So your pool pump’s got pipes, and just not the kind that hook into your larger pool system. I mean: it’s getting loud. Now you’re worried your pump isn’t working quite right, given the terrible noises emitting from your yard, and you’re losing sleep—chances are the neighbors are, too.
While a noisy pool pump is certainly a pain, it’s fairly easy to troubleshoot on your own—that is, without hiring a costly professional. In this article, we will locate the source of the sound—whether it be from the wet end of the pump or the motor—and we’ll walk through solutions for the cause, whether that be cavitation, internal blockage, or loose bearings. Your pump will be on its way to recovery in no time, you’ll have a larger arsenal of expertise, and who knows? Maybe your neighbors will come to you when they run into the same problem. Talk about letting go of grudges.
Sounds Like Effort. How About I Scrap My Pump Entirely?
Whoa, there. Let’s briefly return to rule one of pool maintenance: your pool pump is essential. It functions as the absolute hub of your pool’s cleaning system by circulating your pool water to filter out dirty particles and distribute cleaning chemicals. No circulation, no cleaning—and nobody wants to swim in a cesspool of algae and worse. Pathogenic bacteria, anyone? Didn’t think so.
Let’s Talk Timing. How Long Has Your Pump Been Loud?
If your pump has been noisy since day one, it might be a more, um, permanent problem. It’s possible your pump is of a lower quality, end of story. It can also be way too powerful for your pool. Our society tends to think bigger is better, but don’t be fooled. A pump with higher horsepower than you need could overwhelm your pool system and rack up your energy bill. More energy also means more noise. I’d rather take the quiet pump that is cost-efficient to operate—and I think you would, too.
If your pump has always been loud, it’s probably time to kick it to the curb and find the right pool pump for you. My recommendation? A variable-speed pump will run the quietest of any other type of pump on the market, but it’ll also save you loads in energy costs—enough to pay itself off in under two years.
The Energy Star Variable Speed In Ground Pool Pump fulfills all these promises: it’s ultra quiet, guarantees you’ll save big on your energy bill, and is eligible for rebates. But there’s more: it also comes with a lifetime warranty. Bet you wish you had one of those right now, don’t you?
Let’s Locate the Noise. Is It Coming from the Pump or the Pump’s Motor?
Remember, the main components of a pump are the motor, impeller, and housing. The motor is the power of the operation. Its sole purpose is to operate the impeller. The impeller is a spinning blade that sucks water into the pump. The housing consists of a bucket with a basket-like mesh liner, which connects to the filter.
As unpleasant as it might be, find the source of your pool pump’s loud noise. Is it coming from the motor itself, or the wet end of the pool pump—in other words, the impeller and the housing?
Another indicator is the actual sound your pump is making. If it sounds like it’s full of rocks, the source is likely the impeller and housing. If it’s emitting more of a screeching noise, the issue likely lies in the motor. Some like to compare that sound to screaming cats. No thanks.
First Things First: Check Your Water Level.
One of the most common causes for a noisy pump is that it’s running dry. This can happen for a few reasons—the most common of which have to do with the skimmer built into the side of the pool, which looks like a little bucket. If your pool water level has fallen below halfway on the skimmer faceplate, your pump might be sucking in air as well as water. This puts more strain on the pool pump, causing it to work harder—and louder.
Thankfully, adding water to the pool pump is a simple solution. Pump still not quite right? It might be struggling to self-prime itself—in other words, purge out all that excess air. You might need to manually prime your pump.
If you’re interested in a quiet pump but have a specific horsepower in mind, this Blue Thunder In Ground Pool Pump has been designed for volume, and has a range of horsepower options. It also includes a three-year warranty.
Troubleshooting Noise from the Pump
So the noise coming from your pool pump sounds a bit like it’s processing rocks, not water. Believe it or not, you’re lucky (uh, if you have motor-related issues... I suggest you skip to your section). That is, unless you’re in the advanced stages of cavitation. All you have to do is check your pump and housing balance, assess whether or not there’s been cavitation, and remove blockage both in and out of the pump.
Pump and Housing Imbalance
An uneven base might be causing your entire filter and motor to vibrate—and that vibration causes noise. This can be a common issue; sometimes the ground on which your pool pump was installed settles unevenly over time. Leveling out the ground to keep your pump in perfect balance is an easy fix. If this is all that’s wrong, you’re walking on air.
Blockage Inside the Pump
If debris gets caught inside the pump, the pool pump motor has to work harder to suction water from the pool and push it through the filter. When the motor is overworked, it tends to make this known—audibly. Even worse, it could start to suck air in addition to water, which can lead to a seriously bad outcome—but more on this later.
First, turn off the filter, unplug the pump, and open the pump basket lid. You’ll want to check the pump basket for leaves, dirt, small rocks, and any other sediment that might’ve found its way in. Clean out the basket with a hose and you’re good to go.
Another part to check is the impeller, or the spinning blade that pushes water into the housing, where it is then filtered and returned back to the pool. Without plugging the pump back in, pull out the pump basket and reach your hands down through the tube between the basket and the impeller. Feel the impeller to see if it’s clogged or wobbly—both will cause a noisy pump. If it’s clogged, bend a stiff piece of wire into a hook shape with a pair of pliers, and use that to scrape off the debris. If the impeller is wobbly, you’ll need to have it adjusted or replaced.
Blockage Outside of the Pump
Debris can also build before the water even gets to your pump. Check your skimmer basket, which sits inside your pool skimmer, as well as the pipes that connect your skimmer to your pump.
Even without blockage, is your pool water barely moving? If a larger horsepower will turn over your water volume at a sufficient rate—and won’t overwhelm your filtration system—then a more powerful unit like this Blue Torrent 1.5 HP Typhoon In-Ground Pump is the one to try.
Now for the tough talk. The most serious of loud pump causes is cavitation, which occurs when your pump sucks in not just water, but air. As we discussed, low pool water levels and clogging can cause this. However, if you’ve been running dry for some time, it’s possible the water left in the pump has heated to a boil, and then a steam. This steam can rise and cause some parts of the pump to melt, including its inner lining.
Another effect of cavitation is the impeller. If you pump runs dry for an extended time, the impeller takes most of the heat. When the temperatures rise high enough, a brass insert in the impeller shaft detaches, causing a loud rattle.
If you open your pump lid to your worst fears, you might want to check the seal of your pump’s inner lining. The impeller can be replaceable, but the pump body might be more difficult.
Troubleshooting Noise from the Motor
So the noise coming from your pool pump sounds a little less like a pile of rocks, and a little more like a screech. The culprit here is most likely the bearings. Bearings are mounted on the motor to reduce friction as the motor shaft spins. If your bearings are worn out, you’ll need to change them or replace the entire motor—unfortunately, lubrication won’t do.
Although replacement bearings are relatively inexpensive, the labor is intensive. A replacement install requires a special bearing puller, as well as two different bearing sizes. Before calling it quits—or calling a professional—try using a hammer to tap the top of the motor casing a few times. While admittedly a bit old school (like hitting the side of a TV to establish a signal in decades past), jarring the motor this way can sometimes dislodge built-up rust inside the motor.
Got It? Great! Still Hitting a Wall? Let’s Talk.
Take a second to consider the worst case scenario. If all else fails and you have no warranty, you can either take the pump to a professional or buy a new one. Our recommendation? Get a pump with an extended or lifetime warranty, and bonus points if you get a variable-speed model, which is the quietest of all—and pays itself off in energy saved. No matter the cause of your noisy pump, you’ll be able to sit poolside soon enough, soundtracked only by the soothing sound of a faint rumble. There’s nothing quite like relaxing in your own backyard.
Sound pretty good? The Energy Star Variable Speed In Ground Torrent Cyclone Pool Pump is the way to go. Not only is it quiet, saves big time on energy costs, and comes with a two year warranty.