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How to Troubleshoot a Swimming Pool Pump That Won't Drain Water From a Skimmer

By Contributing Writer
Clean pools need good pump systems.

A common complaint from pool owners is that their pump is working, but it will not draw water from the pool skimmer. Pool pumps bring water from the pool to the filter to keep the water clean. The system must be completely free of air and have no clogs to work properly. Troubleshooting a pool pump is not physically difficult but can be tedious because several possible problems can cause the pump system to work improperly.

Turn on the pump to make sure the pump runs. If the pump does not run at all, check the circuit breakers to make sure there's power to the system. If there is power, remove the electric motor by turning off the power and removing the motor with an adjustable wrench. Take the motor to a pool shop for repair or replacement.

Check the pool to make sure it is full of water. Water level below the skimmer will prevent the pump from drawing water.

Check for clogs if the water level is adequate. Clogs at the skimmer or the pump basket are easy to detect. Occasionally leaves or pool toys will get past this skimmer basket and lodge in the pipe between the skimmer and the pump. Attach a drain cleaning bladder to a hose to force water down pipes and remove clogs. If the bladder does not work, contact a pool repair service to remove the clog.

Identify air leaks if there are no clogs. A pool pump system is designed to be totally airtight. Air leaks will allow a pump to draw air rather than water. A good way to find air leaks around water pipes is to cover each connection with shaving cream. Turn the system on, and observe each connection. Shaving cream will be indented if air is being drawn into the system at the connection.

Re-secure the O-ring at the filter with a pipe wrench if no air leaks are found in the rest of the system. The O-ring prevents air from entering the system at the filter. As O-rings decay with age, they are difficult to fit in place and may cause leaks.

Contact a pool repair company if the above steps are unsuccessful in determining the cause of the pool pump problem.


Things You Will Need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Drain cleaning bladder
  • Water hose
  • Shaving cream/not gel
  • Pipe wrench