When It Comes To Pool Repairs, Don't Assume

by Pool Builders on 05-14-2007 in Articles

The pump on my Polaris pool cleaner stopped working. So I did like most pool owners would do - call the pool repair people.

Within a few weeks they came out, flipped a few switches back and forth (just like I did) and what-do-you-know, the pump started working.

They couldn't explain why it wouldn't work, other that it was just an old pump on its last legs. And, oh yea, you'll be getting an $80 service call for the 10 minutes we spent here.

Fast forward another month and the pump stopped working again. I flipped the switches, spun the internal pump blade and anything else I could think of - all to no avail.

I got to thinking I could probably replace this pump myself. I could buy it on the Internet for a fraction of the price the pool people would charge. Then I would just have to disconnect 3 wires (and a ground) and 2 hoses and then re-connect them. If I ran into a problem, I am sure one of my friends could help.

So that is what I did. I found a good deal on the internet (not only were they the cheapest, but they had free shipping), ordered it, received it within about a week and I was ready to go. (They even sent along new hosing and connectors, which they never said anything about.) Now all I had to do was carefully disconnect things and re-connect them just as they were. Since the pump looked identical it shouldn't be a problem.

As it turned out, it wasn't a problem. Everything went pretty smoothly and everything was back together in relatively no time at all.

The moment of truth - would it work? I flipped the switch on and nothing happened. It was acting just as the old pump was acting. I was sure that I wired it correctly so it had to be something else.

I got out my voltmeter and started tracing the voltage. I had power coming into the box but none coming out. Upon further checking, I found I had power on one side of the on/off switch but not on the other.

I looked closely and I saw a bunch of dead ants on the switch. I had seen them climb up into the controls before but never thought they would be a problem.

Turns out that enough of them most have got up into the switch and got fried, which in turn made them act as an insulator, which kept my switch from making contact. I cleaned them out real good, flipped the pump switch on again, and shazam, it worked.

So the moral of the story is - if a pump or something doesn't work, don't assume the pump (or whatever) is bad. Work the problem back until you are at the root of the problem.

In this case I should have started with the voltmeter and made sure I had power to the pump before I did anything else. This would have saved myself a few hundred dollars and would have given me a working pool much sooner.

I can take pride in the fact that I did change things myself and that I now have a backup pump if I ever need one. However, 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 mentioned the fact that the real problem was in the switch.

I guess I will never know.

So, learn from my mistakes and check things out before jumping to conclusions.

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