Need help with pool pump

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Old 05-30-06, 04:45 AM
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Need help with pool pump

Hello All,

We opened our pool this week, and are experiencing problems with our pool pump. We have an inground 16x32 rectangle pool, with depths ranging from 4 ft to 8 ft. The pump is an AO Smith 1 hp pump (the label says 110/220 V, max load 15/7.5 amps) connected to a Hayward sand-type filter. The pump is connected to a 15-amp circuit breaker, located right next to the pump outside, which is in turn connected to a 20 amp breaker inside the house.

Here's the problem: when turning on the pump via the breaker switch outside, the pump will turn on and prime fine for a while, but then it will trip the switch within about 20-30 minutes. It never trips it right away - sometimes it trips within 5 minutes, but usually within the 20-30 minute range. The weird thing is, like this morning, it will go on for hours until it trips. But so far this year, it trips eventually. Last year I remember we had intermittently a similar problem, although never this frequent - it would run fine for days. The pump is almost brand new - a pool technician installed it end of last year because apparently we didn't have a GFI (we bought this house recently) and whenever there was a thunderstorm the pump would surge and seize right up. We now have a GFI.

The pressure gauge on my filter is currently reading 12 psi - when I turned it on early this morning it read 8 psi, so it seems to be steadily increasing - which may be normal. I don't know what the typical psi should be - this is the first year we are maintaining the pool ourselves, we had a pool guy do it last year.

Additional info: I backwashed and rinsed the filter twice. The pump feels quite warm to the touch - not too hot to touch for a moment, but definitely painful if I keep my hand there for longer than 5 seconds.

Before turning on the pump this morning I cleared around the pump some shrub and bushes that were close to it, just to give it more ventilation - perhaps it's overheating and shutting itself off? Is that why it's running ok now?

Anyway - I'm lost why this happens. Any advice would be helpful - thank you!
 
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Old 05-30-06, 05:22 AM
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You have given us a lot of information, thank you for that. Many reveal so little and expect us to simply sense what is wrong... but we still need a little more.

Have you ever actually been there when the breaker tripped? The pump is dependent on the circulating water for cooling, but it is a minor part. It would help to know that the pump does not loose a prime and is running with water when it trips the breaker.

Is it currently wired for 110 or 220 volts?

Can you determine the ampres draw of the motor while running?

Is it making any unusual noises while it is running?

From the information in your post I can guess at a couple of things. First, it also sounds like you may not have a sufficient ground at the breaker box at the motor. Thunderstoorms never trip any of my pump breakers. And second, if you have a single pole breaker (indicating that the motor is wired for 110) then the breaker is undersized and likely has weakened enough to trip on occasion.

You did good trimming back the brush...
 
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Old 05-30-06, 07:52 AM
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OK, first to answer your questions:

I have been right there when it trips. It does not make any unusual sounds - it trips while pumping away nicely and merrily. It is wired for 110 volt, as far as I know. I cannot determine how many amps it draws while it pumps since I don't have the required amp measuring tool & clamps to find out.

I spoke to an electrician friend who told me that breakers typically only support up to 80% of their specified amp max, which could be the possible cause of my breaker. It's a 15 amp breaker, and the pump's max load is 15 amps - so if it approaches 13 amps, it may likely trip. This could explain why it trips only after a while, probably while the pump has been going for a while and the psi load increases via the line & filter. So I went out and bought a 20 amp breaker, which I will pop in in place of the 15 amps. I feel comfortable doing this because I know that the breaker in the house that supports the pool electric line is a 20 amp breaker as well - so the wiring to the pool from the house should be thick enough to support 20 amps. If I'm wrong with this assumption, please let me know. So when I get home from work I'll pop this one in and see how it fares.

Does anyone have any other ideas why this is happening? Is it most likely an electrical problem (ie breaker, wiring, etc) or is it most likely my pump?

Thanks again.
 
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Old 05-30-06, 08:42 AM
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If it were mine, and had the room in the breaker box, I would wire the motor to run on 220v and put in a double 15A breaker. Unless you know the wire size upping the breaker could be trouble.
 
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Old 05-30-06, 10:55 AM
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What do you mean with trouble - could it cause a fire? And what about the fact that the wire has a 20 amp breaker at the other end(in the house)? I mean, all the breakers in my house are 20 amps - why should I assume the wire to the pump is gauged for less?

Please elaborate a bit more. Also, do you think it is the breaker altogether, or could it be a bad pump?
 
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Old 05-30-06, 11:50 AM
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The maximum size breaker for any circuit should be predicated on the smallest size wire and the length of run.

I would never assume that the breaker in the house is the correct size for the pool motor alone as it feeds another circuit breaker panel, THEN there may be smaller wires from that panel to the motor itself.

The only way to do this is to know the wire size from the house panel to the pool panel, and the wire size from the pool panel to the motor, and their respective distances and insulation specs.

It's probably going to be fine, but it never hurts to check.
 
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Old 05-30-06, 04:24 PM
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OK - I checked the wires with an electrician friend and they are OK. I put in the new 20 amp breaker and turned on the pump. So far all is running OK.

What I did learn, though, is that if you want something done right - do it your freaking self. Turns out the pool guy last year ripped me off - the pump is not connected to the GFI in there. The GFI is only protecting the two outlets located there - not the pump. What a scam.

So now what - what sort of device to I get to protect my pump with a GFI? Is there such a thing as a 20 amp GFI breaker that I can pop in there in place of the regular 20 amp one I just got? I remember seeing somewhere one of those breakers that have a red button on it. Get one of those?
 
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Old 05-30-06, 04:33 PM
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yes there are gfic available like you describe check Slowes or home de-pot. i would venture to think( my opionion) that you would be better to upgrade to a 220 setup if there is room , they are a lot easier on the motors and in my experience they are more energy efficent( not a lot but over time) the company i WORKED for always set up 220 on all inground pool pumps. the only time we did 110 was for above ground pools.
 
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Old 05-30-06, 04:41 PM
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OK - how do I convert from a 110 setup to a 220?

Also, I've confirmed that the breaker I'm currently using (the new one) is a Type QP 20-amp single-pole breaker by Siemens. It basically slides onto a metal 'hook' and the other side (the cable) is screwed on. So do I simply look for a Type QP 20 amp GFCI breaker?
 
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Old 05-31-06, 01:14 PM
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yes that is correct, you will need a breaker that is gfi . as far as converting to 220 you will need space for 1 more breaker, so you will need 2 total 20 amp breakers then the motor would need to be converted(usually a change in wiring) have your friend (look / do) in to it for you . before you do the gfi i would consult your local building code office and see if it is a requirement. it would be benifical as a saftey standpoint, however it maynot be required.
 
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Old 05-31-06, 01:18 PM
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OK, I just went out and bought a 20 amp GFCI breaker (quite expensive - $55 plus tax). The pump's been running very nicely under the new 20 amp breaker, but I obviously need this GFCI protection.

This GFCI breaker comes with one of those pig-tail neutral ground wires - I hook that up with the ground pole within the breaker box, right?
 
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