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Thread: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

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    Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Hi all! We just bought our first house, an REO, and it has a concrete in-ground pool, about 18,000 gallons from my size estimate. Neither of us knows how to take care of it (though my parents had a pool, so I have a tiny idea of what it takes) , so I've been reading up EVERYTHING on this site, it's quite helpful! The water is currently clear, but there is a lot of dirt and leaves on the bottom. I also tested the water, and it needs a lot more chlorine and acid. But I want to clean up the dirt and leaves before I add the chemicals.

    I bought a manual vacuum head (concrete pool, brush-type vacuum), the vacuum hose, and a skimmer plate. I watched a few how-to videos and read articles, and it seems like I'm doing everything right, but still no suction at all! As far as I know, the filter/pump is working correctly. I cleaned all the baskets, and also made sure to prime the hose (held it in front of the water return pipe til water filled it), then attached one end to the skimmer plate and set it in the skimmer hole area, and turned on the pumps. Nada.

    Am I missing something?

    There don't seem to be any settings or things I can change on the pump itself. It's the kind with a clear lid on the top, so I can see that it's pulling in water, but there aren't any levers or anything that I can see. The filter system is a DE filter, and I can see that its lever is set to "filter."

    I really want to learn how to be able to clean and maintain this pool, but it's frustrating when things don't work the way they're supposed to! And I don't want the pool to keep getting dirtier and dirtier. Any advice?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    When you pull the skimmer basket out, do you see two holes? One goes to the bottom drain. That's where your pump is getting water - it's less work than pulling it through the hose. The other option is that you're drawing water from another source. Do you have more than one skimmer? Is there a spa?

    I don't get many leaves in my pool, so I connect the vacuum hose right to the suction port in the bottom of the skimmer, and it pulls hard. But then I have to empty the pump strainer, which is no small chore to get out, even with plenty of lube on everything.
    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: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    I'd do my best to get all the leaves, heavy and big stuff out with an extension pole with a skimmer net or leaf bag on the end first. Then vacuum. Is your pump circulating water good with out the hose attached? What is the filter pressure? All else being good with no holes in the vacuum hose....those things can be a bear to get working right anyhow. Almost gave up the first time I tried mine and then bought a Pool Rover Jr.
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard320
    When you pull the skimmer basket out, do you see two holes? One goes to the bottom drain. That's where your pump is getting water - it's less work than pulling it through the hose. The other option is that you're drawing water from another source. Do you have more than one skimmer? Is there a spa?

    I don't get many leaves in my pool, so I connect the vacuum hose right to the suction port in the bottom of the skimmer, and it pulls hard. But then I have to empty the pump strainer, which is no small chore to get out, even with plenty of lube on everything.
    Yes, there's two holes. I tried attaching the hose into one hole, but it made no difference.

    There is only one skimmer basket area, one drain at the bottom, and also a drain at the bottom of the small attached spa. It would make sense for it to lose suction if they were pulling water from these, the only problem is, I have no idea how to make it pull only from the skimmer area. There don't seem to be any options or levers on the pump itself that I can see.

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    Senior Member Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Quote Originally Posted by "lacigrl
    Yes, there's two holes. I tried attaching the hose into one hole, but it made no difference.

    There is only one skimmer basket area, one drain at the bottom, and also a drain at the bottom of the small attached spa. It would make sense for it to lose suction if they were pulling water from these, the only problem is, I have no idea how to make it pull only from the skimmer area. There don't seem to be any options or levers on the pump itself that I can see.
    When the pump's on, you should be able to tell which hole has suction.

    There won't be any valve on the pump, it will be in the piping somewhere. I had to play with mine to figure out which side went where, then I labelled them with a magic marker.

    Post some pictures.
    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: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    I went out to re-try vacuuming again this morning, but then the thunder and lightning started, so I decided it'd be smart to abandon the idea for today...don't wanna get fried!

    Here's pictures of the system:
    DE filter, which is a Purex Triton 2000 Series: Could it be that I need to clean the DE filter? I just backwashed it today for the first time, and a whole lotta brown gunk and debris came out. I know that if you backwash, you have to add more DE. How much should I add? Since the house was an REO, I have no idea when it was last cleaned or what the initial pressure on the gauge is supposed to be. Maybe it'll work better now. Would taking it apart and cleaning the filters help?
    Various pipes:
    Control box area. Just below the right box are 2 light switches. They do nothing when flipped on, as far as I can tell. Maybe for the pool light? Also, in the middle is a lever with an on and off area marked. But the lever spins around freely and seems to be broken. I have no clue what it controls. Any guesses?:



    Valves: There are some valves coming off the pump, labeled "pool" and "spa". I turned them both to "pool." Is that correct? What would you guess that these valves do? And why are there two of them?

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    Senior Member Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Quote Originally Posted by lacigrl
    I went out to re-try vacuuming again this morning, but then the thunder and lightning started, so I decided it'd be smart to abandon the idea for today...don't wanna get fried! Valves: There are some valves coming off the pump, labeled "pool" and "spa". I turned them both to "pool." Is that correct? What would you guess that these valves do? And why are there two of them?
    Boy, you asked a whole lot. You will need to add DE before you try filtering or vacuuming, otherwise you'll just clog the screens, damage them, and do no filtering. Look for a model number on the filter, and do some googling for an owner's manual. My filter label only told me the series, not the model. I had to wait until I took it apart and measured the height of the screens to identify which model I had from the owner's manual.

    You may want to shut everything down, and open up the filter to clean it out at least once, so you will know for sure what clean pressure is. If you're not real mechanically inclined, it might be better to hire a pool service to do it. They could also walk you through what everything does.

    Why you have two timers, I can't imagine. The light switches probably go to pool and spa lights, or a blower for the spa. That other switch doesn't look familiar to me.

    The twin valves are so you can regulate the flows. I don't see a heater there, but in my case, I set the valves to spa/spa when I want to use the spa so I don't have to wait three days and spend a fortune heating the whole pool. When vacuuming, I set it to draw from the pool only. If you want to aerate the water good, go full spa output.

    Seriously, it might be wise for you to call a pool service for a one-time visit. You may get charged $100 or more, but you can do more damage than that to the filter in a heartbeat if you make a mistake and get too rough with it.
    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: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    ***Update: We paid for a pool guy to come in and show us how to work the equipment and what did what. So I've been trying to vacuum the pool for the last few days using his methods, and it STILL just seems to be pushing the dirt around. I've tried both a vacuum head with a brush and one on rollers. The odd thing is, SOMETIMES it will have strong suction for a few seconds or so at a time, then nothing for probably 2 minutes, then sudden suction again. I held the vacuum head near the wall, and could see this in effect. It almost appears as if it is pushing water OUT, which makes no sense, as I've got it connected to the skimmer basket with a vacuum plate. To test the theory that it's pushing water out, I dropped some DE into the skimmer area and watched its path. It appears that it pulls a little in (like a few particles), then nothing. No suction. Then it slowly draws in a tiny bit more. Definitely not enough to vacuum.

    What the heck is going on?!? I've tried everything. It's weird, because sometimes it will develop strong suction for a good string of time, and you can SEE the whirlwind suction being pulled into the skimmer hole. Then it'll just stop, and I don't see suction again for a while, if at all.

    Any suggestions? I think there's something wrong, but I don't know where...

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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Check for the flapper at the skimmer mouth. Make sure it's there and it moves freely. Make sure your water level is high enough. Make sure your vacuum hose does not have holes.

    A pump will draw air before water since it is easier to move.

    Scott
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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Has the filter been taken apart and completely cleaned? A dirty DE filter will have weak suction and reduced flow at the returns. With the pump off open the air bleed by the pressure gauge, & turn the valve leading into the pump to the closed position. Attach the waste hose to the bottom of the filter and open it to drain out all the water. Unscrew the band clamp around the top of the filter and lift off the lid. Pull out the grids and hose them off well. Clean out any debris in the bottom of the filter. Put the grids back in, put the top back on, remove the waste hose, close the waste valve, turn the valve leading to the pump to the open position, and turn on the pump to fill the filter with water. When water squirts out of the air bleed valve the filter is full and you can close the air bleeder. Put the correct amount of DE in the skimmer one scoop at a time with the pump running. Once all the DE has been added look at the pressure gauge and write down the number indicated. This will be your clean pressure reading. When the filter pressure rises 8-10 points it will be time to clean the filter again.
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    Senior Member XsAllOverIt's Avatar
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Once you insert the hose in the skimmer bottom hole, make sure you fill the entire hose up with water and then start vacumming. Turn off the spa return so you're only getting water returned from the drain and the skimmer and see if that helps. I know when I have my main drains for both my spa and pool on with the 2 skimmers, I get no suction from my hose. When I turn off the spa and only get a return from both skimmers it almost sucks too good!!!
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    It sounds like you have a small air leak. If you can get someone to help when you're trying to vacuum, have you or them check the pump strainer basket for air bubbles while vacuuming. If you (or they) see air accumulating in the strainer basket then there's a leak somewhere. Post back what you find and we'll help you fond out what's going on.
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Hope this doesn't sound stupid, but I had a similar lack of suction (more of a continous insufficent lack of suction to lift debris)

    Believe it our not, it turned out my hose was 'handed' as in one end was meant for the plate, and the other end meant for the vacum head..

    I doubt this was your issue, but others may read this thread for similar help

    My hose would fit either way (head/skimmer plate), but when installed backward, it allowed a slight water bypass...too slight to notice, but enough that it was almost impossible to draw debris up with the vacum

    My hose end that is meant for the vacum has a fitting that allows for rotation of the vacum head without twisting the cord. Even had a little diagram stamped on it that I didn't see that showed which end goes where..I felt like such a boob after cursing at it and reajusting my skimmer plate for 20 minutes...

    Good luck
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolGuyNJ
    Check for the flapper at the skimmer mouth. Make sure it's there and it moves freely. Make sure your water level is high enough. Make sure your vacuum hose does not have holes.
    Scott
    How do I check for holes in the vacuum hose, other than spotting them visually? It's literally a brand new hose, so there shouldn't be any...

    I have a feeling it's prob that the DE filter needs to be cleaned. We've only been living in the house for a week, so I don't know when it was last done, since it sat for months up for sale. I just was hoping not to have to do that for a while!

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    If you feel strongly that the filter needs cleaning then you should clean the filter, if for no other reason than piece of mind, That will settle the issue of whether your problem is the filter or not.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    It sounds like you have a small air leak. If you can get someone to help when you're trying to vacuum, have you or them check the pump strainer basket for air bubbles while vacuuming. If you (or they) see air accumulating in the strainer basket then there's a leak somewhere. Post back what you find and we'll help you fond out what's going on.
    Arg, I'm soo frustrated! We found that the suction is fine when the pump is on. Pump primes well, no air. But as soon as the vacuum is attached, yep, air gets into pump, air bubbles coming out returns, and no suction, or maybe 3 spurts and then none. And then it might prime for a second and run, then none again.

    We even returned the hose and got a new one, sure that was the problem and maybe it had a leak. Nope! New one does the same thing. I'm at my wits end and have no idea what to try next. Why would this be happening only when the vacuum is attached, even though I'm SURE the hose is full of only water?

    Husband is ready to give up and buy an automatic vacuum. But I'm afraid that'll just have the same problem, don't you think?

  17. #17
    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Is it possible for you to post a video of this in action?

    Edit: Did you clean the filter?
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Quote Originally Posted by lacigrl
    Arg, I'm soo frustrated! We found that the suction is fine when the pump is on. Pump primes well, no air. But as soon as the vacuum is attached, yep, air gets into pump, air bubbles coming out returns, and no suction, or maybe 3 spurts and then none. And then it might prime for a second and run, then none again.
    Sounds to me like you have a problem with the vacuum plate. See this post: Subject: Vacuum Plate is not performing well

    Have you tried it without the vacuum plate, hose attached directly into the skimmer?
    20K gal IG plaster pool, Manually chlorinated with 6% bleach, 1.5 HP Sta-Rite Dura-Glas II pump, Pentair FNS Plus 48 DE filter, Polaris 280

  19. #19
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    Quote Originally Posted by Beez
    Quote Originally Posted by lacigrl
    Arg, I'm soo frustrated! We found that the suction is fine when the pump is on. Pump primes well, no air. But as soon as the vacuum is attached, yep, air gets into pump, air bubbles coming out returns, and no suction, or maybe 3 spurts and then none. And then it might prime for a second and run, then none again.
    Sounds to me like you have a problem with the vacuum plate. See this post: Subject: Vacuum Plate is not performing well

    Have you tried it without the vacuum plate, hose attached directly into the skimmer?
    Would a vacuum plate not work if there's two holes in the skimmer? I just realized that the one on the top is probably the main drain, so maybe there's not enough suction for both pulling from the main drain and the hose. Would it be advisable to plug it up somehow when I vacuum? If so, how? (there's no valve or anything to shut it off...just the "pool" and "spa" lever on the pipes)?


  20. #20
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    Re: Help! Manual vacuum doesn't have suction. Need 2 clean!

    The first thing I would do is check to make sure the vacuum plate is making a good seal. Put the vacuum plate by itself—no hose attached—into the skimmer and turn the pump on. Now put your hand over the port. Does it have good suction? If not there's a problem with the adaptor.

    If you get good suction at the vacuum plate with no hose attached, then there is really only one other possibility. The hose has air in it.

    BTW, did you see Stan's post above about the hose?
    20K gal IG plaster pool, Manually chlorinated with 6% bleach, 1.5 HP Sta-Rite Dura-Glas II pump, Pentair FNS Plus 48 DE filter, Polaris 280

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