We have an installed vacuum cleaner line that connects up with the main filter pump's vacuum manifold via two Jandy 3-way valves (at the top is pool vs. spa, and on the pool side of this a second 3-way controls between skimmer vs. cleaner line). It would appear that there seems to be a problem with the cleaner line. We have a Zodiac MX8 that has worked pretty well in the past, but I just can't seem to get enough suction out of the line these days to keep the cleaner moving properly. We've gotten a huge amount of debris in the pool over the last month or so, and this seems to have diminished its functionality. When the MX8 is plumbed in the skimmer's suction line, the MX8 works great, but we only have one skimmer and I don't want to block its function. Further, I'd really prefer to not have to manually install the MX8 every day to switch between cleaner and skimmer function. The dedicated cleaner line should be the way to go.
I think the cleaner line is not functioning properly and I'm wondering if it might be clogged or broken somewhere under ground. It starts at a 2" PVC line just below a large rock waterfall, and the rest of the line is burried, including some parts where it is under a concrete deck. Here's what I've done so far: After removing the MX8 line, I tried a 1-2" DrainKing where I placed the DrainKing inside the vacuum manifold via the pump intake (with valves set to open the cleaner line flow). I was able to place the DrainKing into the vacuum line by taking off the strainer basket lid on the pump and routing the DrainKing into the vacuum line to the pump inlet. I could not do this from the opposite end because the cleaner line starts off with a 90 degree elbow at its input side under the waterfall. I ran water through a large hose (we have pretty high water pressure), and this did lead to water flow from the cleaner line input. However, it was much less than I would have expected. No water flowed back into the pump's strainer pot, so the DrainKing seemed to seal that part of the line as expected. I did notice smaller debris coming out of the cleaner line's input, and this continued for several minutes, but no huge clogs were noted. I observed some air bubbles coming out as well. To try to increase turbulence in the line to attempt to eject a potential clog, I would place my hand over the input near the waterfall to block the water. This would lead to a buildup of pressure and then I would move my hand away. I did this for several minutes. I noticed that when I did this, many air bubbles would come out, indicating that there is air in the line. Given that I could completely stop the flow and then it would build up pressure, this definitely confirmed that there is air in the cleaner line since air, unlike water, is compressible.
So at this point, I really can't tell if there is a clog, a breach in the line somewhere, or both. Like I said, there has been a large amount of leaves and stems in the pool over the last month. When I turn on the pump and route it completely to the cleaner line, the pump fills with air and loses prime. I can adjust the vacuum using the skimmer vs. cleaner 3-way valve so that the pump maintains prime, but to get enough flow through the cleaner line for the MX8 to function, a bunch of air from the cleaner line gets into the pump and makes it noisy and reduces its pressure.
So, is there a way to test if the cleaner line has a leak somewhere? After trying the DrainKing for about 45 minutes of back flow through the cleaner line, it still seems to be clogged. Is there another approach to unclogging the line? BTW, if it came down to having the cleaner line redone, I would probably just go out and purchase a robotic cleaner, as I think this would be a cheaper way to go. While the cleaner line seems to be problematic, it does not appear to be leaking since the pool has maintained its water.
Sorry for the long post, but I'm at wit's end trying to figure this out.