Pump Not Working
It Comes to Pool Repairs, Don't Assume ..
My Polaris pool pump stopped working so I did all
the usual stuff.
Flipped the power
Flipped the circuit
breaker on /off
Tried getting the
pump working by manually spinning the blade.
All to no avail.
So I called the pool repair people. About a week or 2 after my call,
they finally showed up. They turned the switch on and the Polaris pump
started right up - no problem. They couldn't explain why it wasn't
working. All they could tell me was that an $80 service call bill would
The Polaris pump worked for a month or so and then stopped working
again. I went through all the same things as mentioned above but it
still wouldn't work.
I decided that since the pump was maybe 3 years old that it was
probably bad. (The pool repair people also had said that these pool
pumps generally have a life of 3 years or so.)
My next decision was: should I order one and replace it myself, or, pay
to have it done. I looked at the Polaris pump and all it had was power
coming in and 2 high pressure hoses attached to it. This meant that all
I should have to do would be to connect 3 wires (and the ground) and
the 2 hoses.
I figured I could handle this myself. I would disconnect the old wiring
- noting where everything was, and then re-connect them on the new
pump. Worst case, I would have to get a friend who could do electrical
work if I had a problem.
I searched on the Internet for a pump. There were a lot of places that
sold them. Luckily one of the links that came up was one of those price
comparison sites. They had www.PoolSupplyWorld.com listed as the
cheapest and also had free shipping. Wow!
Next question - what about those high pressure
hoses? Do I have to change them? How do those connections work?
Well, I decided I would worry about that later. I
figured that worst case I would have to go to the local hardware store
and buy new ones.
I placed my order and within a day or two the order was shipped. So, in
less than a week I had my parts and was ready to go.
Upon receiving the pump, I opened it up to make sure that it was
identical to the one I had. It was. To my surprise it also came with a
new high pressure hose and new fittings. Wow again!!
Time to install the new pump - This really wasn't that bad.
First, before beginning, the safest thing is to turn off the power to
the pool at the circuit breaker.
Then, as I noted above, I just made sure I understood where the wires
were on the old pump and put them on the new pump. Since the pumps were
identical, this was pretty straight forward.
As for the high pressure hoses, I didn't know if I should change them
(and the fittings) or re-use the ones I had on. I decided I would
re-use the ones that were on. If they wouldn't seal up properly, then I
would put the new ones on. I attached the hoses (using clear silicone
caulk on the threads as they recommend). No leaks.
Time to turn the pump on and admire my work.
Turned the pump on and nothing happened. It acted just like the old
pump. I was sure I had everything wired properly so it had to be
Now I am not an electrician, but I got out my voltmeter and started
checking the voltage to see where I had voltage and where I didn't. I
found that I had power coming to the timer boxer, where the Polaris
on/off timer was, but I didn't have any power on the lines going to the
I found the timer switch that turns the pump on and off. It is a big
brass switch. Turns out that I had power on one side of the switch, and
no matter what I did, there was no power on the other side of the
I then started to notice that there were a whole bunch of dead ants in
the vicinity of the switch, so I cleaned them out real good and made
sure the switch made good contact with itself. I flipped the Polaris
pump switch one more time and the pump came on.
Turns out that sometimes I get ants up in the timer controls. I don't
know if they go up them for warmth or what, but I have noticed them up
there in the past.
What must have happened is that a bunch of ants went up there and got
'fried'. There must have been just enough of them to block the switch
and prevent it from making good electrical contact for when they were
cleaned out, everything was fine again.
So the moral of the story is - if a pump or something doesn't work,
don't assume the pump (or whatever) is bad.
In this case I should have started with the voltmeter and followed the
power flow right from the beginning. I would have found that there was
no power on the other side of the switch and would have realized then
and there that the pump was probably okay and the problem lay with the
If I would have done this I would have saved myself a few hundred
dollars and would have had a working pool much sooner.
I can take pride in the fact that I did change things myself, saving me
hundreds of dollars, and that I now have a backup pump if I ever need
What I am curious about though is if I would have called the pool
repair people and let them do the work for me, would they have been
honest with me and told me that the switch was dirty, or, would they
have put on a new pump, charged me exorbitantly and never mention the
fact that the real problem was in the switch.
I guess I will never know.