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Thread: I think it's narrowed down to skimmer line/valve - what to try now?

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    Join Date
    May 2015
    Philadelphia, PA

    I think it's narrowed down to skimmer line/valve - what to try now?

    Hi all. I'm a rookie heading into my 2nd full season with the pool -- first off, thanks for this forum. I've learned so much from reading here and just became a supporter b/c you guys rock. Now for the problem - my 6 year old's birthday and our summer kickoff pool party is in 2 weeks but I can't get my filter to have any pressure and all the pool service folks are booked. I've been learning & messing around with stuff in dribs & drabs for a week. I really want to try & fix it myself this weekend so I've got time to have great water before the party.

    I have 2 suction lines that go to the pump -- one comes from the skimmer/main drain (they are plumbed together -- the main drain flows up to the skimmer (blockable w/ plug) and that combined water heads to the pump) and one from a small spa. There are 2 return lines - one back to 2 jets in the spa & one back to the pool (2 more jets I think). Normally the suction from the bottom drain in the spa is off, all the water is pulled from the skimmer and then it returns to both spa and pool. It creates an overflow in the spa (heated when that's on) which flows into the pool. When valves are like that now, there's lots of air under the pump lid and filter pressure is about 1-2psi -- it can barely get going. I can feel some suction in the skimmer itself but not much. When I turn the spa suction on, pressure goes up to 10-12 (normal) and things seem great (except the spa gets mostly emptied). To me that narrows it down to the skimmer line. Here's what I've tried/noticed

    1. I have plenty of water in the pool - more than 1/2 way up the skimmer.

    2. I replaced the oring on the pump pot lid -- but the fact that there's no air when the spa suction is open seems to eliminate that anyway.

    3. The gate valve for the spa suction works fine but the one for the skimmer suction just spins and spins. Could that valve be stuck partly closed and would that create this problem? I'm skeptical because I think it just spun last year too and things worked fine -- but I have been turning them -- maybe I engaged it partially and closed it some? Is there any way I can tell if the valve is open or closed inside there? Is that old valve something I can try & fix (I'm a little intimidated about trying to replace it).

    4 Would a line partially clogged w/ debris between the skimmer and pump do this? So far I tried the garden hose drain bladder thing -- sticking in the pump pot blowing back toward the skimmer, I see water & bits of dirt flow in there -- but no big debris or released clog. Going the other way, I took the lid off the pump pot and stuck the bladder in the skimmer hole and lots of water flowed into & up out of that pot - but no real debris. I read something about using a shop vac to try & clear the line -- do you just basically just try to vacuum it out?

    5. I guess there still could be other air leaks around the valve or maybe underground. I have yet to try burning incense or shaving cream (something to look forward to tomorrow). I also don't really get where the pool cleaner & its valve figure into anything -- right now I've unhooked it and am ignoring it - but I'd be happy to investigate if it could be involved.
    Just want to make sure I'm thinking about this stuff right and see if folks have suggestions on the valve or clearing the line. thanks! Amy
    ~16'x40', 25k gallons IG, plaster, Purex Triton 4000 DE filter, Purex Triton Whisperflo WFE-3C 3/4 HP pump. Old pool - at least 30 years. Small spa area that overflows into main pool. Pentair Kreepy Krauly Legend cleaner. Propane Heater. Philadelphia suburbs.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Silver Spring, MD

    Re: I think it's narrowed down to skimmer line/valve - what to try now?

    Welcome to TFP!

    Your problem, whatever it is, must be somewhere between the skimmer and the pump. Most likely there is an air leak somewhere, letting air into the pump and causing it to lose prime.

    I would double check that there isn't a vortex forming in the skimmer that could draw in air. Being half way up the skimmer opening should prevent that, but it is simple to check for and most other possibilities are not simple to check for, so you might as well rule that out.

    I recommend shaving cream. Incense can be tricky to use for leak finding, while shaving cream is fairly obvious when you find the leak.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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