Swimming pool problems - air bubbles

Hello,
I recently moved in a home with 22000 gallon swimming pool. A couple of months ago I noticed that one the return lines from the filter - a mixture of water and air bubbles in into the pool. The suction was also almost noticable in the skimmers.
Everything pointed to the strainer basket - checked the O-ring, lubed it - nothing changed.
A specialist told me that I might have a small whole in the pipes between the skimmers and the pump. In this case - I will have to dug the lines up - which I would hate to do - as there is concrete above it. Also - I am not sure that this is the case - since I do not loose water and there is also no noticable persistent wetness around the pool.
Is there a way to diagnose this problem. Also - since there is still some suction - what if I just change the pump and buy a 2 - 2.5 hp one - and try to leave with the air bubbles ?
Can something in the sand filter be the problem ? Next thing we are trying is to blow out the skimmer lines. This thing started costing a lot of money and summer is around the corner - need a clean pool :)
Thanks, Stefan
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SteffTX writes:

You probably have a suction-side leak(s) somewhere in a joint. Can be anywhere on the pump or strainer body, valves, or in the piping joints.
When I had a leaky PVC joint, I could dab on some of that blue PVC cement while it was running, and the leak would go away briefly.
There are elastomeric gaskets beyond the O-ring in your pump/strainer that can leak.
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This can be caused by any number of things. You didn't say if the bubbles were large bubbles lasting just a short duration (air in filter tank from leaky O ring, sucking air after pump is turned off) , or a steady stream of small bubbles (small air leak in suction side).
l. The bottom line is that air is getting into the system. From my experience with my pool, I'd check the following:
1. CHANGE the O ring in the filter basket. Check there isn't any crack in the cover or the housing. Be sure to lube the O ring.
2. Check the connection between the filter basket and the pump.
3. My pump impeler has a band around it. There is an O ring (or two) inside. Replace and lube them.
4. If your system has a valve upstream of the pump so you can control how much water comes from the drain and skimmer, take the top of the valve off and check/replace lube the O ring.
5. You may be getting air into the system when the pump is off. Check/replace and lube the O ring for the filter halfs.
6. There is a purge valve on top of the filter to purge air out of the system. There is a O ring in or on that valve. Replace.
The last place I would look is any breaks in the line since I think you said they are all under ground. If there were a problem there, I would think you would be seeing mud in your pool
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SteffTX wrote:

Do you see bubbles in the pump inlet cover? If so, then the source of the leak is upstream of that - and your specialist may be right.
Are there two return lines (one for the skimmer, one for the floor drain)? If so, how hard is it to isolate each one to see if you can determine where the air leak is coming from? If there is a Jandy valve in those lines that could be the source of the leak, too.
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Well as others have stated you are "sucking air" into the system somewhere....but honestly air bubbles in my return lines would not bother e very much as long as I maintained enough suction in the simmers to function...and I was not loosing water above the normal evaporation losses...
BUT you can pressurize each of your lines and see if each holds the pressure...if a particular line does not hold ressure your leak is in that line..same thing can be done on the entire filter... I am surprissed a "specialist" would be unable to do this type of test to at least learn what line etc the leak was in...
I installed my own inground pool over 30 years ago and the few times I had air bubbles they are were usually associated with the exposed pipe near the filter itself...usualy easily found by shutting down one suction line at a time and watching the returns...
I spent an extra 20 bucks and installed double lines to each skimer and also to my main drain when I installed the pool to avoid digging up a line (under concrete) if a leak occured...As far after 30 + years one has occured...cheap insurance even though I blew 20 bucks..
Do not let the pool scare you...they honesty are not hard to maintain and with automatic cleaners reduce the "work" I do on my pool to less tat an hour a week...on bad weeks...usually 30 minutes is all it takes....
Enjoy the pool.... best place to read the evening paper and relax with a bloddy Mary after a hard day of work...
Bob Griffiths
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I have a sta rite pump that has always leaked around the basket. Do a leak test. (mark the water level and comopare to evaporation from a bucket) See if you lose more water with the pump off than when it is on. If not you don't have a suction side leak.
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