Here is a video of the pool pump working at full steam: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xy2wzYSvpXmjv5pM3PqPSNuu558SkGhR/view?usp=sharing

It is a 1.85HP Hayward Tristar Variable Speed (https://www.hayward-pool.com/shop/en/pools/tristar-vs-i-pmtsvs--1)

The most it can run is 2900RPM

It appears the pipe is 1.5 inches from the skimmer all the way to the pump, but it's possible there is a 1" pipe somewhere in the middle underground. The reason I think that is because you can see that the water level fluctuates inside the pump as it's running. If the pipe was the same diameter all the way through the system, wouldn't the water level remain constant in the pump?

EDIT: Here is a video of the pool pump being shut off, and then turned back on https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aCT7ntTWhykv7Nhix5Kr3dQFQ29ms-FG/view?usp=sharing

So I figured there was a problem because the suction at the skimmer is incredibly weak. The pump can be running all day and the surface of the pool will still be covered with dust or pollen or whatever. If you put your hand at the skimmer, you can tell that the suction is just weak.

So I took that video of the water inside the pump, and it does seem that there's something wrong? Because the water level in there is low? I had a pool contractor come out and he wants me to upgrade to a 3HP pump of a different manufacturer. He tells me that will fix the water level in the pump, but will also make my skimmer much more effective

I hesitate because I don't want to spend all that money and effort if it isn't going to make the skimmer actually work. I was even considering just forgoing the pump all together and just using robots to clean the bottom and surface of the pool.

Does anybody know, from watching the video, what else could be the problem? Or is a skimmer really not supposed to be that strong in the first place?

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  • Wait, did you take that video with the lid off or are we looking through the lid? There should be absolutely no air in the strainer basket with the pump running. With a basket mostly full of air, it's no wonder that the skimmer does not work. If the pump simply isn't able to prime properly (get rid of all the air and fill the strainer with water), you likely have a big air leak (perhaps the gasket under the lid is damaged).
    – TooTea
    Jun 26, 2023 at 11:03
  • 1
    If you do have a tightly sealing lid (so there's actually little air in there, the empty space in the basket is mostly vacuum), you likely have a blockage in the suction line restricting the flow. The easiest way to tell is to see what happens when you turn the pump off. Do you get a massive surge of water flowing back through the strainer and into the inlet pipe? Can you try removing the lid off a running pump? (If there's a blockage, the vacuum will be so strong you will never be able to take the lid off.)
    – TooTea
    Jun 26, 2023 at 11:09
  • @TooTea the video was taken through the lid, the pump is new, i had two guys already look at the gasket, and i had a guy clear the line and didn't find any blockage do you mean i need to run the pump, then turn it off? it currently runs on a schedule for half the day. i will try your tip with the lid removal too
    – A O
    Jun 27, 2023 at 17:21
  • Be ready to quickly put the lid back on or close the inlet valve (if you have one) if water starts overflowing the strainer basket once you take the lid off (unlikely in your situation).
    – TooTea
    Jun 27, 2023 at 19:12
  • Indeed, if you let the pump run for a short while and vacuum develops in the strainer because of a blocked suction line, then the moment you turn the pump off, nothing will be opposing the "pull" of the vacuum anymore and water will rush back through the pump and into the basket to fill the empty space (this surge is typically quite violent, making the whole pump shake for a second or so).
    – TooTea
    Jun 27, 2023 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


Regardless of the HP of the pump, the basket well should be full of water and no air or bubbles if the system is working properly.

I cannot believe that any pool builder would decrease the size of piping, knowing the effect it could have and needing to guarantee the work for at lease a short period after completion.

That means that there is a blockage, or your valving is incorrect.

First check the main filter. If it's a cartridge filter, run the pool with the filter removed. If the basket well fills and the skimmer sucks better, there's your problem. ( without a filter, run only a short time for testing)

If that isn't your problem, adjust your valves to give more suction to the skimmer and less to the main drain. You didn't indicate if you have other options, such as leaf catcher or waterfall, etc. Therefore I cannot comment on exactly how to do the adjustment.

It may be beneficial to call a pool maintenance company ( NOT A CONTRACTOR ) to come out and check things as well as give you a lesson on how to adjust your pool.

  • Everything is fine except your statement about air bubbles. If there is good pressure, then you can invariably see large air bubbles in the skimmer basket. This is air that comes out of the water because of low pressure. I know this for sure, because I had my last pool replumbed twice, including removal of concrete, trying to get rid of this air. Then I figured it out. I confirmed it with the demo pools at the companys yard. Jun 26, 2023 at 12:46
  • @RG, sorry, don't know where your pool is, but if working properly, there should be no noticeable air, especially large bubbles in the basket well. A pump pulling water through a closed system will in short time eliminate any air in the system. If you are seeing bubbles you have a leak somewhere drawing air in.
    – RMDman
    Jun 26, 2023 at 13:03
  • i see. I don't think there is a blockage because I had a guy come and pump water through the pipes and it seemed to be clear. he put a portable pump into the skimmer and back at the main pump plenty of water was coming out, and he said that meant it was clear. When you say "valving is incorrect" what valve is that? the main drain is not used at all, the old owner filled it with concrete, only the skimmer has suction. there are no other options, it's just a skimmer I will check with the filter removed too and report back, but the filter was recently just changed for a new one as well
    – A O
    Jun 27, 2023 at 17:24
  • also what is the difference between a contractor and a maintenance company? I had two contractors come out, as far as I can tell
    – A O
    Jun 27, 2023 at 17:31
  • @AO Then you almost certainly have something blocking the line between the skimmer and the pump. Could be a stone or something that got wedged in an elbow somewhere, or the pipe getting kinked or pinched underground, or a failed valve on the line (if there is one). Or a really big suction side air leak so that the pump never primes properly. The flow into the basket seen in your video is really just a gentle trickle, normally you would see a firehose-style jet of water shooting out of the inlet across the basket and hitting the opposite side with much splashing.
    – TooTea
    Jun 27, 2023 at 19:23

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