How Often You Should Clean Your Pool Pump Basket

Written by Michael Dean
January 18, 2024


A pool pump basket is often overlooked as an important part of your pool system to keep clean. Keeping your pool pump basket clean gives your pool’s filtration system a much-needed boost, and neglecting this simple task can result in all sorts of pool problems that can put a damper on your swimming fun. 

Here’s how often you should clean your pool pump basket, what happens if you don’t, and a guide on how to empty your pool pump basket.

Main Takeaways

  • Regularly cleaning your pool pump basket is important for maintaining proper water circulation and filtering your pool water.
  • Neglecting the pump basket can lead to reduced water flow, equipment strain, and potential blockages in the plumbing system.
  • I recommend cleaning the pump basket weekly for a clean and healthy pool.

How Often to Clean Your Pool Pump Basket

Generally, you should clean out your pool pump basket once a week during the swimming season. However, you may need to clean it more or less, depending on how big your pool is, how often your pool gets used, and if there is lots of foliage nearby.

For example, you’ll need to empty your pool pump basket whenever you notice reduced water flow or see debris accumulating in the basket. These are good indications that your basket is due for a much-needed cleaning. Additionally, after a heavy storm or if you have trees nearby that shed a lot of leaves, it’s a good idea to check and clean the basket to prevent it from clogging. 

Being on top of this helps maintain efficient water circulation and extends the life of your precious pool equipment.

What Happens If I Don’t Clean My Pool Pump Basket?

If you skip cleaning your pool pump basket regularly, you could run into the following hiccups.

Reduced Water Circulation

The pump basket filters large debris, such as leaves, twigs, and other objects that enter the pool’s plumbing system. If this basket becomes clogged, it can impede water flow and hurt the efficiency of the filtration system. It is extremely important for a pool to have good water flow. Bad water circulation can lead to poor water quality, which means algae growth and a higher risk of bacterial or fungal contamination. You don’t want that in your pool!

Strain on the Pump

A clogged pump basket forces the pump’s motor to work harder to maintain water flow. This increased strain on the pump results in a spike in energy consumption, decreased performance, and potentially even motor damage, the latter of which can ruin your pump. Repairing or replacing a damaged pump can be very expensive.

Blockage and Equipment Damage

If debris accumulates in the pump basket, it can eventually lead to a major blockage in the plumbing. Blockages reduce water flow, causing a pressure build-up and straining the entire system. Plus, debris entering other essential components, such as the impeller or valves, can also cause severe damage.

Reduced Lifespan of the Filtration System

If you don’t regularly clean your pool pump basket, the entire filtration system is forced to work under strained conditions. Over time, this strain can result in premature wear and tear on your pump, reducing its lifespan. 

More Frequent Pool Maintenance

Neglecting to clean your pump basket ultimately means more pool chores in the long run—just in a different part of the pool. As water quality deteriorates due to poor circulation and inadequate filtration, you may need to manually remove debris from the pool, adjust chemical levels more frequently, and spend more time and effort keeping the water clean and balanced. Simply emptying your pool pump basket regularly will make your life so much easier!

In summary, don’t sit this one out. It’s important to establish a routine maintenance schedule and prioritize the cleanliness of your pump basket to avoid these problems.

How to Empty Your Pool Pump Basket 

To empty your pool pump basket, follow these steps.

Step One: Turn Off the Pool Pump

Before you begin, turn off the pool pump! Just in case, turn your pool pump off at the breaker.

Step Two: Lift out the Pump Basket

Depending on the type of pump, the lid may be threaded or secured with clamps. Unscrew or unclamp the lid carefully to access the pump basket. Once it’s removed, you will see the pump basket inside the pump housing. Lift the basket out of the housing, holding it by the handle or edges.

Step Three: Empty the Debris

Dump out the basket’s contents, which may include leaves, twigs, hair, or other accumulated debris, onto a sheet of plastic or old newspaper, which you can then roll up and discard. If it’s organic debris, compost it!

Step Four: Reassemble the Pump Basket

Once the pump basket is emptied and inspected, put it back into the pump housing. This is a good time to check the condition of the O-ring.

Replace the lid of the pump housing and secure it tightly. If it has clamps, fasten them securely and ensure no gaps or leaks around the lid.

Step Five: Prime the Pump

Use a hose to fill the basket with water and prime the pump.

Step Six: Turn on the Pool Pump

After the pump basket is reassembled and the lid is secured, turn on the pool pump. Allow it to run normally and observe proper water flow to ensure everything is functioning correctly. And voila! You’ve officially emptied your pool pump basket!

Here’s a quick video walkthrough of the steps I outlined above from my friend Craig Wooster on emptying your pump basket and re-priming your pump.

If you’d like to learn more about cleaning the pool pump as a whole, check out my article on how to clean a pool pump.

Tips for Cleaning Your Pool Pump Basket

Cleaning your pool pump basket is vital for a healthy filtration system. Here are my top tips to help you clean your pool pump basket effectively.

  • Always remember to turn off the pool pump before cleaning the pump basket.
  • Clean the pump basket during daylight hours or when there is sufficient lighting. This will help you see any debris or potential issues more clearly.
  • If the basket is still dirty, uses a mesh, or has smaller debris particles stuck, grab your garden hose and rinse it thoroughly.
  • Always take a moment to inspect the pump basket for any cracks, signs of wear, or damage after cleaning it. Do the same with the pump lid.
  • To prevent clogs and maintain optimal filtration, pin up a regular cleaning schedule for the pump basket somewhere you can see so you don’t forget to empty the basket every week.

Signs of a Clogged or Dirty Pool Pump Basket

A clogged or dirty pool pump basket can hinder the proper functioning of your pool’s filtration system. Here are the signs that it’s time to clean or empty your pool pump basket.

For other issues with your pool pump, check out my pump troubleshooting guide.

Reduced Water Flow

If there is a decrease in the water flow from the return jets in your pool, it could be a sign that the pump basket is clogged with debris, impeding the normal circulation of water.

Increased Pressure on the Filter

A clogged pump basket leads to increased pressure on the filter system. If you notice a higher-than-normal pressure reading on the pressure gauge of your pool’s filter system, it might mean the pump basket needs a good cleaning.

Noisy Pump Operation

A dirty pump basket can cause unusual noises from the pump during operation. If you hear excessive vibrations, grinding sounds, or any other unusual noises coming from the pump, it may be a result of debris or blockages in the basket.

Air Bubbles in the Pool

When the pump basket is clogged, it can cause air to be sucked into the system, leading to the formation of air bubbles in the pool’s return jets. Air bubbles often indicate that the pump is not effectively pulling water from the pool, and a clogged basket could be the culprit.

Inconsistent Water Chemistry

When the pump basket is clogged, it can impact the overall water chemistry of your pool. Poor water circulation and filtration can lead to imbalanced chemical levels, making it more difficult to maintain proper water chemistry and clarity. And the last thing you want to do is jump into a dirty pool!

Pool Cleaner or Skimmer Not Functioning Properly

A clogged pump basket can also affect the performance of automatic pool cleaners or skimmers. If you notice that your automatic pool cleaner is not moving or cleaning the pool effectively, or if your skimmer is not effectively collecting debris, it could be due to a clogged pump basket reducing the suction.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Enjoy Your Clean Pool!

It might seem like a small part of weekly pool chores, but keeping your pool pump basket clean is pretty crucial for maintaining efficient water circulation, optimal filtration, and the overall health of your pool. This simple task only takes a couple of minutes every week, so make sure to add it to your weekly pool maintenance schedule.

Do you have any more questions about the pool pump basket or your filtration system in general? Feel free to contact me! I am here to help.

Scroll to Top