We are entering a demanding time of year for pool pumps, so I thought we could review some information about maintaining them. Many of you will be opening your pools soon and some of you are still up and running, having braved the winter. Still, there are more of you that will not open your pool until after the pollen has come and gone. Regardless, every pump will be tested thoroughly in the coming months.
Pumps Have a Basket
Call it what you will, but almost every pump out there has a basket that traps debris. Most of the year this basket may have a few leaves floating around in it, but during the Spring it can quickly fill up with blooms and pollen related debris. Once full, the pump begins to struggle, trying to suck water through the debris. This, in turn, stresses the motor and can cause the pump to lose prime, leading to overheating and damage. Another negative aspect of the pump basket being full is that the basket could break, spilling the contents directly into the pump’s impeller. The impeller is the part that actually moves water through the pump, so if debris enters the impeller, it becomes clogged. Once clogged, the impeller can no longer move water and the pump will eventually run dry, causing damage. Check your pump basket regularly during this time of year and empty it as needed.
Extra Run Time Equals Extra Stress
Another aspect of maintaining a pool in the Spring is running the pump for extended hours. During the Summer, most pool owners run their pumps for around ten hours a day. When clearing up cloudy water, however, it is recommended to run the pump 24 hours a day until clear. This could take a couple of weeks sometimes and although the pump is designed to run 24 hours a day, this longer schedule stresses the motor and will expose any weakness. The best advice I can give about this topic is to clear out any leaves, dirt, or other debris that may be gathered around the base of the pump. It needs room to breath and should not have anything piled around it.
Pumps Don’t Like Waking Up From Winter
If your pool has been closed and winterized for the Winter, you will be turning the pump on for the first time in months. Occasionally the pump will greet you with a hum instead of starting up like it should. If your pump doesn’t start, the shaft may be stuck. Every motor has a cap on the back in the center that allows you to access the shaft. If the shaft is in fact stuck, you can simply free it using a pair of pliers while the power is turned off. Sometimes this is all a pump needs to bring it back to life. Other times the motor has become completely seized or there is another problem, such as a bad start capacitor. I feel that shutting a pool down for the Winter is actually harder on a pump than just keeping it running. One last issue to look for is a leak, especially when starting a pump up for the first time in months. The shaft seal is the most common place for a pump to leak and you can determine a shaft seal is leaking by looking at where the water is dripping from. A leaking shaft seal will allow water to enter the motor and drip from underneath the motor itself. Left unchecked, a shaft seal leak will cause massive amounts of rust and corrosion inside of the motor and it will lead to complete failure in a matter of months. It is very important to find pump leaks fast and get them repaired.