Smaller pipe will make it worse. If you have an air leak, you would have air in the house. Is the footvalve the only kind of filter you have on this pump?
I have seen small snails in a lake get pumped into a water system then grow up while living in the impeller to the point where they couldn't get out. Not the pump won't make much pressure. It also couldn't pump much water. This happens where the pump sits for quite some time without being used.
I would be getting a lake strainer. I have one on my website you might be interested in.
You can see it HERE