How to unclog your pool lines

Pool line clogs are one of the worse things that can happen to your pool. It causes stress on your pool pump, prevents proper circulation of your water, it’s downright hard to locate and remove, and most of all, it could cause permanent damage to your pump if it causes it to run dry. Let’s go over some of the possible signs and symptoms of clogged pool lines and let’s go over how it can be effectively cleared.

Diagnosing Clogged pool lines

Here are some ways to tell if your pools lines are clogged (in this article, when we say clogged lines, it’s your suction lines and never the return lines, because return lines are fed with clean filtered water and there’s no chance for them to get blocked).

  • Your pool pump is pulsing or surging – if you’ve ruled out air leaks and your pool pump is pulsing or surging then you may have a clogged pipe. Read more about pool pump pulsing or surge here.
  • Your skimmer basket is clear and your water level is fine, but water intake into your pump is slow – On the surface, everything looks normal but water is slow to enter your pool pump.
  • Your pump is unusually loud but the pressure is still low – this means that your pump is having a hard time creating a vacuum to pull in water.

 

To find out which specific pipe is blocked, run your pool pump and check each line by itself by shutting off the other lines (skimmer lines, main drain line) and looking at your filter’s pressure gauge. If a specific line has lower pressure than the other lines, then you’ve found your blockage. Note: ALWAYS leave one line open and NEVER run your pump with all intake valves closed.

How to clear the clogged pool line

Now the first thing that will come across the minds of people will be to use a plumbing snake to somehow break apart whatever is clogging the line.

Yes, while it may work, just remember that those things are filthy! No matter how you clean it, they’ve been through unmentionable places and may have stuff in them that you don’t want to be mixed in with your pool water. Another reason for why a plumbing snake isn’t a good idea is because of the 90-degree elbows that are commonly used in pool setups that make it tough for a pool snake to navigate (and may even cause them to get caught, creating an even bigger problem.) Not only that, you don’t know the specific location of the block, if could be at either end of the line and you would be wasting a lot of time poking on one end while the block is all the way at the other end or right smack dab at the middle.

And no, you cannot use the standard unclogging chemicals used in kitchens and toilets for the simple reason that you wouldn’t want those chemicals mixing with the chemicals in your pool water.

Our Recommendation: Use a bladder-type hose jet

What a bladder-type hose jet does is its design creates a seal which forces the water out in only one direction. If you try this with a normal hose, what will happen is that the water will just go back the way it came from and go around the hose. This may work for minor clogs that are near your pump, but if it’s located further down the line then the pressure won’t be enough to knock the blockage off.

Sold out

Clearing a Skimmer-side blockage

  • The first thing you’ll need to do is to shut off your pump completely.
  • After shutting it off, clear your skimmer box of any debris and take out the skimmer basket.
  • Once done, go to your pump, open up the lid and jam the Drain King as far as you can into the intake pipe.
  • Don’t forget to close down all of the valves to the other pipes to focus the pressure on the clogged pipe.
  • Turn on the water supply to the hose where the drain king is attacked and allow it to run for a couple of minutes.
  • Observe your skimmer box for any debris that may have been blown out and scoop them out as they come.
  • Once the water runs clear, you can shut off the water to the hose and your clog should be all gone.
  • Don’t forget to open the valves to the other lines.

Clearing a main drain line blockage

The steps to clearing a main drain line blockage is basically the same as clearing a skimmer-side blockage but with a couple of minor differences.

  • Shut off the pump (very important!) and unplug from the power source.
  • Remove the main drain cover, this should take a couple of dives to fully remove the cover, but it can be done.
  • Once done, go to your pump, open up the lid and jam the Drain King as far as you can into the intake pipe.
  • Don’t forget to close down all of the valves to the other pipes to focus the pressure on the clogged pipe.
  • Turn on the water supply to the hose where the drain king is attacked and allow it to run for a couple of minutes.
  • Stand back and watch the debris get blown back into the pool.
  • Once the water runs clear, you can shut off the water to the hose and your clog should be all gone.
  • Reattach the main drain cover.
  • Vacuum your pool or scoop out the debris that was blown out to prevent them from getting sucked into the main drain and causing another blockage

That didn't work!

If using a drain king didn’t clear your clog then that only means that the clog has solidified and water pressure isn’t enough to safely clear the clog. The next step would be to use air pressure to try and force out the clog but this should be done by a pool professional to avoid damaging your pipes. For safety reasons, we will not post how to do this yourself because attempting to do this by yourself may cause thousands of $$$$ in damage to your pool. Get a bonded pool repair service to do this for you safely. Don’t worry too much though, because 99% of the time, a bladder-type pool jet like the Drain King will safely remove the clogs for you.

Preventing future clogs

As they say, prevention is better than the cure and preventing clogs doesn’t really entail much. Just make sure to have a set schedule of when to empty your skimmer baskets and at the first sign of damage, replace them immediately to avoid debris from getting into your pipes. To prevent main drain blockages, a healthy cleaning regimen should be followed as well as a proactive approach to scoop out any leaves and debris that fall into your pool.

Conclusion

While pool pipe clogs are pretty rare and they can be prevented with a good cleaning regimen, they're still of a pool owner's list of potential problems. If you're worried about getting an attachment like the drain king for that single purpose then don't be! It's not only good for pools, you can use it for any type of drain that gets clogged a lot (think kitchen drain, bathtubs, and so on) so it's not really a one-trick pony, it's something that you can use around the house as well!

Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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Post author:

Tom Hintze

Head of eCommerce & Operations at Mr Pool Man,
Co-Founder at Water TechniX

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