Okay, so this is going to be long since I feel like I've tried EVERYTHING.
Firstly, I'm VERY new to pool ownership. I was recently gifted a 22' above ground Intex pool.
I was given very little else as far as information goes, and I've been picking up bits and pieces as I've troubleshooted.
I was told that the pump and filter I have for the pool are *more* than sufficient for the size of the pool. The pump is 1 HP, 115 Volts, 13.8 Amps, 60 hz, and 3450 RPM, if that helps.
So here's the problem: My pool pump does not pull ANYTHING out of the pool. Things can be floating almost directly nearby/above/below the strainer and it isn't strong enough to budge them. I can feel some suction with my hand but very minimal.
The return pressure seems much stronger, and really gushes out into the pool, moving significant amounts of water, but there is not enough suction to remove any debris from the pool, no matter how small.
Here is what I've attempted/verified so far:
I've checked for air leaks. There were some originally (the water was barely splashing the top of the pump basket.) but now I have eliminated all air bubbles completely. Pump is primed and seeming to run optimally.
I checked the impeller. It moves freely with my hand, no obstructions.
The pressure rating on my filter would jump up to 18 psi or so when I'd run the pump so I followed the deep cleaning instructions for a sand filter. (Thank you for the great tutorial!) That dropped the pressure reading down to 12 when I run the pump, but made minimal to no difference in the suction strength.
I've switched the multi-valve to re-circulate to bypass the filter. (NO CHANGE in the suction strength.)
If I remove the inlet line, water gushes out of the pool at an alarming rate, so I'm ruling out the strainer basket as the issue. (But I could be wrong!)
I've checked the line for any obstructions and it is also clear.
I have to hand skim the entire pool constantly, because the filter doesn't pull anything.
I thought about getting a vacuum but then figured it wouldn't work either if there is no suction.
I have gone through a ton of discussions to read suggestions for similar situations, and I've fixed everything I have heard of, so I guess this is a unique case.
Do I need a new pump? I assumed not because the pressure build up and the good flow of the return line but I don't know enough to be certain and I'm out of other ideas!
Things that may be worth noting: Some of the vertical posts didn't have feet on them when I got the pool. I didn't realize how important that was, doi, so some of the posts have sunken into the ground making the top of the pool uneven. (The ground itself is level so there is no risk of the pool moving one direction or another, it just looks sloppy and the top edge isn't even with the water level.)
Both the intake and return are fully submerged.
The return may be mal-adjusted, as it tends to spray some upwards instead of out of the eye, but I don't know how to fix that and don't want to break it so I've just left it go. It does effectively circulate the water though, I did the ping pong ball test.
ANY suggestions you all may have are VERY appreciated!