How to Fix a Low Pressure Swimming Pool Pump
It's looking and feeling a lot like summer within the last few days, with temperature highs reaching the mid 90s where I live. I have a swimming pool, but unfortunately the water isn't looking very clean.
Lately I've noticed that the pool cleaner hasn't been working very well and leaves from the neighbor's trees and other crap blown in by the wind are settling at the bottom of the pool. Normally, I would only see them for no more than a day, but it seems like they are hanging around longer and not getting sucked in by my pool cleaner (the one I have is a Kreepy Krauly, specifically the Classic Suction-Side Inground Swimming Pool Cleaner Model K70400).
Whenever I see this happen, I check one of many things to help keep the pool clean. I check them in the following order (from easiest to hardest to deal with):
- water level
- skimmer filter
- pool cleaner
- pre-pump filter
- main water filter
When the water level starts to get low, the skimmer begins to take in air. When this happens, you'll start hearing bubbling sound and start seeing bubbles coming out from the water nozzles in the pool.
You will also start hearing the water pump cycle through fast and slow revving sound.
This means that the pump isn't as efficient at filtering as it can be since it is starting to pull in air which it cannot really filter.
The solution to this is to open the valve that fills the pool with water, and wait until it is at the correct level again, then shut off the water valve when done.
The next thing to check is the skimmer filter.
The skimmer filter is at the part of the pool where surface water and anything floating on it are sucked into the filtering system. The skimmer filter is like a basket that catches leaves, grass, and other small things that fall and float on the surface of your pool.
If you neglect the skimmer filter and it gets clogged up, the pressure on the water pump will drop. When the pressure drops, the pump cannot work efficiently--resulting in a pool that gets dirty faster that it can be cleaned.
The easiest thing to do to fix this problem is to open the skimmer, take the filter out, clean it, then replace it.
In my pool, I have occasionally neglected checking this filter and it has gotten clogged. I've also seen a small canvas sheet that came from my neighbor's canopy which completely clogged the skimmer! Fortunately it was easy to clear.
If the water level is good and the skimmer filter is clean, yet the pool cleaner doesn't seem to suck in the dirt at the bottom of the pool, then it is time to check the pool cleaner itself.
Most pool cleaners now use kinetic energy to move it self along the bottom of the pool. This kinetic energy is obtained from a little piece of plastic in the water entry of the pool cleaner that oscillates forward and back. As the little piece of plastic is getting sucked in through the pool cleaner hose, it bounces back and forth causing vibrations that propel it forward.
A normal operating pool cleaner, like the Kreepy Krauly model I have, will cause the water by the hose to cause rippling. If you aren't seeing the rippling or the rippling isn't as strong as before, it is time to check the bottom of your pool cleaner. There might be something stuck in there.
On a couple of occasions, I discovered a pool toy. I simply pulled it out, and the pool cleaner began working again.
The pre-pump filter is another area to check. This filter is similar to the skimmer filter in the coarseness of what it filters. It is designed to catch medium to large size crap before the water goes into the water pump, which then forces the water into the main fine water filter.
Typically the pre-pump filter has a transparent cover so you can see a bit of what's flowing inside. If it is starting to look dark or you can't see the filter walls, then it may be time to open the pre-pump filter cover and clean the filter itself.
If this filter gets clogged, the water pump pressure will drop significantly. When the pressure drops, the cleaning system will not work well. So take the plastic filter out and clean it of debris, then replace it. Make sure the cover is hand tightened so as not to over tighten it.
Once you've cleared the filter and replaced it, the water pump and the pressure, respectively, should start sounding and looking normal.
Main Water Filter
The main water filter should be cleaned every 6 months. If you are like me, I sometimes go longer than 6 months. An extended period of time where the filter isn't cleaned will cause it to start getting clogged. When a filter is clogged, the water pump cannot work effectively because the water pressure drops. At this point, the pool cleaning process can't keep up with the dirt or debris build up.
I put this particular one last because I dread cleaning the main water filter. It takes a lot of time to just remove the cover, remove the inner and outer filters, clean each of the filter elements, then clean the filter housing bottom.
However, if you've checked everything and the pool cleaning is still not working as it should, it is time to open and clean the main water filter.
It's getting hot and you're ready to jump into your pool, but the pool looks crappy. What do you do? Well, you can go through the following to ensure the cleaning system is working as it should and there is nothing clogging up the pool pump and cleaning system:
- water level--if too low, the pump and the filter will not work effectively.
- skimmer filter--if clogged, the pump cannot work effectively, and thus it cannot clean the water.
- pool cleaner--if clogged, the pool cleaner will fail to pick up debris at the bottom of your pool
- pre-pump filter--if clogged, the pump cannot work effectively, and thus can't clean the pool well.
- main water filter--if clogged, the pump cannot work effectively as well, causing the cleaning system to fail to keep up with the rate at which the pool gets dirty.
If none of the above fixes your problem, it is time to call in the pros. Check the yellow pages or the web.
You'd better get going. It is getting hot out there.