Maintaining Pool when Pool Pump has died

How to Maintain a Pool When Your Pump Has Died

It’s the pool owner’s version of a horror movie – a week before July 4th and your big backyard pool party, the pump dies (after you just got the chemicals perfectly balanced of course).  You call the local pool company and they’re booked for the next two weeks.  They can get to you. . . after the holiday.  You decide to do it yourself and order a new motor or pump online.  That’s faster but it will still take two or three days to receive.  Meanwhile, the hottest temperatures recorded since 1843 just happen to roll into your area and settle like a wool blanket over your pool.  Now cue the terrifying green monster, also known as an algae bloom.  As the hero or heroine in any scary movie, the question is can you figure out a way to survive until help arrives?  The answer is yes, but it will take some doing to be victorious.

Blog Image - Test Water (200 x 200)Test Your Water

Ideally, you want to have solid readings on your chemical levels so you know where you’re starting from.  If you don’t already have one, get a reliable test kit such as a Taylor K2005.


Add ChlorineBlog Image - Floating Chlorinator (200 x 200)

You can increase chlorine levels using shock or liquid chlorine but you’ll need to stand in for that broken-down pump and manually circulate the water.  Stir things up with a pole or paddle to disperse the chlorine throughout the pool.  This will also prevent a concentrated amount from settling in one spot and causing damage.  A floating chlorinator is another option which will disperse chlorine by itself as it floats about.

Blog Image - Pool Brush (200 x 200)Brush, and Brush Again

Give the whole pool a good brushing 1 – 2 times per day.  This will help keep the water moving and also take care of your daily workout.



click here to find your replacement pool pump parts


Attack DebrisBlog Image - Leaves in Pool (200 x 200)

If any leaves or other debris fall in the pool, scoop them up.  Keeping organics out of the pool will reduce the food source for bacteria and algae.  Check your skimmer basket too and make sure it’s clean.

Floc and Vac It

After shocking, some flocculant (a/k/a floc) and a manual vacuum (one independent of the pump) can help clear away some dead algae.  The floc will drop suspended particles to the pool floor for easy vacuuming.

Blog Image - Dolphin Cleaner (200 x 200)Run Your Robot

If you have a robotic cleaner, you can keep it running to help circulate and filter the water.  Be sure to clean the cleaner’s filter bag or cartridge regularly.

Don’t Wait

Once you get your new pump or motor, don’t procrastinate!  Install it right away so you can get your pool back in order.

Follow these steps and hopefully, you can avoid or at least mitigate the worst effects of a dead pool pump and your pool water turning green.  We understand that pool season is far too short to lose precious sunny days, so be sure to keep us in mind for fast shipping of pumps, replacement motors, and parts – plus the tech support to back them up at 877-372-6038.


click here to find your pool chemicals

46 thoughts on “How to Maintain a Pool When Your Pump Has Died

  1. Good info! Our aunt’s pool pump just barely bit the dust and the pool started turning a weird greenish tint. Not quite a full coloring, just a light tint to the water. It is kind of weird, it makes me wonder what is in the water we are swimming in! If we do all of this stuff you mentioned and the pool still isn’t quite where it should be, can we call a company to come clean it up in the meantime?

  2. Thank you for this Infor I just paid a whopping 1200 to a “pool” company to detect a leak remove an inch of water and clean pool they said they trouble shoot n couldn’t find a leak n said pump was working fine well water started seeping out n pump doesn’t work n I can’t swim n its 90 degrees for 7th day n row I was concern that if I shock the pool how to get the debris n algae from bottom of pool so if I just circulate water with a pole will b ok???

    1. Well, it won’t be “OK” until that pump gets up and running; but it can get you by until it is fixed. I suggest getting it fixed as quick as you can; because you can swim in a pool with algae bloom, but there is a high risk of getting nasty waterborne sickness from Giardia or Cryptosporidium.

      For the pool floor debris, you can skim it with a leaf net the best you can or get a battery powered vac to keep it from getting out of hand.

  3. Hi Matthew, The example story you just told, was happening just like you were here. California 103 to 109 degree days, seven days in a row. We’ll we made it threw with only cloudy water and tired arms and no $$$ left in my pocket. We’ll I still can’t get the PH up . I have a fiberglass in-ground pool 28,000 gallons. The pool looks good now, but the test kit is telling me to add PH up… I used all of the HTH Sodium Carbonate 5lbs. I have a big bag of A & H Baking Soda sodium bicarb. Will this help the ph or mess it up? Please tell me what should my next move be to fix the PH level. Thanks Michelle M

    1. Fiberglass pools and Vinyl pools are tough because they, just like vinyl, suck the pH down. You have to be very mindful of your TA (total alkalinity) They both will help, one will help the pH Bicarb, the other the TA, regular carb. In this case, we need to figure out exactly what the current issue is in the pool. I would start with a full on ACCURATE water test from a pool company unless they have a Taylor DPD test kit. Also , do you have algae bloom, is that why the pool is cloudy?

  4. I’m having a problem with the sand filter, need to put silicone on the gasket. Shocked the pool last night and sometime during the night the water level went below the jet and skimmer plate. Could I use the barracuda vac in the meantime to help circulate/filter the water till the gasket dries out? Hoping I can fix this tomorrow, can’t put silicone until it dries, in the meantime the pool has been off over 10 hrs. Will my water be ok? The test strip says everything is good at the moment.

    1. Tommy,
      You may have to bite the bullet and just let it sit until you can reapply the gasket. I would not want to risk further harm to your system if you were to run dry for a prolonged period of time.

  5. Hi. I have a 33000 gallon gunnite pool. My pump just bit the dust, trying to figure if a rebuild is worth it, or just bite the bullet and buy a new pump. I’m curious if a 11/2 hp motor will do the trick. Also, if we keep the chlorine up and brush it daily, is it going to be ok to get in and stir it up?

    1. If you are in need of sizing a new pool pump or retrofitting a bigger motor and impeller, watch/follow the steps of the guide, Pool Pump Selection Guide.

      It is ok to get in the pool with an algae bloom because algae itself is not dangerous. But jumping a stagnant pool does heighten the risk of getting one of those nasty stomach bugs if you plan on letting the pool go for awhile.

  6. Hi, I’m in California and it’s supposed to be fall but it’s hot. My pool is 2/3 full and has algae with mosquitoes. Due to our water shortage and not having a heater I don’t want to fill my pool up and run the pump/filter. What can I do about algae and mosquitoes? Also was wondering I have cracks and chipping in my pool. Can I repair this by myself and if so with what? Need to save money. Thank you and appreciate any help you can give.

  7. hello i have an off the wall question. Is it easy or even possible to install a pool pump to a underground pool tht was built without a pool pump and if possible cam it be powered by solar panels? Also the water pumped in pool is water from a river near by. Can the same chemicals used in regular pools work for this?

    1. If your pool water is left stagnant and without sanitizing chemicals, there is a higher risk for waterborne bacteria to grow and infect swimmers. I would keep the kiddies out of the pool, past a day or two of the pump being down.

  8. We use bacquacil chemicals in our pool. My pump died this past Friday(6-30) and I am expecting my new pump Wed or Thurs of this week. If I add my chemicals as directed, is my pool safe for swimmers until my new pump arrives. I get in the pool and stir it several times a day. And vacumn it daily. Is that enough?

    1. Brenda, Bacquacil is a mystery to me, unless someone else comes around with answer, you may want to try contacting your local Bacquacil dealer. I don’t want to turn your pool black with the wrong advice.

  9. Hello, I am going away for 5 days and need to shut off my pool motor. What can I add in preparation to avoid algae and keep the water clean. My auto refill is broken, and if it does not rain, I will lose my brand new motor. Thank you .

  10. We just bought a house with an indoor Endless Pool (about 2500 gallons). If we leave for several days or more, I am wondering if I could turn off the pool pump and instead put a submersible pump in the pool (on a timer) to circulate the water throughout the pool — pumping water from the pool bottom and returning it on the surface. Even thought I have a floating dispenser for chlorine tablets, the pool cover will keep the dispenser in a fixed position, so I require another means of circulating the water. I would prefer not to have to worry about the the pump failing and/or the circulation pipes springing a major leak when we’re gone. If the idea is sound, might there still be an issue with keeping the chlorine level high enough in the circulation piping since the main pump would be off?

    1. I’ll be honest, it sounds like you are overthinking it. The chances of your pump going out while you are on vacation are slim. Yes, there are stories of it happening, but there are also stories of it happening when the homeowners go to the grocery store, to only come back to a dead pump. Instead of buying a submersible pump or any other things to rig it up, close the pool if you expected to be gone for a month or more. Or ask a neighbor to see if they will check in on it, it will give you a reason to get to know them. Or just let the pool equipment do its job.

  11. Can I successfully close my pool without the pump? My pump broke just before closing time and dont want to hurry run out and replace it if I don’t have to.

    1. It depends on what you need to do. If you need to lower your water level before putting on a cover then you will need a sump pump. But you can just throw a cover on it and call it a season without a pump. Follow the steps we mention in this blog to add in winterizing chemicals.

  12. Hi. Have a leak & want the water level to keep going down until we can find it. Chlorine dispenser, check. Can we circulate the water temporarily with a submersible pump until its dealt with. Would you use the sump pump to send water up to the water intake & use the pool pump as usual as the water level is low or just use the sump pump to circulate the water? 10000gal. Thanks

    1. If you are not sure where the leak is, draining the water may reduce your abilities to find it. If your leak is coming from the pool basin’s sidewall, skimmer joint or shallow end, where the water stops is going to help tell you where to begin looking. If the leak stops a couple of inches under the skimmer, then that tells you the leak is in that 1-2 inch ring around the pool.

      But if you want to hasten the process of dropping the water, use a sump pump and hook it up to a hose or some basic backwash hose and direct it to a drain.

      1. Thanks Matthew. We want to let the water level drop lower so we can find where the water stops draining. This means the pool pump is inoperable. We have the chlorine dispenser but need to circulate the water to stop it stagnating?
        1. Can we do this with a submersible pump?
        2. Or can we use a sump pump to send the water up to the water skimmer basket pump inlet so we can use the pool pump?
        3. If so whats the minimum time we can use the pump per day to keep the water ok. Thanks again.

        1. 1) The sump can be used to keep the water churning to keep the chlorine in your water.
          2) I don’t think that would work.
          3) The runtime needed for a pump is dependent on the gallons per hour. Check the label of the pump, it should have flow ratings.

  13. My pool pump died in September and I neglected the pool till now when I need to close it. Of course the pool is green. But without the pump I can’t vacuum nor stir the chemicals around. What can I do? Can I close it like this and deal with it in spring? What would happen?

  14. Hello, my pool pump housing is cracked and I can’t run my pool until I get a new one. Basically the pool won’t prime. Problem is, temps are in the 20’s at night and my pool had a thin sheet of ice on the top of it this morning. I broke the ice by pouring buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets, did I say buckets? Of hot water on it. What can I do to keep my pool from freezing or causing more damage while I wait for the new pool pump/housing. Thanks for any suggestions you can offer!

    1. The water in your pool is only part of the problem, you need to also address the water in the pipes. The water in the pipes can cause damage you can’t see and can be expensive to fix. I suggest you get a jug or two of the pool anti-freeze and apply asap. You can introduce the anti-freeze into the suction side by pouring it into the skimmer. But if your return line still has water, I’m not sure how you would get the anti-freeze applied there.

      The best solution is to get a replacement housing or pump as soon as you can. The article covers what to do in in the warmer months, the winter has its own set of obstacles to overcome.

  15. I have a salt water pool, my pump went out and have ordered one but will be 5 days before it gets here. It’s already trying to turn green. Can I use shock it in it or will it hurt my salt chlorinated pump?

  16. So my drive went and I put a sump pump one the first step of my pool and streached the hose to the deep end, seems to be working well, I get the replacement tomorrow which will be 3 days of non-operation. I’ll update this post.


  17. Hi. This is my story exactly. Only my Pentair pump is only 28 days old, not to mention the third one in three years. It died on Saturday, Labor day weekend. Temps in the 90’s, now it is wednesday. I have the solar cover on, which helps preserve the chlorine in the water, but it is raising the water temp into the 90’s. I have debated closing the pool for the season while the water is still clear. No one, and I mean no one is in a hurry to replace my pump. It should be under warranty but you have to provide all kinds of documentation other than your purchase receipt. They are taking their sweet time in honoring the warranty. Meanwhile the green machine is starting its agenda. Not green yet, but any day. An earlier post says add chlorine, what about algaecide? How long should I paddle the pool before adding chlorine shock? I am still in shock that I paid over $1000 to have my pump and filter replaced and it did not last a month. Help!

  18. Hello Matthew,
    I am renting a condo with a fabulous pool for the winter. Fabulous until over ten days ago the pool water lowered below the line of the filter level due to a mysterious leak. It is a large outdoor pool in a hot climate, it has 20 filters with baskets that are not able to function. The management is agreed to do nothing to find the leak but instead operate the pool without the filters in operation. They are under the assumption that they are adding chlorine, hand filtering from the edge nightly and maintaining the ph is adequate. My question is…is it? The pool is huge and I see over 3 dozen families using it daily and I also see floating debris in the evening pool lights and floating masses of scum and sludge on the surface collecting in the corner. It is not green though, is it safe? Thank you very much for your time.

    1. With the information you gave me, I wouldn’t swim in the pool. It sounds like they are being cheap by not wanting to fix the issue. If you want to find out if the water is being adequately sanitized, take samples of the water to a pool store for testing. Take a sample in the morning, afternoon and the evening to see how the water is evolving (or devolving) over the day.

      If the chlorine levels stay low, and water quality is bad then a call to an inspector might do something. But the management may just choose to close the pool entirely instead of forking over money to find the fix.

  19. I live in Saudi Arabia and have an Intex above ground pool (16’x32′) with a sand filter and a Hayward 1.5hp pump. The pump is failing (it gets really hot) and in less than one week I will be in the US for 5 weeks. At the moment, I plan to hire someone to add chlorine tablets and vacuum it once a week while we’re away. The motor will be fine to handle the vacuuming, but it’s not ok for me to leave it running 24/7 (which would be my only other option as I don’t have a timer) in this heat and with the motor starting to run so hot. The other option would be to drain it. If draining it is the best option, I’m assuming it’s not good to leave the pool up. In other words, I’m guessing I would need to completely take it all down. What do you advise?

  20. I broke the filter basket housing piece off of the motor and thought I’d be okay to let it sit. Well, it’s a day later and my pool is now leaking. What could be the reason?


  21. My pump/motors died well over a month ago and due to other home projects and it not being swimmed in regularly I opted to hold hold off actually getting it fixed at this point in time I am amazed that it has remained perfectly clear and blue by just maintaining all the chemicals vacuuming out the pool etc I get it tested regularly and it test perfectly fine I’m just really curious I never thought this would actually be able to happen this way.i do maintain a higher chlorine level but I have being that for a couple of years (5-6 chlorine level) since I noticed that doing that has been the single most important change I made in over 40 years of maintaining pools, just interested in your comments about the lack of consistent circulation not showing any visible or testing negative effects…I do live in South Florida so pool gets a lot of water evaporation and rain

    1. The fact you are maintaining a high chlorine level is the thing keeping your water clear. Also, if you have the ability to vacuum the larger debris your pool will help too. But if you put enough chlorine in a body of water, nothing can grow or bloom in it, working circulation pump or not.

      And how are you vacuuming it? Are you using a pressure cleaner? If so, those cleaners do a pretty good job of mixing up the water, so your chlorine can get properly dispersed.

  22. hi
    my pump is fixed but now I need an electrician. so with all going on COV19…. not much help happening right now. my pool is a little green. 20,000 gallons. I have 2 pool floaters with chlorine floating around. I brushed the pool and added —mixed with water first algacide. then I brushed in teh top of the water trying to mix it. will that help for the next few weeks…its already 80 in alabama. I thought about trying to freeze some water and put ice in it to help get temperature down…. any hel
    p or ideas would be appreciated. thanks

    1. Unfortunately, using ice is not a suitable solution, unless you are chilling a spa and can cover it. The route you are taking and we outline in the guide is going to be the best option.

      If you are handy, then I suggest taking a look at a few of our how-to guides to determine if you could get the pump up and running yourself. How To Wire A Pool Pump

  23. We are cleaning our empty pool today. It’s above ground 24′ round. Our new pump won’t be here for 4 days. It takes about 24 hours to fill it up. Should I wait until Tuesday (day before pump arrives) to fill it up, or would it be ok to fill it up today/tomorrow and add the chemicals?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.