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Thread: Plumbers camera stuck in skimmer line, need to dig

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    Plumbers camera stuck in skimmer line, need to dig

    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.
    15K gal, IG gunite/plaster, Hayward Sand Filter, 1968, Aquabot Z2 Turbo Industrial

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Plumbers camera stuck in skimmer line, need to dig

    Welcome to tfp, emslthd

    Quote Originally Posted by emslthd
    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.
    If your leak stops when the water is at the bottom of the skimmer, your leak is not likely in the pipe below that, but should be right where the water level stabilized.

    Now unfortunately, you have the camera stuck, which I believe should be dealt with by the plumber. Have they tried a plumbers snake (or possibly a plumbers tape) pushed in from the opposite end of the pipe from where the camera was inserted?
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Plumbers camera stuck in skimmer line, need to dig

    I had similar problems with my pool - losing a ton of water every day to a broken line. I knew it was in the return line, so after plugging the returns and hooking up a garden hose to the line and pressurizing the line with the water, I was able to hear where the leak was (where the water was rushing out) through the pool wall.

    I rented the diamond saw, cut an 18"x18" access hole in the deck and hammered and chiseled out the concrete. PITA. After digging down about 12" and being attacked by a swarm of biting red ants who enjoyed the nice wet ecosystem the broken line had created, I was able to locate the broken flexible pvc pipe, cut it out and replace it. That flex pvc is garbage by the way.

    All told, about a six hour job that I wouldn't want to do again. I was lucky that I knew where my problem was.

    If I were you, I'd pay the $1200 and let the plumber fix it all. Who knows how many problems are down there?
    28K, 20' x 40' IG - Vinyl Liner, Hayward DE Filter, 1.5HP Pump, 250K Hayward BTU Heater, Aquabot Breeze 4WD robotic cleaner

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    Re: Plumbers camera stuck in skimmer line, need to dig

    Quote Originally Posted by linen
    If your leak stops when the water is at the bottom of the skimmer, your leak is not likely in the pipe below that, but should be right where the water level stabilized.

    Now unfortunately, you have the camera stuck, which I believe should be dealt with by the plumber. Have they tried a plumbers snake (or possibly a plumbers tape) pushed in from the opposite end of the pipe from where the camera was inserted?
    The water level seems to drop significantly, 1-1.5 inch a day when it is above the bottom of the skimmer mouth (and therefore I am running the filter), and then much less, .5 inch per day, when it is below the bottom of the skimmer mouth (and I am not running the filter). Is it possible it is still leaking when the level is below the skimmer mouth because water still is getting in the skimmer line via the main drain connection?

    They have not tried the snake or tape method, didn't say anything about that either. I will ask.
    15K gal, IG gunite/plaster, Hayward Sand Filter, 1968, Aquabot Z2 Turbo Industrial

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Plumbers camera stuck in skimmer line, need to dig

    Were you loosing water while the pump was running? If yes, then it is not in the vacuum line (skimemer) since that will be under a vacuum while pumping.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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