If your ‘pool pump works on recirculate but not on the filter,’ it can be a confusing & frustrating issue to resolve. It is important to have a functional pool pump to maintain a clean & healthy swimming pool. 

Therefore, if your pool pump works perfectly fine in the recirculate mode but fails to function in the filter mode, this article is for you. In this comprehensive troubleshooting guide, I will help you learn the potential cause behind this problem and a step-by-step solution to get your pool pump back in working order on both modes. 

Before that, I recommend you understand how a pool pump operates and its different components to troubleshoot the issue effectively. If you need to gain experience troubleshooting pool pumps, consider calling a professional. 

However, if you need help finding a professional nearby, here is what you need to know: Why does the Pool Pump Works On Recirculate Mode But Not On Filter?

Filter Mode

On the other hand, filter mode directs water through the pool’s filtration system, passing through the filter medium, such as sand, cartridge, or diatomaceous earth, to remove dirt, debris, and contaminants. This mode ensures that the pool water is properly cleaned and impure-free.

Why does the pool pump works on recirculate mode but not on the filter

Why does the pool pump works on recirculate mode but not on the filter

Suppose your pool pump functions correctly on recirculation but fails on the filter mode. In that case, several potential causes can be at play, including a clogged or dirty filter, air leaks in the system, & malfunctioning valve or diverter. 

To troubleshoot, inspect & clean the fuel filter, check for air leaks, and examine the valves & the diverter for any fixing. If the issue persists, contact a professional. 

A pool pump is very important in circulating & filtering water in the pool, which further keeps it clean & clear for swimming. 

The recirculate mode allows the pool water to bypass the filter & return directly to the pool. In this mode, the water will not go through filtration, meaning any impurities or debris will not be removed. 

This mode is typically used when you want to recirculate chemicals or heat the pool without filtration quickly. On the other hand, filter mode directs water to the pool filtration system, passing through filter mediums like sand, cartridges, or diatomaceous earth to remove debris & contaminants. 

This method will ensure your pool water is properly clean & free from impurities. Now you know the basics of the pool pump and its recirculate & filter mode. Let’s look at the three major causes that might be causing this issue to troubleshoot it effectively and get your pool pump back in working order.

Clogged or Dirty Filter

Users often complain about cool pumps working on recirculating but not on filter mode, primarily because of clogged or dirty filters. If your Pool Pump Motor Shuts Off After 10 Seconds, clogged or dirty filters can be culprit. With continuous usage over time, debris, leaves, & other particles can accumulate in the filter, reducing its effects efficiency and impacting the water flow. 

You must clean the pool filter regularly to prevent clogging and ensure optimal performance. To do that, you first gather all the necessary tools & equipment you need, like filter cleaner, hose, and a bucket. 

After getting all the essential tools, you need to shut off the pool pump & relieve the pressure by turning the air valve. You can also do this by opening the filter tank pressure release & carefully lifting out the filter element or cartridges, if any. 

You can spot any accumulated debris or dirt in the filter element and rinse it off using a hose. If you have a sand filter, you need to backwash the system according to the manufacturer’s instructions to remove trapped particles. 

Make sure to note that different filters require specific cleaning procedures, so it is best to refer to your filter user manual for detailed instructions & guidance. If this was the cause & now your pump is working fine, prevent this issue from recurring by following sub-major tips.

  • Ensure you are regulating, inspecting, & cleaning the skimmer basket to remove larger debris before reaching the filter event. A
  • Also, make sure you use a pool cover when the pool is not being used to reduce the amount of debris entering the water. 
  • Consider trimming nearby trees or plants to minimize the number of leaves falling into the pool & accumulating in the filter.

Air Leaks in the System

Another common issue that users have reported behind the pool pump working on recirculate but not on filter mode is the air leak within the system. Yes, air leaks have been found disrupting water flow & causing the pump to lose prime, leading to a lack of suction & poor filtration. Also, Pool Pump Loses Prime When Turned Off Due To Air Leaks in the System

There can be many sources of air leaks like hoses or damaged pump lids, o-rings & baskets. Sometimes leaky pipe connections or fittings also cause air leaks. You must identify and fix any air leaks to ensure proper pump operation. 

Sometimes air leaks occur due to cracked or broken valves. A few users have also emphasized the importance of inspecting the suction side of the plumbing system for any leaks as well as prevent Pool Pump Losing Prime Overnight

If you are looking to solve the issue of air leaks without needing a helping hand, I will advise you first to inspect the pump lid, o-ring, and baskets for signs of wear or damage. If you find any, replace it as soon as possible. 

Also, consider applying a thin layer of lubricant on the o-ring to ensure a proper seal and check all connections & fitting for leaks as well. If any connection or fitting seems loose, tighten or repair it as required. If the valve has any cracks or signs of wear, you must replace that. Lastly, you must inspect the plumbing system for leaks, especially around the suction side.

Malfunctioning Valve or Diverter

Your pool pump may work in recirculating mode but not on the filter due to the malfunctioning valve or faulty diverter. Yes, these kinds of components can contribute to the issue of the pump not working on the filter mode if it gets faulty. 

Valves are particularly responsible for directing water flow through different paths, including the filter. If the valve is stuck, fails to work properly, is improperly positioned, or is faulty, it will hinder water circulation, causing the pump to operate effectively. 

Therefore, I suggest you first locate the multiport pool valve or diverter system and verify that it is set to the filter position for normal operation. If you find that it is not in the correct position, take the help of the user manual & carefully adjust it to the appropriate one depending upon the type of pool pump you have (the valve can also be difficult to move). 

However, if the valve is difficult to move or shows signs of damage, consider hiring a professional to repair it and restore proper functionality.

3 Troubleshooting Steps

3 Troubleshooting Steps

Step 1: Inspect & Clean the Pool Filter

The very first thing that you need to do is to inspect & clean the filter for optimal pump performance. Below are the tools you need to have to keep the pool filter clean and keep it working effectively.

3 Tools & equipment needed:

  • Filter cleaner solution
  • Hose with a spray nozzle
  • Bucket

Once you have all the tools & equipment in one place, you can shut off the pool pump and relieve the pressure by turning the air relief valve or opening the filter tank’s pressure release valve. Afterward, you must carefully remove the filter tank lid by turning it counterclockwise. 

Ensure you are careful while lifting out any filter element or cat rides to place them in a bucket for cleaning. 

Also, make sure to rinse off any accumulated debris or dirt from the filter element using a hose with a spray nozzle. As I told you earlier, you must perform a backwash according to the user manual or manufacturer’s instructions to remove trapped particles from the sand filter.

Step 2: Check for Air Leaks

If you want to ensure that your pump operation works perfectly fine, I will advise you to identify & fix any leak in the system by inspecting the pump lid, o-ring, and gasket for signs of wear & damage.

 Also, I highly advise applying a thin layer of lubricant to the o-ring to ensure its longevity and proper seal. If you find any connection or fitting leaking or loose, you need to tighten or repair it as needed. 

If you find any signs of crack or wear & tear on the valves while examining, replace them. Faulty plumbing systems should always be replaced, especially if there is something wrong with the suction side.

Step 3: Examine Valves & Diverters

Lastly, a faulty diverter or malfunctioning valve can hamper your pump’s ability to work in the filter mode. Therefore, I suggest you locate a pool’s multiport valve or diverter system with the help of a user manual. 

Also, make sure to verify if the valve is set to the filter position for normal operation or not. If it is not in the correct position, your pump will fail to work on the filter mode, so adjust it to the appropriate setting. 

Also, make sure to be cautious while handling valves to avoid causing further damage. You might have to replace the valve if it is damaged or stuck. Since it can be a heavy task for you to do, consider hiring a professional who can work out for you on this problem.

Also Check: How to Open the Pool Vacuum Port?

Additional Considerations

Proper Pool Pump Maintenance

Now it is important that you pay attention to regular maintenance to prevent pump-related issues and ensure a healthy pool system for a safe & fun swimming experience. Below, I mention some tips to help you maintain your pool pump more effectively.

  • First, follow a regular maintenance schedule recommended by your manufacturer, like cleaning the filter and inspecting the pump for any signs of damage. 
  • Also, you must perform routine tasks like backwashing the filter, cleaning the skimmer basket, and maintaining proper water chemistry levels.
  • If there are lots of trees & plants near your pool, I suggest you invest in a pool cover to reduce debris entering the pool & alleviate the workload on the pump and the filter. 

Seeking Professional Assistance

In the above section, I will give you troubleshooting steps to help you resolve common issues like the pool pump working in recirculate mode but not on the filter. There can be a few instances where the issue will persist, and professional assistance will be necessary. 

Below I am mentioning some situations where you must consider contacting a full-service technician for a proper solution. However, always choose a reputable pool service provider with experience in pump & filter repair when seeking professional assistance.

  • If you have followed all the troubleshooting steps mentioned in this article and got no success, contact a pool service technician.
  • If you are not very confident & unsure about performing any maintenance task or repair yourself, consider hiring a professional
  • If a more complex underlying issue needs specialized knowledge or equipment, consider hiring a reputable pool service provider with experience.


If your pool pump works on recirculate but not on filter mode, this can be a perplexing problem. Therefore I have helped you with some troubleshooting steps that may effectively identify & resolve the issue. 

You must pay attention to regular maintenance, proper cleaning of the filter, checking for air leaks, and ensuring the correct position of valves & diverter to maintain a functional and efficient pool filter system. 

It would help if you took care of your home to enjoy a clean & refreshing swimming experience all season long. This article has helped you identify any potential cause behind the pump working on recirculate mode but not on filter mode. 

If you find this article helpful, then consider sharing it. Your share will help many people learn about the potential reasons why Pool Pump Works on Recirculate but Not on Filter. Do check my other helpful guide on pool pump care & maintenance. See you in the next post, till then, take care & goodbye.