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7 Troubleshooting Tips For Your Pool Pump Not Working

Matt Giovanisci, Founder and CEO of Swim University By Matt Giovanisci | August 3, 2020

If you’ve got a pool pump problem, you may actually be able to troubleshoot it yourself. Here are some common pool pump problems, how to troubleshoot, and how to fix them.

The Anatomy of a Pool Pump

Pool Pump Anatomy

1. The pool pump isn’t turning on or it’s turning off while running.

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2. The pool pump runs but has low water flow.

This means your pump needs to be primed because something has interrupted its suction or water flow. It could be something blocking it, a dirty pool filter, or too much air in the system.

3. The pool pump is leaking.

If you have a leaky pump, look for any seals that need replacing. Check the o-rings in the impeller housing, the thread sealant, or the shaft seal.

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4. The pump is sucking in air.

This can happen for a number of reasons:

Look for cracks, leaks, or bad fittings and replace the part. Check out our article on getting air out of your pool pump.

Can’t find the air leak in your pool pump?

Spread shaving cream on those possible problem areas. If there’s a leak, it will suck in the shaving cream, leaving an indent.


As always, if you don’t feel confident replacing a part yourself, call a professional.

5. The pump is making a lot of noise.

If your motor is really rattling, your pool pump may just need better water flow. Clear any blockages out of a plumbing line and look for air leaks.

However, if your motor has a high-pitched screeching sound, your pump could have bad bearings.

Of course, we recommend calling a professional to take apart the motor and replace the bearings. But you could also try kickstarting the pump by softly hitting the motor with a rubber mallet or the soft sole of a shoe. Sometimes this can help. But be careful.

6. The pump basket isn’t filling with water.

The pump could be sucking in air or your filter or pump basket could be clogged.

  1. Clean the filter and pump basket
  2. Check the water level in your skimmer. If it’s low, that could be your air problem.
  3. Then use the shaving cream test to check for other air leaks.

7. The pool pump is humming and won’t start.

First, check the impeller for blocking debris. Turn off the pump and remove the screws on the pump housing. Pull out the pump assembly and remove any gaskets away from the impeller. Then, remove any debris you see and put the pump back together.

If you hear a buzzing or humming noise, it’s coming from the pump motor. This means power is reaching the motor but is having trouble starting it. It could be a bad capacitor, centrifugal switch, or a buildup of rust in the motor. It could also mean the impeller is stuck.

3 Signs Your Pool Pump Is About To Die

A well-made pool pump should last about 8-10 years with proper maintenance. But how can you tell your pump is on its last legs?

1. You have consistently low PSI from your filter.

If the pressure gauge on your filter is lower than normal, you might have a clogged skimmer basket or pump strainer. But if this keeps happening even when everything is clean, it could be that your impeller is wearing out.

2. The pool pump is constantly leaking.

If you’ve done everything you can to fix your pump leaks but it still occurs regularly, it could be that the seal on the motor shaft as worn out. The good news is, this can be replaced on the cheap without buying a whole new pool pump.

But if you have tried everything you know to do and there is still water constantly dripping from the pump even when it’s turned off, it’s a sign that the seal on the motor shaft has worn out.

3. The pool pump always loses prime.

Of course, if you’ve troubleshooting correctly, you could still have issues with keeping your pump primed. It could be warped parts or it’s just time to get a new pump. Here’s our complete guide for finding the best new pool pump.

In the end, if you’re still having issues or you don’t feel confident doing something yourself, call a professional. And if your pump is constantly leaking or losing suction or has low filter pressure gauge readings, it might be time to get a new pool pump.

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Matt Giovanisci, Founder and CEO of Swim University
Matt Giovanisci is the founder of Swim University® and has been in the pool and spa industry since 1993. Since then, his mission is to make pool and hot tub care easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.
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