means that the leak is in the pool floor. You do not want all the water to drain out of the pool. It is bad for the liner and very bad for the pool walls. You do not want the pool to fall in. If you see that you are quickly losing all the water in your pool, put a hose in the pool, start to refill it and contact a local pool professional to locate & patch the hole.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

The basics of a pool filter(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

Swimming pools are constantly at risk of contamination by a variety of sources. Filtration is the process of killing and removing bacteria from your swimming pool. Water clarity is not only important for appearance, but also for hygiene and safety. Filters are universal in all pool systems and they are linked to the circulation system along with the motors and pumps. As water pumps through the circulation system of a pool, impurities are strained by a filter.

Below is a list of terms and their explanations relating to the three types of filters (sand, diatamaceous earth, and cartridge) and the intricacies involved in the filtration process.

1- Anode- A component usually made of zinc or magnesium. It prevents electrolysis or galvanic action in steel filters.

2- Backwashing- The process of cleaning the filter and its elements by reversing the flow of water through the filter, and thereby flushing any accumulated debris out of the filter.

3- Bridging- A phenomenon in DE filters where the filter medium builds up between filter elements and limits flow.

4- Cartridge filter- A filter that uses replaceable paper or fabric-like cartridges as a means of filtration.

5- Diatomaceous Earth (DE)- A powder made of tiny plankton called diatoms. It serves as a filtration medium when it forms a cake like substance on the filter element.

6- DE filter- A filter that uses diatomaceous earth as the filtration medium.

7- Filter area- The filtering surface area through which water flows in the filter housing. It is usually measured in square feet.

8- Filter cycle- The operating time between cleaning and backwash routines.

9- Filter medium- The material used to filter debris from the water. Usually sand, a cartridge or diatomaceous earth.

10- Influent line- The plumbing line that leads from the pool to the filter equipment. It is also known as the suction line.

11- Multi-port valve- A valve that allows a multi-directional control of the flow of water through a filter. It combines the function of two or more single valves.

12- Pressure differential- The difference in pressure between the influent and effluent lines of a filter.

13- Pressure filter- The most common type of filter. The water is forced through the filter by a pump mounted on the influent side of the filter.

14- Pressure gauge- An instrument that measures the water pressure in influent and effluent lines. A prominent increase or decrease in water pressure could indicate either a need to cleaning, backwash, or a possible plugged line.

15- Sand filter- A filter that uses graded layers of sand as the filtration medium.

16- Septum- The part of the filter element or grid on which the filter medium is deposited or caked.

17- Turnover rate- The time required to circulate a volume of water equal to the capacity of a given pool.

18- Vacuum filter- A filter through which water is pulled by a pump positioned on the effluent side of the filter. Most vacuum filters use DE as the medium.

19- Effluent line - The plumbing line leading from the filter equipment to the pool or spa.

Filter Types: There are three basic types of filters: Diatomaceous Earth (DE), sand, and cartridge.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filters

This filter consists of a tank with a series of fabric covered grids, also called filter elements. The fabric is coated with a substance called DE, or diatomaceous earth. DE is a fine white powder found in large deposits in the ground. They act like filters by allowing water to filter through while leaving the microscopic impurities behind.

A filter must be properly sized to a pools circulation system. This size is determined by square footage of surface area of the filter media, which equals to the total square footage of the grids. A typical filter has eight grids that total anywhere from 24 to 72 square feet. The grids are placed into tanks that are 2 to 5 feet high and about 2 feet in diameter. Without the filter grids, DE would turn into a caked mass. When wet, this mass would make it impossible for water to flow through.

There are two basic types of DE filters: the vertical grid and the spin type.

Vertical Grid Filters

The grids in this type of filter are assembled vertically on the manifold. A holding wheel secures the grids to the manifold and a retaining rod screws into the base of the tank to secure assembly. Water enters the tank at the bottom and flows up and around the outside of the grids. It then flows down the stem of each grid, into the hollow manifold, and out of the filter.

Spin Filters

The spin filter is now obsolete, but still can occassionally be found on older pool systems. The grids are wheel shaped and lined up horizontally. They operate in a similar manner to the vertical grid filter, but in order to clean them, a crank is turned to spin the grids. Truthfully, it is not very effective and that is why it is now obsolete.

Sand Filters

Sand filters are anywhere from 2 to 4 feet in diameter. Older models generally are housed in metal tanks. The sand in the filter strains out impurities as the water pushes its way through the system. The water enters the top or side of the filter through a multiport or piston backwash valve and sprays over the sand. The sharp edges of the grains of sand catch any impurities. The water is pushed through the laterals and bottom manifold where it is then directed out of the filter. The individual drains of the drain manifold are called laterals. A drain pipe is located in the bottom of the tank for emptying out the water when necessary.

Cartridge Filters

The operation of a cartridge filter is similar to a DE filter with the obvious exception of no DE. Water flows into the tank which houses one or more cylindrical cartridges of fine, pleated mesh material. The tight mesh of the fabric strains out any impurities. Unlike the backwashing method used by DE and sand filters, when it is time to clean the cartridges, they simply are removed and then washed and rinsed.

Makes and Models:

Selecting a good filtration system is the key to healthy, clean, and sparkling water. Whether you're replacing an old filter or installing a filter on a newly built pool, you'll need to match the filter to the pump and the size of the pool. To properly size and select the filter for your pool, you must first calculate the pool's volume and capacity. Next, compute the pools flow rate and the filter flow rate. Once you've done all that, you'll be ready to select the right filter for the system in question.

Sizing and Selection Techniques :

Calculate The Volume

The first step in finding the correct filter model is to figure out how much water has to be filtered. Here are some simple formulas and techniques to use when calculating the volume of a swimming pool.

For a rectangular pool, simply multiply the length by the width by the average depth.

For a circular pool, multiply the radius by 3.14 (pi) by the average depth.

Oval pools are actually rectangles with semicircles on the ends. These are not true ovals and require either combining the formulas for circular and rectangular pools, or using the grid technique. Make a scale drawing of the pool on a piece of square-grid graph paper. Each square represents one square foot or any standard unit. Then simply count up the number of squares, not missing those partially filled squares making complete ones, and that will give you a close estimate of the pool's area in square feet. Multiply the area by the approximate average depth of the pool gives you, the volume in cubic feet.

Calculate The Capacity

To calculate the capacity, simply multiply the pool volume by 7.48. We use 7.48 because that is the number of gallons of water contained in a cubic foot of volume. As an example, suppose you have a rectangular pool that is 36 feet long and 18 feet wide, with an average depth of 5 feet. Plug these numbers into the volume equation and multiply: 36 x 18 x 5 = 3,240 cubic feet. Now plug the volume into the capacity equation and multiply: 3,240 x 7.48 = 24,235 gallons. Aren't you glad you paid attention during Math class in high school now.

Calculate The Flow Rate

The flow rate is the volume of water flowing past a given point during a specific period of time. It is measured in gallons per minute (gpm) or gallons per hour (gph). To calculate the flow rate, divide the capacity of the pool by the turnover rate. The turnover rate is the time required to circulate a body of water equal to the capacity of the pool.

The equation to find the flow rate for the 24,235 -gallon pool noted above (no matter what its shape) is: 24,235 / 8 = 3,029 gph. We used 8 because of an 8 hour turnover rate. To calculate the flow rate per minute, divide the flow rate per hour by 60. In this case, 3,029 @ 60 = 50.48. That is the rate at which you want the filter to work.

The calculations for your 24,235-gallon pool show that you require a flow rate of 50.48 gpm to filter the pool's capacity in eight hours. Therefore, your goal is to determine which model of filter will filter 50.48 gallons of water per minute which results in a complete turnover every eight hours in the pool.

Calculate The Filter Flow Rate

To determine the filter flow rate, multiply the filter area by the filter rate. The filter area is the filtering surface area through which water flows in the filter housing, usually measured in square feet. The filter rate is the number of gallons of water that flows through one square foot of effective filter medium per minute during the operation of the circulation system.

A mathematics degree is not required, all you simply have to do is get both figures from the filter manufacturers. In our example, let's say you have a filter area of 4 square feet and a filter rate of 12.8 gpm. If you multiply 4 x 12.8 you have a filter flow rate of 51.2 gpm. This is relatively close to our desired flow rate of 50.48.

Once these numbers are provided by respective manufacturers for various models, you can calculate the filter flow rate to see which particular filter will match your needs.

Deciding On a Type of Filter

Do you have a preference in filters? All have their advantages and disadvantages. You probably already have a good idea of the type of filter you like, or a specific manufacturer. Once you do, you can perform the necessary calculations and select a filter that will do the job.

The mathematical relationships between filter area, filter rate and filter flow rate will remain the same for any type of filter. Never hesitate to contact a manufacturer or dealer to ask their professional advice.

Make Sure To Oversize The Filter

When selecting a filter, keep in mind that as the filter removes debris from the water, the filter medium will become more and more clogged. This means after a while, the filter will require an ever greater flow to clean an equal amount of water. Therefore, select a filter that is larger than indicated by our calculations of flow requirements. This is especially true for commercial pools and for backwashing purposes.

Backwash Valves

This process is used to clean DE and the sand filters. The water is sent backwards through the filter, flushing any debris into a waste line or a sewer line. A backwash valve on the filter reverses the flow of the water. There are two types of backwash valves. They are piston and rotary (a.k.a. multiport).

Piston Valve: Water is directed to the filter in the normal operation. The water is then filtered through the DE or the sand and returned to the pool. When the handle of the piston is raised into the backwash position, the piston disks forces the water into the filter tank through the outlet port. This winds up creating the backward flow of water through the filter and flushing debris and dirt out of the tank and out of the valve inlet port. Once inside the valve again, the waste water gets directed to the waste port. Never change the piston position when operating the pump !! This creates too much pressure inside the pump and motor, which in turn can result in the valve O-rings leaking. The piston type backwash valve usually is located on the side of the filter tank.

Rotary Valve: The rotary backwash valve exclusively to vertical DE filters. The water direction is changed by rotating an internal rotor located below the filter tank. A rotor gasket seal or O-ring prevents the water from leaking. A retainer ring holds the valve body to the underside of the tank with bolts that pass through the bottom of the tank. In order to backwash, you need to rotate the rotor 90 degrees. The water enters through the middle and up the inside of the grids. The DE and dirt is washed off the grids as the water flows from inside the grids to the outside. The water is then flushed back through the rotor and directed to the opening marked "backwash." Do not rotate the rotor while the pump is running for leaks may occur !!

Multiport Valve: The multiport backwash valve is used on sand filters and looks like a rotary valve when taken apart. Occassionally mounted on the side, but usually it is found mounted on top of the filter tank, this valve offers multiple choices for water flow direction. After the pump backwashes, clean water rinses out the pipes before returning to normal circulation. This prevents debris from returning to the pool.

Backwash Hoses

If the backwash discharge port is not plumbed directly into a drain or sewer line, a hose has to be attached to guide the dirty water to an appropriate place. A normal hose usually is 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter and made out of inexpensive, collapsable plastic. Backwash hoses are available in various lengths ranging upwards of 200 feet. A pool vacuum hose can be turned into a backwash hose by using a hose clamp.

Pressure Gauges and Air Relief Valves

Most filters are fitted with a pressure gauge, usually mounted on top of the filter. Sometimes the gauge is mounted on the multiport valve. These gauges read 0 to 60 psi and are useful in several ways. A good way to know if your filter is in need of a cleaning would be if you start to see the pressure going beyond 10 pounds over the normal operating range (12-20 psi).

A pressure gauge spots potential operating problems in the system. If the pressure is lower than normal, it could indicate an obstruction in the water that is coming into the filter. When the pressure reads high, then the filter is dirty, which means either a sand change, cartridge needs to be cleaned, an acid wash is required, or there is some obstruction in the flow of water after the filter. When the pressure fluctuates while the pump is operating, the pool water level might be to low or possibly an obstruction at the skimmer. This shows just how important a pressure gauge can be.

Sight Glasses

They are the clear section of the pipe normally installed on the backwash line coming out of the backwash valve. They can be installed anywhere in a line of pipe where you want to monitor the effectiveness of the cleaning process. The sight glass helps to see the dirty water becoming clean and determine the appropriate time to stop backwashing.

Installation of Pool Filter

Installing a pool filter is simple, but it necessitates strict adherence to a few basic rules. Before you start getting your hands dirty, you should always consult your manufacturers' literature before working with any unfamiliar products. Here is a simple checklist of things you should consider before purchasing and/or installing a filter. 1) Where the unit is located, 2) How is it incorporated into the overall circulation system, 3) How it's tied into the pool's electrical circuitry are all very important in determining effective and efficient use of all your resources.

Equipment Pad

The equipment pad should be a level slab of poured concrete, brick, or concrete block. You should avoid installing a new filter on wood at all costs because it can warp or decay and compromise the position of the unit. Three things to remember: First, the filter should always be installed on a level surface to avoid vibration of the unit. Second, the filter should be located as close to the pool as possible. Lastly, the filter should have adequate drainage and allow for plenty of room for service access and maintenance.

Plumbing Issues

The plumbing should be designed with the premise of K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid). Plumbing installation should be with the shortest possible route and the least number of fittings to achieve optimum water flow efficiency. If convenience means installing away from the pool, increasing the pipe size between the filter and the pool will decrease the head resistance and compensate for a longer traveling distance. Inspect the plumbing so you can be prepared with the proper fittings and materials.

Electrical Hookup

Although the filter is not directly connected to the electrical power, the pump motor runs on electricity, which means that the filter must be grounded and bonded by a professional electrician. In addition, the electrical wiring and hookup of the motor must be completed by a professional electrician in accordance with local and national electric codes.


When the equipment pad is ready, it is imperative to refer to the filter manufacturer's installation manual for specific instructions regarding installation. Once you've finished your homework, step one in the installation process is to place the filter on the pad. Make sure it is secure and level.

Next, connect the circulation plumbing to the filter. Every filter has two basic plumbing connections. They are known as the influent and the effluent lines. The influent line supplies water to the filter. The effluent line provides an outlet for water after it passes through the filter. it would be beneficial to put a gate valve on both the influent and effluent lines. This will permit you to close the lines when it is necessary to service, remove, or replace the filter.

The plumbing lines are then connected directly to the filters' multi-port valve. This is done by either hand-tighteneing any union connections, or by bonding with an adhesive such as a PVC cement. In the case of threaded pipe connections, the application of Teflon tape to the threads before connecting the pipes is strongly recommended.

Next, be sure the O-rings and O-ring groove on all valve fittings are clean and lubricated with a silicon lubricant. Install O-rings in their grooves and tighten with the appropriate union collar. Make sure to use the recommended primer before doping PVC components. Allow an appropriate drying period before pressure testing or operating the equipment.

Lastly, it is time to put the circulation system into full operation. Each types of filter require different start-up procedures. The following are general guidelines to use for your reference. Manufacturers' manuals will give you the specific help you need.

Sand Filters: The water typically passes through a number of layers of sand and gravel that have been carefully placed in the filter tank. The size of the sand particles used as the filter medium is very important to attain maximum efficiency. If the sand granules are too big, filtering efficiency is decreased. If the sand particles are too small, the filter will clog up quickly.

Check the specifications provided by the filter manufacturer, then fill the tank with layers of coarse, medium, and fine gravel followed by the silica sand layer on top as directed. Also, plan to leave a space between the sand bed and the overdrain. This space is known as freeboard, and most manufacturers suggest it should amount to half the depth of the filter bed.

Flocculents are often used to improve the performance of sand filters. Most filter flocculents are alum based preparations that forms a gelatinous layer on top of the sand. As an alternative to flocculents, diatomaceous earth can be used. As a general rule, add one-half cup of DE for each three square feet of filter area after the unit has been filled with sand.

DE Filters: These units filter water by passing it through a layer of diatomaceous earth which coats the grids inside the filter tank. The DE is added as a pre-coat to the grids, and attaches itself on the grid-covering mesh. Common practice calls for adding two ounces of DE per square foot of filter area. There are variations of acceptable quantities of DE depending on manufacturer specifications.

The DE should be mixed with water and fed into the filter as a diluted or "milky" looking mixture. After turning on the circulation system, add the solution to the skimmer at a steady rate as possible to permit an even coating of the filter. DE can also be introduced to the filter by using a pre-coat pot, solution feeder, or erosion feeder that is specifically designed for pre-coating.

Cartridge Filter: Insert the filter cartridge as per its instructions and start up the circulation system. Also, you can use a flocculating agent for cartridge filters if desired. With all types of filters, open the unit's air release valve and turn on the pump. When a steady stream of water shoots out, close the valve. Manufacturers always remind us to open the air release valve when starting the filter because air pressure in a filter can be very dangerous.

Safety First

Safety should always be a primary concern in filter replacement and repair. This is particularly important with units outfitted with pressure-clamp assemblies. Under certain conditions, parts can fly apart due to the tremendous force generated. In some cases, flying parts from a "blown" filter are often the source of causing property damage and/or bodily injuries. Improper application of the clamp assembly may result in a poor seal. The uneven seal might slowly force the tank out of round over time and create serious problems in any future servicing. In an extreme case, it can increase the chance of blowout of the filter. Whenever any repairs are done on a filter or related components, make sure to cut off all the pool's electrical circuits at the source!

Basic Diagnostics and Troubleshooting

A pool filter's water-cleansing function is pretty straightforward. But, small problems can become big servicing nightmares if left festering without dealing with it. When a filtration system goes a wry, the water quality can deteriorate quickly. Poor filtration leads to increased chlorine demand on the pool and can cost you a lot more money in chemicals.

The following outlines many basic filter problems, the root causes, and suggests solutions to these issues. For the most part, these discussions span across all three filter types (diatomaceous earth, sand, and cartridge). Make sure to consult your manufacturers' manuals for specific recommendations and operating guidelines.

When checking an operating filter's performance, make sure the needle of the pressure gauge is not sticking. A gauge that fails to indicate a rise in pressure not only compromises your ability to monitor filter cycles, it can also be quite dangerous. Excessive pressure can lead to the filter body cracking and/or failure of the clamping device on the filter tank.

Warning Sign: Reduced Flow of Water Through the Filter

As dirt accumulates on the filter media, the water flow becomes restricted and pressure within the tank begins to rise. When the pressure rises to the desired level specified by the manufacturer, it's usually time for a routine backwashing of a sand or DE filter, or a simple cleaning of cartridge filter elements.

Operating pressure ranges for filters vary widely. For example, A typical range for high-rate sand filters may be 10 to 15 pounds psi at the beginning of the filter cycle, and upwards to 25 to 30 psi when backwashing is required.

Some filter systems have pressure gauges installed on both the influent and effluent lines. As the media becomes clogged with dirt, the influent pressure will become higher than the effluent reading. When the differential between the two readings reaches a specified level, it is time for backwashing.

Gradual pressure rises are normal during the course of a filter cycle. When the pressure begins to rise more rapidly than normal, it is time to take a close look at the elements of the filtration system.

Warning Sign : Short Cycle Between Backwashes

Short filter cycles are indicative of an excessive flow rate through the filter. Usually, it means that the filter may be undersized or that the pump may be too powerful for the system. Install a properly sized system. In some other instances, a short filter cycle indicates an unusual increase in the burden on the filter media. This can be caused by excessive dirt, debris, body oil, lotions, hair, or algae.

Warning Sign : Inadequate Filtering Action

In a sand filter, channels may have formed in the sand and gravel bed. This may be allowing water to pass through unfiltered. Look for evidence of channeling or tunneling and recharge the filter if necessary. Also, if the unit has not been backwashed consistently, mud balls may have formed on the surface of the sand bed, thereby severely limiting filtering action. In an extreme case, the sand may have calcified and will no longer filter out dirt. Look for evidence of mud balls or calcification. After backwashing if problem persists, remove the old sand and recharge the filter as necessary. Filter sand should normally last approximately four to five years.

In a DE filter, poor filtration often results from solidification of the DE. If you observe hardening of the DE, remove and clean the elements as per the manufacturer's instructions and recharge the filter with fresh DE. If DE is fed to the unit by a feeder, the unit may not be feeding enough or to much DE into the filter. This can lead to inadequate or overcoating of the septa. Backwashing should be performed frequently enough and for adequate time periods in order for the media to be cleaned sufficiently.

It pays to watch out for inadequate or plugged backwash lines that might not be allowing sufficient flow out of the filter during backwashing. If a portion of the backwash discharge is retained in the tank because of inadequate flow, the backwash line will clog over time. To address this problem, check the lines for clogs and clear as necessary.

Last but not least, a specific tip for cartridge filters. Poor filtration without a rise in pressure may indicate torn or worn out cartridges that are simply allowing water to pass through without filtering. Replace these cartridges as needed.

Warning Sign : Low Flow Rates in the System

Getting a low reading on a flowmeter and a high reading on the pressure gauge means something is restricting the flow. Most likely it is a blockage in the piping. In some cases, it is under sizing of the entire piping system. As a general rule, the maximum flow rate through a 1-1/2-inch PVC pipe is 70 gallons per minute. In 2-inch plumbing, it is approximately 110 gpm. A drop in the return flow could mean a clogged pump strainer basket or skimmer basket. So, make sure to clean the baskets. An ounce of prevention can save you a lot of money. If both flow and pressure readings are low, the pump may be undersized. Realistically, you may have a plugged pump impeller or lint trap. Pump or motor trouble is usually directly due to filtration problems.

Warning Sign : Sand or DE Entering the Pool

In cases when sand or DE cause a clouding water effect, check the backwash valve. If it is left in an intermediate position, media can flow back into the pool. If this obvious answer doesn't suffice, the solution to this problem lies inside the tank.

With sand filters, broken laterals are a common culprit here. Replacement is the only solution.

In a DE filter, torn or worn out septa will allow DE to flow into the pool.

Warning Sign : Air Pressure Build-Up

Air present in the filter tank can compromise filtering action. In sand filters, it's a prime suspect in channeling. In DE filters, it may disrupt the filter cake. Air pressure build-up in a filter is dangerous. If can lead to hairline cracks or leaks in plumbing connections on the suction side of the pump. A low water level in the pool is another indicator of air in the system. Air may be entering through the skimmer. It is important to release any air present in the filter tank. The presence of air inhibits good filtration and can increase the danger of the filter tank suddenly cracking by rapidly increasing pressure within the tank. Air is easily released by opening the pressure release valve and allowing it to escape. When a steady stream of water comes out of the valve, you have released all of the trapped air.

D.E. Filters Troubleshooting

When working on a diatomaceous earth filter, here are some finer points to keep in mind to minimize the trials and tribulations involved in tearing down a typical D.E. unit, cleaning its grids, and recharging it in order to keep a pool's water sparkling clean.

Diatomaceous earth filters perform the same water cleaning function as sand and cartridge filters. By this I mean, they do their job with great effectiveness so long as too much dirt and debris haven't built up to clog the system. However at cleaning time, differences among these filter types become readily apparent.

A DE filter needs to be taken apart, cleaned, and recharged at least once a year. Its counterpart, the cartridge filter, only requires a simple hosing off, soaking, or routine replacement of cartridge elements. For the most part, a sand filter requires only periodic backwashing. No matter how much it helps in your overall pool-maintenance, cleaning a DE filter is a messy and unenvyable task, but a necessary evil.

To clean a DE filter, release the pressure from the filter tank. Make sure the pump is off and before taking the unit apart, open the filter's air-release valve. Wait a few moments as air is drawn in and water flows out of the tank. When the hissing stops, you can proceed. Then mark the lid, unscrew the clamp ring, and remove it from the tank. Mark the tank on the top and the bottom with a grease pencil, unscrew and remove the clamp ring. The marks will help you align the two sections when it comes time to reassemble the filter.

Remove the top of the tank and pull out the grids. Using leverage is okay, but be sure not to bend or comprimise the tank in the process. Carefully remove the tank's lid. Pull the grid assembly from the tank, making certain you don'tbreak any of the manifold fittings or cut the grid fabric on any sharp edges. Hose off the grids using a pressure nozzle. Make sure all of the old D.E. is thoroughly cleaned from the grid fabric. Dispose of the spent D.E. accordingly. Inspect the manifold and grids. To check the manifold and grids for suspected damage, carefully remove wing nuts with a pair of pliers. Make sure not to strip the threads. Inspect the grids for any small rips or holes.

Clean the filter tank. Release the tank's bottom drain and let the remaining water run out. Hose as much of the loose D.E. and debris out as possible. A pair of channel locks or pipe wrench can help with sticky bottom drain. Inspect the inside of the band / ring. Use a screwdriver to free the band ring from the tank and inspect it for wear. Clean it thoroughly with water or with soap and water in cases where grease and lubricants were used. Put the band ring back and make sure that it is seated evenly and securely in place. Inspect the 0-ring. Check the ring for wear and replace it if necessary. Put the grid assembly back in place. Return cleaned grids and their assembly to the tank, making certain all grids are properly aligned and that the pipe fittings are securely in place as needed. Place the lid back on the tank. Return the lid to the tank and realign it with the greased pencil marks. Put the ring clamp back on the tank and make sure it is seated properly completely around the tank. Tighten the bolt on the clamp assembly. Use an open-end wrench if necessary, occasionally tapping the band ring to make certain it is seated properly. Follow the manufacturer's recommendation with respect to how tight a fit you need. Recharge the D.E. Restart the pump and keep the air-release valve open until a steady flow of water emerges. Place an appropriate quantity of D.E. in a bucket, then add water until it dissolves. When the mixture is "milky" enough, pour it slowly into skimmer with the pump running. Watch the pressure gauge. After adding the D.E. to the skimmer, mark the pressure reading down on the tank with a grease pencil. At subsequent stops, you will be able to tell at a glance how much the pressure in the tank has increased.

Cartridge Filter Maintenance

Servicing cartridge filters is simple. All there is to do is simply removing the cartridge elements, soaking them, hosing them off and putting them back in place. In fact, your only options with cartridge filters are either cleaning or replacement. Unlike sand or diatomaceous earth filters, cartridge filters cannot be cleaned by backwashing. This difference makes it important to stay on top of your filter maintenance routines with cartridge units.

Because thorough cleaning typically requires overnight soaking, you also need to consider what to do without the equipment in the meantime. Most people leave the system off overnight, and some replace the elements. The choice is of course, yours. As always, consult manufacturer literature for specific maintenance procedures and take care to release air pressure from the system when restarting the circulation system.

First, remove the lid. Do so with the pump turned off and the pressure-release valve open, unscrew or otherwise loosen the clamp fitting and remove the tank's ring-clamp assembly. To remove the lid or the upper half of the tank, apply leverage to the lip of the lid and carefully remove it, making sure not to force the lid out of round. Next, remove the cartridges. To remove the cartridges one by one, unscrew the wing nuts and lift the cartridges out. If you need to pull the entire cartridge/manifold assembly, consult the manufacturer's literature. Typically, this method is used only if you suspect a leaking manifold and are removing the assembly for inspection. After removing all the cartridges, you will need to rinse off the cartridges. Make sure to rinse off the cartridges by using a high-pressure nozzle. Then inspect the cartridges for any visible damage such as large tears or holes that would compromise filtration. If no visible damage exists, the cartridges should return to their original white or light gray color when properly cleaned. Then return the cartridges to their assembly, making sure they are carefully seated on the manifold fittings. Reapply the wing nut or fastening device. If you are returning the entire assembly to the tank, it may be more convenient to assemble the unit outside the tank. Follow manufacturer directions and make sure the manifold is properly connected to internal fittings. Inspect the 0-ring and ringclamp assembly for any signs of wear or at the first sign of deterioration. Clean the ring clamp and lip of the lid if necessary. Replace the lid by firmly applying manual pressure to the seat of the lid. Leaning on the lid may help, but make sure not to warp the tank or the lid as you press down. Carefully replace the clamp ring making sure that it is properly placed. Tighten the assembly to manufacturer specifications. As with all filter systems, before you start the pump, make sure the air-release valve is open and wait for emergence of a stream of water.

Sand Filters Maintenance and Troubleshooting

A sand filter cleans a pool gradually by removing dirt, debris and particulates as water passes through a deep bed of sharp sand. Backwashing is the regular service for high-rate sand filters. Unlike diatomaceous earth or cartridge filters, which must be opened for periodic cleaning and replacement of media, a sand filter can go almost approximately four to five years without needing fresh sand.

The basics of sand filtration are also different from rival filter varieties. A high-rate sand filter cleans water through a process known as depth filtration. This means that dirt penetrates the sand bed and is captured in the tiny spaces between grains of sand. The depth-filtration principle works just fine unless the sand filter is not backwashed often enough. Without backwashing, dirt particles begin to accumulate on the surface of the sand bed and will result in short cycles, channeling, and poor overall filtration. Conversely, if you backwash too often, you will also compromise filtration. When the sand bed is totally clean, some of the smaller particles of dirt will pass through unfiltered. As the bed begins to accumulate dirt, the filter begins to catch those smaller particles. In other words, getting ahead of yourself by cleaning the media too often will prevent a sand filter from doing its job.

How do you know when it's time to backwash?

One obvious clue is cloudy water. When the pool gets murky, a dirty filter is the prime suspect. Another far better clue, however, can be found with the filter's pressure gauge or gauges. If the system has both inlet and outlet pressure gauges, you will note only minor pressure differentials, a few psi, when the filter media is clean. As the sand bed begins to load up with dirt, that differential will begin to become more pronounced. In most high-rate sand filters, it's time to backwash when the pressure differential reaches 18-20 psi.

If the system has an inlet pressure gauge only, you should backwash when the pressure increases by approximately 8-10 psi from initial post-backwash readings. It is ideal here to mark the pressure gauge with a grease pencil right after a good backwashing. Some people feel the necessity to maintain a record of the running pressure on a route sheet as you monitor filter cycles. A filter cycle can be affected by many different factors. These range from heavy bather load and algae, to wind-blown dirt and debris. Closely monitoring your pool, and efficiently backwashing, can save you money in the long run on wear and tear of your equipment.

Routing the Flow

Backwashing is a simple matter of reversing the flow through the filter by diverting the outlet water to waste.

The procedure is very easy to learn. First, turn off the pump to avoid damage to any plumbing or valves. Then, turn the control valve to the backwash position and restart the system. Once the filter has been backwashed for the desired period of time, shut the system down and reset the valves. Don't fire up the system right away as the sand bed needs time to settle back down into place. When you restart the pump, a small burst of cloudy water may enter the pool. This is typically caused by a residue of backwash effluent present in the sand bed as a result of inadequate backwash time. Typically, a flow rate of 15-20 gpm per square foot of filter area, most manufacturers recommend to backwash for 2-3 minutes. As always, it's a good idea to cnsult manufacturer service manuals for specific backwashing procedures.

The Inner Workings of the Sand Filter

A typical sand filter in filtration mode will have a flat surface of the sand bed which indicates proper pump and filter sizing and provides maximum filter efficiency without channeling. As the backwash cycle begins, the sand bed rises evenly in the tank as a result of proper flow rate through the filter. Within 2-3 seconds, the sand bed becomes semi-fluid. At this point, dirt and other solids break free from the media and are being discharged to waste. Within 5-10 seconds, the sand bed is now totally fluid. There is 6-7 inches of "free space" between the top of the sand and the bottom of the diffuser. If the pump and filter are properly sized, the sand will not rise too high in the tank. In the "rinse" mode, the sand bed is beginning to re-settle. The filter has now returned to the normal filtration mode. A critical factor in this simple operation is remembering to shut the pump down before changing the filter's valves from one mode to another. Forgetting to turn off the flow could result in damage to the valve and/or the filter.

DE Filters

Backwashing a DE filter will result in some dirt and some DE being flushed from the filter. The remainder drops off the grids and falls to the bottom of the filter in clumps. The manufacturers say that after backwashing, you'll need to replace that amount. If you add too little, the filter grids will quickly clog with dirt and the pressure will build right back up, even stopping the flow of water completely. If you add too much, you will get the same effect by jamming the tank with DE. Backwashing cannot remove oils from the grids, which get there from body oil, oil in leaves, and suntan lotions.

Backwashing a DE filter is useful when the pool has gotten bombarded with debris due to high winds, dirt or mud, and algae. As you start to vacuum it, you'll quickly learn the filter can't hold any more dirt. To save a lot of time you backwash, add a little fresh DE, and get on with the job. You repeat this process until the big mess is cleaned up, then you break down the filter and clean it properly.

The other time you might backwash is when you're vacuuming a normally dirty pool, but the filter hasn't been cleaned in awhile and is just about full of dirt. You encounter suction problems because the filter is clogged. Backwash, add some fresh DE, finish cleaning the pool, and then do a breakdown and clean the filter.

When the water is going inside the grid and flowing outward, any debris in the water from the pool will clog the inside of the grids rendering them useless. On a new pool startup where a lot of plaster dust or gunite debris might be in the water, don't backwash !!! Instead, open the strainer pot and turn on the pump. Flood the pot with water from a hose and backwash as needed that way. Obviously, never vacuum a pool with the filter on backwash because the dirt and debris you vacuum will flow directly inside the grids.

Here is how to break down and clean a DE filter. The vertical grid tank DE filter type is explained here. This is a common in the field and if you can do these, you can do them all.

1)Turn off the pump and switch off the circuit breaker. 2) Open the tank drain and let the water run out. 3) Remove the lid of the filter. On some filters, it is as easy as removing the clamping ring and applying light pressure under the lid with a screwdriver. 4) Remove the retainer's wing nut and remove the retainer. Now gently remove the grids (elements). Applying a reasonable amount of force on the rather large wing part of the grid won't hurt it, but the resulting torque on the flimsy nipple will snap it right off. Therefore, to remove the grids, wiggle them gently from side to side as you pull them straight up and out. Be prepared to hose out the tank while the grids are still in place or patiently excavate the dirt and DE until you can free the grids. 5)Remove the retaining rod by unscrewing it from the base of the rotary valve. Sometimes it is corroded in place, so have pliers handy to grip the rod and unscrew it. 6) Reach in the tank and remove the manifold from the rim of the rotary valve. 7) Hose out the inside of the tank, the manifold, and the holding wheel. Hose off the grids and scrub them lightly to loosen the grime. 8) Inspect the manifold for chips or cracks. DE and dirt will go through such openings and back into your pool. Cracks can be glued. Particularly inspect the joint between the top and bottom halves of the manifold. These two parts are glued together, tend to separate. Replace the manifold as you took it out. Reinstall the center rod. 9) Carefully inspect the grids before putting them back inside. Look for worn or torn fabric, cracked necks on the nipples, or grids where the plastic frame has collapsed inside the fabric. Replace any severely damaged grids. When you reinstall the grids, notice that inside each hole in the manifold is a small nipple and on the outside of each grid nipple is a small notch. By lining up the nipple and notch as you reinsert each grid, the grids will go back as intended. Now lay the retainer over the tops of the grids and spin it around until it finds its place holding down and separating the grids. Screw on the wing nut and washer that holds down the retainer holding wheel. 10) Get the lid back making sure the 0-ring on the tank is free of gouges and has not stretched. If it is loose, soak it for 15 minutes in ice water and it might shrink back to a good fit. If not, replace it. Apply tile soap as a lubricant to make it slide on easier to the inside of the lid around the edge that will meet the O-ring. Don't use Vaseline or petroleum-based lubricants because these will corrode the O-ring material. 11) Now close the tank drain, turn the backwash valve to normal filtration, and turn on the pump. Let the tank fill with water. Turn off the pump and turn the valve to backwash. The water will drain out, sucking the lid down. 12) Replace the clamping ring, return the valve to normal filtration, and start the pump/motor. Open the air relief valve and purge the air until water spurts out the valve. 13) Never run a DE filter without DE, even for a short time. Dirt will clog the bare grids. Remember, it's not the grids, but the DE that does the actual filtering. DE is added to the system through the skimmer. Do not dump it in all at once. It will form in clumps at the first restricted area, like a plumbing of elbow or the inlet of the filter tank. Sprinkle a little amount at a time, mixing it in the skimmer water with your hand. This will disperse it evenly in water. If the the unit is not assembled correctly, DE will flow back into the pool after passing through the unit, when you start up the unit. If the water has slight milky residue, which reduces with more flow of water then it is normal and there is nothing wrong in it. Most of the pool have skimmers where you can add the DE. But if there is no skimmer, make a mixture of water and DE in a bucket, turn on the pump, and add it to the strainer pot, followed by clear water. This way the DE will coat the gird evenly. Cover the strainer and reprime the pump.

Sand Filters

Sand filters use specific size and quality of sand. If the particle size is big then the filtration of smaller particles is not possible and if the sand size is too small then it will clog the laterals.

Sand filters need regular backwashing. When the tank is full of circulating water the sand is suspended in the tank. The sand is light enough to stay floating in the tank, but heavy enough that it does not flow out with the backwash water. This is why the multiport valve is located on top of sand filters, so as the backwash flows from the bottom toward the top, the dirt flows up and out while the sand stays put. So backwashing is an effective way of cleaning a sand filter. Most rotary valves have the steps printed right on them, and they are very simple.

1) Turn off the pump. Rotate the valve to Backwash. Roll out your backwash hose or make sure the waste drain is open. 2) Turn on the pump and watch the outgoing water through the sight glass. It will appear clean, then dirty, then very dirty, then it will slowly clear. When it is reasonably clear, turn off the pump and rotate the valve to Rinse. 3) Turn the pump back on and run the rinse cycle for about 30 seconds to clear any dirt from the plumbing. Turn off the pump, rotate the valve back to Filter, and restart the pump for normal filtration.

When the filter gauge reads 10 psi more than when the filter is clean, it is usually time to backwash. A better clue is when dirt is returning to the pool or when vacuuming suction is poor. When backwashing, be sure there is enough water in the pool to supply the volume that will end up down the drain. It is usually a good idea to add water to the pool or spa each time you backwash.

Sand under pressure from constant use of pool chemicals over a period of time can lead to calcification and clumping. Passages are created through or around these clumps, but less and less water is actually filtering through the sand and more is passing around it. This is called channeling. To correct or avoid this problem, regular teardown is the solution.

1) Turn off the pump. Disconnect the multiport valve plumbing by backing off the threaded union collars. Some valves are threaded into the body of the tank, others are bolted on. Remove the valve. 2) Some sand filters have a large basket just inside the tank. Remove this and clean it out. The sand is now exposed. Push a garden hose into the tank and flush the sand. As noted previously, it will float and suspend in the water. Bust up the clumps. As the water fills the tank, it will overflow, flushing out dirt and debris. Be careful not to hit the laterals on the bottom of the tank because they are fragile and break easily. 3) When the sand is completely free and suspended in the water, not clumped, turn off the water and replace the basket, multiport valve, and plumbing. Backwash briefly to remove any dirt that was dislodged by this process but not yet flushed out.

This teardown process also allows you to check to see if the regular backwashing has flushed out too much sand. You might need to add some fresh sand. Most sand filters need to be filled about two-thirds with sand and have one-third free space. Backwash after adding any new sand to remove dust and impurities from the new sand.

If channeling is a problem because of hard water or pool chemistry which speeds up calcification of the sand, introduce aluminum sulfate through the skimmer just like you would add DE to help prevent this problem. Use the amounts recommended on the bag.

Every few years you need to replace the sand completely because erosion from years of water passing over each grain makes them round instead of coarse and rough. Smooth sand does not catch and trap dirt as efficiently, and it slowly erodes to a smaller size. This allows it to clog laterals and pass into the pool. To replace sand, or add sand to a new installation:

Open the filter as described previously. Remove the old sand by scooping it out. Fill the bottom third of the tank with water to cushion the impact of the sand on the laterals. Slowly pour the sand into the filter, being careful of the laterals. Fill sand to about two-thirds of the tank. Reassemble the filter parts and backwash to remove dust and impurities from the new sand, then filter as normal.

Cartridge Filters

1) Turn off the pump. Remove the retaining band and lift the filter tank or lid from the base. Remove the cartridge. 2) Light debris can simply be hosed off, but, examine inside the pleats of the cartridge. Dirt and oil have a way of accumulating between these pleats. Never acid wash a cartridge. Acid alone can cause organic material to harden in the web of the fabric, effectively making it impervious to water. Soak the cartridge in a garbage can of water with trisodium phosphate (1 cup per 5 gallons) and muriatic acid (1 cup per 5 gallons) for an hour. Remove the cartridge and scrub it clean in fresh water. Don't use soap. 3) Reassemble the filter and resume normal circulation.

Replace cartridges when they won't come clean, when the webbing of the fabric appears shiny and closed, or when the fabric has begun to deteriorate or tear.

Backwash Valves

Piston backwash valves: The valve has piston discs equipped with O-rings. As these wear out, water or dirt bypasses the intended direction. Similarly, the O-rings on the shaft, just under the handle, wear out from regular repeated use. Tear down the valve in the following manner:

1) Turn off the pump. Remove the screws on top of the valve cap. Pull the handle up as if you were going to backwash, but keep pulling straight up to remove the entire piston assembly. Replace the O-rings on each disc. They pull off like rubber bands and the new ones go on the same way. Apply silicone lube to theO-rings. 2) Remove the handle from the piston stem. It is held in place by setscrews or allen-head screws. This also allows you to slide the cap off the stem. Inside the cap, you will find two small O-rings. Pull these out with the tip of a screwdriver and replace them. Apply silicone lube. 3) Clean the stem and disc assembly and flush out the inside of the valve body. Grit or sand can create leaks or cause your new O-rings to wear out sooner than necessary. Reassemble the unit the same way you took it apart.

Rotary or Multiport Backwash Valves: Rotary and multiport valves are similar in construction. A rotary valve is normally mounted under a vertical grid DE filter. As with piston-type units, these leak either externally or within the chambers of the unit itself. If water appears under the filter, use a flashlight to inspect underneath as carefully as possible. If you can see or feel a leak where the plumbing enters the valve openings, you can repair that without disassembling the entire filter. If the leak appears to be at the joint of the valve and filter tank, or if the problem is DE and dirt bypassing the normal flow and getting back into the pool, you will need to tear down the filter and valve.

Another typical symptom of an internal leak is drips coming from the backwash outlet even though the valve is turned completely to the normal filtration position. It employs a rotor seal that can compress or wear out. When the body gasket wears out and water bypasses the normal flow, some leakage gets to the backwash side and appears as a leak under the filter. If the backwash outlet is plumbed directly into a waste or sewer drain, this leak might not be visible.

Sometimes the problem is not in the pool or spa itself, but in some hidden area within the system plumbing. Such a hidden problem can also cause the system to lose prime overnight when the pump is off. The leak drains the water from the filter tank, then siphons the water out of the pump. On start-up the next day, the pump has no prime. If the pump runs dry for several hours, overheats, loosens or melts the plumbing fittings, you will attribute the loss of prime to the damaged plumbing. You repair the plumbing and the same problem occurs the next day. Have a sight glass on the backwash outflow line so you can see any leaks and/or have a shutoff gate valve on that line that stays closed when the valve is in the normal filtration position.

To tear down this type of valve, use the following procedure:

1) Cut the plumbing to isolate the filter and take the unit apart. 2) Reach inside the bottom of the filter and remove the bolts that hold the compression ring with a nut driver. This ring holds the valve in place as well, so the valve will now fall away from the filter tank. 3) You now have the valve body with the rotor inside. Remove the handle on the underside of the valve by removing the bolt assembly that holds it on the rotor shaft and slide it off the shaft. Pull the rotor out of the body. Bronze rotors are very hard to remove and you might have to take the valve to a pump rebuilding shop. 4) Pull the old rotor seal gasket from the rotor with needle-nose pliers. Clean the rotor and inside the valve body. Put a new gasket on the rotor, being careful not to over-stretch the new gasket. 5) Lube the gasket with silicone lube and replace it in the valve body. On bronze rotors, each port has an O-ring instead of one body gasket seal as you will find on the plastic versions. Before reassembling the filter, replace the O-ring that sits between the tank and valve and the O-ring that seals the shaft as it passes through the valve body to the handle. Also replace the O-ring on the neck of the rotor. The grid manifold sits on this neck and the O-ring seals that joint, so to prevent dirt from bypassing the correct direction of flow, and lube all O-rings with silicone lube. 6) Reassemble the valve and tank the way you took it apart. Be sure the tank itself is clean and that the opening in the bottom shows no rust or cracks. If it does, you should clean it thoroughly and have the cracks welded. Replumb and restart the filter as described previously.

Lids and Gauge Assemblies

Lids on filters leak in two places. The O-ring that seals them to the tank and/or the pressure gauge air relief valve assembly. The lid O-ring can sometimes be removed, cleaned, turned over, and reused. Try the cleanup/turnover method and if you still have leaks, then replace it.

Some filters will crack on the rim of either the lid or the tank where the O-ring is seated. Obviously, the problem in this case is not a bad O-ring, but a bad lid or tank. Inspect these stress areas carefully for hairline cracks that might be the source of the leak.

Air relief valves sometimes leak if they become dirty or they simply wear out. Some are fitted with an external spring that applies tension to create the seal. When the spring goes, so does the watertight seal. Others have a small O-ring on the tip of the part that actually screws in to create the seal. Unscrew this type of valve all the way. The screw part will come out to reveal the O-ring on the tip that makes the seal, and you can easily replace that. Air relief valves themselves simply screw out of the T assembly. Apply Teflon tape or pipe dope to the new one and screw it back in place.

The pressure gauge also threads into the T assembly. If you have a leak there, unscrew the gauge, apply Teflon tape or pipe dope to the threads and screw it back into place. If the gauge doesn't register or seems to register low, take it out and clean out the hole in the bottom of the gauge. Dirt or DE can clog this small hole, preventing water from getting into the gauge.

Remember, when removing an air relief valve or pressure gauge, you must secure the T with pliers or a wrench while removing the component. The T assembly can easily snap off the filter lid or come loose if you fail to hold it securely when removing or replacing a valve or gauge. The T assembly itself can come loose and create a leak where the close nipple passes through the hole in the lid. In this case you must remove the lid and tighten the nut from the underside of the lid. Some makes of filters have a nipple welded to the lid, so you won't have this problem unless you crack the weld.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

The basics of a pump/motor(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

Glossary of Pump and Motor Terminology

Here is some terminology used in context with motors and pumps that you should be familiar with:

Air gap- The air space between two magnetically related or electrically related parts. (i.e the space between poles of a magnet or the poles of an electric motor)
Alternating current- An electrical current that alternates, flowing first with a positive polarity, followed by a negative polarity.
Capacitor- An electrical device consisting of two or more conducting plates separated from one another by insulating material and used for storing an electrical charge.
Dielectric-The insulating material that separates and insulates the conducting plates in a capacitor.
Dielectric breakdown- The failure of an insulating material to separate electrical charges. Breakdown occurs when the insulating material changes and conducts the electrical charge between plates.
Frequency- In electricity, the number of times alternated current changes direction during one second. Frequency is measured in hertz.
Hertz- A unit of measurement of frequency. Hertz indicates "cycles per second" of alternating current.
Horsepower- The conventional unit of measure foi- power, this indicates the result of force multiplied by distance multiplied by time.
Locked-rotor test- A test of an electric motor in which the shaft is prevented from turning while power is applied.
NEMA- The National Electrical Manufacturers Association.
No-load test- Operating a motor at full speed with no load to determine rotational power losses.
Rotor- The rotating part of an electric rotating machine. In a motor it is connected to and turns the drive shaft. In an alternator or generator it is turned to produce electricity by cutting magnetic lines of force.
Service factor- A measure of the reserve margin built into a motor. Motors rated more than 1.0 SF have more than normal margin and are used where unusual conditions such as occasional high or low voltage, momentary overloads and so forth are likely to occur.
Single phase- Having only one alternating current or voltage in a circuit.
Stator- The stationary part of a motor that contains the laminated steel core with the winding; this is where the rotor revolves.
Torque- A force that produces a rotating or twisting action.
Triac- An electronic switch used in applications such as power switches, light dimmers and motor controls.
Voltage- Electrical pressure; the force that causes current in an electrical conductor.
Watt- A unit of electrical power representing the power developed in a circuit by a current of one ampere when the voltage drop is one volt.
Wattmeter- An instrument for measuring electrical power.

Motor Types

Capacitor-start motor- An alternating current split-phase induction motor that has a capacitor connected in series with an auxiliary winding for starting. The auxiliary circuit disconnects when the motor is up to speed. This motor requires an internal starting switch and governor.
Permanent split capacitor motor- A single-phase electric motor that uses a phase winding in conjunction with the main winding. The phase winding is controlled by a capacitor that stays in the circuit at all times and is rated for continuous running. The capacitor improves starting and running power factors. This motor does not require either an internal starting switch or a governor.
Split-phase motor- A single-phase induction motor that has an auxiliary winding connected in parallel with the main winding. The auxiliary winding's magnetic position is not the same as the main winding, so it can produce the required rotating magnetic field needed for starting. This motor requires an internal starting switch and a governor.
Three-phase electric motor- A motor that operates from a three-phase power source. In three-phase power, three voltages are produced that are 120 electrical degrees apart in time. This motor has no internal starting switch.
Two-capacitor motor- An induction motor that uses one capacitor for starting and one for running. The starting capacitor is in parallel with the running capacitor as the motor is starting; at 75 percent of speed, the starting capacitor is cut out of the circuit. This type of motor is sometimes called capacitor start/capacitor run and requires an internal starting switch and governor.


Pool and spa pumps are classified as centrifugal pumps. Meaning, the centrifugal force that is created by spinning the water, will force the water downwards and if there is an opening or a hole, this water will get pushed forward through the hole.

The pump operates the same way. The impeller in the pump spins, shooting water out of it. As the water escapes, a vacuum is created that demands more water to equalize this force. Water is pulled from the pool or spa and sent on its way through the circulation plumbing. The hole size determines the amount of water and how fast it can escape.

Pumps used for pools are self-priming. That is, they expel the air inside upon start-up, creating a vacuum that starts suction. Once water is flowing through the pump, if you close a valve on the outflow side of the pump, restricting all flow, maximum possible pressure is created.

Strainer Pot And Basket

Water flows into a chamber, called the strainer pot or hair and lint trap. This chamber holds a basket that permits water to pass but retains the debris. In some pumps the strainer pot bolts to the volute with a gasket to prevent leaks, while in yet others it is molded together with the volute as one piece. In bathtub spas or booster pumps, there is no strainer pot and basket at all since debris is not a problem.

There is an access provided to clean out the strainer basket, and also have a cover that are usually made of transparent plastic and can easily be attached with a nut and a bolt. The strainer cover has an O-ring between the lip of the strainer pot and itself. This prevents any leakage due to suction. Also the pot has a small threaded plug that screws into the bottom. This plug is designed to allow complete drainage of the pot when winterizing the pump.


The volute, is the chamber in which the impeller spins, that forces water out of the pump and into the plumbing that takes the water to the filter. The outlet port is usually female threaded for easy plumbing. The movement of the impeller sucks the water from the pool through the strainer pot. The resulting vacuum in the pot is compensated for by water filling the void. The rushing water is contained by the volute which directs it out of the pump. Therefore the pot can be considered a vacuum chamber and the volute a pressure chamber. The impeller by itself cannot create a strong vacuum by itself to make the water flow begin. The area immediately around the impeller must be limited to eliminate air and help start the water flow. A diffuser and/or closed-face impeller help this process, but in many pump designs, the volute serves this purpose.


The impeller is a ribbed disk that spins inside the volute. The disk is called a shroud and the curved ribs are called vanes. Water entering the center of the impeller, is forced to the outside edge of the disk by the vanes. As the water moves to the edge, there is a resulting drop in pressure at the center, creating a vacuum that is the suction of the pump.

There are two types of impellers, closed-face and semi-open-face. In a closed-face impeller, the vanes of the impeller are covered in both front and back. Water flows into the hole in the center and is forced out at the end of each vane along the edge of the impeller. This type of impeller is very efficient in moving water and a diffuser is added to the design to slow the speed of the water before it leaves the volute. This design does not take into considerationthe debris that might escape the skimmer and strainer basket and into the impellers. This led to the new design, the semi-open-face design allowing small debris to pass by actually pulverizing it. Diatomaceous earth is the chief cause of clogging in the impellers.

Impellers are rated by horsepower to match the motor horsepower that is used. This, in turn, determines the horsepower rating of the pump or pump and motor you have. Usually the motor is of higher horse power than the impeller.

Seal Plate and Adapter Bracket

The volute is divided into two sections, the rounded volute and the seal plate. This allows an access to the impeller. The seal plate is joined to the volute with a clamp or with bolts. An O-ring between them makes this joint watertight. The motor is bolted directly onto this type of seal plate. In other designs, the seal plate is molded together with an adapter bracket that supports the motor and bolts to the volute, with a paper or rubber gasket between them to create a watertight joint.

In both cases, the shaft of the motor passes through a hole in the center of the seal plate and the impeller is attached, threaded onto the shaft. The bracket allows access to the shaft extender for adjusting the clearance between the impeller and volute. The pump design of closed face needs no such adjustment, so the shaft need not be exposed.

Shaft and Shaft Extender

The shaft of the motor is the part that turns the impeller, creating water flow. The impeller needs to be adjusted in relation to the volute, so a shaft extender has been created. The extender slides over the motor shaft and is secured by three allen-head setscrews. The male threaded end of the shaft extender then fits through the seal plate and the impeller is screwed into place.

The extender is round with a flat area on two sides to prevent the extender from spinning when performing maintenance. The shaft should never be in contact with electric current, so most motor shafts today are designed with a special internal sleeve to insulate the electricity in the motor from the water in the pump.


The seal allows the shaft to turn freely while keeping the water from leaking out of the pump. If the shaft passed through the large hole of the seal plate without some kind of sealing, the pump would leak water.

The seal is in two parts. One half of the seal is composed of a rubber gasket or O-ring. This is fitted around a ceramic ring and fits into a groove in the back of the impeller. The other half of the seal is made of a metal bushing and a spring. This fits into a groove in the seal plate. Since the spring exerts pressure on both the sides it makes the whole seal water tight there by preventing the water from leaking out of the pump.

As the shaft turns, these two halves spin against each other but do not burn up because their materials are heat-resistant and the entire seal is cooled by the water around it. Therefore, if the pump is allowed to run dry, the seal is the first component to overheat and fail. Pumps are not designed to run without water for more than a few minutes while priming.


Motors are rated by horsepower. The most common ratings for pool and spa motors range from 0.5 to 2.0 horsepower. Some motors are designed to operate at two speeds. Each speed is dependent upon the need for circulation and heating or for jet action in a spa. A starting switch is mounted on one end with a small removable panel for maintenance access.

A thermal overload protector, which is a heat sensitive switch that is like a circuit breaker, is mounted on the panel. If the internal temperature gets too hot, it shuts off the flow of electricity to the motor to prevent greater damage. As this protector cools, it automatically restarts the motor. But, if the unit overheats again, it will continue to cycle on and off until the problem is solved or the protector burns out.

The capacitor of the motor is located on top of the motor housing in a separate box or housing. The capacitor has the ability to store an electrical charge, and when discharged it gives the motor enough of a jolt to start. This way the capacitor can impart enough energy to start the motor and then run on a lower amount of electricity. Without the capacitor, the motor would need to be served by very heavy wiring and high-amp circuit breakers to carry the starting amps.

Motor Types

The three main types of motors that you find in pool and spa are:


When the start up power requirements are minimal, the motor is usually one-quarter horse power or less. This does not require any capacitor either.

Capacitor start, induction run (CSI)

This is the most commonly used motor in the pool business. This motor uses a capacitor and starting windings to start up, then these are shut down and a running winding takes over.

The capacitor and start-up windings allow faster, stronger torque to overcome the initial resistance of the impeller against standing water. When the water is moving and less power is needed to keep it moving, the system shuts off and the lighter running winding takes over.

Capacitor start, capacitor run (CSR)

A (CSR) motor is more efficient than a (CSI) motor, but costs more because of the added parts. These motors are also called switch-less, because on some designs the run capacitor makes a start switch unnecessary. These are the most energy efficient motors when they have heavier wire in the windings to lower the electricity wasted from heat loss. A good way to compare energy efficiency between two motors is to compare the gallons pumped to kilowatts used. The higher the resulting number, the more efficient is the pump and motor. Kilowattage is determined by multiplying amps by voltage.


Motors are most commonly designed to work on 110 or 220 volts. Higher horsepower motors might run on three-phase current. So it is best to get the work done by a certified electrician.

Housing Design

A variety of motors are designed for pool pumps. The motor must be compatible to the pump design. The motor face could be either a C-frame or square-flange type. So, check for the correct fit and compatibility with the pump.


The service factor of a motor is a multiplier number. When this number is multiplied with the horsepower rating of the motor, you get the real horsepower at which the motor is designed to operate on a continuous basis. As an example, a motor rated at 1 hp with a service factor of 1.5 can actually safely run a 1.5-hp pump (1.0 x 1.5 = 1.5 hp).

Electrical Specifications

Usualy, a diagram showing how to wire the starting switch plate for 110 or 220 volt supply can be found on the outside of the motor. If not, remove the small access door in the end bell and it should be printed on a sticker in there. These stickers frequently come off as the motor gets older, so if no diagram is available, refer to the manufacturer's guidebook available at your supply house.

The nameplate also tells you of the maximum load or amperage. It might say "10.0/5.0." This means the start-up draw is 10.0 amps, and the normal running draw is 5.0 amps. The nameplate also lists the electrical phasing and cycle frequency in hertz.

Duty rating

Pool and spa motors are designed for continuous duty, meaning they can run 24 hours a day for their entire service life without stopping. The nameplate shows this by the rating "Continuous Duty." The horsepower, service factor, rpm, and frame style of the housing are listed. If the motor has a thermal overload protector, the nameplate will indicate it.

Horsepower And Hydraulics Equals Sizing

To find the correct horsepower of the motor or the pump, that is required for the job, it is best to consider the needs of the pool and spa, hydraulics involved and the horsepower of the equipment. This gives you the right size of the unit that needs to be installed.


The study of water flow and the factors affecting that flow is Hydraulics. It is important to understand because its principles affect plumbing and equipment sizing choices for there are so many factors involved.

Terms commonly used

Head and Flow rate- Head is the resistance of water flow through plumbing and equipment expressed in feet. The lower, the better. Flow rate is the volume of water moved in a given period of time.

As the length of the plumbing pipe increases, the resistance will bring down the flow rate.The additional resistance (head) of that added pipe means that the pump cannot push the water as fast. This loss of flow, as head increases, is called head loss. What is actually lost is flow. The term actually means flow loss caused by head increase. If you continue to increase the head (resistance) by adding more vertical pipe, the flow rate will continue to decrease until at last, no water comes out at all.

Pumps are designated low, medium, high, or ultra-high head. The higher the head designation, the less strain is placed on the pump and motor components: Low head-suck well; push poorly; Medium head-suck well; push well; High head-suck poorly; push well (most common in pools and spas); Ultra-high head-suck poorly; push well (pool sweeps).

One factor affecting which type a particular pump will be is its impeller. Thin vents on the face (closed or semi-open) result in greater push but poor suck; in other words, poor self-priming capabilities but good circulating flows.

Suction Head is the head created by adding resistance to the outflow side of the pump. By restricting the intake or requiring the pump to lift water from a source below it, you also create head. Each foot on the suction side equals a similar foot on the discharge side, called discharge head. The only thing to remember here is that head (resistance) is created on both sides and must be calculated when determining pump size.

Dynamic and Static Head- The static head or the head created by the weight of standing water is only a small portion of the total head in the system. The rest is created by the friction of water flowing through the entire system, called dynamic (moving) head. The diameter of the pipe and the speed of the water determines how much resistance is created by friction. Further friction is created when water must go through or around other obstacles, such as through the filter, heater, solar panels, and plumbing fittings for every plumbing elbow or bend creates head too.

Cavitation refers to the vacuum created when the outflow capacity of a pump exceeds the suction intake. This happens, when a pump is oversized for the suction line or when the distance from the body of water is too far. The result is bubbling and vibration.

Total Dynamic Head (TDH) is the total of plumbing and equipment head for the entire system. Vacuum head (suction) plus pressure head (discharge) equals total dynamic head.

Shut-off head- The amount of head at which the pump can no longer circulate water.

Calculations: Here are a few general numbers to use in your calculations.

To make it easier to calculate head in your plumbing system, it is measured for every 100 feet of pipe or the equivalent. Plumbing connections, fittings, and valves have different amounts of resistance than straight pipe. So, these must first be converted to the equivalent length of straight pipe. Unions and straight connectors act like additional lengths of straight pipe. So, no special calculations are needed. Going around corners is what creates head. Here are the values for the most common PVC fittings you will use:

1) 1/2-inch x 90-degree elbow = 7.5 feet of straight 1/2-inch pipe
2) 2-inch x 90-degree elbow = 8.6 feet of straight 2-inch pipe
3) 1/2-inch x 45-degree elbow = 2.2 feet of straight 1/2-inch pipe
4) 2-inch x 45-degree elbow = 2.8 feet of straight 2-inch pipe

Filters- The manufacturer will tell you in the literature that accompanies the product how many feet of head the unit creates. You can also measure the amount by placing a pressure gauge on the pipe leading into the filter and one on the pipe going out. The difference, measured in pounds per square inch (psi), tells you the feet of head.

Manufacturers recommend cleaning a filter when the operating pressure builds up to more than 10 psi over clean operating pressure. Heaters create 8 to 15 feet of head. Like filters, the manufacturer will tell you in the literature that comes with the unit what the head loss is for the unit at a given flow rate. Also like filters, as scale builds up in the heat exchanger, more friction is created and therefore more head.

Poolside Hardware- Main drain covers, skimmers, and return outlets all add head. To know exactly how much, you must refer to each manufacturer's specifications. A general rule of thumb is to add 5 feet of head to allow for the total of such components in your system.

Pumps- also create head, but the manufacturer's charts allow for this, so your calculations need not consider it. When you look at the TDH for the system on the pump curve, the pump head loss is already figured in the performance ability.

Turnover Rate- The turnover rate of a body of water is how long it takes to run all the water through the system. It is desirable for the water to completely circulate through the filter one to two times per day. Various components offer more or less resistance at different speeds expressed in gallons per minute. To calculate the TDH of a system, you must know that speed. To decide what speed is needed you must establish a turnover rate.

Let's say you've calculated the volume of water in the pool as 24,000 gallons.

24,000 gal / 6 hrs = 4000 gallons per hour 4000 gph / 60 min = 66.6 gpm

Therefore, you need a pump capable of delivering a flow rate of 66.6 gpm under the TDH of the system.

Methods of calculating TDH: Here are the three methods for calculating TDH.

Method 1: Exact values:

If you have the exact specifications of the pool, measure all the pipe from the pool, through the equipment, and back to the pool. Add the equivalent feet of pipe for all the fittings. Add the feet of head at the desired flow rate for the filter, heater, and any other components to arrive at the TDH for the system.

Method 2: Estimated values:

1) Suction-side head- Assume 2 feet of head for each 10 feet the equipment is away from the pool.
2) Discharge-side head- Estimate how many feet of pipe are in the system back to the pool. Double that estimate to allow for fittings.
3) Using the tables, calculate the feet of head for the total amount of pipe on the discharge side.
4) Equipment head. Consult manufacturer's tables and charts for the desired flow rate
5) Add these three parts together to get the TDH.

Method 3: Measured values:

An easier and more accurate way to estimate all of this, if the existing pump is operating, is to measure the vacuum on the suction side of the pump and the pressure on the discharge side. Plumb a vacuum gauge on the pipe entering the pump. It measures inches of mercury. Every 1 inch of mercury equals 1.13 feet of head. Plumb a pressure gauge on the pipe coming out of the pump. It measures pounds per square inch (psi). Every 1 psi of pressure equals 2.31 feet of head.

Multiply the gauges out accordingly and the sum of the two gives you the TDH of the system. This might sound like work, plumbing in two separate gauges, but it really isn't, and it gives you the most accurate TDH calculation because it takes into account the dirty filter, the limed-up heater, all the unseen plumbing. It also allows you to keep an eye on the TDH in the system at any time and more easily troubleshoot poor performance in the equipment.


The running water not only encounters friction created by pipes and equipment, but the water itself is creating friction. This friction will strip copper from pipes and heater components causing all kinds of havoc. Because of this, most building codes set maximum flow rates of 8 feet per second through copper pipe and 10 feet per second through PVC. Since heaters all use copper heat exchangers, use 8 feet per second even if the plumbing is PVC. What is feet per second in terms of gallons per minute?

1) 50 gpm in 1 1/2-inch pipe = 7.9 feet per second

2) 50 gpm in 2-inch pipe = 4.8 feet per second

3) 60 gpm in 1 1/2-inch pipe = 9.5 feet per second

4) 60 gpm in 2-inch pipe = 5.7 feet per second

Maintenance And Repair

It is always better to keep the pump and the motor in good condition for they affect the efficiency of the system. Keep the motor in good working condition by keeping it dry and cool. Also, do not allow the bad and worn bearings to take a toll on the motor. Attend to any leaks as soon as detected in the pumps as they will eventually affect the motors. The basic repairs and maintenance of the pump and motor unit are discussed in the following sections.

Strainer Pots

When the strainer basket gets clogged with debris and dirt, clean it out. Even small amounts of hair or debris can clog the fine mesh of the basket and substantially reduce flow. For this, you have to shut down the system, remove cover bolts or clamps, clean out hair and filth from the basket, put the basket back, find a water source to fill the pot so the pump will reprime easily, check the O-ring, replace the cover, tighten the bolts or clamps, and restart the system. If the basket or the pot is broken or cracked, the basket will permit large debris and hair to clog the impeller or the plumbing between the equipment components.

Gaskets and O-Rings

Most problems occur in strainer pots when the pump is operated dry, with no water to cool it. The strainer basket will eventually melt. The pot cover, if plastic, will warp. The O-rings will melt. Replacement of the parts should be done in such cases.


When gaskets leak, the replacement process is the same as removing the strainer basket. Remove the strainer pot. Clean out the old gasket thoroughly. Reassemble the new gasket and strainer pot the same way the old one came off. Tighten the bolts evenly. Sometimes the bolts are designed to go through the opening in the pot and volute and are tightened with a nut and lock washer on the other side. Be careful in assembling these components.


When removing and replacing the strainer pot cover, be sure the O-ring and the top of the strainer pot are clean, because debris can cause gaps in the seal. Sometimes, these O-rings become too compressed, dried out, and brittle. Then it can't seal the cover to the pot. Then replace the O-ring.

Changing A Seal

All pumps have seals to prevent water from leaking out along the motor shaft. When these wear out due to overheating, they are easy to replace. Make sure to turn off the electricity to the motor at the breaker before starting.

1) To access this seal for replacement, remove the four bolts that hold the pump halves together.
2) Grasp the motor and pull it and the bracket away from the volute. Wiggle it slightly from side to side as you pull back to help break this joint.
3) Take your pliers or a wrench and hold the shaft extender to prevent it from turning. Unscrew the impeller from the shaft extender using an impeller wrench.
4) Remove the four bolts that hold the bracket on the motor. If needed, use a hammer to gently tap the bracket away from the motor.
5) Remove both halves of the old seal. Make sure to recognize how each half is installed so you get the new one back in the same way. One half is in the back of the impeller and is easily popped out with a flat-blade screwdriver. The other half is in the seal plate and motor bracket unit.
6) Install the new seal. First, look up your pump in the manufacturer's literature to determine the model seal required. Failing that, you can take the old one to a supply house so they can match it up for you. There are only three commonly used seals in pool and spa work. Clean out the seal plate and impeller at the old seal. An emery cloth or a small wire brush and water will suffice.
7) When you break apart a pump, the old gasket usually won't reseal. Clean all of the old gaskets off of the seal plate and volute. Scrape it clean if needed with flatblade screwdriver. Now reassemble the pump by placing a new gasket between the pump halves.
8) Check for leaks by starting the pump and let it run several minutes. A fresh paper gasket might leak for a few minutes until it becomes wet and swells to fill all the gaps. But, it should stop leaking after a short time. If your job does leak, take it apart and go over each step again.

In some pumps where the parts are assembled slightly differently, you follow the same steps. The clamp is removed to disassemble the pump halves, and then remove the diffuser to get to the impeller. To remove the impeller, you can grip it with your hand and twist it off. But, the trick with these units is to stop the shaft from spinning as you twist off the impeller. There are air vents in the motor on the end closest to the pump itself. Look in and you will see the motor shaft. Place a flat-blade screwdriver in one of the air vents and wedge it against the shaft to keep it from turning.

Alternatively, you can remove the end cap and look inside as you twist the impeller. You will see the back end of the shaft, with the start switch attached. Since this switch is fragile, you must remove it to access the slotted screw in the back end of the shaft. Place the screwdriver in this screw to keep the shaft from turning as you remove the impeller. Instead of a gasket, some pumps use an O-ring. Clean this and lubricate it with silicone before reassembly.

Some pumps use a plastic impeller with a housing that holds half the seal in place. If the pump has run dry and overheated the pot, this housing might be warped and the seal will not fit tightly. The only solution is to replace the impeller. This is a common problem with automatic cleaner pumps, which are not self-priming.

Pump And/Or Motor Removal And Reinstallation

Sometimes it is necessary to remove an entire pump and motor unit to take do a repair. If the pump is damaged beyond your ability to repair it, you probably will want to take the entire unit to a motor repair shop. They can rebuild it as needed, and you can reinstall it.

Generally, to remove the pump and motor as a unit, the first thing is to turn off the circuit breaker. Now you will need to cut the plumbing on the suction and return side of the pump. Leave a few inches on both the sides of the cut to replumb it by slip couplings.

Whenever installing the plumbing between the pump and filter, keep bends and turns to a minimum. Also, do not locate the pump close to the base of the filter. When you open the filter for cleaning, water is sure to flood the motor. Lastly, try to keep motors at least 6 inches off the ground, to prevent it from flooding during rains.

The electrical connection must be removed before the pump and motor can be disengaged. Remove the access cover to the switch plate area of the motor. This is near the hole where the conduit enters the motor. Remove the three wires inside the motor and unscrew the conduit connector from the motor housing. Pull the conduit and wiring away from the motor and the entire pump and motor should be free. If there is an additional bonding wire (ground wire), it can be easily removed by loosening the screw or clamp that holds it in place.Tape off the ends of the exposed wires, and leave a note on the breaker box, as a warning.

New Installation

Mount the unit on a solid, vibration-free base. Make sure there is adequate drainage in the area so that when it rains or if a pipe breaks the motor won't be drowned. Bolt or strap down the pump. Plumb in both suction and return lines with as few twists and bends as possible, to minimize head. A gate valve on both sides is advisable to isolate the pump when cleaning other components. A check valve is essential if the unit is well above water level. Plumb the unit far enough away from the filter that it won't get soaked when you take the filter apart.

Replacing A Pump Or Motor

Replacing any of the components is simply a matter of disassembling the pump to the component that needs replacement, getting a replacement part, and reassembling the unit. Of course, if the entire pump and motor is to be replaced, the re-plumb it in as previously described.

Sometimes the motor will trip the circuit breaker when you try to start it. If this happens it is usually because there is something wrong with the motor. However, it could be a bad breaker, or one that is simply undersized for the job and has finally worn out. To replace the motor here are the procedure:

1) Break down the unit as described in the section on changing a seal. Remove the shaft extender by removing the allen-head setscrews and pulling the extender off the motor shaft. Use your large flat-blade screwdriver to pry the extender away from the motor body. Sometimes corrosion will eat away at the setscrews and extender-if it is too tough to remove, replace it.
2) Before sliding the shaft extender on the new motor, clean the motor shaft with a fine emery cloth. Apply a light coat of silicone lube to the shaft. When you put the extender on the motor shaft, the setscrews go into a groove that runs along the shaft. This groove allows the screws to grip and not slide around the shaft.
3) Now slide the new extender in place, making sure to line up the setscrews along the channel, but do not tighten the setscrews. When you have reassembled the bracket and seal plate, seal, and impeller, you can adjust the impeller to just barely clear the seal plate face, and then tighten the setscrews. Be sure the impeller is screwed tightly onto the shaft extender before making this adjustment. If it is loose, when the motor starts it will tighten the impeller by turning it tighter against the extender. Therefore, tightening it against the seal plate, seizing up the unit.
4) Secure the shaft extender with your pliers or 3/8-inch box wrench and lay a rag over the impeller. Firmly hand tighten it. Reassemble the remaining pump parts and/or replumb the entire unit back into place.
5) You can access the electrical connections through the switchplate cover in the front end bell.

Troubleshooting Motors

The first and most common motor problem is water, which may be due to several reasons like rain, filter cleaning, or breaking of a pipe. In all cases, dry the motor and give it 24 hours to air dry before starting it up. Even small amount of moisture can short the motor. Other basic problems beyond dealt with in the following fashion.

Motor Will not Start

Check the breaker panel and look for any loose connection of the wires to the motor. Sometimes an electrical supply wire connected to the motor switch plate becomes dirty. The dirt creates resistance that creates heat which ultimately melts the wire, breaking the connection. Similarly, if the supply wire is undersized for the load, it will overheat and melt. Clean dirty switch plate terminals and reconnect the wiring.

Motor Hums but Will not Start

The impeller may be jammed with debris. Turn off the breaker, and spin the shaft by hand. If it won't turn freely, open the pump and clear the obstruction. If it does spin, check the capacitor. Check the capacitor for white residue or liquid discharge. If either exists, it means a bad capacitor. To replace the capacitor, remove the cover that holds it on top of the motor. The two wires are attached to the capacitor with simple push-on and pull-off bayonet clips. After installing a new capacitor, the motor may hum and yet fail to run because of insufficient voltage. Use a multimeter to check the actual voltage.

Loud Noises or Vibrations

This is most often caused by worn out bearings. Take the pump apart and remove the impeller and water. If the motor still runs loud or vibrates, it is most likely the bearings. In a few instances, the problem can be caused by a bent shaft. Unless the motor is relatively new or is still under warranty, you might want to replace the motor.

The Breaker Trips

Disconnect the motor and reset the breaker. Turn the motor switch or time clock switch back on, and if it trips again, the problem is either a bad breaker or, bad wiring between the breaker and motor. Be very careful with this test. Switching the power back on without any appliance connected means you are now dealing with bare, live wires. Be sure no one is touching them and that they are not touching the water, each other, or anything else. If the breaker still does not trip, the motor is bad. This usually means there is a dead short in the windings and the motor needs to be replaced.

Priming the Pump

Priming is starting the suction that gets water moving through the pump, thus creating circulation in the pool. Most of the modern pumps are self priming, but when the water gets drained from the pump, it sometimes needs to be reprimed before it can get started.

Basic Priming

The basic steps to prime the pump in most pools and spas:

1) Check the water level in the pool. The pump will not prime unless filled to the very top of the skimmer.
2) Check the water path. Priming problems are not related to the pump, but to some obstruction. Check the main drain and the skimmer throat for leaves, debris, or other obstructions. With the pump turned off, open the strainer pot lid and remove the basket and dispose off the leaves and debris. Last, make sure the pump is primed and all valves are open with no other restrictions in the plumbing or equipment of the pump.
3) Fill the pump. Always fill the strainer pot with water and replace the lid tightly. Keep adding water until the pot overflows. Sometimes the pump is installed above the pool water level so you will never fill the pipe unless a check valve is in the line as well. Quickly, just fill what you can and close the lid.
4) Start the motor and open the air relief valve on top of the filter. The pump is primed when all the air is replaced with water and the normal circulation begins. It is advisable to wait for couple of minutes for the pump to prime, but at the same time, make sure that you do not overheat by running a dry pump.

The Blow Bag Method

When basic priming fails, try a drain flush bag, also known as a blow bag. The drain flush is a canvas or rubber tube that screws onto the end of your garden hose. Slip this into the skimmer hole that feeds the pump and turn on the hose.

The water pressure makes the bag expand and seal the skimmer hole. This way, water from the hose cannot escape and must feed the pump. After running the hose a minute or two, turn on the pump. When air and water are visibly returning to the pool, pull the drain flush bag out quickly, while the pump is running, so pool water will promptly replace the hose water.

This method is not effective if the skimmer has only one hole in the bottom. The reason for this is the hole is connected not only to the pump, but also the main drain. The forced water from your drain flush bag will take the line of least resistance and flood through the main drain rather than up to the pump. In the two hole skimmer, the hole furthest from the pool usually is plumbed directly to the pump. Your drain flush bag in this hole will give good results.

Filter Filling Method

Another method is filter filling. Open the strainer pot, turn on the motor, and feed the pot with a garden hose. Open the filter air relief valve until the filter can is full. When it is full, water will spit out of the air relief valve. Close the air relief valve, turn off the motor and garden hose, and quickly close the strainer pot. The, open the air relief valve. The filter water will flood back into the pump and the pipe that feeds the pump from the pool. When you think these are full of water, turn the motor back on. The pump should now prime.

Detecting Air Leaks

When all other methods fail, then there is the problem with an air leak. The pump is sucking air from somewhere in the system. Air leaks are usually in strainer pot lid O-rings, or the pot and/or lid itself has small cracks. The gasket between the pot and the volute might be dried out and leaking. Of course, plumbing leading into the pump might be cracked and leaking air.

If any of these components leak air in, then water will leak out. When the area around the pump is dry, carefully fill the strainer pot with water and look for leaks out of the pot, volute, fittings, and pipes. Another way is to fill and close the pot, then listen for the sizzling sound of air being sucked in through a crack as the water drains back to the pool.


Many pumps employ threaded T-shaped bolts that secure the lid to the strainer pot. Sometimes these corrode and snap off. If part of the broken bolt extends above or below the female part on the pot, try using pliers, especially Vise-Grips, to grasp the broken section and twist it out. If this doesn't work, take your tap and die set or electric drill and tap a smallhole inside the broken piece. Then use your Phillips-head screwdriver to grip inside the hole and twist out the broken piece.

Reverse Flow Problems

Reverse flow problem occurs with many pumps. When the pump is pushing the water, the air may get trapped in the filter due to either a leak in the system, or due to improper blending of the filter with the new installation. While the running pump is pushing water against the trapped air bubble in the filter, the power to the pump motor is interrupted. The moment the power goes off, the pump stops, releasing the bubble of air. This instant release of air forces the column of water between the pump and filter to reverse and flow backwards toward the pump, entering the discharge side of the filter. This reverse flow of water into the discharge side of the pump starts the impeller turning in the wrong direction. Within a few short seconds the pump impeller can be turning at high speeds driving the motor in reverse as well.

When power is restored and the motor starts turning in the wrong direction, the torque of the motor can be great enough to loosen and spin the impeller from the shaft, stripping the threads.

Reverse flow is a very rare occurrence. As far as we can determine, it can be overcome simply by using a check valve between the filter and pump. This is the most effective way to prevent it. Several large pump manufacturers have recognized the same occurrence. To prevent reverse flow from occuring, they have been securing the impeller to the motor shaft. This, of course, prevents the impeller from stripping its threads.

Model And Makes

All pumps are variations of two basic concepts. Motors to drive these pumps are made by several manufacturers. Century, Franklin, A.O. Smith, General Electric, and others make all the various styles and horsepower of motors needed to run modern and older pump equipment. Some of the styles you will need to specify when replacing are as follows. Remember, the nameplate on the motor gives you this information, but it is always beneficial to be familiar with these types.

C Frame

While looking at the face of the motor, the end with the shaft will have a definite pattern in the casting that looks like the letter C. The shaft is threaded. This means one of two things. It has male threads on the end of the shaft to receive the female threads of the impeller. Or, it is keyed, meaning the shaft has no threads, but rather a channel that runs the length of the shaft to accept the setscrews.

Square Flange

Look at the end of the motor that has the shaft. This style of motor includes a flared bracket, square of course, that accepts the seal plate of the Sta-Rite pump and the corresponding motor. These are only made with threaded shafts because they work only with the type of pump that uses a threaded impeller.

48 Frame

This is a motor used on indoor spa booster pumps and fits that particular style. Jacuzzi makes a number of these style of pumps and they all have threaded shafts.

Motor Characteristics

End Bell

This is known as the housing at each end of the motor. It is made of aluminum or cast iron. The iron End Bell will rust while the aluminum won't. The aluminum more efficiently disperses heat away from the motor, thereby prolonging its life. Some manufacturers give you a choice within each type of motor.

Full-Rated Or Up-Rated

The full-rated motor operates to its listed capacity, either 1 hp, 2 hp, etc. The up-rated motor has a similar horsepower rating but can function to even higher standards, if needed. This might be useful if the pool or spa gets full of leaves. For example, by checking the service factors, you might be able to get a 1/2-hp up-rated motor that is able to perform as well as a 1-hp full-rated motor.


As the name implies, this motor includes a switch box to wire it for two-speed operation. For example, spas often use a two-speed motor. The lower speed for circulating and heating, and the high speed for jet action. Wiring instructions should be printed on the motor.

Energy Efficient

The energy efficient motor is designed to save electricity over a comparable motor of standard design.

Motor Covers

Protective covers are made to fit over motors and are designed to keep direct sunlight and rain off the motor housing. The greatest danger to a motor is flooding of the equipment area in heavy rain or when opening a filter. This will short out the windings and void any warranty.

Submersible Pumps And Motors

There are essentially two types of submersible pump and motor combinations that you will encounter.

High-Volume Pump-Out Units

Sometimes you need to drain a pool or spa. Several manufacturers make submersible pump and motor units with long, waterproof electrical cords. The suction side is at the bottom of the pump. The return line is sized to be attached to your vacuum hose. Smaller units are connected to a garden hose to feed water out of the pump.

Low Volume Pumps and Motors

Fountains and small ponds use a smaller version of submersible pump and motor unit that contain all of the same components as the larger ones.

Both high- and low-volume types contain the same components as the pumps and motors and are repaired in much the same ways. Submersibles do have more crucial and tricky seals and gaskets. However, because leaks in these mean electricity in the body of water that can be fatal to both the motor and you, any repair of the pumps should be done by certified electrician !!!

Booster Pumps And Motors For Spas

Pump and motor units that provide only jet action for spas generally are not equipped with a strainer pot and basket. Otherwise, they are the same as other units that are used for pools. Some units are designed to perform two functions, and therefore, run at two speeds. When it runs at high speed (3450 rpm), it is to provide jet action. When it runs at a low speed (1750 rpm), it is to circulate, filter, and heat the water and would have a strainer pot and basket.

To operate efficiently, spa jets require 15 gpm running through each one. Therefore, if you have a system that delivers 60 gpm, you can install up to four jets. Also, each jet requires 1/4-hp from its pump and motor, thus four-jet spa would need at least a 1-hp unit. Keep in mind, this assumes the pump is doing no other work. If it is pushing water through the filter and heater before getting back to the jets, or if the equipment is more than 20 feet from the spa, then some power will be lost and you will need to calculate more than 1/4-hp per jet.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

Facts about pool heating(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

Does it make sense for me to heat my pool considering the high price of fuel?

If you want to enjoy comfortable swimming at your own convenience, then yes. One of the reasons for owning a pool is being able to swim at your leisure. This means avoiding the hassle of not having to pack up the car and go to the beach. As for the cost, that is your decision.

What guidelines should be followed in heating our pool?

The need to conserve energy and to minimize fuel consumption the best you can. You are the best judge with respect to the kind of enjoyment you derive from your pool. Use of your pool for recreation, exercise, therapy or just general enjoyment will require heating it. Your pool won't contribute to your health or pleasure unless it's warm enough to swim in comfortably. So, it is a give and take situation.

Here are some pointers on saving energy and cutting fuel costs.

How warm should I keep my pool?

That depends entirely on you, of course. As a general rule, a temperature of 78 degrees F is comfortable enough and coincides with good fuel conservation practice, too.

Obviously, a heated pool means more swimming. How much more?

You can stretch your pool season by twice in most areas and even longer in other areas by having a heated pool.

If we don't heat our pool, how much swimming season can we expect?

That depends mostly on your climate, and partially on whether you use a pool cover. Without a pool cover you'll probably have a season of only one or two months in most areas and perhaps three months or a little more with a cover. Pools that are not covered can lose 4 degrees F to 5 degrees F overnight in most parts of the country. With a cover, you can reduce that heat loss by 50% or more. So without a heater you should be able to use your pool in the afternoons and early evenings in the warmest part of the season.

What are the health benefits of heating my pool?

Doctors and physical therapists regard swimming as one of the most beneficial of cardiovascular exercises. It is an exercise that nearly everyone can do safely. Even those who suffer from arthritis, joint, and muscular diseases often find swimming an easy and fun form of exercise. Obviously, by heating your pool, you make it possible to engage more often in swimming exercise because you extend the hours and the season your pool may be used.

What are the costs involved in heating a pool?

There is the initial cost of the heater and its hook-up or installation charge. Second, there is the monthly fuel cost. The cost varies depending on the type of heating system you purchase for your pool. Lastly, there is the matter of annual or semi-annual maintenance and service of the unit.

Remember, costs can be kept to a minimum doing a few simple things. Install an efficient, properly sized heater. Use a good quality pool cover. Finally, keep your filter clean and your heating and filtering system well maintained.

What types of heaters are available to us?

There are several on the market today. They range from gas-fired, oil-fired, electric, and even elaborate solar heating systems.

The most widely used type is the direct fired natural gas heater because of its low cost, reliability, ease of operation and the wide availability of natural gas. Oil-fired pool heaters are a good choice in areas where natural gas is unavailable but home heating oil is. Electric heaters are generally much less efficient and more costly to operate than natural gas heaters, unless the electricity is hydroelectrically generated.

Solar heating can be defined in two ways. First, there is "passive" solar heating. By that I mean, the familiar pool cover that absorbs and transmits some of the sun's energy to pool water. Used alone, the passive heating technique merely serves to help keep pool temperatures at existing levels by retaining natural solar heat and preventing its loss. It cannot add heat to build up water temperature beyond what the sun supplies.

Active solar uses traditional pool motors to move water from the pool through a system of solar collector panels for heating by the sun. This increases the amount of solar heat added to the pool.

What is the initial cost of a gas-fired heater?

Natural and propane gas-fired heaters cost the same. Prices depend on heater size, which in turn depends on the size of your pool. A good rule of thumb is approximately 10% of the total pool cost. For this small added cost, you get considerably more use from your pool.

What is the initial cost of an oil-fired heater?

It runs somewhat more than the cost of a natural or propane gas-fired heater. An oil-fired heater is ideal in areas where home heating oils are commonly used and natural gas is not available.

What about installation charges?

With natural gas-fired heaters, installation consists of gas and water connections. For models with electronic control, an electrical connection to the filter pump circuit is required. Using propane gas requires a storage tank. An oil-fired heaters, needs the services of a trained oil appliance technician and a storage tank. If your home already is heated by either oil or propane, the installation probably can be tied into your regular fuel supply.

Generally speaking, which method of pool heating is the least expensive?

Overall, a combination of a good pool cover and a fuel-fired heater is less expensive than an active solar system alone, or active solar system and fuel-fired heater combination. The only real exception would be where you live in an area where your electricity is generated by water power (hydroelectrically).

What size pool heater will we need?

Heaters are sized mainly on the basis of the pool surface area and the difference between the pool and air temperatures. Another factor which may determine the size of the heater you will need is the way you intend to use your pool. There are two common pool heating practices. Either "constant" temperature maintenance or "intermittent" heating.

To heat a pool quickly after periods of intermittent shutdown, a larger gas-fired heater is needed. In colder climates, a larger than standard size heater is recommended for "constant" heating. Maintaining pool temperature requires the same amount of fuel regardless of the heater size. For intermittent heating, a larger heater actually saves fuel because it brings the pool to temperature more quickly.

What are the differences between constant and intermittent heating ?

Constant heating your pool temperature means it is ready for use at all times. You set your thermostat at the temperature you want and forget it. This is very convenient, but more costly as more fuel is used to maintain temperature in the pool at all times.

With intermittent heating, you heat your pool only for those periods when you expect to be using it. For example, if you only use your pool on weekends, you would heat up the water for weekend use only and shut off your heater during the week.

How do we conserve energy yet still fully enjoy our pool?

There are several things you can do to aid in conserving energy for your pool. First, keep your thermostat at the lowest comfortable setting and mark it on your thermostat dial. Second, if you swim only on weekends, and you don't use a cover, keep your heater on a standby setting of 70 degrees. With a cover, you can leave the thermostat at your normal setting. Third, if you're vacationing for a couple of weeks, turn the heater off completely, including any pilot light. Finally, shelter your pool from prevailing winds. Use hedges, other means of landscaping, cabanas, or decorative fencing as windbreaks even though the pool is covered.

Is a pool heater safe?

It is as safe as any major heating appliance in your home. For example, Teledyne Laars heaters are equipped with automatic safety pilots or ignition safeguards, pressure regulators, water pressure relief valves and other safety features. Shut-off controls are automatic. Electric shock hazard is avoided by construction and installation of the heater in accordance with strict electrical standards and codes.

Are all gas-fired heaters built alike?

Absolutely not !! Some are built like an ordinary tank-type hot water heater, or with heating coils inside the water tank. Teledyne Laars gas-fired heaters were the first ever built specifically for pools. They utilize the direct-fire method for greater efficiency. Patented stainless steel burners heat finned copper tubes from which the pool water absorbs heat as it flows through them.

Are all oil-fired heaters the same?

No. Teledyne Laars oil-fired heaters are trim and compact. About half the size of many other oil-fired heaters. The most important difference is the heat exchanger uses stainless steel finned tubes to resist sulfur corrosion. The result is efficient heat transfer with only minimal annual cleaning.

What features should we look for in a pool heater?

You should be concerned with economy of operation, reliability and durability. Conservation of energy and fuel economy should be extremely important. By eliminating wasteful heating, a heater can pay for itself in very little time.

Any special problems if we own a salt-water pool?

Yes. Salt water is highly corrosive, and a heater must be equipped with a special heat exchanger and other features to handle it.

Will my pool heater require much maintenance?

Usually, one maintenance inspection a year is sufficient to keep your heater working efficiently. Maintenance is largely a preventative measure used to safeguard your heater's working condition.

How long should a heater last?

A productive life of 10 to 12 years is not uncommon. Heater failure usually results from some outside cause, provided it has been properly maintained.

Could we add a heater after our pool is built?

Yes. Although a heater can be added at any time, it is more beneficial for it to be included from the beginning. This means greater convenience for you and less installation cost. When you include a heater in the beginning, it costs approximately 10% of your pool investment. If the heater is not installed when the pool is built, provisions should be made for a heater stub-out in the return water line, and space or a concrete pad should be provided for future installation.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

E-Z Hot Tub/Spa Water Chemistry(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

Initial Hot Tub/ Spa Set Up

A) Drain spa water every 2 - 3 months, depending on use. B) Clean spa shell with an acrylic spa cleaner like. For example, Spray Away or Novus. Do not use a soap based cleaner !!
C) Wax spa shell with Highlight aerosol acrylic spa wax. Do not use car wax on an acrylic spa !!
D) Soak filter cartridge overnight in Filter Cleaner solution and rinse off thoroughly with water. If it does not come clean, replace the Filter.
E) Squeeze out any surface oil removers such as Scumballs or Scumbugs and rinse them off with fresh water. Replace if damaged or used up.
F) Refill spa with fresh water to recommended level.

Water Chemical Set Up

A) If using Perfect pH, add the entire bottle to the spa water. Run the spa on high speed for 15 minutes. If you are not using Perfect pH, go to Step # 2.
B) Add 2 bottle caps of concentrated Demineralizer or Metal Out to the water. Some brands require adding an entire bottle. Read the instructions on your bottle to be sure.
C) Add 2 bottle caps of Spa Shock or Spa Chlor to the water. Do not use Non-Chlorine Spa Shock the first time when refilling tub with fresh water.
D) Add 2 bottle caps of Water Clarifier to the water.
E) Add 2 ounces of Scumdigester or an enzyme based oil-eating product to the water.
F) Test and adjust the pH of the water to 7.6 - 8.2 by adding either pH Plus or pH Minus (Don't do this if using Perfect pH !! )
G) Test and adjust the Alkalinity of the water to between 100 - 120 by adding Alkalinity Plus (Don't do this if using Perfect pH !! )
H) Add 4 - 6 Bromine Tablets to the Bromine Floater and put in the spa water.
I) Run spa on low speed (heat) for at least 6 hours to heat up. Properly mix all the chemicals and completely filter the water.

Weekly Maintenance

A) Test water for Bromine, pH and Alkalinity.
B) Add 4 - 6 new Bromine Tablets to the Floater if necessary. Try to maintain an average Bromine level of between 1.0 - 1.5.
C) Adjust the Alkalinity to between 100 - 120 and the pH to 7.6 - 8.2 (Don't manually adjust the pH or Alkalinity if using Perfect pH !! )
D) Rinse off the cartridge filter with fresh water.
E) Squeeze out Scumballs or Scumbugs and rinse them off with fresh water.
F) Add 2 bottle caps of Water Clarifier.
G) Add 2 bottle caps of Spa Shock, Spa Chlor or Non-Chlorine Spa Shock.
H) Add 2 ounces of Scumdigester or an enzyme based oil-eating product to the water.
I) Clean water line and lip of spa with Spray Away or Novus acrylic spa cleaner (do not use a soap based cleaner !!)

Daily Operation

A) Spa water should filter on low speed for at least 3 hours per day.
B) Bromine Floater should have Bromine Tablets in it, and should remain in the spa at all times, except when using it.
C) Scumballs or Scumbugs should remain in spa at all times, except when using it. They absorb surface oils and reduce "ring around the spa" at the water line.
D) Ozonator (if equipped) should operate on low speed at least 3 hours for every 12 hours. If using an Ozonator, you should also use at least 2 - 3 Bromine Tablets in a Bromine Floater as well.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

Basic Spa Electricity(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

The electrical system of a Hot Tub/Spa is responsible for running pumps and motors, igniting gas heaters, and operating controls. When a major renovation or installation of electrical circuits is required, it is ideal to call a professional electrician and subcontract the job. When troubleshooting short circuits or other specialized electrical problems, an electrician will solve and repair it faster than you can, so again, call a professional and let him do his job.

An electrician will make basic electrical connections, troubleshoot underwater lights that won't work, switch appliances from 110 volt to 220 volt, and so on. Understanding the basic concepts of how electricity works will help keep you and your family safe.

Electrical Terms and Definitions

Amperage (amps) is the term used to describe the actual strength of the electric current. It measures the volume of current passing through a conductor in a given time. Amps = watts @ volts.

Arc or arcing is the passage of electric current between two points without benefit of a conductor. For example, when a wire with current is located near a metal object, the electricity might arc (pass) between the two.

Circuit is the path through which electricity flows.

Conductor is any substance that carries electrical current. Such as a wire, metal, or the human body.

Current refers to the rate of flow between two points.

Cycle is a complete turn of alternating current (ac) from negative to positive and back to negative again.

Gauge refers to the size of an electric wire. The numbering system of wire gauges works in reverse. A 10-gauge wire, for example, is thicker than a 14-gauge wire.

Line refers to a wire conducting electricity.

Load is an appliance that uses electricity.

Volts is a basic unit of electric current measurement expressing the potential or pressure of the current. Volts = watts @ amps.

Watt is a measurement of the power consumption of an appliance. One watt is equal to the volume of one amp delivered at the pressure of one volt. Watts = amps x volts.

Electrical Testing Equipment and Miscellaneous Terminology

Multi-meters : In order for you to service any spa equipment, it is essential to know how to use a multi-meter capable of measuring 120 and 240 single phase voltage, ohms, and amperage. Without this equipment, any repairs made to the electrical parts of this equipment will be strictly by trial and error and could result in parts being replaced that might not need to be. If you do not have a meter capable of each of these functions, either buy one at a local store or borrow one. Either way, you must have one to work competently. Your meter instructions will explain how to hook up the test leads for each of the following tests.

Voltage Testing : Simply decide what voltage you expect to find at a test point, set your meter for the scale showing this voltage, and apply your leads to the circuit in question. It is always best to put your test probes on the leads supplying the actual circuit, rather than in locations you would assume are of the same polarity. When most people test, they conveniently apply one lead to the ground, and look for voltage with the other lead. These results can easily be misleading because even a neutral wire carries electricity when a component is running. If it is a 120 volt circuit, one lead must go to a neutral connection point, and the other to the point at which there should be 120 volts. A 240 volt test must include two separate points where individual 120 volt supply leads are providing power.

Amperage Testing : An amperage test can only be conducted when a component is running. The components that you might test with your ampmeter are the heater (120v should read 12.5 amps, 240 volt should read 25 amps), the blower (1 Hp will read 5-6 amps, 1-1/2 to 2 Hp will read 7-9 amps), and the pumps low and high speeds (look at the plates on the motor for the amperages). If your voltage supply to the pack is lower than the 120 volts or 240 volts as mentioned, then your amperage draw will be somewhat lower as well. On 120 volt tests, an amperage reading should only be taken on the lead actually supplying the voltage to a component, not on the neutral. For 240 volt components, either wire supplying power will give you a good reading.

WARNING: A reading several amps higher than the component is rated for will ultimately result in a premature failure of the equipment or worse, an electrical hazard.

Ohms Test : Using the ohms scale on your meter will determine whether or not you have continuity in a circuit. Continuity is defined as the ability for electricity to pass unrestricted between two ends of a wire or circuit. Ohms is the unit of measure of that restriction or resistance. The more resistance you have, the weaker the circuit is. So, when testing a switch for continuity, your meter needle should read 0 ohms if the circuit is closed or "on". There should be infinite resistance such that the needle does not move at all if the circuit is open or off.

WARNING: NEVER CONDUCT A CONTINUITY TEST ON A LIVE CIRCUIT !!! It is recommended that you disconnect any switch or part being tested for continuity before conducting the test.

Line Service Check : Many installations have faulty line service. Before assuming that your problem is with the equipment, always check for the proper voltage coming into the equipment. If after testing, you find an improper line service voltage, shut the power off at the circuit breaker and contact a licensed, qualified electrician to make the necessary corrections.

Ground Fault Circuit Interruption Protection : (GFCI) protection is necessary in case anything electrical should allow electricity to leak to grounded metal in connection with the spa. This is especially possible if after years of use a heater element should rupture and the ground wire should happen to become disconnected. A GFCI will sense this leakage and shut the voltage to the power pack off.

Keep in mind that when buying a 240 GFCI for an installation, be sure to get one that has neutral protection. The 60A Square D GFCI does not have neutral protection and therefore cannot be used on a hybrid equipment system. Hybrid means the unit contains both 240V and 120V components.

240V Circuit Breaker Installation : There are two methods of rated 240 volt GFCI breakers on the market today. They are the Square D model QO 250GFI and the ITE Siemens model QF250, each rated for up to 50 amps. For the Square D model, a common mistake that occurs by not following the instructions is made by connecting the load neutral from the equipment, the large white pigtail on the GFCI, and the power supply neutral to the connection block on the mounting bracket. The instructions show where the load neutral is supposed to attach to the GFCI. Before suspecting a pack malfunction, check the installation of this device and make sure it was installed correctly.

The connection points for the pack on the Siemens GFCI are more obvious, but again, make sure that only the load neutral is connected where indicated and that the white pigtail is only connected to the line service neutral.

Circuit Breakers : The supply lines are generally designed to carry 100 amps for the typical residential user. Each circuit breaker is designed to carry a specific load and break the circuit open when the load exceeds that value. Typical circuit breakers are 15, 20, 25, 30, and 50 amps, depending on the requirements of the appliances. Wiring attached to the breaker leading to the appliances is sized in accordance with the amperage of the breaker.

When electrical volume exceeds the rating of the breaker, it opens the circuit and disconnects the power supply to the appliance or circuit in question. Such overload might occur as the result of an unintentional ground or short circuit at the appliance.

Depending on the design of the breaker, resetting is accomplished in one of several ways. Sometimes it is not obvious which breaker has tripped. One style of breaker looks as if it is still on. You need to push the switch fully to off, then back to on to reset it. Another style pops halfway between on and off, again requiring a hard push to off before going back to on. Another has a small window displaying a red flag when the breaker is off. In any case, some of these require waiting up to 30 seconds before the breaker can be reset.

Troubleshooting and Replacement : When a breaker will not reset, it might mean that the breaker is faulty or the circuit is overloaded, by that I mean the circuit is demanding too much current. An overloaded circuit can be the result of an appliance that is faulty, an unintentional ground, a short circuit in the wiring, or it might be that there are too many appliances on the same circuit (or one that is too large for the circuit.)

Troubleshooting can be simple. First, check the appliances on the circuit. Does their total amperage exceed the rating of the breaker? If so, remove the extra appliances or wire them to a circuit that can handle the load.

If that doesn't solve the problem, disconnect each appliance from the circuit one at a time, resetting the breaker after each disconnection. Be sure the disconnected wires are taped off and no bare wires are touching each other. When you have removed the faulty appliance, the breaker will stay on. You now know which appliance to repair.

If the breaker still trips, the problem might be in the wiring between the breaker and the appliance. Do a visual inspection with the breaker off of all the wiring that is accessible. If you don't find a frayed or broken wire, or two bare wires touching each other, disconnect the wiring from the breaker. To do that, turn off the main service breaker that feeds the entire panel. Remove the faceplate from the breaker panel. Make sure the breaker in question is off. Unscrew the wire lug screw at the base of the breaker and pull the load wires from the breaker. Turn the main service back on and reset the breaker in question. If it still pops off under this no load condition, then the breaker itself is faulty and must be replaced.

Never try to repair a breaker. If you are unable to locate a replacement and need to get the equipment operating again, look at the remainder of the breakers in the panel. Often there are spare breakers in the panel that can be used for replacement. Sometimes a breaker of a comparable amperage is servicing a circuit that is not needed as much as the pool equipment and you can make a temporary switch. Always replace a breaker with one of the same amperage.

To replace a breaker, turn off the main service breaker. Place your flat-blade screwdriver on the front, top edge of the breaker and pry it out of the panel. Some breakers fit tightly, so apply firm, even pressure. If you have not disconnected the load wires, do so as described earlier. Look at the back of the breaker and the design of the hook connection that fits into the electric bar of the panel. When you have your replacement, reconnect the load wires to the new breaker, and return it to the panel reversing the steps taken to remove it. Put the panel faceplate back on and turn on the main service breaker.

If the breaker did not trip when you disconnected the load, the reason for the breaker tripping off must be in the wiring between the breaker and the appliance. Since you were unable to find a problem with the wiring during your visual inspection, you might need to replace the wiring. Here it is advisable to call an electrician.

Sometimes electrical problems at the appliance or the tripping of a breaker is caused by a loose breaker. If you find that the breaker is loose when you first try to remove it, try pushing it back into the panel, and try your appliance again. If it won't seat firmly, replace the breaker.

Older homes might still have fuses. Fuses perform the same function as circuit breakers, but fuses must be replaced each time the overload breaks the circuit (blows the fuse). Fuses either clip or screw in place. As with breakers, always replace a fuse with one of the same amperage.

If you are planning to work on a panel, it's best to have a helper around to get help in case of electric shock. Whenever you approach a breaker panel, do so with great respect. Water, frayed wiring, or a poor previous service work might have created problems at the panel that you cannot anticipate. Other safety measures include wearing rubber gloves and boots, standing on a piece of dry wood to further insulate you from the ground, and leaving one hand in your pocket, so you can't inadvertently touch one hand to a live wire or panel and the other to a ground.

Wiring : Puttling new wires in a circuit or adding a circuit is a job best left to a professional electrician, but it is advisable to know a few things about requirements.

Gauge and type : The gauge of the wire refers to its thickness and is designed to operate under high temperatures and also its ability to handle volume and pressure of current (amps and volts).

Whenever you run wire for any reason, make sure you use the correct type. You can always use wire that is heavier than the breaker and appliance require, but never use wire that is thinner than required.

Wire is stranded or solid. There is less resistance in solid wire than stranded, so, this should be your first choice. Wire is generally available in copper. If aluminum was used for wiring your home, it is advisible to replace it whenever possible.

Wires are sold in various colors. The standard denotation of wire coding is that Green wire is always ground, Black and Red are used for hot lines, and White means neutral. If you must use a wire color not in keeping with this code, tape the correct color tape over the wire or clearly label it. Never assume that the previous technician used the correct colored wire.

Always encase the wires in conduit. Be aware that wires of different voltage should not be run in the same conduit. You can run numerous circuits of the same voltage in a conduit, but you need to run a separate conduit for every group of circuits of different voltage. Never run anything else in an electrical conduit !!! Use flexible, waterproof conduit and connectors for outdoor installations, such as wires from heaters or motors to J-boxes or time clocks. Often a sub panel is located in the pool equipment area.

When terminating wires to be attached to connections in appliances or at other terminal posts, use crimp connectors rather than simply wrapping the bare end of the wire around the post. Wrapping can come loose or be squeezed off the post. Bend the wire in the same direction as you will tighten the screw, so when you tighten the screw it also tightens the wrap. The connectors are available in various sizes and with various connection ends (called the tongue). The insulation is stripped off to accommodate the barrel of the connector. Using a crimping tool, secure the wire to the connector.

Since most pool and spa applications are wired directly between appliances and switches, you won't be dealing with too many outlets. With portable spas, however, you might encounter a few. It is important to recognize the appearance of outlets so you don't try to plug 110-volt appliances into 220-volt outlets. These outlets are designed so that the plug can be inserted only one way to prevent reverse polarity. With ac, polarity is important with some appliances.

Bonding and grounding : A bonding wire is an important safety component of any pool or spa equipment area. Since the bonding wire is a path of less resistance than the human body, any stray current is conducted along it instead of you becoming part of the circuit.

A bonding wire is a solid 8-gauge wire that is connected to a lug on the exterior of each appliance in the equipment package. No conduit is needed because current is not normally carried by this wire. The gauge of the ground wire of any appliance must be as large as the hot wire(s). So, it is capable of efficiently conducting electricity away from the appliance in the event of a short circuit or stray current. Similarly, at the breaker panel, the main ground wire must be as large as the largest hot wire in use.


Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) When equipment or wiring fails it might draw more current than the appliance can use, burning out the appliance. The circuit breaker is designed to break the circuit when demand exceeds the rating of the breaker. Thus circuit breakers are designed to protect equipment.

The GFCI is designed to protect humans. It is a circuit breaker that detects problems at a low enough level to protect you before lethal doses are delivered. It breaks a circuit when it detects a ground fault. The GFCI constantly measures the current going out of the appliance and coming back into it. If grounding takes place where an appliance was electrified and you touch it, and complete a pathway for current to the ground, the GFCI detects the drop in the current it is receiving and breaks the circuit.

There are three basic styles of GFCI that you will likely encounter in pool and spa work. The first looks like a standard circuit breaker in the electrical panel, with a test button in the face of the breaker in addition to the on/off breaker switch. By pressing the test button, you simulate an unbalanced current condition inside the breaker and thereby testing the efficiency of the GFCI. The GFCI breaker resets the same way a normal panel breaker does.

The second type of GFCI is built into a wall outlet, containing a test button and a switch to reset the GFCI as you might install for plugging in a portable spa.

The third type is a portable GFCI, a unit that plugs into a wall outlet. The appliance is then plugged into the GFCI, making the outlet a GFCI outlet.

All types of GFCIs, like any other mechanical device, are subject to failure and should be tested from time to time.

If a GFCI keeps breaking the circuit, you troubleshoot the problem in the same manner as any other breaker. Start by disconnecting the appliance and resetting the breaker, check the wiring, disconnect the load at the breaker. If you have a GFCI serving a skid pack, the problem can exist in any single piece of equipment, so these must be disconnected one at a time and the GFCI reset after each to detect the appliance with the problem. Start with the light, then proceed to the blower, electric heater, pump motor, control devices for, the problem might exist in the control panel.

The National Electric Code (NEC) specifies that electrical outlets located within 15 feet of the water's edge must be protected by a GFCI and that circuits for all underwater lighting be so equipped. Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) requires all portable spas be wired with a GFCI.

Switches : A breaker should never be used as the on/off switch for an appliance because repeated switching will weaken the breaker.

Air switches, time clocks, and other control devices are all considered switches. An understanding of the basic concept of switches will help you troubleshoot electrical problems.

A basic switch is a break in the hot line of a circuit. The most basic on/off switch is called a single pole, single throw (SPST) switch. This switch handles one circuit (single pole) each time the switch is thrown. The SPDT second drawing depicts a single pole, double throw (SPDT) switch. In this case, there is still only one circuit of electric current, but when this switch is thrown one direction, it electrifies one appliance, and when it is thrown the other way, it electrifies another appliance. Depending on the appliance(s), you might use several variations of poles (circuits) and throws (destinations for the current). By understanding these basic concepts, you will recognize whatever type of switch you encounter.

The other concept regarding switches that you will encounter with pools and spas is multiple switching. This means there is often more than one control or switch on each appliance. For example, there might be a wall switch and a time clock, either of which can turn on a pool light. There are often air switches and time clocks controlling spa equipment and a simple on/off switch attached to each appliance so you can shut it off easily for service work.

There are two kinds of circuits, and therefore, two kinds of switches. First, switches wired in series are those which operate together. The electric current cannot pass along the line unless each switch is closed. An example of a series circuit and series switches is the control circuit in a heater. Here each control switch must be closed before the entire circuit is completed and the ignition of the heater is fired.

The other type of circuit and switching is parallel. A parallel circuit means there is more than one way for the circuit to be completed, and each independent of the other. The drawing shows that the current will reach the appliance if either switch is closed. Closing both is not necessary, and if they are it does not deliver any more or less current to the appliance because both switches depend on the same source of current. An example of parallel circuits and switches is the pool light that is controlled by a switch in the home and by a time clock in the equipment area. By understanding these concepts, you will be able to detect why an appliance is not operating or why it is operating after you turned the switch off.

Relays : A relay is a switching device on a circuit that controls current flow in another circuit. Relays are normally used as safety devices. The purpose of this type of control is to use a low-voltage circuit (the relay circuit) to turn on or off a higher voltage circuit (controlled circuit). Relays allow you to run thinner, less expensive wires over long distances. For example, a safe 12-volt circuit can beused near a pool or spa to control a dangerous 220-volt circuit that operates a pump motor or blower. Relays are just switches so some control and time clock makers include relays in their designs. Instead of requiring you to flip a switch however, the relay turns on or off when powered by electric current, thus turning on or off the appliance.

Testing : Testing for the presence of current at a connection or appliance is simple. You need a multimeter and to set the tester on the range of voltage you expect to find and the type of current, ac or dc. The multimeter has multiple functions, testing circuit voltages, continuity, and resistance. It has a positive and a negative test lead and a switching device to set the meter for reading de or ac (reading various ranges of each), resistance, or continuity. The meter is battery powered for continuity and resistance testing because you must send current into a line to test if it is continuous (unbroken) or broken and to test the amount of resistance in a conductor.

When testing dc circuits, remember that polarity (positive and negative) makes a difference. You must touch the positive meter lead to the positive contact of the appliance or switch and the negative lead to the negative contact. If you reverse these, you will see the meter register negative voltage. When testing ac voltage, the polarity doesn't matter, and you can touch either lead to either side of the circuit.

When testing 110-volts ac, touch one lead to the suspected hot line and one to a neutral line or to ground. When testing 220-volts ac, perform the same test on each of the two hot lines, then touch one lead to each hot line at the same time. If each line individually reads 110 volts, but when tested together it does not read 220 volts, it means the two hot lines are being supplied by the same phase of the power supply and therefore will not deliver 220 volts. This usually denotes a faulty breaker.

When buying a multi-meter, make sure it can test millivoltage for working on millivolt heaters. Some meters won't accurately read less than 10 volts, and therefore are useless with millivoltage. Most electronic meters are pocket-size and can self-range, which is to say you need only dial in ac or dc and the meter will detect the voltage and adjust accordingly.

When you suspect a broken connection, continuity testing is useful. To test continuity of a line, first be sure all the current is turned off. Then set your meter for continuity testing and touch one lead to each end of the suspect circuit. If the meter reads positive or beeps, it means there is continuity.

Since most of the wiring and installation you do uses good conductors, you will probably not use the resistance measuring function of the multi-meter much. If the continuity tester on your meter is not working for some reason, you can use the resistance test to check for continuity. Resistance is measured in units called ohms. The higher the ohms, the more resistance exists in the circuit. If there is no resistance, however, it means there is not a complete circuit, thereby also verifying continuity.

When appliances are operating poorly, there might be a drop in voltage between the panel and the appliance. First, check the voltage at the appliance, then at the breaker, while the appliance is operating. There will be a slight difference because of some voltage drop as a result of heat loss and resistance along the length of wire, but it should be no more than 2 to 5 volts. If it is greater, follow the troubleshooting procedures outlined previously to determine where the loss is being created.

To test amperage you need an amp probe. The amp probe is a meter with a large, open clip on the end. The clip is looped over the wire and the amperage in the wire is detected by the probe without actual contact with the current.

Electrical work must be prefect and in accordance with local and state codes. So make sure the job is done right.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

How to winterize your Hot Tub/Spa(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

How to Properly Winterize your Hot Tub/Spa:

Most damage that occurs to a Hot tub/spa is due to improper winterization. The damage that can be done because of freezing/cracking is very costly to repair. Be extremely careful if you choose to close down your own spa. If you have any lingering doubts, it is much better to contact a local spa professional. If you want to try it on your own, follow these steps below as a guidline.

Start by turning off the circuit breaker for the spa's electrical line, or if possible, unplug the unit. Then remove the hard thermal cover and drain out the spa. If you have a submersible pump, that would be preferable. If not, hooking a garden hose to the spa's bottom drain spout will suffice. Either way, make sure you leave the bottom drain spout open when you are done.

Next, locate your spa heater, and turn it off. Replace the hard thermal cover on the spa and turn the spa's circuit breaker back on, or plug the unit back in. If you have an air channel or air blower, activate the spa's air blower and let it run for approximately 30 seconds. This will blow all the water out of the air channel under the spa seats.

Once again, remove the cover and soak up all the remaining water from inside the spa. Use towels, a mop, or suck it out with a shop vac. Make sure that you get all the water out. Especially in the footwell. Remove the cartridge filter from the spa and make sure that all the water is out of the filter canister. Leave a large terrycloth towel in a lump in the bottom of the footwell to soak up any additional water that might get in.

Go to your spa equipment pack. Trip the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). This is usually done by pressing the TEST button.

Turn off the circuit breaker that is used for the spa in your home breaker box. Also unplug the spa if it is a 110 volt unit.

Loosen or unscrew any quick disconnect fittings on either side of the heater and on either side of the pump. As you loosen each fitting, water will come out. THAT IS A GOOD THING !!! Leave all fittings unscrewed. Remove any drain plugs that may be on your pump housing. Pump housings can crack easily with only a small amount of water in them. Make sure to drain out the filter canister and the heater and remove any drain plugs.

Next, you'll want to blow out any residual water from the jet piping. This can be done with either the "blowing" end of a shop vac, an air compressor, or some types of leaf blower. Get into the spa and put the blowing end of the hose up against each jet. Make sure that the jets are all open as wide as possible, and make sure that the topside air controls are closed. Start with the jet closest to the exhaust side of the pump and work your way around the spa. During this process, more water will pour out of the various fittings previously unscrewed. Upon completion of all the jets, you will have removed most of the water from your entire jet system. That will leave a minimal chance that any pipe or piece of equipment will still have enough water in it to freeze or cause any damage. Please do not put any type of pipeline antifreeze in your spa, pipes or equipment. It is very difficult to get the antifreeze completely out of your system. It really isn't necessary provided that you have performed all of these winterizing procedures properly.

Get out of the spa and put the hard cover back on the unit. Secure the cover to the spa so that wind will not flip it up. On a portable or cabinetized spas, close and secure the equipment hatch door. Often, vermin will try to nest inside spa cabinets over the winter. They can chew wires and cause extensive damage.

On portable or cabinetized spas, it is a good idea to protect your spa cover and wood cabinet with a Winter Spa Cover. Install Winter Spa Cover or other type of tarp over the hard thermal cover to ensure that no water leaks through the seam in the hard cover.

On an inground or indeck spa, place a tarp or Winter Spa Cover over the hard thermal cover. Placing the Winter Cover over the hard cover and laying swimming pool type water tubes around the perimeter of the spa on your decking will keep any rain water from getting into your spa over the winter.

Remember - If you are worried or hesitant about closing down your spa by yourself, we strongly suggest that you contact a local spa professional to perform the service for you. Most companies will guarantee their winterization against any freeze cracks to your spa, pipes or equipment.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

How to open your Hot Tub/Spa(Order Pool and Spa Parts)

How to Properly Open a Hot Tub/Spa :

Most damage that occurs to Hot Tub/Spa is caused by improper winterization. When it comes time to open up your Hot Tub/Spa, any problems will become quickly evident. While it is strongly recommended to have a pool or spa professional close your spa, many homeowners do successfully tackle the job of spa opening themselves.

Hot Tub Spa Opening Instructions :

A- Remove the winter spa cover (or tarp) that is covering your hard thermal spa cover.

B- Remove the air pillow (if any) and deflate it. For an inground spa, remove and drain any water tubes as well. Clean, fold and store it away.

C- Remove the hard thermal cover.

D- Inspect the inside of the spa. Some water or dirt is expected. If there is water in the spa for any reason, put your submersible spa draining pump into the tub and pump out all the remaining water. Inspect the shell for cracks or splits. If there was a significant amount of water in the tub over the winter, and it froze, there is a chance that it could have caused serious damage to the spa shell. If any cracks or splits are visible in the spa shell, contact a local spa professional to check it out immediately. Otherwise, remove any rubber plugs that may have been installed in the jets at closing time as well. If your spa shell appears OK, then move on to the next step.

E- Clean the spa shell & filter.

F- It is recommended to use an acrylic cleaner to clean your spa shell. For example, products like Novus, Spray Away, or Clean and Brite. Do not use soap based cleaners like Glass Plus, Fantastic, Scrubbing Bubbles, etc. These cleaners usually contain harsh abrasives that might scratch the acrylic spa shell. Also, they will leave a soap residue on the spa walls and when you refill the spa, you stand a chance of getting bubbly, soapy water. Spray cleaner on the spa shell walls, seats, and floor. Then sponge-clean the entire surface. Dirty water will accumulate in the footwell of the spa. Make sure to keep your hose and your submersible pump handy. When the dirty water fills up the footwell, simply drop your submersible pump in and pump out that water. Continue until the spa is clean to your satisfaction.

G- Clean your spa filter cartridge as well. Use Spa Filter Cleaner to do this. Do not use a soap based cleaner on the filter.

H- Wax spa shell.

It is recommended to use an acrylic wax such as Spa Brite, Novus, or Hi Lite. Do not use any type of Car Wax or Furniture Wax. Using the wrong wax could cause troubles with your spa shell finish or cause problems with your water chemistry. Applying spa shell wax with a soft cotton T-shirt works best. Buff to a nice shine.

I- Clean your hard thermal spa cover.

Make sure you clean the underneath side of the cover too. Once cover is clean of any dirt and grime, then you need to apply a cover protectant such as Novus, Kover Kare, or Formula 303 Protectant. When properly applied, these products will significantly increase the life of your spa cover jacket. It is not recommended to use Armor All because it will prematurely dry out and age spa cover vinyl jackets.

If your spa cover seems very heavy, the foams may have absorbed some water. If your cover has a zipper around the outside of the cover jacket, unzip it and remove the foams. Let them air out for a day or two. If your cover vinyl jacket or foam cores smell musty or have a mildew stench, a quick spray with Lysol brand disinfectant will stop the odor. Please note that the construction of many spa covers do not allow for removal of the foams, so you may not be able to do this with all covers. Some cover foams may be covered with plastic too. If the plastic is heat-sealed around the foam core, then don't unwrap it. You will break the seal. However, if the foams are waterlogged, even under the plastic, then you really can't worsen matters by unwrapping them and letting them air out.

J- Check out Spa Pack.

If the spa was closed properly or professionally, there should be a number of fittings in your spa pack that have been left unscrewed or open. You want to make sure they are all re-connected and tightened before you attempt to fill the spa with water. Also, make sure any drain plugs that were removed are properly re-inserted.

Visually inspect the spa pump, filter container, valves, and any plumbing pipes. You can easily see around the equipment area. Make sure there aren't any obvious cracks or splits !!! The most common problems encountered at opening time are cracks in the wet end of the spa pump or filter container. Cracks are caused by water freezing inside these components which then causes expansion and eventually cracking. Sometimes these are evident before you fill the spa. Sometimes they will not appear until the system is full and pressurized. If you see any obvious cracks or other problems with the equipment, contact a local spa professional to check it out for you.

If all looks well, then simply tighten all quick disconnect fittings. Check the pump, filter, and heater thoroughly. Make sure the air blower is still connected to its pipe too. Make sure any drain valves are closed and that any slice valves are in the open or up position to ensure adequate water flow to the system.

If you have an external gas heater, make sure it is properly connected and that any drain plugs or petcocks are properly installed correctly.


K- Fill the spa.

Put a hose inside the tub and turn your water on. As the tub starts to fill up, the jet piping will slowly start to fill with water and therefore start to reach each piece of equipment in your equipment pack. If a leak exists, THIS IS WHEN THE MONSTER WILL REAR ITS UGLY HEAD !!!!

Keep an eye on everything as the tub fills. If you see a leak (or flood) anywhere, turn off the water until you have diagnosed and repaired the leak. The most common leak areas are around the pump and at all quick disconnect fittings by the spa pack. These drips or leaks can usually be fixed by simply tightening the fitting. Sometimes you may need a new gasket or o-ring to stop the leak. In any event, make sure all leaks and drips are fixed before you continue to fill the tub.

L- Power up spa.

Assuming that the filling procedure went well, you are now ready to power the tub up. Make sure the spa pack area is dry and no standing puddles of water are present when first powering up the tub. Make sure the spa heater thermostat is turned to the off position before you turn on the tub. Turn on the circuit breaker that controls the electric power to the tub. Go back to the spa pack and check the GFCI to make sure it tests and resets. Not all spa packs have a built in GFCI, but most of them do. You want to make sure that the GFCI and/or the main house circuit breaker that controls the electric to the spa are functioning properly. If the GFCI and/or breaker works, proceed to the next step.

M- Start pushing buttons

Make sure the spa pump goes from high to low speed. Makes sure the air blower comes on and off. Check the light and booster pump (if applicable). If all those seem to be working well, then turn the heater on and turn up the thermostat. DO NOT TURN THE HEATER ON UNTIL YOU ARE 100% SURE YOU HAVE WATER FLOW THRU YOUR PIPES !!!!! YOU COULD BURN OUT YOUR HEATER IF YOU TURN IT ON BEFORE YOU HAVE ADEQUATE WATER FLOW.

If you are getting good flow through the jets, then turn on the heater and heat the tub to your desired temperature. If you are not getting good flow thru your jets, or the pump does not seem to be running well you could have a number of different problems.

One common problem many people encounter at their spa opening is that the pipes become air bound and you get what's called an "air lock" in your system. This causes the jets to appear not to work well (or at all). Your symptoms will be that the pump goes on and off just fine, but little or no water comes out of the jets.

This is how an air lock can happen...If you are filling the tub up fairly rapidly, air can get trapped in the pipes that go to the suction fittings and the jets. The water level raises up past the openings in the spa. The air becomes trapped in the pipes. Then when you go to start up the spa pump, it tries to suck in water, but only air is in the pipes. The pump cannot prime itself at that point. So it just runs, but does not pump any water.

The way to fix this is to loosen the quick disconnect fitting in front of the pump. This will allow some air to get in and will break the "air lock" seal that has developed. There should be a hissssss noise and then you will see some water start to come out of the pump fitting. Once you see the water, simply re-tighten the fitting. Turn the pump on. It will surge for a few seconds, but then it should pick up the prime and start to pump properly. If it does not, you should repeat this procedure again. If it still does not work, there could be multiple problems. At that point, contact a local spa professional to check it out for you.

N- Adjust water chemistry.

Once the tub is filled, running, and fully operational, add your necessary chemicals and enjoy your tub.

Back to Tips 'N Tricks list
| Order Pool and Spa Parts

© Copyright 2005 Acme Pool and Spa. All rights reserved. Site design and maintenance by ARBsites