To kick start your pool pump you need to prime it to allow water to flow through constantly. This might be something you do when you haven’t used it for a while or perhaps you have turned the system off for a while and need to prime it again.

Whatever your reason, it is simple to do and easy to understand why. We’re going to take you through it in a handful of steps and look into why the pool pump is so important.

How New Is Your Pool System?

If you are installing parts of your pool and using them for the first time, it will likely take more than one attempt to prime your pool. This is because the lines have no water in and you need to push it through the pump, filter, and piping. Depending on what part you are fixing, you might only need to prime it once.

When Do I Need To Prime My Pool?

We’ve mentioned how a pool will need priming when it has been out of use for a while, but other circumstances can result in the need to prime your pool. If air has found its way into the system, it can cause the pump to lose its prime. This is usually the case when your pool is up and running, but the pump isn’t working.

How Did The Air Get In?

Sometimes the answer is quite simple – is the pool level high enough? If you have neglected the amount of water in the pool then air can find its way in and cause it to lose its prime. This is a common occurence in the summer months where evaporation is a lot faster.

There might be a blockage. Usually, this is caused by larger debris or a build-up that increases over time. If you regularly clean your pool, this shouldn’t be the case but check the skimmer and drain.

Is The Pump Assembled?

If someone else has taken care of your pool up until now, they may have readied it for the winter. This involves taking some of the pump apart so check that everything is in place and sealed before you start to worry.

Once you have considered the usual suspects above, it is time to ready your pool for priming.

How To Prime A Pool Pump

1) Turn off the pool. If it isn’t already off, then you will need to consider your safety and shut it off.

2) Turn the multiport valve to circulate – this will push water through the multiport valve whilst bypassing the filter, pushing it into the pump and subsequently, the pool.

3) Open the air relief valve – you’ll find this on your filter.

4) Hose down the pump basket. Any debris here can be the reason your pool needs priming in the future. It’s always a good idea to give this a clean whenever you get the opportunity.

5) Check the O-ring for damage. All being well, it will still be in good working condition, give it a quick clean and put it back.

6) Fill the pump basket to create suction between the skimmer and the pump.

7) Turn the power on and the pump. This is where the pump should be flowing again. Give it 5 minutes so it has a chance to work. If this still hasn’t worked don’t panic, it doesn’t always the first time, start the process again. It’s ok to give it a handful of times before you consider getting help. All things being well…

8) When water starts to spill from the air relief valve, reseal it.

9) When everything seems to be flowing well, turn the power off and switch the multiport valve back to filter before turning the power back on again.

What If This Doesn’t Work?

If you have checked all the common reasons that a pool needs to be primed and can’t get it going yourself, you might need to call an expert. Before you do, remember that priming a pool doesn’t always work the first time so give it a few tries before you call anyone out. The motor itself might have a fault or the piping is to blame.

This will require a skilled expert to either repair or replace certain parts.

Also, blockages and leaks can be to blame but only on the suction side. If the strainer basket is leaking, the O-ring might be broken. It’s always good practice to check all working parts to check the system as a whole.

The Pool Pump Doesn’t Sound Right

Sometimes, you can just tell that something is wrong going by the sound the pump makes. If it sounds like it is struggling to operate, you might hear a loud humming sound or a screeching from inside. This means some of the parts are worn and there is likely to be a fault with the motor.

This might coincide with why a pump cuts out for no apparent reason so it is worth investigating if you notice it.

The Pump Won’t Turn On

If your pool pump won’t come on, then none of the above is going to help. Unless you have mistakenly turned it off, the likelihood is there is a problem with the wiring or electricity. Because you should always take extra caution around electricity and water, it is always best left to the experts.

Call in an electrician to take a look as they will be able to check it over. It shouldn’t cost much to be safe.

Check Your Filter

Sometimes, your filter can be one of the reasons the pool pump won’t prime.

For a newly installed cartridge filter, make sure the in and out pipes are the right way round, this can be a culprit that is easy to fix. For those with a sand filter, check the settings, is it switched to filter?


Although priming a pool pump is relatively easy, it isn’t something you should need to do often. This is why it is always good to freshen your memory if you haven’t done it for a while.

The reasons a pool needs to be primed are pretty straight forward and the worst case scenario (costly repairs) are infrequent. Remember to try again if it doesn’t work first time as more often than not, it just needs a little encouragement.