No Flow problem Solved

I was recently called out to a pool in Garden Grove, CA .  I have previously repaired a gas line, serviced a Raypak pool heater, installed a safety fence, cleaned a Hayward Salt cell and cleaned and repaired a Hayward DE filter at this location.  So I have a good relationship with this customer, and often try to help him solve small problems on his own.  Here is his email to me:

Tony,

In anticipation of you coming over this week, I wanted to provide you with some additional details in the event it helps you diagnose the problem. The pressure gauge on the filter is basically at 0. There is very little flow coming from the jets and very little suction coming from the vacuum. I have checked just about every pipe for blockages and even snaked the ones I could (to no avail). Today, I cleaned the salt cell and took apart and cleaned the filter. For the life of me, I can’t figure out the problem. 

We recently (March 4) had a solar pool heater installed but the pressure at 0 just started on Friday or Saturday. A little over a month ago, I noticed there was a circulation problem as the top of the water was dirty. At the time, I had the vacuum going every day. I removed it and adjusted the flow valve and the water started circulating much better. I only bring this up because maybe that was when things started to act up (i.e. low flow). At the time, the pressure gauge was probably lower than usual but not anything that caused me concern. Anyway, I can only surmise that there is either a clog somewhere or a leak that I can’t see. Perhaps there are other things going on that I am not thinking of? Anyway, time to call the expert! I just wanted to provide you some details that I hope help you.

Well, he had me very curious, since it seemed like he had covered most of the possibilities. I told him I didn’t have any hints for him, so we made an appointment for me to come check it out. When I arrived, I fired up the system, and sure enough, very little flow.  I decided to stick my fingers into the volute (motor off of course) of the Hayward Super 2 pump that runs the system.  I expected to feel either pebbles, twigs or grass plugging the impeller vanes.  Surprisingly, I did not find any of these.  However, something did not feel quite right.  I could not feel the impeller vanes very well.  At first I just thought my fingers were getting old and ineffective, but after prodding around some more, I could tell there was what felt like a smooth plastic ring lodged in the center of the impeller.  It took me about 15 minutes to fish it out.  I almost pulled the pump apart, but finally got it unlodged.  I fired up the system and we were back in business.  Problem solved!

.  scrap of plastic ring plugs up the pump What is it and how did it get there.  We still don’t know. I guess even after more than 25 years, I can still be surprised.

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