How to Clean Out and Unclog a Pool Pump Impeller

Updated on March 26, 2018
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Rob is a licensed pool service industry professional with over 20 years of experience.

How to Tell If the Impeller Is Clogged

The pump impeller is what pulls the water through and pushes it out. This can often become clogged when larger debris has gone beyond the pump basket and into the impeller. This is often caused by a cracked or broken pump basket.

The symptoms of a clogged impeller usually include low to no flow through the pump and low filter pressure. If you have a broken pump basket and a leafy pool, chances are that the impeller will become clogged. If the impeller is NOT clogged, however, this indicates a different problem. Low flow and high filter pressure may point to a dirty filter.

How to Unclog the Impeller

  1. Turn the pump off. I prefer turning the breaker off since you definitely do not want the pump turning on while doing this.
  2. Insert a long screwdriver into the pump as shown in the photo. Although you will not be able to physically see the impeller, you will be able to move it, or turn it both clockwise and counterclockwise.
  3. If the impeller is clogged, it will be a bit difficult to move at first. Work the impeller both ways until it begins to move more freely. You will be able to feel debris being removed with the end of the screwdriver, and you should even see some at the bottom of the pump.

Insert screwdriver to reach the impeller
Insert screwdriver to reach the impeller

Preventing a Clogged Impeller

Just a few simple things can prevent this from ever happening. First, make sure both your skimmer basket(s) and pump basket are not cracked or damaged. These will both become brittle and crack over a period of time due to the chemicals in the pool water. Replace these when they begin to show signs of wear.

Also, if you have a leafy pool and an automatic pool cleaner, please consider an in-line leaf canister for the pool sweep. They hold a lot more debris than the pump basket and will prevent anything from entering the pump basket.

© 2012 Rob Hampton

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