TFP has been a blessing for this pool newb! You've helped me convert my murky green swamp into a glittering blue gem, helped select the appropriate replacement filter and in general helped maintain my sanity
Imagine my dismay when not even TFP could help solve my "mystery" plumbing issue (queue tragic music...)
In February my Hayward EC-65 filter broke - literally. I heard a loud *pop* and looked over in time to see a 10" split develop down the side of the main body. My budget being extremely limited when it split (of course), it was nearly 3 weeks before I was able to purchase a replacement and get it installed.
Things ran perfectly for a week or so until I noticed I wasn't getting the amount of suction I expected on my vacuum hose. I then noticed that my pump was making this odd cycing sound (pulsing or revving then dropping in 1-2 second intervals). Assuming my DE filter was at capacity, I did a backwash (yuck!), replaced the expended DE, but noticed the pump and vacuum were still behaving abnormally. Based on the fact that the pool return jets were alternating between blowing and sucking, I was fairly confident I had a clog somewhere in the intake pipe (again, thanks TFP!)
I ran a "pool-safe" snake from the skimmer out 25'. All clear
I tried to snake from the pump to the skimmer however there is a 90* elbow 3-4" from the pump basket, making it nearly impossible.
I used a Drain-King from the skimmer to the pump. Water passed no problem. Hmm...
I used the Drain-King from the pump to the skimmer and dislodged a fair amount of pollen, seed, leaf debris (woohoo!)...nope. Still not working.
I poured a full jug of undiluted chlorine directly into the skimmer via a 24" PVC pipe, in essence creating "pool-safe drano". Some debris, but still no suction.
I rigged up my shop-vac to try and use air instead of water to dislodge my mystery clog. Air passed, just as water did. Huh?! With nothing more than an occasional leaf being dislodged and both water and air passing through the pipes, I began to consider a leak instead of a clog...
I checked all seals, and replaced two that were slightly crimped. No joy.
I disassembled the motor housing and cleared the impeller. Nope. Not it.
I removed the "twinkie" housing from the bottom of my skimmer basket and placed a threaded cap into the "unused" port. Nothing.
I did a muriatic acid bath soak on my DE fingers. Nope. That wasn't it, either.
Completely stumped I contacted Pinch-a-Penny and the tech was really cool. We went over everything I'd already done/replaced and he said he'd gladly take my money, but the reality was I *did* have a clog and if I wanted to save my money, I could work it out myself.
4 hours later I *STILL* hadn't dislodged even a single leaf, so I decided to try snaking from the pump to the skimmer one more time...with the force of my building frustration behind it (lol). The snake seemed to hang up on the 2nd 90* angle (underground) but after some finesse, cleared the bend. I ran the snake the full 25' no problem. I began reeling it back in and when it got to that 2nd to last 90* bend, it once again became stuck. I mean REALLY stuck...as in I BROKE the snake tring to dislodge it!
At this point, I really didn't have much choice, I had to cut the pipe so I could un-snag the remaining 20" or so of snake. When I cut the PVC and peered down into the pipe, I discovered the MOTHER of all CLOGS. I had somehow vacuumed up a dead PONYTAIL PALM BULB which was acting like a giant sponge. I had to physically remove the bulb as no amount of air or water was going to dislodge that sucker. Since it is highly porous, it allowed air and water to pass, pretty much countering all of my attempts to eject it via pressure, but reduced the flow just enough to inhibit proper pump/water intake.
It was only after all was said and done that I recalled my "facepalm" moment. I had carelessly vacuumed up a large clump of what I assumed were dead leaves from the bottom of my skimmer basket (never a good idea to begin with!). Apparently the palm was hidden beneath the leaves...
Everything is running awesome now, and I have once again been reminded of the importance of proper pool cleaning techniques