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Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/12/2021 1:58 PM

It's been a while sense I posted here, mostly because I haven't run into an interesting problem in while. Anyway, I have an inground pool in my back yard and it's 14' by 28' and is only 5' 6" at the deep end. On the far side from my house, there are two fountains that add a touch of elegance to the pool. Both are controlled by a single valve located just past the filter system. I've had the pool for just over 7 years and in that time the fountains flowed perfectly and looked so good. This year we replaced the pool liner as it was old and faded. When they installed the new liner, of course I had to completely drain the pool, they installed new covers over the jets. At first everything work well but the fountains were "drooping" and not flowing to my satisfaction, so I made an installed some orifices to restrict the flow at the jets, and create some pressure for the fountains to have a better flow. Everything was great till about a month ago, now the left side fountain lacks flow, and if left on will get down to a drip. This fountain is on the far side from the pump, and I'm not loosing water in the pool. So I don't think I have a leak. Strange thing is, if I turn the fountains off and back on again, the far fountain starts the cycle over again. Strong flow degrading to a drip.

What's wrong with my fountain??

Labyguy

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#1

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/12/2021 3:26 PM

Just a totally wild guess...

Maybe there is some debris that the water flow is moving into the inlet of the jet, obstructing water flow. When you shut off the water flow, it falls back down.

Can you remove the jets and run the water. It might flush out any debris.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/12/2021 3:44 PM

I did shut off the jets and that pushed all the water to the fountains the flowed nice an strong, but I still noticed that the far fountain was weaker than the near one.

Is there a way to check for a leaking pipe if the pipe is buried under ground? I don't know how deep it is, if it's not too deep it would be incased with cement, if it's deeper, than it would be in dirt.

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#3
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Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/12/2021 4:26 PM

... I still noticed that the far fountain was weaker than the near one.

Flowing water through a pipe results in loss of head (pressure), just as an electrical current through a resistance results in a voltage drop. So you should expect the farther fountain which has a longer length of pipe to have less pressure.

Is there a way to check for a leaking pipe if the pipe is buried under ground?

If the fountain outlet is above water level and you can close the valve feeding the fountains, you might see the water level drop at the output of the fountains if there is a leak in the pipes.

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/12/2021 4:46 PM

Good questions, when it was first discovered, I turned off the water to the fountains and for days after that, my wife was complaining that I hadn't turned it off because the fountain was still "leaking". it wasn't leaking it was water dripping out of the fountain.

As for pressure drop in loss of head, I've had the pool for 7 years and never noticed a difference from fountain to fountain. So, something changed.

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#8
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Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/12/2021 7:54 PM

It sure sounds like some debris causing blockage. Did you backwash the filter?

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#4
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Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/12/2021 4:34 PM

It could be a leak on the suction side of the pump reducing pressure, do you have a pressure gauge and do you monitor it for fluctuation in pressure...To check the system for leaks you need to isolate and seal the individual line, add a nib and pressure gauge to pressurize the line, and see if it is losing pressure, min 20 min....Also could be clogging filter....also could be buildup of calcitrant deposits within the line itself reducing flow diameter and increasing turbulence....could just be the orifice clogging...The impeller on the pump may need to be cleaned, or bearing failing...Could be an electrical problem with low voltage or weak capacitor, do you know and monitor the amp draw of the pump...

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/12/2021 4:41 PM

I do have a pressure gage, and I monitor it so as to know when I need to backflush. the pressure is slightly less than before the liner was changed, but doesn't change when I turn on the fountains.

The pump, pushes water into the filter, after the filter the water goes out to the jets, and the fountains. There is a valve that I can close that prevents water going to the fountains and just past that another valve that controls the water flow to the jets.

I haven't monitored the amp draw to the pump.

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/12/2021 7:09 PM

I would try throttling the valve to the jets a bit...

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#9

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/12/2021 11:20 PM

You are not running the fountain 24 x 7 . Isn’t it?

when the piping was re-done, there could have been an airlock which is causing the problem . Please check .

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#13
In reply to #9

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/13/2021 7:54 AM

Could be, the flow starts strong but then degrades over about an hour or more to a drip.

How would I check for an airlock on a underground pipe? No access openings at all.

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/13/2021 9:32 AM

You could connect a pressure pipe with water to the head, making the fountain and allow water in the reverse . This could push the air bubble back and throw it back .
I did it once and was successful . But you need a different source of water head and also an opening valve or some thing, to let the air bubble escape .

Alternately, you could use suction too, at the discharge end , with valve to the fountain fully open .

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#10

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/13/2021 5:49 AM

I think you have some debris that is moving in the pipe to the fountain,or where they Tee from the main line.I had a similar problem on a septic system.The toilet would clog,and only plunging with a plumber's helper would clear it,but nothing came out.It would work perfectly for as while then dead-clog soon after.I just happened to notice that the commode would work fine till my wife used the sink,then it would clog until plunged.

I went under the house and cut the 4inch pipe where it came out just below where the kitchen drain line came in.

I found a flat plastic tub stopper,the flat type,like a saucer,had lodged at the junction of the Tee and commode drain.When purged,the flap would come up,and stay up till it was knocked down by the water from the kitchen drain.A MURPHY problem that seemed to be designed that way,a perfect selector valve with manual reset.

One of my children had flushed the tub stopper down the drain and it took a while to engineer itself into the troublemaker.

So in view of past experience,I would suggest adapt a suction line to a wet/dry shop vac,and turn off the jet flow.Hook up the vacuum,with appropriate fittings to give a air-tight fit,and turn on the vacuum,give it a minute to establish a vacuum in the jet line,then turn on the jet and hopefully it will pull out the blockage by the sudden surge of pressure.Allow the jet to run a few seconds,then valve it off.Repeat several times.Hopefully,this will suck the debris into the vacuum cleaner tank.Start with a clean tank so you can examine the contents.It may only be a small piece that is stuck in an elbow of the piping.If this does not work,try running a fish tape down the line as far as it will go,and maybe this will break or dislodge the Murphy log-jam.

I can mentally see a piece of debris settling down with the flow off,and being picked up,like a flag in the wind,and partially clogging at an elbow.

If all else fails try to back-flush the jet from the outlet back to the source using a garden hose.

I had an in ground pool,and it served it purpose well.It lasted about 35 years with 4 pool liners,which I installed myself(20X40),a very hard task.

Also had the metal liner sand blasted and primed with a (now-banned),zinc chromate based primer.Took days to shovel out all of the sand by hand.

The kids grew up,and so did the grandkids,and it was seldom used,required constant maintenance,even during the winter,then the spring and summer maintenance and the utility cost of running the pumps,so I had it filled in and built a carport in it's place.

Best move I ever made.

IF I ever install another pool,(not likely)it will be above ground,so it can be easily removed when it is time.

Let us all know when you solve the problem.

Good luck.

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/13/2021 7:51 AM

RedNek,

Your solution sounds the best so far. I've run my fountains for 9+ hours last Saturday because I was called away and forgot to shut them off. (when the are working correctly, I leave them on 24/7) Anyway, after 9 hours the far fountain was just dripping, but the water level in the pool was exactly the same. We have experience with leaks and that amount of flow and that amount of time would have seen a 2' or 3' drop in water level. Didn't happen, so no leak.

I think I'll try the shop vac idea first, mostly because it's the easiest. back flushing with a hose may not work because it a fountain and the outlet is about 1/8" tall and 12" wide.

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#11

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/13/2021 6:39 AM

To me this sounds like debris in the fountain risers. If the lines are PVC, then it could be "sawdust" from cutting the pipes. Constant flow "encourages" these into the fountain jets, blocking them. Turning off allows the particles to settle in the riser.

If possible, removing the jets and let the flow flush the lines for a while.

As a minimum, I would suggest disconnect the fountains and then backflush from the jets to push any obstruction backwards. It is possible that the loose items may not readily move "forward" through the system as pipe diameters reduce, hence the need to backflush.

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#14
In reply to #11

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/13/2021 8:05 AM

The jets and the fountains are on two different runs of pipe. As I see it, the flow to the fountains starts at the outlet of the filter, so everything has been filtered going forward. Then the pipe hit a 3 way valve, closed the water goes straight, and the flow to the fountains is blocked. So it's a shut off for the fountains. About 6" further down the pipe is another 3 way valve, this controls the jets. I can select off, and nothing comes out of the jets, or one off position and only the jets on the ends of the pool will run, or another off position were only the jet across from the skimmer will run.

Back flushing the jets, won't effect the fountains. but I can shut off the jets and push all the water through the fountains, I tried that and the flow from the fountains was very powerful, but I don't think it cleared the problem

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#17
In reply to #14

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/13/2021 10:13 AM

If the shop vac does not work,disconnect the fountain line where it leaves the 3way valve,near the filter.Block the good fountain off.

This will force all of the water through the one line.

Connect a water hose tightly to the bad fountain.Back flush the fountain all the way back to the connection that you removed from the filter output.

Put a bucket or a tea strainer under the output so you can see if the debris is flushed out.

Pulse the line by kinking the water hose and releasing it suddenly.This will help dislodge trash if it is stuck.

Let me know the results.

What is the diameter of your fountain line?

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#18
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Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/13/2021 10:27 AM

The fountain line is 1.5" I.D., but the fountain spout is only .125" by 12" so very narrow and wide, blocking that will take a bit of engineering.

I think I remember the number of elbow to the second fountain, there must be a Tee at the first fountain, then 4 more 90deg elbows to the second fountain.

If the builder had put the main line further from the pool, he could have saved 2 elbows, but it comes up from the ground, back away from the pool, up to the proper height, and back toward the pool, then the spout of the fountain.

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/13/2021 11:34 AM

Ok,in view of the size of the line going to the fountain itself,I would suggest compressed air instead of water,with the same conditions of piping I previously mentioned.Even with compressed air it is going to be hard to get a large volume of air down the small pipe.The advantage of air over water in this circumstance is that the pressure can be much higher than water,over 100 PSI if you have a good compressor.

Air will carry debris with the water as it is purged out of the line,hopefully.

Unless there is a way to get into the 1 1/2 inch feed line for the fountain,it is going to be hard to purge it with water.The obstruction could be in the fountain reducer line itself,where it goes from 1 1/2 inch down to 1/8 inch.The reduction point is the most likely place for the problem,since it is the smallest opening,it would not take a lot to partially clog it.

There could also be a "chain" of particles in the line that accumulate over time,forming a dam of sorts and eventually clogging the line completely.

The first piece partially clogs it,then the smaller particles pile up behind it creating a near perfect clog.

When the fountain is turned off,they settle back down to the lowest point,ready for the next flow cycle to carry them up.(Another brilliant design by Murphy.)

You could also try pushing a small wire down the orifice of the fountain.Electric fence wire comes to mind.It may dislodge the piece that is blocking it,at least temporarily.Do this with the fountain running so as to assist the cleaning action.

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#16

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/13/2021 9:39 AM

I'm with Rixter on this one. If you are not loosing water, I would rule out a leak. I would use both a reverse flow of water from the fountains and and vacuum at the other end at the same time. Feed water into both fountains. Remove the nozzles or jets at the fountain and prime the feed water hose so the flow starts evenly. If there is debris in one side of the 'T' to the two fountains, you do not want to push it into the other side of the 'T'. Vacuum it at the feed end and see what comes out! Circuit Breaker

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#20

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/14/2021 3:31 AM

I've read most of the replies and offer my observations.

If this has only become a problem after the liner replacement, then you have to first consider what may have changed due to that work being done.

If the fountain outlets are fed from water leaving the filter, then it's unlikely to be debris as such, as that would have had to get past the filter, which is highly improbable. This also makes the airlock scenario unlikely as you are getting water through the outlets for a time, and you have also stated that it has been at a high rate when you blocked the pool jets, so any debris and air should have been ejected at that time.

I did not see where you have removed the fountain risers to check that they are clean.

Is it possible that the liner installers removed restrictors from the jets which are now allowing too much water through them and thus insufficient to the fountain?

You stated that you blocked the jets and that improved the fountain flow which may indicate that there were indeed restrictors in play originally. You said one riser was weaker than the other - can't you adjust this with the three way control valve?

You said that the first valve is either open or shut to the fountains. I would have expected this to be a three way valve so that the flow rate between the jets and the fountain could be properly balanced. Fitting a throttling valve in the jet circuit may be an easy fix for this.

You say that the pool is not losing water, so why do think you have a leak?

Next, I would check that the control valves are fully functional as they may be restricting the flow if one of the gates has come adrift.

Are there any non return valves in the fountain circuit? A dislocated flapper floating around in its housing can cause some strange effects.

You say that the filter pressure is lower than before, maybe there's a partial blockage on the pump inlet side. I'm guessing that you have cleaned the skimmer and pump baskets. It's unlikely to be a dirty filter as that would show as increased pressure.

Assuming it's a sand filter, you might try running it on bypass as a test. That will allow a greater flow of water to all of the outlets as the filter medium is not in play when in bypass mode. This may show up a worn pump impeller or a blockage in the inlet line.

Is the pump a variable speed energy saving pump? They can also create problems as their flow rate is significantly diminished at lower speeds

Let's know how you go.

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#21

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/14/2021 2:13 PM

Here's another thought...

Get a water pressure gauge. I just bought one from Amazon for about $13. It has a garden hose connection, so you also might need to get an adapter or find a gauge with the right connector to match your water jets.

When the jets are running, you can estimate the pressure by the height the water sprays up into the air (the head). If you replace the jet with a gauge, there is no water flow. If the loss of pressure is caused by obstruction, you should see a loss of pressure with the jet in place, but not with the jet replaced by a pressure gauge. If the loss of pressure is caused by a water leak, you should see a loss of pressure in both cases.

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#22

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/15/2021 12:01 PM

There may be loose debris by the pump or as stated in the line itself, when the new line was installed.

the fix may be more difficult.

backflushing, or run a fish tape through.

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#23
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Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/16/2021 8:47 AM

OK, debris seems to be a reoccurring theme here, so let me see if I can help. Pools are inherently closed system, with the exception of the top, which is open to the outdoors and allows people to swim or play in the pool. When debris is added, like when the wind blows, it is pushed to a skimmer. The skimmer is a basket designed to trap debris, and it works quite well. Any debris that is lucky enough to escape the skimmer basket goes to the pump trap, an opening just before the pump with a basket in it designed to trap debris. Then the water is pushed to the filter, which is basically just 200 lbs of sand, with a very fine mesh screen at the bottom. (so fine that sand will not go through the screen). The clean water is then piped to the jets and the fountains. Back flushing cleans the sand and quite a bit of debris is found when back flushing, but all that debris comes from the sand filter, I know because I've opened the sand filter and looked inside before back flushing. Back flushing does not clean the jets. The water to back flush comes from the same source as the filtered water, just re-directed within the filter system. During back flushing, the water to the pool is redirected to a drain pipe. Inside the filter, the water is redirected to a pipe inside the filter that goes down the center of the sand and exits the fine screen mentioned above. This forces the debris up and out the drain pipe. When this all started I removed all the sand and all the parts inside the filter, inspected for damage and re-assembled.

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#24

Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/16/2021 9:44 AM

Okay, I'm an instrumentation guy but I've studied piping, pumps, and a host of other things so I'm going to try and have a go.

I agree with the others that the symptoms seem to point towards debris in the lines or a case of air lock, or vapor lock, in the other piping. What I would do is perform a test.

With the fountain system operating and the bad fountain already dripping, try blocking off the good fountain. If the line is blocked, the system would just pressurize and the bad fountain will just continue to drip (maybe a little stronger as some water seems to be leaking through). If the line is air locked, I would expect the bad fountain to be restored to full operation as the trapped air is pushed out due to the increased volume of water.

If it's blocked, then an "unblocking" operation is required. As suggested, backflushing might work, or something like a plumber's snake might be able to push the debris out.

As for an airlock, I don't think pushing more water through the system will solve it. There's likely an air leak (as opposed to a water leak) where air is entering the piping somewhere. That's why the bad fountain runs for a while and starts to lose volume as time goes on as the air bubble gets bigger.

You mentioned that work was done on the pool prior to the appearance of the problem and it would make sense that it has somehow affected the pumping system. It doesn't have to be direct (as in someone changing a component or rerouting piping) but may be accidental. Say, if an earth mover or other heavy machinery was used and it ran over the spot where a pipe runs, damaging it, or moving it so an air lock occurs. It'll take a bit of sleuthing to find that out.

Just my thoughts on this interesting problem. Reminds me of the problems our engineering team encountered back when I still worked in a factory. (",)

regards,

Vulcan

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#25
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Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/16/2021 10:08 AM

I'll try that tonight when I get home.

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#26
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Re: Pool Fountain Acting Strange

08/17/2021 7:31 PM

Good Answer. GA from me.

I sort of hope that's what the problem turns out to be, but it may have more than one cause...

It might be good to make the fountain-nozzle remove-able, if it is not already. Once removed, and staring the whole systen from a dry-start type of condition, it could be seen how much the narrowness of the nozzle contributed to the slow-down of the flow by comparing before and after time differences from ''start'' to ''overflow''.

Without knowlegde of the dimensions of the actual piping layout, piping materials, current conditions of erosion, etc., an actual calculation would only be a swag, at best. (yes, I did do that sort of thing in my college fluids lab class, as a term project, and got very surprising system coefficients as results (i.e. one system had a coefficient of drag of over thirteen-something, while the other was almost fifteen)

Also, at least some portions of the debris might then rise to the top of the slowly over-flowing fountain (stand pipe), and thereby reveal if it's pipe-corrosion and/or organic material and/or lightweight sand and/or some other (organic ?) thing(s).

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