How To Troubleshoot a Pool Pump Motor - Motor Overheated

WRITTEN BY:  Inyo Pools

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If your motor is smoking of cycling on and off, it is severly overheating. This guide discusses some of the conditions that cause your motor to overheat. If this problem isn't corrected, it will burn out your motor's windings and cause it to fail.
Note: A running motor that is too hot to touch is not necessarily overheating.  If the automatic protector is not tripping and the actual running amps do not exceed the maximum amps on the nameplate, the motor is not overheating.

Step by Step

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Step 1

CLEAR DEBRIS - Clear away all debris in and around the motor's air vents at the base of the motor.

Step 2

CHECK WIRING - Compare connections to wiring diagram on the label of the motor. Make sure motor is connected correctly for applied voltage.

Step 3

MEASURE SUPPLY VOLTAGE - Use a multimeter to measure the voltage to the motor. Voltage should be + or – 10% of nameplated voltage. If it is higher that +10% call the local power company. If lower than –10% of the nameplated voltage check wire size from the service fuse box or circuit breaker. 
Note: Electric demand on the power company varies. If the motor is nuisance tripping because of low voltage it may only trip during the part of the day when electrical usage is the highest. Do your voltage checks at that time of day.

Step 4

CHECK AMBIENT TEMP - Pool motors are usually designed to operate up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Artificially high ambients can occur if a motor operates in a confined space and recirculates the same air or circulates air from another motor next to it.

Step 5

CHECK AMPERAGE - If the amps are higher than nameplate amps but the voltage is acceptable, WITH THE POWER OFF, inspect the motor and the pump for mechanical obstructions that could cause an overload. A common obstruction is a clogged or worn impeller.

Step 6

CHECK WINDINGS CONTINUITY - Check for continuity of the motor windings for damage or shorting.

Step 7

CHECK CAPACITOR CONTINUITY - Check for continuity of the capacitors. Some motors have two capacitors, a run capacitor and a start capacitor. If the start capacitor has failed, your pump motor will not run.

Step 8

CHECK MOTOR SIZE - Make sure the motor is not undersized. Remember, when replacing a pum[p or motor, the total horsepower is horsepower times service factor. The total horsepower must be equal to or greater than the pump/impeller rating.

Step 9

CHECK MOTOR START SWITCH - Check the motor start switch and governor (if applicable) to make sure it is adjusted properly
and is operational. Governors on some motors will often stick in the open position.

Comments

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(1 to 35 of 35)

Inyopools  Posted: 07/25/2017 9:11 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Britt w - Humming might mean that your motor's capacitor has failed. Try replacing that first. However, if your motor ran dry for an extended period of time, you may have other problems. The seals and gaskets may have been damaged or you may have burned out parts of your motor.


Britt w  Posted: 07/24/2017 20:54 PM 

I got home from work, had no pressure so I went out to check the pump. The motor is very hot. I flipped the breaker off waited a few minutes then flipped it back on. The motor hummed but wouldn't engage to rotate the shaft. What could this be?? Thanks for the help in advance.


Inyopools  Posted: 07/24/2017 16:09 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Anonymous (loud pump)- If your pump is older and starting to make noise, the bearings may be going and it is probably time to replace it. Go through the checklist in this guide for possible causes. If no solution, I'd look at buying a new motor.


Anonymous  Posted: 07/23/2017 13:39 PM 

Just cleaned filters, primed pump... sounded a little louder than usual. Seemed like everything was running good but after about 10 minutes, pump overheated and shut off. Any idea??


Inyopools  Posted: 06/27/2017 11:42 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Graham - Thank you very much for your comment. This is great information to be aware of.


Graham  Posted: 06/26/2017 13:31 PM 

Had this problem of the Hayward pool pump overheating and then auto-shutting off in a cycle. Once it cools down, it starts back up again. Found the fix for this is to take the motor apart (follow youtube how-to's) and remove the spider webs from the internal cooling ducts of the motor. When these internal ducts get blocked by spider webs, it can no longer keep itself cool, and the thermal breaker trips. Once apart, used pipe cleaners down each duct, then your motor will keep itself cool and be back to normal. Did this operation successfully a few years ago, but the spiders came back and had to do it again recently. You can visibly see them all clogged. Now, how to keep the spiders out permanently?


Michael  Posted: 06/13/2017 1:40 AM 

I have a hayward super ll i am trying to just use this pump for a small pond and waterfall yesterday it keep su ki g all my water from the priming reservoir but it would also overheat and shut down so i took it a part cleaned and repa k all fitting today i tryed to test it and it keeps cli king and flow is interrupted but it dosnt seem to be overheating but i havnt let it run long enough to do so i changed the wiring set up to the 115v diagram i need help


Jeff  Posted: 06/04/2017 17:10 PM 

Follow-up on the speck pump shutting down, I measured the voltage at the pump and it was 247, which is not uncommon. I sent the speck es90ll back and installed a pentair superflo model 340038 and it works flawlessly. The speck I tried to use was the same model as the original only with a different brand motor than the original. The new motor just couldn't handle the voltage.


Inyopools  Posted: 05/31/2017 10:35 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Kathy - Make sure your motor is configured for your supply voltage. The default factory setting is for 220V. If you're setting this motor up for 115V, you need to change the Voltage setting on the motor. See the motor label for instructions. If your motor is configured correctly, you may hav4e been sent a bad motor. Contact your supplier.


Kathy  Posted: 05/31/2017 10:21 AM 

Replaced pump motor and immediately it was very hot and shutoff within a couple of minutes. Followed instructions that came with the new motor. Any ideas?


Inyopools  Posted: 05/02/2017 12:20 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Mommabear - You may have had water blown into the motor through the motor vents which may have shorted out a part of the motor. Take the cover off the back of the motor to expose the electrical circuits. See if you see any burn marks. If not, turn on the pump and see if you see where the smoke was coming from. If you are lucky, you may be able to replace one or two damaged components. Also, check the motor's fuse.


Mommabear  Posted: 04/30/2017 14:04 PM 

Hello, so we just had a assist storm overnight and early morning. We had heavy heavy down pour, I left my.pool pump on throughout it all, when I went to check on pool the pump was not on. So we turned off at switch and turned to backwash due to over filled pool. The pump starting to work then smelt burning and shut off. Is it broke possibly now? Can running my pump during a storm cause it to overheat.


Inyopools  Posted: 04/17/2017 0:19 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Jeff - Check the supply voltage level at the pump motor's terminal. If the voltage level is too low, it will cause the motor to overheat. Low voltage can be due to power company brownouts during periods of high power demand or undersized wiring between the circuit breaker and the pump.


Jeff  Posted: 04/12/2017 17:33 PM 

I just replaced my pool pump ( speck es90 II) with a new one. All was good for the first day but on the second day it kept shutting off after an hour of running and would not turn back on for an hour or so of after that. Then did it again, seems like an overheating problem but not sure why.


Inyopools  Posted: 12/19/2016 12:11 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

holiday inn - If it's squealing, your bearings may be going. Or The motor windings are failing. I would have the motor checked and probably replaced.


holiday inn  Posted: 12/15/2016 11:19 AM 

i connect my pump and i smell a sent of burned wood coming from my motor what should i do


Inyopools  Posted: 09/28/2016 23:57 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Karl - One very effective way to keep your motor cooler is to clear all the debris away from the bottom vents under the motor. If that doesn't help, pull the motor out of the pump housing and check to see if any debris is jammed between the impeller and the pump housing.


Karl  Posted: 09/27/2016 15:04 PM 

I noticed my pump was getting very hot to the touch , I replaced the impeller and shafts seals etc. It's still running to hot to touch after 10 minutes or so. Filters is clean no bloggers and volume of water it is moving is fine. Any ideas ?


Inyopools  Posted: 09/05/2016 12:34 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Londoaleksandra - Your motor may be jammed. Check to see if the motor's impeller is clogged with debris. Sometimes a nut gets jammed it the impeller and keeps the shaft from turning. See our guide on "How To Clean Out a Pool Pump Impeller". Then check the component in the control unit for damage. Here's is a link to the Emerson VS Motor Troubleshooting Manual. It says for AC but I think it is applicable for pool pumps also. Starting with page 14 shows you how to access the control components.


Londoaleksandra  Posted: 09/04/2016 16:11 PM 

My emerson variable pool pumpm motor is showing High mapa on the display pad, them shuts off after a coupé of seconds. I see it is a motor overload, but have no idea what that Means or how to fix it. Please help. Any advise will be very much appreciated.


Londoaleksandra  Posted: 09/02/2016 12:16 PM 

Hello, I have had an 2 Emerson variable speed for about 1.5 yr. it is not covered. The motor was working great until the other day. I turn it on and after about 2-3 seconds it turns off. The display pad is saying high amp. Do I need to replace my whole motor or is it something reasonable to trouble shoot and fix. Please help....thank you


Inyopools  Posted: 08/22/2016 11:15 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Kevin - This is a strange one. If your motor ran on 115 with wires one size smaller, it should run easily on the oversized wire with half the current. If the motor conversion from 120 to 230 wasn't correct, you would have fried the motor before the breaker opened. Can you take the motor out and wire it next to the circuit breaker to see if it runs for 10 seconds and eliminate any intermediate wire issues? Does motor shaft turn easily? Also, if your motor has a governor, check to see if it's stuck open. If you find out what this is, could you send me another comment? I generally don’t get the “it works” responses. Thanks


Kevin  Posted: 08/21/2016 22:59 PM 

Flotec pump (Model FP5172-08 (9.9 Amp Max.)) starts but kicks a 20 Amp breaker after 2-3 seconds. Pump ran fine on 120 VAC earlier this summer. I converted it to 230 VAC due to distance from breaker panel. Switched motor voltage by moving jumper from 115 to 230. Oversized wire by one size just in case. Measured L1-122 volts and L2-123 volts at pump disconnect box. Replaced 20A dual throw breaker in panel. Still trips within 2-3 seconds. No indication of short or bad connections. Nothing else on circuit. Circuit without pump does not trip breaker. Pump motor sounds normal at start. No sound of electric short or mechanical binding.

Do I have a capacitor problem? A contactor problem? Cerainly not overheating in 3 seconds! Why is it tripping the breaker?

Help much appreciated.


Inyopools  Posted: 07/25/2016 11:21 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Rick - If you have 118/119 V coming in on both leads, you are running on 220V. Make sure your motor is configured for 220V and not 115V. Also try setting the motor on bricks to keep debris from clogging the motor vents. One customer found that this helped keep his motor significantly cooler. try to get this resolved before your warranty runs out.


Rick  Posted: 07/23/2016 22:23 PM 

Thanks for a good place to start. Pump runs for a while, overheats and shuts off. I mean the pump casing boils water. The voltage is 118,119 receptively to the leads. This give me some more things to check, and i appreciate it. Pump is less than a year old.


Inyopools  Posted: 06/14/2016 0:00 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Laura - It sounds like your motor is configured for 220V and you have 115V coming into the pump. Check you supply voltage. If it is 115V, change the motor configuration to 115V. The configuration instructions should be on the corner of the motor label.


Laura  Posted: 06/12/2016 13:59 PM 

I just installed a new pool pump. Wiring all good new. Turns on for a minute then shuts down. Motor very hot. Help I cleared everything from strainer basket


Inyopools  Posted: 06/01/2016 13:04 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Ron - Thanks very much for your feedback. There's nothing like actual results to help solve other people's problems.


Ron  Posted: 06/01/2016 1:42 AM 

Follow up. It was the capacitor. I replaced it quite easily and it fixed my problem. Thank you for the topic tutorial.


Ron  Posted: 05/31/2016 11:46 AM 

Like Justin, my pump appeared to be running fine, until one day it started to buzz, then shut down, and did this repeatedly. I understand that this could be the capacitor, which I will check. When the buzz starts as if the motor is about to start, I hand twist the flat shaft at the back and the motor starts up and begins to turn, but will shut down after a minute or two and the motor is very, very hot. Could this still be the capacitor?


Inyopools  Posted: 03/21/2016 9:40 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Justin - A buzzing sound is a common symptom of a bad capacitor. See our guide on "How To Replace a Pool Pump Capacitor".


Justin  Posted: 03/20/2016 17:46 PM 

My pool pump seemed to be running just fine the other day. I realized it wasn't running today. I cleared out the filters in the pool and pump, when I touched the pump motor, it was pretty hot after less than 1 second. I cut off the breaker to the pool pump and let it cool down. I turned on breaker back on and there was a buzzing sound (like it was getting electricity but not moving) after about 30 seconds to 1 min, it shut itself off. Any idea what the problem is? Do I need to purchase a replacement pump or am I able to troubleshoot and fix the problem. I just moved into the house, so I have no idea how old the pump is, I can't find a year...


Inyopools  Posted: 08/01/2015 10:07 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Alex- The assumption here is that the water flow through the pump is not balanced. Your pump cannot suck in water as fast as it discharges the water causing air in the strainer basket. By reducing water flow on the discharge side (returns) you are balancing the flow which is easier on the pump.


Alex  Posted: 07/31/2015 13:54 PM 

Wouldn't that put more force on the pump causing it to ovearhest even faster?


Customer comment  Posted: 03/21/2014 18:12 PM 

also you can throttle back on the return valve 1/3 of the way.especialy if a high head pump was installed in a low head aplication.if no return valve then install smaller "eyeballs" on your returns to restrict the flow some.works like a charm