how to troubleshoot a noisy pool pump

 

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 pump’s housing or 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.

Why You Need a Working Pool Pump

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.

Everything that happens in your pool relies on your pump. Stay in top shape with the ultra-powerful Black & Decker 3 HP Variable-Speed Pump. It includes a warranty, qualifies for utility rebates, and pays itself off in up to 80% energy costs saved in all stages of operation. Check out this user review to see it in action.

How to Get the Right Pump for You

Not all pumps are created equally—and unfortunately, that’s a lesson that you’re probably learning in this very moment. That’s why my first recommendation for all pool owners is this: get a variable-speed pump. Not only do they save you a ton of cash in operational costs (more on that in the next section) but they’re made with the newest technology. In fact, the motor for a variable-speed pump is the same kind you’d find in a modern, fully-electric car.

There are other factors to consider, such as horsepower and speed flexibility, durability, programming features, and quality of filtration. I’ll give you the short answer: variable-speed pumps win out on all these factors.

The Secret to Quiet: Energy-Efficiency

More energy also means more noise. 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. Your pump 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.

But noise goes beyond size. It also has to do with the type of pump you have. Instead of running at full horsepower like single-speed pumps, variable-speed models allow you to control the speed of the motor according to your specific needs.

While initially more expensive to buy than single-speed models, variable-speed pumps (also known as multi-speed pumps) will save you more than the difference of cost over time—and typically pay themselves off in energy costs in under one year. Hence, they’re an actual investment—with the return of any stockbroker’s dreams.

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?

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 plate built into the side of the pool. If your pool water level has fallen below halfway down the skimmer, 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.

How to Troubleshoot a Noisy Pool Pump

There are two main components of a pump: the motor and the housing (and the impeller, which connects the two). 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 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 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. In this case, I’m a dog person.

Troubleshoot causes 1–4 if the noise coming from your pool pump sounds a bit like it’s processing rocks, not water. That means you probably have an issue in your pump’s housing. Believe it or not, you’re lucky. That is, unless you’re in the advanced stages of cavitation.

Troubleshoot cause 5 if the noise sounds like screeching. That means there’s likely an issue with your pump’s motor. This problem is a little harder to solve, but no worries—this is still a task you can do without calling in a professional.

Cause 1: 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.

Cause 2: 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.

Cause 3: 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.

Variable-speed pumps are now virtually federal law—and that’s a good thing, because they help you save on energy costs every month. The Blue Torrent 2 HP Variable-Speed Pump is ultra-powerful, comes with a lifetime warranty, eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year by energy saved. As customer Bill Britton says, “Runs great. Super quiet.”

Cause 4: Cavitation

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.

Cause 5: Bad Bearings in 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.

Need a little less horsepower? Try the BLACK + DECKER 1.5 Energy Star Certified Variable-Speed Pump, which comes with a two-year warranty and pays itself off with up to 80% of energy costs saved in all phases of operation. As customer Michael S. wrote, “Nice pump. Looks and works great!”

Make Some Noise!

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. My recommendation? Get a pump with a 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. Enjoy it.

 

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