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Annoying Skimmer Vacuum Problem

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OK, I will describe the problem then provide my hardware info.

I can't get my skimmer vacuum attachment to work. I pre fill the hose either by holding the "up" end against a water outlet to push out the air or by carefully submerging the hose with my broom - starting with the deep end and working towards the open end. However, almost as soon as I connect the line to the skimmer, the pool pump loses its prime. No matter how long I let it run - it won't re prime itself. I can hear the water begin to flow in the hose but soon it quits and the pump runs free.

I've reversed hose ends and removed the nozzle attachment in case I had a leak near the hose ends - the other end is always completely under water. No help. The hose is 30' and 3-4 years old but gosh - 95% of it is under water anyway.

The symptoms point to an air leak in the suction side but, under normal operation I have no bubbles in the pump sight glass and when I turn off the pump at night, no bubbles are present in the morning. However - when I clean the filter basket in the pump it does take a long time to prime itself (5 minutes maybe).

some of this info is superfluous but just in case:

The pool is 20 x 40 in ground

Hayward 1HP 230v self priming pump - 3 years old

Pump system usually shows 15 psi, when it gets to 20 psi I backwash.

Pool heater Minimax 250M gas fired

Ranger sand filter - 8 years old (looked last year - no laterals broken-that's the pressure side anyway)

Spider gasket in filter just replaced.

I have one skimmer and one bottom drain - each has a shutoff valve near the pump

The entire suction side hose was replaced 3 years ago - did it myself - a ground hog chewed the old one (I know what you're thinking - I messed it up - but it was ok for 2 years - now this).

Anybody have thoughts on my problem?

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Make sure your skimmer is the only thing running as if you have flow equalized between the main drain and the skimmer there wont be enough suction. if you use a vac plate attached to the hose it may verywell not be creating an airtight seal. you cab either put new foam on it get a new plate or run the hose in the skimmer when you vac. If your plugging the the vac hose directly to the skimmer more than likely the hose is sucking air, you either can tape it up or buy a new vac hose.

Check for these issues and I think you should be good.

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Thanks Pathfinder but I think I found my problem.

If I had added more info, like the part that I live in a cold climate(Michigan), you would have probably figured it out too.

Using my infinite powers of deduction (HA!), I reasoned that I obviously have an air leak somewhere in the return (suction) side. Since I had no air showing in the pump sight glass under normal operation, I reasoned that it must be caused only when the line is under a "load". In other words - caused by the added suction from 30' of hose lifting water from an 8 ft depth.

Obviously any leak would be below where I attach my vacuum plate to the skimmer. So it was either in the return line itself, or in my skimmer basket housing (Pardon me if I don't have the correct nomenclature).

As an experiment, I stuck the vacuum hose directly into the return hole at the bottom of the housing - bypassing the skimmer basket. The pool vacuum worked great - not even a hiccup.

Therefore, I reason that I have a crack or hole in my skimmer housing that only leaks under vacuum - amazingly through the underground dirt that surrounds it, and the concrete sidewalk over it (actually the dirt is mostly sand - so I guess its possible).

I looked but couldn't find anything that looked like a crack or void but I applied some epoxy pool putty to some suspicious areas. Will see if that works. It's hardening as I write this.

When I winterize the pool, I always plug the return line hole in the skimmer housing and pour in some RV type anti freeze. I'm thinking that something happened last winter - my anti freeze failed or leaked or got diluted and some water got in my skimmer housing - froze - and caused a crack somewhere.

Don't you love it when people figure out their own problems?

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I could be wrong but more than likely your vac plate wont make a seal anymore or if you bought a new skimmer basket they are incompatible. What happens is when the foam breaks down on the vac plate the skimmer will suck all the water down and break the seal causing you to lose prime. If you did have a crack in the suction line any little air gap will cause bubbles.

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