New pool owner flow problem

CTFocusST

Well-known member
Jul 4, 2019
176
Glastonbury CT
Pool Size
13500
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Hello everyone, I just bought a house this past year with an in ground pool. This is my first time owning or even taking care of a pool. I've been reading a lot including a lot from this forum and have found a lot of good information here. Being an engineer I appreciate the fact everyone's responses here are based around knowing the facts. Due to other stuff going on I haven't had a ton of time to spend on the pool and have been fighting algae and other issues all summer. Sorry if this post gets long but I want to give all the info I can to help resolve the issue. I have been recording pretty much everything related to pool in PoolMath (Love the app!)

Questions:
1.) I have little to no flow going through the skimmer/pump/filter. Water is definitely flowing through the pipes but despite all the leaves in the pool skimmer the basket is not filling up. Stuff gets in skimmer but does't get pulled into basket. The surface of the water doesn't look like it's moving around at all. I tried vacuuming tonight and all I seem to do is push stuff around inefficiently and ended up with very little stuff picked up. Any ideas what to check?
2.) If I decided to close the pool for the winter in it's current state, how much of problem is it closing it like it is?

Background info I think might help:
I hired a local company to open the pool so I could watch and learn. While they were opening they mentioned that there was a leak somewhere on the suction side and it was likely underground. I was skeptical based off everything I read, but decided to dig the suction side lines up anyway after checking what I could above ground. Sure enough the pipe connecting the skimmer to the pump had cracked and was now curved. My guess is previous owner didn't get water out and pipe froze over the winter. I was having trouble finding a way to connect to fitting on skimmer so I used a rubber adapter to connect the new PVC to the connector coming out of the skimmer. While not ideal I don't think any air or any large amount of air is getting in through there. Pump basket filled up with water and looked normal from what I could tell from my research. Flow was fairly strong from 1 return but not the other. I hadn't been adding any chlorine during this whole process so needless to say it turned green. I started the SLAM process and over course of next month tried to do my best to test and add bleach as often as I could, but it wasn't often enough so this dragged on.

I finally tried to vacuum for the first time about a month in (hadn't found enough time to do it). It didn't feel like it was doing anything but after going around the pool I found out I skimmer basket was full. I went on vacation and put some pucks in the chlorinator while I was away to try and not lose too much of my progress. When I returned most of the junk from bottom of the pool was in the skimmer and water was pretty clear, I was excited. Looked like there was a lot of gray debris on bottom so I decided to vacuum and brush the walls. Ever since then flow through returns was there but very slow and skimmer was no longer filling up. I thought maybe chlorinator was clogged so I decided to remove it and replace with straight pipe. That got the flow through the returns moving again for a little. It's now back to very little flow and vacuuming doesn't pick anything up.

On good note I finally measured some free chlorine after adding a bunch, so probably making some progress on the current SLAM. The picture of the pool from above is from a day or two ago, but it looks pretty similar now just more leaves.

I have been cleaning the filter as often as I can by rinsing it down with an aqua comb. I did replace the filter about a month ago.

Filter pressure: When I first opened the pool it was running at about 12 psi. Ever since I replaced the suction line it doesn't go below 20 psi.

Thanks in advance for any help!
 

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ajw22

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Jul 21, 2013
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Northern NJ
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Welcome to TFP.

Buy a robot cleaner next season. Vacuuming is the least effective way of cleaning a pool and puts a lot of stress on your pump and filter.

Turn off power to your pump and look inside it to see if you have debris around the impeller.

If you have a strong blower put it on the skimmer pipe going into the pump and blow towards the skimmer and see if you blow anything out of the line.

Have you done a Perform the Overnight FC Loss Test (OCLT) - Trouble Free Pool ? Your PM logs show a history of low FC and low CYA. You may have algae rapidly clogging your filter.

You should have got rid of that flex PVC on the return side when you had the trench open.

You used DWV fittings that are not pressure rated rather then the proper schedule 40 PVC. Your original setup had DWV 90s on the return side and Sched 40 90s on the suction side. You used DWV 90s, probably from the plumbing aisle of a home improvement store, for your suction repair.


You have a small cartridge filter and will have to clean it often.
 
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CTFocusST

Well-known member
Jul 4, 2019
176
Glastonbury CT
Pool Size
13500
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Welcome to TFP.

Buy a robot cleaner next season. Vacuuming is the least effective way of cleaning a pool and puts a lot of stress on your pump and filter.

Turn off power to your pump and look inside it to see if you have debris around the impeller.

If you have a strong blower put it on the skimmer pipe going into the pump and blow towards the skimmer and see if you blow anything out of the line.

Have you done a Perform the Overnight FC Loss Test (OCLT) - Trouble Free Pool ? Your PM logs show a history of low FC and low CYA. You may have algae rapidly clogging your filter.

You should have got rid of that flex PVC on the return side when you had the trench open.

You used DWV fittings that are not pressure rated rather then the proper schedule 40 PVC. Your original setup had DWV 90s on the return side and Sched 40 90s on the suction side. You used DWV 90s, probably from the plumbing aisle of a home improvement store, for your suction repair.


You have a small cartridge filter and will have to clean it often.
Robot cleaner is definitely something I'm looking for, it just wasn't in the budget this year.

Can't see/feel any debris in pump without having taken it apart. I do plan on taking it apart a little to check seals and debris some point. Was planning to do this when closing pool but can do it sooner if it's a likely cause of problem.

I just got this blower Air Supply 41281002 Pool Liner Cyclone Vacuum and Blower, 3 Horsepower. I'll try that once I figure out if I have a way to direct it into pipe. (It just got delivered yesterday)

I just measured and added some more chlorine this morning and went from 13ppm to 4.5ppm overnight.

I thought about replacing the flex pipe but it goes all the way to each of the returns and would have been a lot more digging than I had time for.

Yup looks like I did, doh. Looking through what I put in (picture attached I drew what I replaced vs previous owner) and it looks like the elbows are only things I can find not pressure rated. The Home Depot near me has the DWV pipe slightly separate from the Sched 40 pipe but didn't pay enough attention to the fittings. The end of the skimmer connection I could get to had a barbed fitting like the gray one shown in the fitting.png picture I attached in my first post. To attach to the Sched 40 pipe do I need to dig further to find where that fitting was attached?

Are any these issues possible causes of the issue I'm dealing with? Should I be planning on replacing my slip ups with the DWV and the old return lines next year?

I cleaned the filter last night but didn't notice any change in flow. Pump actually had lost prime partially when I went out earlier this morning. Pressure did drop 2 psi or so after cleaning but still very little water movement visible in pool/skimmer
 

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CTFocusST

Well-known member
Jul 4, 2019
176
Glastonbury CT
Pool Size
13500
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Looking back I may have put this thread in the wrong section of the forum, if so is there a way to move it to correct one?
 

ajw22

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TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,039
Northern NJ
Pool Size
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I just measured and added some more chlorine this morning and went from 13ppm to 4.5ppm overnight.

You have algae. You need to follow the SLAM - Shock Level and Maintain - Trouble Free Pool Step by step with no short cuts.

You should clear your water of algae before you go looking for mechanical problems.

The end of the skimmer connection I could get to had a barbed fitting like the gray one shown in the fitting.png picture I attached in my first post. To attach to the Sched 40 pipe do I need to dig further to find where that fitting was attached?

The label on the black fitting says “For sewer and drain use only”. It should not be used for pools.

Your DWV stuff and flex PVC will leak eventually. Recognizing when it starts developing small leaks underground is impossible until they become big leaks.

Are any these issues possible causes of the issue I'm dealing with?

The algae and your small cartridge filter can be causing the low flow issues.

Should I be planning on replacing my slip ups with the DWV and the old return lines next year?

I think you eventually need to get proper pressure rated sched 40 fittings installed.

I cleaned the filter last night but didn't notice any change in flow. Pump actually had lost prime partially when I went out earlier this morning. Pressure did drop 2 psi or so after cleaning but still very little water movement visible in pool/skimmer

SLAM and fix your algae problem.

Looking back I may have put this thread in the wrong section of the forum, if so is there a way to move it to correct one?

Considering your primary problem is algae you are in the correct section.
 

ajw22

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Jul 21, 2013
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Northern NJ
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You have a major algae bloom and your cartridge filter will clog rapidly. You don't have a recirculate option to bypass the filter.

I suggest you do this in two steps. Kill the algae with your cartridge removed, then filter out all the dead algae and clear the water. It may take a few cycles of killing and filtering to get it done.

You are going to need to frequently clean your filter. Even multiple times a day during the filtering process. It will be a pain but all you can do given your setup.

It would be interesting to see what your filter pressure and flow is with the cartridge removed.

Did you clean the cartridge with TSP then soak it in diluted muriatic acid?

 
Last edited:

CTFocusST

Well-known member
Jul 4, 2019
176
Glastonbury CT
Pool Size
13500
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
You have a major algae bloom and your cartridge filter will clog rapidly. You don't have a recirculate option to bypass the filter.

I suggest you do this in two steps. Kill the algae with your cartridge removed, then filter out all the dead algae and clear the water. It may take a few cycles of killing and filtering to get it done.

You are going to need to frequently clean your filter. Even multiple times a day during the filtering process. It will be a pain but all you can do given your setup.

It would be interesting to see what your filter pressure and flow is with the cartridge removed.

Did you clean the cartridge with TSP then soak it in diluted muriatic acid?


I was digging more into the filtration system since part of that process said to make sure filtration system is working and to vacuum debris and brush daily which without an automatic vacuum cleaner means I'm relying on the filtration system. I will try your suggestion to do it in 2 steps while I continue slam process with and without filter and see how that helps. Flow does improve if I opened the drain on the cartridge filter housing so removing filter will help probably

I have both tsp and Muriatic acid but haven't soaked filter yet. Need to reread up on disposing of the Muriatic acid and I will give that a try while I run with out the filter

Thank you for all the suggestions and info!
 
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CTFocusST

Well-known member
Jul 4, 2019
176
Glastonbury CT
Pool Size
13500
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Removed the filter and cleaned. Started pump back up without filter in the housing. Pressure runs about 8 psi without the filter and the flow out of the jets is very strong. In the time it took me to brush the walls I had to empty the skimmer 4 times (there was a lot of leaves in there). First time it filled up basket in 5 minutes.

Going to keep the filter out over night for now and will test and add bleach as needed once more before bed and again in morning. Hopefully will start to see some progress.

Didn't get to soak the filter but i'll try that either tomorrow or this weekend.

Thanks again for the help
 

CTFocusST

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Jul 4, 2019
176
Glastonbury CT
Pool Size
13500
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Pool is a lighter green this morning and FC didn't drop at all. Little surprised on that but skimmer basket clogs up quite frequently without the filter in. My guess is without circulation all the bleach I was dumping in before wasn't mixing well. Put the filter in so the pump won't be starved of water with a clogged skimmer basket while I'm at work. Will probably remove again when I get home to keep water moving
 

CTFocusST

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Jul 4, 2019
176
Glastonbury CT
Pool Size
13500
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Is it normal during a SLAM for the high levels of chlorine to stay fairly steady? I would have thought that with it this green to be adding more chlorine at every check

Pictures are prior to using manual vacuum without filter in. Water is looking a little less green (can see the brush a little deeper than the other day)
 

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ajw22

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Your profile shows a Hayward CL200 Chlorinator. Did you remove all the tablets from it?

You are making progress. It is going to take patience to clean it up.
 

CTFocusST

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Jul 4, 2019
176
Glastonbury CT
Pool Size
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Yes I took all the tablets out this morning. I had the remaining ones in a floater since I removed the chlorinator completely from the system last Saturday and figured it was easier to use them up, but when I measured CYA of 40 decided it was better to remove than keep in. I originally thought the chlorinator might have been the cause of the no flow since the tablets also weren't dissolving. Should probably remove that from signature now.
 

ajw22

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The tablets were why your FC was not going down.
 

CTFocusST

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Jul 4, 2019
176
Glastonbury CT
Pool Size
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Am I slowing the process down at all by running without a filter?

Debating which is better:filtration or water flow. Feel like stagnant water will just mean algae will rebound

Soaked filter the other day and flow instantly dropped back to where it was at start of this when I put it back in. Needed to be cleaned an hour later but cleaning is probably result of algae

Would I be better off putting filter back in today and monitoring fairly constantly and cleaning as soon as it hits 20% above starting pressure?
 

ajw22

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Algae is killed by chlorine not filtering. Algae only rebounds if you let your FC level fall to where the algae’s growth overwhelms the chlorine.

Once you have a cloudy pool with dead algae you can filter it out.

If you have the time to monitor the filter and clean it as needed you can chlorinate and filter at the same time. Your choice. You now understand how your filter affects your flow.
 

CTFocusST

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Jul 4, 2019
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OK. I am going to continue without filter for now I think I have been making more progress without it at the moment
 

CTFocusST

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Feeling a little discouraged today. I know the SLAM process doesn't happen instantaneously but thought I would have seen a little more progress than I am. Compared to the pictures I last posted there is an improvement, but as I vacuumed yesterday I could almost see the vacuum on the bottom of the pool and the brush 3/4 of way down halfway across pool. Today I could barely see the orange brush halfway down at same spot.

I did decide to actually measure depth of pool since I had just estimated depth up until this point and thought that maybe I was underestimating size and therefore under chlorinating. But it turns out I'm horrible at measuring distance visually. Depth was actually just over 3 ft not close to 5 ft, doh. I updated my pool in PoolMath before adding this evening's dose of chlorine. Pool went from my estimate of 23k gallons to 13k gallons.

I'm calling my official start of the SLAM last Friday 9/27 since that's when I started following the steps a little closer, but had been adding larger amounts of chlorine for over a week by that point, just more like once a day vs 2 or 3.

The one thing I have confirmed is that I will be purchasing a robotic cleaner. With the amount of stuff I'm finding in the pool it is a must for me as I think I will continue to struggle to use manual vacuum. I'm going to use this winter to do more research and purchase in the late winter/early spring as I would rather use some of the money I have saved for some things I can use now. And I don't think I want to continue relying on filtration system. Have cracked both the skimmer basket and the pump basket after accidentally running pump nearly dry from a clogged skimmer (only intake)
 

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CTFocusST

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Came back from a weekend away and found the pool much clearer (though not free of algae). Before I left I dumped a gallon of bleach in the pool even though it was more than recommended at that time since I wasn't going to be around to keep up with the frequent doses.

This is the second time this has happened where I wasn't seeing a ton of progress and then had to leave for a period of time and returned and the water was clear but not free of algae. The before vacuum pictures looked much clearer than the pictures make them out to be.

My questions is what is happening that makes it clear up like that while away but slow progress while actively trying to clear it?
 

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mknauss

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Solids settle to the bottom. When you are home, hopefully you are brushing, which disperses the solids. And also brings them into the chlorinated water to kill it.
 

CTFocusST

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Jul 4, 2019
176
Glastonbury CT
Pool Size
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Pool has definitely started to improve a lot. I can see the bottom everywhere now. Pictures are before brushing which clouded it up a little but still a lot better than when I started.

Don't know if it was just time or the slight changes in process I was doing to get around limitations with my setup but I have been seeing more progress each day this week than I did over the last 2 weeks.

This week I have been coming home each day removing filter, cleaning the filter, brushing walls and adding chlorine. Then running without the filter until I go to bed. Test FC levels and add as needed and put filter back in before I go to bed. I also measure FC levels before I leave for work.
 

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