Getting an air lock in your pool system somewhere is something you are probably going to encounter frequently but fortunately, it is easy to rectify in most cases once you know how to get air out of the pool pump.
The most frequent places you are likely to get air trapped are in your pool pump strainer or your filter housing.
To bleed the air from the pool filter there is normally a small valve at the top of the filter housing you can open to let out the air. To bleed air from a pump or strainer basket is less easy but by following a few small simple steps you will soon remove the air.
You will find a full explanation below.
How to prime the pool pump
Bleeding air from a pool pump.
If your pump strainer housing is full of air, and your pool pump is making a noise due to air in the system, it may be that after a few minutes of running the pump the air disappears. If this doesn’t happen and water doesn’t start to flow through it so the strainer housing gets filled then you may have to help it.
So to get air out of the pool pump try this:
Shut off the pump & close skimmer valves
Shut off the pump and then close your skimmer lines using the inline valves. If you have more than one skimmer you may have individual feeds into the pump or perhaps just one which controls both.
Open bottom drain valve
Fully open the bottom main drain valve (the line that comes from the drain at the bottom of your pool)
Start the pump and open skimmer valves
Start the pump and let it run for 30 seconds. Then slowly open one of the skimmer valves a little bit at a time. Water should start to slowly fill the strainer and the pump will go quieter.
Open filter bleed valve
At this point you can try to remove any air that may be trapped in the filter by using the air relief valve positioned on or by the filter (see the section below).
Still no water?
Once the skimmer valves are fully open you should have plenty of water going through the system and the air should be gone.
If this still does not work then try the procedure below showing how to prime a pool pump.
How to bleed air from a pool filter
Step 1. How to get the air out of a sand filter could not be easier than using the air relief valve on the pool filter.
Step 2. Where is the air bleed valve on a pool filter? Look for your air bleed valve which you will probably find on top of the pool filter housing, often just below or behind your pressure gauge. With air in the system, the pressure gauge is unlikely to be showing a reading.
Step 3. With the pump running on the filter setting, slowly open the valve. If air is present in the filter housing you will hear air hissing out from the valve.
Step 4. Continue with the valve open until water starts to come out of the valve.
Step 5. Close the air relief valve on the pool filter and that is the filter bled!
How do you know if there is air in the system?
You may be able to see air by looking into the clear lid of your pool pump strainer housing. If you can see water flowing from the inlet into the pool pump basket then it is not full of water (obviously).
If you cannot see any water running then it is either completely full of water, so no air, or is completely full of air. If water is being pumped back into the pool then it cannot be full of air so it must be full of water!
Your pool pump may be making a different noise (usually louder) than it does normally. It will do this when it is trying to pump air or just a small amount of water and air.
There may be little or no water coming out of your pool outlets or waterfall if you have one even though the pump is operating on the filter or recirculate settings. This is probably going to be caused by an air lock in the system somewhere.
If you are starting to vacuum you may have little or no suction. This can be a sign that you have air in the system. It may clear on its own after a minute or two.
Priming a pool pump when opening a pool
If you have just filled your pool after emptying it for the winter then you may need to prime the pump and filtration system to purge it of air that will inevitably be there.
This is a pretty straightforward operation and I do it this way:
- With the pump off, move the multiport valve handle to the recirculate setting so water doesn’t flow through the filter but goes straight back to the pool instead.
- Take off the pump lid to the pool pump strainer housing.
- Using a garden hose, start filling the system through the strainer and let it run for a few minutes. This will start to fill the system through to the skimmers, assuming your skimmer valve is open. If you can, push the end of the hose into the opening where water comes into the strainer from the skimmer. This would be the higher one of the two openings – the lower one goes to the pump. You may see air coming out of the skimmers which is good.
- Put the pump lid of the strainer back on firmly.
- Switch the pump on and run until you can see no air in the system.
- Shut off the pump and put the multiport valve to the filter setting before switching the pump back on.
Pool Maintenance Course
When I first bought my house with a swimming pool, I knew nothing about cleaning and maintaining it. I was recommended Swim University’s Pool Care Handbook and video course so I bought it and have never regretted it.
It was probably the best money I spent that year as I have saved thousands by doing it myself.
Why might you have air in the pump?
The most likely reason for having air in the pool pump will be that you have just cleaned the pool and the action of stopping and starting the pump to backwash and rinse etc has allowed some air into the system.
You often have it when you first start to vacuum too. You can help to eliminate this by making sure you remove the air from your vacuum hose before you start.
If the water level in your pool is low so it is not covering the bottom of the skimmer then this will allow air into the system and is an easy fix of course by just topping up the water level with a hose.
If you have emptied your pool for the winter then you are likely to have air in much of the system. You may need to prime the pump to get it to start pulling water and any other air through the system.
You may have an air leak in the pump lid of the pump strainer housing which could be letting in air. This could either be that you have not closed it properly when you removed it to empty leaves and other debris from the strainer basket or the o-ring in the lid may be faulty and need replacing.
The least likely (fortunately) is that air is getting in somewhere else in the system prior to it entering the pump.
Check that any pipe fittings are not loose and letting air in. If you can’t find any then it may be a crack or similar in the pipework between the skimmer and the pump. If this is the case you are probably also losing water from the pool.
Unfortunately, I had this problem which resulted in lots of digging and the pipework being replaced (see below).
My top 3 pool cleaning tools
These are the pool cleaning tools I have found the most useful since I have had my pool.
Step and corner vacuum brush
This is a really useful tool for getting into the areas that a standard vacuum head simply cannot reach. Aquatix Pro Pool Step & Corner Vacuum Brush
Leaf rake net
If, like me, you get plenty of leaves at the bottom of your pool then a good leaf rake/net is a must. The Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net gets under the leaves easily.
Robotic pool cleaner
These are quite expensive and it was a number of years before I bit the bullet and bought one. I have never regretted it. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is the most recommended pool cleaning robot on all of the pool forums. It not only cleans the bottom of the pool but also the sides and the waterline.
Is air in a pool pump bad?
Yes. Having air in your pump is bad for two reasons. It will mean the pool filtration system cannot run at peak efficiency and also running your pool pump “dry” for any length of time will lead to it failing.
Why is my pool pump pressure high?
The most common reason why your filter pressure gauge will be showing a higher pressure than normal is that the filter is clogged with debris so back pressure is building up. The way to fix this is to backwash. Read my guide How to backwash a filter step by step.
Should my pool pump basket be full of water?
Your pump basket should be full of pool water. If there is a small amount of air trapped at the top that won’t be a problem and this should disappear after a while when the pump is running. If air bubbles persist then it may be that air is getting into your system through the o ring or from somewhere else and will need investigating.
I have had hot tubs for many years and a pool for the last 9 years. I had to learn how to clean, maintain and fix them the hard way. Since then I have helped many friends and neighbors with their pools and now I want to share everything I have learned with you.