by Mark Garcia September 04, 2014
How to Identify, Correct and Prevent Clogged Pump Impellers
In this picture, the pool owner was running the pump without the pump basket (a no-no), Very quickly, these popcorn sized seeds clogged up the vanes of the impeller.
A pump impeller sits behind the pump basket in the part of the pool pump called the Volute (aka Impeller Housing). The pump basket is in place to prevent small debris from entering the volute, and possibly clogging the impeller. Even with the pump basket in place, very small debris can pass through the pump basket, and clog the impeller.
Nearly anything can clog a pump impeller, if it is the right size. Very small grains of sand, for example, will pass right through. Larger debris is trapped in the pump basket. Only debris of the right size - too small for the pump basket, but too big for the pump impeller, will clog your impeller, such as:
Most impellers nowadays are known as 'closed vane' impellers, which has a cover on the front of the impeller, to create the suction and draw the water in and out of the pump. Open vane impellers, also called vortex impellers, clog very rarely - but these types of impellers are only seen on old brass pool pumps, or large trash pumps.
In front of the impeller is often a diffuser, also called an Impeller Shroud, screwed on to the seal plate, covering the impeller, to create the proper hydraulics to produce the suction and pressure. Your pump may also have an impeller wear ring that fits over the impeller.
Turn off pump at the breaker. Remove the pump basket and try to reach the impeller with a small piece of wire or just your fingers. Use a swirling motion to dislodge debris, then scoop out by hand.
Reassemble and turn on pump. You may have cleaned it, but if symptoms continue, you'll need to dig deeper and disassemble the pump, to gain access to the impeller.
Here's a video of JG, cleaning out the pump impeller on a Pac-Fab Challenger pump.
Clogged impellers are common in the springtime, when small spring debris is flying off of the trees. Some pumps (such as the Ultra-Flo or Challenger) seem to have more trouble than other pumps with clogged impellers. It's important to identify and correct the situation quickly, or your water quality will suffer, because your flow rate has been reduced by 50-80%.
Thanks for Reading!