How To Remove Air From A Pool Pump & Is It Bad If You Don’t?

Swimming pools hold a lot of water. So, if you notice air in your pool pump, it’s a clear sign that something’s not right. If the filter pressure gauge shows a high psi reading or if the jets start blowing bubbles, then air has leaked into your pool system. 

You can remove air from a pool pump by ensuring that it’s primed correctly and that all pool equipment covers and O-rings are tightly sealed. If you leave this problem unaddressed, it will restrict proper water flow, which prevents proper filtration and might irreparably damage the pump itself. 

Small air bubbles in your pool are normal and don’t pose a serious problem. However, if the bubbles are large or if the water level in your pool pump is too low, then the pump will not function properly. Let’s look at the reasons behind a gurgling pool, what happens if air enters your pool pump, and how you can safely release it.

Why Is My Pool Gurgling?

Swimming pool cleaning equipment

A gurgling pool can be a sign of air leaking into the pump system even if you don’t see any water leaking out. Air could enter the pool pump from the basket lid or through the skimmer and other pipes. Gurgling noises can also indicate a pump that’s not primed correctly.

If you’re checking for air leaks, make sure you check whether the lid of the pump basket is sealed correctly. If it’s not, try tightening the lid and then check if your pool stops gurgling. However, if you see a crack, replace the lid immediately and see if that fixes the issue. 

A leaking or cracked pipe can also cause air leaks in your pump. If your pool is making a gurgling noise, check all the pipes connected to the pump system for any cracks or leaks, and replace or fix them if you see any.

What Causes Air in Your Pool Pump?

Pumps suck in water from the various drains in your pool, but if the seals, pipes, or pump are not sealed airtight, then your pool pump will start sucking in air. Here’s a more in-depth look at the things that can cause air leaks in your pool pump:

Defective seals or O-rings

Loose or damaged O-rings are a common cause of air pockets in your pool pump. These rubber-like hoops are usually positioned under pool equipment lids and pipe attachments.

It’s important to note that a cracked O-ring will allow air to enter the pump system. If it’s dirty or damaged by debris, you won’t be able to seal the lid tightly. Instead, there’ll be tiny gaps that will cause air leaks in your pump system. 

If your pump’s O-rings are degrading, you’ll typically notice black stains on your gloves or fingers after inspecting them. In this case, it’s best to replace them as soon as possible. 

Drain plug 

Typically, the drain plug is positioned inside the pump housing behind the filter or pump itself. If you’ve recently drained your pool but haven’t sealed the drain plug correctly, then that might be the reason for air bubbles in your pool.

Pool pipe unions

Pool pipe unions are usually found in in-ground pools. They are the attachments that connect pool pipes, making it easier to replace or remove them. 

If the pipe unions are loose, air will enter the pool plumbing. It’s also important to note that unions are designed with o-rings. So, if you have a defective o-ring, you won’t be able to seal the union tightly, further allowing air to pass through the pool system. 

Don’t get us wrong – underground unions can leak too! But when they do, there’s not near as much air to suck in, so you’re not going to get gurgling noises from an underground leak from air being sucked in.

Damaged or cracked pool pipes

Though it’s highly unlikely, one or more of your pool pipes might be damaged. If you have old or poor-quality pipes, then even a tiny, hairline crack in the plumbing can allow air into the pool pump. For this reason, it’s better to install strong PVC pipes in your pool. 

Damaged skimmer

There are two things that can allow air to enter through the skimmer: the weir and the placement of the skimmer basket itself. 

The weir is basically the flap that controls the water flowing into the skimmer. If it’s stuck or jammed with pool toys, the flow of water will be disrupted, causing the pool pump to suck in air. 

A clogged or out-of-place skimmer basket will also obstruct water flow, resulting in trapped air pockets in your pool’s circulation system. However, you can easily prevent this from happening by checking the position of the weir whenever you clean the filter basket. 

What Happens if Air Gets in Pool Pump?

Air in your pool pump or bubbles in your pool can lead to several equipment problems. Remember that pool components are not designed to suck in air. So, if air does get into them, they’ll get damaged and stop working correctly. 

Here are a few other consequences of having air in your pool pump: 

Poor water flow

This is one of the most serious problems of having air in your pump system. This is because the air in your pool pump will restrict the proper flow of water, preventing unobstructed circulation and filtration. 

Burnt pool heater

If the water flow is obstructed, the pool heater won’t be able to get enough water. This will damage the heating mechanism and cause it to burn out. 

Damaged pool pump

If your pool pump starts sucking in air, then it will lose its priming. It might also cavitate or overheat —problems that are more commonly found in in-ground pools. 

It’s important to understand that pool pumps cannot run without water. In fact, pool water lubricates and cools the entire pump mechanism. If your pump doesn’t get enough water, it will overheat, causing irreparable damage that will necessitate a complete pool pump replacement. 

Cloudy pool water

If your pool filters aren’t working properly, the water will become murky or cloudy. Your pool may even become contaminated with algae in just a couple of weeks if you don’t take action immediately. 

How Do I Stop My Pool From Gurgling and Air Free The Lines?

Blue water filter in the hands of a man in a blue shirt on terrace near the house

If your pool is making a gurgling noise and your pump is full of air, then running the pump for a few minutes can help fix the issue. 

However, if the problem still persists, you’ll have to try a few other things to ensure unrestricted flow of water. You’ll need to swap into troubleshooting mode to find the issue causing the gurgling and bubbling directly. Here’s our suggested troubleshooting guide for this process: 

Check the o-rings

  1. Switch off your pool pump.
  2. Lift and remove the lid on your pump or pool equipment.
  3. Remove the O-ring and inspect it for any filth or cracks.
  4. Replace misshapen, loose, or damaged O-rings, which you can easily order in bulk (on Amazon).
  5. Replace the lid and seal it tightly in place.
  6. Lubricate the O-rings with O-ring lubricant, like the ZAITOE Magic Lube (on Amazon), to prevent them from drying up, cracking, and splitting. 

Check the drain plug

  1. Switch off your pool pump.
  2. Check your drain plugs for any leaks.
  3. Tightly seal your drain plugs so they’re not loose. It’s also advisable to use a bit of plumber’s tape (on Amazon) to ensure a firmer grip.
  4. Replace damaged drain plugs.

Check pool pipe unions 

  1. Switch off your pool pump.
  2. Check all pool components that are connected to pipe unions.
  3. If you think you have a leaky union, use a wrench to unscrew it and inspect the O-ring inside for any cracks or damages. Make sure it’s tightly sealed as well. 
  4. Check the union flange.
  5. Replace any damaged O-rings, pipe attachments, and unions as necessary.
  6. Use plumber’s tape to seal the union and ensure it’s airtight. 

Increase the water level in your pool

  1. Check your pool’s water level. Make sure it’s at or above the center of the pool skimmer basket.
  2. Increase the water level of your pool if it’s too low.
  3. Turn on your pool pump and check if it’s still blowing bubbles.
  4. Check the water’s chemistry levels and readjust them as needed. 

Check pool pipes

  1. Switch on your pool pump to ensure proper water circulation.
  2. Listen closely to each pipe. If you hear any hissing sounds, then that pipe may be cracked or defective.
  3. Check for any water leaks or damp areas. Damp areas are usually a sign of water leaking around or underneath the pipe.
  4. Replace the damaged pipes.

Clean the skimmer basket

  1. Switch off your pool pump.
  2. Remove the skimmer lid.
  3. Lift out the skimmer basket and remove all the debris collected in it.
  4. Make sure the skimmer weir is not stuck.
  5. Clean and replace the skimmer basket. 

Prime the pump   

  1. Switch off your pump, heater, and filter.
  2. Move the air relief valve present on top of the filter in the counterclockwise direction to release the pressure.
  3. Close all the skimmer valves but leave the main drain valve open.
  4. Open the cover of your pump’s strainer box by twisting the knurled knobs securing it.
  5. Check whether the pump basket is filled with water. If it does not hold any water, use a garden hose to fill the strainer basket with water.
  6. Check the pump cover gasket for any cracks. Use petroleum jelly to lubricate the gasket and then reinstall and secure the cover by hand-tightening the cover knobs.
  7. Move the filter’s multiport valve to its “Filter” setting.
  8. Switch on the pump and slowly open the skimmer valves. You should be able to see bubbles coming out of the return jets as air is pushed out of the pool lines into the water.
  9. Check the air relief valve present on top of the filter. You should be able to hear the air escaping as the pump fills with water.
  10. Once the relief valve starts spurting out water, turn the valve in the clockwise direction to close it.
  11. Turn on your pool heater and filter.  

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