How To Troubleshoot A Pool Pump That Is Not Full Of Water

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When working correctly, pool pumps should be completely full of water. In this guide, we discuss different tips on how to diagnose and correct the issue of a pump that is not filling up all the way.

Note: This guide is meant for pool owners who are used to seeing a full pump and a half-empty pump is out of the norm. There are instances where a variable speed running on a low speed will not fill up the pump completely. This is ok as long as the water level does not continue to fall and cause the pump to run dry.

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Step 1

CHECK VALVES - The first thing to check is the valves on the suction side of the pump. They may have been turned inadvertently, causing a decrease in flow to the pump.

The skimmer lines and main drain lines should be open.

Step 2

WATER LEVEL - The water level of the pool should be at least halfway up the skimmer door opening. A low water level could create a situation where the pump runs half empty or dry.

Step 3

WEIR DOOR - The pool skimmer weir door can get stuck in the upwards position. This would cause a decrease in flow. Make sure the weir door can swing back and forth.

Step 4

SKIMMER BASKET - Check the skimmer basket and clean it out if necessary.

Step 5

PUMP BASKET - With the pump off, check the pump basket and clean it out if necessary.

Step 6

PUMP LID O-RING - The pump lid o-ring seals the lid so that air can't get in. Try lubricating the o-ring with a teflon or silicone lubricant. Replace the o-ring if it is stretched out or cracked.

Note: This solved the issue in the video posted above.

Step 7

SUCTION SIDE AIR LEAK - The pipes and valves before the pump can be sources of an air leak. An air leak will cause the pump not to fully prime. 

Check out our blog titled "How to Find Suction Side Air Leaks".

Step 8

CLOGGED LINE - A clog in a suction line can hamper the ability of the pump to fill up with water. This usually happens if debris is manually vacuumed directly into the skimmer line. A vac plate or leaf canister should always be used.

Feeding an electrician's fish tape down the lines will sometimes free up a clog. You can also try using a plumbing bladder on the end of a hose.

Step 9

CLOGGED IMPELLER - Fine debris can bypass the baskets and clog the impeller. The impeller can not pull enough water if it is clogged. 

You can try unclogging the impeller with a wire hanger. If that is not possible, the pump will need to be taken apart in order to access the impeller.

Check out our guide titled "How to Clean Out a Pool Pump Impeller".

Step 10

TRY PRIMING AGAIN - If all else fails, try to manually prime the pump with water. After filling up the pump with water, turn it on and let it run full speed for several minutes.

Check out our blog titled "How to Prime a Pool Pump".

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