Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.
If the swimming pool was a living organism, the pool pump would be its heart. A pool pump needs to function properly for the water in the swimming pool to remain clean and safe.
While many of the pool pumps that are available today self-prime, which means they can generate water flow after turning on automatically, some pumps require manual priming before they can be turned on.
Therein lies the rub. In manual pool pumps air tends to enter the piping of the pool. Whenever that happens, the pool pump is said to “lose prime.”
How to Prime a Pool Pump
Importance of Keeping the Pump Fully Primed
The pump of the swimming pool is going to dictate its entire function. Needless to say, the learning system of the swimming pool is not able to operate at an optimal level if the main pump isn’t functioning properly.
Apart from that, without the main pump, the pool water is unable to get filtered, which can result in unclean and dangerously unhealthy water in the swimming pool. This is why it is important to ensure that the pool pump is functioning efficiently and has been primed properly.
When the pump of the pool’s filtration system has been properly primed, all of the components of the filtration system such as the piping, filter and the pump itself are filled with water. The pool pump is then able to suck the water from the pool, which is then pushed back into the pool via the pool returns.
To prime a pool pump, one needs to first purge all of the air from the pool’s pumping system before filling both the piping and the pump with water.
The number of steps that are required to prime a pump is mainly going to depend on the amount of water that’s needed in the suction side of the lines, as in, the water that’s entering from the pool to the pumping system.
Priming the Pool Pump
When it comes to swimming pools, the word ‘prime’ means the state where all of the air has been removed from the water filtration pump of the swimming pool, which allows the pump to circulate water through the pool’s filtration system. When a swimming pool’s pump is no longer able to pump water, it is said to lose its “prime.”
The following procedure of priming a swimming pool water filter pump assumes that there’s no water at all present in the pump or the pipes at the time. So, let’s get started.
Switch Off the Swimming Pool Pump
This might seem like the obvious first step that needs to be taken to prime a pool pump, but you’d be surprised how many people make the mistake of skipping this process, which results in unnecessary expense to repair the damage.
The reason you have to turn off the swimming pool filtration pump is that the pump is an electrical system, which is why you need to maintain safety at all times. Besides, you wouldn’t do any other electric repairing work without turning off the switch first, would you?
So, now we have cleared why you need to exercise caution when it comes time to prime the swimming pool filtration pump, here are the steps you will need to take during the process.
STEP 1 –After you’ve switched off the pump you will need to close all of the valves that are located on the suction side of the filtration pump. This is also going to include the valves for the vacuum lines, the skimmer, and the main drain.
STEP 2 –If your swimming pool filtration pump already has an air relief valve built into it you will need to open it to release any pressure that has built up in the pump and the piping system.
STEP 3 –Open the strainer lid of the filtration pump. Be careful to do this slowly.
STEP 4 –If the swimming pool filtration pump does not have an air relief valve then you will have to open up the lid of the strainer just a little bit to release any built-up pressure.
Inspection/Replacement of Broke or Damaged Parts
STEP 1 –First you will have to inspect the hair strainer basket and make sure it is clean. Also, make sure that the basket is not damaged in any way. If the basket does look damaged, then inspect the impeller of the pump for any debris. To avoid damaging the pump its best to replace the basket.
STEP 2 –After that, you will need to thoroughly inspect the gasket or the O-ring of the strainer top to make sure that it’s clean and not damaged. This is so it can maintain its seal, which is crucial for the efficient functioning of the pool pump.
STEP 3 – If necessary, use this opportunity to replace the basket and fill up the strainer with water with the help of a garden hose. When filling the basket with water, it is important to do it slowly to ensure that the water can reach the piping. What you want is the piping that goes from the skimmer into the filtration pump to be filled with water so that it can create a proper suction.
STEP 4 – Once you have thoroughly inspected the basket and the strainer it is time to put back the lid of the strainer and make sure that it is tightly sealed.
Switch the Pump On
STEP 1 – If there are any knobs, they need to be tightened properly by hand. It is important not to use a wrench or some other tool to tighten these knobs so that it is not overtightened, which can result in the premature damage of the knobs.
STEP 2 –Now you can turn on the pump and then slowly open only one of the valves that are present on the suction side.
STEP 3 – You will need to wait for a good flow of water going to prime the pump.
What If the Pump Does Not Prime?
While the steps mentioned above should be enough to prime a pool pump and get your swimming pool’s filtration pump running again, if you find that the pump does not prime then you should let it sit for a few minutes before trying again.
STEP 1 –Reopen the strainer of the pump to relieve any pressure on the filter. You can also do this by slowly opening the lid of the strainer so that any built-in pressure has a way to escape.
STEP 2 –Now that you’ve bled out any pressure from the system, refill it with water via the strainer and close the lid.
STEP 3 – Now, switch on the swimming pool filtration pump and open the same valve slowly.
STEP 4 – You may have to repeat these steps several times before the pump begins to prime again. It is important to note that you will have to purge all of the built-up air in the system to get the water moving again.
Open the Other Valve
Once you have found that the pump is prime, it is time to open up the other valve that is located on the suction side of the swimming pool filtration system. To do that you must:
STEP 1 – Pay attention by listening closely to the air that’s being pulled out of the line.
STEP 2 – If you notice that the filtration pump is starting to lose its prime you must close the valve immediately.
STEP 3 – Take as much time you need to bleed all of the air out of the lines.
STEP 4 – You will have to repeat the same process with all of the other lines as well.
PRO TIP #1
If you have been noticing that the pump loses its prime whenever you turn off the pump, then you should try to release the air that’s present in the filter first. This is especially the case if there is an air relief valve present in the filter system. It is important to remember that this should be done before the pump has been turned on.
To make sure it works, close the valves that are present on the suction-side of the filtration system before you open the lid of the strainer. This is going to help in holding the water up to the valve, which will make re-priming the pump a lot easier.
PRO TIP #2
It is not unheard of for there to be leaks in the pipe that leads to the filtration pump. To find out if there is, in fact, a leak in the piping that goes into the pump, all you have to do is grab a can of shaving cream and spray it all over the pipe that’s leading into the filtration pump. If you notice that the shaving cream is being sucked into the pipe from a particular area after the pumps’ been turned on, you’re probably dealing with a leakage.
If all else fails, it is never too late to call in an expert who can help find the problem for you. More often than not, repairs in a swimming pool filtration system can only be done by a professional, especially if you can’t seem to find the problem yourself.
The aforementioned information should help you prime a pool pump and get the water flowing through the swimming pool pump and filtration system again.
It is important to note that if you are going to install a new pool system in your home, then there is obviously not going to be any water present in the piping, in which case, you will have to use some of these steps either once or several times to prime the pool pump before it can be turned on.