How Long Should I Run My Pool Pump Each Day?

Proper pool maintenance is essential for keeping swimming pools functional, as well as comfortable for swimmers. Among the equipment that should be inspected and maintained regularly in your pool is your pool pump. As you consider the best ways to keep your pump running strong, you may begin pondering the question, “How long should I run my pool pump each day?”

As a general rule, pool pumps should be run approximately eight hours a day. That being said, these eight hours do not have to be consecutive. In fact, it is recommended to let your pump run a few hours in the morning, and then a few hours in the evening rather than eight hours straight.

Before you start running your pump eight hours a day, however, it’s important to understand your pool’s turnover rate. If you’re unsure what this turnover rate is, have no worries! Today, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about calculating a pool’s turnover rate and how long your pool pump should run.

Determining How Long Should A Pool Pump Run Each Day

A pool pump’s main purpose is to keep water circulating throughout your pool. Because water circulation is crucial for keeping pool water clean and chemicals evenly distributed, it’s no wonder why running a pool pump is a necessary process. With that being said, many pool owners question how long a pool pump should run, and what the average pump run-time is.

Because every pool and pool pump is different, it’s important to determine your pool’s turnover rate before running a pump eight hours a day. Calculating a pool’s turnover rate is a very simple process. Once you understand your pool’s volume, you can be sure you’re running the correct-size pump for the correct amount of time.

How to Calculate a Pool’s Turnover Rate

A pool’s turnover rate is the amount of time it takes for the pool’s water to circulate through the pump and filter system. Generally, pools should circulate water at least once a day, though some pools turnover more than this. To calculate a pool’s turnover rate, you must first figure out your pool’s volume.

How to Measure a Pool’s Volume

Simply put, measuring your pool’s volume means determining how many gallons it holds. Most likely, your pool’s paperwork will have this number printed on it. If, however, you’ve lost your paperwork, you’ll need to instead use a formula for determining your pool’s volume.

The following formulas are used to measure the volume of pools:

  • Rectangular pools: Length (feet) x Width (feet) x Average Depth (feet) x 7.5 = Total Pool Gallons
  • Round pools: Diameter (feet) x Diameter (feet) x Average Depth (feet) x 5.9 = Total Pool Gallons
  • Oval pools: Length (feet) x Width (feet) x Average Depth (feet) x 6.7 = Total Pool Gallons

An alternative to using these formulas is utilizing online resources for calculating pool volumes. All you need to do is enter your pool’s dimensions and shape to find out your pool’s volume. Once the volume is determined, you can easily calculate the turnover rate.

How to Determine A Pool’s Turnover Rate

Once you’ve measured your pool’s volume, the next step is determining your pool’s turnover rate. Determining a pool’s turnover rate requires the formula as follows:

  • Total Pool Volume ÷ 8 = GPH (Gallons Per Hour)
  • GPH ÷ 60 = GPM (Gallons Per Minute)

In order to keep your pool water clean, a pool pump should be able to process all the water during the eight-hour period it is turned on. If you find that the pump isn’t running efficiently, you may need to purchase another pump. Because an improper turnover rate can result in cloudy pool water and water balance issues, it’s important to determine the functionality of your pool’s pump. In doing so, you can be sure your pool will always be crystal clear and well-circulated.

Choosing the Right Pump

Using your knowledge of your pool’s turnover rate, you can confidently select an appropriate size pump for your swimming pool. This can be done by matching your pool’s GPM (Gallons Per Minute) with a pump’s GPM. While it’s possible to use a pump with a slightly higher GPM, you never want to use one with a lower GPM number.

Another consideration you may face when selecting a pump is whether to buy a single-speed pump or dual-speed pump. Single-speed pumps, as the name suggests, are designed to operate at one speed. Dual-speed pumps, on the other hand, feature both a low speed and a high speed.

Although dual-speed pool pumps tend to cost more, most pool owners find they are worth the high price. Having a dual-speed pump allows you to adjust your pump’s filtering speed to keep your water clean at all times.

Another pump option that is becoming increasingly popular is the variable-speed pump. Variable-speed pumps, unlike dual-speed pumps, use less energy to filter the water. Additionally, they tend to be quieter and longer-lasting than dual-speed pool pumps.

Before purchasing a pool pump, consider how you’d like your pump to operate. If you don’t mind one speed, a single-speed pool pump may work well for you. If you’d rather be able to adjust the speed, consider investing in a dual-speed pump or variable-speed pool pump. 

When Is the Best Time to Run a Pool Pump?

Once you’ve selected an appropriate pump, it’s time to start running the pump in your pool. Because every pool should turnover at least once a day, it is recommended to run a pool pump for eight hours. During this amount of time, your pump should be able to filter all of your pool’s water.

As we mentioned earlier, it is not necessary to run a pool pump eight hours straight. In fact, it is recommended to stop a pool pump during mid-day, or whenever your electricity experiences peak hours. Peak hours, as you may be aware, is when the electricity demand is highest. By running your pump during non-peak hours, you can significantly cut down on your electric bill.

Another time of day to consider running your pump is when you add chemicals to the water. Because you want the chemicals to evenly distribute, you’ll want to run the water immediately after adding chemicals to the pool. The best time to add chemicals is at night when the sun won’t burn off the chemicals. What’s more, nighttime is considered non-peak hours, meaning it won’t cost as much to run your pump during this time.

Should I Let My Pool Pump Run All Day?

As you learn more about the importance of pool pumps, you may begin to wonder whether you should run your pool pump all day instead of only eight hours. In fact, many pool owners consider running their pumps 24 hours straight.

While there’s no harm done in running a pool pump 24/7, it also isn’t necessary. Running a pool pump all day can raise your electricity bill, as well as shorten your pool pump’s lifespan.

Rather than running your pool pump continuously, run it a few hours in the morning, and a few hours at night after you’ve added pool chemicals. Rarely is it necessary to run a pool pump for 24 hours straight.

Are There Any Times I Should Run My Pool Pump 24 Hours Straight?

Though running a pool pump continuously each day isn’t necessary, there are certain situations where you may consider running your pump longer than usual. Such situations include the following examples:

  • Your pool water is cloudy. 
  • You’ve added a large dose of chemicals to the water.
  • If multiple people swim in your pool. 
  • If you haven’t winterized your pool and you want to prevent the water from freezing.

Other factors that determine how long to run a pool pump include the size of your pool and the quality of the pump. If your pool is large, you may consider running it longer than eight hours each day. Similarly, if your pump is having trouble filtering the water, you may need to let it run for a longer period of time.

As previously mentioned, running a pool pump continuously will increase your electric bill and pool maintenance costs. To lower your electric costs, you’ll likely want to invest in a high-efficiency pump and only run it during non-peak hours, such as at night.

Can I Run My Pool Pump While I’m Swimming?

If you spend a couple of hours each day swimming in your pool, you may wonder if your pool pump should be on during this time. After all, it is during swimming that you want your pool clean and water chemistry evenly distributed.

In short, having your pool pump on while you’re swimming isn’t only a good idea, but it’s recommended. Each time you swim, you likely bring in contaminants such as dirt, sand, dust, and hair. Keeping the pump on while swimming can greatly reduce the contaminants brought into the pool.

Many people choose to run their pool pumps while swimming simply for the bubbles it creates. While this isn’t the main reason to run a pool pump, it is definitely a fun feature that adds pleasure to your pool experience.

Are There Dangers to Swimming When a Pool Pump is Running

There is very little danger involved with running a pool pump as you swim. The only potential hazard to be aware of is if your pool features a main drain. If a swimmer happens to swim over the main drain when the pump is running, there is a slight possibility of getting held back by the drain. This is very rare, however, as most modern swimming pools feature anti-vortex drain covers.

If your pool does not have an anti-vortex drain cover, you may consider installing one. Simply unscrew your current drain cover and replace it with an anti-vortex drain cover.

Other than the potential danger of getting sucked in by the suction of the main drain, there are no major hazards involved with running a pool pump during swimming.

Can I Run My Pool Pump While It’s Raining?

Another common question concerning pool pumps is can you run a pool pump during rainy weather? While it may not seem necessary to run a pool pump while it’s raining, there are many advantages to doing so.

Put simply, it is usually good to run your pool while it is raining. Rain can cause chemical changes in your pool’s water, affecting the balance of chemicals. Keeping your pump on in the rain will help counteract any negative impact the rain could have.

Though it may not appear that rain affects your pool water, there are many physical and chemical changes that take place after a rainstorm. In addition to an increase in water levels, rain can lower the pH level of your pool.

Because rain is considered slightly acidic, pools can become the perfect breeding ground for algae after a rainstorm. Additionally, this level of acidity can damage your pool’s heat pump and filters.

By letting a pool pump run during and after rain, you can be sure your pool maintains an appropriate pH level. What’s more, you may extend the life of your filtration system by preventing rainwater damage to it.

Can I Run My Pool Pump During a Thunderstorm?

While it is safe to run a pool pump during gentle rain showers, you should never run a pump during a thunderstorm. If a pool pump is left running during a thunderstorm, the motor may become damaged and short out.

If you notice a thunderstorm heading in your direction, immediately unplug your pool pump. Do not turn it back on until the thunderstorm has passed. After that, you may run your pool pump to filter any debris or rainwater that may have entered your pool during the storm.

Knowing when and when not to run your pool pump is a crucial part of pool maintenance. By properly maintaining your pump, you can extend not only the life of the filtration system but also the lifespan of your entire pool.

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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