Pool pump is an important piece of equipment needed to keep your pool water clean, warm and hygienic. Once the pool pump malfunctioned or worst, it burn out, there are alternatives that could be done.
New generation of pool pumps coming out of the market are equipped with automatic controls, safety features and could be self-repaired by owners for simple problems. There are various video instructions proliferating in the Internet of DIY’s regarding pool pump repair.
But not all motor or pump troubles should be self-repaired. There are sometimes complicated problems and troubles that only experts could be trusted on these matters, especially on the electrical aspects.
Any sign of tear and wear should be given notice so as not to make them worst. Additionally piping system; electrical wiring and other accessories (such as heater, chlorinator, skimmer, etc.) should be checked regularly for possible mechanical or electrical troubles.
Most manufacturers estimate the service life of their pool pump motors at 8-10 years. To avoid common mistakes that pool owners do when trouble-shooting their pump, here are some of the most frequent pump problems.
Common Causes of Pool Pump Failures
• Stock–up or defective bearings
This is the most common trouble pool pumps always encounter. Bearings are vulnerable to shock, vibration and corrosion. Once the sound of the motor experience abnormality, like a whirring sound, it’s time to replace the bearings.
It is customary to replace both bearings (rear and front) if you find only one bearing (which is always the case) to be defective. Bearings are the most vulnerable parts of the motor as these are the ones that are subject to more stress that any other part of the pump system.
• Stock-up impeller
Impellers are also vulnerable to clogging, especially if the water it is pumping is full of large debris that may accidentally pass through the strainer or filter. Sand filter seldom experienced this phenomenon.
Sometimes, the impeller washer, nuts and diffuser bolts have loosened or worn out and these clogged the system (in addition to large debris such as pieces of leaves, etc.).
• Dehydrated pump during start-up
Pumps should be run with enough water (called priming) on its suction side. Some pump models are self-priming while some are primed manually. In case the motor is run without water on the system, this may over speed the motor shaft because it has no medium that may slow down the speed. The motor should be shut-off immediately to avoid further damage to the system.
This over speeding may cause the motor to overheat and burnt-out the windings if not corrected immediately.
• Short circuit
Short circuit occurs when there is presence of fluid (such as water) inside the motor’s windings. This water (possibly from worn out shaft seal, bad O-rings and defective gaskets) that may seep through during a whole night’s strong rain.
• Oversize or undersize piping system
The common denominator in designing motor size in regular pool is that the whole water in the pool should be re-circulated within 8 hours. The standard size for piping is 1 to 1-1/2 inches of pipe for suction and discharge sides for family-size above ground swimming pools.
The size of plumbing system may be reduced by one size higher or lower when needed. This may not overwork the motor. This is seldom done when considering the frequency of utilization of the pool. But experts have set this standard to compensate for the subsequent increase and decrease of users in the long run.
• Overheated Motor
When a motor is overloaded (such as sudden increase in ampere reading or sudden surge of grid current, over speeding due to dehydration , bad-bearings and short-circuits, etc.), the motor is more likely to burn-out. Bad bearings/s may cause the stator to rotate unbalance which overheats the windings and consequently burning the coils.
• Burnt Motor Due to Negligence
Yes, this frequently happens. A pool pump rated at 120-volt but accidentally plugged into an outlet having a supply voltage of 220 volts. This is one of the common mistakes that pool owners or other users do when installing power supply or testing the pump.
• Dried up Lubrication of Bearings
Bearings also need lubrication so as not to build up rust, especially when the pool and the pump are seldom used. There are new models of pool pumps that are now in the market which are self-oiling and maintain the right lubricant to keep the bearings run smoothly at any weather.
These types never run dry of lubrication even when not used for long periods. But they have also limit on the time period and requires minimum of maintenance. Better check your Owner’s Manual for instructions.
• Unmatched Pump Assembly
This is also one of the mistakes committed by pool owners: matching a 1-hp motor to 2-hp impeller or a 2-hp motor to a 1-hp impeller. The drive assembly should have the same power as its counterpart to avoid unmatched parts which may cause unbalanced operation that may overheat or overload either part.
The flanges (of the motor and pump) must also match so that gasket fits and no leak should be observed. The bolt holes on the flanges must also be matched each other to avoid pressure drop that may result from the gap. The pressure drop will prolong the continuous operation of the pump giving you higher electricity bill.
• Worn out Mechanical Seal
Some pumps are sealed with this type of seal placed in series with the impeller; this wears out with frequent use.
Repair or Replace the Motor?
Choosing between repair and replacement for your pump motor or the entire assembly is one of the hardest parts to tackle. The decision literally rest upon your shoulders. But this article will help you to decide without hesitation on how to choose between repair and replacement.
When to Repair
• When bearings are only the problem. These are easy to replace when you know the steps. As we have stated before, there are videos online that will teach you the proper way. Furthermore, you could hire experts to do this for you. Bearings cost only a fraction of the price for a whole motor unit.
• If the cost of repair is only minimal. In the case of bearing replacement, shaft seal may also be replaced if damaged or already worn out.
• When the impeller is only stock up and not deformed or broken.
• In case of total wrecked impeller due to serious clogging, this part is only the one needing replacement.
When to Replace
• If the motor had pass its expected life when it encounters serious trouble.
• When you want an upgrade and current design is not appropriate anymore due to increase number of pool users and increase frequency of maintenance.
• If same trouble occurs too often after reparations.
• When you are totally unsatisfied with your current pump’s performance and efficiency.
• In case of burnt motor, rewinding is also an option only if there is no damage to motor shaft, motor housing and other essential internal parts of the motor. These damages may result from the burn-out and needed additional cost to repair.
• If problem is too much and the cost may likely exceeds the price of a new one, like burnt motor with deformed impeller or damage diffuser, etc.
Lack of Knowledge about Motors
Judging the performance of your pool pump is not rocket science or you need not to be an electrical engineer or an expert to make a decision. The signs are there and they only need to be analyzed to make a smart decision.
In fact, more than 60% of pool owners in the United States have decided to upgrade their pump system as their family and their friends who use the pool grow and increase overtime. This also entails an upgrade in motor capacity.
Compare Prices and Benefits of Replacing Old Motor
A brand new motor, whether for replacement or initial use is the best for your pool. If you are a new pool owner, definitely everything must be brand new.
But if budget constraints do not allow you to, make sure that your second hand equipment are in good running condition, lest they will only give you headache and cost you more in the long run.
In the olden days, if the cost of repair is more than 57% of the cost of a brand new one, it is more economical to buy the latter (brand new). However, now there are shops that offer advanced repair technology that matches the efficiency of the original. But they vary in cost.
The motor pumps of today are more energy efficient (EE) unlike before. Better check out the real cost of repair (spare parts, service, etc.) so you may know if replacement is cost-effective enough.
All manufacturers of pool pumps generally warrant their products in limited time period. Moreover, majority of manufacturers have 1-year warranty on the unit, barely some offer much longer.
In order to have the warranty honored by the manufacturers, the unit should be free from tampering or remained un-opened (motor and pump) during the duration of the warranty period. Even reparations are covered by warranties issued by the repair shop.
One of the common mistakes pool owners do during the warranty period is replacing the shaft seal. The warranty offered by the manufacturer is voided when there is seal failure.
That’s why if your unit is brand new and experienced abnormality within the prescribed period, better to report it to your dealer. Never try to fix the problem yourself or open up (or disassemble) any part of the pump or motor, otherwise the warranty will be forfeited. The same goes with repairs.
Pool owners who upgrade their pool pumps and other accessories will surely have higher initial cost. But considering the new generation of pool pumps in the market today, which are more energy efficient and made through state-of-the-art technology, they are more likely to save more in the long run.
Reparations are only advisable when the cost of repair is way below the total cost of acquiring a new one. The integrity and reliability of serious reparations for major breakdowns are also more likely to bring additional cost as anticipated.
This is also true for new pool owners; utilizing used equipment may bring more nightmares than good night sleeps.