How to Increase Pool Pump Pressure

If you lose pressure (PSI) on your pool pump then water won’t be flowing through the filtering system at a designed rate and the pool water won’t be filtered or cleaned as needed which results in a loss of electrical energy and a reduced amount of process pool water that will all result in a dirty swimming pool. How Can You Increase Pool Pump Pressure?

Increase Pool Pump PSI:

Keep pool baskets clean
Empty pump strainer baskets
Keep pool full
Keep Pump Impeller clear
Change cracked/worn filter hoses
Backwash sand filter/open & clean cartridge filter when PSI is 5-10 lbs. over startup operating range
Check & replace pump lid gasket
Reseat Filter Multi-Valve

The Pool’s pressure reading is a good monitoring tool for a pool operator to visually use to keep their pool pump and filtering system running clean and efficiently cutting the costs of chemicals and electricity and preventing shutdowns while keeping maximum contact.


Normal Pool Pump Pressure


The best way to determine Normal Pump Pressure for your filtering system is to start:

  • After cleaning the filter and baskets in the pool and the pump strainer
  • After adding new media and recording the PSI for the system on the Pressure Gauge.
  • After buying a new Cartridge or Sand filter

Normal pressure for most pools differs and is somewhere in the 5-15 psi or 10-25 PSI range. The pressure for filtration systems varies depending on the type of filter, the size of the lines, the size of the discharge ports in the pool or the pump, and other pool equipment. After running for a while the filter will start to clog with debris grease or hair that is removed by the filter.

You will see the pressure rise on the filter’s gauge as PSI and a decrease in flow will slowly happen as the pool water returns to the pool. You should see a rise in pressure if your pool has a Spa mode which is going to return pool water to a different location and in different size piping. So you will need to note or record this PSI as Spa-Normal Start-Up Pressure.

High pressure is considered to be 5-10 PSI above the start-up or above the usual clean pressure reading. For example, when you have a clean filter, you know that your pool usually runs at 13 PSI. If your pressure is now 20 PSI, you know the pressure is high and something isn’t right. You as the pool operator are the best judge of when to backwash your Sand filter or open your Cartridge filter to clean. Both filters need to be inspected every season for damage.

Take a Sharpie and mark the operating range after cleaning on the filter’s pressure gauge so that you can visually see where normal PSI should be. Check to make sure the PSI gauge is not stuck or broken by flicking it and making sure the needle moves. If it is broken replace using Teflon tape on the threads.

A dirty filter system increases PSI on the gauge while decreasing the flow of the returns entering the pool. Normally the manufacturers recommend that you backwash after the PSI reached approximately 10 lbs over the startup pressure. 

Lower pool pump pressure can

  • Lower filtering efficiency
  • Reduce water turnover rate
  • Lower electrical efficiency of the pool pump motor 
  • Add work


Low Pool Pump Pressure


The Pool pump is what creates the vacuum through the filter back into the pool  If the suction side of the filter pump (before the filter) is blocked or Air locked- then most likely this will result in a low-pressure reading at the filter and low flow at the returns going back into the pool.

This is easy to recognize by checking the PSI on the filter’s Pressure gauge daily when you first get into the pool area to do your testing and cleaning maintenance. If you see lower pressure here are some things to check.

  • The easiest thing to check is the skimmer basket which is most likely clogged with leaves or other debris
  • A clogged strainer basket on the pump will cause a low-pressure reading and reduces the flow-pull the basket and clean the debris
  • Clogged pump impeller that will lower pressure and also decrease suction and reduce the flow through the pool pump- Open the pump strainer to access the impeller and clean debris that is normally hair that ends up trapped in the impeller that keeps it from spinning which creates the vacuum in the system.  Turn off the pump and electric power open the pump and remove the clog, checking by rotating the impeller. 


  • Clogged filter that will lower pool pump pressure and reduce flow coming back into the pool
  • Air Leak or Air Lock-water level below skimmers slurping air-add more water to the pool at least halfway up the skimmer’s inlet. Check that air is not being pulled into the filtering system normally at pump intake, pump lid (check gasket & replace), or valve hoses air can be let out of the filtering system by loosening the pressure gauge at the top of the filter while the filter is running. Also, check dry rotted, worn filter hoses for cracks and leaks. Replace the hoses as necessary to keep the vacuum-tight system.
  • Closed or partially closed skimmer or main drain valves- turn off the pump and reposition the valve
  • Reseat Multi-Valve- turn off the pool filter and reseat the filter’s valve so it is properly in position


  • Sand Filters-need to be backwashed according to the manufacturer’s specification-occasionally you may need to open the filter and check the top layer of the sand to remove the scum layer and add fresh sand if needed
  • Cartridge Filters-should be pulled offline, hosed, cleaned, and soaked overnight in TSP solution

You may have added too many water features to your pool like sprinklers and fountains that are too much for the pool pump to handle decreasing pressure. You can close off some of these water features and check which ones are adding too much extra demand. Add a bigger pump.

You may start losing the prime that could dry the pool pump and eventually burn the motor out.

If it’s a self-priming pump that will keep trying to prime but won’t be able to keep up then it will eventually overheat and throw an electrical breaker shutting everything down.



How to Prime a Pool Pump With Sand Filter

For great articles on getting the best filtering from your pool pump and filter stay here at MyWaterEarth&Sky-Even though Pool pumps now come with automatic priming that can save the pump from heating up or burning out, there will be times that you will pull air in ……………………… Continue reading



JimGalloway Author/Editor


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