Fixing Your Pool Pump: The 8 Most Common Issues

Pool pumps are an essential part of maintaining proper pool circulation. Without a pool pump, pool water would quickly become stagnant and cloudy, creating an unsightly appearance and unsafe water for swimming. Because pool pumps are such an important piece of equipment, it can be frustrating when they malfunction or stop working altogether. If you’re wondering what may be wrong with your pool pump, you have come to the right place. Today, we’ll answer the common question, “Is my pool pump bad?”, and list 8 possible reasons your pump may not be running correctly.

1. The Pool Pump Turns Off While Running

When a pool pump shuts off while running, it is likely an electrical problem. Many pool pumps will turn off immediately after starting due to an overloaded circuit or an electrical issue with the breaker box.

If your pool pump is shutting off after it’s started, it is best to check the breaker box for blown fuses. If the breaker box appears in good shape, check the connections for anything loose or damaged. You may want to hire an electrician to examine your pool pump’s connections if you’re unsure what to look for.

2. The Pool Pump Isn’t Turning On

Another common issue found in pool pumps is when the pump refuses to start. Once again, this issue may be caused by blown fuses or damaged electrical connections.

If your pool pump isn’t turning on, inspect your breaker box and pump connections. Additionally, you may want to check that the pump’s power is turned on.

In some cases, a pool pump may not run due to a damaged capacitor. The capacitor, located near the pump’s motor, is what starts your pump with a jolt of electricity. When a capacitor is failing, you will likely hear a humming noise coming from your pool pump. To replace a capacitor, it is best to hire a professional.

3. The Pool Pump Is Leaking

The third most common issue involved with pool pumps is a leaky pump. When a pump is leaking, it may be caused by seals that need replacing, such as cracked seals. The most common places for a pool pump to leak include the o-rings in the impeller housing, the thread sealant, and the shaft seal.

To inspect the o-ring of your pool pump, bend the o-ring in all directions and look for any cracks. If you notice a crack, the o-ring will need replacing, as it has dried out. If no cracks are visible, apply o-ring lubricant around the entire o-ring. This will extend the life of the o-ring and create a better seal.

4. The Pool Pump Has Low Water Flow

If your pool pump’s flow rate has dropped, there are a few solutions to consider. The most common reason for a pool pump to have low water flow is that debris is blocking the filter. The best way to determine this is by checking the filter gauge. If the filter gauge is 10psi above the normal reading, it’s time to clean the filter. Cleaning the filter will reduce pressure and reset the pump’s flow to ensure water is being properly filtered.

After checking the filter for dirt and debris, examine the pump basket and impeller for any blockage. If there is debris in the impeller, you’ll need to remove the impeller by turning off the pump’s power and removing the screws in the middle of the pump body. Gently pull out the impeller and remove the gasket. After removing debris, re-assemble the impeller and turn the pump power back on.

Another reason your pool pump has a low water flow is that there is air in the system. In this case, you will need to check the skimmer basket for debris. You may also need to fill the strainer basket with water before resealing it. In addition, make sure your pool’s water level isn’t too low. If the water level is below the skimmer, add water to the pool until it reaches the midpoint of your pool skimmer.

5. The Pool Pump Is Sucking in Air

In order for a pool pump to run properly, all fittings and lids must be tight. Otherwise, your pool pump may begin sucking in air. Because pool pumps are designed to run air-free, it’s important to identify what’s causing the pump to suck in air.

There are a number of reasons for a pool pump to suck in air. A loose lid, cracks, leaks, and loose fittings are all possible reasons for a pump to suck in air. If you notice any loose fittings, be sure to tighten them and perhaps apply a sealant. Also, make sure the lid is properly on the pump.

Additionally, you’ll want to check the valve stem and suction side of the pump for any leaks or damages. If any part of your pool pump appears damaged, immediately repair or replace the faulty area.

6. The Pool Pump Is Noisy

One of the most common signs a pool pump is failing is when it makes screeching sounds. Whether it’s as simple as a low flow rate, or more serious as a damaged motor, noisy sounds are a clear sign your pool pump needs inspecting.

A common reason for pool pumps to screech is that they have low water flow. As we mentioned earlier, this issue can easily be fixed by removing any blockages caused by debris. You may also look for air leaks and tighten loose fittings.

If a low water flow is not the issue, then the screeching noise is most likely caused by bad bearings. In this case, you may need to hire a professional to replace the bearings for you.

If your pump is making other unusual noises, such as clicking, it may be a sign that the motor is failing. Similarly, a bad capacitor will cause your pump to make a humming noise.

7. The Pool Pump Basket Won’t Fill with Water

The purpose of a pump basket is to collect large debris the pool skimmer may have missed. Because pump baskets are necessary equipment for keeping pool water clean, it’s important they run smoothly. If your pump basket isn’t filling with water, it means you’ll have to prime the pool pump.

Priming a pump is a simple process. Simply disconnect any power to the pump and turn the diverter valve so that the main drain side of the pump is off. Begin turning the air-relief valve counter-clockwise until the filter gauge reads zero. This will relieve any existing pressure in the pump.

Once the pressure reads zero, remove the pool pump lid and clean the pump basket, removing any debris stuck inside of it. Afterward, fill the pump basket with a garden hose, and place the lid back on the pump.

Next, reset the diverter valve so that the water can return to the pool, and turn the power back on. Make sure the water flow is returning to the strainer box. Once the water begins coming out of the relief valve, you’ll want to close it. This will allow water to flow freely inside the strainer box.

Finally, switch the diverter valve back to halfway between the skimmer and the main drain. If this process fails to prime the pump, you may need to check the impeller for debris.

8. The Pool Pump Is Silent

When a pool pump is completely silent, you likely need to replace your pool pump motor. Pool pump motors typically last 6 to 8 years, although some may last as long as 15 years. With that being said, pump motors can become damaged at any time, and may stop working altogether. If your pump is silent, it is best to replace the motor right away.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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