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Pool Pump Overheating? Here’s Why (+ How To Fix)

If your pool pump is overheating, it can ruin the motor or trip the breaker. The last thing you want is to have to replace your pump if you could’ve tried one of our simple solutions.

Pool pumps overheat for all sorts of reasons, most of which relate to suction, pressure, and mechanical parts in the motor.

Pool pumps overheat for these reasons:

  1. Grinding motor bearings
  2. Suction clogs
  3. Excessive sunlight
  4. Not enough airflow
  5. Non-stop water flow
  6. Pressure-side clogs
  7. Running Dry

In this post, I’ll dive into the numerous explanations for why your pump is overheating. I’ll also cover everything you need to know about replacements, repairs, and how you can stop your pump’s motor from getting too hot.

1. Grinding Motor Bearings

Grinding motor bearings are a sign that there’s water in the motor.

Bearings rarely grind from a lack of lubrication since they come pre-lubricated. When there’s too much friction between the bearings, they overheat the pump.

So, what causes the bearings to grind?

  • Water got through the pump seal behind the impeller.
  • Moisture leaked past the pump housing gasket.
  • The capacitor plate wasn’t secured when it was moved or repaired.
  • The pump is old and corroded, letting rain into the motor.

You can often diagnose grinding bearings by the high-pitch screeching noise. They make the pump hot to the touch.

How To Fix

Unfortunately, the only solution for grinding bearings is to replace the motor.

Almost all pump manufacturers don’t provide new bearings. Even if they did, the bearings are quite expensive, so getting a new motor will likely be the more cost-effective decision.

Here’s how you can replace the motor:

  1. Turn off the power going to the pump.
  2. Disconnect the retaining screws from the pump housing and the motor.
  3. Remove the impeller from the motor with a screwdriver.
  4. Disconnect the wires from the motor, then label them to know where they go on the new motor.
  5. Connect the wires to the new motor and attach the impeller to the front of the motor.
  6. Connect the pump housing to the motor with the retaining screws and prime the pump.

2. Suction Clogs

Suction-side clogs and obstructions can limit the water flow, overheating the pump. The motor will get too hot if it works harder than it should.

This limited movement prevents the motor from cycling water at the desired speed, making it overload the bearings to compensate for the lack of water.

Suction clogs are anything that clogs the plumbing in front of the pump. Debris can clog the pipes, including leaves, dirt, hair, and so on.

The blocked pipes narrow the space the water can go through, much like squeezing a straw and trying to drink through it.

How To Fix

Suction clogs are fairly easy to remove. Try these suggestions:

  • Blow the suction lines with a garden hose. A little extra pressure often does the trick. Place the hose in the pump basket and point the water toward the suction line. The debris should flow into the skimmer basket.
  • Use the DrainX Drain Auger Pro. This helpful tool pushes and pulls the debris out of the plumbing without having to remove the unions. Place the end into the suction-side plumbing and rotate the handle until it pushes the debris into the skimmer basket.
DrainX Drain Auger Pro | Heavy Duty Steel Drum Plumbing Drain Snake with 25-Ft Drain Cleaning Cable | Comes with Work Gloves and Storage Bag

3. Excessive Sunlight

Direct sunlight takes a toll on your pool equipment.

The filters, pumps, and many other pieces of equipment are coated with fiberglass or plastic. This lightweight material wears down from the sun’s heat, making the motor hotter than it should be.

This excess heat also combines with the pump’s natural warmth to scorch the motor’s mechanical parts.

The good news is that most pool pump manufacturers know their equipment will sit outside. They’re coated with limited UV-resistant protection, but it eventually goes away.

For this reason, direct sunlight typically only affects older pumps.

How To Fix

Getting a pump house would drastically improve the situation.

While you can’t move your equipment pad, you could get a canopy tent or a bottomless shed. Make sure there’s enough airflow. The sheds and canopy tents prevent sunlight and rain from damaging the pool equipment, but a lack of airflow can also cause damage.

The ABC Canopy Pop-Up Tent protects your pump from all sides, which is excellent for climates with lots of sunshine, wind, and rain.

This 10’ x 10’ tent comes with a carrying bag and can be installed in less than a minute. You can choose from a wide range of colors and sizes to fit your pool equipment pad.

ABCCANOPY Ez Pop Up 10×10 Canopy Tent

4. Not Enough Airflow

Your pool pump needs enough airflow for the internal fan to work properly. The motor’s fan cools it down, but people often crowd their pump between the plumbing and other equipment.

Some pumps have motor covers designed to prevent the rain from getting into the seals. However, most pool owners don’t know those covers need to be removed during the summer.

Overcrowded pool equipment pads can make everything overheat, including the pump, heater, and salt system.

Everything needs adequate space for natural airflow and ventilation. Failure to provide enough airflow will damage the pump’s motor, which can trip the breaker or fry the bearings.

How To Fix

One of the best ways to ventilate your pool pump is to adjust the plumbing. You can increase the suction-side line by moving the pump back a few inches, exposing the motor to better airflow.

Remember to keep the pump’s motor away from other operating machinery.

You could also remove any pump rain covers and expand the equipment pad to space the equipment. All swimming pool equipment works best when there are several feet of plumbing between each of the unions.

5. Non-Stop Water Flow

It’s important to set your pump on a schedule. Failure to do so can make your pump work non-stop, causing it to overheat. If you can’t turn off your pool pump, check out my guide on how to fix a pool pump that won’t turn off.

Continuous water flow is great for the pump since it prevents it from running dry. However, the pump’s motor needs a break for a handful of hours each day, as running the pump at a higher speed daily can cut the pump’s life to a fraction of what it could be.

Pro-tip: Variable-speed pumps can run at a lower speed 24 hours a day. Non-stop water flow isn’t an issue if you have a VSP that runs at a low RPM.

How To Fix

Here are your options for fixing this issue:

  • Set the pump to run for one hour per 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside. This rule might seem excessive, but your pump needs to circulate the water often enough to prevent algae blooms. For example, an 80-degree day calls for 8 hours of water circulation.
  • Make sure your pump’s timer has ON and OFF timer trippers. These tags let the pump’s clock know when it’s supposed to start and stop. On that note, ensure the clock is ticking and is set to the current time.
  • If you’re adamant about running the pump without stopping, set it to a lower RPM. Variable-speed pumps let you adjust the RPMs. Set the pump around 1,250 to 1,500 RPMs if you want to use it all day.

6. Pressure-Side Clogs

Much like suction-side clogs, pressure-side clogs can wreak havoc on your pump’s motor.

The pressure-side plumbing after the pump can clog, but it’s much less common than suction-side clogs. The pressure side of the pump rarely gets obstructed because the skimmer basket, pump basket, and filter catch as much debris as possible.

Some filters can filter debris as small as 10 microns. It’s highly unlikely that anything bigger than that will get through the filter’s DE, cartridges, or sand.

If it does, your filter needs to be cleaned or repaired since there’s a hole somewhere in the tank.

How To Fix

Removing a pressure-side clog is basically the same thing as removing a suction-side clog. Follow these suggestions for the best results:

  1. Turn off the pump whenever you remove the clogs.
  2. Use the previously mentioned plumbing snake to remove the clogs from the pressure side.
  3. Clean the filter cartridges, sand, or DE to prevent the filter from getting a higher PSI than necessary (don’t let the PSI exceed 25).
  4. If none of these steps work, consider hiring a pool technician to blow the lines with a pressurized hose.

7. Running Dry

If your pool pump won’t prime, it’ll let too much air into the system. Running the pump dry (or with excessive amounts of air) overheats it.

Operating a pool motor without enough water is the quickest way to fry the bearings and overheat the capacitor. If you use it without any water, you can ruin a perfectly fine pool pump in less than a day.

Pumps run dry from not priming the motor, excessive leaks, lots of evaporation, or incorrect valve orientation. Fixing these common issues will prevent your pump from running without enough water in the plumbing.

How To Fix

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Prime the pump to ensure there’s enough water in the plumbing.
  • Open the air relief valve to remove excess air from the pipes while the pump is running.
  • Keep the pool water level above the highest suction inlet, which is usually the skimmer basket.
  • Ensure the suction valves are open to let the water into the pump.

Pool Pump Overheats and Shuts Off? Here’s What To Do

Does your pool pump keep overheating? Continuous overheating will undoubtedly cause the pump to shut off automatically.

So, why does the pump overheat and turn off without your input?

  • The pump might’ve tripped the breaker. Circuit breakers trip when there’s too much amperage, which can happen if the pump works in overdrive.
  • The pump’s capacitor is shot. A blown or fried capacitor can run for a short time, but it’ll turn off the pump quickly.
  • The motor can’t pull power from the pump. A shortened motor needs to be replaced with the previously mentioned process.

Why Does My Pool Pump Keep Running?

Your pool pump keeps running because there’s a timer issue. Pool pumps use external and internal clocks. If your pump doesn’t have a timer, it likely uses a light switch or onboard switch. Turning off this lever will deactivate the pump.

If your pump has an internal timer, make sure there’s a schedule. The pump won’t know when to stop and start without a schedule.

Check the user’s manual for instructions about how to program the pump’s daily routine.

If your pump has an external timer, make sure there are ON and OFF timer trippers. These tags can get loose over time, so check if they’re secure and can’t move around.

Should a Pool Pump Run Continuously?

A pool pump shouldn’t run continuously unless it’s a variable-speed pump. VSPs can run continuously at a low speed, preventing the motor from overheating. Low-speed VSPs are great for reducing your pump’s noise output, the utility bill, and more. 

However, the pump needs to run fast enough to move any vacuums (if you have them).

Running a single-speed pump continuously will eventually overheat it. The motor will fry, and you’ll have to get a new one.

This process could take several months or years, but there’s no doubt that you could’ve gotten more longevity out of the motor if you’d abided by a better routine.

How Long Should My Pool Pump Run?

The general rule of thumb is to run your pool pump for one hour for every 10 degrees. If it’s 60 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the pump only has to run for 6 hours. However, it needs to run for 10 hours if it’s 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep in mind that these hours can fluctuate based on the pool water’s temperature, whether or not you have a vacuum, and if you have a variable-speed pump.

Talk with a local pool technician to find out exactly how many hours you need to run the pump since they’ll be familiar with the climate.

Additional 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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