Pump running dry for months!


Bronze Supporter
Yesterday, I was on the pool deck for the first time in at least two months. As I approached the deep end, I heard a faint noise coming from the equipment area. As I got closer, I caught a faint burning smell and felt my stomach sink as I realized it was my pump running - and running dry to boot. :ROFLMAO: I couldn't believe this pump was running in the middle of winter. I was positive the timer had been set to off when the pool was closed. But, here is it was, running at full speed.

After a few moments of troubleshooting, it became clear I had made a serious error. Last season, the timer module in the pool panel was on the fritz. I obtained a replacement. But, the replacement timer included a freeze protection function! The freeze protection feature did its job, turning on the pump for who knows how many hours over the past several months. It did not matter that I had set the timer to off. With my tail between my legs, I turned off the circuit breaker.

At this point, I have a 2 HP Challenger pump that has been running dry for a considerable length of time. I have no idea what is toast and what might be salvageable. But - and here is the only positive note - I was planning next season to replace the single speed motor with a dual speed motor and reduce the capacity to 1.5 HP by installing a new impeller. I already have the new motor and impeller.

So, should I be looking for a new wet end or is there a silver lining someplace in this disaster?


Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
Tallahassee, FL
Well it was still running so.............I don't think it would hurt anything to see if it will work with water in it!

This is a good lesson for all of us! Thanks for sharing.


TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
Morris Cnty NJ
Always always turn the breaker off to winterized equipment. Never rely on a timer. If you smelled burning ita only a matter of time before it's dead. It can run easily with no load on it. When it comes time to push water its gonna hate it


In The Industry
Jul 20, 2017
Windsor, Ontario. Canada
When you tear it apart to change the motor and impeller change the shaft seal also as it is more then likely melted. Guessing you'll have to dig it out with ice picks but you should be able to save the casing. Running an electric motor dry will not hurt it, look at a table saw motor,, never any water on the end of its shaft, just a saw blade. But you are going to change the motor anyway.