Clearing a blockage in the skimmer line

Feb 19, 2019
17
Melbourne
#1
Hi guys!
I've just moved into a new house that has a pool and did something really dumb- I vacuumed my pool without the skimmer basket in- needless to say, the line is now blocked.
Things we've tried:
- A pump at one end of the line (the pool filter end) and a separate pump at the other end (skimmer box line)- 1 pushing water and one sucking. No difference.
- Compressed air to push air into the pool from the filter side. Alot of bubbling in the skimmer box, but still blocked. Our second attempt actually blew our PVC pipe on the connection apart.

I had one of those snake cameras that connects to my phone lying around. I put it in the inlet in the skimmer box and can see the attached- it almost looks like a ball or something?
This appears to be about 30cm into the inlet hole.

My pool guy thinks its a ball and has suggested a few things:
- Get a plumber with a jetter or snake to try and push it out
- Dig up the skimmer line pipe, cut it and pull out whatever is blocking it.

The thing is, I have never seen this thing before. It doesn't even look like a ball, as it is shiny and doesn't look solid.
Does anyone know what this is? It isn't part of a valve or something that would actually be part of the pool? You can see the LED lights from the snake camera I had reflecting off it.
The reason I'm unsure if it is something that is meant to be there is that you can see what looks like green plumbers glue?

If it is something such as a ball, I think perhaps it was already in the hose when I started vacuuming (I've never used the hose before).

Any advice appreciated!
 

Attachments

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
#2
Welcome to the forum! :wave: I'm at a loss myself as to what it may be. I wouldn't feel bad about how you vacuumed. I have to remove my skimmer basket to vacuum, so the only basket left to catch something large is the pump basket itself. In any case, if you were manually vacuuming I would think you would've seen somethiing in the pool. As you said, perhaps something was jammed into that hose you never used before. Maybe the previous owners had something in it to keep critters out. At this point, it's a chess game of pushing, poking, and praying for it to release. We often times use pressure bladders like THIS ONE for a blockage, but whether it works for this thing is hard to tell. Since it seems to have been sucked-up from the poolside skimmer side, I would work from the pump backwards to the pool in hopes of getting it to break loose. I hope you get it. It would be a shame to cut the plumbing to get it out. Let us know how it turns out and what the mystery item is.
 

wikihowto

In The Industry
Sep 25, 2017
15
San Diego California
#3
The less invasive way is to blow the line out with compressed air and proper 2” plug.

If that doesn’t work then you would need to pinpoint underground where the issue is with a video camera snake and then you may need to cut the deck or dig to expose, remove issue and repipe that area. Then backfill or lay the stone decking back. We always run a hydrostatic pressure test to verify line integrity once done.
 

jtpipkin

Well-known member
Oct 2, 2016
61
albany, ga
#4
Wow, no clue. That's weird... Just went through the same issue and it drove me crazy. Bought everything I could find, bound and determined to do it myself - Nothing worked. Ended up calling Roto-Rooter. Even he, with professional equipment, spent over an hour. I'm satisfied that there was no way I could have cleared that clog myself without spending the money on the power snake he had access to. That being said, it cost me $95 and, in my opinion, best money I ever spent. Whatever was in there had obviously been building for a while and the pool has never run, or looked, better! Good luck, I know it's probably driving you nuts...
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
10,940
Bedford, TX
#5
L,

I am suspicious of this whole thing... I suspect what you are seeing is just a camera issue and not the actual problem. It is just too nice and round to me..

At 30 cm it would be just about where the skimmer connects to the pipe from the pump...

If you pumped air into the pump side and had "a lot of bubbling from the Skimmer side", I am not convinced the pipe is blocked..

While the pipe may be blocked, that is not the first thing that comes to my mind... If you were vacuuming up "stuff" it is more likely to clog up the filter or the pump impeller.

Tell us more about what you were doing and the symptoms you have that makes you believe that the skimmer line is blocked? Is your main drain connected to the skimmer or to the equipment pad? Are there any valves between the skimmer and the pump?

A couple of pics of your equipment pad would help..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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Likes: setsailsoon

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
254
Gilbert, AZ
#6
L,

I am suspicious of this whole thing... I suspect what you are seeing is just a camera issue and not the actual problem. It is just to nice and round to me..
Jim R.
I think you are right Jim. It’s probably looking into the inside of an elbow. Similar to “statues” that have inverted faces (concave masks) that appear to convex and always looking at you no matter where you stand...I think that is happening here.
 

scdaren

Bronze Supporter
May 20, 2018
320
Clovis, CA
#8
I think you are right Jim. It’s probably looking into the inside of an elbow. Similar to “statues” that have inverted faces (concave masks) that appear to convex and always looking at you no matter where you stand...I think that is happening here.
Yeah, pretty sure that is the case. That's why you are seeing the glue drippings at that spot -- it's an elbow glued onto the pipe. So your clog (assuming you have one) is elsewhere. You might try renting a snake at your local Home Depot, or call in a plumber. I would certainly go that route before you start digging.
 
Likes: splashpad
OP
OP
L
Feb 19, 2019
17
Melbourne
#9
Welcome to the forum
Thanks :)
We often times use pressure bladders like THIS ONE for a blockage
Yep, I tried that but no to avail. Little bits of debris came out back into the skimmer box but it was very little.
The less invasive way is to blow the line out with compressed air and proper 2” plug.
So we tried that but without a plug. My friends PVC pipe that connects his air compressor into the pipe that goes to the pool (from the pump end) ended up blowing apart.

That being said, it cost me $95 and, in my opinion, best money I ever spent.
That sounds quite reasonable actually. Was that a jetter or a snake tool?
I suspect what you are seeing is just a camera issue and not the actual problem
That was my thought. It looks too perfect. It also is reflecting the LED lights off the snake camera which I find a bit odd.
At 30 cm it would be just about where the skimmer connects to the pipe from the pump
Yep, thats about right.
If you pumped air into the pump side and had "a lot of bubbling from the Skimmer side", I am not convinced the pipe is blocked..
So, it definitely is blocked- maybe not 100% blocked. When the pump is turned on, there is a low flow light and almost no water coming into the filter skimmer. If we pump water from the pool side into the pipe that heads towards the pump (obviously with an external pump), then water does flow into the pool pump, just not at the rate it used to.

Tell us more about what you were doing and the symptoms you have that makes you believe that the skimmer line is blocked? Is your main drain connected to the skimmer or to the equipment pad? Are there any valves between the skimmer and the pump?
So, I've never cleaned the pool before (new home).
I took the skimmer basket out and put this round plate over the top that had a hole for the pipe to go into (didn't think and realize the skimmer basket is needed).
I got into the pool and used the end of the hose to suck up a HEAP of leaves... probably would have half filled the skimmer box.
After about 20 seconds of doing that, the suction stopped (and that's when I realized I should have had the skimmer basket in).

The skimmer box has 2 holes in it.. my pool friend says that one will likely go to the drain and the other goes to the pool pump. There aren't any external valves between the skimmer and the pump that I know of (unless they are in the ground under the concrete but not sure!).

I am starting to think the images I've attached are not the blockage- otherwise, the leaves would still have ended up in the skimmer basket before the pool pump.
So, at this stage, NO leaves have ended up in the skimmer basket in the pool pump, so they must be in the line still?!
When we tried pumping the blockage out, we did get quite a few leaves out (maybe a handful), I estimate it was only 1/6 of what was in there.

Kinda at a loss who to call or what to do next. I suspect the pipe that exploded whilst trying to pump compressed air in is not suggesting its completely blocked, as we were able to push plenty of air in their earlier (and have the water bubble right out of the basket)- but it didn't release ANY leaves.
 
OP
OP
L
Feb 19, 2019
17
Melbourne
#11
It sounds like you are going to need a small plumber auger to clear the leaf blockage, since no amount of pressure from either side has released the blockage.
If leaves will be an (ongoing) issue, getting a leaf canister for your vacuum hose will be a life saver (as you now know from experience)
Yep, I have a plumber mate and will see if he has one.
It shouldn't be an ongoing issue - I'll never make the mistake again of not putting in the basket!
 
#12
Yep, I have a plumber mate and will see if he has one.
It shouldn't be an ongoing issue - I'll never make the mistake again of not putting in the basket!
Just a thought, You will have to reset the vacuum as the basket fills, if you can find an inline leaf canister, you can continue the vacuuming, even if you have to pull it off and empty it during vacuuming (keep hose under water so you don't vacuum air), just a thought.
We always love pictures of the pool, too!
 

jtpipkin

Well-known member
Oct 2, 2016
61
albany, ga
#13
It was a snake, but powered. I can’t know what you’re issue is, but I will tell you I tried everything recommended and nothing worked. I found an old thread from whatever message board I could find that said they called Roto-rooter. Just so happens a buddy of mine owns one. I sent him a text on a Sunday morning and he said it would be a $95 charge. To me, that was extremely reasonable based on my time and everything I’d already tried. I was not disappointed. Call a Plumber, get a firm quote and thank me later.
 
OP
OP
L
Feb 19, 2019
17
Melbourne
#14
Hi guys.
So some more information for you guys.
I had another look with the camera and it would appear that it is not an object at all. The closer I was able to get to the object, it faded away. I think it was just a shadow.

So I tried a few more things with the hose but couldn't get it unblocked. Here is what is happening at the moment.
If I turn the pump on from fresh, it basically sucks no water at all.

But.... If I use a pressure bladder hose pushed into the inlet from the skimmer box (and wait for the basket on the pump inlet to fill up) and then turn the pump on, it starts pumping.
However, the flow is clearly not too high. It starts surging... like it is taking a big gulp of water, then flushing it through, then taking another big gulp etc. You can hear it doing this.
If I turn the valve on to turn the water feature on, it is about half the pressure than it was before.

The pressure valve on the outlet of the filter towards the chlorinator also has the pressure jumping from 0 to 10 or so everytime it pulses. Is it possible theres some debree of some sort stuck in the filter?

So, still sounds like its blocked, but unsure where. I think I'll need to find a plumber that has a snake tool or a jetter and see if that helps. It must be a fair blockage if water can pass through but not budge anything!

I wonder if I could buy a tool such as this and have some success?
Kinetic 6.3mm 7.62m Drum Auger Drain Cleaning Tool
 
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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
36,786
Tallahassee, FL
#15
I am going to share any idea due to what I did in the past..............turn off the power to the pump and check the impeller. It is the part on the motor right after the pump basket area. I thought I was being safe enough with the two baskets but some of the smaller leaves somehow got past both baskets and clogged up the impeller. I had almost not suction from my pump as a result. Good luck!
 
Likes: yann

yann

Well-known member
#17
Hi all

I'm going to throw in a simple idea:
When you vacuumed your pool, did you prime the hose with pool water first?
If you didn't then you sucked in a lot of air into your pipes from the skimmer box to the pump and your pump when completely dry.
Maybe something as simple as a full pump priming (after checking your impeller as KK suggested) might solve your problem.

Is your pool level high enough for your skimmer box to be full of water?
After you noticed the blockage, was there any leaves or debris in your pump basket? Make sure this is clean too before you start your pump again.

Do you have a sand filter? Maybe try priming the pump with the filter valve set to Waste to reduce the pressure past the pump?

Just throwing some ideas in, I'm happy to be corrected by the experts if those ideas are silly.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
36,786
Tallahassee, FL
#18
To really get to my impeller I have to take my pump basket off. The impeller is right there then. It looks like yours is way different than mine so I will leave it to you to find the video to find how to take it apart. I found a couple that shows the pump already apart.

I really like @yann ideas! Those are awesome! We will keep throwing out ideas until one of them works! Keep us in the loop so we know what ends up working!
 
OP
OP
L
Feb 19, 2019
17
Melbourne
#19
Hi all

I'm going to throw in a simple idea:
When you vacuumed your pool, did you prime the hose with pool water first?
If you didn't then you sucked in a lot of air into your pipes from the skimmer box to the pump and your pump when completely dry.
Maybe something as simple as a full pump priming (after checking your impeller as KK suggested) might solve your problem.

Is your pool level high enough for your skimmer box to be full of water?
After you noticed the blockage, was there any leaves or debris in your pump basket? Make sure this is clean too before you start your pump again.

Do you have a sand filter? Maybe try priming the pump with the filter valve set to Waste to reduce the pressure past the pump?

Just throwing some ideas in, I'm happy to be corrected by the experts if those ideas are silly.
Hi there!
Nope, I didn't prime the hose. Didn't realize this was a thing!! I will look into priming the pump.
Yes, the pool level is plenty high.

No, that is the weird thing. I sucked up alot of leaves, and there were almost none in the skimmer basket at the pump. I still don't know what happened to those leaves.. my pool friend did suck out maybe a handful of leaves but I think there was more that I'm unsure where.

I will look into your suggestions!