Pool Pump Tripping Breaker?

Pool Pump Trips Breaker / GFCI

Electrical problems can be among the most mysterious and frustrating that pool owners experience.  They are also dangerous to the untrained DIYer so great caution – or a licensed electrician – is required when attempting to diagnose.  Here are the most common reasons we see when it comes to pool pumps tripping.

MoistureBlog Image - Water Drop (200 x 200)

GFCIs are quite sensitive to moisture so if your breaker trips after a storm, you might just need to let the sun do its thing for a day or two.  If it’s not summer, you can probably just leave the pump off for a day and try again once everything has had a chance to dry.  In the summertime, you can still get by with your pump not running for one or two days but it will require some extra chlorine (shock) and manual circulation with a pole or paddle a couple of times per day.

Keep in mind that rain isn’t the only possible source of water.  A misdirected sprinkler, spray from power washing, even high humidity can affect a GFCI.

Bad or Wrong BreakerBlog Image - Breaker (200 x 200)

Sometimes breakers just fail due to age or inferior quality.  If the problem does not appear to be with your pump and/or motor, try replacing the breaker.

You could also have the wrong size breaker if you recently bought a new pump or motor that was not an exact match to the previous model.  Confirm you have the correct breaker size by checking how many amps the new motor requires.

Short in Pump

You might be able to spot an obvious pump motor short by disconnecting power and taking off the motor end cap.  Make sure all wiring is properly connected and nothing appears obstructed or burnt.  Insects who decide your motor makes a really cozy home can create an electrical short by blocking contacts.

Wrong Voltage

Most complete pumps and replacement motors leave the factory set at 230v to prevent installers from accidentally running 230 volts to a motor that is set to 115v.  This has saved many motors from premature frying but it also results in many confused homeowners.  Typically in this scenario, the pump will initially come on, then shut down, repeat.  Check to see which voltage your motor is set to and what voltage you have running to it.

A Quick FixBlog Image - GFCI (200 x 200)

One quick thing to check is if the “reset” button on the GFCI simply needs to be pressed back in.  If the GFCI trips, then you will need to press the reset button to restore electricity back to your equipment.  Watch this helpful GFCI outlet video for more details.

Always remember that addressing electrical issues requires proper knowledge and safety precautions.  If you are in any doubt, enlist the help of a qualified pool professional.

163 thoughts on “Pool Pump Trips Breaker / GFCI

  1. I have an older waterfall pump that tripped the CB. I reset and threw the switch. CB popped immediately. I suspect shorted motor. Without pulling it apart (it’s in an awkward installation), can I see if the shaft rotates to rule out the pump? Is that a reasonable troubleshooting technique?

    1. Trying to rotate the motor shaft by hand is a good place to start. You may be able to spin the shaft without removing the motor from the housing, but it depends on how much room you have to work with. Testing this first can tell you immediately if this problem is mechanical or circuitry related.

  2. I am considering adding a Raypak 8450 pool heater and was wondering if a 240 volt unit requires a gfci. I have read many articles where adding a gfci would trip randomly so homeowners had to remove it. Is it a requirement for 240 heat pump?

  3. Motor trips breaker, 2 pole. 240vac line in to pressure regulator. 240vac potential on line (contacts open), but also 115vac potential between one line and the motor load on that set of contacts. I cannot find a wiring diagram to “backtrack” the 115vac. I am assuming a short in the motor to ground or a wire shorted to ground. I will disconnect the two motor leads from the contacts and measure resistance to ground. Any other thoughts?

  4. Hello. I had a new GFCI breaker installed, and the pool pump trips it when connected to the bonding wire. The pump does nothing for about 5 seconds and then trips the breaker. When the bonding wire is disconnected, the pump works fine. Is the pump motor bad? Or is there a less expensive fix?

    1. Something is not where it belongs/is connected where it should not be/is touching something it shouldn’t. I’m assuming the motor was fine when the breaker was installed? Otherwise the windings could be shorted. Trace the wires from the breakers/source to be sure the correct colors were used.

  5. Hi, Last year I had a pool installed and electric was done professionally and passed inspection. Recently, I needed an electrician in the garage for work done and he mentioned that my control panel original to my 1986 house is by FPE (federal pacific) and not reliable tripping breakers. Well this now actually concerns me. Now I’m wondering if my pool is safe in the event of a faulty motor one day? The pool is bonded but even though I have two GFCI’s next to the pool pump electric, the designated pool pump outlet itself does not seem to have GFCI itself has more of a thick bulky plug in (odd looking three prong). Am I solely depending on my home’s FPE electric box’s safety during a possible pool motor failure?

    1. A single GFCI duplex receptacle is capable of protecting all other receptacles on the same circuit. I am not familiar with The wiring in your particular situation but this might be useful information.

      Additionally, traditional circuit breakers are only designed to protect the wires in your home. Anything attached to your home electrical system that draws too much current over less than adequate gauge wiring will not be protected.

      Cheap extension cords are a perfect example of this.

  6. Hi
    My Hayward pool pump tripps the breaker after 5-10 seconds . I changed the Capacitor but still the same issue . Any advise ???

  7. My pool pump will randomly trip the breaker as well. Sometimes it goes for a month or 2 without tripping and sometimes only a day or two. Had local pool guy out and he said pump looks brand new, I have no idea how old since only owned the home for 2 years. The electric box and breakers are also brand new. Rain seems to have no impact. I am considering replacing the breaker with old style vs what I think is arc fault since box is only 2 years old. It is 110 on 20 amp breaker. Any ideas? Thanks!!

    1. First, I would start with any other troubleshooting options mentioned in the article. Test the voltage reaching the pump., put the pump on a different breaker. If you have to start somewhere, those are those places I suggest.

  8. I bought a brand new pb4-60 Polaris booster pump to Replace my old Pentair booster pump. Both pumps run 230 or 115 But the new Polaris pump trips the breaker immediately when I turn it on. I have no idea what’s going on?

  9. Hi I have a polaris pool cleaner which is operated by a 1.5 hp booster pump. I removed the polaris to clean ther pool. When I reconnected the polaris and turned on the pump the pump sounds like it’s working but there is no water pressure. I took the Polaris to be tested and it’s not the polaris.

    I just dont know what happened so suddenly for thre pump to stop pushing water? Help! Please!

  10. The Intermatic  Model T104R Timer that turns on and off the motor on my  pool  recently, about two or three times week, trips my GFCI requiring me to reset it which has been increasing very hard to to reset. I have removed the ON TRIPPER  and turn the motor on at the pump and it never trips the GFCI. Have you any suggestions at to why I am experiencing this problem?

    1. Have you checked the circuit continuity yet? If not, I would start there. Does the issue flare-up after rain or is there no particular rhyme or reason to it?

      I would also try switching to a different breaker to rule out a breaker being the issue.

  11. I have a very unique and odd issue. The GFCI breaker has been tripping for my spa light. The breaker provides power to the pool and spa lights but only trips when I try to turn on the spa light. I removed the spa light and there is no signs of leakage. It’s been sitting on my deck and here is the odd thing. The breaker does not trip at night time (between 9pm and 9am). It only trips during the day!! I have replicated this for 3 straight days. I replaced the breaker and the same thing happens. I tried not running the pump during the day but that didn’t work either. The light works at night but not during the day time. I don’t know what to do to fix this.

    1. The breaker only tripping at night is an odd one. Are the lights the only thing on that particular breaker? Is there an appliance that is usually only used during the day on that circuit?

      Is the circuit breaker in an exposed area? i.e., does the box get direct sunlight to where it can get overheated? The heat can cause a breaker to trip. If I had to bet, heat would be the culprit, that theory is based mainly on it only happening during the day.

      If there is a bright side, at least this is only affecting your light during the times you are least likely to need it.

  12. We have a saltwater pool and the pump works fine until we turn the pool light on then the breaker trips. As long as the pump is off the light performs fine, only when the pump is running and we try to turn the light on does the breaker trip. Any suggestions? I initially thought there might be a leak into the light housing but I’m not for sure. We have not used the pool while the light is on just in case of electrocution…mom fear!

    1. Because you can use one or the other but not both at the same time I believe you have a bad GFCI breaker. GFCI breakers can bbecome more sensitive when they start to breakdown, causing false trips.

  13. In the past two days, our GFCI on the Hayward Pro Logic panel has started tripping. It hasn’t rained here in weeks so I know it isn’t a moisture issue. When I press the reset button I am able to power up but it trips again. The pump ran for a good 7-8 hours before it tripped this evening. The control box itself seems hotter than usual, any ideas?

  14. Good afternoon.. Pool pump/motor was running perfectly on a timer. Had a pool place come and redo the stairs and the handle going into the pool. As part of that they needed to make sure all these were grounded correctly. After that, the pool pump fails to start consistently and sometimes the breaker is tripped. When i reset it, i hear a hum/buzzing at the breaker and then it goes away. Sometimes pump starts and works without any issues. Yesterday it worked perfectly.

  15. I have a three year old Hayward Tristar 1.5 HP two speed pump which is run by a Intermatic P1353ME digital controller. We have had A LOT of rain here in S Florida. It has rained every day for the past two weeks. However, Sunday when I went outside the pump was off. I opened the box and the breaker for the pump was tripped. I tried to reset the breaker, however it just keeps tripping. The digital controller is not getting power as the screen is blank and nothing changes when I reset the breaker. The other two breakers in the box (LED lights and pool heater) are not tripped, and my heater is getting power.
    Is it a bad breaker, a short, or bad motor?

    Thank you for any thoughts you may have!

    1. It could be all of the above. I cover all this in the article but I will give another quick rundown of things to check.

      1) Swich circuit to a different breaker or change breaker. This will determine if the breaker is the issue
      2) If timer is still out after switching breaker, try bypassing the timer to determine if the motor still works.
      3) Find the user manual for timer for troubleshooting steps. If unavailable, contact manufacturer for best troubleshooting path.

      1. This original comment is rather old, you’re likely not going to get a response. But I’d focus on troubleshooting your specific issue. There are going to be different variables for each pool, so what works for them may not apply to your application.

  16. Bought a brand new Waterway pump (old one had shot bearings, etc) which is exactly like the old pump. Hooked everything up and it trips the breaker immediately. No moisture as breaker is inside the house and GFI works as there is power to the hot tub when the pump is not plugged in. Old pump and new pump has same voltage and amp. No clue where to go from here….pls help

  17. Earlier this week my pump motor stopped working on us. We live in Florida though so I’m used to the storms tripping the breaker however this time when I reset it–the breaker tripped immediately and then again and again and again. I actually asked a local pool service to come out and take a look at the situation and he told me to replace the unit. The next day before he arrived to change it out I reset the breaker the with the old motor attached and IT WORKED so I called off the new motor. Well it rained again quite heavy and guess what…the motor trips the breaker immediately again. I took the motor cover off and there does not look like there is anything wrong with the connections. I also disconnected the connections completely and tried to reset the breaker and it reset without any problem. So to me that says that the motor is no good anymore right or am I missing something that I need to try? Thanks!

  18. Hey,
    I have a new fiberglass , saltwater system (hayward). The pump is running since end of may and i have noticed 3-4 weeks ago the breaker tripped overnight.. did not care much and turned back on.. 2 says ago i have noticed the pool pump hasnt started in the morning and turned breaker on and this morning ( a day later) did not turn either.. breaker trips overnight. I run the system during the day and doesnt trip when its working.. i sis reset this time the breaker and turned off and on.. we had rain both nights.. i dont find anything suspicious . No noise , everything looks good otherwise… any ideas!!?

    1. My best guess, the breaker is faulty or water is getting into the circuit overnight. You can try switching the circuit to a different breaker to determine if the problem repeats itself.

  19. Hi Mathew,
    We just had our liner replaced in our inground pool. They unhooked everything at the equipment when they installed it. Wires to the pump and all. Why would they need to do that? My problem is, now when I try and start the pump, it trips the breaker, immediately. I reset the GFC button but it still trips. They came back out and told us we needed a new breaker…I’m not so sure…Any ideas?

    1. A new breaker is a cheap fix. You could also try wiring the pump to a different breaker to verify. Get the breaker, have them install it (hopefully) for free and take it from there. The guide is all about eliminating possibilities as you troubleshoot; this is your first possibility, eliminate it.

      1. Breaker tripped this am when trying to start pump. first time in 30 years. Had recent rain. Waited till mid afternoon. Success!!! Thanks for all advice. If it keeps happening I’ll call an electrician.

  20. I have a murray 60amp main outdoor circuit breaker that keeps tripping. The pool power has a 30amp circuit breaker tied into this 60. After the 30amp circuit, there is wire that leads to the outdoor pool control box. This box has 15 and 20 amp circuit breakers for each item, pool pump, hot tub pump, lights, etc. I have turned off all the circuit breakers. When i pull the main 60amp it holds. When I pull the 30amp breaker it immediately pops and trips the 60 amp as well. I just replace the 30amp breaker and have the same problem. The power from the 60 to the 30 trips both? They are literally on opposite sides of my garage wall. The 60amp is next to my outdoor meter. The 30amp is on the opposite interior wall tie to a sub panel with conduit leading to the pool controls. This problem just appeared out of no where? Any suggestions?

    1. My apologies, but the explanation is confusing and I can’t follow all the different breakers and their locations. You may need to bring in an electrician, or someone with more experience to be onsite to review the wiring.

  21. Hi,
    The 240v breaker for my pool pump trips only in cold (<45degree) weather. Breaker has been replaced and unit will normally start upon weather warming up. Sometimes banging on the pump helps to allow it to start. Never has a problem in warm weather. Protected from rain,etc. Could it be capacitor…..? Or what?

    1. I checked with one of our more experienced Century Motor techs and he had not heard of this issue. The only thing I could think of would be there is a problem with a freeze protect circuit. A freeze protects only kicks on when air temp sinks below the temp you set it for. Usually freeze protects are set between 36 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit. Do you have a variable speed with a built-in freeze protect or a separate freeze protect box?

  22. Hi Matthew,
    Ok, brace yourself. I was electrocuted in my apartment swimming pool 2 years ago. I am in a lawsuit and it is not my intention to use any of your professional knowledge for legal matters. When inspected, the City department of Housing found Pool pump was leaking and in addition to pool owners not having a working GFI or grounded wiring, they had done a lot of illegal electrical work. The incident severely damaged my spine and nervous system. Anyway, I saw the ground wire and it was completely melted and about a dime size hole in the metal box that housed it. There was no electricity in the water when I was found. My thought is that the surge completely melted the wiring so there was no longer a conduit of electricity into the pool. Can you explain the mechanics of that to me? You can email me too if better: Shannon_colhoun@yahoo.com. Not many Drs have helped understanding my injuries and I’m still researching the internet with key words trying to understand what happened to me. Thank you;)

  23. I have a Hayward heater and system…when I switch the heater on from the remote or the prologic main board or remote, the 3A fuse pops and the heater won’t work. Replaced the fuse and I can manually work the heater from the heater itself. Any idea why the remote/board causes the fuse to blow and the heater not to work?

  24. Hi. I have a Hayward 1hp powerflo matrix pump, the cord was plugged in but the pump wouldn’t turn on, I thought maybe the connection was loose so I pushed it in, there was a spark and some smoke. Now one of the prongs on the pool pump power cord is burnt. Should I just replace the cord?

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