How to Prime a Pool Pump

It’s another pool opening season, but have you primed your pump yet? Do you know how to prime a pool pump?

I guess by this time most of you have already got the hang of it, but for a first-timer, the task may seem burdensome. However, I bet that you can do it in no time with the easy-to-follow steps on how to prime a pool pump.

Why prime your pool pump?

Does your pump have a good start when you open your pool? Or is it pumping air rather than water? Before running your pump, especially if it is new or during the opening of the season, it is a must that you prime your pump.

Priming is an important aspect of pump maintenance to ensure that it will work properly throughout its operation.

Priming fires your pump up!

It is widely known that a pump, being the heart of the pool filter system, is crucial in keeping your pool in tip-top condition. It works by circulating the water from the pool through the filter and back to the pool by means of the return lines to make your water clean and clear.

When you prime your pump, any trapped air in the system is expelled to keep the pump from running dry thus, avoiding damage in the long term. Priming a pool pump ensures efficient water circulation and at the same time maximizes the pump’s service life.

How to prime a pool pump?

Before priming your pool pump, make sure that the pool water level is midway up the skimmer and the drain and skimmers are debris/clog free to avoid your pump to lose prime.

If everything checks out, just follow the simple steps and you’ll be able to prime your pump (if you’re lucky enough) in just a single try.

So let’s get started!

  • Step #1: Turn the pool pump off.
    Ensure that your pump is not running. You can switch off the power from the main switch for added safety
  • Step #2: Open the air relief valve.
    Turn the knob of the air relief valve on top of your pool filter to expel the pressure from the water lines and pool pump. The indices on your pressure gauge should be 0 psi. Leave the valve open until you turn your pump on
  • Step #3: Set your suction diverter valve.Close all the valves in the pump and skimmer lines except that of the main drain (if you choose this route) where the water will flow to allow gradual priming of the pump.
  • Step #4: Open the pump lid.
    Remove the lid from the pump housing. Check and clear both the basket and pipe for any accumulated debris.
  • Step #5: Add water to the strainer box.Using a garden hose or bucket, add water to the strainer box just enough for the pump to create suction. Pour the water carefully to prevent it from overflowing; allowing it to go down the skimmer lines up to the pump.
  • Step #6: Replace the pump lid.Before putting the lid back on the pump housing, check the pump lid itself and its o-ring, if cracks are found, replace with a new one to prevent further damage to the unit.You can treat the o-ring with a lubricant for a good seal and prevent it from drying. Secure any knobs and screws by tightening them using your hands instead of tools to avoid over-tightening.
  • Step #7: Turn your pool pump on.Watch out for the air coming out of the air relief valve. Close it when it starts to spray (usually within a minute, if it doesn’t then you should repeat the process up to this point.)Open all previously closed valves by adjusting your diverter valve. When you see water starts filling in your pump housing and no bubbles are visible in the lid, then you’ve successfully primed your pump.You can now expect your pump to run smoothly.

A bonus video for you in case you need some demonstrations:

Note: Make sure to set your multi-port valve (if you have any) in the “Filter” position before turning your pump on.


There are some cases, however, that your pump won’t prime during your first try, thus you have to go through the priming procedures again until your pump finally works properly.

Why your pump won’t catch prime?

If despite of several attempts, your pump still doesnot prime, then you should check for possible leaks from the fittings and unions on the suction side of the pump or clogged baskets.

A build-up of bubbles under the lid indicates an air leak. Identify the cause of the problem and fix as needed before priming your pump again.

Are you now confident to prime your pool pump? Make it a habit to prime your pump at the start of every season before running it.

In doing so, you could have a fully functional pump that could deliver what is expected of it – a clean and clear pool for you to enjoy for many years to come!

May you find this article on how to prime a pool pump helpful!