How To Fix An Overheating Pool Pump & Is It Even Worth It?

Everyone knows that a swimming pool is best enjoyed in the summer — but not when the pump itself is generating an excessive and worrisome amount of heat. A pool pump consumes a lot of electricity, and, as a result, it dissipates a large amount of heat as well. Combine that with the fact that it usually operates under direct sunlight, and you’ve got an overheating pump on your hands. 

You can fix an occasionally overheating pool pump by maintaining your pool’s water level halfway above the bottom of the skimmer box, cleaning out large debris regularly, and backwashing the filter when needed (~weekly). If the motor is completely burnt out, then it’s better to get a new pump.

Most pool pumps are designed with a thermal disconnect that automatically cuts off the power if the motor overheats. However, it’s still important to know how to properly fix and maintain an overheating pump. Let’s look at how hot a pool pump motor should get, what causes it to overheat, how you can fix an overheating pump, and when it’s best to opt for a complete pump replacement. 

How Hot Should a Pool Pump Motor Get?

Fragment of view of old technology electrical pump for cleaning swimming pool

Pool pump motors can reach temperatures of up to 200˚F before the bearings start to break down. So, make sure that the motor operates within the 115˚F – 200˚F temperature range.

It’s important to note that pool pump motors are also insulated, allowing their internal temperatures to reach up to 256˚F. They’re designed with an overload protector as well, which shuts down the motor in case it overheats. 

It’s a good idea to pay more attention to the overload protector rather than how hot the pump feels to the touch, as it’s a more certain sign that your motor is overheating or pulling too much juice.

Keep in mind that pump motors have a metal casing and are exposed to the intense summer heat, so they’re bound to get hot. They’re also able to withstand most temperatures nature throws at them, so you shouldn’t worry about your motor’s temperature unless the overload protector starts tripping.

What Causes a Pump to Overheat?

While pool pumps dissipate heat through air-cooling and mechanical heat sinks, any additional heat generated will result in pump failure. There are several reasons why your pool pump might be overheating, some of the most common ones being: 


There are several different moving parts inside your pool pump, and all of them produce heat from friction. Normally, this generated heat won’t be a problem, as pool pumps self-regulate and dissipate their heat. They draw in ambient air to cool down the motor, while the built-in heat sinks safely absorb any additional heat. 

However, if you have corroded bearings, then overheating becomes a real problem. Bearings are attached to the shaft of the pump motor and help protect all moving parts from wear and tear. But as they begin to dry out and fail, the moving pump components start generating a huge amount of heat. 

Pool pump bearings usually fail because of rust. In fact, once the bearings in your pump start rusting, it won’t be long before your pump itself breaks down entirely. 

Lack of Airflow

Most pump motors stay cool by drawing air into the motor and over all the electric windings. This cooler air pulls the heat produced by the motor and then flows back out through the pump’s backside. For this reason, it’s important to install pool pumps in areas with proper airflow.

If you install your pool pump in an extremely small closet or any other type of enclosed space, you’ll dramatically increase the chances of overheating your pump and reduce its expected service life. 

While the motor will still draw in cooler air, the air will soon heat up from the energy transfer. And if the air trapped inside the pump is too hot, it won’t be able to cool your motor effectively. 

Suction-Side Restrictions 

It’s important to minimize flow restrictions in your pool plumbing system as much as possible. When it comes to the suction side of your pool pump, make sure there’s a straight, unobstructed run that measures at least 10 times the diameter of the pipe in length. 

If your pump has a 90-degree fitting right in front of its suction side, then it will have to work harder and longer than a pool pump with a completely straight, unobstructed run connecting to it.

Pressure-Side Restrictions

It’s also important to minimize pressure-side restrictions as much as possible. If your plumbing or filter is too small, then your pump will have to work harder to force the water to flow through a heavy-flow restriction. 

To understand this better, picture yourself riding a bike as fast as possible. If you’re riding straight into a powerful headwind, both your speed and performance will significantly decline, forcing you to move your legs faster to compensate for the loss. 

This is exactly what your pool pump experiences when there are pressure-side flow restrictions.

How Do You Fix an Overheating Pool Pump?

If you have an overheating pool pump, then there are several easy ways you can fix the problem. Don’t worry if some solutions sound a bit technical; with a bit of mechanical aptitude and some DIY skills, you’ll be able to fix your overheating pump without calling a professional!

Check Your Pool’s Water Level

Your pool pump may be drawing in air along with water if your pool’s water level is too low. If your pump filters both air and water, it will work immensely harder and generate more heat. 

You can easily fix this problem by filling up your pool until the water level reaches above the halfway mark on your skimmer’s faceplate. 

Clear Out All Debris

If your pool pump is clogged with debris, it will have to work harder to draw in water from the various drains in your pool and pass it through the filtration system. 

Debris can also collect outside of your pool pump, namely in the skimmer or the pipes connecting to the pump. It’s important to note that these types of obstructions can produce the same overworked and overheated result.   

Here’s what you can do to remove all the debris from your pool pump:

  1. Switch off your pump and filtration system. 
  2. Unplug your pool pump. 
  3. Remove the pump basket lid.
  4. Check the basket for any leaves, rocks, dirt, or other sediments that may have found their way in. 
  5. Use a hose (on Amazon) to wash and rinse the basket. 
  6. Replace the pump basket lid. 

Make sure you also check and clean the skimmer basket and the pipes connecting the skimmer to the pump. If you’ve removed considerable debris, but the pool pump still seems to overheat, then there might be a problem with the priming of the pump. 

If your pool pump is unable to purge out the excess air, then priming the pump manually may help fix the problem. 

Unclog the Impeller 

  1. Unplug your pool pump from its power source. 
  2. Remove the pump basket. 
  3. Carefully put your hands through the tube connecting the pump basket to the impeller. 
  4. If you feel the impeller is obstructed or clogged, use a pair of pliers (on Amazon) to bend a thick piece of wire into the shape of a hook.
  5. Use the shaped wire to scrape off the dirt and debris stuck in the impeller. 

Check Wiring

Use a multimeter (on Amazon) to check the actual supply voltage your pool pump receives. Make sure the voltage is 10% less or more than the voltage claimed. 

If the multimeter shows a number that’s higher by more than 10% of the supposed voltage, contact your local power supplier. If the number is lower by more than 10%, check whether the wiring is hooked up properly to the circuit breaker.

Wiring that’s not properly installed or of the wrong size can lead to weak, underperforming power connectivity. 

Give Your Pump Some Room to Breathe

Your pool pump may not complement the aesthetic or decor of your backyard. However, this doesn’t mean that you can just hide it away in a closet or any enclosed space and expect it to function without a hitch. 

In order to dissipate and self-regulate the generated heat, pool pumps need to be able to pull in the ambient air around them. However, this process can become complicated if they’re placed in a small space or are operating too close to each other.

Keep in mind that you can place your pool pump in a closed-in room as long as you add an active ventilation system as well. It’s also advisable to install a sunshade over your equipment pad to prevent an overheating motor. 

It’s best to fix your pool pump in an open space and then install a pump cover(on Amazon) over it. This will protect the equipment from any direct sunlight and will ensure maximum airflow at the same time.

Check the Size of Your Pump

To determine whether your pump is sized correctly and able to meet the demands of your pool, multiply the gallons per hour (GPH) it claims to turn over by eight. Then, see whether the number is anywhere close to the total gallons of water in your pool. 

Calculating the total gallons of water in your pool is simple math. You just need to follow the formula below: 

Total pool volume in gallons = 7.5 x pool width (ft.) x pool length (ft.) x pool depth (ft.)

Check Windings 

Pool pump windings are copper wirings wrapped in coils and located inside the motor. These windings help make the motor turn, so if they short-circuit, the motor will inevitably overwork and heat up. 

Luckily, you can easily check the windings by following these simple steps: 

  1. Disconnect the pool pump from its power source. 
  2. Use a multimeter to compare the readings of all the motor windings. 
  3. If the power differs dramatically with each motor winding, then you might have to opt for a replacement. 

Check Bearings 

Bearings are mounted onto the pump motor to reduce the friction and heat generated by the spinning of the motor shaft. If you have worn-out bearings, then you may need to replace them or get a completely new motor. 

However, before you call a professional or declare your motor a lost cause, try tapping the top of the motor housing with a hammer a couple of times to dislodge any built-up rust in the motor. While this trick is not a guaranteed fix, it’s definitely worth a try. 

Is It Worth Fixing an Overheating Pool Pump?

Sand filter system of a pool with algae water after insufficient water maintenance

Pool pumps are one of the most important parts of a pool’s filtration system, and they’ll inevitably wear out over time. On average, high-quality pumps last for around eight to 12 years before needing replacement. 

Replacing the pool pump yourself means you only need to consider the cost of the new replacement pump itself. However, keep in mind that a new unit can cost anywhere between $150 and $800, depending on the model and type of the pump, and the size of your pool. 

If you hire a professional pool technician, you’ll have to pay labor fees as well, which will cost an additional $80 to $200. 

Motor or Pump Replacement

If your pool pump is relatively new (less than a decade old) and its exterior doesn’t show any signs of wear and tear, then only replacing the motor is a good option. 

However, if you have an older pool pump or if the replacement parts are really hard to find, then it’s just better to opt for a pump replacement. It’s also advisable to replace your pump if the cost of fixing or replacing the motor is more than 70% of the cost of installing a completely new pump. 

Also, if your pump has an overheating motor, but is still covered by warranty, then replacing the entire thing is the best option.

Keep in mind that only replacing the motor will cost less than replacing the whole pump system. A DIY pump motor replacement costs about $25 to $200, but the cost will increase by an additional $40 to $100 if you call a pool technician.

Minor Pump Issues

If your pool pump has overheated because of bad bearings or loose mechanical seals, then fixing the problem is definitely worth it. Clogged impellers or a fluctuating voltage supply are also minor problems that you can easily repair yourself with a bit of mechanical aptitude and DIY skills.  

If you’re faced with these types of problems, then it’s better to fix the pump rather than replace it. 

Major Pump Issues 

If the pump motor has completely died or burnt out, then it’s not worth fixing or replacing the motor. Instead, it’s just better to opt for a complete pump replacement. 

While replacing the motor is definitely an option, it will cost you around 60% to 70% of the price of a new pump. If you factor in the installation and depreciation costs, you’ll see that replacing a dead motor isn’t really worth it. 

Motor replacement can save you a few hundred dollars, but it’s important to note that other components in your pool pump will already have started to degrade as well. It won’t be long before they need replacement or repair too, eventually adding up to or even exceeding the cost of purchasing a brand new pool pump.   

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