How To Replace Your Pool Return Jets

Written by Michael Dean
June 12, 2024

pool return jet

Your pool return jets play a big part in the life of your swimming pool. If installed properly, they’re integral to the filtration system, increasing pool water circulation. This prevents debris on the floor and walls of the pool and disrupts sediment buildup. You always want your pool jets doing their job. If it’s not, you need to know how to replace your pool return jets.

In this article, I will first explain how to know something is wrong with your pool jets before diving into my step-by-step guide on how to replace them.

Main Takeaways

  • Your pool jet may not be working due to an air leak, issues with the O-rings, faulty fittings, worn down drain plugs, or problems with the pump.
  • To replace your pool jets, you need new return jets and a grip wrench.
  • While you can certainly replace your pool jets yourself, if you’re not sure, call a professional!

How to Know Something’s Wrong

Weak pool jets are a frequent glitch in your pool system. There are two major reasons your jets can go wonky.

Looking at the Overlooked

Low PSI can be hard to gauge because, generally, anything lower than operating PSI is low. Your pool should always be at least halfway up to the skimmer’s opening. Low levels can lead to the pool pump taking in air. That can dry and burn up the pump.

Empty all baskets of debris. Debris makes the pump work harder than it should. It can result in damage.


The number one reason you’ll have problems with your jets is an air leak. Watch for air bubbles spitting out of the return jets. Your pump strainer should be full of water. If you’re unfamiliar with how your air jets work, reach out to a pro familiar with the production.

Here are some other issues that are linked to air leaks.


Over time, the O-rings will deteriorate or expand. This lets air leak into the pump.

Plumbing Fittings

With the pump running, wave a burning incense where you think there might be a leak. There’s a leak if the smoke’s drawn in. Cut out and replace faulty fittings.


Diverter valves have internal O-rings. O-rings are easily replaced. If you have bad ball valves, they need replacing if they’re the cause of your leak.

Drain Plugs

Drain plugs are usually on pumps. They come into play during your pool’s winterization. Inspect the drain plugs and their O-ring. If they look cracked or worn, replace them.

Problems with the Pump

Low jet pressure can be the result of a clogged or damaged impeller. Clogged debris can create this. Your pump also may not be well primed. That may be an issue with the suction.

For more details on common problems, read my complete guide on what to do if your pool jets are not working.

What You Need to Replace Your Pool Jets

  • New return jets
  • Grip Wrench (with adjustable rubber strap)

There are return jet products that require special tools. Get the 411 on any jet product before you buy. Look for the owner’s manual online, contact the manufacturer, or talk with your pool tech to see exactly what you need.

Step 1: Getting Out the Fittings

You want to find your pool returns fittings. They’re usually located in the inground pool sides. The eyelets come in a variety of sizes. The fitting typically has an “eyeball” installation. It’s adjustable for pointing water where you want it to go. Fitting sizes range between one-half and one inch.

There are male and female fittings. The female has a thread in the jet cover. The male has a thread at the base. If you find them glued into the pool’s wall, removing them may be difficult, and you might have to call in a professional.

Step 2: Get Your Replacement Fitting Ready

Get your replacement return jet fitting ready. Ideally, you want something that uses louvers to draw water and increase the water’s directional flow.

Step 3: Get Out the Wrench

For the operation, you need that grip wrench. I recommend you avoid using pliers. This can potentially damage your pool surfaces.

Step 4: Identify Thread and Diameter Size

It’s time to determine the size of the thread and the diameter of the pool jets. Do this before you buy your new jet.

Step 5: Shut Down the Pump

Turn off the pump. You can do this from your circuit breaker. This will simplify replacing the jets and it’s safer. You don’t want water running through the jets while you’re working.

Step 6: Get the Jet Out

Carefully take the outer fitting of the jet out with your grip wrench. Turn it counterclockwise. You should be able to remove the fitting should with some ease. If you’re forcing it, stop.

If it’s not moving, check it for defects, it’s likely glued in. This is typical of older pools, and you’ll want to contact a professional tech. They’ll help inspect your return pool jets and decide what to do.

Step 7: Time to Find Your Replacement

The jet’s in front of you. Check out comparable products to find the one for your pool. You can take it to your tech. They’ll help you find the exact new jet product you need.

Step 8: Prepping the Installation

After receiving the new jets, use your grip wrench to take out the old jets. Don’t forget to shut the pump off first!

Step 9: Getting to Work!

Replace all old jets with new ones. Before tightening the parts completely, turn the jets until the stream of water circulates the pool clockwise. Now tighten them. Don’t make them too tight.

Make sure children do not see your pool devices as toys. Screws should be tight enough so that no one can manually adjust them.

Step 10: Finish Up

Simply turn the pump back on, and you’re good to go!

Here’s a quick video covering all the steps I explained above.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

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Final Thoughts

I think you have enough information here to address issues with your return pool jets. If they don’t work, if they’re cracked, or too small or big for your pool, use the above info to remove the old and install the new. If the operation seems complex, reach out to me or your pool tech.

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