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Thread: Partially Clogged Skimmer Intake Line

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    Partially Clogged Skimmer Intake Line

    I hope someone out there has further suggestions for clearing what I believe to be a partially blocked skimmer intake line.
    Some details:
    I have a 15k rectangle shaped concrete (gunnite?) pool that is abot 20 years old.
    I have 1 skimmer intake and 1 bottom drain intake. There are 5 jets for water return.
    I have a new Advantage MasterFlow In-Ground Pool Pump 1HP (its less than 2 month old and was bought as a compltete pump and basket unit)
    I am using a Hayward sand filter 5+ yrs old but new sand less than a yr ago.
    I replaced my pool cleaner with a Zodiac yesterday and it worked beautifully for the first 6 hrs.
    The pool was quite dirty due to old cleaner having died and me having a small budget to replace it so had to wait for a sale. I have been running the pool without an auto cleaner and using a pool broom and net to remove leaves and such. BUT lost ground on keeping it clean and there was a lot of leaves on bottom of pool.
    As I said at first the cleaner worked beautifully and I had to backwash the pool about 3 times as the filter got dirty. It backwashed as usual and pressure was as usual as well. Then suddenly the pressure dropped so I removed the cleaner checked for blockages there it was fine. I checked the skimmer nothing visible there either, I cleaned out the basket at the pump, primed and started the pool, leaving the cleaner off just running the skimmer no bottom drain either. The water was not coming in with enough pressure to fill the basket all the way as it usually does. I turned off pool opened bottom intake restarted pool it filled basket to top no bubbles visible. Turned off re-shut bottom vent turned on pool - not enough flow to fill basket once again. Left it over night the pump held its prime but once again when tried to run without bottom drain open water only filled basket halfway.
    Researched here on the forum read about blocked intakes and assume this is what I have since its holding it prime and only has reduced water flow when trying to run through skimmer alone as bottom intake works as usual.
    1) Tried flushing it from pump end with garden hose, nothing if anything seemed to make it a tad worse as water flow seemed to almost stop entirely on and off when I re-tested it.
    2) Tried using a pipe snake but there are alot of 90 degree angles and was afraid of puncturing pipes so didn't push to ohard, still getting reduced flow.
    3) Got out my wet-vac tried sucking out pipe from skimmer end with no luck.
    4) bought a Drain King type diaphram stuck it into pipe hole in skimmer basket, but could not get far in as pipe meets a T about 8 inch from basket where bottom drain intake meets skimmer intake on way to basket. Pushed in as far as I could turned on water and left for about 30 minutes. There was water flow (current) coming up into the pool skimmer from the drain king but no debris came through.
    Tested pool, still reduced flow. Redid Drain King and then tried keeping thee drain king inflated in one end of pipe and stuck my wet vac against skimmer pipe intake. Sucked lots of clear water through but no debris, or dirt or anything just clean water sucked into wet vac. Tried for several minutes then tested and still reduced flow when just the skimmer intake is used if bottom intake is turned on flow returns to normal. I have to be able to attach my pool cleaner to the skimmer intake or it won't work and right now there isn't enough suction to run the cleaner.

    What other options do I have at this point?

    What am I missing or doing wrong?

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Partially Clogged Skimmer Intake Line

    Welcome to TFP!

    It sure sounds like you have something in the line.

    The Drain King is pretty good at clearing complete blockages, but the flow is fairly low, which works against it when trying to clear a partial blockage. I'd try to stick the hose in from the pump basket and wrap a towel or rag around the hose to help seal the pipe. That way you get the full flow of the hose and some pressure.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Re: Partially Clogged Skimmer Intake Line

    Update on my Possible partially blocked skimmer/pump intake. I STILL have reduced flow through the intake. I am currently just circulating the pool using the bottom drain and the skimmer since I don't have a shut off for the skimmer. I plan to try the hose as suggested and hope to figure out a way to block the backwash from the hose so ALL of the water goes DOWN the pipe not back into the pump basket. If that doesn't work I am thinking I might try cutting the pipe above the ground but before it gets to the pump. In other words pipe comes up out of the ground I can cut it here thereby removing 3 - 90 degree turns. I am hoping that when I cut the pipe I will either be able to see the blockage in one of the elbows I remove or at least I'll have eliminated 3 elbows to I can slip the drain king in and give it another try and if that doesn't work try the hose from the cut pipe as well. Does that sound like a smart thing to do? If I don't do that I think my only other option is to pay a pool guy to come out and try to clear the line I just haven't had good luck with that in the past. My husband seems to think that it'll eventually work itself out if I just leave it running with the bottom drain and skimmer open.... is this possible? Will a partial blockage work its own way loose if I leave it alone or do I risk killing my pool pump due to extra stress of it trying to pull water through blockage? ANY help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Re: Partially Clogged Skimmer Intake Line

    I had a similar problem when one of my kids tossed a shark-shaped dive stick to me at the same time I had the skimmer basket out to clean it. You guessed it - the dive stick landed in the skimmer hole and went right down the pipe (UGH!). Because of the odd shape of the dive stick (it has fins and pointy nose) it got wedged into one of the 90 degree elbows between the skimmer line and the pump. I tried the drain king, but that wasn't strong enough to dislodge it. The water flow to the pump wasn't really affected, but it drove me crazy knowing it was stuck inside the pipe. Then it dawned on me to try to blow out the line like we do when we close the pool. I first tried our air compressor b/c that is what we normally use to close the pool, but I couldn't get a tight enough fit into the pipe to push the dive stick out (it created bubbles out the skimmer hole but no dive stick). Then I got our wet vac out and tried that. The hose fit tightly into the pipe where the pump connects (right at the three-way jandy valve) and the air pressure going through the skimmer line was much stronger (Jandy vavle must be fully to skimmer with main drain off if you are able to do this with your pool). It took a couple of tries, turning it on and off between for a few seconds, but then the dive stick popped out. Hooray! Hopefully this will work for you, but beware - if you have a lot of junk stuck in the skimmer line, it will make a big mess when it dislodges and blows out the skimmer hole.
    Good luck!
    Go Irish!

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Re: Partially Clogged Skimmer Intake Line

    I am new to this site and I have to say this is Awesome! I had the same issue (clogged line) and I took my shop-vac out to the suction in the pool and it took 2 fill ups to finally unclog it but I was so relieved. Now the sweeper is running great and the pool is ready for a great weekend!
    Thank you

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    Mr. Blue's Avatar
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    Re: Partially Clogged Skimmer Intake Line

    Quote Originally Posted by NY Pool Mom
    I had a similar problem when one of my kids tossed a shark-shaped dive stick to me at the same time I had the skimmer basket out to clean it. You guessed it - the dive stick landed in the skimmer hole and went right down the pipe (UGH!). Because of the odd shape of the dive stick (it has fins and pointy nose) it got wedged into one of the 90 degree elbows between the skimmer line and the pump. I tried the drain king, but that wasn't strong enough to dislodge it. The water flow to the pump wasn't really affected, but it drove me crazy knowing it was stuck inside the pipe. Then it dawned on me to try to blow out the line like we do when we close the pool. I first tried our air compressor b/c that is what we normally use to close the pool, but I couldn't get a tight enough fit into the pipe to push the dive stick out (it created bubbles out the skimmer hole but no dive stick). Then I got our wet vac out and tried that. The hose fit tightly into the pipe where the pump connects (right at the three-way jandy valve) and the air pressure going through the skimmer line was much stronger (Jandy vavle must be fully to skimmer with main drain off if you are able to do this with your pool). It took a couple of tries, turning it on and off between for a few seconds, but then the dive stick popped out. Hooray! Hopefully this will work for you, but beware - if you have a lot of junk stuck in the skimmer line, it will make a big mess when it dislodges and blows out the skimmer hole.
    Good luck!
    Sorry for the old bump, but I have been lurking here for the past few days and had to create an account to thank you for this post.

    I am helping my mother-in-law restore her pool. It has been sitting for about a year and a half and looks like a swamp (I have a photo if anyone is interested ). I have a little experiences with pools and this site has been a Godsend. I have recently got chemicals and started the process of getting the pool back in order.

    I was vacuuming out some of the algae yesterday, using the pumps suction to waste setting (this will be a very long process ). As I took a break, I read about a Skim Vac. I decided to purchase one, as to not get anything clogged up in the skimmer return line. I shut off the pump and decided to leave the suction to waste setting on for a bit, so none of the floating algae I had stirred up would hit the filter (that I had just taken apart and fully cleaned). As a started the pump back on...no suction. I primed the pump again and again to no avail. At that point, I figured that I must have run over something while vacuuming and whatever it was was now stuck in the pipe!
    I thought I was going to have to pay someone to come blow the lines until I read your post. I hooked up the shop vac to the pump intake, shooting back towards the skimmer. Sure enough, after about 10 seconds, water/debris started shooting out of the skimmer. I then started the pump again, and it worked great!

    So once again, THANK YOU!

    Now off to fill in my profile details.
    23K Gallon Freeform Tile Inground
    Hayward Super II 1.5 HP -- Pentair FNSP48 DE Filter @ 120 GPM
    Polaris 3900 Sport (with Booster Pump)


    Pool School Attendee -- The TF-100 Test Kit and the Pool Calculator keep my pool Trouble Free -- BBB Supporter

  7. Back To Top    #7

    Re: Partially Clogged Skimmer Intake Line

    I have this issue as we speak. I have 2 skimmers and something got in one of the pipes and clogged it to the point there was no flow, but I still had one skimmer working. Then a few days later the other skimmer quit working. I guess the plug moved to the T where these two lines come together as they come towards the pump. I bought the bladder things and tried two hoses in each skimmer at once, no luck. They I tried to blow it back to the skimmer, no luck. And I have 90 psi water pressure! I made a hose fitting to a pipe that screwed into the threads on the skimmer line going to the pump and would leave full pressure on it for hours with no results. I would get some flow past the blockage because my water level would increase a little but it wasn't much flow.

    Now I am at a quandry. I could get a commercial sewer pumping truck to hook up and blow on it I guess (the ones people clean out septic tanks with) but I am afraid to do it because I am afraid I will blow the pipe loose at a glued joint. I looked up that 1.5" Scheduled 40 PVC should be able to stand 330 psi but I suspect the glued connections won't take that. Any advice?
    20x40 Vinyl Lined Inground
    Central GA
    Chem: Bleach/Borax/Chlorine Tablets

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    Join Date
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    Re: Partially Clogged Skimmer Intake Line

    So I had the same issue, and just fixed it, so I'll add what worked for me.

    First of all, its entirely my fault that the intake got clogged. The tree over my pool is some kind of nut tree, and dumps rubbery stem and leaf clusters into the pool. Usually the polaris gets them, but for reasons outside this post, the polaris is down and I am vacuuming. I have vacuumed these objects before, and got away with it. But not this time. Lesson learned, anything more interesting than dust or leaves does not get vacuumed.

    I then tried the "work the valve" cure, since I have a pool and a spa intake with valve. Moving it to spa proved the clog existed, since the flow was normal. The pool flow was not completely blocked, but down to about 1/4 flow, with the pump continually attempting to prime. This, IMHO, makes the clog harder than a complete clog, since simple pressure won't clear it.

    Next, I tried a drain king several times. Nothing.

    Next, I hooked up a 1 1/2 threaded plug at the bottom of the skimmer and fed increasing pressure from an air compressor into it, from 50 to 90 psi in increments. No effect. Fitting the plug to the bottom of the skimmer was difficult, and taking it back off was even worse, since you can't use plumbing tools at the bottom of the skimmer. However, I had anticipated that, and had another solution getting ready.

    I took a 1 1/2 female to threaded ABS pipe connect, glued to about 2 feet of pipe, topped with a 1 1/2 to 1/4" reducer (actually two stacked reducers, 1 1/2 to 1/2, then 1/2 to 1/4, since I could not find a 1 1/2 to 1/4 reducer), then a compressor fitting, then I arranged a lead compressed air line with a valve. That of course needs time to completely dry and cure, so I set that aside and tried the above solution.

    This morning I tried my new "blast-o-matic" at 90 lbs. Out came a fist size clog, and now the pool runs fine again.

    Some notes:

    1. PVC is rated at about 330 psi (it says so on the side). I have seen estimates on the web from plumbers that say it should achieve that also with the glued joints (IE, glued joints, properly done have the same strength as the pipe). HOWEVER, PVC shatters under pressure and sends out shrapnel. Thus I would NEVER apply it on a completely closed clog. Knowing this, I stood well back from the whole thing when applying pressure.

    2. I don't believe the air itself has any effect on the clog. Rather, it is the water in the pipe rapidly evacuating the pipe that does it. Thus, the water must be allowed to refill the pipe between tries. Thus the "blast-o-matic" has to be removed between tries.

    3. It could be that my successive tries moved the clog down the pipe. If true, that argues for making multiple tries.

    Good luck and please don't kill yourself based on my post!

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