What is a Pool Pump?
If you own a swimming pool, you own a pool pump. A swimming pool pump is what pushes the water through your plumbing system. As the water is drawn from the skimmer and main drain of your pool, the pool pump helps it get through all of the components on your equipment line. These may include a heater, salt cell, in-line tab feeder and definitely includes a swimming pool filter.
Pumps consist of two main parts: the wet end and the dry end. The dry end would be the pump’s motor. No water should ever get through to the motor. The wet end is known as the volute or pump housing. This is where the water goes through and where your pump basket is. When you put the two together, viola! You have a swimming pool pump.
Your Pump Is Leaking
If your pool pump is leaking this means air is getting into your air-tight system. A pump can leak from a few places. It could be the cover lid, which has an o-ring. This should be lubricated at all times with a silicone pool lubricant. Replace it when it becomes flat, stretched or swollen. It could be leaking from the connected unions. These are the screw on ends of your pump. They take either a 1 ½ “ or 2 “ o-ring. Check to make sure they are not loose, cracked or broken.
If it looks like your pump is leaking from the middle, this is a good indication that you need to replace your mechanical seal. Also known as pump seals, each swimming pool pump has one. This two-part, ceramic piece is what stops the water from getting to the motor. So even if it is just a “tiny drip”, you’ll want to have this replaced immediately to avoid damage to your motor. Long term leaking can also cause a build up of calcium which will literally start to separate the motor from the seal plate. When this occurs, you may need to replace the seal plate as well.
Your Pump is Louder Than Usual
This is never a good sign. If your pump starts making a grinding sound, your motor bearings may be going out. While some places still work on bearings, your safest bet is to replace the motor entirely. Since motors are a couple hundred bucks, plus the labor, this may be a good time to upgrade to that variable speed pump you have been wishing for.
Sometimes, especially after heavy winds, debris can get stuck in a portion of the pump called the impeller. The pump would need to be disassembled and the impeller inspected. Note, if you remove the impeller for any reason, you must also replace the mechanical seal….always.
Your pump may be running dry or cavitating. Cavitation is the formation of vapor bubbles due to the liquid falling below its vapor pressure. In other words, the water is moving too fast. These things can happen if your swimming pool water level is too low, or you have a suction side leak. If left like this the pump becomes what is lovingly called a “lobster pot” because it gets so darn hot, it can melt the pump basket and eventually damage the motor and possibly the housing as well.
If you have a single speed pump, your pump is loud to begin with. Unlike variable speed pumps, the decibel level can be compared to moderate rainfall. Variable speed, or energy efficient, swimming pool pumps will not only save you money on your electric bill, but will make your backyard experience more bearable.
Your Pump is Humming
If your pool pump is making a humming or buzzing sound, your motor has either seized or you need a new capacitor. When opting to replace the capacitor, bear in mind that the pump itself may have fried the original one. So you go spend $40 on a new one, install it, and bam! The new one gets fried too. Your motor may have seized and the windings are no longer working. You need a new motor. But the question we should always ask ourselves is, “Is it worth fixing?”
Your Pump is Old
Everything has its own lifespan and swimming pool pumps are no exception. There are methods we can take to extend, or shorten, the life of our pump. Poor water chemistry is the number one killer of swimming pool pumps and all equipment, actually.
Since you have to replace the entire pump, you will want to go with a variable speed swimming pool pump. You may be required to by law. In some states, you will get a rebate from your utility company as long as the variable speed pump is Energy Star Rated.