How to Prime a Swimming Pool Pump
July 15, 2016
When we prime a swimming pool pump, we're making sure it's ready to suck water. That sounds like a piece of cake, but stray air does have a habit of sticking around inside the pipes unless the priming process is carried out in the right sequence. The air has to be purged so that the water can circulate properly. Here's how it's done.
Prepare for Prime Time
A newer swimming pool pump may be self-priming, but, then again, it may not. It's like when we learn to drive. We learn in a vehicle with a manual transmission even though we might never own a car equipped with manual gears. Priming is the same. If we own a pool, we should just know how to manually prime the pump. Now, with that said, turn off everything. Cut the power to the pump and any other pool equipment. Next, turn the diverter valve to the "recirculate" setting. This latter step removes the filters from the system.
Chase System-Trapped Air Away
If the equipment is fitted with an air relief valve, make sure it's turned to the OPEN position, as this setting will eliminate difficult to locate air bubbles. Now it's time to open the pump strainer basket. This is where the priming water enters the system. A garden hose is good enough for this stage. Use the hose to fill the strainer basket, and wait. The water is now pushing out any air locks and surging through every pipe until it fills the pump impeller chamber.
After a few minutes, pull the hose away and close the strainer basket seal. It's a good idea at this point to check for air leaks. Look at the O-ring on the basket seal. Is it intact? Add a little petroleum jelly to make sure the closure is airtight. A quick wipe of the hands and a satisfied nod concludes the work. Turn on the pump and watch the air relief valve, if fitted. The last gaseous remnants will be pushed out here, and now we can close the air relief valve, turn the diverter valve to its normal position, and watch the filtered water circulate.
Don't worry if this doesn't work the first time. A swimming pool pump sometimes needs to be primed several times, so repeat these steps until it does deliver optimized suction power. If there should be a problem, try looking for damaged seals and open valves before calling for expert help.
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