The heart of your circulation system, your pool pump, pulls water from one or more suction ports (i.e., skimmer & main drain), and then pushes it through the filter & heater (if you have one) and back to the pools’ return ports.
- How do I know what pump is right for me?
Contrary to the advice given when selecting a filter, a bigger pump is not always a good thing. Unless you have been advised by a pool professional, or someone in the know that your existing pump was undersized, it would be wise to keep the same horsepower as you have now.
How do I know what Horsepower my pump motor is?
The horsepower should be listed on the nameplate (left) of the pump motor (in very tiny letters – hp). If the motor nameplate is burnt or worn off, sometimes a part number of the impeller (right) can tell us which hp your pump motor is
The water is moved by a brass or plastic impeller that is shaft driven by an electric motor. On the way to the pump, the water is under suction or vacuum. After the impeller, the water is now under pressure until it is released into the pool. The 3/4 – 2.0 hp motor is powered from a breaker on your electric panel (or fuse box), at 115 or 230 volts. Usually motors over 2 hp need 230V power to operate, and most smaller Hp pumps convert to accept either 115 or 230 volts. Above ground units may plug into an 115V GFCI outlet. (Be sure to buy a Pump that will match the correct voltage going to your existing power supply). Electrical consumption will vary by area, however, manufacturers have been designing motors and pumps (the wet end) which are more efficient and consume much less energy than older pumps. The smaller the Amp draw of the motor, the less expensive it will be to operate.
- Leaking pump?
A very common problem is the threaded fitting carrying water out of the pump shrinking and allowing water to drip, run and then spray. This can be replaced with a high temp fitting to prevent its re occurrence. Approximately $10 parts and one hour labor. Water may also leak from a worn out mechanical seal. This seal is the separation between the wet end and the dry end (motor) of the pump. This mechanical shaft seal should be replaced. Approximately $12 for the seal and one hour labor.
- Air in pump basket?
The pump is meant to operate air free. After some time, you may notice air in the basket, especially if you have a clear lid to observe such things. This can reduce filtering efficiency, allow dangerous air to build up in filter, and sometimes prevent your pump from catching prime (being able to move water). The problem is usually located around the pump, above-ground. Occasionally, we have to look underground for the source of the air. Approximately 1 – 4 hours labor. Sometimes air in the pump basket can be caused by something as simple as the water level being too low in the pool. You might also want to check the skimmer weir. This is a plastic flap at the throat of the skimmer that keeps the debris in the skimmer when the pump is off. If the skimmer weir is stuck it can cause the skimmer to drain and take in air. Also check that the pump basket lid is on tight and the o-ring is lubricated.
- Pump is not pumping water like usual?
Check your skimmer baskets for heavy debris. Make sure the pump basket is clean and properly positioned. Some types of pumps have a pump strainer basket that locks into place to prevent the basket from floating and causing the pump to cavitate, or starve for water. Sometimes when we get repair calls like this we’ll find that the pump basket is cracked and it is allowing debris to clog the pump’s impeller. If the pump basket is cracked or damaged, it should be replaced. To check the impeller, turn off the motor, remove the pump basket and reach into the volute and feel if it is clogged with debris. If you cannot feel for sure, you may need to remove the motor from the pump to properly inspect the impeller. Many times you need only remove a clamp band to separate the motor from the pump.
- Noisy Motor?
Inside of your pump’s motor are a front bearing and a rear bearing. These bearings are sealed and cannot be re-packed or re-lubricated. They are replaced when they begin to scream and screech. Bearings can become damaged when the pump has run dry and overheated, or if the pump is put under high loads. A local motor shop can replace the bearings for you, usually for under $100. One test I do is to remove the motor from the pump, and turn it on. If it still screeches (while not pumping anything) it is going to be the bearings. Rebuild it, or better yet, just replace the motor. A noisy pump can also mean cavitation. This sounds less like screeching and more like grinding. This condition is caused by starving the pump for water. If possible, open more valves, or find the cause of the obstruction that is blocking water flow into the pump. It may be the impeller. Finally, noisy pumps can be the sound of components striking one another. The impeller can, on stub shaft models, come loose, and hit against the impeller housing. The internal fan can break and hit against the motor side. Both instances will resolve themselves. At 3450 rpm, it won’t take long for the fan to wear down or the impeller to chew right through the housing. These conditions are rare, and probably will require a new pump.
- Motor hums but will not start
The impeller may be clogged with debris. Turn off the power, and spin the impeller shaft. If it won’t turn freely, remove the motor from the pump and clean the impeller. If it does spin, check the capacitor. If it is a stub shaft type motor, check that the impeller is not hitting the impeller housing.
The capacitor is the black cylinder on the back of the motor, although sometimes it is silver and mounted on top of the motor. Check the capacitor for white residue or oily discharge or for bulging. Sometimes even a fine looking capacitor can be bad. Replace with a new capacitor of the same rating.
Finally, low voltage can be a cause of a humming but not starting motor. New motors are wired 220 volts, so if you hook it up to 110 volts, it will only hum, or cycle. Or perhaps one of the power leads is loose, or shorted. Check with a Multimeter to verify the correct voltage, with a variance of 10% allowed.