As a pool owner, it’s concerning if your pool pump starts making strange noises that you haven’t heard before like it’s going through a meat grinder. The noise is probably quite a nuisance, causing you to lose sleep, and chances are, the neighbors are too.
Your pool’s pump is a motor-driven system that circulates water into the filter system to keep the water debris-free and clean. It’s the most important part of your pool’s purification system. The pump motor should make a faintly detectable hum during normal operation, so if it starts to make louder noises, it’s a warning that something is wrong.
The noise is not only annoying, but it also indicates that the filter is no longer filtering the pool properly. Fortunately, a noisy pool pump is relatively easy to troubleshoot and fix on your own – that is, if you don’t want to hire a costly professional.
In this post, we’ll pinpoint the root of the noise—whether it’s coming from the pump’s wet end of the motor—and go through possible causes, such as internal blockage, cavitation, or worn bearings. In hopefully just a few minutes, your pump will be back to normal, and who knows? Maybe your neighbors would come to you if they have a similar issue.
Locating the Noise
The engine, impeller, and housing are the three primary components of a pump. The engine provides the pump’s operation control, and its only function is to spin the impeller. The impeller is a water-sucking blade that spins inside the engine. The filter is connected to the housing by a bucket with a basket-like mesh lining.
No matter how unpleasant your pool pump’s noise is, the first step to stopping it is to find the source. Is it coming from the wet end of the pool pump or the motor itself – that is, the housing or the impeller?
The type of sound that emanates from the pump will help you figure out what’s wrong with it. For instance, if the pump makes a grinding sound like stones rattling inside it, it indicates that there’s not enough water moving through the pump. It’s also a good indication that your pump baskets need cleaning out.
If the pump makes a screeching whine, that’s a sign that something is trapped inside the pump’s impeller. The noise might clear on its own as the pump works. However, if the sound does not stop on its own, it’s possible the bearings have worn down, rusted, or are close to breaking point and need to be replaced.
Common Causes of Pool Pump Noise and How to Fix Each One
Some pumps are inherently loud, but newer variable speed pump models are designed to run pretty quiet. Regardless, if your pool pump is making a louder noise than usual, it could be noisy for a variety of reasons.
Low Water Level
When the water level in your pool pump is running low, the pump might get noisy. Most times, this has something to do with the bucket-like skimmer built into the poolside.
If the water level in your pool has dropped below halfway on the skimmer faceplate, your pump could be drawing in both air and water. The pool pump will have to work harder—and louder—as a result of this.
Fortunately, filling the pool pump with water is an easy fix for this. If the pump is still not working properly, it may be trying to self-prime or eliminate all that extra air. You might have to prime the pump manually.
If debris becomes lodged within the pipe, the pool pump motor may have to work harder to suction water from the pool and force it through the filter. When a motor is overworked, it makes an audible noise to let you know. Worse, it could start sucking air as well as water, which could have dire consequences.
The first step to fixing this is to turn off the filter and unplug the pump. You should also remove the lid from the pump basket. Check the pump basket for any leaves, gravel, small particles, or other material that might have gotten into it. Get a hose to clean out the basket, and you’re good to go.
You may also need to inspect the impeller or rotating blade that forces water into the housing for filtering. Take out the pump basket while reaching your hands down into the tube between the basket and the impeller while leaving the pump unplugged.
Check to see whether the impeller is clogged or wobbly because that is the most likely cause of the noise. If it’s wobbly, you’ll need to get the impeller replaced or adjusted. However, if it’s clogged, use a pair of pliers to fold a rigid piece of wire into a hook shape and scrape the debris out of it.
Now comes the hard part. Cavitation happens when the pump sucks in not just water but also air. It is the most extreme of noisy pump sources. As previously mentioned, this may be caused by clogging and low pool water levels. However, if you’ve been running dry for a while, the water left in the pump might have heated to a simmer and then to steam. The steam may rise and cause certain pump sections, including the inner lining, to melt.
The impeller is another cavitation influence. If the pump runs dry for a prolonged period, the impeller absorbs the majority of the heat. As temperatures increase enough, a brass embed in the impeller shaft breaks away, resulting in a sharp rattle.
You can inspect the pump’s inner covering when you open the lid. You can easily replace the impeller, but the pump body may be more complex to replace.
Screeching or rattling pump sounds can result from faulty bearings. Bearings are mounted on the motor shaft to minimize friction when it turns. Once the bearings get completely worn out, lubrication would not suffice. You’ll either change the bearings or replace the whole motor.
While new bearings are affordable, the labor is time-consuming. A replacement installation necessarily requires the use of a specialized bearing puller and two separate bearing sizes. Before you give up and contact a specialist, consider tapping the top of the engine casing a couple of times with a hammer.
Though admittedly a little old-fashioned (similar to hitting the side of a TV to create a signal in the past), jarring the motor in this manner may occasionally help remove built-up rust within the motor.
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Sometimes, stopping the noise coming from your pool pump may be quick and easy. For instance, removing debris from the pump or changing the impeller is easier than replacing the pump body or changing faulty bearings in the motor.
If all efforts to fix the noise from your pool pump by yourself fail and you don’t have a warranty, you should send the pump to a specialist or purchase a new one. If you do end up having to go that route, head over to my best pool pump guide where I cover my top recommendations – just make sure you get a pump with a long lifespan and lifetime warranty.
Questions about your pool pump making a loud noise? Let me know, always happy to help.