About three years ago, we had the chlorinator changed in our swimming pool equipment. Naturally, it didn’t fit in the existing piping, so a whole bunch of plumbing was ripped out and replaced. One day I’ll write about that experience, but that isn’t for today. Today I’m telling the story of the useless pool valve that dripped. I say useless, because we have never used it. We didn’t even ask for it, and I’m pretty sure the extra bends in the flow make everything a bit less efficient. I’m guessing it’s there in case we want to empty a little bit of water out of the pool, but I usually just start a siphon and do it that way. Anyway, the side of the valve, where we would attach a hose, dripped.
At first the valve didn’t drip very much. I mentioned it to the folk who put it in, but I wasn’t too concerned. I think they said it might stop by itself. It didn’t.
Time passed, and the drip rate increased. I put a bucket under it so that any water on the concrete pad was either rain water or another problem. I forget whether I asked the install company to fix it. Probably they said the four day install warranty was expired. I asked a pool guy, who was fixing something else, for advice, and he suggested gasket lube on the interior of the valve. So I did that. While I was inside, I did notice a small nick in the soft seal on the valve, which I addressed with extra lube in the vain hope that it would help. It didn’t. The drip continued.
Finally last year I got fed up emptying the bucket and dealing with mosquito eggs, and went looking for a replacement valve seal. Now, every time someone came to reconfigure our plumbing, they found an excuse to remove all the existing pipes and valves and replaced it. So I assumed there was a pile of working pool valves around back of the store, just waiting to be adopted. But no. Apparently, it is better business to sell a complete Jandy pool valve and get the labour costs of installation. And they didn’t have just the internals either. However, I did find that the working piece inside the valve was the same whether it was a simple on/off valve or a one inlet, two outlet valve, like mine. So at least I saved $20 or so by buying the simpler one.
Changing the valve stem was pretty much common sense – I shut down the system (duh!), let off the pressure (double duh!), removed the screws and the handle and replaced the valve stem. You can see me doing this in the following video. But if you had the same problem I did, you’d be wasting your time. A new valve stem didn’t fix the problem.
What did solve the problem was making a video of the process, with some close up photos. On one of these photos, when enlarged for editing and cropping, it’s apparent that there was a blob of dried PVC solvent inside the valve body on the interior face where the valve seal should be making perfect contact. It wasn’t. Hence the slow leak. I don’t think I would have seen that blob without it being enlarged.
So, the solution – which, I might add, was not even considered by any of the four or five pool guys or sales associates that I had asked – was to use a penknife to carefully chip off the blob and then polish the surface with about three grades of fine sandpaper. But that wouldn’t warrant a video and blog post, would it?
And by the way, I put the old valve stem back in and got my money back on the one I purchased.