How To Select Above Ground Pool Pumps

Written by:  Danny Rhodehamel
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 (2.53 OUT OF 5 STARS ON 54 RATINGS)

One of the advantages of above ground pools is that the pumps and filters are sold as one unit. These pump/filter systems are usually attached to a single base and are much more economical than an individual pump and filter. Here we'll cover the basics of both pumps and filters for above ground pools. Click for more Above Ground Pools

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Step by Step

Step 1

The necessary size (or horsepower) of the pump can be determined by the following general rule - for above ground pools up to 24 ft round, use a 1 HP pump and for above ground pools over 24 ft round, use a 1.5 HP pump. That was easy, wasn't it? Many pool owners tend to think, "the more horsepower the better". Actually what’s best is to get the proper horsepower for your pool. Too much power and the water will be pushed through the filter too quickly for proper sanitization. Also, you will use more energy to run at a higher horsepower. Most manufacturers do not go higher than 1.5 HP for above ground pool pumps because it's unnecessary.

Step 2

For above ground pool pump and filter systems, the manufacturer will pair the proper horse power pump with the proper size filter. So all you really need to do is measure your pool and follow the rule above. That will guide you to the correct size pump. Now if you are replacing an existing pump and not the filter, you will need to make sure you get a pump designed for above ground pools. Above ground pool pumps are usually postioned below the water line (i.e. on the ground next to your pool). Because they have to force water upward, pumps for above ground pools are designed differently than those used for in-ground pools (where the pump is typically above the water line of the pool). When replacing a pump for an above ground pool, just make sure you purchase one that is categorized as an "above ground" pump. Most of the time, you will see pumps divided into two categories, above ground and in-ground.

Step 3

Most above ground pools currently in use have single speed pumps which run at one speed at all times. In response to growing energy costs and environmental concerns, manufacturers have begun making dual speed pool pumps which have low and high speed settings. These two settings allow you to run the pump at a lower speed for basic pool circulation and then switch to the higher speed when additional power is needed for water features, backwashing a filter, vacuuming the pool or any other application that requires more power. Dual speed pumps offer significant energy savings and are now required by law in some areas, the entire state of California being one of them. Another advantage is that the low speed setting of a dual speed pump operates more quietly than a single speed pump.

Step 4

If you are purchasing a pump and filter system and you've already determined the correct pump horse power based on pool size, your next decision will be the filter. You'll have a choice of three filter types: sand, cartridge and D.E. We'll outline the benefits and disadvantages of each.

Step 5

The oldest and most common method of above ground pool filtration is sand. Sand filters use special filter sand, normally .45 to .55 mm (also known as pool-grade silica sand), which you can usually find at home improvement stores like Home Depot. This sand has sharp edges that serve to separate particles, allowing filtration to take place. Sand filters are the least expensive of the three filter types which make them very popular however they only filter particles 20 to 40 microns in size. This means that particles smaller than 20 microns are not filtered by sand. Sand filters definitely provide adequate filtration for above ground pools but the other two types offer better sanitization. For maintenance, sand filters must be backwashed periodically.

Step 6

Cartridge filtration has been available for a relatively long time, and recently has begun to enjoy rapid growth and acceptance. This type of filter holds one or multiple cartridges inside the filter tank. These cartridges are pleated, with a paper-like look and feel. The actual material is usually comprised of polyester fibers. The pleats increase the filtration surface area. You will see cartridge filters rated by square footage; this refers to the total area provided by all of the pleats in the cartridge. When water passes through a cartridge filter, debris catches on the surface of the cartridge element. When clean, the cartridge will trap larger particles, with finer particles being filtered out as the pores become clogged by the larger debris. Cartridge filters will trap particles 10 to 20 microns in size. The cartridge element can be removed and cleaned by pressure washing inside and out with a garden hose. This easy maintenance is the most popular feature of cartridge filters. The disadvantage is that the replacement of cartridges is more expensive than sand or D.E. Generic versions of the original manufacturers’ cartridges are available for many models and will save you some money.

Step 7

As the cartridge collects particles from the water passing through, the build-up of debris and dirt will cause the flow of water to decrease. In turn, the gauge pressure will rise. When the pressure rises 7-10 psi above the starting pressure, or when flow decreases below desired rate, it is time to clean or replace the filter cartridges. If cleaned regularly, the cartridges should last one to two pool seasons depending on pool usage.

Step 8

Many pool professionals consider filtration by diatomaceous earth (also known as D.E.) to be the finest because it is capable of removing smaller particles than either sand or cartridge. D.E. is a powder comprised of the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. The individual grains of powder have microscopic openings which look like tiny sponges when magnified (see photo). Water can pass through these openings but particles as small as 1 to 3 microns are trapped during the first pass through the media. All D.E. filters have internal elements called grids that are coated with D.E. powder. It is this “filter cake” that strains dirt, dust, algae and some forms of bacteria from the water. Like sand filters, when a D.E. filter becomes dirty, it is cleaned either by backwashing the clogged D.E. to the “waste” line or regenerating and draining. To restore filtration, a fresh “charge” of D.E. is added to the filter. D.E. powder is fairly inexpensive so the main drawback to this type of filter is the maintenance.

Step 9

We recommend thoroughly cleaning the D.E. grid elements (pictured at left) at least once a year. Remove the grids according to the instructions in your owner's manual and hose them off with a forceful stream of water from a garden hose. Fill a large plastic container with warm water and add about a 1/2 cup of automatic dishwasher detergent. Soak the grids in this solution for about 3 - 4 hours. After soaking, rinse off the elements again before replacing them inside the filter.

Step 10

To wrap it up, sand filters are the most economical option but require periodic backwashing. Cartridge and D.E. filters are more expensive than sand but offer better filtration. Of these two, the cartridge will be the easiest to maintain but more costly when it comes to replacing the cartridges. As an above ground pool owner, you will have to decide if you want to spend more time or more money on filtration.

Comments (1 to 40 of 256)

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User: Inyopools

Mark Oliver - Generally you can replace a pump motor with a larger one, but I don't see anything over 1HP for your older pump. And if your pump is beat up and corroded, I would probably replace the whole pump. If you are going to a 1 1/2 HP pump [which is recommended for your size pool] you might have to upgrade your filter to match the larger motor. If you want to stay with a DE filter, I would recommend "Hayward EC50C Perflex Filter w/ 1.5 HP Matrix Pump" as an option.

User: Mark Oliver

I bought a home that has a 28 foot/4 ft deep above ground pool with an older Hayward Perflex Extended Cycle D.E. filter. The pump that is presently connected to the filter is a Hayward Power-flo LX SP1510-Z-1-XES, I think it is a 1.0 HP motor. Bottom line, the pump has a tendency to seize up when turning it on. I took the pump apart, cleaned everything that was easy to access and the propeller spins freely clockwise and counter-clockwise. So I am stumped and trying to decide whether to buy a new pump or replace the motor in the unit I have. The housing is pretty beat up and corroded in places, if that makes a difference in your suggestion. Also, will a 1 1/2 HP pump be compatible with my existing pump? Any help you could forward is much appreciated.

User: Inyopools

Rich – I would recommend a Game Sand Pro 50 Filter System. See our guide on “How To Upgrade an Intex Pool Pump and Filter System”.

User: Rich

Hello, any pump and filter suggetions for an above ground intex pool with measurements 18X48? The pump that came with it does not circulate the water and last year the pool turned green.

User: Inyopools

Chad - I would recommend upgrading your Intex pump/filter system to a Game Sand Pro 50 Filter System. See our guide on "How To Upgrade an Intex Pool Pump and Filter System".

User: Inyopools

Mike93 - A 1HP pump is the size pump recommended for your size pool. I would not go any higher than that.

User: Chad

I am looking to upgrade my current pump and filter. I have an Intex 24x12x52" above ground pool. The pump that it came with isn't strong enough to run the vacuum that well. I feel as though I need something a little stronger. Do you have a recommendation?

User: Mike93

I have a 24x12 oval shaped pool that it mostly 4 ft deep but it drops down to 6 ft on one sode. I have a 1hp pump, is that to small?

User: Inyopools

johnR – You are asking how much sand to use. That will depend on the size and manufacturer of the sand filter for you pool. If you have a User’s Manual for your filter, that information should be in there. If not, give us a call at 877-372-6038 and, with the make and model, we can look that up for you.

User: johnR

I have 24 ft above ground pool how much sand do I use

User: Inyopools

tiggert43 - We usually recommend a 1 HP pump or less for a 22' pool but you could try your old pool 1.5 HP pump and filter as long as it came from an above ground pool. If you find it is circulating too much water, you could step it down to a 1 HP pump by replacing its impeller with a smaller one. See our guide on "How To Downsize a Pool Pump Impeller" for more information.

User: tiggert43

I have an Intex 22' round pool. I was wondering if my pump and sand filter from my old pool will work on it. Will a 1.5hp be too big?

User: inyopools

Robin - You should be able to transfer your sand filter and pump from your Intex pool to you new steel sided pool with little or no difficulty. I would assume it's all 1 1/2" tubing between the pump/filter and the pool. You might have to get creative adapting the tubes to the pool ports, but generally these connectors are fairly generic. The Intex pump/filter isn't very durable so you might consider an upgrade to another pump/filter system later on. See our guide on "How To Upgrade an Intex Pool Pump and Filter System" for more information.

User: Inyopools

Dog Pool Owner - Don't think there is a brand of sand filter with larger lateral slots. It would let more sand through. If the dog hair is clogging your laterals and probably your sand, you might consider going to a cartridge filter. They would be much easier to clean out the dog hair and less likely to clog up. With your situation I would get the largest filter you can afford. You can't have too big a filter. Bigger means more capacity for dog hair and less frequently cleaning. Cartridge filter are also more efficient that sand filter. Will trap finer particles.

User: Robin

I have a 1/2 hp sand filter and pump on my Intex 16ft pool. Works well. I am replacing my pool going to a 15 ft steel sided pool. Will my Intex pump work on the new pool? It is not an Intex pool

User: Dog Pool Owner

Hello,

I am looking to replace my 21" sta-rite sand filter and hayward 1.5hp pump for our 20'x40'x48" canine above ground pool that is used in a dog daycare type setting. I would like to stick with a sand filter, but the current setup is not getting the job done. I can never seem to get the pool quite as clear as I'd like.

After researching, it seems like going with the largest surface area of sand possible may be a good solution along with a new 1/5hp pump. What filter size would you recommend for the job, and is there a brand that may be built with appropriate size slots in the laterals to help with dog hair. Open to any ideas at this point to hlep make our pool sparkle all season long! Thank you!

User: Inyopools

Julisa - The above ground pumps usually come as a filter/pump set so that the match up. If you have an inferior pump you probably also have an inferior filter. For an economical but significantly better replacement set, I would recommend the "Game SandPro 50 Pool Filter System". We sell many of these as upgrades to your type of pool. See our guide on "How To Upgrade an Intex Pool Pump and Filter System". This is for an Intex conversion but it's very similar to what you want to do. If you want to go to a quality set more comparable to in-ground pools, look at the "Hayward Pump & Filter S144T Filter W/ 40 GPM Pump" as an alternative.

User: Julisa

I have a 17ft by 48inch summer escape and the pump needs to be replaced. I want a better quality pump then what came with it. Could you recommend one please... Help!!!

User: Inyopools

Filter/pump set - I would recommend something like a "Hayward Pump & Filter S180T Filter w/ 1 HP Matrix Pump" for your 24' AG pool. If you would also like to automate it's operation, I would suggest the "Hayward Pump & Filter S180T Filter w/ 1 HP Matrix Pump & Timer".

User: 

I am looking to replace my cartridge filter with a sand filter.. What should I get? Also 1hp or 1.5 HP pump? 24ft round above ground pool with 54in walls. Thanks!

User: Inyopools

bfluellen - I would recommend something like a "Hayward Xstream Filter 100 Sq Ft, 1 HP TL (Twist Lock)". If you would like to automate the operation of the system with a timer, look at "Xstream 100 Sq Ft Filter/1 HP Pump & Timer".

User: bfluellen

Hi. I am looking to replace my sand filter and 3/4 hp pump with Cartridge filter and stronger pump. I know this is not strong enough. Can you recommend the right size pump and sq ft cartridge needed for an above ground 24 ft round with 52" wall?
Thank you.

User: Missy

Thank you for the advice! Sounds like a great option for me.

User: Inyopools

Missy - I would recommend you going to a sand filter. No lifting - just set the filter valve to "backwash" every 2 weeks or so for 5 minutes to clean the filter. For your size pool I would recommend a 1.5 HP pump/filter set like "Hayward S180T Filter w/ 1.5 HP Matrix Pump" or if you want an built in timer to automatically control on/off times - "Hayward Pump & Filter S180T Filter W/ 1.5 HP Matrix Pump & Timer".

User: Missy

We have an 18x33 oval above ground and I need to replace the pump and filter system; we have a cartridge system that is really hard to work with, and now that my husband is gone I need something I can do myself. What would you suggest for ease of use but still would keep the pool sanitary? One additional comment, I'm probably adding a solar heater so it'll have to pump through that as well.

User: Inyopools

bardster - We generally recommend a Hayward S180T or S210T sand filter for a 1.5 HP pump. They hold 150 lbs and 200 lbs of sand respectively. So a 50 lb filter would be too small for this pump.

User: barbster

i have a 1.5 hayward pump for a 25ft round 53" deep above ground pool. what size sand filter do i need for this. i have a sand filter for my old system that holds a little less than 50 lbs of sand, will this work with my 1.5 HP pump??

User: Inyopools

Kat - The name brand pump/filter sets are generally much quieter than the less expensive sets that generally come with the above ground pool packages. I would recommend buying a set from this list of pump filter sets: "Above Ground Pool Pump and Filter". 1 HP should be sufficient for your size pool.

User: Kat

Hey! I'm sure it's been answered but...we have a 24 ft round above ground...our filter is old and sooooo loud it literally keeps our neighbors up so we shut it off at night...can you recommend a newer system for us? We have a filter system now which I don't mind, just want something newer and quieter!

User: Inyopools

larry - I think you are asking about buying a 1 HP 2 speed or "1.5" HP 2 speed pump. Your size pool is on the border of either a 1 HP of 1.5 HP pump. If this is a standard above ground pool, a 1 HP should be sufficient.

User: larry

Hi Im buying a 24ft by 54 round Is a waterway 1.hp 2 speed ok or 1hp 2 speed ? Thanks.

User: Inyopools

chico - A 1HP size pump will work fine for your size pool. Hayward and Jacuzzi are both good pumps. We do sell more Haywards than Jacuzzis because they are better known. However, the Jacuzzis are on sale now.

User: chico

I have a 15x30 AG in need of new pump and filter. Would the 1hp models be sufficient? Any big differences between the hayward and jacuzzi?

User: Sharon

Thank you very much for the detailed response we are extremely grateful

User: Inyopools

Sharon - For a better than average pump/filter system, I would recommend the "Hayward Pump & Filter S166T Filter w/ 1 HP Matrix Pump & Timer". I would get the one with a timer to control how long to run the pump each day. For the best quality AG pool SCG, I would suggest the "AquaTrol Salt Chlorine Generator". The AquaTrol has much more titanium coating on the blades of the salt cell which makes the salt cell last much longer. The AquaTrol comes in several models. You can get in an HP model which would be installed in the plumbing next to your pool pump or you can get it in an RJ model which would hook up directly to the return jet on your pool. Lastly the AquaTrol is available with a standard 3 prong plug or a Twist Lock depending on the electrical receptacle you have available to you. For a skimmer, the dimensions of a wall skimmer are generally specific to the pool so you should probably buy what's offered with the pool.

User: Sharon

We purchased the mirage 21' round pool by mighty sun. It is a resin pool because we want to have salt water. Could you please recommend a good filter, pump in wall skimmer and salt water generator. Thank you very much. Sharon

User: Inyopools

AG pool Cleaner - Try this one. It's automatic, made for AG pools, and connects into your pool's skimmer. You should remove it when you add chemicals - Above Ground Pool Cleaner - PF Vac.

User: 

I have a 24' round pool and would like a cleaning system (pump) that would not require me to vacuum the bottom of the pool (like ever). Is there one out there?

User: Inyopools

Darcy - We have small submersible pump/filter sets for fountains and larger pump/filters set for pools. Not sure what your body of water is for but at 2250 gallons it sounds like it needs a set that falls between what we sell. Our fountain pumps (up to 1/20 HP) are too small and our smallest pool pump (1/2 HP) is too large. I suggest going on line and looking for a set that has about 1/10 to 1/5 HP.

User: Darcy

Could you help me select a filter/pump system for a very small custom built pool that will be only 100 square feet and 3 feet deep?
Thanks,
Darcy

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Tips & Warnings

If you want to get a cartridge filter, make sure generic cartridges are available for it before you buy. This will save you money in the future.

Don't undersize your pump and filter to save a few bucks. For proper sanitization and your family's health, make sure you get the proper horse power for your pool size.


Please Note:

Inyo Pool Products is not responsible for any injury or damaged equipment
while using our guides. Using our guides is doing so at your own risk.
These guides are suggested use of your pool or spa equipment and may vary
depending on which product you are using.