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How to Start a Pool Pump for the First Time

By Gus Stephens ; Updated September 21, 2017
A new pool pump requires priming when it is started for the first time.
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After you’ve installed a new pool pump and completed all the plumbing and electrical connections, one very critical procedure remains when you start the pool pump for the first time. To create adequate suction to pull water from the pool, push it through the filter and back to the pool through return lines, the pool pump must be primed. Priming is required when a new pump is installed or whenever air enters the suction and return lines, such as when the water level in the pool is allowed to drop below the skimmers or when a leaky pump O-ring sucks air into the system. Because a lot of air may be in the system lines after an existing pump has been removed and a new pump installed, priming a new installation may require repeating the priming procedure several times to completely purge the system of air.

Step 1

Turn off power to the new pump at the main switch.

Step 2

Verify that the level of pool water is above the skimmer intakes. Turn the diverter valve located in the suction line before the pump to the “Skimmer” setting so water is drawn only from the skimmers, and not from the main drain.

Step 3

Remove the lid from the pump strainer box. If the lid is secured by knobs, turn the knobs counter-clockwise to loosen, then swivel the knobs away from the lid. If the lid is a screw-on variety, turn the lid counter-clockwise and unscrew it from the strainer.

Step 4

Fill the pump strainer box with water from a hose until the box overflows. Replace the strainer lid and hand tighten.

Step 5

Verify that the diverter valve in the return line is in the open position and the multiport valve at the filter is at the “Filter” setting.

Step 6

Open the pressure relief valve on top of the filter by rotating it counter-clockwise.

Step 7

Turn on the electrical power to the pump at the main switch and listen to ensure that the pump motor is operating. Observe the flow of water through the window in the pump strainer lid. Water flow should be visible within one minute or less.

Step 8

Observe the pressure relief valve on top of the filter and listen for the sound of escaping air. When water begins to spurt out of the relief valve, close the valve by rotating it clockwise.

Step 9

Observe the water pressure gauge on top of the filter for a steady pressure reading.

Step 10

Turn off the pump and repeat Steps 1 through 10 if no pressure is registered on the filter gauge after one minute. Allowing the pump to run longer than one minute without water flow may damage pump components.

Step 11

Turn the diverter valve in the suction line slowly from the “Skimmer” setting to the “Main Drain” setting once the flow of water through the pump is verified and steady pressure is registered on the pressure gauge.

Step 12

Rotate the relief valve on top of the filter counter-clockwise to bleed air from the main drain line out of the system. When a steady flow of water spurts from the relief valve, close the valve by rotating it clockwise.

Step 13

Turn the diverter valve in the suction line slowly to the standard operating position midway between the “Main Drain” setting and the “Skimmer” setting.


About the Author


Gus Stephens has written about aviation, automotive and home technology for 15 years. His articles have appeared in major print outlets such as "Popular Mechanics" and "Invention & Technology." Along the way, Gus earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications. If it flies, drives or just sits on your desk and blinks, he's probably fixed it.