Well, I thought I had things down... I replumbed my pump outlet to repair a leak and added a union - all based on info I read here. All is well with that - the pump primes quickly and there are no visible leaks at all.
Here is the problem I am currently figuring out...
My pump primes up and runs well with I am getting water from the skimmer. I am getting limited suction from the dedicated suction line in the side of the pool. When I adjust the valve to turn off the skimmer and draw water only from the vac line, the water level in the pump housing and the check valve viewing window drops, and I do not get any increased suction or activity from the vac (a Kreepy Krauler Kadet).
It did work fine previously, so I don't know what may have changed? When the weather started to warm up here, I replaced the skimmer bascket, pump basket, and added a leaf canister to the vac line. Things worked fine with these additions.
Because the pump primes and works just fine with the skimmer on, this leads me to believe that I may have a partial clog in the line? Disconnecting the vac line from the wall, I only feel very weak suction at the wall - I am assuming that I should feel some appreciable suction on my hand.
In reading here, it seems like I should pick up a drain king and try blasting through from the pool wall to see if I can dislodge anything, and the do the same thing from the pump suction line backwards through the vac line? Since I have the leaf canister in place, I don't know what could have been sucked in, but I will try just about anything at this point.
I this doesn't do it, maybe I should exercise my home warranty and see what happens, though I would prefer to do it myself so that I learn the process in case it happens again in the future.
Thanks for the guidance - I appreciate it!