How to Prime a Pool Pump

Although swimming pools do provide you with a lot of fun and entertainment, the fact of the matter is that they do also involve a bit of work.

Of course, besides regular pool cleaning and maintenance, one of the things that you need to do is prime the pump, especially at the start of the season and when you first turn the electronics on.

If you expect your pool pump to work properly, particularly in terms of pool filtration and heating, then that pump needs to be primed and ready to go. If you don’t prime your pool pump before use, you are going to run into issues.

Let’s discuss what priming your pool pump means, why it is important, and how to do it.

How to Prime a Pool Pump

Pool Pump Basics

The pump in your pool is a mechanism that uses electricity to move water from the pool into the filter (and possibly through a heater), and then back into the pool. Keep in mind that pool pumps are designed to be wet at all times. Pool pumps cannot be operated dry.

If the pump is not totally full of water at all times during operation, the motor will overheat and burn out, thus costing you a whole lot of money.

In case you were wondering, priming your pool pump simply means getting it ready for operation by ensuring that it is totally full of water and that there is no air inside of it. If you don’t want to incur a costly repair or replacement built for that pool pump, it needs to be primed before use.

How to Prime a Pool Pump – Step by Step

Now that you know exactly what a pool pump is, how it works, what it does, and why it needs to be primed, it’s time for us to provide you with a step-by-step tutorial on how to prime that pool pump.

1. Turn it Off

The first thing that you need to make sure of is that the pool pump is turned off. Although with that being said, if you need to prime your pool pump, chances are pretty big that it’s already turned off to begin with.

If you are priming your pool pump, chances are that it is the first time this year that you are opening your pool and getting it into working order.

Whatever the case may be, the main point here is that water and electricity just don’t mix, so whenever you go to work on anything such as a pool pump, make sure that it is not only turned off, but also completely disconnected from any source of electricity.

While priming a pool pump is not very hard at all, the risk of electrocution if you are not careful is very real.

2. Switch the System to Recirculate

What you need to do now is to go to the multiport valve located on the pool pump and set it to recirculation mode. This will allow the water to be brought directly into the pool pump, with that water then being recirculated right back into the pool without going through the filter.

In the recirculate setting, the filter is bypassed, with the water going directly into the pump, thus ensuring that there is indeed water in the pump, as there should be. This is the first step to ensuring that there is water in the pump.

3. Release the Air

Of course, the main problem with the pool pump that has not been primed is that there are air pockets within the pump.

Therefore, what you need to do now is open up the air elite valve which should be located on top of the pool filter. This will relieve excess air pressure in the lines. This should remove any and all remaining air that is trapped in the lines, thus replacing the space that was previously filled with air with water.

4. Clean & Fill the Pump Basket

Before you start closing things back up, a very important thing that you need to do is clean the pump basket. You want to remove dirt, sediments, rocks, and all sorts of dead insects from that pump basket. However, you can just rinse the pump basket out with a hose.

At the same time, it’s probably a good idea for you to clean the filter as well. You may also need to replace various parts, especially the parts that help to seal the filter, such as the O-rings.

Once the pump basket is totally clean, fill it back up with your hose and then put the lid back in place. Once you have filled and tightened the pump basket, make sure that the air release valve is open. You absolutely have to make sure that that air release valve is open before you turn the pump on.

5. Turn it on & Check

All that is left for you to do now is turn the pump back on and make sure that water is consistently flowing through it. You should check for about 30 seconds. If water flows consistently through it for about 30 seconds, then you are good to go.

If, however, the water flow is not consistent, then you will need to turn the pump back off and repeat all of the previous steps as well. You may need to check for blockages that you did not spot in the first place.

Once you have the water constantly flowing and the pump is working, you can close the air pressure release valve. The task is now complete.


There you have it folks, you should now know everything there is to know about priming your pool pump and why it is very important to do so. If you don’t prime that pump before use, you may burn out the motor, and that’s going to end up costing you big time.

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