Pool Pump Won’t Turn On

It’s common for swimming pool motors to run on the hot side. Most motors will shut themselves down if it is running too hot. Pool pump motors that run hot will make more amperage and cost more money to operate. This can be caused by a few different reasons but eventually, the motors stop and won’t come back on Why won’t my Pool Pump turn on?

  • External Power outage breaker tripped
  • Pool timer-ensure that it reset to cycle properly
  • Clogged Pump Impeller-Clean out impeller-Look for the reset button on the back motor
  • Broken pump Capacitor
  • Air locked
  • Overheated motor from being covered
  • The pump shaft is seized
  • Clogged Pump Basket


Some maintenance repairs we face as pool owners are preventable and some problems are inevitable but knowing about built-in protections and how temperatures work with pool filter equipment that is a part of pool care that can give you an edge when trying to solve a problem that will almost definitely appear one Monday morning when you check your swimming pool.

Pool Pump Won’t Turn On


Prime the Pump-you check your pool filter after a long hot weekend and find your pool  pump not working. The first thing you should do to fix the problem is to shut the pool pump down. Most pool pumps these days have a self-priming ability that will also automatically shut the pump down at a higher temperature so it doesn’t burn itself out.


Checking the Pool Pump Power and Motor for Turn Issues


The pool pump needs water in it that will make temperatures cool down. After it cools down the pump should cycle back on.

  • Open the pump lid
  • Fill the lines for 2-3 minutes 
  • Start the pump
  • Check Timers for an electrical problem

Clear the area around the pool pump to rule out overheating from something covering the motor’s vents and fan. Believe it or not, I have seen this situation where one of my kids covered the pool pump and motor with vinyl pool rafts and it overheated the motor and shut down the pump one hot night in August. A pool pump has to be able to breathe to stay at an operating temperature.

Determine whether you had external power problems during the night. The electricity could have been off for a while affecting the timer switch or the pool pump after spiking when it came back on after a power outage that occurred.


Cleaning the Pool Pump Basket: Ensuring Water Level for Efficient Operation


Relief Air Lock-This may be working or may not so make sure to shut the motor down on the timer switch. Then shut the power completely down at the breaker. Self-priming pumps are a type of pump that clears its channels of air if the air bounds them and resumes the pumped pool water supply without external attention. If this sensor overheats then it needs a few minutes to cool down.

Baskets and Impeller- “easiest fix” pool problem first which will be a basket strainer before the filter that is full and clogged won’t pump or a clogged impeller that will give you pump problems. Also, check the gaskets and rings on the pool pump lid.

If the impeller is clogged up with debris it will overheat the pump and shut it down at the pump location but before it does it will start to draw excess amps and make the main breaker trip. Or it will shut the pool pump down where it needs a reset if the pump has a temperature safety feature (look on the back end of the motor for a reset button) try to reset it to see if the pump turns on.

If the pump motor shaft is seized from age or leaking replace it (they last about 5-7 years)


Assessing Pool Pump Impeller and Pump Capacitor for Potential Problems


With The Pool Pump Breakers and Power off:

  • Shut down your main circuit breaker
  • Shut the motor down at the timer switch
  • Clear the area around the pool pump to (rule out overheating from something covering the vents)
  • Access the pump’s impeller through the strainer basket to fix
  • Turn the Impeller by hand to rule out a clogged pump 
  • Open the motor housing and spin shaft inside the pump motor to rule out a seized motor
  • If the shaft on the motor and impeller turn and spin freely then move on
  • Turn the power on 
  • Run Pool Pump off the timer in a manual position
  • If the pool Pump makes a humming or buzzing electrical sound when trying to start or when it running
  • It’s most likely the Capacitor in the pump motor


Inspecting Pool Pump Lid and Water Flow for Proper Function



If you notice a change in the psi on your pool pump or there is no water in the skimmer basket at the filter. A clogged impeller will prevent pool pumps from starting up completely. To remedy this, turn your pump’s power OFF at the circuit breaker, and then remove the pump’s basket lid and take out the basket.

Remove any visible debris from the disc-shaped impeller by hand until it spins the shaft easily. If you can feel debris in the impeller mechanism but can’t remove it by hand use a screwdriver to loosen the debris to fix it. Always make sure your power source is off before you try and clean the impeller or fix any parts that are connected electrically.

  • The pump is making loud, grinding, cavitation noises 
  • The filter pressure psi gauge reading is substantially lower than it normally reads.
  • The pump basket visually has no water in it
  • The water in the pump is pulsating and slowly moving 
  • The main breaker was found tripped-that there’s no electricity going to it
  • It’s most likely a Clogged Impeller


Suspect a Clogged Impeller-Watch this Video:



Pool Pump Capacitor on Motor



How To Replace a Pool Pump Capacitor - INYOPools.com A pool pump capacitor helps kick-start the pump motor to bring it up to speed and power. Pool pumps may have two capacitors. There could be one in the back which is the start capacitor and one on top which is the run capacitor. Listen for a quiet or loud buzz or hum. This sound indicates that the pool pump capacitor has become dead.

Both Capacitors look similar to a large battery. Start capacitors are usually located at the back of the motor and the run capacitor is located at the top of the motor.

The Running Capacitor helps the motor operate and keeps it running smoothly. This Capacitor is easier to access and located in a plastic compartment directly on the outside casing or housing of the motor.


How To Replace a Pool Pump Capacitor - INYOPools.com
       Starting Capacitor

A Capacitor could wear down from heat inside the motor and this could come from age or when the motor has to work harder than normal if the impeller is clogged or the filter is dirty and needs backwashing. Start capacitors have a limited service life of approximately 5000 starts of the pool pump motor. The Capacitors will help the pool pump motor start, turn the shaft and get up to an average of 3500 rpm working power.

You may smell “burnt wires smell ” in the air but most likely you’ll hear a humming sound and the motor will start or may not and end with a click. To expose the capacitor simply lift the end of the motor housing. Capacitors are easy to spot they look like cans connected to the pump’s motor.

How To Replace a Pool Pump Capacitor - INYOPools.com
Run Capacitor

They also hold an electrical charge so before you handle it take the charge out of it by touching the screwdriver to the ends of the capacitor making sure to touch each prong simultaneously.

If you have ever changed a starter on a car this is the same concept as the Capacitor holds an extra charge to bump the motor when you start it and bring it up to speed.

There will be an electrical spark when you do this so make sure you are only touching the capacitor with the screwdriver. After you release the capacitor’s charge, it’s safe to remove the capacitor from the larger cylinder. 



With The Pool Pump Breakers and Power off:

  • Check the condition of the Capacitor How To Test A Pool Pump Capacitor
  • Check for rusty loose or broken connectors from the capacitor to the motor
  • Ground out the Capacitor using a metal screwdriver cross over both terminals to expend the electrical charge 
  • Test the capacitor by using a multimeter set to the highest level for Ohms.
  • If the meter reads zero and stays at zero – shop for a new one to fix
  • If it slowly rises to infinity, your capacitor is capable of holding a charge, and a replacement capacitor is not needed.
  • If you are not comfortable with doing this then Don’t Call someone that is to fix it!

This is mostly due to a Capacitor that is connected to the Pool Pump which is a common problem in Pool Pumps. 



Troubleshooting Pool Pump Power Parts: Start Timer and Electric Connections


The pool pump’s switch does go bad and won’t start if you’ve had a pool pump as long I have you can wake up in the morning and it’s gone. The solution is to Purchase one that is compatible with your size swimming pool and keep turning the filter system once you check out something you can fix like an electrical problem or a clogged impeller.


When your motor is accompanied by a strange humming sound, it usually means the capacitor has failed. This component provides a charge so the motor will run consistently. The most likely reason your capacitor has failed is a surcharge of electricity that causes the capacitor to overheat. You can replace the capacitor and parts instead of replacing the entire motor.

Pops and Clicks

If you hear a pop and a click when turning on the motor, it’s a sign of electrical circuit failure either inside your pump or inside your home. You may need to do some electrical detective work to find out what’s causing the lack of power.

No Sound at All

If your water filter pump motor is completely silent, it probably means the motor is dead and it needs to be replaced.

Age of Motor

If it’s been 10 to 15 years since the motor was initially installed, you should think about getting the motor and wires replaced. It might work for another few months, but the end of its working life is near.


How to Get Air Out of Pool Pump With a Sand Filter

If your pool pump pulls air, what’s the best way to prime a pool pump with a sand filter?

  • Turn off Pump-set multiport handle to recirculate
  • Open-air pressure valve at top of Sand Filter-or loosen pressure gauge
  • Open Pump Strainer-clean basket-check O-ring for wear
  • Fill pump basket with hose-2-3 min.
  • Close the lid-turn pump on
  • Wait for air to be released at the pressure gauge.……………………………… Read more


JimGalloway Author/Editor 


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