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How to Prime a Pool Pump, Step-by-Step

The pump is basically the circulation system of a swimming pool. Its job is to pull water from the pool and through the main drain and skimmer, push it through the pool filter, and return it back into the pool through the main returns. A pool pump must be primed, to work properly. Priming is what supplies the pump with enough water to put the water in circulation or, in other words, to start pulling water from the pool. Self-priming pool pumps automatically generate the flow of water, even if there is a lot of air in the system. With other pool pumps, it’s necessary to manually prime it before turning it on. The following are basic steps for priming a pool pump.

Step-by-step guide to priming a pool pump

The pool pump is essential. Without it, pool water wouldn’t be fit for swimming very long. It’s good to become familiar with steps involved in priming a pool pump, since it’s necessary at various times, such as after replacing components of the pool system. If the water level in the pool dips below the skimmer or if the skimmer is blocked from pulling in water, priming will be needed. The purpose of the steps is to ensure that there is little to no air in the system, interfering with the movement of the pool water.


1)    Turn off the power to the pool pump. The safest  way to shut down power is at the circuit breaker.

2)    Adjust the diverter valve that causes water to come from the skimmer or the main drain. Move it so that water will only come from one or the other.

3)    To help get rid of excess air pressure when the system is turned on, open the air relief valve on the top of the pool filter.

4)    Remove any debris that may be in the pump basket, since it can hinder water flow.

5)    Inspect the lid of the pump basket, looking for cracks. Also, check to be sure the corresponding O-ring is properly lubricated and in good condition.

6)    Using a garden hose, fill the pump basket with water. Quickly put the lid on top of the housing, once it’s full, and hand-tighten it.

7)    With the pump lid in its proper place and the air relief valve open, turn the system on.

8)    Check for consistent water flow in the pump basket. If you don’t see 

a consistent flow through the basket within 45 seconds, shut the system off again and repeat above steps. Once you’ve repeated the steps, if there are still problems, it’s an indication that there is probably an air leak in the system. However, also check O-rings, lids, and housings, for proper operation. If you can’t find the source of a problem, feel free to call the experts at Pool Works. All of the technicians at Pool Works are highly skilled and capable of getting your  pool system back in operation.

9) When the water is flowing consistently, air will start flowing out from the air relief valve on the filter. This is a good thing because it’s the air that entered the system when you opened your pump lid.

10) When water begins flowing consistently out of the air relief valve, shut the valve.

11) Return the diverter valve handle to its original position slowly. Open the air relief valve again, to be sure all air is now gone from the pipe you’ve 

lakeland fl pool pump priming

just opened.

12) Close the air relief valve, and turn off the system. 

Ready, set, prime

For help priming your pool pump or for regular pool cleaning and a pristine pool you can enjoy year-around, contact Pool Works today.

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