How To Clean Out the Pool Pump Strainer


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The strainer basket in the pool pump housing assembly collects large pieces of debris that were missed by the skimmer or were sucked in through the main drains. The pool pump strainer prevents debris from entering the pump assembly and clogging the impeller. To prevent the strainer from clogging and reducing the flow of water through the pool system, the pool pump strainer basket should be checked and cleared weekly.

Please click here to view pump parts.  

Step by Step


Step 1

The first step is to turn off the pool pump to stop the flow of water through the pump.

Step 2

Next, you will have to relieve the pressure that has built up in the pool pump and water line. Note the pressure on the pressure gauge. It will typically read between 15 - 20 psi. To relieve pressure turn the air relief valve on top of the filter counterclockwise. Water will spray out initially as you see the pressure on the pressure gauge go to 0 psi.

Please click here to view pressure gauges. 

Step 3

To open up the strainer, 1-turn the two knobs on top of the strainer lid counter-clockwise and 2- swivel the knobs down away from the lid. Note: Some pool pump strainer lids screw-on instead of having knobs. In this case, twist the lid counter-clockwise to remove the lid off the top of the strainer.

Please click here to view pump lid removal tools. (compatible with certain pump models)

Step 4

Lift the lid off the top of the pool pump strainer.

Step 5

Check the basket for debris.

Step 6

Lift the basket out of the pool pump housing assembly.

Step 7

Clean the debris out of the bottom of the pool pump basket with a garden hose. DO NOT knock the basket on the ground or hard surface. The pool pump basket is flexible plastic and will break over time.

Step 8

Drop the pool pump basket into the housing assembly.

Step 9

Check the pool pump strainer gasket for tears or stretching. Replace if required. Before replacing the strainer lid, we recommend that you apply a thin coat of lubrication on the strainer gasket. This will help seat the gasket and will prolong its life.

Please click here to view the o-ring lubricant. 

Step 10

Replace the pool pump lid.

Step 11

Swivel bolts up and tighten bolts alternately to maintain equal pressure on the pool pump lid. Hand tightening is sufficient.

Step 12

Turn on power to the pool pump to build up pressure in the system.

Step 13

The air relief valve should still be open. As the pressure builds, air will be released through the relief valve. When water starts to spray out of the valve, turn the valve clockwise to close it.

Please click here to view pump parts.  


(1 to 40 of 102)

 Posted: 8/6/2021 

I just have to say that your pool parts and videos are top of the line. Thanks for providing such useful information. You have saved me several hundred dollars this season alone.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/6/2021 

Thank you, Mary. That truly does mean a lot to us.

 Posted: 6/2/2021 

Looking through the dome in the skimmer basket of the pump, It looks when I first turn it on water comes barreling through for a moment then it looks like only air no water coming through but I can’t tell for sure.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/4/2021 

If you are having trouble priming the pump, I'd start troubleshooting using this guide: How To Determine Why a Pool Pump Won't Prime

Anonymous  Posted: 8/13/2020 

Do I need to add water back into the basket before closing the lid?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/20/2020 

You can add water to help the pump primes itself when you restart it, but it is required. I usually like to top off the strainer lid to ensure the pump primes correctly.

Anonymous  Posted: 8/5/2020 

I accidentally took pumpkin cover off and emptied basket without turning system Off... is that ok? I hope I didn’t break anything

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/21/2020 

Was the pump running when you opened the lid and cleared the strainer? If that is the case, your pump may have run dry. Running dry can hurt the pump internals and may cause the motor to overheat; in some cases, plastic parts of the pump housing have started to melt. But, if you put the pump back together and everything is watertight and churning, you likely didn't do any damage.

 Posted: 7/21/2020 

I have a Hayward Swimpro Voyager and the psi is always at 1 but then every 10 min it rises to 15 then back down again. I have opened up the filter and nothing is obstructing anything the baskets are both clean I am unsure what is going on. Any insight would be most-appreciated.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 10/6/2020 

Have you put your hand over the return line to see if the flow is actually affected? If the flow of the return line is steady, you may just have a bad pressure gauge. Are you having any issues with priming your pump?

Anonymous  Posted: 2/16/2020 

Some times I notice lots of leaves in basket. But when I turn pump off to clean it, all the leaves disappear. Is there a way to stop that so I can properly remove these leaves?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 2/17/2020 

When the pump is turned off, does the water flush from your lines, back into the pool? If so, then your system is losing pressure because air is getting into your system somehow. I suggest doing the troubleshooting we mention in this guide: How to Identify and Correct Air LeaksWhen the system is sealed, the water should not flush your pipes, which takes the leaves in your basket along with it.

 Posted: 1/6/2020 

i have a Haywood pump and can't get the pump basket out, Is there a trick to it?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 1/6/2020 

For the Hayward series pool pumps, either the baskets just pull directly out or if the baskets are round may need to be turned in order to pull them from the strainer pot. 

 Posted: 5/21/2019 

I have a Hayward pump I cannot get the lid off what can I do to make it easier I have to use a 6-foot Spud bar just to turn it I would appreciate any help thank you

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/22/2019 

Which model Hayward pump do you own? There are different lid styles and different ways of loosening each.

 Posted: 5/17/2019 

I have a Haywood lx pump I can’t get slimmer off, don’t know how to remove it and it has a lot in it

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/17/2019 

Bleeding the air from the system sometimes makes it easier to remove the pump lid. You can use the air relief valve on the filter to bleed the air. You can also slip a tool underneath the handle on the lid and then turn the tool. Using a strap wrench on the lid would be another option.

 Posted: 7/25/2019 

I have the same pump but the water line from the pool to the pump does not have a shut off valve. So when I open the lid, water just continually runs. What would you suggest for that?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/1/2019 

My suggestion would be to add a valve before the pump that can turn off the flow of water from the pool. Before that happens, you can put a plug in the skimmer and main drain.

 Posted: 5/25/2018 

Hello Shelley - Yes, these general steps would work with a Superflo and Pentair cartridge filter.

 Posted: 5/24/2018 

Do these instructions work for Pentair cartridge filter and superflo pump?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/15/2017 

Tydarp - If you are trying to clean out the pump's strainer basket, use the instructions shown in this guide. For an explanation of filter modes, see our guide on "How a Multiport Valve Operates".

 Posted: 8/12/2017 

We have a 13yr old in ground pool pump. Has a handle in top for different uses. What would I switch it to to clean pump out. It has easte,winterize, rinse, filter,recirculation & backwash

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/30/2017 

JRAMOS - If I understand your comment correctly, your pump lost prime (no water in strainer basket) while it was running and the pump shut off. The strainer basket has to be full during operation for the pump to operate. The most common cause of losing prime, especially during the hot days, is for the pool water level to drop below the skimmer allowing air to enter the system. See our guide on "How To Determine Why a Pool Pump Won't Prime" for other causes.

 Posted: 7/26/2017 

Does pump strainer where the leave go, is that supposed to have water in it all the time? I'm asking because in the beginning it didn't have any water and the breaker jumped and I hadn't noticed until I went to see the pool and the pump was off. When I checked it the pump strainer had water. How do I remove it?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/20/2017 

Captiveinflorida - If you are talking about the debris in the bottom of the tank when you take the cartridge out, there should be a drain plug at the bottom of the tank that will let you drain the debris out as you spray inside the bottom of the tank.

 Posted: 7/18/2017 

I have an above ground pool with a small pump because the pool is only about 1000 gallons but my question is I can clean the skimmer basket but when I take the filter out a lot of the debris that's in the filter goes back into the water and when I turn the pump back on it goes back into the pool how do I prevent that from happening.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/22/2016 

Dee - Sorry, I was confused by your description. Your top mounted multiport valve does not have nor need a pressure relief valve. Any air trapped in the top of the tank is automatically relieved through the valve.

 Posted: 6/22/2016 

Hi Inyo!

Sorry, I have top mounted multi-valve on my sand's the pressure gauge that is side mounted..but I still can't find any indication there is a relief portal anywhere on it. You can email me if it is easier to answer...

Many thanks!


InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/18/2016 

Dee - Your side mounted filter has a breather tube that runs from the top to bottom in the center of the tank. This tube automatically relieves air that might be trapped at the top of the tank. Make sure it is not clogged.

 Posted: 6/16/2016 

Thanks for the reply.....I noticed in your video about how the relief valve. My tank doesn't have one. It is a Hayward pro series S220T ....that I suspect is about 15 years old(came with the house. It only has a side mount pressure gauge and a sight glass. Is there another way that I can relieve the pressure on this model? Would that explain why the air bubble(size of the pot lid) in top of the strainer doesn't get small after I clean the strainer? Many thanks! Dee

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/14/2016 

Dee- Yes, when you open up your system to clean the pump strainer, there is no pressure to hold the water in the filter and it does drain out through the pump to the pool. When you prime the pump, you are also refilling the filter tank. That's why you leave the air relief valve on top of the filter open until the air changes to a stream of water.

 Posted: 6/13/2016 

Hi yall, when I clean out my strainer basket it sounds like water is draining out of my sand filter. Could that be possible? It gurgles and gurgles and gurgles. Water is still in the bottom of the strainer pot.

Many thanks


InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/30/2016 

stop water flow – I assume this is an above ground pool. Most AG pools have shut-off valves on the hose before they exit or enter the pool to prevent water from dumping out when the system is opened. If you do not have these shut-off valves, try blocking the pool ports with a cloth or a port plug.

Anonymous  Posted: 5/25/2016 

how do you stop the water flow from the hoses when you clean the strainer or cartridge,

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/10/2016 

strainer hole - I would guess the hole in on the side where water is pulled into the pump. This is a sign of the basket breaking apart at this pressure point. It will probably have to be replaced soon. As this hole get bigger, more and more debris will get into the pump to possibly clog the impeller or the filter after the pump.

Anonymous  Posted: 5/9/2016 

What happen if the basket has a small hole?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/9/2015 

no water in pump basket - Sounds like your system has lost prime - having enough water in the pump to create sufficient suction to pull water from the pool. This is generally caused by air getting into the system before the pump. Check whatever you did during maintenance to see if you may have created air leaks in the connections between the pool and the front end of the pump. See our guide on "How to Identify and Correct Air Leaks".

Anonymous  Posted: 6/9/2015 

After a recent maintenance, there is no water in the pump strainer basket. Its almost empty with several very small bubbles at the top. Is it safe to operate the pool pump like this ?