No matter how elaborate the design of your swimming pool, its pump is the component that really makes it the center of outdoor entertaining and fun – rather than an unsanitary, stagnant body of water. Often called the heart of the pool, the pump circulates water, keeping it clean. When the pump malfunctions, its ability to do so is compromised.
While our team at Certified Leak Detection doesn’t service the mechanical components of pools, we want you to be informed so you get the most enjoyment from your slice of Central Florida paradise. Also, the problem could ultimately be a leak – so eliminating the pump as the cause will allow us to repair it sooner and prevent even more serious (and expensive) damage. Pool Supply World provides a helpful guide to common pool pump problems so you can identify and – if you possess fairly decent DIY skills – repair them!
Water level is too low
If your pump makes a screeching sound – or sounds like it’s running with rocks inside the pump basket, it may not be getting enough water to function properly. According to Pool Supply World’s guide, “This can be attributed to a couple of different things. First, check your suction lines. If too many of them are closed off, the pump will struggle to get water and become noisy. Next, check your skimmers. If they are clogged, remove any debris and re-assemble.”
Our November 2018 blog post – “What to Do About a Leaking Pool Skimmer” – covers detection methods and simple DIY repair steps.
A screeching noise could indicate worn bearings. You can change the bearings, but it may be time for a new motor. Finally, the guide advises, “If all else fails, your pump could be too powerful for your pool. If this is the case, you’ll want to downgrade to a pump with less power to avoid future problems.”
Debris has clogged the strainer
The strainer basket collects large pieces of debris missed by the skimmer, or sucked in through the main drains. The strainer prevents debris from entering the pump assembly and ensures smooth functioning of the impeller. However, if your pool doesn’t have a screen enclosure, and there are palm trees nearby, the fine “hairs” of the palms can get inside the impeller.
You need to prime the pump if your pump basket does not fill with water. The guide provides the following steps.
- Disconnect any power to the pump and move the diverter valve so that the main drain side is turned to off.
- Relieve any existing pressure by turning the air relief valve counter clockwise on your pool filter until the pressure reads zero on the pool filter gauge.
- Remove the pump lid and clean any debris from the pump basket, then fill it with water using a garden hose. Once done, replace the pump lid and set the pool return to open on the diverter valve so water can return to the pool.
- Turn the power back on and check to see that the water flow has returned to the strainer box.
- Wait until the water starts to come out of the relief valve, then close it. After about 1 minute, water should be flowing freely inside the strainer box (top of pump).
- If water is not flowing freely in the strainer box, return to step one and repeat.
- Switch the diverter valve back to half way between the skimmer and main drain. If the pump is still not primed, check the impeller for debris and filter pressure for anything 10psi above the clean reading for your pool filter.
Other common pump problems listed in the guide include the following:
- The pool pump is sucking in air.
- The pool pump motor is not working, or turning off while running.
- The flow rate of the pool pump is low.
The pool filter needs replacing
If your pool pump is not working, check the pool filter. Your filter should be clean, and the pressure should not be at 30 PSI or above. A dirty filter can cause the pump to suck in air, making it difficult for the pump to pull water. Cleaning the filter reduces the pressure, after which you can reset the flow.
Swimming Pool Learning provides a series of videos on identifying and repairing pool pump issues – as well as replacing the pump. Before attempting a DIY solution, be sure you feel confident about your ability to successfully carry out these projects. Otherwise, contact a reputable pool maintenance contractor and leave it to the pros!
Keep in mind that a pool filter has a functional life. Typically, it needs to be changed every one or two years, depending upon the frequency of pool use and your diligence in keeping the water clean. Even if your pool is screened and generally debris-free, sunblock lotion, hair grooming products and deodorants eventually take their toll on a filter. To determine if that time has come, check its condition. Replace if the cloth appears loose, or there is a crack in the cartridge.
Pressure issues due to a leak
Usually, a leak under the pool pump is triggered by a pressure-side leak. If the pool is leaking only with the equipment on, this may indicate a pressure-side return leak. With the filter pump on, the plumbing on the pressure side (after the pump) is under pressure. This can open up small drips into spraying gushers. Check the waste or backwash line for water constantly running. One inch of your pool water can equal 500 gallons. Check downhill from a pool, looking for weepers where underground leakage is surfacing. Check for soft or wet spots in the yard, on the side of the pool where the plumbing returns water to the pool.
If the pool is leaking only with the equipment off, this usually indicates a suction-side leak, or on the pipes that bring water from the pool. With the filter pump on, the plumbing on the suction side is under vacuum. Air can be drawn in through otherwise leaking voids. You may notice air in the pump basket (if you have a clear lid), air bubbling out of the return lines, or air repeatedly built up inside the filter tank. Use tape or a pencil to mark water levels.
If the process of elimination hasn’t stopped the problem, the cause may be a pool leak. Fortunately, 90% of all pool leaks are minor and can be repaired on site by a licensed pool contractor. No matter what causes a leak in your swimming pool, swimming pool deck, spa, fountain, sewer pipe or under concrete slabs or in underground plumbing, our experienced team of professionals at Certified Leak Detection are ready to help! Contact us today!