Mystery return fitting - please help me ID/remove


May 11, 2017
My inground, gunite pool is at least 30 years old.

I have three returns - two in the deep end, one in the shallow.

I also have four "returns" along a bench in the shallow end, with a blower attached for air. The seven returns seem to be identical. They all accept typical 1 1/2" threaded fittings.

The eyeball fittings in the four "blower returns" are merely rings that screw into the fitting, plus the eyeball. They are clear and orange-ish. The "regular returns" have the typical white eyeball fittings with male threaded fittings and a ring to secure the eyball.

On two occasions now, for the regular returns, I've over-tightened the male eyeball fittings and the female threaded piece at the end of the return pipe cracked off. In both cases, the ring left on the male threaded part of the eyeball fitting (the piece that cracked off and is still on the eyeball fitting) is clear and orange-ish, matching the ring/eyeball fittings for the blower lines.

Here's the mystery - the broken piece that's left inside the pipe. It's completely flat (i.e., no threads). I've examined while wearing a mask, and there are definitely no threads that I can feel nor see. In other words, the threads all broke off and are stuck to the male fitting.

Because these remaining pieces are clear, I can see threads beneath the remaining broken piece. So I assume the flat part is male threaded (on the other side - the side that I can't touch) and screwed into something female threaded at the end of the return line.

#1 - I believe I have really old "flush mount return fittings" on all my returns, with "non flush mount eyeball fittings" screwed into the "normal returns" - can anyone confirm or otherwise explain to me what I have?

#2 - How on Earth do I get these broken pieces out? Because what's left is completely flat/smooth, nothing's biting.

Any advice?