Can I Run My Pool Pump Every Other Day?

Maintaining a pool is more expensive than building it. That’s what people often say, and new pool owners find it difficult to believe. Only upon running the pool pump daily do you understand that there might be some truth to these expensiveness claims. Here, the budget-minded among us start to wonder whether they can skip three days across the week.

You cannot run your pool pump every other day because the standing water can pose a health risk as it can quickly accumulate bacteria and fungi. It is crucial to run the pump every day for 8 hours (in one or multiple sessions), so the entirety of the pool’s contents run through the filter once.

The pump running period can increase with pool usage but cannot go below 8 hours a day. To further explain this, I will go over the importance of running a pool pump. In this post, you will not only find out what benefits daily pump-running provides but will also discover how much it costs to run the pump every single day.

Water Circulation

Pool pumps circulate water, which keeps the water from stagnating. Still, water, in quantity as large as a pool’s worth, can easily become a breeding ground for harmful microbes. If you’re wondering whether pool chemicals are sufficient in fighting against bacteria and algae in still water, the answer is no. 

Chlorine is the most potent among pool chemicals that kill microbes, and it disappears when exposed to sunlight. This brings us to the second reason you must run your pool pump regularly.

Longevity of chlorine and photosensitive substances

When water keeps moving, no particular unit of chlorine gets to be in the sun for an extended period. This allows the chlorine to last longer in the pool. The alternative is to use slow-releasing chlorine tablets, but they pose a risk to your pool liner. 

Check out my article on the effect of chlorine tablets on pool liner to learn more. For now, what’s important is that pools that do not have a wide surface can retain chlorine for longer periods if the pool pump is run regularly.

This has diminishing returns as you scale the pool. Olympic-sized swimming pools are so large that even when the chlorine molecules are moving due to the pool pump, they’re exposed to sunlight long enough to disappear. My post on extending chlorine’s longevity in swimming pools can help you with this problem.

Pump efficiency and performance

There’s a “use it or lose it” tendency with swimming pool pumps. If you’ve thought about emptying your pool to avoid running the pump, you’re not the only one. Many households that do not use their pools often opt for the closing option. 

Any money one saves closing a medium-sized pool is lost repairing the pump when the pool is opened again. Pool pumps might even need replacement if they’ve been sitting unfunctional for a long period. That said, pool pumps do not lose their effectiveness by being turned off every other day.


This is by far the most important reason to run a pool pump. The terms “pool pump” and “filter pump” are used interchangeably because the filtering mechanism requires a pump to operate. I have written at length about how filter pumps work. Running a pool pump is essential because it helps filter impurities out of the water. 

There’s a fine line between microbes and microscopic impurities. From specs of dust to stray leaves, a lot of unwanted elements can find their way into your pool water. Running the pump daily can cycle them out. Unlike the previous reason, this one’s tied to daily use. If your pool pump doesn’t run every day for a certain period, the dirt impurities will compound and ruin the pump when it is brought back into use.

Running the pool pump, what does it even cost?

There are two reasons to wonder whether a pump can be run every other day. The first is because one doesn’t want to do the daily work and the second is to save electricity. So, let’s compare the cost of running the pump daily with the potential cost of not running it to see whether it is worth the trouble.

A pool pump raises your electricity bill by $300 per year, according to a study cited in ThinkProgress. This can be broken down to 83 cents a day for the average pool-owning household. In contrast, the cost of filling a pool with fresh water is $5 to $11, and pool chemicals add another $100.

On the surface, it might seem like draining the pool saves more money, but you have to account for frequency. Let’s suppose you’re in a state where water costs $4 per 1000 gallons. This means your cost of refilling the pool will be around $104 across the year. But if you keep draining the pool every day, you will incur a $4 + $0.273 in the daily cost of pool chemicals and filling.

Even for the smallest pool, refilling the pool daily in a low-priced area costs $4.273, while running your pool pump to preserve the water you already have costs 83 cents. There’s an obvious winner when it comes to the daily solution. If one examines it across the week, though, things might be a little different.

The weekly use of a pool pump costs $5.81. Add to that the pool chemical savings over the week, and you get a grand total of $7.7. In other words, if you’re not going to use your pool for a whole week, you might be better off draining it and refilling it later. 

But before you opt for that choice, remember that the cost of filling your pool has to be $4. For the country average of $9 per thousand gallons and a pool larger than a thousand gallons, you might be better off running the pool pump daily.

Final Thoughts

You save $3.32 by not running your pump for four days a week. Is it worth the risk of damaging your pool pump or having to replace the water in your pool? Definitely not on a week’s scale. But if you’re taking a three-month vacation away from home, it might be prudent to close the pool instead of having someone run the pool pump every day.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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