How To Replace A Pool Pump
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If you are looking for information on how to replace a pool pump yourself then this article will highlight some very important information that you need to know. For a skilled pool technician selecting the right pump and installing it in the pool system is a simple and straight forward job. For the average homeowner thinking that they will save a few bucks by doing this yourself there very well could be some things you are overlooking. No part of installing a new pool pump is prohibitively difficult however it does require making electrical connections as well as plumbing connections.
In addition to needing to be comfortable with both electrical and plumbing, you will also need to know how to choose the right pump for your pool in the first place. This requires a multi-step calculation that considers your pool volume, your pipe size, the maximum design flow rate for your filter, as well as any pressure side features that require certain flow volumes like a hot tub with booster jets, in floor cleaning systems, or waterfalls / water features.
The final thing that you need to be aware of if you want to install a new pool pump is that, depending on the brand and model, as well as where you buy it, you might not qualify for any warranty protection if you install it yourself. While this might not be a deal-breaker for everyone, it certainly falls under the category of information that you should know before you make your purchase.
Can I Install My Own Pool Pump?
Most major pool equipment manufacturers do not want you to install your own pool equipment. Hayward, Pentair and Zodiac (Jandy) all require "proof of professional installation" to be submitted with warranty claims or registering a product warranty. Jandy even went so far in 2018 as to claim to "quit the internet" and will no longer offer warranty for any finished goods that are purchased online. This is to force your hand as a pool owner to work with a swimming pool industry professional directly. It also is to protect the manufacturer from products failing under warranty due to improper or poor installation (presumably due to non-professional installation). In reality the average pool technician does not follow any kind of proper installation protocol with the vast majority of equipment installations having multiple deficiencies.
This puts many pool owners in a compromised position where there can not qualify for warranty on the products they buy unless they work with a local "industry professional" who may, or may not, actually be proficient with equipment installations and flow dynamics. Some home owners prefer to do their own work around the home and currently there are not many good solutions for these people other than to forfeit the warranty protection normally afforded with the product, or pay more to hire someone that will not care about the installation as much as they do.
With Hayward and Pentair you can still provide a receipt for professional installation from any one of a number of approved designations such as general contractors, plumbers, electricians, gas fitters, landscapers, handy person...as long as you have a receipt from one of these "professionals" for your equipment installation you should meet the qualification criteria for warranty protection. Unfortunately this is no longer the case with Jandy, and they will no longer provide any warranty for products that are purchased online. This came into effect January 1, 2019 and despite their products still being widely available from all online retailers, Jandy claim to be working to resolve all of these cases, and presumably will deny any potential warranty protection for any pool owner who happens to purchase one of these products.
How To Choose The Right Pool Pump
Warranty considerations aside, the first step in installing your own pool pump is to pick the right replacement pump. The entire pool pump climate is changing in recent years. Variable speed pool pumps hitting the market have turned the entire pool industry on its ear. They are so much more energy efficient than the older style of single speed pool pump that the Department of Energy has declared that by 2021 all single speed pool pumps will need to be replaced by variable speed pumps (or similarly ultra-efficient pumps). If you just replace your current pool pump with the exact same make and model then you will be missing out on the potential cost savings benefits of VS pumps and may find yourself in a situation where it is no longer possible to service or repair older style single speed pumps due to this Department of Energy ruling.
Information You Need To Have - In order to make the calculation that you need to make to properly size your pool pump for your system you will need: the pool volume in gallons, the size of the suction line pipes, what the maximum designed flow rate is for your filter, and whether you have 120 volts or 240 volts for the electrical connection for your pump. If you have all of this information then you have everything you need to determine the most appropriate pumps on the market for your filtration system.
You need to be able to filter the entire volume of your pool three times every 24 hours. This is the industry standard for residential pool filtration. If your pool is 10,000 gallons, then you need to be able to filter at least 30,000 gallons per day. Next, how many hours per day do you want to run the pump? Take 30,000 and divide by this number, for this example we will use a run schedule of 12 hours per day. So 30,000 divided by 12 is 2500 (gallons per hour) that you need. Divide this by 60 to get 41.6 gallons per minute. This is the flow rate you would need to meet to keep your 10,000 gallon pool clean, running your pump for 12 hours per day.
Every pool filter has a maximum designed flow rate above which the filter may not function properly, or damage may happen. You need to check your filter make and model and find out what the maximum designed filter flow rate is to be sure that you will not exceed this value. Sand filters tend to be more limiting for maximum designed flow rates than cartridge or DE filters. The final pieces of information that you need to know are the size of the plumbing pipes your pool system uses, and the voltage of your pump electrical connection. This information will be needed before you can make a decision on which pump will be the best and easiest for you to install. You can now pick your pump from the most common variable speed pool pumps.
Even though there are dozens of pool pumps on the market, the vast majority of pool owners shopping for a new pump will end up with one of these three most popular pool pumps
Pool Pump Installation Tips
When it comes time to actually install your new pool pump there are a number of ways that you can find yourself at the end of the day with still no pump running on your pool. The plumbing system for pools is not always straight forward to work with. The plumbing systems are typically PVC but also sometimes can be flexible PVC, poly pipe, ABS pipe, copper pipe, galvanized pipe...people have tried all sorts of things over the years to plumb in pool systems! If you can look at your pool system and know right away that you have schedule 40 rigid PVC then you will have a much easier time installing your new pump. If you can't tell the difference from poly pipe, rigid PVC, flex PVC, or any other plumbing material then installing your own pump will be significantly more difficult.
There is no one solution fits all plumbing configuration for pool pumps because each pump is installed in a unique orientation. What you need to know is that, if possible, you want to have a straight section of pipe running into the suction side of the pump. Ideally if you can have ten times the pipe diameter in a straight, unobstructed run, into the front of the pump, that would be best for the flow dynamics of the pump. For most existing pool systems you will not have the luxury to make design changes. It will be all you can do to just have the pump fit where you want it to go, and install it without leaking. But what if your last pump failed early because of the way it was installed? Before you jam the new pump right back in there you should read about these common causes for early pool pump failure.
Pool pump thread sealant - The best, and easiest, thread sealant for a pool pump is to use 100% silicone and let it set up overnight before you run the system. With silicone simply apply 100% silicons to the threads of the male adapter and thread it in as far as you can go by hand only. That is it. Many people bury the threads using channel locks or a pipe wrench, but the plastic flange on pool equipment is too weak for this process. Silicone all threads, and thread in hand tight only before letting set up overnight. If you do this you will not break anything, and the threads will not leak. Read more on swimming pool thread sealants.
Pump intake height - If you have a horizontal run of pipe going into the suction side of your pump, then you need to consider that your new pump may have a different intake height. This means that you would need to change the height of your intake plumbing which is not always easy to do. On some difficult systems it could be a real pain to change the height of your intake pipe. For this reason it would be a good idea to go outside with a tape measurer and measure how much space there is between your intake pipe and the ground. Try to get the number accurate within 1/4" as a minimum. When you shop for a new pump you should check the intake height to see if it will line up with your currently plumbing configuration or if you will need to customize your plumbing to adapt the new pump. It is much easier to sit a pump on a 1/2" thick rubber pad (raising the pump intake by half an inch) than it is to try to raise intake plumbing by half an inch to match a new pump that is taller than your last one.
Pipe connections - You should be using schedule 40 rigid PVC pipe for installing your pool pump unless you are specifically matching a different, existing pipe material on your system. For pool systems any connections that you make must be 100% leak free. Avoid taking any shortcuts with your pool plumbing and pump installation as any leaks introduced to the system will adversely affect the efficiency of your filtration system, and quite possibly the longevity of your pump installation.
At the end of the day hiring an industry professional to install your new pump may be worth the investment for you. Some pumps can be a real pain to change if the mechanical installation is tight. If there is not a lot of room to cut into, and add, to your pool system, this can easily double the work required to successfully install the pump. If you need to redo a suction manifold including the valves, or worry about transitioning between different plumbing materials, or if you need to raise or lower the height of the plumbing to compensate for the new pump, then this could double your required efforts again. Most importantly you will be working with both water and electricity, and you should not attempt to install either of these components if you are not already proficient with electrical and plumbing applications.
Pump Installation Troubleshooting
Something went wrong. You are trying to install your new pump but it is not working. The most common problems that you could be dealing with are problems with the electrical connection, problems with the plumbing connection, or an unknown problem of some kind that is preventing the pump from running properly. When it comes to electrical it is never a good idea to make electrical connections, or troubleshoot electrical systems, if you have not be properly trained how to do it. I wish I could just tell you, but then people will almost certainly hurt themselves doing something they should not.
Electrical troubleshooting - For electrical connections simply read the electrical schematic and instructions that come with the new pump. It will tell you the voltage you need, the amperage breaker that you need (which dictates the size of wires that you should be using according to the NEC), as well as how to connect your new pump. Some are 120 volts only, while others are 240 volts only. Some can switch between 120 and 240 by changing the wire orientation, while others can automatically detect and switch between voltage without having to change the wires around. Some are direct drive 240 volts and do not use a neutral wire, while others require a current carrying neutral conductor. If you have read the instructions for your electrical installation but still do not understand how you are supposed to connect the wires, this is because you are not an electrician and the instructions are specifically worded such that you will not understand it unless you have training with electrical systems. Frustrating as this might be, it is for your own safety.
Plumbing troubleshooting - If you encounter a problem with the plumbing it may be that you need to switch between pipe sizes, or pipe materials, and you are not sure how to accomplish this. It also could be that you are having trouble finding an orientation where the pump will fit where it needs to go. Some systems are installed so tight that there is little to no room left to make adjustments or cut into the plumbing to add new fittings. In these cases you might need to go back a little further and replace more of the plumbing than you had intended. With pump installations this often means re-plumbing the suction manifold valves. A skilled technician may be able to find a way to adapt the pump into the system that you can not see by heat bending the PVC, or by stripping pipe out of glued fittings, but that is the advantage of experience. If your plumbing system is super tight and there is no space to cut in and add then you might want to explore hiring a pool plumber to assist you with installing the pump. The price you would pay for new valves to re-plumb your suction manifold will probably cost more than a pool plumber which may have a trick to get the pump installed with less surgery required to your system.
Pump leaks - If your pump leaks it will be from the suction port connection, pressure side connection, winterizing plugs, or strainer lid. If you have a leak anywhere like from the body of the pump, or the connection between the pump housing and the motor, then this pump is defective and needs to be returned where it was purchased. If the leak is the winterizing plugs, they can be tightened slightly or rethreaded easily with some new thread sealant. If the lid is leaking, remove and inspect the gasket to ensure that it is present, and has a sufficient application of non-petroleum based lubricant on it. Also be careful to not let the gasket displace as you are tightening the lid. For suction and pressure side leaks, inspect the union for problems with the gasket, or if the pump is installed with a threaded male adapter, you may need to reapply a thread sealant. Once a threaded connection begins to leak you can not fix this externally. You need to remove it, clean the threads, and reapply an approved thread sealant before reinstalling the male adapter.
If you are still stuck for an answer to a problem you have you can ask Steve or you can view some of the additional tutorials and articles listed below to help you figure out your pump problem.
Pool pump will not work troubleshooting
What caused your pool pump to fail?
Variable speed pool pump reviews
Pool plumbing materials
Common valves for pool systems
Common deficiencies in pool equipment installations
How much can you save with a variable speed pool pump?
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