Swimming Pool Guides & Reviews by Certified Pool & Spa Operator®

Three Simple Steps to Prime a Swimming Pool Pump

Here’s Everything You Need To Know

When the swimming pool season begins, you might need to prime your pump a little bit before using the pool. What this basically means is that you’ll supply water to the pump in order to begin the process of the pump pulling pool water again. Think of it as a way to motivate your pump to get to work.

Below are the three main steps for priming a swimming pool pump.

1) Switch the Multiport Valve to the setting “Circulate.”

When you switch the valve to this setting, the water skips the filtration system and heads right through the multiport valve and then into the pump. From there, the water returns to the pool. No filtering is done here.

If your return jets or skimmers have plugs in them, be sure to remove the plugs. This will let water flow more easily into the pump.

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2) Add Water to the Pump

Verify the drain plugs are positioned properly to avoid leaking water from the pool pump. Take off the lid to the pump. Place a garden hose in the pump and turn on the water to the hose. Let the pump housing fill up with water. You’ll want the water to fill the lines between the skimmer and pump. This generates more suction action inside the pump.

This should take a minimum of two minutes. Alternatively, you can attach a spray head to the hose nozzle and manually point and spray water into the open pump.

3) Activate the Filtration System

The pool pump should now be filled up with water. Place the lid on the pump. Activate the filtration system. If enough water was added, the pump should start running just fine. If you don’t see any air bubbles coming from the lid, then you’ll know that enough water is in there.


Priming the pump might take you a couple of attempts before you get it right. Aside from doing this during the early spring, you might need to do it during the pool season too if the pump runs dry. This is possible if the water level goes under the skimmer or prevents the skimmer from extracting water.

Regardless, take every action possible to prevent this situation from occurring. If you activate the pump without any water in it, then you can expect the motor and pump to get damaged.

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