Repair an Old Pool Pump or Buy a New One?

If your swimming pool pump is not functioning properly, the next step is to choose between a pool pump repair or replacement. First, identify the problem. Once you know what’s wrong, you can determine whether the parts should be replaced/repaired, or you need to buy a new pool pump.

New pool pump installation from customer in Delray BeachGenerally speaking, you should repair the pump if:

  • The repair cost is less than the price for a new pump
  • The pump motor is less than 5 years old
  • An expert assures you it can be running back to normal after being repaired by a professional

Replace the pump if:

  • Your local or state laws require energy efficient pumps (and yours is not)
  • You have an undersized pump for your specific application
  • The pool pump is older than 5 years
  • The pump is badly damaged and the cost of parts and repair service surpass the cost of acquiring a new one
  • There is a high potential for frequent breakdowns in the near future

Important: DIY vs. Calling an Expert

We recommend avid do-it-yourselfers stay away from pool pump repairs outside of the most superficial clogs. Pool pumps are very powerful motors that can easily hurt you. The risk of damaging yourself or the pump is quite high, and a problem will only increase your total repair costs.

Typical Pool Pump Problems and Repairs

If your pool pump is not doing its job properly, you need to examine what is happening as soon as possible in order to maintain water circulation. If you can’t figure it out on your own, our experts are happy to provide assistance. Below, you’ll find a list of common problems and how we typically troubleshoot them.

Pool pump leaks

Water leakage from your pump is a common problem, which can have multiple causes.  These include:

  • Damaged impeller housing o-rings
  • Worn out shaft seals
  • Bad thread sealant
  • Shrunken discharge pipe threads

These parts are available to purchase and replace if you have the required tools to disassemble the system. In case you are overwhelmed, we can also assist you in replacing these parts quickly.

Pump not pulling water

If the pump is not pulling water through the system as it should, it means water will not reach the filter appropriately. This can cause your water to quickly become dirty and murky. A clog in the pipes or other pool systems is the most common cause of this issue. The impeller can also be clogged with debris. Air leakage in the suction line can be another potential cause.

The pump motor fails to start or turn off

If a motor fails to start or turns off shortly after turning on, there could be either electrical or heat-related problems. First, check the breaker to ensure power is flowing as usual. If the breaker is allowing power to flow appropriately, there are probably electrical issues with the motor or an overheating problem.

Noisy pump

A typical pool pump will produce a little noise.  However, loud noises usually mean that something is not right.  Common causes are structural vibrations in the pump itself, or inadequate/unstable water supply to the pump. High-pitched noises are usually caused by worn out bearings. The task of replacing bearings is painstakingly technical.  The entire system must be shut down and disassembled first, so it’s usually best to call a pro to repair them.

The pump is only pulling in air

A normal pump should not take in any air at all because even a small amount of air can cause the pump to overheat.  Many pump systems may have small air leaks, but they can quickly become a major problem once they grow bigger. The most common causes include damaged thread sealant, a leaking valve stem, and bad plumbing. Give a professional a call to assist you if you suspect air is being sucked into the pump.

How to Select a Suitable Pool Pump

Given the many models of pool pumps that come at different prices, it can be difficult to choose the best for your needs. Therefore, here are the key things to consider when choosing a pool pump.

Pool pump capacity

Your choice in pump capacity will depend on the volume of your swimming pool. A typical home pool will be fine with a pump of 1hp to 2hp.

Number of pool users

If you have a lot of people using the pool, there will be maintenance implications because you need to clean the water more often. You may want to have a larger residential pump (or even a commercial grade pump) if you have a busy pool in your home.

How often you clean the pool

A dual speed pump can be perfect so you are saving energy during non-peak times. Most people leave the pump on the low-speed setting during normal operation.  They typically adjust the power higher while cleaning the pool, or operating the pool heater. Similarly, a variable speed pool pump will provide even more control over water flow if you have large gatherings and need to circulate water quickly during short durations of time.

Cost

Most homeowners want to make an educated financial decision when buying a pool pump. They research their options and get a professional opinion, and may find themselves “on the fence” when it comes to choosing between value-priced and higher-priced models.  It’s fine to be price-conscious, but we strongly recommend you consider your pool’s needs. Will saving a few hundred dollars today leave you wishing you had a better capacity pump model in the future?  The last thing you want is to save a few bucks up front, only to end up with murky/dirty water, and high maintenance/repair costs for years to come.

MORE INFORMATION ON POOL PUMPS

What Does a Pool Pump Do?

Put simply, your pool pump’s only job is to circulate water. It draws water from the swimming pool through the main drain and skimmer, moves it through a filter (and chlorine generator, heater, etc. as necessary), and feeds it back to the pool using the main returns.

Swimming Pool Pump Cost

To understand how much you should be paying for your pool pump, you should first understand the two main characteristics of pool pumps:

  1. Above-ground vs. inground
  2. Single/dual/variable speed

Each is suitable for a different size or type of swimming pool.

Above-ground pool pump

Above-ground units typically have a big filter basket (used for debris collection), and a high-capacity motor. The above-ground pool pump has a motor overload protector, efficient high flow action, quicker filtering cycles, and relatively few maintenance requirements.

Inground pool pump

Inground pool pumps are often cheaper and easier to operate compared to their above-ground counterparts. However, they may not be as energy efficient as above-ground pool pumps.

Single-speed pool pump

As the name suggests, single-speed pool pumps run at a constant speed. The pumping power cannot be changed.  The pump is either on or off.  Typical pumping speed is 3,450 rpm for almost all single speed models.

Pros

A single speed pump creates adequate pool water circulation because its speed is always ‘high’. They are also the easiest to find and the most affordable to buy.

Cons

Energy inefficiency is one of the key disadvantages of using single speed pumps. This is because they operate at a constant high speed, meaning they consume a large amount of energy throughout the day and night. It’s not cost-effective to run a single-speed pool pump for 24 hours. Also, single speed pumps are generally noisy due to the ‘high’ motor speed.

Cost

Different models come in a variety of prices. The most priced models may range from $350 to $450. But again, the cost of each unit may vary from one retailer to the other.

Dual speed pool pump

Unlike the single speed version, a dual pool pump’s speed can be adjusted.  The standard low and high speed settings are at 1,725 rpm and 3,450 rpm respectively. A toggle switch or a frequency inverter is used to control the speeds. The low speed is used for a basic pool circulation while high speed is used for more demanding operations (like when you need to rapidly clean a murky pool).

Pros

A two-speed pool pump is more versatile than its single-speed counterpart. This means it can save energy when running at the low-speed setting. The low speed setting is also quieter. If you want a greater water circulation or suction (like on a hot sunny day prone to algae growth or during peak pool usage), you can tune to the high-speed setting.

Cons

It is not as energy efficient as the variable pool pumps even when running at the low speed. It is also more expensive to purchase than a single-speed pump. The low-speed setting is insufficient to run some pool heaters. It is also not reliable to circulate water in above-ground swimming pools due to low water flow. While a step up from single-speed pumps, we strongly recommend upgrading to a programmable variable speed pool pump to make use of the latest advances in pool pump efficiency.

Cost

The cost of a two-speed unit may vary from one brand to another. A high-end model may cost as high as $650, while middle models run $450 to $550.

Variable speed pool pump

A variable speed pool pump is more flexible because you can adjust speed across a wider range. This means the pumping speed can match the specific task you want to accomplish, and can be tuned to the optimal level for your swimming pool.

Pros

The ability to adjust motor speed to a wide range of options enhances energy saving. Some of the modern high-end units have integrated programmable smart features that can adjust the speed automatically. Those smart pumps can also detect blockage problems and shut down the pump system. Many variable pumps also utilize a sealed Permanent Magnet Motor (PMM), which run quieter and without overheating issues.

Cons

One of the major disadvantages is the high initial cost, which is more than single-speed pumps or two-speed pumps. However, given the long lifespan of pumps, you should evaluate all purchases based on total lifetime expenditure.Cost

Variable pool pumps typically run around $700-$900, though premium models may go as high as $1,500 with all the bells and whistles.

Swimming Pool Pump Components

Electric motor

The motor’s power usage may vary depending on pool pump model. Generally, motors over 2 horsepower (hp) will run on 230 volts while those with less hp will run on 115 or 230 volts. Electric motors are not completely sealed from environmental elements because they are air cooled. For that reason, it is crucial to prevent water or other debris from entering the motor through the cooling vents.

Impeller

An impeller is connected at the end of a motor’s shaft. It is designed to create a vacuum and a suction effect that generates high pressure to lift and force water through the filter. Then the water is released under high pressure back into the swimming pool through a network of hoses. Impellers are exposed to the water coming in from the pool and may develop blockages from debris and dirt.

Hair and lint trap

This is located at the end of the pool pump. It contains a basket through which water is pulled as the impeller turns. The hair and lint trap prevents clog in the impeller by stopping debris from entering through the small openings.

 

 

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