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How Do I Prime My Pool Pump?

“How do I prime my pool pump” seems easy enough to most pool owners, but for new swimming pool owners it might be a little confusing. Maybe confusing is the wrong word, maybe new pool owners simply aren’t patient enough.

A self-priming pump, by definition, is a pump which will clear its passages of air if it becomes air bound and resume delivery without outside attention.

Steps on How do I Prime my Pool Pump after Opening a Pool

If you are firing up the pump for the first time on your new inground swimming pool or if you are just opening a pool for the year, you will have to prime your pool pump.

  1. Make sure your pump is turned off and slowly open the lid of the pump. The lid to the pump is more than likely clear. Opening the pump lid slowly is important as it is more than likely under pressure. When you open it, you will hear the air “hiss” out.
  2. Make sure there is no debris or “stuff” in the basket of the pool pump, if there is remove it. If you pump is old and the basket is starting to break or fall apart, REPLACE IT. A broken pump basket will allow debris to get to the impeller of the pump . . . not a good thing.
  3. If you have multiple suction lines (skimmers, main drains) close them all off but one. I prefer to close all the valves except the main drain as the main drain will have less air in it than a skimmer line. Now get a bucket of water (2-3 gallons) or a hose to fill up the pump with water. The water will go into the pump and fill up going back down the plumbing line that has been left over.
  4. Now put the lid back on your pool pump making sure that the gaskets on the lid is secured correctly on the pump. Make sure to only hand tighten the screws or knobs holding the lid in place. The seal from the pump to the gasket on the lid is what makes an air tight seal.
  5. Making sure that only one of your suction lines is open, turn your pump on. You will see that all the water gets sucked out of the pump and water is no longer visible in the pump. Your pool pump is now pulling all the air out through the open suction line and forcing it through the system. You will hear the air bubbling out of your closest return line, or you will just see it bubbling out that is fine.
  6. You will have to wait up to a minute to see a little bit of water coming through pump, but once you see a little it is only a matter of time before the water really starts to move.
    • If after a minute your pump is not moving water, turn it off and go through the process again. This time however add twice as much water as you did the last time
  7. When your pump is fully primed, no air moving through the pump, and moving just water it is time to open up the other valve(s). You will know when your pump is primed as you will look through the lid and not see any air bubbles, just straight water. SLOWLY open up another valve. The new valve will have air in it so the pump will lose prime, but don’t fear it will come back soon. I personally like to open the valve slowly then close it once the pool pump loses prime. The pump will then pull straight water from the line that you started with getting fully primed again. You might have to do it a couple of times, but it generally works better than just opening the valve completely and then walking away. Depending on the other lines and how much air is in the plumbing, you might lose prime and have to start the entire process over.

Getting your pump primed after opening a pool is a simple and standard swimming pool services. If for some reason you can’t get your pump primed or it isn’t moving pure water (air bubbles in the pump), simply call a local company that performs swimming pool services. There might be more going on and you will need them to trouble shoot the system for you.