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Pool Pump Keeps Tripping Breaker? Here’s Why (+ How To Fix)

Pool pumps use a lot of electricity, so it’s no surprise that they can trip a breaker. However, it’s important that the circuit breaker doesn’t trip every time you use the pump. If it does, you need to figure out why and fix the problem.

Your pool pump keeps tripping the breaker because of at least one of these causes:

  1. Loose wiring
  2. Overheated pump
  3. Overloaded circuit breaker
  4. Water in the motor
  5. High-wattage pool heater
  6. Incorrect breaker size
  7. Faulty plug outlet
  8. Clogged plumbing

In this article, I’ll show you why your pump keeps tripping the circuit breaker and why it needs to be dealt with immediately. I’ll also talk about a handful of solutions and preventative measures to get the most out of your pool equipment.

1. Loose Wiring

Circuit breakers trip when they think something’s wrong with the electrical connections. Loose wires are more than enough to cause breaker issues.

These wires can loosen from minor vibrations in the motor, earthquakes, wear and tear, pests chewing on them, and more. The wires can loosen on the motor and the circuit breaker, so you’ll need to check both areas for issues.

How To Fix

Reconnecting the wires can often fix the issue, but you might have to trim and crimp them. Follow this process to make the repair:

  1. Turn off the power at the circuit breaker to prevent electrical hazards.
  2. Ensure the wires are securely connected to the circuit breaker by tightening the screws.
  3. Open the pump’s wire assembly and tug each of the wires to find the loose one.
  4. Unscrew the retaining screw, trim the wire if it’s broken, then wrap it around the screw and tighten it.
  5. Seal the wire assembly lid and turn on the breaker.

If you found loose wires and the breaker still trips after following this procedure, there are likely other issues you’ll need to fix.

2. Overheated Pump

An overheated pump can trigger the circuit breaker or fuse. Pumps overheat when any of the following is true:

  • They’re old
  • Their bearings are stripped
  • They work too hard
  • There’s too much electricity going to them.

Failure to treat an overheated pump can cause electrical fires, smoke, and expensive damage to the pump, heater, and other equipment. This requires an immediate fix, or you may end up replacing the entire pump.

How To Fix

Try these suggestions if you think your pump is overheating:

  • Check your pump’s warranty to find out if you can get a motor replacement. You can request a motor replacement since it’s the only part that can overheat. Many pool pump manufacturers provide an increased warranty if you get the pump installed by a professional pool technician.
  • Make sure your pump isn’t running at a higher RPM than it needs to. Variable speed pumps have a wide RPM range. Many of these modern pumps can run between 750 to 3,500 RPMs or more. You don’t need to run it too high if you don’t have several pieces of equipment running simultaneously.

For more in-depth troubleshooting instructions, read my guide on How To Fix an Overheating Pool Pump.

3. Overloaded Circuit Breaker

Circuit breakers are designed to handle a specific amount of energy. If you don’t know what your breaker can handle, you’ll need to check it to see its amps and volts.

If your pump exceeds these measurements, you need a new circuit breaker. You can multiply the volts by the amps to know how many watts the circuit breaker can handle before getting a new pump.

How To Fix

Running too many pieces of pool equipment on a breaker is a bad idea. Consider these suggestions to prevent the breaker from overloading:

  • Check what the breaker is rated for. Too many amps can overwhelm the circuit breaker and cause it to trip. Add the amps of everything on the breaker, including all of the pool equipment. Consider switching some of the equipment to a new breaker if the amps are more than the circuit breaker can handle.
  • Make sure you don’t have too many things wired directly into the circuit breaker. Some pool owners wire the pump into the breaker without using a timer. If you do this method, it’s important to ensure that you don’t have heaters, salt systems, and other electrical equipment wired directly to the same circuit breaker.

4. Water in the Motor

Getting water in a pump motor will surely ruin it. Pumps come with O-rings, gaskets, and dense pump seals to prevent moisture from entering the motor.

Unfortunately, the pump seal can wear down after several years, letting water get to the windings and bearings. Once these parts get wet and rusted, they can leak into the wires and trip the breaker.

How To Fix

Unfortunately, you have to replace the motor if moisture gets into it. There’s nothing you can do to get the water out and make the motor as good as new.

However, you can prevent water from entering the motor, windings, and bearings in the future with these tips:

  • Replace the pump seal behind the impeller if it’s warped, oily, or broken.
  • Replace the pump housing gasket to prevent water from getting into the motor.
  • Make sure the impeller isn’t jammed; a jammed impeller can break and let water into the motor assembly.

5. High-Wattage Pool Heater

Circuit breakers are rated for amps, volts, and watts. Pool heaters demand a ton of watts, so it’s crucial to know how many watts the designated breaker can handle.

If the heater, pump, salt system, and other equipment exceed the breaker’s limits, it’ll trip every time. Pool heaters almost always use gas, so it’s worth considering ways to reduce their electrical usage.

How To Fix

There are two things you can do to prevent a high-wattage pool heater from tripping the breaker when you turn on the pump:

  1. Put the heater on a dedicated breaker that doesn’t supply power to anything other than the heater. This process ensures the circuit breaker doesn’t have to maintain several pieces of equipment at the same time. The pump isn’t always responsible for tripping the breaker. Sometimes, it’s the other devices connected to the same breaker.
  2. Downgrade your heater to one that doesn’t use as many amps. Some heaters are too big for the circuit breaker or swimming pool. Check with your local pool store to find out which heater size you should get for your pool equipment pad.

6. Incorrect Breaker Size

If your breaker is too small, it can’t hold your equipment.

For example, a 110v breaker usually isn’t enough for swimming pool equipment. Many pool pumps need 220v breakers, especially variable speed pumps.

However, some models allow 110v breakers. Make sure you check your pump’s demands before switching the breaker.

How To Fix

If, for example, you have a 20-amp breaker and a 30-amp pump, the pump will trip the circuit breaker.

The only solution to this common problem is to get a breaker that’s rated for the swimming pool pump. It’s impossible to use a breaker with a pump that demands more electricity than the breaker can provide.

Note: You could switch to a smaller pump, but that could cause slow-moving water. Reduced water flow increases the chances of algae blooms, cloudy water, and many other issues.

7. Faulty Plug Outlet

Many pool pumps are connected to GFCI outlets, especially above-ground pumps.

The outlet needs to be in good condition for it to handle the pump’s demands. If it trips, has loose wires, or isn’t functioning properly, the breaker will trip. You can click the ‘Reset’ button, but it doesn’t always prevent the breaker from tripping if it overloads.

How To Fix

Many of us often overlook the outlet used by swimming pool equipment, as it’s easy to assume the breaker is faulty and replace it.

However, a malfunctioning, broken, or low-rated GFCI outlet can prevent your pump from working optimally. It can also trip the breaker since the GFCI could reset when the pump primes.

Here are two ways you can fix this:

  1. Press the ‘Reset’ or ‘Test’ button on the GFCI, then flip the breaker to reset it.
  2. Bypass the GFCI by wiring the two pump wires directly into the top and bottom of the breaker with a screwdriver while the breaker is off.

Remember, functional GFCI outlets are designed to prevent electrical surges. Bypassing the GFCI isn’t a good idea if the GFCI works properly because you could trip the breaker either way.

If you wire the pump into the breaker or a pool timer and it trips, something’s wrong with the pump that needs to be repaired or replaced.

8. Clogged Plumbing

Clogged plumbing is often an overlooked culprit because pool owners assume every breaker trips directly from electrical issues.

However, a clogged pipe makes the pump work harder than it should, overheating the motor. The breaker trips when the motor gets too hot, so the clog has to be removed before you reset the breaker.

How To Fix

Clogged plumbing is often associated with pump priming issues. However, it can also trip the circuit breaker.

So, what can you do?

  1. Remove the debris from the skimmer basket and pump basket.
  2. Clean the filter tank and cartridges, sand, or DE, depending on the filter you have.
  3. Loosen the unions on each piece of equipment and remove the built-up debris.
  4. Use a plumbing snake to remove small clogs from the PVC pipes.
  5. If none of those steps work, I suggest getting a pool expert or plumber to blow the lines with a pressurized air hose.

Pool Pump Breaker Won’t Reset? Here’s What To Do

If the breaker won’t reset for your pool pump, it’s time to test it. The AstroAI Digital Multimeter is my go-to for testing circuit breakers.

AstroAI Digital Multimeter

Place the red and black nodes on the two wire ports to find out if it’s getting the proper voltage.

If the pump isn’t showing 110v or 220v, the circuit breaker needs to be replaced.

Other issues include the following:

  • The pump is overheating, which prevents the circuit breaker from resetting.
  • Your pump’s GFCI needs to be reset before the connected breaker can reset.
  • There’s an electrical outage in your area.
  • The pool equipment pad’s total amps are more than the circuit breaker can maintain.
  • The bus bar disconnected from the breaker, which prevented it from supplying any electricity.

Pool pump breakers can usually be reset, but that doesn’t mean they’re without fault. A malfunctioning or overloaded breaker can turn on and off randomly.

Below, I’ll cover several potential reasons your breaker keeps tripping when the pool pump is on.

Pool Pump Breaker Trips When It Rains? Here’s What To Do

Does your pump breaker trip every time it rains?

Rainwater is responsible for ruining countless outdoor breaker boxes. Old, worn breaker boxes have broken or damaged seals that can’t keep the rain out.

When the water touches the bus bar or circuit breaker, it trips them. It’s important to maintain your outdoor breaker boxes with heavy-duty seals.

Another potential cause is the pump housing seal is damaged or warped. Sunlight, long-term usage, dryness, and improper installation can ruin a pump housing seal.

This seal is an O-ring that sits between the pump housing and the motor. If it breaks, rainwater can flood the motor and trip the breaker.

Pool Pump Trips Breaker After a Few Seconds? Here’s What To Do

Does it always seem like your pump trips the breaker a couple of seconds after it turns on? If so, your pool pump might be starting at a lower speed and ramping up to a high, energy-demanding pace.

To troubleshoot, check if the RPMs gradually increase. You can identify the problem by noticing if the breaker trips once the pump reaches its highest resting pressure rating.

The pump might also trip the breaker after a short while if there’s a clog, dirty filter, or high pressure flooding the pressure gauge.

Your filter shouldn’t exceed 25 PSI; if it does, it’s time to turn off the pump and clean it. High PSI, also known as high pressure, causes the pump to work harder than it should. The overheated pump trips the breaker.

Here’s a list of additional possible issues:

  • Loose wires slowly worsen as the pump vibrates
  • The pool pump is wired to a faulty timer that needs to be replaced
  • The circuit breaker isn’t rated for the pump’s initial amp surge
  • Your pool heater turns on within a few seconds of the pump activating, which overloads the low-rated circuit breaker

All of these issues can be solved by upgrading the circuit breaker and tightening the wires.

If you need a new timer, you can bypass it by wiring the pump directly into the circuit breaker until you get a new one. Traditional analog pump timers are becoming obsolete because modern pool pumps have built-in timers.

Pool Pump Hums and Trips Breaker? Here’s What To Do

Faulty pool pumps make all sorts of strange noises. All of them should be inspected, especially if the noise is followed by a tripped circuit breaker. The breaker tripping is a strong sign that something electrical is behind the hum.

So, why does your pool pump hum with electrical issues?

  • A broken motor prevents your pump from running, which makes it hum and trip the breaker.
  • The impeller could be jammed, so it can’t rotate and pull water into the pump basket and filter.
  • A closed inlet valve in front of the pump stops water from entering the plumbing, making the pump vibrate and hum until it overheats.
  • Rusted or locked bearings in the motor caused by excess moisture can make the pump screech, hum, grind, and overheat.

Never run a pump that screeches, grinds, trips the breaker, or overheats. All of these symptoms indicate that the pump could catch on fire or start smoking if it runs for too long.

Pool pump motors last between five to ten years in most cases. It’s time to replace the motor if it’s beyond the warranty and it makes strange, breaker-tripping noises.

Pool Pump Tripping GFCI Breaker? Here’s What To Do

GFCI breakers are often the first line of defense between the motor and the circuit breaker.

If the pump trips the GFCI breaker, the pump’s motor might have too many amps for the GFCI. Check the GFCI’s rating to know if the pump is too demanding for it. You could also press the ‘Reset’ button to find out if a splash of water tripped the breaker.

However, the GFCI outlet might need to be replaced.

GFCIs don’t last forever, especially if they have a demanding pump and other pool equipment plugged in. Below, we’ll show you the step-by-step instructions to replace a GFCI:

  1. Turn off the circuit breaker going to the GFCI outlet to prevent electrical shocks.
  2. Unscrew the retaining screws from the GFCI and remove the wires (there should be a black, white, and copper or green wire).
  3. Secure the copper or green wire to the green screw on the new GFCI, then attach the black and white wires to the spots labeled “Neutral” and “Hot” (you could also place them where they were on the old GFCI).
  4. Tighten the retaining screws on the new GFCI, then turn on the circuit breaker.
  5. Plug in the pump, turn it on, and check if the GFCI trips.

If the GFCI trips after replacing it, the pump might be too demanding.

Check the GFCI’s amp and voltage rating. If the pump exceeds these parameters, it should be wired to a circuit breaker with the appropriate limits.

Those who prefer a video tutorial for replacing a GFCI can refer to this guide:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqTNJUT_lKg

Pool Pump Troubleshooting Resources

If you have any other issues with your pool pump, check out our other pool pump troubleshooting articles:

Author

  • Jonah Ryan

    Jonah has worked for several years in the swimming pool industry installing and repairing equipment, treating pools with chemicals, and fixing damaged liners. He also has plumbing and electrical experience with air conditioning, ceiling fans, boilers, and more. When he's not writing for Temperature Master, he's usually writing for his own websites, LawnCareLessons.com and DIYByHand.com.

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