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Swimming Pool Pump Introduction

Swimming pool pump introduction

This page covers some essential information about pool pumps, what they do and how they work before moving on to more specific and advanced pool problems. If you are still relatively new to pools then start with this videos on this page, or if you prefer you can jump straight to the following sections:

Concrete Pool Videos
Plaster Pool Videos
Vinyl Liner Pool Videos
Measuring Pool Liners
Pool Pumps Introduction
Pool Pump Troubleshooting
Variable Speed Pool Pumps
Pool Filter Videos
Salt Water Pool Videos
Swimming Pool Questions & Answers


Swimming Pool Pumps

Why Does My Pool Pump Make A Loud Squealing Noise?

The most common failure of swimming pool pumps is bearing corrosion which causes a loud squealing noise which will continue to get worse until the pump motor fails eventually. The most common cause for this bearing failure is a leak in the main seal of the pump which is located near the bottom middle of the pump. The seal can begin to leak if the pump gets too hot and the resulting leak of chlorinated water is what will corrode the pump bearings.

Most pool pumps are air cooled which means that they draw air past the motor to keep prevent it from overheating. The intake location for this air flow is near the location that water will leak from the main seal. Since the water is chlorinated from the pool it will rust the bearings located inside the motor which begins this process of pump failure. Early detection of leaks from a main seal can be serviced and repaired and also electric motors can be placed while keeping the same pump wet end. Servicing of pumps in this fashion was commonplace 20 years ago however many pool owners elect to buy a new pump instead of repairing old or damaged pumps as the cost of many new pumps is similar to what the repair bill will be from a service company.


Why Does My Pool Pump Keep Tripping The Breaker?

If your pool pump is tripping the electrical breaker it is possible you have a failure of the motor. The pool motor generates heat during operation and if this heat becomes too much from direct sunlight / lack of air flow / partially plugged or over working, the grease between the windings in the electric motor can begin to melt away. This causes the windings of the motor to short together and this in turn causes the motor to draw a higher amperage, which in turn generates even more heat.

This cycle continues until the pump draws so much current that the electrical breaker trips. You may be able to reset the breaker and run the pump if the breaker (and pump) have the opportunity to cool down before you try to reset it. The problem will however return once the pump heats up again and will continue to get worse until the pump motor is a dead short and you can not reset the breaker without it tripping again immediately. In theory the pump can also cause a fire from this although both the pump and the electrical breaker are designed to prevent this from happening.





My Pool Pump Is Not Moving Water - What Could Be Wrong?

If your pool pump is running but does not seem to be moving water there could be any one of a dozen different causes for this. This is the type of problem that can be elusive to solve since there are so many factors that could cause the pump to run poorly or move no water at all. The most common things to consider right away is the orientation of any valves that your system has to make sure you have a path open for the water to flow through the system. Next you need to make sure there are no obstructions in the system such as a plugged filter, plugged pipes, clogged pump strainer basket, clogged skimmer strainer basket etc.

There can also be internal pump failures that would result in the pump "running" but not moving water. At a glance with your circulation system the pressure gauge on the filter will be the biggest indicator as to what is happening and why the pump is not moving water. If the pump has an internal problem the pressure on the filter should stay at or near zero. Any pressure reading higher than 20-25 psi indicates there is a restriction in the system somewhere as the max normal operating pressure for pool components is 30 psi. Many systems run as low as 5 psi so a system running near 30 is an indication of a problem. Anything over 30 psi is extremely dangerous.


Why Is My Pool Pump Sucking Air?

This is one of those problems that has many simple fixes as there are many small reasons that could cause your pump to start pulling air. To define the problem a pump is pulling air when it it allowing air into the system made evident by lower operating pressures, reduced flow, and less water visible in the pump chamber when it is running.

Some of the most common and easy to fix reasons why your pump could be sucking air are low level of water in the pool, especially if you recently vacuumed to waste and dropped the water level a bit. The water may be high enough the reach the skimmer mouth but may be unable to keep up with the draw demands of the pump. Plugged skimmer baskets can also cause this problem. Dry, improperly installed or missing pump lid gaskets are a sure fire way to make your pump run poorly or not at all. Do not use vaseline or other petroleum based lubricants for these O-rings. Instead use silicone based lubricants intended for O-rings. A final and very common source for a pool pump to draw in air is the suction side port connection. Threaded connections can easily develop a leak and must be unthreaded and reinstalled in order to resolve. Adding silicone around a leaking port fitting does absolutely nothing to solve this problem and epoxy should never be used in attempt to repair a pump connection.


New Pool Pump Installation - Pump Hums & Does Not Run

Many swimming pool pumps have the ability to install at 120 volts or 240 volts. In order to protect the pump most manufacturers pre set the pump for 240 volts. This means that is you were to only apply 120 volts the pump would not run properly but instead just make a low humming noise. The other option would be to have the pump pre set for 120 volts but this would mean that accidentally supplying 240 volts would ruin the motor. Better to have a hum as a warning as opposed to smoke.

To change the 120 volt / 240 volt selection for your pump will involve moving a jumper in the wiring junction box on the pump. There will be a diagram sticker on the pump to assist you with this and many older pumps have the instructions for high voltage and low voltage embossed on the plastic or metal directly. New direct drive 240 volt pumps are similar in that supplying 120 volts will cause them to hum. Direct drive 240 volts means there is no neutral line, only two phases of 120 volts. Be sure to consult with a qualified electrician if you are not sure. 240 volts is more than enough to kill you!


How Often Do I Need To Run My Pump?

Since it costs a lot of money to run a pool pump, and most pool pumps provide more flow than swimming pools need to stay filtered and clean, many pool owners like to turn off their pump 12 hours per day. Technically you can do this, often while still meeting the minimum filtration volumes, however it is not ideal for the pool chemistry to have extended periods of time where there is no water being filtered. Also, since salt water generators are very popular now it is worth noting that you can only generate chlorine while the pump is running so any down time means the water is not being filtered OR chlorinated.

In order to calculate how often your pool pump needs to run you need to know your pool volume approximately. The rule of thumb is that the volume of the pool needs to pass through the filter three times every 24 hours. So a 20,000 gallon pool needs to have 60,000 gallons of water through the filter every 24 hours, which is about 42 GPM running the system 24 hours per day. If you want to run this pump only 12 hours per day then you would need to realize 84 GPM for the 12 hours it is running to meet the minimum water turnover rate. This is the reason that new variable speed pumps are much more ideal than 12/12 hour timers or two speed pumps.


Concrete Pool Videos
Plaster Pool Videos
Vinyl Liner Pool Videos
Measuring Pool Liners
Pool Pumps Introduction
Pool Pump Troubleshooting
Variable Speed Pool Pumps
Pool Filter Videos
Salt Water Pool Videos
Swimming Pool Questions & Answers



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- Swimming Pool Steve