Common Pool Pump Issues and How To Fix Them

Written by Michael Dean
December 7, 2023

troubleshooting a swimming pool pump

The heart of your pool filtration system is the pool pump. This piece of equipment powers your whole pool system, so when things start to go wrong, you’ll need to troubleshoot to ensure everything is working correctly. There are several common pool pump issues, so it is important to know how to identify them and fix the pump.

In this article, I will cover common pool pump problems and recommend fixes to keep your pool’s filtration system running strong.

Main Takeaways

  • If your pool pump isn’t turning on, this could be due to overloaded voltage, loose connections, a bad capacitor, or a jammed motor.
  • If the pool pump suddenly turns off while running, this is due to the motor overloading, so check the voltage and the amp.
  • Other issues you may come across include: low water flow, leakage, air leak, excessive noise, and more.
  • Your pool pump may be about to die if it consistently has low readings on the filter pressure gauge, if it is around 10 years old, and/or if it’s always losing its prime.

The Pool Pump Isn’t Turning On

It might seem overwhelming to deal with a pool pump that simply won’t turn on. But in most cases, you can fix these issues on your own. Here are a few possible reasons the pool pump isn’t turning on.

Overloaded Voltage

You may be experiencing an overloaded circuit if the motor shuts down due to overheating. The solution is to have the correct wire sizes connected for the voltage. Make sure nothing is blocking the fan as well.

Loose Connections

First, check your breaker box for any blown fuses. Then, be sure nothing is loose by checking your connections. Do you have any broken or frayed power cords? If so, you will need to fix and replace these.

A Bad Capacitor

The capacitor starts your pool pump with a jolt of electricity, so it might be an issue if your pump initially turns on but doesn’t crank. A bad capacitor will need to be replaced. Although it is certainly possible to replace a capacitor on your own, if you are not confident, it might be best to hire a professional.

Jammed Motor

Finally, if none of the parts are moving, your motor may be jammed with debris. In this case, simply clear it out to get it running again.

Contact a Professional If You Can’t Find the Issue

Electrical work can get complicated, not to mention dangerous. So, if you don’t have much experience troubleshooting electrical work, I recommend contacting a pool professional or licensed electrician.

The Pool Pump Is Suddenly Turning Off While Running

If your pool pump suddenly shuts down while running, you may have an issue with the pump motor overloading.

Here are the steps you should take to fix the pool pump issue.

Step One: Check the Voltage

Measure the level of the motor terminal to the voltage. There is no need to worry if it is at about 10 percent of the voltage. However, if it is too high, you should call your local power company.

Step Two: Check the Impeller

If it is high, make sure that your pump impeller is the correct size. If the motor is smaller than the impeller, the motor may not be able to handle the water rate. Thus, it will overload with excessive heat and shut down.


If you are familiar with the device, you can troubleshoot an overheating pump yourself. However, I highly recommend hiring a professional if you’ve never dealt with a pump motor. If you’re having issues with the motor, check out my guide on how to replace your pool pump motor and check if you need to replace your motor or the whole pump.

Other things may cause your pool pump to overheat, including direct sunlight, corroded bearings and windings, pressure clogs, suction clogs, and a lack of airflow. One way to protect your pool pump is to add a pool pump cover.

The Pool Pump Has Low Water Flow

There is a wide range of possible explanations that cause low water flow. Some of the common reasons for low water flow may be:

  • A small pump (make sure you size your pool pump correctly)
  • A suction leak
  • A faulty pressure gauge
  • Clogged skimmer baskets
  • An air leak


Make sure to check on all these components at least once a month. Regular check-ups will let you see whether you have suction leaks or any air in your system. To fix this, ensure the water level isn’t too low. You may also need to fill your strainer basket with water and reseal it if there’s air in the system.

On the other hand, if something is blocking your pool pump’s suction, check the filter gauge. If it’s anything above 10psi from the normal range, clean the filter. Doing this will reset the water flow. You should also check your pump for any debris when you do this and clean the pump.

The Pool Pump Is Leaking

A leaky pool pump could be due to two main issues: 1) a faulty pump lid or 2) a faulty shaft seal. Both parts of the pump are relatively straightforward to replace.

Pump Lid

A leak from the pump lid can be tricky to find as the water will only leak when the pump is off. But once you’ve determined the leak is from the pump lid, there are just two things to examine and fix.

  1. Check the lid itself – If the lid has cracked or is loose, it will either need to be repaired or replaced
  2. Check the o-ring – Bend the o-ring all around to check for any cracks and make sure it is properly lubricated

Pump Shaft Seal

You can check for a leaking pump shaft seal if water is running down the backside of the seal plate. Once you’ve determined that the shaft seal needs replacing, buy the correct replacement shaft seal for your specific pump.


  1. Slide out the motor half from the pump by unbolting it
  2. Expose the impeller by removing the diffuser
  3. Keep the shaft from moving by holding a wrench on the motor shaft rear
  4. Take out the ‘donut half’ and the ‘spring half’ from the seal plate
  5. Replace the new shaft seal and ensure it is facing the same direction as the one you’ve just removed

If you’re still having issues, head over to my complete guide on how to fix a leaky pool pump.

The Pool Pump Is Sucking in Air

If a significant amount of bubbles go into the pool from the return lines, you may have an air leak in your filtration system. Potential culprits of this issue include:

  • Low pool water levels
  • Loose strainer lid
  • Faulty unions
  • Faulty o-ring


The first thing to do is quite simple: just add water. Check the water levels regularly to prevent future occurrences. You can also get an easy add-on feature like a water leveler to help maintain your water levels.

If this problem continues, check out my articles on air in your pool pump and air bubbles in your pool (two slightly different potential issues) for more thorough guides. You could be experiencing a pool pump surge too, which I’ve also written research on.

The Pool Pump Is Making a Lot of Noise

Pool pumps will inevitably make some kind of noise. After all, they need to run a motor to circulate in the pool so it won’t be dead silent. However, the pump shouldn’t make an excessive racket. Check out my article on fixing a loud pool pump for a detailed walkthrough of this.

If your pump is rattling more than usual, here are some of the main culprits:

  • Worn-out bearings in the motor
  • Blocked or clogged pump
  • Excessive vibration

Unless you have experience working on pump motors, I recommend having a professional fix the bearings. However, the other issues can be fixed at home.


First, clean the pool pump impeller. The pump impeller can make a loud noise if debris gets into the pump, clogging it. So check the basket and clean it out. If you’re having trouble removing it, read my guide on removing a pool pump impeller and replacing your pool pump impeller if needed.

Second, if your pool pump is making excessive noise due to vibration, check the vibration pads. The vibration pads can stop the vibrations from going into your pool base with their thick rubber. So make sure they aren’t worn down. If so, replace them.

Lastly, if you just don’t like the mild noise from the pump, consider an equipment enclosure. The soundproofing experts at Second Skin Audio have some excellent soundproofing recommendations for building an effective pool pump enclosure.

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.

The Pool Pump Basket Isn’t Filling With Water

Your pool pump basket may not be filling with water as it is sucking air from somewhere somehow. Another common cause is a clogged or dirty filter or pump basket.


The best thing to do if your pump basket is not filling with water is to simply prime the pump by blowing out the lines with water to get rid of any air inside.

A second simple fix is to clean the pump basket and the filter. However, you may need to start looking for a leak if the problem persists:

  • Check your skimmer water level
  • Ensure your basket lid o-ring gets a good seal and is lubricated; otherwise, it may need to be replaced
  • Check the drain plug on the pump
  • Use shaving cream to check for air leaks in plugs, valves, and pipe joints

The Pool Pump Is Making a Humming Noise and Won’t Start

If you hear a buzzing or humming noise coming from your pump motor, it means that although power is reaching the motor, it’s not properly starting up. This could be due to several reasons, including a buildup of debris or something electrical like a bad capacitor.


Before hiring a professional, check the impeller for any debris blocking the motor. To do this, turn off the pump and remove the screws on the pump housing. Then, pull out the pump assembly and remove the gasket from the impeller. Once you’ve done this, you can easily remove any debris you see before reassembling the pump.

The Pool Pump Is Frozen

When temperatures drop during the winter, your pool pump (or parts of it) can freeze. This can be a serious issue that could potentially break your pump. So, if your pool pump freezes, you must act fast to fix it.


There are several ways to fix a frozen pool pump, depending on whether there is frozen water in the pump or if the bearings are frozen. If the bearings are frozen, you’ll need to remove the motor, take off the bearings, clean and relubricate them, and reinstall them.

If there is frozen water in your pump, you’ll need to disconnect it, allow it to thaw, inspect it for damage, and then reinstall the pump.

Common Signs That Your Pool Pump Is About to Die

A good pool pump can last ten years, but the fact is that it will eventually need to be replaced. So, what are some common signs to look for to check if your pool pump is about to die?

Consistently Low Readings on the Filter Pressure Gauge

If you have a low psi reading on your pressure gauge, more likely than not, you have a clogged skimmer basket, which can easily be fixed (just read my article on unclogging a skimmer line). However, if you consistently have low readings on the gauge despite cleaning the basket out consistently, your impeller might be on its way out.

Always Losing Prime

If you are still having problems even after consistently troubleshooting all the issues for your pool pump losing prime, it might be time to get a new one.

Old Age of Pool Pump

A well-maintained pool pump will typically last around ten years. If your pool pump has passed this point in life, it may be time to replace it. An older pool pump will need constant repairs, which can be costly and time-consuming. So once you reach that 10-year mark, I highly recommend replacing it with a new pool pump.

Get Your Pump Back in Working Order!

Your pool pump is like the heart of your swimming pool, circulating water through your pool filter. If something goes wrong with your pump, don’t panic! Go through this troubleshooting guide, and you should be able to identify the problem and fix it. If you are still having trouble figuring out what is wrong with your pool pump, I recommend hiring a pool professional to take a look.

Always feel free to shoot me a message if you have any other questions about your pool pump or other pool-related inquiries!

Scroll to Top