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Old 12-16-2015, 04:23 PM   #1
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Air getting into water pump?

So after my trailer has been in storage, it takes A LOT (a long time) for the water pump to pick up prime, and it seems to be getting worse. This last time, it took long enough that I went looking for problems. I removed the screen before the pump and cleaned what little debris that was in it out, reinstalled and the pump fired right up and picked up water. I'm not convinced that was the only problem though; there wasn't enough in my estimation to block water flow enough to keep the pump from priming.

I've read through A LOT of water pump threads and I found an idea that I could put a little water in the bypass hose to get the pump primed. That's all good and well, and I'll try it next time I face the problem.

My dad said that I'm probably getting air in the line before the pump. I thought that to be unlikely until I read some of the other threads here. But I will be checking that option shortly. I'm going to also install an accumulator tank this week, so I'll just make sure all the connections are good 'n' tight on both sides of the pump when I do that.

My questions are these: Has anyone ever solved a pump priming problem by finding an air leak on the non-pressure side of the pump?

Also, for those who winterize with air, do you put a little AF in the pump to keep the seals "wet"? My dad also said it's bad to store the pump dry, and that makes sense to me; rubber that has been wet doesn't like to be stored dry. That would be relatively easy for me to do since I'm putting AF in the traps anyway.

Thoughts?
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Old 12-16-2015, 08:32 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camper_bob View Post
My dad said that I'm probably getting air in the line before the pump. I thought that to be unlikely until I read some of the other threads here. But I will be checking that option shortly. I'm going to also install an accumulator tank this week, so I'll just make sure all the connections are good 'n' tight on both sides of the pump when I do that.

My questions are these: Has anyone ever solved a pump priming problem by finding an air leak on the non-pressure side of the pump?
Thoughts?
My pump was pumping a mixture of air and water and I found I had an air leak at the strainer - there was an "O" ring missing and I found one that would work at a hardware store. Also, you could have a leak at a crimp ring or screw clamp somewhere, or a winterizing valve could be open and allowing air to get sucked in. I think your Dad has the basic problem correctly diagnosed.
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Old 12-16-2015, 08:40 PM   #3
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I have the same problem with my 2015 28BHBE and I have tried several fixes, but no matter what the pump will eventually lose prime and will not reprime without running the water for a second or two.

This winter I am working on enclosing the underbelly using corrugated plastic and clip nuts. Once I have this done the next thing on my list is moving the pump into the underbelly, if possible. This will hopefully have two benefits, the pump will prime much easier and the noise and vibration from it running will not be felt inside the trailer as much.

I realize it is a relatively drastic move, but I think it is worth it since I really like the trailer and plan on keeping it for a long time!
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Old 12-16-2015, 09:01 PM   #4
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I have the same trailer too. My problem seems to be the low point drains under the bath sink. One of those boogers seems to not want to close. Occationally when the pump seem to take a while to prime, I will play with that valve under bath sink and it will not be closed.... Probably not your problem, but that whats happening here.

I use air to winterize, then some pink stuff too.
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Old 12-16-2015, 09:10 PM   #5
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Those valves always seemed odd to me, some sort of gate valve, I think they could be easily replaced with a ball valve. Home Depot sells reasonably priced PEX tools, valves, etc, but that particular spot under the bath sink looks very very busy for me to play around in

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I have the same trailer too. My problem seems to be the low point drains under the bath sink. One of those boogers seems to not want to close. Occationally when the pump seem to take a while to prime, I will play with that valve under bath sink and it will not be closed.... Probably not your problem, but that whats happening here.

I use air to winterize, then some pink stuff too.
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Old 12-17-2015, 08:41 AM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback guys!

Usually getting prime for me is MUCH more than a few seconds. Last time, it never actually got it on its own and I let it go for at least a few minutes each time I tried. DW brought it to my attention during break-down last trip out. I will put her on tank water toward the end after I disconnect city water; this time she couldn't get water, and this hunt began.

I don't think it's the LP drain valves under the sink. If that were the case, I would likely see a leak there when the system is under pressure. No leak, so I ruled that one out. HOWEVER, those T-valves are garbage IMO. At some point I'll replace them with ball valves.

I'm leaning more toward the valves just before the pump on the winterizing kit. I have heard that the plastic 1/4 turn valves found on the winterizing kit are also sub-standard equipment and subject to letting air pass (these are the same valve type found behind the WH for the bypass). My problem there is I don't want to drop coin on PEX tools so I can take that whole thing apart and replace the valves. It's my estimation I would need the tools just to DIAGNOSE the valve since all these clamps are one-time use crimp clamps. So the natural solution looks like "Sharkbite" fittings/valves? I was looking at Home Depot online yesterday, and couldn't find a 1/2" to 1/2" push to connect shut-off valve. Seemed like they had everything BUT that though, so I might have better luck actually going down the street and looking at the shelf at the brick 'n' mortar.

Anyway, I got my accumulator tank last night, but didn't get a chance to mess with it at all; we had to wrap Christmas Presents and bake cookies. Upside on that was I got to enjoy a nice glass of scotch during that project!

One other thing of note: I ran the sink faucet last night after the system sat over night, and the faucet ran A LOT smoother. Yesterday when I finally got things running, the pump sounded like a jack hammer and the water came out in rapid bursts (like a machine gun on full-auto). This is odd to me, but makes me lean even more to those valves before the pump...

Just a guess at this point, but the likely result of this whole thing is me saying "F-it" and replacing ALL those crummy plastic valves.
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Old 12-17-2015, 10:27 AM   #7
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I've found it to be economical to buy a (cheap) PEX crimping tool; I've had to use it several times on my trailer. The stainless steel clamps are cheap. Overall much less expensive than Sharkbite fittings, and I think easier to use. Here is one PEX crimping tool (clicky) which I think can be had for much less on-line.
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Old 12-17-2015, 10:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camper_bob View Post
Thanks for the feedback guys!

Usually getting prime for me is MUCH more than a few seconds. Last time, it never actually got it on its own and I let it go for at least a few minutes each time I tried. DW brought it to my attention during break-down last trip out. I will put her on tank water toward the end after I disconnect city water; this time she couldn't get water, and this hunt began.

...snip...

One other thing of note: I ran the sink faucet last night after the system sat over night, and the faucet ran A LOT smoother. Yesterday when I finally got things running, the pump sounded like a jack hammer and the water came out in rapid bursts (like a machine gun on full-auto). This is odd to me, but makes me lean even more to those valves before the pump...

Just a guess at this point, but the likely result of this whole thing is me saying "F-it" and replacing ALL those crummy plastic valves.
Since you are still diagnosing the problem...
Do you (or anyone else) know if there a check valve ahead of the pump that should close when switching from city water to tank water? It seems odd that an air leak would change after sitting over night; a sticking check valve might do that, however. I'm just guessing, but it seems likely a check valve of some kind might be in the system when city water is connected.
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Old 12-17-2015, 11:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RVhiker View Post
I've found it to be economical to buy a (cheap) PEX crimping tool; I've had to use it several times on my trailer. The stainless steel clamps are cheap. Overall much less expensive than Sharkbite fittings, and I think easier to use. Here is one PEX crimping tool (clicky) which I think can be had for much less on-line.
Thanks! That's about $20 cheaper than what I was finding yesterday I think. I guess I really should look into this. I have just about every other tool I need to work on my trailer, I should make the investment and complete the set perhaps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldmanAZ View Post
Since you are still diagnosing the problem...
Do you (or anyone else) know if there a check valve ahead of the pump that should close when switching from city water to tank water? It seems odd that an air leak would change after sitting over night; a sticking check valve might do that, however. I'm just guessing, but it seems likely a check valve of some kind might be in the system when city water is connected.
There is not one that I could see. Now, granted, the last time I was down there fussing with stuff the other day, my son (14 months, just started walking regularly) decided to take a nose dive out the screen door and down the stairs making a not-so-soft landing on the concrete driveway, head first of course. He's fine, I got to him before he even knew what happened, but my inspection/diagnosis of the water pump stopped immediately, and unfortunately I haven't had a chance to get back in there for more trouble-shooting.

Maybe I'll look into investing in some PEX tools while I'm at the hardware store getting a latch for the screen door! LOL!

Edit: I did consider the check valve on the city water as a possible culprit as well, but the way it's acting, I'm convinced the problem is on the low-pressure side of the pump. As for why the pump is acting entirely different yesterday as opposed to the day before, at this point I have no idea...
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Old 12-17-2015, 04:16 PM   #10
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Bob, just a couple of things. Would it be possible for someone to put their thumb over the open end of the winterizing valve and see if it pumps up? [valve not totally sealing] Or it could be the fresh water valve which appears to be open but not totally open. This would cause hammering. Or it could be the fresh water line pickup in the tank is partially clogged, also causing hammer. There could be a hole in a line somewhere between the fresh tank and pump. If you've ever removed the lines from the pump, there's a 1/4" long, circular gasket that must be in there or she'll suck air/water. Lastly, the seals have dried out in your pump requiring replacement. All this assuming the water heater is on bypass.
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