How to Prime an Above-Ground Pool Pump

What You'll Need
Sturdy garden hose

An above-ground pool pump needs to be primed, when it is unable to pump the water through it with force. Hence, when you prime the pump, it means that you restore the water flow. The flow of water is generally blocked because the path has got blocked by a tremendous amount of air. When a pump is primed, the air is purged so that the water can again flow through it efficiently. A few steps have to be followed in order to prime an above-ground pool pump, and sometimes you may experience some difficulty in regaining the prime on the pump. It may be necessary to repeat the steps a number of times before the pump is primed, but without it your pool does not receive quality pool water. 

Step 1 - Get the Pool Pump Ready

If the pump is running, switch it off immediately. Unplug the electrical cord or turn off the circuit breaker so that the power to the pump is disconnected. 

Step 2 – Operation of Valves

There are some valves on the suction of the pump, which are the main drain, skimmer and vacuum lines. Close all these valves. Look for the air relief valve on your filter; open it to release any pressure that has built up inside the pump. Open the strainer lid of the pump too, but do it very slowly. In case your above-ground pool pump does not have an air relief valve, use the strainer lid to release the pressure, but open the lid slowly.

Step 3 – Inspection and Cleaning of Strainer Basket

The strainer basket of the pump sometimes gets clogged with debris like leaves and sticks. Remove everything carefully and replace the basket in its place. The basket can be broken or distorted, and if so, the impeller of the pump may have some debris on it as well. Clean the impeller as well and put in a new basket in case it is damaged, as it may be harmful for the pump. The strainer top is sealed with a gasket or "O"-ring, which you should also check for cleanliness. Also, it should not be out of shape, otherwise you should replace it.

Step 4 – Water-filling

Use your garden hose to fill water into the strainer. Put the lid back on the strainer and push it down well by twisting it into place tightly and securely, screwing it with your hands only. If there are knobs to tighten, use both your hands to tighten evenly. It is not advisable to use a wrench or a tool because if you over-tighten, it might just break.

Step 5 – Water-flow through Pump

Switch on the pump first and then open one suction side valve very slowly. Within a minute the pump should be able to catch its prime and get the water flowing through it. But if it does not catch its prime within a minute, just shut the valve and switch off the pump. Allow the water to flow by reopening the strainer valve. Let off the pressure by opening the air relief on the filter. You have to repeat the entire procedure again by refilling the strainer with water, closing lid, turning on pump and opening the same valve. These steps may have to be repeated several times before you purge the air and the water can pass freely through the pump.

Step 6 - Water-Flow through All Lines

Open the other valves, one after the other, but slowly. With every line, the same procedure has to be followed and try to remove the air out of the line without losing the prime. 

In case your above-ground pool pump keeps losing the prime when you turn it off, try to release the air in the filter first before you turn off the pump. You should always close your suction side valves and then proceed to open the strainer lid. The water is then held right up to the valve and it will be easy for you to re-prime it.