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Thread: clogged center drain question

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    clogged center drain question

    We purchased our current home about 8 years ago and with the house we also got a 20' above ground pool surrounded by a deck. I had never owned a pool before so it took a lot of questions from my local pool supply dealer and trial and error but I've learned a lot. I'm new to this forum so I hope you'll give me a break this once if your answer gets technical. Here's the situation. The previous owner put the pool in probably around the year 2000?? and left very little information for me to go by. I distinctly remember the guy saying that the line for the center drain went "so deep it would never freeze up in winter", but that's not my problem. The problem is I think that the center drain is clogged. The reason why I think this is the case is because it doesn't appear to be sucking the dirt off the bottom of the pool. I will vacuum the pool very slowly trying to pick up as much of the dirt as possible but a few days later there our pockets of dirt that have accumulated around the depressions and creases in the liner. I had this problem last year and it was not as bad just acceptable. I replaced the sand in the sand filter last year thinking it may have something to do with that. Is it possible to unclog the drain if it really is clogged and if so how is that done? be happy to answer any questions if I've left anything out by accident. Hope somebody know how to fix this. Thanks.

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: clogged center drain question

    Could you fill out your signature? Instructions are in this article.

    Your problem could be as simple as a separate valve turned the wrong way or a missing diverter valve in the skimmer. Is it an inground pool? Does the skimmer have two openings at the bottom, with only one having suction?
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: clogged center drain question

    Welcome to TFP! Center drains in above ground pools are not floor cleaners. It is for draining the pool if needed. If you are not getting enough suctions to vacuum the pool then we need to look at the possible causes. Have your emptied the basket on the pump pot? If it is clogged you will not get good suction when you vacuum. It is also possible that dirt and pollen are depositing on the bottom of the pool because the pump is not running long enough every day. How long do you run your pump each day? Another possibility is a nascent algae bloom. You may have enough chlorine to prevent the pool from going green, but not enough to kill off all the algae in the water.

    Please follow the link in Richard320's post above and complete your signature with your pool information.
    TFP Moderator
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    Vogue 21' round AG, Pentair 1 hp 2 speed pump, 36 sq ft DE filter, Hayward S180T 150# sand filter, Houston, Texas
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    Re: clogged center drain question

    Sorry, I filled out the signature part. It's an above ground. There is only one opening at the bottom of the skimmer. I think, and I have to emphasize "think" because the previous owner left me very little information, that the line to the center drain is not connected to the rest of the system (hairpot, sand filter, etc). I realize that makes no sense because how could there be any suction.

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    Re: clogged center drain question

    Sorry about the signature. I did complete it. I do clean the pump pot before and if it fills up with leaves or assorted junk before I get all around the pool I will clean it out. The pump runs 24/7 during pool season. If you can see my reply to Richard320 you'll see that I don't think the main drain is connected to the filtering system. Was that a common practice when the main drains were installed in AG pools?

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: clogged center drain question

    Just lift the basket out of the skimmer and look at the bottom. Or go look at the thing. It's hanging off the side of the pool, correct? How many pipes or hoses come out of it?

    I'm actually surprised there is even a bottom drain in an above-ground pool. They're really easy to drain with a siphon.

    Go look at the plumbing around the pump. Trace the pipe coming out the nose of the thing, the one that goes into the strainer under the clear lid. Are there any valves?

    If your yard is sloped, go look down hill for any mystery pipes coming out of the ground.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: clogged center drain question

    I believe I see the arrangement of the pipes now. Might be hard to explain but here goes. The pipe coming off the bottom of the skimmer basket drops down about 6 inches and then makes a 90 degree turn, runs along the ground and into the pump pot. About 3" after the pipe makes that 90 degree turn towards the pump pot a pipe comes up out of the ground and joins to that pipe with a "tee" fitting with the one that came down from the skimmer. There are no valves in the system at all. I think that would explain why I get some suction out of the main drain since now it looks like it is connected to the pump. Yes, my pool supply store said it was unusual to have a center drain in an above ground pool.
    So could the fact that I can't shut down the main drain's pipe by way of a valve decrease the amount of suction I have when I'm vacuuming thus making it difficult to get a strong enough vacuum and leaving residue that is hard to pick up? I vacuum and vacuum VERY slowly but never seems to be effective. That's why I thought the main drain was clogged but as was explained previously the main drain is not supposed to be used as a vacuum.
    24' round;11.5k gallons; AG - vinyl liner; Hayward S166T sand filter; Hayward Power-Flo 1 hp; year built ?? brand/make ??

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: clogged center drain question

    When it is warm enough to get in your pool, shut off the pump and dive down to the main drain. Take the cover off the main drain and either screw a plug into the pipe opening or use a test plug (expandable plug) to plug up the pipe. Plug the skimmer pipe the same way. With the main drain and return plugged you can add a valve so you can control the flow between the two. You may also want to leave the main drain plugged and just use the skimmer.

    Remember, for safety reasons the pump must be off when you are working on the main drain.
    TFP Moderator
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    Vogue 21' round AG, Pentair 1 hp 2 speed pump, 36 sq ft DE filter, Hayward S180T 150# sand filter, Houston, Texas
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    Re: clogged center drain question

    Thank you zea3. I'll give that a try.
    24' round;11.5k gallons; AG - vinyl liner; Hayward S166T sand filter; Hayward Power-Flo 1 hp; year built ?? brand/make ??

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