Skimmer suddenly not pulling water

madyogi

Bronze Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
218
Little Rock, AR
Just noticed this morning that my skimmer is no longer pulling any water. The only water circulating is coming through the main drain at the moment. I know it was working when I vacuumed the pool manually on Thursday evening. I did notice a little less pressure than I would have liked so I fiddled around with my valves a little while vacuuming, and I thought I heard something a bit funny when I was turning things, but I was in a hurry and didn't think much of it. We enjoyed the pool after vacuuming, then I haven't really had time to think about it until this morning.

Well, now my pressure in down from a normal 18 PSI to something like 12 PSI, and there is no water moving through the skimmer. I'm wondering if the valve coming in from the skimmer to the pump might be stuck closed? Can anyone offer any other thoughts about troubleshooting this before I have to "call in the professionals"?

Here is a photo of the valves coming from the main drain and the skimmer to the pump basket. They are pretty old, so I'm thinking they might need to be replaced, but this has me pretty worried there's a worse problem going on.

20190914_114643.jpg

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Defective valve? ... perhaps. Also possible that you vacuumed something Thursday that was just big enough to restrict flow. You might try shutting everything off, close the drain valve, and see if you can push water backwards from the pump inlet back to the skimmer. Use a garden hose with a rag wrapped around it inside the pump or a bladder blaster type product like the one below if you have one. "IF" something was vacuumed up, maybe you can dislodge it back towards the skimmer.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,148
Bedford, TX
my,

I agree with Pat, you vacuumed up something that is now stuck in the line.

I would use a Drain King (of the right size ) to blow everything back from your pump and out your skimmer. Turn off the main drain first..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

madyogi

Bronze Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
218
Little Rock, AR
Thanks, Tex. If I got one of those things, what should I expect to see? If the valve is defective, what is likely to happen? I assume if the valve is open, and whatever is causing the problem, I would see water bubbling up at the skimmer basket right? If it can't dislodge whatever is restricting flow, and/or the valve is defective, do I risk doing further damage?

Thanks again for your help!
 

madyogi

Bronze Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
218
Little Rock, AR
my,

I agree with Pat, you vacuumed up something that is now stuck in the line.

I would use a Drain King (of the right size ) to blow everything back from your pump and out your skimmer. Turn off the main drain first..

Thanks,

Jim R.
Thanks, Jim. Of the right size just means up to 2" right, since most of my plumbing looks to 1.5 inches?
 

madyogi

Bronze Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
218
Little Rock, AR
Just ordered Drain King for 1.5" - 3" from Amazon for ~$20. Should be here Tuesday. I've closed the skimmer valve, and I'll run the pump as normal until the Drain King arrives. Then I'll shut off the MD valve and open the skimmer valve, and give the Drain King a go. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

Thanks again for the responses!
 

madyogi

Bronze Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
218
Little Rock, AR
Okay, a bit of an update here:

Got the Drain King today. Shut everything down, closed the MD valve and opened the skimmer valve, then inserted the Drain King in and fired up the hose. It started making a big squeaking noise, but stayed stable. There was water coming up out of the skimmer, so I know it isn't completely obstructed but I didn't see anything major come out, just some leafy bits, nor did the flow improve after what was probably 2-3 minutes. I took the drain king out and put the cover back on the pump basket to run the pump. It's definitely drawing water through the skimmer, because I can shut the MD valve off altogether, and the pump basket will stay half primed, but that's no good.

I'm wondering what my next options might be before calling in professionals or cutting open the plumbing myself.

It seems unlikely the obstruction is above ground since the MD elbow is up stream from the Skimmer elbow coming into the pump (see pic above), but maybe I'm wrong about that? It also seems like the valve isn't defective since I'm getting back flow when I use the drain king, albeit low pressure backflow, but maybe I'm wrong about that also?

I could run the hose with the drain king longer from the pump side?

I could run the drain king from the skimmer side?

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance for your help, everybody!
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
3,306
Pacific NW
If some stuff came out and it helped, but still a problem, I think you should repeat what you did a few more times.
seems like you jarred something a little loose but not quite out yet.

I had something similar once but it was on the main drain plumbing. a couple of small pine cones were the culprit.
The pump struggled same as yours until they came through into the pump basket.
(drain cover was broken and easily let them through)
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,148
Bedford, TX
Run the drain king back and forth between the skimmer and the pump end... run it one way then the other... The idea being to try to break up whatever is blocked...

Jim R.
 

madyogi

Bronze Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
218
Little Rock, AR
Okay, so I ran the Drain King through from the skimmer side for 5 minutes, then from the pump side for 5 minutes, and repeated that cycle for a total of twice from each end. A few tiny bits came out again, including some small acorns, less than a quarter inch around, but nothing really substantial. There is definitely improved water flow, but the system still won't hold prime when isolating the skimmer. It pulls a fair amount of water, but pressure hovers around 5PSI.

That said, when I open up the MD valve everything primes up nicely, and I end up back at my typical 18PSI for the system. It's definitely skimming now, which is great. I guess it's possible something is still obstructing the line, and maybe has been for a while? Should I expect the system to hold prime of the skimmer line alone? Whatever the case, I take it having my pressure back up to normal means it's at least running as it has been all season, so that's a plus.

Do y'all have any further thoughts about concerns or more actions I might take as the season comes to a close?
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,148
Bedford, TX
md,

Your pump should run just fine off of the skimmer alone.. In fact, it is normally harder for a pump to run off the main drain alone than it is the skimmer alone. If it runs fine off the main drain and not the skimmer, then either the skimmer line is still somewhat plugged or there is an air leak somewhere in the skimmer line. Another possible issue, if your undergraound liles are flex, is the that skimmer line has collapsed...

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

madyogi

Bronze Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
218
Little Rock, AR
Hmm ... "skimmer line collapsed" doesn't sound good, Jim. I have no idea what the underground lines are made of, since the pool was here when we bought the house. Not even sure who installed it.

I wouldn't be surprised if there is an air leak somewhere in the system. It stays primed with both valves open, but there are occasional bubbles out of the returns.

It's skimming sufficiently at the moment, but obviously not optimally. We will be replacing our liner next spring, so I wonder if that would be the time to have someone troubleshoot this more professionally, or if there are other things I can do myself before the season is over. For us, that will probably be by the end of October.

Thanks!