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Signs a Pool Pump Motor is in Need of Replacement

The pool pump motor has one of the most vital roles to play in maintaining a healthy, clean pool. The motor keeps the pump functioning to circulate the water into the skimmer and through the filter. And beyond moving the water through the pool’s filtration system, that regular circulation keeps algae from building up in the warmer months. 

While issues with algae diminish as temperatures dip, those who choose to keep their pools open throughout the winter need a properly functioning pool pump motor to avoid damage in the case of freezing. With that in mind, let’s talk about the importance of a pump motor and some distinctive signs a pool pump motor is in need of replacement. 


Issues That Can Arise If Water Does Not Properly Circulate

While pool owners are generally aware that the pool water needs to circulate to keep the water clean, they’re not always completely informed of all that can go wrong if the pool pump motor fails.

  • Debris build-up on the bottom of the pool because it’s not being pushed through the filter
  • Unbalanced water due to chemicals not circulating
  • Algae blooms in warmer weather because water is out of balance and not moving
  • Cloudy water from build-up of contaminants or early algae bloom
  • Build-up of unhealthy bacteria due to chemicals not circulating and lack of filtration
  • Frozen/damaged pipes in cold weather due to water freezing because it’s not moving regularly
  • Pockets of concentrated chemicals (which can be harmful to swimmers) from improper circulation
  • Pockets of heat due to the heated water not moving throughout the pool

Signs a Pool Pump Motor is in Need of Replacement

pool pump motor

With the overall health of a swimming pool and swimmers so closely tied to the proper functioning of the pool pump motor, it’s imperative that pool owners know the main signs of motor issues. Pool pump motors generally last anywhere from 6 to 10 years. Some will make it longer, but if a pump is getting into the 8- to 10-year range, it’s particularly important to stay on top of potential issues.

Here are some common signs that a pool pump motor is in need of replacement:


Unusual Noise  

If the pool pump motor starts to make strange noises, this is a sign that it’s working harder than it should have to. The bearings could be getting worn down or there could be another issue causing the extra strain. 

The ball bearings are located near the back of the motor. Screeching, squealing, and grinding noises are common with bearing issues. While the ball bearings can be replaced, motor replacement is always the best and most lasting option.

If a pool pump motor is making a humming noise, then a capacitor may be failing or the motor may have seized. 



If the pool pump motor starts to overheat, it’s working too hard and needs to be replaced. This is often caused by a blockage somewhere in the filtration system. Pool pump motors have to work hard, so they are generally hot to touch, but should not be so hot that they can’t be touched at all. If a pool pump motor is so hot that it can’t be touched for a few seconds, then there may be an overheating issue going on and the problem needs to be investigated immediately.



If the pool pump motor starts to vibrate, it could be an indication of a loose part or another issue causing strain on the motor. However, unusual vibrations from the pool pump do not necessarily mean that the pool motor is in need of replacement. A base that is unstable or uneven can also lead to vibrating and rattling.


Tripping Breakers 

If the pool pump motor keeps tripping the breaker, it’s likely drawing too much power and needs to be replaced. Pump motors typically trip the breaker due to these issues:

  1. Moisture in the motor coil
  2. Dirt or dust in the motor
  3. Damaged or old wiring
  4. Loose connection at the terminal
  5. Worn out bearings

Won’t Start

If the pool pump motor won’t start at all and the power is definitely on, the motor very likely needs to be replaced. Either the motor has seized or a capacitor is no longer functioning. The capacitor is what provides the charge, so if it’s not functioning, then the motor will not run. An electrical surge is often behind capacitor problems. An electrical surge protector can shield the capacitor from such issues. Once damaged, a capacitor can sometimes be replaced instead of replacing an entire motor.


A pool pump that starts to leak is not necessarily a sign of a motor issue, but it will almost certainly lead to one. A leak often indicates a crack in the shaft seal or the casing, but can also be due to the impeller (the part that rotates inside the motor) getting worn down. Each of the issues can be tricky and costly to repair, so replacement is often the best option. Leaks must be dealt with swiftly as water in the motor will cause it to seize and it will be irreparable.


Cloudy/Green/Murky Water  

If the pool water becomes cloudy, it’s often a sign that the pool pump motor is not circulating the water properly and needs to be replaced. Another common sign that the pool pump motor needs to be replaced is if the pool water turns green. This is often caused by an algae bloom, which can happen when the water is not being circulated properly. And if the pool water becomes murky or dirty, it’s likely because the pool pump motor is not working to circulate the water properly and needs to be replaced.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to act quickly to determine if pump motor replacement is necessary. Many of these signs may not immediately mean that motor replacement is necessary, but indicate issues that can lead to the failing of the motor. 


At Alpha West, we represent only the best manufacturers in the pool and spa industry. Century Motors builds exceptional motors that stand the test of time. If you’d like to learn about all that Century Motors has to offer or discover more about any of our other outstanding manufacturers, reach out to your pool and spa manufacturer representative at Don’t have an Alpha West rep yet? Connect with your territory representative here.