Forum Title: Having great trouble trying to get the return and skimmer lines plugged
I've never had so much trouble before. No matter how many times I try to blow out the lines and put the winterization plugs in the returns - inevitably bubbles start to get by the plugs once I'm done (or even while still blowing the lines). IF the bubbles would stop once the compressor is turned off, I'd be less concerned, but they keep coming. My thinking is - if bubbles are coming into the pool, likely water is also going back into the lines. I must have tried it 20 times today and just can't get it. Even bought new plugs. My two returns are a #6 plug and then I have a double plug for the skimmer / drain that has 2 #9 plugs. Even with that plug, something seems to have changed. I'd usually have to tighten the wing nut a bit at the top of the double plug (compresses both plugs since the whole thing is just the two plugs on a long threaded shaft with brass spacers in between everything), but today it seems like the bottom plug is too tight going into the drain line without even tightening the wing nut at all. The way I use the double plug is that I put it in partway until the drain blows, then push it down the rest of the way to plug the skimmer. Then, to double check that the drain line is locked, I suck all the water out of the skimmer pot and if none comes back up from the drain, I figure I'm good to go. I don't like the play that I'm noticing when I just push the double plug in. Something just doesn't seem right. And the return line plugs (at least the one) just doesn't seem to go into the line like it used to. What could have changed with regards to the relationship between the plug and the diameter of the pipe (my returns are 1-inch PVC - not threaded though - that's why I use the plugs). I use an air compressor attached right to the top of the filter tank - same as I've always done. I did buy one of these new pancake compressors before closing last year since my old Sears Craftsman 1 HP compressor bit the dust. Quite honestly I'm not sure this one works as well for me. With the knob that controls the tank regulation, it just seems harder to keep a steady air pressure. Also it seems to be putting too much air into the system. It's like a geyser at the return jets when I go to put these plugs in, so that's probably not helping matters altough I got the job done last year with this same compressor. Using the regulator knob is a fine line between either too much air or not enough. Still, it should work. The one plug just does not seem to fit into the pipe. I know they really have to go in on a pretty sharp angle, but I've done it so often with success. I am calling a local pool contractor to see if he can come over to help. How frustrating to apparently not be able to do something you're done successfully the past 28 years! One thing I've noticed...nearly every time I buy new rubber winterizing plugs, they always come with a fairly wide plastic wing nut. I always take the plastic ones off and put on my old (smaller) metal nut. I guess I'm just not sure that the plastic holds up as well with exposure to the pool chemicals? Probably a silly worry. Perhaps i should put on the plastic tomorrow to try and get more leverage on the plug? My fingers are killing me from so many times of cranking down on the small metal wing nuts! Any advice appreciated....
Category: pool Post By: SALLY NEWMAN (Springfield, OH), 02/18/2019

Anthonypool89: This may help you. Do not take off the plastic on the expandable rubber plugs. Saturday, I closed a pool for a friend. He had # 8 plugs for the return lines and a Gizmo. Quickly, I sent him to Leslie's as they were the only placed open and we were in a hurry to purchase # 10 plugs. As I was clearing the lines with the Cyclone, I hand tightened them real good. The black plug is supposed to stick out of the return and expand, enough to not allow air to escape. What you are seeing is air escaping and not necessarily water entering back into the lines. Your plugs should not fit inside the port, but stop where there is about 1/4 outside (give or take). Make sure you place them flush and tighten by hand. If you wear goggles like I do, then you can easily see if there is air leaking out. Keep compressor on at the same time. Use small needle nose pliers and turn carefully (you have gunite) so not as big as a deal with a liner as you can easily damage the liner. Only one turn at a time and inspect visually. Keep turning until the bubbles stop. You will be surprised that some will need to be tightened real well. When we were done with my friends pool, I went back and gave each one another 2 turns. There were 2 of them that gave a lot of trouble and these had at least 6 additional turns with the pliers. IMHO, I believe that the new ones will give you a little more trouble and as time goes by, they will be easier to work with. The new ones are real hard plastic. Mine are a lot softer and over time, the rubber plastic will be more forgiving. Hope this helps!- - - Updated - - - I am calling a local pool contractor to see if he can come over to help. How frustrating to apparently not be able to do something you're done successfully the past 28 years! Click to expand... I would not do this. For the cost of sending someone out, the funds can go toward a purchase of a Cyclone. One thing about pools is that the cost savings of an air compressor or shop vac (even if you have one) is not worth the aggravation of closing a pool. The Cyclone has proved to be my best friend. You will get this fixed. Please do not be afraid to tighten the nuts. The air will stop.

- BRAD BARKER (Dearborn, MI), 04/11/2019

OK..here's where I'm at. I blow the returns...get both plugs in...fine...no leaks. I blow the drain, seal it with the bottom of the double plug...fine...still no bubbles issuing from the return plugs....then I push the double plug down the rest of the way....bubbles come up from the skimmer line but I figure this is no real big deal since there is no longer water in that line (shouldn't be anyway). THEN, once all that is finished...bubbles start to come out of the returns. Alright...so I start to loosen the return plugs again, take them out, and there is an unbelievable amount of air pressure built up behind them. So...IF as you're saying, the presence of additional bubbles is simply the pressurized system venting air out at the returns and indeed no water is coming in, then I would say next time I do it I disconnect the hose from the filter tank, thereby depressurizing the system, and I should be done. Does this sound right? I always suck all the water out of the skimmer pot just to make sure that no more water is coming up from the drain. Let me know. If the above sounds ok, then I'm good. I just don't recall before having so much air built up in the system NOR do I ever recall air escaping from the return plugs once I finish with the drain. It just has me paranoid. I think this new pancake compressor I got last year just puts in much more air than my old Sears Craftsman that went kaput. I blew out the lines with this compressor last year but don't recall any bubbles from the returns. Let me know your thoughts...gotta get this done. Didn't hear back from either contractor anyway. You're right, though, about using the plastic wing nuts. Much better. Actually, though, additional tightening of the plugs once I noticed the air still coming out did NOT help. I really cranked down on them (by hand, though, no pliers) Haven't used a pliers on any plugs ever to close the pool.

- ROSA CHAPMAN (West Haven, CT), 04/07/2019

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