What to do when your swimming pool pump isn’t working
Circulation is essential in all swimming pool systems. The pool pump is an integral part of the circulation and filtration equipment and if the pump isn’t working you lose both circulation and filtration. Lack of circulation and filtration in summer can rapidly see a pool turn from sparkling, crystal clear blue water to cloudy and dull and eventually green if repairs aren’t made promptly.
So, what should you do if you notice something wrong with your pool? It all depends on what it is that you have noticed.
Loud / clunky / screaming noise coming from the pump when it is turned on
This noise is likely a sign of the bearings failing in the pump. If the noise is only minor it is OK to keep the pump running for now, but it should be repaired ASAP to prevent further damage. If the noise is significant, turn the pump off and get the pump repaired immediately. The pump will need to be removed for repairs. If you are removing the pump yourself ensure you bring the whole pump into the store including the lid.
The pump is leaking
Your pool pump has a seal which keeps water from getting into the motor. If your pump is leaking in ‘the middle’ where the wet end joins to the motor it probably needs to have the seal replaced. This is better done sooner than later to prevent damage to the motor. If the leak is minor it can be left until a convenient time to take the pump out for repairs however if the leak is considerable, the pump should be removed for repairs as soon as possible.
Pump makes a humming sound but doesn’t start
The problem may be your capacitor. If you know how to replace a capacitor, this can be done yourself by replacing with exactly the same capacitor. Otherwise call a pool technician to complete this repair for you.
Another cause of humming could be a seized motor shaft. If you can spin the motor shaft manually, the capacitor is likely the cause of the humming. If the shaft does not spin manually, the bearings or complete motor may need replacing. If you are not familiar with pumps you should call us for help.
Yet another cause is a blocked impellor. See Cause 6 below.
The pump won’t prime
Priming simply means preparing or getting something ready for operation. Before a pool pump can begin operating it needs to fill up with water – this is what we call priming.
Priming problems often happen after taking the lid off the pump basket due to the lid not being screwed on properly or tight enough or the lid o-ring may be missing. This is the first place to start. If that doesn’t solve your problem, read on.
Cause 1 – Pool water level too low. Check the water level in the pool. If the pool water level is below the mid-level of the skimmer opening, there is a chance of sucking air into the circulation system through the skimmer. Too much air in the system will cause your pump to lose prime.
Cause 2 – Blocked skimmer basket. Remove the skimmer basket and clean out any debris.
Cause 3 – Clogged pump strainer basket. Remove debris from the strainer basket if there is debris in it. Fill the pump strainer basket with water using a hose. It may take 2-3 minutes to fill the basket and supply lines with water. Once done replace the lid.
Cause 4 – Pump lid is leaking. Remove the cover on your pump basket, then remove the o-ring. Check for cracks, flattening of the o-ring or signs of wear – if cracked/flattened or worn replace it. This o-ring should be replaced periodically. Reseat the o-ring into its groove and lubricate it lightly with a silicon-based lubricant. Do not use Vaseline. Close the cover and hand tighten. Do not over-tighten with a tool.
Cause 5 – Blockage in the pipework between the pool and the pump. This can happen following vacuuming of the pool if debris is vacuumed up without using a leaf canister or vacuum plate. Check for blockages and try flushing water through the system using a hose. You can do this from the pump back towards the pool or from the pool towards the pump.
Cause 6 – Impeller is clogged. If the pumps impeller is clogged with debris, water will not be able to flow out the side slots and generate a vacuum. Without a vacuum, the pump will not be able to suck water into the pump and it will not prime. It may be possible for you to clear the impellor yourself. If you are unable to clear the impellor a pool technician will be needed.
Cause 7 – Variable speed pump starting at low speed. When you start a variable speed pump it generally needs to be started at high speed to create enough suction to prime the motor. After it is primed, the motor can be shifted down to a lower speed.
Cause 8 – Valve closed – check that your valves are set to the correct position. If all suction side valves are closed, then no water can get to the pump.
Cause 9 – Leaks in fittings or unions. This may be difficult to find but check carefully all the pipework, fittings and union for any sign of leaks. Sometimes it can be air getting in rather than water getting out, so this can be quite difficult to identify.
WARNING – NEVER LEAVE A PUMP RUNNING THAT HAS NOT PRIMED. IF YOU CAN’T GET THE PUMP TO PRIME AFTER CHECKING ALL THE LIKELY CAUSES – TURN IT OFF AND CALL US – phone 978 1504.
We have a number of loan pumps that we install for clients while their pump is being repaired. This is a great service we offer to prevent your pool going green while the pump is out.