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How To Troubleshoot Vacuum Leaks In Your Pool Pump

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In-ground pools are one of the great luxuries of modern life. Yet nothing could be more frustrating than a pool that stops working the way it should. And as all pool owners know, it is only a matter of time before something goes wrong. When that time comes, the more you know about your system, the better. If you own an in-ground pool, read on. This article will provide a beginner's guide to troubleshooting vacuum leaks in your pool pump.

The Causes

Vacuum leaks interrupt the ability of your pump to effectively circulate water through the filtration system. They can occur in one of two ways: either water leaks out of the system, or air leaks into it. Air leaks tend to occur on the suction side of the pump, whereas water leaks commonly manifest post-pump, i.e. in the part of the system responsible for returning water to the pool.

Step 1: Rule out simple problems.

The most common causes of vacuum disruptions in a pump system are:

  • insufficient water level in the pool
  • full strainer baskets are obstructing flow

These can easily be ruled out. First, check that the pool has enough water to submerge the skimmer inlets. Second, empty all strainer baskets to ensure that water flow is not being obstructed by debris build-up.

Step 2: Inspect strainer basket cover.

While your pump is running, look into the clear plastic strainer basket cover. You should see flowing water. If you notice bubbles in this water, there is a good chance a suction leak is allowing air into the system.

Step 3: Lubricate and re-tighten strainer lid.

Turn off the pump and unscrew the strainer lid. Inside the joint you will find a rubber O-ring. Degradation of this O-ring is one of the most common causes of air leaks; replace it if necessary. If the O-ring seems undamaged, lubricate it with petroleum jelly and then screw the lid back on, making sure to get it nice and tight.

Step 4: Examine the suction line leading into the strainer chamber.

Next unscrew the removable joint connecting the input line to the strainer chamber. Here you will find another O-ring—and therefore another potential source of of a vacuum leak. If the O-ring appears degraded, replace it. Then lubricate the O-ring with petroleum jelly, wrap the threads with PTFE thread tape, and screw the joint back together. 

Step 5: Check for water leaks on the outlet side of the pump.

Turn the pump back on and let it run for a few minutes. Then shut it off again and quickly go and check to see if water is leaking from any of the pipes on the outlet side of the pump. Such leaks may necessitate either the reassembly or replacement of a given stretch of piping. In that case, it's best to contact a company like Bellar Pools Inc. to come fix the faulty piping.