The pump is the heart of the swimming pool’s filtering system, pulling water from the pool, sending it through the filters and then emptying it back into the pool. But a pump cannot work without a motor. Basically, a swimming pool motor converts electricity into energy that forces the pump to into action.

It is often referred to as part of the pump mechanism, but depending on the design, the pump motor can be replaced without swapping out the entire pump itself.

There are three kinds of swimming pool pump motors: single speed, two speed and variable speed. Single-speed motors are the least expensive and least energy efficient. These are also relatively simple to replace, without replacing the entire pool pump. However, California, Arizona and Florida have prohibited their use in residential pools.

Two-speed pumps are more efficient and a little more expensive, costing between $150 and $250 more than single-speed motors. These can be fitted to a pool’s existing pump. A new or additional timer may be necessary to provide on/off and high/low switches.

Variable-speed pumps are relatively new and offer the greatest energy efficiency. However, they are the most expensive, with a price tag of about $300 more than comparable two-speed pumps. These motors work a bit like a hybrid car, with permanent magnet motors. Unfortunately, they may not be able to run pool cleaners or solar heating on low settings. However, they are very quiet and produce fewer vibrations.

Whatever type of pool pump motor is selected, it should be measured based on the size of the pool itself. Larger pools require larger pumps and therefore, larger motors to run them.

The sounds that the motor make can help identify problems with the pool’s pump system. A screeching noise indicates that the motor’s bearings should be replaced or that the motor itself has reached the end of its life. Grinding noises indicated that the pump is not getting enough water. If the motor hums without starting, check for obstructions in the impeller. If the impeller is clear, the motor may not be receiving enough electricity.

Just like a car motor, a swimming pool pump motor can overheat. If the motor turns itself off periodically, make sure that the correct electrical supply connection and wire size are being used. Motor repair and replacement requires an understanding of electrical systems. For that reason, it is often a good idea to seek assistance from a pool professional.