Directions for Priming Your Swimming Pool Water Filter Pump

This fix will get water moving through your pump and filter system.

Three friends enjoying a day at the pool.
Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

Prime refers to a state where air has been purged from the swimming pool water pump, which allows the filter pump to move pool water. When your pump loses its prime, it is no longer pumping water. These tips will help you get the prime back in your swimming pool water pump and filter system.

Turn off the Pump

This may seem like an obvious first step, but remember that the pump is an electrical system.

You would not attempt to replace a light -- or do any electrical work -- without hitting the off switch. Use the same caution with your pool's pump. But, simply turning off the pump requires a few steps.

  1. Close all valves on the suction side of the pump. This includes the main drain, skimmer, and vacuum lines.
  2. If you have an air relief valve on your filter, open it to release any built-up pressure.
  3. Slowly open the strainer lid of the pump.
  4. If you do not have an air relief valve, open the strainer lid a little to let the pressure bleed off.

Inspect and Replace Parts

  1. Inspect the hair/lint strainer basket and clean it out if necessary. Ensure that the basket is in good shape and is not distorted or broken. If it is damaged, you may need to check the impeller of the pump to ensure that there is no debris in it. If needed, replace the basket to avoid damaging the pump.
  2. Inspect the gasket or O-ring for the strainer top to ensure that it is clean and in good shape so that it will create a good seal.
  1. Replace the basket and fill the strainer with water using a bucket or garden hose.
  2. Replace the strainer lid ensuring that it seals tightly.

Tighten Knobs, Turn on the Pump

  1. If you have knobs to tighten, tighten them evenly using only your hands. Do not use a wrench or other tool as you may overtighten causing the knobs to distort or break. If your lid screws down, hand-tighten it
  1. Turn on the pump first, then slowly open one suction-side valve only.
  2. Wait for the pump to catch its prime and get a good flow of water going.

If the Pump Does Not Prime

Let the pump sit for about 30 seconds to a minute. Close the valve first, then turn off the pump.

  1. Reopen the strainer, bleeding off pressure by opening the air relief on the filter or slowly opening the strainer lid to allow the pressure to escape.
  2. Refill the strainer with water, close the lid, turn on the pump and open the same valve.
  3. Repeat these steps several times as needed until you purge all of the air from that line and get the water moving.

Open the Next Valve

Once you have the water flowing through one line, slowly open the next valve on the suction side.

  1. Listen for the air to be pulled out of the line.
  2. If the pump starts to lose its prime, close the valve quickly.
  3. Continue to bleed the air out of the line as needed.
  4. Repeat this with any other lines.

If you often lose the prime when turning off your pump, release the air in the filter first -- if you have an air relief valve -- before turning off the pump. Close the suction-side valves before opening the strainer lid. This will help to hold the water up to the valve and make repriming easier.