Pool Pump Repair
Installation tips for new pumps and common problems and troubleshooting information that you will encounter with swimming pool pumps
Swimming Pool Pump Troubleshooting
In this section I want to talk about common service issues that people might encounter with their pool pump. Many times pool owners are forced to call a service technician to inspect the pool pump when it is not operating correctly, at all, or if the pump is emitting any strange noises or smells.
In every situation the service technician will approach in the same fashion. If the problem is not immediately apparent then a process of elimination begins to determine what the problem is.
Common Pool Pump Failures
Leaking pool pumps will leak from the main seal, the suction port connection, the outlet port connection or possibly even the winterization plugs in the wet end of the pump. Additionally a crack anywhere in the wet end casing can cause a leak. By looking at there the water is coming from you will be able to determine what part of the pool pump is leaking.
Cracks and main seals will be the hardest to diagnose and identify and will almost certainly require a service call from a pool technician. Again, start with a process of elimination as often tightening the suction and outlet port threads as well as the winterization plugs can stop small leaks in these areas.
When tightening a threaded fitting into a pool pump be sure to go only hand tight plus one quarter turn. Over tightening will often cause a crack in the casing of the pump.
How To Connect A Pool Pump
While on the subject of threaded pool pump connections I would like to introduce the topic of which material to use when making a threaded pipe connection. As a pool professional I have personally inspected thousands of pool pumps in operation. I have worked with many different pool professionals over the years and every person I speak with has a different idea as to which is the best thread sealant medium to use.
Of the more commonly encountered threaded connection sealants are silicone, pipe dope, teflon tape, gas tape, epoxy, NP1 polyurethane and a few others. As an installer I tend to lean towards the recommendations of the manufacturer. Still, having threaded thousands of connections and being responsible for them to be leak free, I am very particular with how I like to connect the pump ports.
Threaded Pool Pump Connections
The most reliable method is to use teflon tape and tighten to hand tight plus one quarter turn with channel locks properly sized for the job. This will almost always make a water tight and leak free connection and additionally you can always tighten further in the future should a slow leak still be present.
Mediums that dry or harden like epoxy, silicone and poly urethane in my professional opinion are unsuitable for connecting pool pumps. The ability to adjust the the threaded connection is critically important in a well planned pool pump installation.
The biggest concerns with using teflon tape is that over tightening can crack the manifold you are attaching to. Additionally using teflon tape requires skill and the knowledge to tighten as much as you can by hand and then turn an additional one quarter turn for optimal performance.
What NOT To Use To Connect A Pool Pump
Using pipe dope or any other petroleum based thread compound can seem tempting since it is so easy to use and is very forgiving to unskilled hands. Many pool "professionals" that I have encountered over the years use pipe dope for just these reasons. These compounds remain pliable with time however they do begin to swell and expand as they age.
When they expand they will crack the manifold and many pumps and filters manufactured now come tagged with a warning to not use these types of thread sealants when making the threaded connections.
Glued Style Pump Connection Flanges
Even better is that many new pool pumps are manufactured to have thread and gasket fittings that allow you to connect directly to the pump without additional considerations. Typically these connection ports will terminate in a slip fitting connection either in 2 inch or 1.5 inch size. These slip fittings are what you would primer and glue your pipes directly into.
Leaking Pool Pumps
Leaking pool pumps make up the majority of pump related service calls. Most of the time the problem relates to an actual leak in the system though many times the pool owner has misplaced an O-ring or the O-rings have become dry over time and need to be lubricated. During spring start up season in cold areas there will be a lot of leaks from cracked casings due to improper winterization. Later in the season main seal leaks will be the most common problems due to overheating of pumps causing a main seal failure.
A tell tale sign of a main seal leak that has developed into a motor problem is the sound of rusted bearing squealing when the pump is running. This is an indiaction that chlorinated water has likely drawn from a main seal leak into the motor which will now require service to repair or ultimately will cause the pump to fail.
Pool Pump Keeps Tripping The Breaker
Often an older and failing pool pump can cause the circuit breaker to trip out. This can be caused by a few things but the most likely is that the pump ran too hot and the electric grease between the windings in the electric motor has melted away. This allows the windings to short together which causes an increase in ampreage draw to the motor. This in turn causes more heat and further grease breakdown. This cycle repreats until the pump motor ultimately fails or draws so much current the electrical breaker will trip.
If the pump simply does nothing at all or runs but not very well a quick check of the power with a voltmeter will determine if power is in fact reaching the pump. Sometimes only half of a circuit breaker will trip allowing 120 volts to still reach the pump.
However if the pump is wired for 240 volts the 120 reaching it will not allow it to run properly. This is also very common on new pump installations to be supplying the wrong voltage to the pump which results in some movement from the pump but it is clearly not running properly.
Humming Pool Pump
For a humming pool pump on a new pump installation see the video posted above. For existing pool pumps that have developed this problem you need to first check that the correct power is reaching the pump. If the pump has power then the problem is with the pump itself. A common pump failure results in a pump that hums but does not seem to fire up.
This is especially common with older pool pumps starting for the first time of the season. If after ensuring that you have the correct voltage available at the pump you can try giving the pump a sharp rap with a rubber mallet at the motor while the pump is humming.
If the pump is humming it may have worn brushes or a worn spot on the brushes of the electric motor. By jogging the pump motor you can often kick the pump back to life for a little while longer. As the bushes wear it will cause more and more problems until eventually no motivation with a mallet will resuscitate the pump.
Rebuild Or Replace A Pool Pump
This brings us to the idea of having a pump rewound or rebuilt as opposed to buying a new pump. I have had hundreds if not thousands of pool clients request that I have a pump reconditioned. The reality is that rebuilding a pump is a total waste of money in most cases. Rewinding or rebuilding an old pump will cost about 10% less than buying a new lower end pump.
A rebuilt pump will come with a one year warranty where a new pump will be 3-10 year warranty and last up to ten years or more. It makes absolutely no sense to have a pump rebuilt unless it is a brand new, expensive pump that has burned out prematurely and is worth saving. Anything less than a high end pump should be replaced with a new pump once it requires a major rebuild.
Proceed to the next section on Pool Pump Troubleshooting