Hello, I purchased a home over the winter with an inground concrete pool original from 1968. Previous owners said it had no issues upon closing last year. Regardless, what I have inherited is about an inch of water loss per day. Water level stops dropping about an inch below the bottom of the skimmer mouth. The skimmer has a hole on the bottom that goes over to the pump, and a hole on the rear side that goes down to the main drain. When I run the pump with it this low, I am unable to operate on just the main drain - not enough water comes in. When filter is running at normal water level, there were bubbles in the returns, and the pump basket always had bubbles as well, so I suspected a leak between the skimmer and the pump. We did verify there is good seal on the basket and union entering the basket.
Plumber came out (this time of year couldn't get a pool company to call me back or schedule me until mid-June), tried to inspect skimmer to pump line with camera, and the camera got stuck so bad that the camera line broke, and now the camera is stuck down in there. They are insistent that there is something wrong with the pipe or it wouldn't have gotten stuck, that they do this so often, never had this happen, etc. Therefore after some negotiating their proposal now is $1200 to dig it up (through concrete patio) and repair whatever it is that caused their camera to get stuck, any other damage they find, and also inspect the rest of the piping for any problems. If they do not find anything wrong in a 3 foot area around the camera, and therefore it was just their mistake, the charge will be only about $160.
We have tried blowing out the camera with the pipe bladder method, no luck.
We are thinking of renting a diamond saw and jackhammer and doing this excavation/camera retrieval/repair work myself. Then if there is still leaking, have a pool professional come out and pressure test (not too pleased with this plumber). What kind of issues might I run into down there? Is this something that someone can typically tackle on their own? I will have some help from someone that has done concrete removal and plumbing work before, but not specific to an inground concrete pool.