Is your pool pump louder than it used to be? Swimming pool motors can wear down, leading to excessive noise and frustration.
These noises shouldn’t be ignored because they’re almost always a sign of overheating and mechanical problems. Repairing them as quickly as possible will prevent long-term, costly damage.
Your pool pump is making a loud noise because of one of these causes:
- Debris in the baskets
- Pump pulling air bubbles
- Clogged filter
- Uneven pump installation
- Faulty capacitor
- Jammed or clogged impeller
- Worn motor bearings
In this article, I’ll break down every explanation about why your pump is making too much noise. I’ll also explain how to fix each issue (or recommend that you replace the pump if the issue isn’t fixable). Let’s get started!
1. Debris in the Pump Basket
Debris in the pump basket can rattle and swish around. If you hear a strange clicking or ticking noise in the pump basket, it’s likely clogged.
The basket can also break apart if it gets too brittle. Excess chlorine, acid, and other chemicals can wear down the basket and send small plastic chips throughout the filtration system.
It’s important to clean your pump basket regularly. These clogs can lead to some of the other problems found in this article, including air bubbles, dirty filters, excess vibrations, and more.
Pump baskets are the second line of defense behind the skimmer basket. Proper maintenance is crucial to prevent motor damage.
How to Fix
Follow this process to fix clogging issues:
- Turn off the pump, open the lid, and dump all of the debris from the basket.
- Dump the debris out of the skimmer basket.
- Replace the skimmer basket, skimmer gate, or pump basket if they’re chipped or broken.
- Remove the unions on every piece of equipment and remove any debris stuck in the lines.
It’s best to clean your pool’s baskets multiple times each week, especially during spring and autumn.
The pollen, leaves, and other natural debris quickly clog the plumbing and causes all sorts of problems if they’re not removed.
2. Pump Pulling Air
Your pump might be making strange noises because it’s pulling air.
You’re likely used to the sound of your pump circulating water. However, air circulation overheats the motor and makes it scream or hum. Priming the pump or locating the source of the air will keep your pump in good condition.
Here are a handful of things that can make your pump pull air:
- Plumbing leaks
- Natural evaporation dipping the water level below the inlets
- Loose gaskets and O-rings
- Loose or damaged unions and lids
- Priming mistakes
How to Fix
Here are your repair options:
- Repair pump leaks. If your pump is leaking, check each of the gaskets and make sure the lid and unions are tightened.
- Use a solar blanket to prevent evaporation. Avoid cheap tarps because they crumble from your pool’s chemicals.
- Replace all damaged O-rings and lubricate the rest of them. Use a pool and spa lubricant to treat the gaskets annually.
- Open the air relief valve while running the pump to remove excess air bubbles. You should always do this step when priming the pump.
Plumbing and liner leaks can cause long-term water loss. I recommend hiring a pool technician to repair these leaks since DIY repairs often void warranties.
3. Dirty Filter
If your pool filter is above 25 PSI, it needs to be cleaned.
A dirty or clogged filter prevents the water from circulating properly. It also overheats the pump’s motor because it has to work much harder.
Cleaning the filter almost always fixes this common problem because it alleviates the plumbing constraints.
However, your filter’s cartridges or wings might need to be replaced.
A cartridge filter with torn pleats or bands won’t properly filter the water. Similarly, a DE filter with torn or broken fins can’t do its job correctly.
Both of these issues require replacements before using the pool pump again.
How to Fix
To clean your pool filter, follow these steps:
- Turn off the pump.
- Remove the filter’s lid from the lower body.
- Remove the cartridges or fins and spray them until they’re clean.
- Replace damaged or torn cartridges and fins since they can’t filter the water properly.
- Put the cartridges into the filter, seal the lid, and prime the pump.
Note: Remember to add the required amount of DE into the skimmer if you have a DE filter. Check the filter’s manufacturer guidelines to know how many scoops of DE it needs.
If you have a sand filter, follow this process:
- Turn the valve to the BACKWASH setting.
- Turn on the pump until clear water flows out of the filter’s backwash hose.
- Replace the sand every two to three years (or as recommended by the manufacturer).
4. Uneven Pump Motor
Your pump, heater, filter, and all other pieces of equipment need to be on a stable surface.
An uneven or unstable equipment pad causes vibrations and rattling. These movements can damage the pump’s motor and other pool equipment components.
The pump should’ve been leveled when it was installed. Pool technicians are supposed to use a leveling tool to ensure the equipment is balanced before installing the mounting screws. These screws prevent the pump from shifting during vibrations from normal operations or earthquakes.
If the pump’s motor is misaligned, you’ll undoubtedly hear strange noises.
How to Fix
You can use a leveler tool to check if the pump is balanced. If it’s not, your two options are as follows:
- Replace the concrete pad below the pump to ensure its level. This process requires expensive labor charges to remove the pool equipment, level the pad, and replace the equipment.
- Put a leveling pad under the pump. The installation company or manufacturer should offer a plastic or rubber leveling pad to stabilize the pump. Have them drill the pump to the concrete if you live in an earthquake-prone area.
5. Faulty Capacitor
Every pump has a capacitor, which is the battery that powers the motor.
If your pump’s capacitor is damaged or faulty, it’ll hum and shut off the pump. A failing capacitor might overheat the pump since it makes the motor work harder than it needs to in order to compensate for the lack of energy storage.
Capacitors rarely make noises. In fact, the sound almost always comes from the motor.
These noises are usually low hums or rumbles. They’ll get louder as the pump’s RPMs increase. Some capacitor hums might be unnoticeable when the pump is running at a low, steady speed.
How to Fix
You can replace your pump’s capacitor with this procedure:
- Turn off the pump and the circuit breaker.
- Remove the capacitor’s cover plate.
- Disconnect the wires from the capacitor, then short it if there’s still a charge (you can test it with a multimeter).
- Remove the retaining screws and slide the new capacitor under the retaining bracket.
- Tighten the retaining screws to secure the capacitor.
- Connect the motor’s wires to the capacitor, then seal the cover plate.
- Turn on the pump and test your work.
Note: Never use a capacitor for a different pump. These capacitors need a like-for-like replacement to prevent electrical issues.
6. Clogged Impeller
A clogged impeller is quite dangerous because it can overheat the pump, send broken bits through the plumbing, and more.
Impellers rarely clog because the skimmer basket and pump basket catch larger debris. However, thin hairs and dirt can get caught in the rotating impeller.
A jammed impeller can make a loud noise because it stops the motor.
You can unclog an impeller rather quickly. However, a damaged or chipped impeller needs to be replaced since the fins are required for optimal water circulation.
Running a pool pump with a broken impeller will overheat the motor or prevent the water from moving, so it’s important to fix this issue quickly.
How to Fix
You can unclog the impeller with these steps:
- Turn off the pump and remove the lid and basket.
- Reach into the pressure-side hole leading toward the impeller and remove the debris.
- If you can’t get everything out with those steps, remove the retaining screws to separate the housing from the motor.
- Remove the clog from the exposed impeller, then connect the pump housing to the motor with the previously mentioned screws.
- Replace the pump’s basket and lid, then prime the pump.
Pro-tip: If you separate the pump housing from the motor, be sure the lubricate the housing gasket. The Hayward Multilube can be used on all of the gaskets and O-rings in your pool pump, heater, salt cell, and filter. Apply a small amount of the lubricant to the gaskets annually.
True Method provides this helpful video guide to unclog an impeller if you need additional assistance:
7. Damaged Motor Bearings
Damaged motor bearings are caused by moisture getting into the motor, overheating from electrical issues, or direct damage to the motor.
These bearings can’t be replaced, which means you have to replace the motor when they’re blown.
However, you don’t have to get a brand-new pump since the motor can be switched out with a like-for-like model.
If you think your motor’s bearings are damaged, listen for a grinding noise. Grinding bearings are always a surefire sign that the motor needs to be replaced. Furthermore, they can overheat the pump.
Hover your hand over the motor. If it’s hot to the touch, the motor is far hotter than it should be.
How to Fix
If you’re sure the bearings are damaged and grinding, it’s time to replace the motor.
Be sure to verify the damage with a professional before spending any money on a new motor. Once you’re ready to replace it, follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Turn off the power going to the pump.
- Disconnect the wires from the motor and label them to know where they go on the new motor.
- Disconnect the motor from the pump housing by removing the retaining screws.
- Remove the impeller with a strap wrench and a screwdriver.
- Connect the new like-for-like motor to the impeller and seal it to the pump housing with the retaining screws.
- Connect the wires to the appropriate wire nodes on the new motor.
- Prime the pump.
Pool Pump Loud (Low Pressure)? Here’s What To Do
Is your pool pump running loud, but there’s not enough pressure? If so, there’s likely a clog in the plumbing.
Your pool shouldn’t get too loud, but it’s not uncommon if the RPMs ramp up.
For example, a variable-speed or two-speed pool pump will get louder when it reaches its top speed. However, the pressure should gradually increase.
So, why is your pump loud but producing low pressure?
- The filter is clogged or dirty. As I explained earlier, your pool filter’s PSI shouldn’t exceed 25. If it does, it’s time to clean the filter to remove the excess debris.
- The skimmer basket and pump basket are full. Your pump will work harder without breaking the clogs, which is why it’s louder but doesn’t increase the pressure.
- The motor or capacitor is failing. If either of these parts breaks, the pump will get loud, but it can’t produce more pressure or water flow.
- Your plumbing is leaking. There could be a leak underground, in the pipes, or in the pool’s liner. These leaks make your pump’s motor work harder, but the leak prevents it from circulating the water quicker.
Some single-speed pumps are loud, even if they don’t produce a lot of pressure. You might just have an old or low-quality pump.
Pool Pump Loud in Cold Weather? Here’s What To Do
There’s a big misconception that pool pumps don’t need to run when it’s cold. People often forget to run their pool pump during the winter because there’s not as much algae.
However, a stagnant or non-operational pool pump is worse than running it daily. The cold weather can freeze the pipes, bearings, and impeller.
Here’s why lower temperatures can make your pool pump sound loud:
- Frozen water expands and breaks the plumbing, which causes leaks. Your pump works harder when there’s a leak, so the frozen plumbing directly makes it louder.
- The ice can block or jam the impeller. Since the impeller can’t rotate, the motor overheats and makes a bunch of strange noises.
- Your pump’s bearings can freeze, which stops the motor from working properly. The capacitor can also freeze, having a similar effect.
- Ice is much harder for the pump to move, especially if you have valves or pool solar panels on the roof. Your pump will have to work harder to push the slushy water through the plumbing, so it’ll get a bit louder.
If you don’t want to deal with any of these issues, I suggest running your pump at its lowest speed when it’s not on a regular schedule during the winter.
The small trickle will prevent the water from freezing, much like how a river doesn’t freeze as quickly as a shallow lake.
Pool Pump Loud and Hot? Here’s What To Do
Pool pumps are a bit loud and a little warm, but they should never be louder than a light hum. You should be able to touch the pump’s motor without burning your hand.
If your pump is screeching or it’s too hot to touch, something’s wrong.
Here are the top four reasons why your pump might be loud and hot:
- The bearings are worn, and the motor needs to be replaced.
- There’s a clog, which is making the pump’s motor work harder than it usually does.
- The pump is running dry or doesn’t have enough water in the plumbing.
- One of the suction-side or pressure-side valves is narrow or closed, so it needs to be opened to improve the water flow.
Clog and air bubbles are the most common causes of a loud, hot pump. Once you open the air release valve and check for clogs, it’s good to assume that the motor’s wires are loose or the motor needs to be replaced.
If your pump seems too loud or hot, you should turn it off immediately.
Not only can your neighbors file a noise complaint, but the pump could catch on fire. Running the pump while it’s overheating will eventually cause you to have to replace it.
Pool Pump Motor Humming? Here’s What To Do
All pumps produce a subtle hum when they’re operating. However, a loud or new hum that wasn’t present when you got the pump should be monitored.
Pool pumps often hum for these reasons:
- Bad capacitor (needs to be tested with a multimeter and replaced if there’s not enough electricity)
- Clogged impeller (needs to be unclogged to help it rotate optimally)
- Air bubbles in the system (the humming will gradually get louder until you remove the air from the plumbing)
- Variable-speed RPM changes (the lower speeds will hum at a much quieter level than the higher speeds)
- Dirty or damaged pool filter (unclog the filter to increase the water flow and eliminate the unwanted humming noise from the pump)
Additional Pool Pump Noise Troubleshooting Resources
If your pump is making any other noises, my other pool pump noise troubleshooting articles may be able to help: