How To Prime A Pool Pump: Step-by-Step

How To Prime A Pool Pump Step-by-Step

Anthony Barnes

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A pool pump is the central part of your pool filtration. It keeps the water flowing so that dirt and debris are filtered out and so that pool chemicals can work properly.

Without a working pool pump, your pool will soon become stagnant. 

Water bugs (see also ‘How To Get Rid Of Water Bugs In Your Pool‘) will move into your pool, and mosquitoes will breed. Algae will grow, and the water will turn green and murky. Swimmers will get sick if they swim in this type of water.

Pool pumps are very important to maintain a clean and healthy pool. You need to know how to take care of them properly or else you could end up spending lots of money fixing problems.

Why Do I Need To Know How To Prime A Pool Pump?

Pool pumps (see also ‘Can An Extension Cord Be Hooked Up To A Pool Pump That’s Above Ground?‘) are very important parts of pools. They help circulate the water and keep everything flowing smoothly.

When they break down, it can cost thousands of dollars to fix them. Preventing damage to the pump is essential to maintaining a smooth flow of water.

A broken pump can be extremely costly and time-consuming to fix or replace. Until it’s repaired or replaced, your pool will sit idle. Your dirty water won’t circulate, and it’ll stay stagnant.

This can make the damage and cost a lot worse. A lot of things can go wrong with a pump. Priming is an important step to make sure everything works right.

Pool pumps are simply not designed to work with water inside them. They’re not ever supposed to be used without water.

If they’re not filled with water, they’ll break down. A pool pump needs to be filled with water constantly. If the pump isn’t used correctly, it will burn out and need replacing.

A pump should therefore be primed before use. This prevents overheating and melting of the pump and surrounding plumbing fixtures. A pool pump always needs to be primed before it operates.

Air inside the pump could cause problems if left unchecked. You must blow out the lines with a hose to remove any air and replace it with water.

Pool pumps (see also ‘The Best Pool Pumps Of Every Speed‘) cost a lot of money and time, so priming them is a wise investment. You should prime your pump before using it.

What Happens When A Pool Pump Goes Dry?

A pool pump is like the heart and blood of a swimming pool. Without water circulating through it constantly, the pump’s motor begins to build friction, causing heat.

Overheating causes the pump’s seal to melt, damaging the pipe connections.

How To Prime Your Pool Pump

How To Prime Your Pool Pump

Pool pumps should be turned off when priming them. Make sure that the power button on the pump is really off. When working with electricity and water, always take extra safety precautions.

Turning off the swimming pool filtration pump is the first thing you should do before doing anything else.

You shouldn’t skip this step because the pump is an electrical device. You always need to take precautions when working around electricity.

After switching off the pump, close all the valves on both sides of the pump. Vacuum lines, skimmer, and main drain should be closed too.

Turn off the pump before starting the job. Look near the water tanks and locate the plumbing fixture allowing access to the pump’s systems.

Connect a large hose to an independent water supply. Open the relief valves if your pump uses them. Watch your water pressure as you go through the process.

Place the hose into the plumbing fixture. Turn on the water supply to the hose. If done correctly, you should start to hear air flowing through the hose.

The pump’s tank should begin to fill with water, and you should be able to see the water level rise on the gauge.

When you see the water exit the opposite end, turn the water supply off to the hose. This means that the water system has been successfully compressed.

Turn the power back on, and let it run as-is for 1 minute. Open the valves on your pump, and wait for water to flow out from them.

Wait to see if water stops flowing. If the pump shuts down by itself, do not turn it back on.

Repeat these steps until it works correctly. Try to turn the water on at the source, if your pump does not work properly, repeat these steps until it works properly.

Swimming pools should have an air relief valve (see also ‘Hydrostatic Valves For Swimming Pools‘) built in them. This prevents water from being sucked back into the filter if there isn’t enough oxygen in the air.

Opening the lid of the straining pump releases some of the pressure that builds up inside the pump.

Pumping water should take about 30 seconds. If it takes longer than 30 seconds, turn the pump off and try again. Make sure everything is working properly in these tests before using the pump.

Once the water is constantly flowing and the air pressure is released, the water level will rise until the air pressure is equalized.

Damaged Parts And Debris

Relieve excess pressure in the lines by removing the air relief valve located at the top of the filter.

Open up the pump basket. Remove debris that has accumulated in the basket and wash with a hose. Inspect the o-ring for damage or wear and replace as necessary.

Inspect the hair strainer basket for damage. Make sure to check the impeller of the pool pump for debris.

If the strainer top looks damaged, then it may need fixing or replacing. Clean and inspect the gasket and/or O-ring of the pump, and replace if needed.



Pool pumps rarely work right away. When the pump doesn’t work properly, you need to open the strainer to release pressure inside.

This can help the pump start working again. Swimming pools need to be purged of air before being refilled. 

This process involves opening a valve and letting water flow into the filter. Once the filter is full of water, the valve must be closed until the next time the pool needs to be refilled.

What Causes A Water Pump Not To Prime?

Depending on the type of pump, there are several possible causes of priming problems. Debris in the impeller prevents the impeller from creating the low pressure required to prime the pump.

An air leak in the suction line causes air to continually be drawn into the pump, yet it cannot properly circulate because the necessary pressure doesn’t occur.

There should be an air release line connected to the pump; this allows air to escape when the pump is running.

The discharge line should be connected to the intake side of the pump. The impeller should be centered on the shaft. A worn impeller causes excessive leakage.

Try Adding More Water To The Pump Basket

Water is essential for the life of your pump. However, adding too much water may cause flooding.

Add more water only if you need to. Try turning off the pump and removing the lid to the filter to see if this fixes the problem.

Your pump needs an adequate water source in order to work properly. Water leaks into your filter system, causing low water levels. You need to fix this problem before you can use your pump again.

To prevent air from entering the pump housing, you must add water from the opposite side of the pool.

This might cause some problems if there is already water flowing through the pump. You need to turn the pump off before adding more water.

You should add water through a skimmer instead of directly into the pump basket. This will help remove any air bubbles (see also ‘Air Bubbles In Your Pool? Here’s Why‘) or pockets of air that may be stuck further down the line.

Look For Leaks

A leaky pump could be the reason why you’re having trouble getting any water out of your pool.

Check your pump for cracks or other visible damages. If the housing is broken or there is another visible problem, it might be time to replace your pump.

A leaky pump could be the cause of this problem. You should check regularly to see if there are any leaks in the housing. Most pool pumps should last three to five years before needing replacement.

Turn The Multiport Valve

The multiport valve is used to recirculate the flow of water in the pool. When the valve is turned off, the water flows straight through the filter.

Recirculating the water ensures that the filter doesn’t clog up. This step will direct the water into a filter head, and then back out to a swimming pool.

Remove Pool Plugs

You’ll need water to be able to turn on the pumps, so remove any plugs in the skimmers or return jets before turning on the equipment.

Fill The Pump With Water

Remove the pump’s lid and check the inside if it’s dry. Add some water if necessary. Make sure all the drains are plugged up.

Pre-fill the pump housing with water. Allow water to run for 2 minutes. This will allow water to seep into pipes extending from the skimmer to the pump.

When To Call In The Pros

You must check the water level in your swimming pool regularly. If it drops too much, or if there’s a problem with the pump or skimmer, then you should call a professional to fix it.


To ensure you have a constant flow of water, you must check the pool water level regularly. You must also watch out for any blockages or debris that may slow down the flow of water.

This guide on priming pool pumps should be all you need. Follow this step-by-step guide, and you will know how to fix any problems that might arise!

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age