12 Ways to Destroy Your Pool Pump (& How to Avoid Them)

Written by Michael Dean
May 15, 2024

troubleshooting a swimming pool pump system

The pump is the heart of your pool filtration system, as it helps the water circulate through the filter. It is an absolutely essential part of your swimming pool, so the last thing you want is to destroy it in some manner.

Here are 12 different ways you could destroy your pool pump. With this knowledge, you should be able to avoid these grave mistakes and extend your pool pump’s lifespan.

Main Takeaways

  • There are many ways to destroy your pool pump, including not circulating the water, air bubbles, too low water level, not clearing the pump area, freezing temperatures, rising temperatures, and much more.
  • Some of my top tips for taking care of your pool pump include cleaning your pool, maintaining the water level, checking the pressure gauge, checking for leaks, listening for issues, and more.

Common Ways I See Pool Owners Destroy Their Pool Pumps

Looking after your pool pump is imperative to keeping your swimming pool looking clean and inviting. Here are 12 relatively common ways I find that pool owners inadvertently destroy their pool pumps. I’ve listed them here so that you can avoid these easily avoidable issues.

1. Not Circulating the Water

One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a pool pump is the temperature dropping. Obviously, there’s no way for you to prevent temperatures from dropping below freezing, but there are ways to safeguard and protect your pool pump. The most important thing to keep in mind is to keep the pool pump running. If you don’t, freezing water will expand in your pump, effectively destroying it!

2. Air Bubbles in Pump

A common pool pump issue you may encounter when looking after your pool pump is air bubbles in the pump. Air leaks can form on many different parts of the pool pump, including the pump lid, valves, and plugs. If you notice an air leak in your pump, act ASAP and seal it! Don’t ignore it. Otherwise, your pump will run hot and may burn out. Regularly inspect the pump for leaks to avoid purchasing an entirely new one.

3. Water Level Too Low

Your pool water level should always be around halfway up the skimmer opening. If the water gets too low, top it up! If you don’t, the pump won’t receive enough water, which will lead to it running dry. Once the pump runs dry, the pump will overheat, leading to various issues, including breaking and deforming delicate parts of the pump.

4. Pool Pump Too Low

Here’s the opposite problem. Instead of the pool pump running dry due to the issues mentioned above, the pump is drowning in this case. Usually, when you install the pool pump, you’ll install it above ground to avoid this issue, but over time, the ground can rise up, which will reduce this distance.

Make sure the ground surrounding the pool pump is considerably lower than the pump to avoid flooding it when it rains. If your pool pump becomes completely submerged underwater, that’s it for the pump, I’m afraid!

5. Not Clearing the Pump Area

Just as you should pay attention to the ground surrounding the pool pump, you should also look around it. Look for any heavy branches that may potentially fall onto the pool pump and damage it during a storm. If there are any, cut them away. Also, check for any bushes or weeds that might obstruct the pump’s airflow.

Keep these trees and plants nicely trimmed to protect your pump.

6. Wrong Size Pump

You’ve got to get the right size pool pump for your pool. If it’s too small, you will overwork the pump and motor, which may lead to failure. On the other hand, if it’s too big for the pipe, it may cave in from the vacuum due to lack of water. Here’s my handy pool pump size calculator if you’re not sure what size to get!

7. Freezing Temperatures

Of course, the best way to avoid destroying your pool pump during freezing temperatures is to continue circulating the water. But if you cannot run the pump during the winter, winterize the pump by removing the plugs and fully clearing out the lines. Some antifreeze can help as well!

8. Rising Temperatures

On the flip side, hot temperatures can cause issues for your pool pump, too. Avoid placing your pump under direct sunlight. And get rid of any mulch or plants that might block the wind from cooling the pump down.

9. Not Clearing Debris

The pump and skimmer basket of your filtration system are the first defense when it comes to debris. These baskets prevent debris from entering the pump itself. However, they don’t work alone: You must clear these baskets daily. If debris builds up in those baskets, your pump won’t be able to properly circulate the water. And it could even lead to pump damage if the pump ends up running completely dry!

10. Lack of Pest Control

Every now and then, some pests may make their way into your pool pump. While not the most common issue you may come across, it can happen. And when insects are in the pump, they may damage the electronics and wiring, which will lead to the pump short-circuiting.

So, make sure you prevent this from happening with some pest control. Use natural insecticides and seal up any cracks and potential access points.

11. Not Priming the Pump

You need to prime your pump every so often, specifically whenever you use it for the first time after draining or winterizing. Priming the pump involves blowing water into the pump lines. This is a necessary step, as operating a dry pump can destroy your pool pump by causing mechanical failure.

12. Neglect Regular Maintenance

Looking after your pool pump should be a part of your regular pool maintenance routine. This includes daily tasks such as clearing the debris from the skimmer basket and less routine tasks such as lubricating the o-rings and checking for air leaks. Don’t wait till you notice an issue to fix. To avoid destroying your pool pump, the best thing to do is to maintain it to the best of your ability.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Pool Pump

So, now you know what not to do to avoid destroying your pool pump, but what should you do? Here are my top tips for taking care of your pool pump to extend its lifespan.

  • Clean your pool: Your pump can’t do all the work when cleaning your pool. Avoid overstraining your pump and filter by skimming the pool every day to clear away the larger debris.
  • Maintain water level: Never let your pool pump run dry! Make sure your water level is always around halfway up the skimmer opening.
  • Check the pressure gauge: If your pool pump pressure is 10 psi above the normal range, you have a high pressure issue that needs fixing.
  • Empty the skimmer and pump baskets: As mentioned, you should empty the baskets often to prevent any clogs and maintain good flow in your pool filtration system.
  • Check for leaks: Thoroughly inspect your pool pump, including the pump housing, connections, and valves. If you find any leaks, seal them!
  • Listen for issues: Sometimes, you can hear the issue before you can see it! If your pump is making unusual noises, troubleshoot and fix the issue before it gets worse.
  • Clean your pump: If your pump has decreased water flow, is making strange noises, or is simply dirty, it may be time to clean the pump. Follow my pool pump cleaning guide for help.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Burns Up a Pool Pump?

Your pool pump may burn up for a couple of different reasons. If it runs dry for too long, it may lead to overheating. So, always ensure you have the correct water level in your pool. Furthermore, there may not be enough airflow due to surrounding mulch and plants blocking the pump from cooling down. Or the pump may be under direct sunlight.

What Does a Broken Pool Pump Sound Like?

If your pool pump is making any kind of unusual noise, you should check it out! You might hear a rattling noise, sporadic loud noises, or a screeching noise. Whatever you hear, check out my guide on noisy pool pumps to help you troubleshoot!

Don’t Destroy Your Pool Pump!

On average, your pool pump should last you 8 to 12 years, so don’t shorten the lifespan of this equipment by not taking proper care of it! Over the years, I’ve noticed these 12 ways pool owners have destroyed their pool pumps, and they’re completely avoidable with the right knowledge at hand. With these tips, your pool pump should be able to help keep your pool clean for years to come.

Do you have any more questions about the pool filtration system? Reach out to me!

Scroll to Top