How to Prime a Pool Pump in 6 Steps

How to Prime a Pool Pump

A pool pump plays a crucial role in any swimming pool as it allows water to circulate for efficient filtration and distribution of pool chemicals. Therefore, you need to ensure your pump is running correctly to keep the pool in good shape.

One of the biggest problems with a pool pump is having air pockets somewhere in the system. Air pockets are bad for your pool as they will reduce the efficiency of the pump significantly.

The good news is that they are pretty easy to remove from the system by priming the pool pump. However, you need to know how to prime the pump the right way. But, it would help if you start by understanding what it is and why you need to do it.  

What Does “Prime a Pool Pump” Mean?

There is always the potential of getting air pockets in your plumbing system when you are closing down the pool for winter or as you re-open it for a new season.

Additionally, air pockets can enter the system if you underutilise the pump or fail to run it correctly.

Priming a pool pump is the action that you take to remove these air pockets. It entails blowing the plumbing lines with water to remove air and replace it with water, which the pump needs to operate optimally.

The main aim of priming a pool pump is to create a vacuum effect inside the system, which forces water to rush into the lines and pushes the air out.

Why Should We Prime a Pool Pump?

Priming your pool pump is crucial for ensuring it works well and is hence effective at keeping the water circulating to ensure proper filtration and sanitation.

Also, priming helps ensure you never run the pump dry, which can be highly problematic. Pumps often dry out when the skimmer fills up with debris, affecting the water movement through the pump and the pool water level drops.

If you run the pump dry, there is a likelihood of damaging different components like seals and shafts, which can be costly to repair. Sometimes, a dry pump can also cause the plastic pump housing to melt, forcing you to buy a new pump.

Another key reason you need to prime a pool pump is to get it ready for the swimming season after winter. When closing the pool for winter, you have to remove all the water in the line, so it does not freeze and cause damages.

Therefore, once winter passes, you need to prime the pump to fill the system with water, so the pump does not run dry.

Step by Step Directions for Priming a Pool Pump

Step 1: Switch Off the Pump

You cannot prime a pump that is still running, so the first step should be to switch it off. How you do this depends on the specific pool pump type, but you typically need to close all the valves and make sure the power button is in the off position.

Also, it would help if you released the pressure from the system. If you have one of those models with an air release valve, you can open it to release pressure from the systems slowly. For pimps that do not have this valve, you can release pressure by removing the strainer lid.

When removing the strainer lid, make sure you also take out all the debris and clean the O-rings in there so that they maintain a proper seal to ensure air does not get in.

Step 2: Redirect Pool Water

Next, you need to turn the multiport valve to the ‘recirculate” position to redirect the pool water. This step allows you to bypass the pump and move the water directly to the filter head before getting back into the pool.

By redirecting the water, you ensure that it is still getting filtered and can also help concentrate the pump’s suction power, making the priming process quicker and easier.

Step 3: Remove Plugs Unblock Water Flow

Since the aim of priming the pool pump is to push in water and remove air from the system, you need to remove any plugs that can prevent this by blocking the water flow.

Any plugs on the return jets or the skimmer can prevent water from moving freely, making priming harder for you.

Step 4: Add Water to the Pump

The next step is to check if the pump has enough water by removing the lid. If the pump is not full of water, you should ensure the drain plugs are inserted and then fill it up with water using a garden hose.

When filling up your pump, it is best to use water from your swimming pool, as adding freshwater can throw the pool chemistry off balance.

Also, allow water to run through the pump’s system for a few minutes so that some can get into pipes connecting the skimmer to the pump. Doing this is crucial to ensure an adequate amount of water in the pump’s system to create suction.

Step 5: Switch On the Pump

You can now close the pump lid and then power on the system. However, make sure the lid is tight enough so that air does not enter the system.

Additionally, keep the return jets and skimmer plugs and the air relief valve open to ensure there is no water flow restriction.

Step 6: Watch the Water Flow

Once the pump is running, you need to keep a close eye on the water flow on your pump basket for a few minutes.

If the water is flowing through the basket consistently, everything is okay now, and you can close the air release valve and the plugs.

However, if the water flow is not consistent, you need to switch off the system and repeat the steps above one more time. Also, make sure you check things like O-rings and the pump’s housing to ensure they are working well and not letting in some air into the system.


Priming a pool pump is crucial as it allows you to remove any air pockets in the system to keep the pump running optimally. Also, it helps you avoid the potential damages that come with running a dry pump.

The process is relatively straightforward, and you will not need any special skills or tools to do the job. However, if you prime a pool several times without getting positive results, it is always better to call in an expert as the system might have a more serious problem than air pockets.

Similar Posts