How to Prime an Above Ground Pool Pump

Above ground pool pumps are one of the most important parts of your pool. Learn how to prime your above ground pool pump for proper filtration.

How to Prime an Above Ground Pool Pump

One of the most important parts of your above ground pool is the pump. The pool pump circulates the water through the filter system, which cleans any debris from the swimming pool. Without the water moving around regularly, algae may start to form in your pool water. Sometimes the above ground pool pump will be on, but it will not move any water. This can happen when air gets in the system and will cause the above ground pool pump to lose its prime.

Tip – When you prime the pump, it means you restore the water flow.

Air can enter the system in many different ways. In order to fix the issue, try the troubleshooting steps below.


Air Relief and Shut Off Valves

The first thing you want to do is to check if your filter has an air relief valve. If it does, open it to release any pressure that has built up inside the above ground pool pump. Once the air is out, water should start flowing out of it and then you can close it. If your pool filter system has any shut off valves you will also want to make sure they are all in the open position. This allows the water to flow freely through the system.

Air Relief Shut Off Valves

Water Level of the Pool

How high is the water in your above ground pool? If it is not at least half way up the skimmer opening, your pump may be sucking in air. Sometimes you will hear a gurgling sound as the pump is trying to suck in water and instead is getting air. You will also want to check the weir door inside the skimmer. It may be stuck closed so make sure that it is functioning properly. If your water level is low, turn your above ground pool pump off and add more water to the pool. Once the water is high enough you can turn your pump back on and it should start to prime.

Water Level Above Ground Pool

Strainer Housing

Another way air can enter your pool filter system is through the strainer housing. Turn off the pump and then slowly open the lid to allow air escape from the pump and relieve pressure. Remove the strainer basket within the pump and clean out any debris, leaves or sticks that are inside. Rinse the strainer with a garden hose to ensure all dirt is removed. Pour 2-3 gallons of water into the pumps housing. Check the lid of the strainer housing and make sure the o-ring is in there and is not stretched out or worn. If it is, replace it with a new one. Use Lube Tube O-Ring Lubricant-Sealant when putting on the new o-ring. Close the strainer housing and turn your above ground pool pump back on. The housing should get filled with water and start to prime.

Pump Strainer Housing

Hose Connections and Pump Location

Air can be entering your above ground pool pump through any hose that is connected to it. Check to see that all clamps are fully tightened and secure. Make sure all the connections where o-rings are present are not worn out.

Hose Connections and Pump Location

Expert Tip: The location of your pump has to be factored into account as well. For an above ground pool pump to prime properly, it needs to be below the skimmer opening of the pool. Make sure the pump is not higher than the thru-wall skimmer and try to keep the pump closer to the pool if possible. The farther away the pump is from the pool, the harder the system has to work to try and get the water to flow through.

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Take a look at our extensive inventory of above ground pool replacement pumps and motors, which include all of the top brands such as AquaPro, Hayward, and Hydrotools.

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