Any options other than a cracked pipe?

trishalinn

Well-known member
Apr 12, 2010
97
Perry, Michigan
My husband and I spent some time cleaning up our pool after several days of rain and used the vacuum to get a bunch of debris off the bottom of the pool. After doing this, we noticed the pump wasn't working as well as it typically does. The pressure was down at about 5 psi and there was a lot of air in the pump and not nearly as much water as we had seen moving. We couldn't find any air leaks so we called our local pool place. The guy came out and looked for any leaks with the pump, but didn't see any. He also stuck his finger into the pump and I think he told me he was checking the impeller to make sure it wasn't clogged with leaves or debris. He couldn't find anything wrong and said we probably had a crack in a pipe. He said they couldn't do anything about it since we have a gunite pool and gave the the name and number of a place that could fix it. Is there ANYTHING I can check before calling this other place? I'd hate to spend a bunch more money if I don't have to. I'm just sick because the guy told me it would probably cost a couple thousand dollars to have this fixed.
 

duraleigh

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Any options other than a cracked pipe?
Sure. Based on your description, you very likely have a blockage of debris somewhere within the suction side of the pipe.

If the pool guy checked the impellor, then everything else back to the skimmer needs to be checked for blockage. My bet is you'll probably find something lodged in there somewhere.
 

Rangeball

Well-known member
May 25, 2007
785
What kind of debris were you vacuuming? Was there any debris in the strainer pot of the pump?

It's quite possible that the debris clogged in the pipe, perhaps at an elbow. You can try a drain snake or put one of those drain kings in the pipe at the pump end, hook up your garden hose and try to push it back out. I wouldn't suspect a cracked pipe unless you were also losing water.
 

trishalinn

Well-known member
Apr 12, 2010
97
Perry, Michigan
is there a way we can check that ourselves? I asked if one of the pipes from the skimmer or main drain could be blocked and he told me no because we wouldn't be getting any pressure.
 

trishalinn

Well-known member
Apr 12, 2010
97
Perry, Michigan
Rangeball said:
What kind of debris were you vacuuming? Was there any debris in the strainer pot of the pump?

It's quite possible that the debris clogged in the pipe, perhaps at an elbow. You can try a drain snake or put one of those drain kings in the pipe at the pump end, hook up your garden hose and try to push it back out. I wouldn't suspect a cracked pipe unless you were also losing water.
We were vacuuming leaves, branches, and dirt primarily.
I'll see if my husband can try one of those things. We don't seem to be losing any water, except for the water the kids splash out of the pool :)
 

Rangeball

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May 25, 2007
785
trishalinn said:
is there a way we can check that ourselves? I asked if one of the pipes from the skimmer or main drain could be blocked and he told me no because we wouldn't be getting any pressure.
That would be true for a 100% block, but you don't have that. If you can gain access to the pipe at the pump end and are handy you can try a drain snake or the hose thingy. You could also just take the lid of your pump pot and run the hose in it. If it eventually overflows, chances are good there is a blockage otherwise the water would run out to the pool (assuming your pump is above the water level of the pool).
 

Isaac-1

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May 10, 2010
6,711
SW Louisiana
Depending on location of your pump in relation to your pool you can rig an above ground PVC pipe from the pump to your pool for testing purposes. You don't say the size of your pool, but I suspect the pipe fitting connection on your pump is either 1.5 or 2 inch (you might have oversized pipe in the ground to lower restriction, but don't need this for simple testing). Chances are you can buy everything you need for this test for $20-30, 10 ft section of 1.5 inch PVC pipe runs about $4, 90 degree slip fit DWV drain pipe elbows are about $2 each and straight couplers are about $1, In addition to this you will a threaded (probably male) to slip fit adapter to screw into your pump, a hacksaw, and some PVC cement (I suggest the BLUE type that will cure fast and in wet conditions, about $3-4 for a small can).

Assuming your pump is located about 15 feet from the pool and you have no obstructions (brick wall, etc) just run the screw in fitting out of the pump, add 90's (or 45's) to point towards the pool lay however many sections of pipe you need to get to the edge, then add another 90 to point down into the water, cut off a section of pipe 2-3 feet long to get you below the water level and then you probably want to add another 90 to give you a place to plug in your vacuum. Fill with water while someone has their hand over the end, start the pump and see if it pulls air bubbles after having time to clear out the line. If you get air bubbles on the return you have a leak in the suction side, which must then be in the pump if you eliminate the pipe.

Ike

Ike
 

Rangeball

Well-known member
May 25, 2007
785
Just remembered, way back when I suspected a block in my main drain line, and I hooked the pump return flow directly to the main drain supply line, effectively reversing flow.

No blockage, but the flow would surely have blown out any debris :)
 

trishalinn

Well-known member
Apr 12, 2010
97
Perry, Michigan
Thank you so much for the suggestions. We went ahead and tried the drain king and that helped... we are now almost up to 10 psi with a LOT more water flowing through. I think we're going to try using the drain king some more tomorrow and maybe also use the drain snake. I sure won't be happy when I get the $70 service bill from the pool place who did almost nothing to help. I should have known to come here and ask for help first :)
 

trishalinn

Well-known member
Apr 12, 2010
97
Perry, Michigan
We worked on a little more with the drain king and got it up to 10-11 psi. We tried using the drain snake, but we weren't able to feed it in very far so it wasn't very helpful. After finishing this, we vacuumed the bottom of the pool because there was quite a bit of debris there and now it's worse than it's ever been. The water kind of comes and goes in surges. The PSI jumps back and forth between 0 and 2. Any ideas? Suggestions?
 

lbrownin

Well-known member
Jun 9, 2010
49
Pearl, MS
Get one of those strainer baskets that connects in your flexible vacuum line. That will catch the large debris and keep it out of your suction line. I have one in my cleaner line and it catches all kinds of stuff. Good luck!
 

geekgranny

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 20, 2009
1,358
North Central Texas
Over the years I've had main drain partial blockages from vacuuming gunk without an in-line canister. One took me part of the summer to totally clear out. I'm talking about enough gunk to fill the pump pot basket up every 5 minutes. I finally purchased a 110 volt trash pump so I could have the pump pot right near where I was working, making opening it up and emptying it much easier. I did not know about the in-line vacuum canisters then. Now I have a Hayward big cannister that is inline on my Pool Cleaner vacuum cleaner. I absolutely would not be without one now that I know how much they help.

Absolutely don't do this with any multivalve.

My main drain and one skimmer go through a Jandy three-way valve. I was able to loosen the blockage a bit by switching between skimmer and main drain with the pump running. I did this once or twice a week, over the summer. Switching back and forth about five times.

Others may give you a warning about doing this but anyone I've asked has told me that it is okay to do this with a three-way Jandy type valve. The valve is either original or close to that in age; pool is almost 30 years old and the valve is still working great. BTW.... the plastic and PVC at my pad are pretty well preserved as the sun does not shine on them.

gg=alice
 

trishalinn

Well-known member
Apr 12, 2010
97
Perry, Michigan
Alright, I am at a loss and don't know what to do. Since the last time I posted we were able to get the PSI up to 10 using the drain king. BUT, it's since then also fallen recently back down to 4-5ish. We've been using the drain king but it doesn't seem to be helping. Is there ANYTHING else we can do to get our pipes cleared out?

Alice- I'd try what you were suggesting but I don't know whether or not I can with my system. How can I tell whether or not I have a multi-valve? I'm a new pool owner and feel so clueless.
 

JasonLion

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The pipes can be cleared out with a large plumbers snake, but the size and length required is not something most people would own.
 

CrossFire3

New member
Jun 6, 2009
3
Indianapolis, IN
Here is what I did this spring when I clogged my skimmer line. I'm sure one of the pros will pipe in if this is not a good idea for some reason. It will take 2 people to do this.

With your pump running, make sure all your intakes are open (I have 3 - skimmer, main drain, and vacuum line) and close all but 1 return if you can (I closed off the 2 in the shallow end and left the 1 in the deep end open). One person take your flexible vacuum hose and hold it firmly over the return that is open, while the second person holds the other end into the pipe under the skimmer basket. Actually, if you have a 3rd person they can have the pump off and turn it on while the other 2 are holding the hose in the proper place. If you are lucky, the force of the water will break up the blockage and force it into the pump basket. I don't think you will want to do this long, as this is putting increased pressure on your pump, filter and piping, but it is worth a try - I flushed all the leaves that had clogged up the pipe right into the pump basket.
 

geekgranny

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 20, 2009
1,358
North Central Texas
trishalinn said:
Alright, I am at a loss and don't know what to do. Since the last time I posted we were able to get the PSI up to 10 using the drain king. BUT, it's since then also fallen recently back down to 4-5ish. We've been using the drain king but it doesn't seem to be helping. Is there ANYTHING else we can do to get our pipes cleared out?

Alice- I'd try what you were suggesting but I don't know whether or not I can with my system. How can I tell whether or not I have a multi-valve? I'm a new pool owner and feel so clueless.
Look at this in Pool School Visual Encyclopedia to see pictures of various equipment. Valves are down toward bottom of page.

http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-school/visual_encyclopedia

A multi-valve will be attached to the pipes coming in and out of the filter, if side mount and on top of the filter, if top mount. It will have a handle that you push down a bit to move it out of notches, and four positions or more. At the very least it will be labeled "filter", "backwash", and others such as, "off" or "closed", "rinse" "winter", "waste", "recirculate". You usually see them mostly with DE and Sand Filters. Since I've had one, for a few months I think I would install one even if I used a cartridge filter. Many Sand and DE filters, though, use a push/pull valve. Some, though probably rare, don't have any valve at the filter.

This is the valve you NEVER change positions on unless the pump(s) are off.

The 2-way and 3-way Jandy type valves are smaller, about 4" in diameter and usually are not very near the filter. They are used for sending water to either one or two pipes, or both, from one pipe (3-way), or opening or closing, or regulating flow of one pipe (2-way). There are other valves for simple on/off operation.

I forget.... is your clog in the skimmer? That would make it easier to use a hose on one end for a bit then use another hose on the other end to reverse the flow. Small sticks, mixed with decaying matter, mixed with silt/dust can be difficult to remove and might take many attempts. It took me a whole summer to get my bottom drain totally cleared. But I couldn't do it from both ends like you can with a skimmer. Mine had some small rocks too. Eventually, over time they dissolved some. (Our limestone rocks are like that here.)

gg=alice
 

geekgranny

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 20, 2009
1,358
North Central Texas
Rangeball said:
What kind of debris were you vacuuming? Was there any debris in the strainer pot of the pump?

It's quite possible that the debris clogged in the pipe, perhaps at an elbow. You can try a drain snake or put one of those drain kings in the pipe at the pump end, hook up your garden hose and try to push it back out. I wouldn't suspect a cracked pipe unless you were also losing water.
You never know just what will cause a clog. I was running my vacuum Pool Cleaner the other day. There was a small object in the pool that looked like it would go through the vac hose. Well it got hung just right. The VF pump kept speeding up and speeding up and then the flex vac hose collapsed. First time I've seen this. This is why you should not run the "Vacuum" setting on the VF, unattended, as on that function the pumps automatic blockage cut-off is deactivated.

I was in attendance so raced over to shut off the pump, mainly to relieve the hose and not do any damage.

It was a small rubber cover for a small Bic lighter that was wedged across the intake hole of cleaner. Really soft rubber but amazingly did a major water restriction. :shock:

gg=alice
 

geekgranny

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 20, 2009
1,358
North Central Texas
lbrownin said:
Get one of those strainer baskets that connects in your flexible vacuum line. That will catch the large debris and keep it out of your suction line. I have one in my cleaner line and it catches all kinds of stuff. Good luck!
Mandatory :hammer: The inline leaf catcher will catch an amazing amount of large debris and still let the water pass through. Hayward has two sizes. Not sure about other manufactures. If you attempt to catch a large amount of larger debris using a skimmer sock and vac plate you will be emptying the skimmer sock ever few minutes.

gg=alice
 

trishalinn

Well-known member
Apr 12, 2010
97
Perry, Michigan
JasonLion said:
The pipes can be cleared out with a large plumbers snake, but the size and length required is not something most people would own.
We have a plumbers snake and tried it, but couldn't seem to get it to go around the first corner.