How to Unclog Swimming Pool Pipes – Pro Tips

Michael Keenan


Pool Maintenance

Are you a pool owner who’s dealing with clogged pipes? It can be hard to even identify which pipe is blocked and then it takes effort to clear it up. If your pool pipes are clogged up, don’t panic, this article will teach you how to unclog swimming pool pipes like a pro!

First off, I will describe some signs that your pool pipes are blocked – and how to identify which pipes are blocked.

I’ll talk about how plumbing snakes and jet hoses can help dislodge impurities blocking the pipes plus what type of blockage needs specific treatment.

Last but not least, I’ll also tell you when professional help may be needed so that any potential damage can be avoided.

Let’s get started on getting those clogs cleared out!

how to unclog swimming pool pipes

Quick Answer:

Clogged swimming pool pipes can be difficult to identify and fix. You can try using a plumbing snake in some cases but using a jet hose with strong water pressure to dislodge the impurities is my recommended method.

If neither of these methods works, enlist professional help as it may require air pressure to get rid of the clog. Keep reading for details of how to actually clear the lines and some extra tips!

How to Tell If Your Pool Pipes are Blocked

Have you been having trouble with your pool lines? Sometimes the problem isn’t that obvious at first. But trust me if you let things go blocked pool pipes can lead to expensive repairs down the line.

Add to that, your pool water quality will suffer as everything is affected by your pump not circulating the water properly.

Here are some common signs that your pool pipes might be clogged:

  • The skimmer basket looks clear but water intake into the pump is slow.
  • Your pump is unusually loud yet the pressure remains low (this usually means that there’s difficulty creating a vacuum).
  • The pump surging or pulsing instead of running smoothly can be a sign of blocked pipes.

If you’ve ruled out air leaks and your pump is pulsing or surging, then it’s very possible that the suction lines are clogged. It’s important to note that this won’t affect the return lines since they’re fed with clean filtered water so there’s no chance of a blockage.

To determine which specific line has become clogged, run your pool pump and check each line individually by shutting off the other lines (skimmer lines, main drain line) and observing the filter pressure gauge.

When one has lower pressure than the others, you know which pipe needs attention! But remember to always leave one line open and NEVER run your pump with all intake valves closed.

How to Clear Blockages in Pool Pipes

Right, let’s get down to business! In most cases, blockages can be cleared without needing to call in help. I always recommend trying a couple of methods yourself. It can sometimes be a quick fix – so save some expensive callout fees!

Plumbing Snakes

Often, people will suggest that you use a plumbing snake to clean out a clogged pipe. A plumbing snake should be able to go up the pipe and dislodge whatever impurities that may be blocking the lines.

However, there are two main problems with this method. The first is that if it is not a fresh plumbing snake, it means that it may have been in a host of other places that you do not even think of, let alone introduce those environments into your pool water.

Secondly, pool pipes are typically laid out in L-shapes or right angles, which makes it difficult for a plumbing snake to navigate the corners. However, if it is not too serious a clog, a (new) plumbing snake should do just fine.

DrainX Drain Auger Pro

Heavy Duty Steel Drum Plumbing Drain Snake

Buy Now on Amazon

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Use a Jet Hose – Power Washer

One of the more effective methods to clean out clogged pipes is a bladder-type hose jet. As the name suggests, this hose is strong enough to clean the whole system out.

Any regular hose will probably be good enough for small clogs, typically located near the pumps. However, if the pipe has more obstructions, you need a hose with strong water pressure so that it goes all the way and cleans all the impurities out.

Using a pressure washer to clear pool pipes can be a quick way to get the job done!

power jet washer

Sun Joe SPX3000

Electric High Pressure Washer

Buy Now on Amazon

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Different Types of Clogs and How to Treat Them

There are two main types of pipe clogging that you may have to deal with in a swimming pool – skimmer-side blockage or the main drain line. The following are ways that you clear out these blockages using a bladder-type jet hose:

Skimmer-Side Blockage

For a skimmer-side blockage, you will first need to turn off the pump so it does not get in the way of your cleaning. Next, check if your skimmer box has any impurities and clean it out.

It is important to isolate which pipe you think is clogged and begin treating that first. This means you need to shut off all the other valves while you are using the hose.

Allow the hose to run for a couple of minutes and keep an eye on your skimmer box to see if any waste or impurities are emerging to the top. Keep cleaning it out.

At the point when the skimmer box is clean, there is when you know your clog has cleared out and you can turn off the water.

Then you can open all the other valves and run the water again to see if everything is working fine.

Main Drain Line Blockage

If you are dealing with a main drain line blockage, the process is not too different from cleaning out a skimmer-side blockage. Start by turning off the pump and removing it from the power source so you can prevent any possible electrical accident.

Next, remove the cover of the main drain. Once you have managed to open the cover (you may have to jump into the water a few times to achieve this) go to the pump and insert the hose as far as it can go into the intake pipe.

As mentioned before, turn off all the other valves so only the main drain line is being cleaned out.

The clogged waste will begin to blow back into the pool. Once you see that the water is running clean (which will be a few minutes after you have been running the valve), you can then cover the main drain cover again and scoop out the impurities from the pool.

You can also use a pool vacuum.

Ensure all the waste has been removed so that it does not get pulled back into the drain and cause it to get blocked again.

plastic pool pipes

Take a few minutes and see some of my pool maintenance guides. I cover many common problems and give useful tips that actually work! All based on my experience of actually doing the work. Here are a few to get started:

Professional Help?

If neither of these methods works, then it is possible that whatever is clogging the pipes has dried and solidified, making it impossible for the water to dislodge it. You will probably need to use air pressure to remove the clog.

However, this is not the easiest task to undertake by yourself and you may be best seeking professional support. If you attempt to do this by yourself and it doesn’t work out, then you may have to shell out way more money to fix the damages.

So, cut your losses and enlist the help of professionals if you think it is beyond you.

To Sum Up

As a pool owner, it is important to diagnose and treat any clogged pipes as soon as possible. Luckily, there are many ways to unclog swimming pool pipes without needing to enlist the help of professionals.

With the right tools and techniques, you can successfully clear out any impurities blocking your pool pipes with ease! Using plumbing snakes and jet hoses can be effective methods for treating skimmer-side blockages or main drain line blockages.

Just remember to shut off all other valves while cleaning out the blocked pipe and if you are going to try the plumbing snake – make sure it is Clean!!

Top Questions:

What is the best way to unclog swimming pool pipes?

The best way to unclog swimming pool pipes is to use pressurized water jetting equipment which blasts away any blockages in the pipe.

How do I clear a blocked swimming pool drain?

To clear a blocked swimming pool drain, you should start by using a wet-dry vacuum or shop vac to draw out any debris in the line, then follow up with an industrial-strength chemical treatment solution to dissolve any remaining buildup.

What are some common causes of clogged swimming pool pipes?

Common causes of clogged swimming pool pipes are leaves, dirt, debris, and too much calcium buildup from hard water sources.

How can I prevent my swimming pool pipes from getting clogged in the future?

To prevent your swimming pool pipes from getting clogged in the future, you should make sure that your filters are regularly cleaned and replaced when needed and keep your skimmer basket free of debris as well as do regular maintenance on your pump system and backwashing it as necessary.

Good luck and thanks for reading.

michael keenan author

Author - Michael Keenan

I'm Michael Keenan the owner and creator of the Outdoor Care Guide. I'm a trained horticulturist with over 30 years of experience in pool care, plant care, and landscape care! Seemed like a good idea to share - I think I can make your life easier and save you some time and money!