Pool Lube Proper Usage and Why it’s so Important

The biggest key for keeping your pool costs low is preventative maintenance. Proper pool lube application is one of the easiest and cheapest preventative measures that can be taken to ensure increased longevity of your pool motor and filter.

For anyone who owns or works on a pool, lube is one cheap but critical consumable that should be kept on hand. I’ve personally found that the teflon based Magic Lube works best to keep o-rings from drying out and spreads the easiest.

In this post we will cover what pool lube is for, which kinds to use, when and how to apply it, and common problems that can arise from an in-sufficient level of pool lube applied to equipment.

What is Pool Lube For

Over time the rubber O-rings of a pool filter and motor can dry out and cause cracks and breaks in the seal. A great seal is what makes a pool run efficiently and will give you the best circulation possible. The two main O-rings you should check for on your system are around your motor lid and around your filter. Each one of these drying out can cause a drop in pool equipment performance and in some cases lead to serious damage to your motor.

I have had some instances where the pool motor will not prime, or won’t fill with water on it’s own, and in a lot of cases the cause is a dry O-ring. In extreme cases, this can lead to a motor running completely dry during its running duration, which can lead to a burned out motor if not caught and properly fixed. Luckily, this is very easy to not only catch with preventive measures, but even fix.

What Pool Lube to Use

Make sure you are using the proper lubrication for your pool equipment. Pool lube should be water, teflon, or silicone based. Never use a petroleum based lubricant such as Petroleum Jelly, which will break down rubber of the equipment. 

I personally use and recommend a teflon based lube called Magic Lube. It is widely available on online or at most pool supply stores for around $5-$12, depending on the tube size. I like the texture and it lasts a respectfully long time. Always keep this on hand to make your life easier and make sure your pool is running the best possible.

When to Apply Pool Lube

Checking the lubrication of your O-rings is quick and easy for most systems. Normally, you can check your current lube quality while performing normal scheduled maintenance of the pool. In most cases this will be enough preventative lubrication to keep the equipment in nominal working order. When cleaning a filter or motor basket it’s very easy to check if the O-rings are dry. If you suspect a bad O-ring seal, remove the motor lid or filter lid and visually and physically inspect the O-ring.

You’ll need to apply a fresh amount of lube to the O-ring if:

  • The O-ring looks or feels dry
  • The O-ring feels slightly stiff or rough

Under some circumstances your O-ring may be damaged beyond repair. The best and safest action would be to replace the damaged O-ring. Until you can get a new O-ring, applying a liberal amount of lube to the entire O-ring may allow it to temporarily seal the equipment assembly. Replacement O-rings aren’t too expensive and can be found for between $2 and $12 at a pool supply store and on online depending on your equipment make and model.

You’ll need to apply a large liberal amount of lube and consider replacing your O-ring if:

  • The O-ring is extremely stiff
  • The O-ring is misshapen
  • There’s visible cracking
  • The O-ring is noticeably stretched or too big

How to Apply Pool Lube

In either case, applying lube is very simple, aliebt slightly messy. You just have to squeeze some lube onto the O-ring and spread the lube over it with your fingers, making sure to cover the O-ring completely. Spreading the lube can be a little messy, but the benefits are worth it. It is impossible to apply too much and over applying is safer than using too little. The lube will easily wash off your hands with soap and water, so don’t worry about making a mess. When thinking about the amount of lube to use, remember the O-ring should look wet when you are done, but a little goes a long way.

Tip: Make sure to take the O-ring out and completely cover all sides and not just the top or side of the O-ring. The easiest way to do this is to place a dime to quarter size amount of lube in the palm of  your hand and run the O-ring through the the lube while making a fist. This will make a greater mess on your hand, but it will ensure the O-ring is completely covered.

Identifying a Lack of Pool Lube

In some instances weather or aging equipment can lead to an increased degradation of the normally applied lube. In this case, you may need to manually check if another fresh application of lube is required.

For motor O-rings: Try manually turning your pool on and monitor how long it takes for the pool motor to fully fill with water. Within 20-30 seconds the water level in your pump should be up to the transparent lid. If not, this may be a sign that there is air being pulled into the system. Unless there is a failure of other pool hardware, this typically is caused by the motor lid O-ring not making a sufficient seal.

For filter O-rings: Visually inspect the seam from the top and bottom halves of your filter assembly. Since water is pushed through the filter, any break in the O-ring seal will be apparent due to dripping, leaking, or even spewing water.

For motor and filter lids, a trouble fitting lid is also a good indicator the O-ring is bad. A new O-ring will need to be purchased. Luckily, these too are minor purchases and run from $2 to $12 on online depending on the make and model of the lid.

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