Should Pool Pump Run Continuously?

should pool pump run continuously
Written By: Chris Tebbutt
Date Published: August 17, 2022

You do not necessarily need to run your swimming pool pump for twenty-four hours. While filters and pool pumps are vital for keeping your pool neat, there are, however, several factors that influence the length of time for running your pool pump.

They include the pool's proportion, the pollution level of the pool, and how efficient the pump is. 

Nonetheless, most pool cleaning experts would advise that your pool should not run continuously even if the water is very dirty.

How Long Should Your Swimming Pool Pump Run?

Should Pool Pump Run Continuously? 1

How long should I run my pool pump? To keep your pool clean and save money it is recommended to keep the pool run time under ten hours a day. Running your pool pump for consecutive hours for 24 hours a day will not only increase your electric bill but also negatively affect your pool’s filtration system. You might think that the longer you run your pump, the longer you can keep the pool clean, but that’s is just simply isn’t energy efficient, and might not even help your pool water remain sparkling clean. To increase energy savings run your pumps at a lower speed no matter if it’s one of the standard pumps, variable speed pumps, or a brand new pump, for six hours a day during off peak hours with short periods of rest.

Should Pool Pump Run Continuously? 2

This will save money, and make sure your pool water is nice and clean. Although how many hours a day you keep running your pool pump will depend on the pool’s volume, pool shape, and how many gallons of dirty pool water and debris run through the filtration system. The way you run your pump, the turnover rate, the time of day, whether or not it is during the day or the late afternoon, non peak hours, or peak hours, and the water chemistry and chemical balance will reflect on the electricity costs. In an ideal world no matter the hours a day the pumps run, used chemicals, how much water is in the pool, or the filtration system you should be saving money and cutting the cost of clearing out the debris. Unfortunately, that is not the case, your best bet is to keep the system of the pump run going to save money.

The general rule of thumb is that private pool owners should run a pump long enough to filter all the water within eight hours (at least one turnover). *The only exception is for public pools. In such cases, the pump needs to be working almost all the time.

But if it's your own swimming pool in the backyard, if you run your pool pump continuously throughout the day, it would have a huge impact on your electricity bill. Your pool pump will also wear out faster than it should and you'll be spending more money on maintenance.

To understand the length of time it will take to keep your swimming pool pump running, you should know:

The pool volume

Here is how to determine the total pool volume.

  • For a round pool: Average depth (ft) x Diameter (ft) x Diameter (ft) x 5.9
  • For a rectangular pool: Average depth (ft) x Length (ft) x Width (ft) x 7.5
  • For an oval pool: Average depth (ft) x Width (ft) x Length (ft) x 6.7

You can also look for a cellphone app that can correctly work out the proportion of the pool. There are several of these apps available, which can make calculating the pool volume easier.

Flow rate of your pump

Intex Pool Filters

Flow rate is also called circulation rate and it refers to the amount of water your pump can handle given a time period.

Flow rate is generally calculated in gallons per hour (GPH), but it can also be in gallons per minute (GPM). You should also consider if your filter has a maximum flow rate. 

The GPM or GPH should be in the filter description, or if you are ordering one online, the product page should mention the flow rate. With this, you can work out how long you need to run the swimming pool pump.

To achieve this: The volume of water ÷ Flow rate

So if you calculated that your swimming pool is 15,000 gallons, and if you are planning on buying or already have a 1000 GPH pump and filter, then it would take you 15 hours to get 1 turnover. While in theory, you could run the pump for 15 hours, it's not very efficient and your pump definitely needs an upgrade. Run your pump between 6-8 hours of operation to keep your pool free of debris. An hour increase or an hour decrease will affect the cost of the overall system.

A 2000-2500 GPH pump and filter, like Intex Krystal Clear might be a good option.

Let's say you get a 2500 GPH pump, then you would only need to run it for 6 hours to get a full turnover.

When Should Your Pool Pump Run Continuously?

However, some situations warrant you leaving the pool pump to run continuously. They include:

Winter periods

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If there is a cold forecast during the winter periods and you haven't winterized your swimming pool, then you need to leave the pump running continuously. It will stop the pipework from a blockage that can occur as a result of the water freezing. Moreover, this will offset the cost.

If the pool is cloudy

Should Pool Pump Run Continuously? 4

Pool owners need to run the pool pump continuously if the water is cloudy. It might take longer than the average eight hours, but until the water is clear, the pump needs to be on.

After adding chemicals

Should Pool Pump Run Continuously? 5

If you have added any form of chemicals to your pool, for instance, chlorine, it is important to leave the pool pump running for about twenty-four hours. It allows the chlorine to spread properly around the pool and prevents concentration in one part of the pool. Depending on the other shapes of your pool, consider increasing the amount of chemicals used.

If the pool is in use

pool party ideas

Public pools or a pool with a party with lots of people in it need to have the pump running. It allows for all the bacteria, germs, and dirty water to be cleaned.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to other questions that a lot of people have regarding swimming pools and pumps.

Should you run a pool pump during the day or night?

In many areas, electricity is supplied at cheaper rates at night than daytime. As a result, most people prefer to run their pool pump at night so they can spend less.

However, more factors surround when you should run your pool pump, especially during the daytime. These are:

Level of sound

Most pool pumps are very noisy. If you have a very noisy pool pump, running it at night can disturb you and your neighbors because of the loud whirring sound.

It is best to run a noisy pool pump during the day when everyone is going about their business.

Time of use

A pool is mostly used in the daytime and you need to keep the pool clean. Also, chlorine needs to work effectively. It means you need to run the pool pump during the daytime if you want to achieve maximum cleanliness in this case.

Heating the pool

If you use solar heating, it means water must flow around the pool's water to get nice and even temperatures all around. If you run the pool pump at night the pool will be warm on the surface, but cold on the bottom.

Algae attacks

Algae needs light to grow, so the pool is most vulnerable to algae attacks during the daytime. If you run the pump only at night, you are at a higher risk of algae attack. It is because algae are most active then, so the chlorine can fight them. You need to let the chlorine circulate in the pool during the day. Hopefully, that answers “How long should I run my pool pump?”

Can You Run Your Pool Pumps in the Rain?

If there is light rain, there are no problems whatsoever with having your pump running. However, while pumps can be water resistant, if you submerge them in water, of course they will get damaged.

Avoid running the pump during a lightning strike or thunderstorm even if the manufacturer designed the pool pump to function in heavy rainfall. A lighting strike or power surge can damage a running pool pump.

So in case there is heavy rain and flooding, it's a good idea to disconnect your pump and bring it inside or somewhere safe.

Should You Run a Pool Pump During a Thunderstorm?

If you have a submersible pump, it is generally safe to keep it running during a thunderstorm. However, if you have an above-ground pump, it is best to shut it off to avoid the risk of electrocution.

In addition, you should always take into account the severity of the storm. If the weather is particularly bad, it is best to err on the side of caution and shut off your pool pump until the storm has passed.

How Long Should A Pool Pump During Winter?

The amount of time that it will take to run a pool pump in the winter depends on the climate.

If you live in an area where the water can freeze as a result of very low temperatures, you need to run the pool pump for long periods. It will ensure that the water in the pipes doesn't freeze and lead to blockage.

A variable speed pump has winter settings that automatically turn the pump on when the temperature of the waterfalls is very low.

Will a Pool Cover Affect Pool Pump Usage?

You can run your pool pump for shorter periods if you use a pool cover. Algae require light to grow and pool covers prevent the source of algae growth.

Besides preventing algae growth, pool covers can reduce the amount of time on pool maintenance and cleaning the pool water.

Final Thoughts

How long should I run my pool pump? On average, a pool pump run time should be eight hours every day to avoid pool shock. You do not need to run the pool pump for the straight eight hours, you can divide the time and run the pool pump at intervals such as a few hours in the morning, during the day when you are cleaning the pool or doing pool maintenance, and a few hours in the evening or late at night.

It is better to run a pool pump during the day if you wish to stave off algae.

You can also run your pool pump in the rain. If it is raining heavily, the best advice is to stove your pump somewhere safe.

Turn off your pool pump or physically unplug it completely if you hear a thunderstorm.

Variable speed pool pumps will also save you stress especially if you live in a cold climate area.

Article written by Chris Tebbutt
In 2016 I got my first house that had a pool and I had no idea where to begin. Over time I have learnt how to do most things myself (I am really into DIY) and wanted to share my information with other. I was one of the people who thought if water smelt like chlorine, that meant there was too much chlorine in the water!