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Thread: Clog in the skimmer line?

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    Clog in the skimmer line?

    I recently opened my pool, water was relatively clear (for the first time ever, yay TFP!). Bottom was filthy with dirt (loop loc permeable cover, so no surprise there). Pump motor dead so had to replace that (successful install, I think, yay me!). Ran the pump last night for an hour and a half, no problem.

    Today, hooked up vacuum to take care of some of the dirt and leaves that had gotten under the cover over the winter. Could hear the pressure rising in the filter so I turned the pump off, emptied the pump basket which was quite full, replaced the lid on the basket, and then turned the pump back on. The pump "sounds" fine, but wasn't pulling water from the skimmer. Turned it back off.

    I have tried to use hose to force water back through the skimmer (but did not seal off with a wet towel, maybe that's why it didn't work. Tried a shop vac to do the same, that didn't work either, but air was coming back rather forcefully through the skimmer. Did the vacuum through the return lines as well, no issues there. I have taken the motor off and inspected the impeller (small bits of debris that I have a hard time believing were the cause of the problem). Completely disassembled the filter, no issues there either.

    I am at the end of my rope with this. Any other ideas? Could I have assembled something incorrectly when I changed out the motor? I replaced all the seals at the same time. I am fairly confident I got it right, but who knows.

    I'm headed to the hardware store in a little while to buy a plumbing snake. Anything else I should look for?

    Thanks in advance!
    24K gallon IG gunite (built 1976), plaster (Diamond Brite) redone (poorly) 2012
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    Mod Squad YippeeSkippy's Avatar
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Did you remove your skimmer basket to vacuum and that allowed chunks to go thru the pipes?? I don't ever expect the pump basket to be the collection point for vacuumed stuff it just gets an occasional pine needle or leaf. The skimmer basket or the leaf bag attached to the vacuum is where you want to collect debris.

    As to your problem now, you might have to try a plumbers snake. And as silly a question as this is- did you double check your valves to make sure everything is open?
    My Amazon Smile for November12K Fiberglass IG, Infinity 4000 automatic cover, SWCG, Hayward Sand Filter, Hayward 1.5 Pump, Doheny Discovery Robot, Savi Melody LED pool lights, outdoor speakers and other assorted doo-dads. Sundance Altamar Hot Tub.
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Hi, Yippee, yes, we remove the skimmer basket to vacuum, and the chunks go to the pump basket. This is the way we've always done it (20+ years with this pool). Of course as I read and troubleshoot, im finding that that's probably not the best way. I can't collect it in the skimmer basket because the port where the vacuum hose is underneath the basket. The funny thing is that this year we were more successful getting the pool open with a minimal amount of stuff in the bottom, but this is the year we get a clog. Go figure.

    As to your "silly question," no such thing. I DON'T know far more than I DO know about pool care and the plumbing side of things, because it's always just "worked" and I didn't need to know. Now it doesn't work and I'm learning a lot. And yes, all the valves are open. Everything worked like a charm last night, the only difference is that I started to vacuum.

    And what contraption/magical device should I look for (leaf bag?) so I don't have to learn anymore? *EDIT because the forum doesn't like my emoji. Imagine me winking here.

    This swim season is not starting out well at all. I hope it's not an indication of things to come!
    24K gallon IG gunite (built 1976), plaster (Diamond Brite) redone (poorly) 2012
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    Mod Squad YippeeSkippy's Avatar
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    The skimmer plate goes on top of your skimmer basket and catches stuff in the basket so it doesn't go thru the pipes or into the filter. Using a skimmer sock with the skimmer even improves the collection of schmutz. I rarely have to backwash as so little gets in to my filter-

    Hayward Skimmers - Swimming Pool Supplies, Parts, and more

    This is an example of how to catch leaves before they get to the skimmer even when vacuuming-

    Hayward Automatic Swimming Pool Cleaner Leaf Canister - Swimming Pool Supplies, Parts, and more - Backyard Pool Superstore
    My Amazon Smile for November12K Fiberglass IG, Infinity 4000 automatic cover, SWCG, Hayward Sand Filter, Hayward 1.5 Pump, Doheny Discovery Robot, Savi Melody LED pool lights, outdoor speakers and other assorted doo-dads. Sundance Altamar Hot Tub.
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Smeade,

    It sure sounds like you have a suction side clog somewhere. If I read you right you have checked the pump thoroughly and all is well. It's not clear to me that you have thoroughly checked the line leading from the skimmer to the pump? Is that right?
    Dave S.
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Either a skimmer plate (make sure it's the correct size or it won't seal) which can use the skimmer basket to catch debris.

    or a hayward leaf canister in line with the vac hose. (I have this works great)
    16x32 IG Vinyl, 13,000 Gals. Hayward S-244T sand filter, SP2810X15 pump
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Yippee, thanks for the links. They were very helpful. I'll order one or the other ASAP.

    Dave, I checked everything I could think of. Checked impeller, disassembled filter, cleaned that out (it wasn't dirty at all because I had cleaned it out before we closed in the fall, but just to make sure it wasn't that). I used my shop vac to try to blow out the skimmer line, but it's probably not powerful enough to dislodge a clog. I bought a plumber snake and a device called a "drain cleaning bladder" that I think is similar to a Drain King, hoping one or the other will work. So no, haven't confirmed that it is a skimmer line clog, but I can't imagine at this point what else it would be. I do have some water flow from the skimmer to the pump, but it's insufficient to get enough water to pressurize the filter (and no water coming back through the returns).

    Borjis, thanks for your input also, which echoes what Yippee Skippy said.

    I knew I could count on you for answers! Thanks for your help.
    24K gallon IG gunite (built 1976), plaster (Diamond Brite) redone (poorly) 2012
    Hayward EC65A DE filter Taylor K2006-C test kit
    Ft. Wright, KY (Cincinnati area)

    Don't argue. Just get the kit. TF100 or Taylor K2006C

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    If you have a dedicated vacuum port then you may want to add an in-line leaf canister when you vacuum. I'm also thinking a dedicated vacuum port may be the reason why trying to blow out the line at the basket didn't work. Try it again and wrap the end of the hose with a towel this time, and try it with someone using a tennis ball to block off the line in the skimmer.
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    I am just throwing ideas out there to see what sticks;

    -Take the pump out of the way so the water can flow from pool to the pipe that was connected to the pump---Have someone hold their hand or cloth or tennis ball (or such that will NOT fit inside the pipe) to the the end of the pipe. Use a STRONG nozzle on the end of a hose with something (cloth?) to "block" around the nozzle so that when you shoot the hard flow into the skimmer towards the equipment side the water HAS to go out.

    Now the other person's job is to see if any water is coming through. If it is they should hold their hand (or whatever) over the pipe and NOT allow the water to come out. The idea is to build up the pressure of the water. Once they think it is as full as it can get they should release their hand QUICK!

    You might have to this a few times and even do it the other way with the water going from equipment side to pool.

    I hope this works or you find something that will work!

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Zea3, thanks for chiming in. No, I don't have a dedicated vacuum port. I used a Drain-King type device to plug the skimmer line at the pump end, then turned on the water (now pointed toward the pool). It never really did much of anything (our guess is that the water was running back up through the floor drain. I always thought the floor drain was capped but my husband says it's not, it's a pressure equalizer and nothing more). We tried running a snake from the skimmer toward the pump but got nothing. When we turn on the pump with the pump basket lid on tight, we get some suction, but it's not enough to to build any pressure in the filter. The water returning to the pool is weak and full of air bubbles.
    24K gallon IG gunite (built 1976), plaster (Diamond Brite) redone (poorly) 2012
    Hayward EC65A DE filter Taylor K2006-C test kit
    Ft. Wright, KY (Cincinnati area)

    Don't argue. Just get the kit. TF100 or Taylor K2006C

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smeade View Post
    Zea3, thanks for chiming in. No, I don't have a dedicated vacuum port. I used a Drain-King type device to plug the skimmer line at the pump end, then turned on the water (now pointed toward the pool). It never really did much of anything (our guess is that the water was running back up through the floor drain. I always thought the floor drain was capped but my husband says it's not, it's a pressure equalizer and nothing more). We tried running a snake from the skimmer toward the pump but got nothing. When we turn on the pump with the pump basket lid on tight, we get some suction, but it's not enough to to build any pressure in the filter. The water returning to the pool is weak and full of air bubbles.
    Combine the drain king with Kimkats suggestion. What you want is the drain king to really build up some pressure behind that clog. If you have slight flow, it'll never inflate fully and force the clog out. So cap the suction end with a tennis ball or something - even a big hunk of wood with a piece of cloth or sponge wrapped so it seals tight -- and have the assistant hold it in place. You'll hear that drain king bladder thing sort of buzz as it flows, then it will get quieter and then nothing. That's when you yell for the assistant to let go. With luck, there'll be a big geyser out the suction port of the skimmer and your assistant will get soaked.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Kim, sorry I didn't see your post until just now. I think we've been doing a variation on what you've suggested. Stop up one side, pump in water to try to build pressure. Reverse. We'll keep trying. I'm so frustrated (and therefore borderline angry!) that I might need to leave it for a day or two to simmer down.

    how are pools typically plumbed? We have a simple setup, one floor drain (that as far as I'm concerned does nothing, my husband says it equalizes pressure), one skimmer, two return jets, pump/motor and filter. No fountain, spa, side vacuum port, anything extra. I guess my question concerns mostly the floor drain. How does it tie in to the rest? I assumed it tied directly to the skimmer but don't know for sure if it's connected somewhere else also. We fed 25' (the entire length) of plumber snake in through the skimmer hole but we had no idea where it was actually going. It's about 20' to the pump and probably 25' to the floor drain.

    Thanks to everyone for their input. My husband says the next step is to dig down to the pipe, cut out a section so we can have an actual straight run to try to auger out the clog and then join it all back together. I can't tell you how excited I am to have to do that. {sarcasm font off}

    Pray for me.
    24K gallon IG gunite (built 1976), plaster (Diamond Brite) redone (poorly) 2012
    Hayward EC65A DE filter Taylor K2006-C test kit
    Ft. Wright, KY (Cincinnati area)

    Don't argue. Just get the kit. TF100 or Taylor K2006C

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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smeade View Post
    Kim, sorry I didn't see your post until just now. I think we've been doing a variation on what you've suggested. Stop up one side, pump in water to try to build pressure. Reverse. We'll keep trying. I'm so frustrated (and therefore borderline angry!) that I might need to leave it for a day or two to simmer down.

    how are pools typically plumbed? We have a simple setup, one floor drain (that as far as I'm concerned does nothing, my husband says it equalizes pressure), one skimmer, two return jets, pump/motor and filter. No fountain, spa, side vacuum port, anything extra. I guess my question concerns mostly the floor drain. How does it tie in to the rest? I assumed it tied directly to the skimmer but don't know for sure if it's connected somewhere else also. We fed 25' (the entire length) of plumber snake in through the skimmer hole but we had no idea where it was actually going. It's about 20' to the pump and probably 25' to the floor drain.

    Thanks to everyone for their input. My husband says the next step is to dig down to the pipe, cut out a section so we can have an actual straight run to try to auger out the clog and then join it all back together. I can't tell you how excited I am to have to do that. {sarcasm font off}

    Pray for me.
    Typically, the floor drain is plumbed to a second port in the skimmer. Then a diverter valve regulates flow to the drain. Like this:



    It could also be plumbed into a tee below the skimmer and a diverter does pretty much the same. Close it, all the suction goes to the main drain.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Richard, we had the drain king in the equipment side of the skimmer pipe (I can't get it far enough in the skimmer suction hole to inflate properly), hose all the way on, and let it run for quite a while (ten minutes maybe). Some water was coming up through the skimmer hole, but it seemed like not the quantity we had to have been pumping into it. Could it have been coming up through the floor drain? I wouldn't even know how to stop that. Should we repeat that except with the tennis ball blocking the skimmer hole and listen for the sounds as you described?

    Should I have the smaller diameter Drain King, made for 1-2" holes, not the 1 1/2-3" one I got? I think even with the smaller one, it's not going to make the bends around all the plumbing.
    24K gallon IG gunite (built 1976), plaster (Diamond Brite) redone (poorly) 2012
    Hayward EC65A DE filter Taylor K2006-C test kit
    Ft. Wright, KY (Cincinnati area)

    Don't argue. Just get the kit. TF100 or Taylor K2006C

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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Also, Richard, I see your picture, but we have no way to divert water to one side or the other. Our skimmer has two holes in it, one draws the water toward the pump, the other hole I'm assuming is to the floor drain but there's no diverter within the skimmer or any kind of valve that we can manipulate to draw water from the drain.
    24K gallon IG gunite (built 1976), plaster (Diamond Brite) redone (poorly) 2012
    Hayward EC65A DE filter Taylor K2006-C test kit
    Ft. Wright, KY (Cincinnati area)

    Don't argue. Just get the kit. TF100 or Taylor K2006C

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smeade View Post
    Richard, we had the drain king in the equipment side of the skimmer pipe (I can't get it far enough in the skimmer suction hole to inflate properly), hose all the way on, and let it run for quite a while (ten minutes maybe). Some water was coming up through the skimmer hole, but it seemed like not the quantity we had to have been pumping into it. Could it have been coming up through the floor drain? I wouldn't even know how to stop that. Should we repeat that except with the tennis ball blocking the skimmer hole and listen for the sounds as you described?

    Should I have the smaller diameter Drain King, made for 1-2" holes, not the 1 1/2-3" one I got? I think even with the smaller one, it's not going to make the bends around all the plumbing.
    The rubber bladder only has to fit inside the end of the pipe, it doesn;t need to go way down it. But it does have to be all the way inside, otherwise the part that sticks out will blow up like a balloon and pop. Ask me how I know.

    Repeat it with the end blocked. Eventually it will pressurize the whole pipe because of the blocked end. Some flow is passing the clog. When it's released, all the pressure will be behind the clog and it should dislodge it.

    My pool was missing the diverter. I just measured the diameter down at the bottom of the skimmer and bought a universal one from the pool store that would fit.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Update: I went to bed Wednesday night tired and frustrated (and just a bit angry). I was not looking forward to the idea of having to dig up the pipe to clear it completely. We had water flowing to the pump, but it was weak and of course the return flow to the pool was also weak. I didn't sleep well that night; I kept dreaming about clogged lines; then I'd wake up and think about it again. Yesterday morning, the pump timer kicked back on, and the water seemed to be flowing a little better (wishful thinking?). I kept staring at the pump, perplexed. My husband said that if I kept looking at it, it would quit working again. Eventually I worked up the nerve to open the pump basket, and dumped out some leaves, not very many, but also a chunk of wood that i don't know how it ever got through the hose of the vacuum. I'll never know how it managed to work itself out, but it did.

    So in the afternoon, I bought a leaf catcher, and this morning I started vacuuming the bottom. After a few minutes of that, I noticed that the pressure in the pump built up very quickly. I'd bump it, and it wouldn't take a minute or two before it needed to be bumped again. Then the reality hit me: in my quest for an answer to the problem, I had taken the filter apart and thoroughly cleaned it, just to rule that out as a cause, and in my disappointment and temporary defeat, I FORGOT TO ADD BACK ANY D.E. (Sorry for shouting. ) Duh.

    So, as of now, I have my automatic vacuum (leaf catcher in place) swirling it's way around the pool, and pressure appears to be good, nice strong return flow to the pool, and hopefully my pool woes are behind me. Now to wait two months before I can actually get in it.

    I am VERY grateful to everyone who commented to try to help me get the gremlin out, and also for suggesting what gizmos I needed so this never happens again.

    I love TFP and its people!
    24K gallon IG gunite (built 1976), plaster (Diamond Brite) redone (poorly) 2012
    Hayward EC65A DE filter Taylor K2006-C test kit
    Ft. Wright, KY (Cincinnati area)

    Don't argue. Just get the kit. TF100 or Taylor K2006C

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Clog in the skimmer line?

    Wooohooo!
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