How To Check Your Pool's O-Rings

Summer is finally here which means it's officially time to get the pool ready to enjoy. One thing that every pool owner knows though, is that any problems that arise with your pool, big or small, will just get bigger if not addressed, and chances are, more expensive. Preventative maintenance is key to keeping up with your pool. It's the same reason that we throw shock in our pools after it rains, because we know the rain will lead to bigger problems with our chemicals and so rather than battle it then, why not just take care of it now. The same can be said with your pools o-rings. 

O-Rings can be found in almost virtually every pool part and component. Generally these o-rings are made of EPDM rubber, while chlorinator o-rings are usually made of a Fluorocarbon, Viton or FKM. Some of the less expensive types are made with a Nitrile rubber. The reason for so many different styles comes down temperature range, and chemical resistance. And a pool is one giant body of chemicals. 

Pool chemicals are designed to help with pH levels, total alkalinity, water sanitization, water hardness, and chemicals that even battle algae. That's a lot of different types of chemicals, not including the water itself which can be chlorinated or salt based. All of these attribute to o-ring degradation in addition to just regular wear and tear of running and operating the pool. Each time a backwash happens, or a filter needs to be replaced, pump needs to over run its cycle, all of these will eventually wear out an O-ring. Now for general purposes, an o-ring is supposed to last around 7 years, but with everything listed above you can see how that is quite often not the case. In this article, we are going to examine some of the major o-rings that you need to focus on when inspecting your pool or spa, in addition to what to look for upon inspection. 

Pool Pump O-RingsPool Filter 

Problem- Pool filters most often come with several different o-rings, but the one that tends to wear the most is the tank o-ring. The tank o-ring is the large round o-ring located between the filter head and filter body. The Pool filter is essential to keeping out anything. Filter systems collect all the debris that can accumulate in a pool such as small and heavy debris.

Fix- If for any reason your filter is leaking, the majority of the time it is due to a wrong sized o-ring or a o-ring that is damaged or destroyed and needs to be replaced. A properly sealed pool filter is key to ensuring that your pool does not get any heavy debris stuck in the remainder of lines, leading to more chemical treatment, or even replacing/repairing other equipment.

Chlorinator O-RingsChlorinators

Problem- If your chlorinator is leaking from the top, most likely the o-ring has been corroded by chlorine over time and has started to deteriorate. Chlorine is a very abrasive chemical and it unfortunately with chlorinators, the o-ring is right there in the thick of it all.

Fix- Simply unscrew the lid of your chlorinator unit, and remove the o-ring either by hand or gently with a screwdriver if it has started to break down. Once removed, make sure the channel that it rest in is clear of debris. After removing anything that is left behind and giving it a thorough clean, you are ready to install a fresh new o-ring. 

Pool Valve O-Rings

Valves 

Problem- Pool valves are used to control the direction of water flow, to and from the pool, and in and out of equipment. The most common valves associated with swimming pools are; check valves, diverter valves. and multiport valves.Typically if you see any type of leak from coming from any of these above mentioned valves, most likely a o-ring has been damaged or destroyed. 

Fix- Make sure to shut off the main pump before checking any of the valves.These seals are essential to preventing things like backflow water entering into the pool or diverting water from a pool vacuum. Once all seals have been replaced, resume all pool functions and components.

Pool Heater O-RingsHeaters 

Problem- If your pool heater is leaking from the bottom, chances are you have a gasket or o-ring that have been damaged or missing. Getting to the bottom of a leaking pool heater is not always easy.

Fix- If you’re noticing problems, you may need to get a professional to look at your system. But going too long without fixing this problem can lead to problems with the head unit so make sure to fix the problem as soon as you see it. If attempting by yourself, make sure you follow your manufacturer's guide to the heater for disassembly. It is absolutely vital that you follow all instructions according to the manufacturer in order to avoid damaging any elements while taking apart.

Pool Pump

Problem- Pool Pumps are the main part of every swimming pool filtration system and rely heavily on its seals to provide the proper pressure to operate. Without proper sealing, pressure can escape, the flow cycle can become weak and circulation of pool water gets weaker and weaker until it no longer works.

Fix- The most common o-rings that need to be replaced are the Diffuser seal and the Housing seal. Make sure to bleed all of the pressure out before taking apart the assembly. Also make sure to prime the pump before starting it up again. 

Now that we understand what components to look at it, let's take a look at what to look for when inspecting o-rings;

  • Develops circumferential splits within the flattened surface. This is usually due to excessive compression.
  • Exhibits blisters, pocks, or pits on its surface, due to rapid pressure changes.
  • Exhibits small cuts, nicks or gashes. This is typically from installation damages.
  • The O-Ring or parts of it exhibit a flat surface parallel to the direction or motion. Loose particles and scrapes may be found on the seal surface, due to friction from a rough sealing surface.
  • Develops ragged edges which appear tattered, typically due to excessive clearances.
  • May exhibit radial cracks located on the highest temperature surfaces. In addition, certain elastomers may exhibit signs of softening. This is due to exposure to excessive heat.
  • The O-Ring may also exhibit many signs of degradation including blisters, cracks, voids or discoloration, due to chemical incompatibility.

Remember to apply Pool O-ring lube every single time you replace o-rings. Anything other than pool specific lube can potentially damage your seal in addition to wearing faster.Typically these lubes will be silicone based.

These are just some of the major areas of attention that you would want to inspect for your o-rings. There are plenty more products and components that utilize them though, so make sure that you are always on the lookout for o-rings that need to be replaced in leaf canisters and pool vacuums as well. But taking the time before each season to really understand where these are located within your setup and what to look for can help save you time, money, and keep your pool running at optimum performance.

Here at Orange Seal, we pride ourselves on being able to find the right part for the right job and pool seals are no exception to that. Reach out to us and let us know what part that you need and we would be more than happy to help track it down. After remember, if you follow these helpful tips, you should be able to get around 7 years too. 

Featured Image Courtesy of Pixnio
Pool Filter Image Courtesy of Charles Rondeau 
Pool Valve Image Courtesy of SuSanA Secretariat of Wikimedia Commons
Pool Heater Image Courtesy of Bill Jacobus On Flickr
Pool Pump Image Courtesy of Pxfuel