Pool Care Pool Maintenance

How to Prime Pool Pump – Easy Steps

A pool pump is at the center of pool water circulation; it’s the unit that pulls the water through from the pool skimmer, pushes it through the skimmer and other pool equipment, and back to the swimming pool. Keeping it running smoothly is the most significant part of pool maintenance. But what would happen if it’s not priming?

When the pool pump is not priming, it’s not pumping water, which means even after balancing the water and add the sanitizer, that won’t do any good if your pump isn’t passing the water through the pool filter for cleaning. It can turn out to be a nasty mess, especially if pool algae takes the opportunity to grow. Another issue you might have to deal with when your pool pump is not priming is the risk of getting damaged.

Among the things you can do to keep your swimming pool pump running is to prime it. I will take you through various aspects associated with priming a pool pump. Read on.

Easy Steps to Prime a Pool Pump

You just woke up, turned on the pump, and the water is not moving. Your first checkpoint is the pump. You check the clear cover, and there is no water in it or a lot of bubbling.

Or you might have installed a new system or opened your pool after winter. Whichever the case, you need to prime your pool pump to get the water flow to normal.

Here are the few easy pool pump priming steps that can help you out.

Step1: Prepare Your Pool

Start from the breaker box and shut down all the pool equipment, importantly, the pool pump. Clean the pump basket and filter any debris by removing the pump’s top clear cover. It might be screwed; if so, then use a screwdriver to remove it.

While at it, make sure your pool water is at the ideal level. Also, remove any debris in the skimmer filter before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: Close the Valves

Ideally, a pool pump will have multiple valves relating to various parts of the pool circulation and filtration systems.

Turn all of them off. If the pump has a multiport valve, set it to waste or backwash. Additionally, if there is an air relief valve, keep it off too.

Step 3: Add Water to the Pump Housing

With the pump off, open the clear top cover; you probably left it open when cleaning the housing. Remember? The cleaning part in step one.

Fill it with water using a garden hose. When done, close the lid and make sure you’ve closed it tightly.

Step 4: Restore the Water Flow

Now that the pump housing is full of water turn the main valve on and immediately turn on your pool pump.

If the pool pump is priming as it should, the system should be working correctly, and pressure should start to rise as circulation returns to normal.

It might take a minute or two for the pressure and circulation flow to get back to the normal ranges. But if you’ve been waiting for a longer time, the pump problem isn’t solved. For such a case, you’ll have to repeat these prime pool pump steps.

If there is an air release valve, the water flow pressure may cause water to spray out. If that was to happen, close the valve.

Step 5: Open the System

Now that you have restored a steady pressure and the water flow is back to normal, start opening the valves you closed in step two gradually to keep the water pressure steady.

If you opened all the valves and the water pressure and flow are back to normal throughout your pool circulation and filtration system, you have completed priming your pool pump.

If you open a valve and the pressure gauge falls to zero, close it immediately. Try opening it again gradually until the pressure returns to normal.

If the pressure drops again, you might have a problem with this line; inspect the line for leaks. If you can’t find anything wrong, contact the supplier.

You can also try some of my pump-not-priming troubleshooting hacks discussed later in the article.

What is Pool Pump Priming?

It’s the process of ensuring the pump has enough suction to pull water from the skimmers and push it to the pool filter and other pool equipment.

At times, air manages to enter into the swimming pool, even without even doing anything to allow it in and losing pressure.

It might during reopening your swimming. Remember, when refilling the pool plumbing, you had to blow it during the closing to prevent freezing. When the time comes to reopen, the air might be trapped inside the system.

It might also be a leak that is allowing the air into the system. As the water leaks, the bubbles get into the pool plumbing.

The air in the system causes the pool pump not to pull enough water and instead come with bubbles. When the pump isn’t pushing the water, not is it pulling any water, then it’s not priming.

Why Prime Pool Pump?

Priming the pool pump is a crucial step that ensures it doesn’t run dry. Operating it dry can lead to a mechanical failure and possible damages to the surrounding fixtures.

Do you remember how much you spent on your pool pump? It’s an investment you might want to spend again shortly. Right?

Most pool pumps can cost you several hundred dollars when repairing or replacing them. And when it’s not priming, it means it’s pulling in the air leading to burning out.

When you prime the pool pump, you ensure it’s full of water and allowing it to create enough force to push the water through the plumbing.

How to Troubleshoot a Not-Priming Pool Pump

Your pool pump is not pumping, but it is running? That means one thing, it’s not priming. And the issue is, at times, especially when the unit is has been sitting dry for a while, it might take you some time to get it ready and primed.

At times, you will try, try again and again without success, the pump can prime. If that is the case for you, there is a series of tactics you can try and troubleshoot.

Add Water to the Pump Basket

Start by turning off your pool pump. Open the housing lit and water till it’s complete. It might be that your pool pump doesn’t get enough water to create enough suction for moving the water from the skimmer and to the filter.

It’s crucial to keep the pump off before and when adding the water. If you remove the basket pump while the unit is running, you won’t be helping. Instead, the water will splash out and make it challenging for you to add it.

Once the pump housing is complete, close it. Turn the pool pump on and watch through the clear cover to make sure the housing stays full.

Check the Water Level

Air can enter the pool plumbing and prevent the pool pump from priming through the skimmer.

When the water level is below the skimmer door or just above it in such a way that no or little water is getting in, there might be air entering the system, and your pool pump will run dry or lack enough suction.

You’ve to check the water level and make sure enough water is getting into the skimmer. If none or little water is getting in, then refill it. Remember to use a garden hose filter to prevent adding contaminants to your pool.

Another thing, when refilling the water, remember not to go overboard and fill the swimming pool all the way, keep the water level an inch above the skimmer door entrance bottom.

If you overfill it, then your pool’s top-layer water won’t enter the skimmer, which would mean the leaves and debris floating on the surface won’t be skimmed.

Add Some Water to the Skimmer

If the water level is ideal, but your pool pump isn’t priming, try adding water directly through the skimmer with a garden hose.

The air blocking the water might be down the skimmer. Adding plenty of water inside the skimmer could get things going again.

Check for Leaks

If you have tried all the above troubleshooting tricks and your pool pump is still not priming, there might be a leak. It could be on the pool plumbing or the pump housing.

Inspect the pump housing; if there is water around it and it has neither rained nor have you pour any water, then it might be leaking.

If so, check for cracks, leak on the pipe joining the housing or the cover O-ring. A crack would mean replacing the housing. You can repair parts from your manufacturer.

If there no crack, then replace the leaking O-ring. It might be loose, so before you can rush to buy a new O-ring, inspect it for cracks. If none, tighten the joint to make sure no water is leaking.

Related Questions

Why does the pool pump lose prime when vacuuming?

Air in the pump basket or a suction side blockage. It could be between your pool pump and the skimmer. You can rectify it by making sure the pump is primed before connecting the vacuum. Also, ensure you fill the vacuum cable with water to get rid of the air in the system before connecting it to the skimmer.

Should I prime pool pump after cleaning pool filter?

Yes. If you’re dealing with a cartridge filter, you’ve to remove the cartridge to clean it. That means you will allow air inside the pool circulation system. Priming the pool pump allows it to pick up the pump right. If you have a sand or DE filter, you might not need to prime it since backwashing doesn’t need you to open the unit itself. However, if you’ll be replacing the filter sand or DE, don’t forget to prime it.

Prime Your Pool Pump

And that’s how you prime pool pump. You don’t need to read a massive novel for this; the steps described above are enough. Don’t forget to check my post on how to troubleshoot a pool pump if you face other problems along the way.

About the author

Sharif Miah

Hi! I'm Sharif, the founder of Globo Pool® and I have been working in the pool & hot tub industry for the last few years. I love to share my experiences with people & hope you are enjoying my information and lessons!

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