IceCap 3K: Maintenance & Troubleshooting

ithout a doubt water flow is an essential part of any reef. Without proper flow, our aquatic critters would not be able to thrive and let a lone survive.  So, it is imperative that we make sure that our 3K is running at optimal performance. 

It is recommended that you clean the pump thoroughly at least once a month, and sometimes more often depending on your system.  Proper maintenance of the 3K pump will increase its overall lifespan and minimize the chance of mechanical failure due to debris and organic build up within the pump.

To disassemble the pump, you will first need a few tools that are readily available in any home.  You will need

  1. a short piece of rigid RO water line and
  2. a marker

To begin disassembling the pump, we first need to remove the flow cages by pulling them straight out and away from the driver.  Notice that if you slightly rotate the cage as you pull them out, it makes the process easier.

To get to the end bushings from the flow cages we must remove the end cap by gripping the cap and pulling away from the cage. 

An easy way to remove the cage bushing is to take a short length of rigid RO line and insert it into the directional cage.  With the end of the line placed right against the bushing, push it out. 

The next step is to pull out the propellers.  Just be careful and pull them straight out so you do not damage the motor’s ceramic shaft in the process. The plastic propeller bushing will likely still be affixed to the shaft while the rubber boot will be found on the propeller itself. Simply pull the plastic rotor bushing away from the shaft.

Now, all you have left is the driver.  The bushing, shaft holder, and the shaft can now be removed from the driver. Again be careful not to damage the shaft while doing so. 

Using your finger or a solid object like the cap of a permanent marker, push the left side shaft inwards towards the driver. IMPORTANT: Only the left side next to the IceCap logo is removable.

Once the holder is out, we can now remove the shaft. Grip the shaft with your fingers and pull straight up and out.    Use the rigid RO line to push out and remove the bushing from each of the two shaft holders. 

We recommend cleaning and inspecting the flow cages and propellers once a month.   This will ensure that the pump is running efficiently.  Then, we recommend a full inspection and cleaning of all components once every three to six months. 

Cleaning the 3K is simple.  All you need is a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Dip all the separate components until calcium buildup is dissolved which can take a minimum of three hours. FOR ALL YOU EXPERTS OUT THERE THAT BELIVE THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO CLEAN YOUR PUMPS AS OFTEN, IT WILL TAKE A BIT LONGER.

After soaking, you can remove any left over buildup with a toothbrush.  If needed, Use a test tube cleaner to brush off the inner part of the rotor.

Rinse all parts with running water and reassemble the 3K. 

HERE is how you reassemble the 3K…

Before we start to assemble the 3K, we must make sure that all motor block bushings are in good shape and installed correctly.  Although the bushings are usually preassembled and installed, here is a picture of what they look like just in case you took them apart for cleaning.

Take the magnet/shaft and carefully insert it into the motor block.   Now take the star bushing and with the flat side facing in, push the bushing in place into the motor block.  Please make sure the star bushing is pushed all the way into the pump.  NEVER install the star bushing without installing the magnet/shaft. 

Now that the magnet/shaft is secure and the motor block is fully assembled, lets install the propellers.  First we need to ensure that all propeller bushings are installed.  The propellers have two bushings each.  There is a black robber grommet that gets inserted into the end of the propeller and then there is a hard bushing that gets carefully inserted into the rubber grommet in which the shaft inserts into.  

The propellers are labeled which makes the installation easy. The 3K comes installed with an A propeller on the left side and a B propeller on the right side.  If you notice, the individual blades on each propeller are angled so the front of the blade always faces the front of the pump. 

You will also notice that the propellers come with a small white shaft attached to them.  If you have a propeller with the blades facing you and the small white shaft is on the left, then you have a propeller A.  If the blades are facing you but the white shaft is on the right, then you have a propeller B.

Assuming that you will only be using the pump in forward motion, install the A propeller on the left and the B propeller on the right.  

As you install the propeller to the shaft, you will notice that the shaft has two flat sides with a matching key on the propeller bushing.   This allows the propeller to properly grip the shaft and spin.  The propeller bushings will snap into place. 

Before we install the cages, it is best to test the integrity of the propeller bushings.   Over time the bushings will wear and may even strip.  These will cause the pump to not work correctly.  Since the pump comes only with a single shaft that goes from side to side, both propellers will mirror each other.  This means that the propellers cannot move individually or in separate directions.  If they do, that means the propeller is not installed correctly or the propeller bushings are striped and will need to be replaced. 

Similar to the motor block, the directional cages come with a preinstalled set of bushings.   If you are cleaning or replacing the cages, be sure to reinstall the bushings BEFORE attaching the cages to the motor block.  

Just like the propellers, there are two types of cages.  Locate cage A and carefully insert it onto the left side of the pump with the matching propeller A.  Be sure to line up the propeller outer shaft so that the cage bushings are not pushed out when inserting the cage.  Repeat the process when installing cage B.

We are almost there.  The last step is to push and install the endcaps. 

Before we go into trouble shooting, please remember that just like most new equipment, there is a break in period of two to four weeks.  During this period, the 3K may be louder than usual as the ceramic parts become more polished and bacteria coats all surfaces.  Once the gyre has broken in, the pump is fairly quiet.

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

My 3K is running but it is not pushing any water.  What can I do?

Make sure that you have the correct propellers and corresponding cages installed in the right orientation.  Remember that the 3K needs an A propeller and cage on the left and a B propeller and cage on the right.  

My 3K works fine but it just does not push as much water as it used to.  What could it be?

To obtain optimal performance and long life, the gyre needs to be cleaned on a regular basis.  This means taking the pump completely apart, cleaning or swapping the propellers and the cages and inspecting all wearable components. 

What do we do if our pump is not powering on? 

We must make sure that the power outlet is live and that the green light on the power supply is on.  Then we should make sure that we connected all the cables.

What should we do if our pump is making a rattling sound or the propellers are not moving? 

We must make sure the flow cages and propellers are free of foreign objects such as sand, rocks or snails.  We must also check that the propellers have no broken or dislodged blades. Also make sure that the shaft has not been damaged.  If any part is damaged or worn, it should be replaced before putting the pump back in use.

My pump is vibrating or making excessive noise.  What should I do?

Check for lodged particles or broken propeller parts.  Also, remember that the shaft and bushings are subject to wear and tear from normal use, and will be slowly wear out after the pump has been running for a long period of time. 

If rotor bushing are the problem, a spare set was included in the box.  If you need to stock up on any replaceable parts, just head over to where you will find a full line of spare parts for your 3K pump.

If you would like to learn more about the IceCap 3K including detailed specs and beautiful high quality pictures, head on over to  

If you have any questions or issues with the product, don’t hesitate to visit our support portal at  Our friendly support reps are eager to help you with any questions or issues you may have. 

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Author: Carlos

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