pool filter passing air, where? -Jacuzzi FM inground

I guess its a Jacuzzi "FM" iirc, std. beige type (24 000 gallon inground pool) filter not a fancy shape, with a ~1/2-2/3hp pump. Pump and tank seperate. Must be 10-15 years old. It runs fine, but lots of bubbles shoot out deep end output jet as well as water. Water doesn't leak outside, maybe around head bolts. Never changed sand - don't know if I could. Never frozen. Vacuums poorly now, must do on backwash, and that needs re-priming. Ends up needing re-priming after a week or two of cycling- no suction hardly. I do pick it up by the exhaust line & recycling fittings every year to move and store it. I don't think this is the reason it is getting the air in though. I don't know where it is coming from. Had a great suction not a few years back - created its own great flow - hardly a bubble. The drain at the bottom is tight I think, and I'ver gotall new hoses with 2 or 3 SS clamps. It does have a new chip out of the plastic rim where the clear plastic pump cap seals, but the O-ring is supported through 360; so??. Can't imagine anything wrong with the hoses in the ground, always use antifreeze, and drain. Betcha runs like a charm with a good seal. So.
I'd really like to get back a perfect flow, no leaks, no air out, and good vacuum.
Can I reseal the head? Its got a ring of half a dozen bolts. Can I do this in an afternoon?
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bent writes:

What head?
Bubbles indicate a suction-side leak, not a filter problem.
Do you lube the O-ring on the pump strainer? And seat the cap on slowly to allow the O-ring to creep?
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I think there could be a problem in the tank, not the filter, which may be the cause. A couple/few years ago I had a perfect (bubble free) flow right up to the top of the clear pump strainer cover and no bubbles out the jet in the deep end. With a new unit(s) I bet it would be that way again instantly. But I don't know where the problem could be. Surprised this ng covers pool stuff. Now for whatever reason I have half of the bowl where the strainer is with the cover on top is filled with air, and I have a lot of air pumping out the jet in the deep end. It will not correct itself as it did just a couple/few years ago. Vacuuming sucks. The head I a talking about is at the top of the filter (tank), the section with a round flat base that bolts to the main tank section with the 6 or so bolts. There is another piece above that that has the filter, backwash, winterize selector handle. These two pieces are bolted together with 7 bolts (actually philips head m/c screws). I was wondering if there could be a gasket or something in there that could be re&re'd. I am open to theories on why I have so much air now. I doubt I have a crack in the pipe underground, however? I wonder about underground fittings, etc. I poured hot water on tyhe 1-1/2" hose & used 3 SS clamps this year between the pump and the undergrounfd hard plastic hose fittings, and there are no visible leaks anyhwhere there. Anyways, Like I said before if I put in new units I'd bet large for no bubbles, So...?
I seal the cap properly. I spray evertything with silicone which helps ease on the plastic sleeve lock and O-ring.
Theories??

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bent writes:

Repeat: Bubbles indicate a suction-side leak, not a filter problem.
If your filter bulkhead leaks, water comes out. Air does not go in.
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Thanks, that sounds like god info to work from, and I should be able to find the problem wihout having to replace things. Just so I am clear, I guess the the O-ring seal on the strainer counts as part of the suction side, so I will start to start troubleshooting there and work backwards.
Working backwards, parts include: Pump Rubber O-ring and groove in plastic pump housing -correction; the spray I use is teflon:a petroleum distillate suspension Plastic bowl screen (the plastic top rim that supports it in the bowl of mine is cracked - its an old unit and may be n/a, so I am told -so I may try improvising plastic sections to try to make a complete seal around top ~8" Plastic straight pipe (threaded 2 ends) Ball Valve (threaded 2 ends) 90 degree plastic elbow (threaded valve end, smooth hose end) ~16" rubber hose (new fibre-reinforced white) 90 degree plastic elbow ( smooth 2 ends) Eternal hard plastic pipe section (leading down into ground and over to skimmer)
The Eternal hard plastic pipe section (leading down into ground and over to skimmer) has never been cut in 30 years. So the imprint of the 90 degree plastic elbow grooves ( smooth 2 ends) which have been imprinted into that hose, and the fact that its hard platic, mean the seal may be not perfect. But therer are 2 pipes there (one in, one out) cut both the same length. They are about 18" up from the ground, probably no elbows in the ground, cause you can see the curl of the hoses and strain. I could cut them down and get new elbows with new pronounced groove ridges, put the kettle on, and clamp like hell while pliable.
Each winter I take off the clamps, but the ~16" rubber hose (new fibre-reinforced white) is the only piece separated and taken from its place- the pump keeps the straight pipe, ball valve and elbow attached, and the pipe from the ground keeps its elbow (minus the SS clamps). I could try troubleshooting the possible leak points, but every year I work like hell to get em not to leak at the outset - but its a vacuum so who knows!?
ANy thoughts?

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all pools will be basically the same. Everyday new unit(s) will put low vacuum to full vacuum. Cutting the hard plastic hose is a big deal, haven't done it yet in 30 years, and its a yearly function.

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