How to Fix Your Pool Pump Repeatedly Tripping Your Circuit Breaker

Written by Michael Dean
November 13, 2023

pool pump tripping a circuit breaker

When it comes to your pool pump, even the smallest hiccup can lead to a full-blown algae infestation. So, if you’re running into a problem, such as your pool pump repeatedly tripping your circuit breaker, fixing it ASAP is vital. I will discuss the causes and fixes of pool pump breaker trips, signs that your pump is on its last legs, and other essential aspects of pool pump care and maintenance. Let’s dive right in!


Main Takeaways

  • If your pool pump is repeatedly tripping the circuit breaker, it could be due to an overloaded circuit, corrosion, a dirty/clogged pump, an underrated breaker, or other issues.
  • Follow the troubleshooting steps to figure out what is causing your pool pump to trip.
  • If you have any doubts during the process, call a professional!
  • Signs that your pool pump needs to be replaced include: old age, constant leaking, strange noises, recurrent breakdowns, and more.

Causes and Fixes of Pool Pump Breaker Trips 

Is your breaker tripping every time you turn your pool pump on? This is a frustrating issue that can take time to fix. But there is no need to panic, as this is a fairly common problem, and there are several fixes to the issue.

Overloaded Circuit

Cause: In my experience, an overloaded circuit is the most common cause behind a breaker trip. This can happen when the pump draws more current than the breaker can handle. This can be an issue, especially if there are multiple devices on the same circuit. 

Fix: Check your pump. Is it sharing the circuit with other high-power equipment? If yes, think about fitting in a dedicated circuit for the pump.

Corrosion

Cause: Corrosion and rust can occur in your circuit breaker or around your pump from a moisture build-up. This can cause a whole host of electrical issues, such as short-circuiting and grounding problems.

Fix: Keeping the pump and associated electrical components well-sealed goes a long way in preventing moisture from sneaking in. Make a habit of frequently inspecting and swapping damaged or corroded components with healthier units for continued efficiency. If you find rusty parts in your circuit breaker, call an electrician to help you replace or repair them.

Dirty or Clogged Pump

Cause: If your pump is dirty and clogged with debris, your pump will work harder to suck in water. This can strain the motor, which causes the pump to draw in more power than necessary, which can cause a trip in the breaker.

Fix: The solution is pretty simple: Clean the pool pump! Open the pump up and check for debris. If there is lots of debris in the pool pump, empty out the pump basket and unclog the impeller (if there’s debris stuck in it).

Underrated Breaker

Cause: Check the amperage rating. Most pool pumps need a 20-amp to 30-amp breaker rating. Your pool pump can overload the circuit breakers if the breaker’s amperage rating is lower than the pump’s requirements.

Fix: If you suspect this to be the issue, I recommend talking to an electrician. They can confirm if the circuit breaker is the right size for your pool pump. Upgrade to a larger unit that can handle the pool pump if necessary.

Damaged Pump Bearings

Cause: The bearings are an essential part of your pool pump motor. If the bearings are damaged, they can strain the motor, causing it to pull an excessive current. This can occur if your pump bearings are rusted or frozen.

Fix: If your pool pump bearings are simply dirty, remove, clean, and lubricate the bearings and reinstall them. If they are damaged bearings or rusted beyond repair, you’ll need to replace the bearings in your pool pump.

Voltage Fluctuations

Cause: Fluctuations in voltage, such as power surges or drops, can lead to breaker trips.

Fix: If you suspect your voltage is fluctuating, use a multimeter to test your voltage intermittently. If this is the case, you may want to consider installing voltage stabilizers or surge protectors to regulate the electricity supply and shield the pump from any abnormal spikes in power.

Faulty Capacitor

Cause: A defective capacitor in your pool pump can cause unequal power utilization and may trip the breaker.

Fix: If you’re concerned this is an issue, you might need to call a pool technician or electrician to examine things closely. I do NOT recommend trying to fix or replace the capacitor yourself, as it is a complicated procedure. If your capacitor is faulty, you may need to replace the entire pool pump.

Wiring Issues

Cause: Loose or damaged wiring connections can cause overheating and even fires in extreme cases.

Fix: Examine all electrical wiring and connections. Are they loose or damaged? Are any lines frayed or exposed? If your wiring is loose or damaged, you’ll want to turn off the electricity and repair/replace the damaged wires. Call an electrician if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself.

High Ambient Temperature

Cause: Sometimes, the pump can get hot; super high temperatures can cause the equipment to overheat and trip the breaker.

Fix: Check your pump. Is anything blocking the shafts or the impeller, preventing proper ventilation? Is the pump exposed to direct sunlight? You should make certain that your pool pump gets adequate ventilation and shade to prevent it from overheating.

Inadequate GFCI Protection

Cause: The pool is a wet place, and the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection is a crucial electrical feature in a damp environment. If the GFCI is absent, it can lead to breaker trips and dangerous electrical issues such as electrocutions. In fact, pool pumps and outdoor electrical devices are required by the National Electrical Code (NEC) to have GFCI installed.

Fix: If your GFCI protection is not present, your circuit breaker can trip if moisture comes into contact with the electrical parts of the device. That said, a tripped circuit will be the least of your worries. A pool pump with GFCI protection that is faulty or not present can cause dangerous electrical shocks and electrocutions. If this is a problem you are dealing with, call an electrician right away to take a look.

Keep in mind that circuit and electrical issues can be tricky to sort out. More often than not, it’s a lot faster and easier to consult an expert and get a solidly professional diagnosis that will resolve your pool pump breaker tripping issues correctly, which is useful, especially if you’re not familiar with electrical systems.

Troubleshooting Steps for Pool Pump That Trips the Breaker

Generally, if your pool pump is repeatedly tripping your circuit breaker, your best bet is to hire a licensed electrician to handle the job. That said, If you’re keen on narrowing down the problem yourself, you can take a few steps to figure out what the issue is.

Check out my pool pump troubleshooting guide for an in-depth guide on pool pump issues.

Safety First

First things first, you should wear rubber boots and rubber gloves to protect you from electrical shocks. Also, switch off the breaker to the pool pump, disconnecting it from power to avoid electrical hazards.

Inspect for Visible Damage

Examine the pool pump, the motor, and associated wiring for any visible signs of damage. You’re looking for frayed wiring, signs of rust or corrosion, and loose connections. If there are any such issues, please repair and replace them. Make sure that seals and gaskets are intact and that the pump housing is dry.

Check Circuit Breaker Rating

Confirm that the circuit breaker is sized per the pump’s electrical requirements. It should meet the pump’s amperage rating. The wiring should be appropriately sized as well.

Verify GFCI Protection

Is the pump shielded by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)? If the GFCI is faulty or absent, replace or install a functioning one. It isn’t only safer, it’s the law!

Measure Voltage

Using a multimeter, measure the voltage at the pump’s electrical connection. It should match the rate of voltage for your region (usually, this is around 120V or 240V). If the voltage is inadequate or not consistent, contact an electrician to take a look.

Check the Motor and Capacitor

Check the motor for any indications of damage or wear; if the motor is badly damaged, you may need to repair it or replace it entirely. You should also test the capacitor with a multimeter to confirm it’s functioning adequately. An electrical outage can sometimes damage these components, which generally means you’ll need a new pool pump. 

Make Sure Your Wiring Connections Are Secure

Closely examine your wiring connections. They must be tight and secure. Damaged connections mean overheating, which means breaker trips. Tighten or replace connections as needed.

Test the Pump Operation

Connect the pool pump to power. Turn on the breaker and observe the pump. Listen for any unusual noises: Is it groaning, hissing, or sputtering? Monitor whether it’s running smoothly and working okay for around 20 to 30 minutes without any trips or sudden bursts of power. After all, a broken pump can also be the root of the constantly tripping circuit breaker.

Monitor for Trips

If the breaker continues to trip, make a note of the conditions under which it trips, such as how long into running the trip occurs, any strange or unusual sounds, etc. Once you’ve made a note of this, call in a professional to address the issue.

How Do You Know If Your Pool Pump Needs Replacing?

Pool pumps have a pretty long lifespan, especially if they are well-maintained. Generally, you can expect them to last around 8 to 12 years. But no matter how long they last, there will always come a time when the pump is ready to retire. Here’s how to know if your pool pump needs replacing altogether.

Strange Noises

Is your pool pump is loud or making bizarre noises that it didn’t before? Noises such as grinding, screeching, or humming could be an underlying indicator of a severe problem. If these noises persist even after proper troubleshooting, it’s a sign that the pump needs to be replaced. 

Constant Leaks

Is the pump leaking constantly? Continuous dripping is another sign that the pump is nearing the end of its lifespan. However, as usual, troubleshoot this issue properly first, as if the damage is not too bad, you may be able to fix it!

Recurrent Breakdowns

Is your pool pump breaking down a lot more frequently than usual – even after being repaired? If so, it might be high time to replace it. This is especially true if the pump is quite old and cannot keep up with your pool’s filtration demands.

Pump Not Working Properly After Troubleshooting

If your pump is not starting at all, is shutting off unexpectedly, or is overheating, your pump may need replacing. Of course, troubleshoot the pump beforehand to see if it’s a fixable issue, but if not, get a replacement ASAP.

Loss of Suction

Is your pool pump unable to circulate water as well as it used to? If you’ve addressed any leaks or damaged valves, emptied the pump basket, checked for blockages, and it still has poor water circulation, you may need to replace your pump entirely.

Old Age

As mentioned, pool pumps generally have a lifespan of 8 to 12 years. So, if your pump has reached this point in life and is not working properly, the pool pump is probably telling you it is time to retire and get a shiny new replacement!

If you notice any of the above signs but are still unsure whether it’s time to replace the pump, call a professional. They’ll be able to recommend the best course of action for you, whether it means repairing or replacing the pump. Not sure what kind of pump to get? Here are my recommendations for the best pool pumps!

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.

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Here’s to Smooth, Uninterrupted Pool Pump Operation!

Hopefully, you’ve found a fix in the solutions above when it comes to sorting out any hiccups or fluctuations in power surges. You should be well-equipped by now when it comes to this issue if it ever arises again in the future – god forbid! And if the above fixes aren’t working, you should ask yourself if it’s time to replace your pool pump entirely! After all, nothing lasts forever. But with that said, with proper care and maintenance, your pool equipment can last you much longer than you think!

Do you have any more questions about your pool pump? Drop me a line; I’ll be happy to answer any doubts you have!

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