How long should I run my pool pump?

How Long Should I Run My Pool Pump?

The above question is posed to the likes of me (pool industry folk) on a regular basis. Actually strike that – I impose the answer to that question on homeowners every day because I am tired of seeing them throw away good money.  A pump does not need to run 24/7 to keep your pool water pristine. If properly sized, a pump should spin through your water in a fraction of the time, allowing it to be dormant for the rest of the day. Thereby, relieving your wallet of the heavy burden of high electric bills.

Well, What Is the Answer, Smart Guy?

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Residential pool water only needs to be turned over once daily to have proper filtration.  Twice through the filter may be necessary after heavy usage such as a pool party. Only commercial pools require water to be turned several times a day to maintain proper sanitation. Anything more than a 1-2 filter cycles in a day is superfluous, almost as superfluous as someone using the word superfluous.

The key to a properly sanitized pool is not only filtered water but also well-balanced water chemistry. If your water is unbalanced then issues will arise no matter how much the water churns. A good once through your filter system should alleviate you of troublesome bacteria barring some kind of major chemical imbalance.

How Do I Calculate a Filtering Cycle?

With a few measurements and some math (oh no!) we can assess our proper pump run time.  Before we begin we will need a few things: overall dimensions of your pool including length, width, and depths (shallow and deep ends), the model number of your pump, and a rough estimate of the length of pipe to your pool (feet of head.)

Calculating Pool Gallons

To know how long to filter, we need to know how much we are filtering.  For this step, we will be using a trick of trade called the Pool Volume Calculator by Penair.  This easy to use calculator provides your pool gallonage in a few keystrokes. No complex volume formulas for this guy.

For our example, we will say our pool is a total of 24,000 gallons.

Pumping for Information

Now we must determine the approximate water flow produced by our pump. For this we must know the model number of the pump and the feet of head of the pool. Again, the feet of head is the average length of pipe leading from the pool’s skimmers and main drain to your pump.

For our example, I have chosen a Hayward Super Pump 1.5 HP Single Speed, model number SP2610X15. And for our imaginary pool the length of pipe to the main drain is 20 feet and the pipe feeding the skimmer at the other end of the pool is 60 feet, totaling an average of 40 feet of head.

Feet of Head Calculation:

20 Feet +  60 Feet = 80 Feet

80 Feet ÷ 2 Pipelines = 40 Feet of Head

Using the model number SP2610X15 and calculated feet of head on the below chart we can see that the approximate rate of flow is 65 gallons per minute (GPM.)

Hayward Super Pump Flow Chart
Hayward Super Pump Flow Chart

And then…..  

The hard part is done but we still have 2 more calculations to complete to determine the run time for one filtering cycle of our pool. Using the numbers we deduced from previous calculations we use:

24,000 Gallon Pool ÷ 65 GPM Flow Rate = 369 minutes for full-cycle

369 minutes ÷ 60 Minutes = 6.15 Hours for Filtering Cycle

And there is the answer,  6.15 hours filtering time will cycle your water once.  This equation can be applied to any pool and adjusted for any run time. We normally suggest having a run time of 6-12 hours for filter cycles.

As usual, if after reading our blog posts more questions arise or there is a further explanation needed, do not hesitate to call our techs at 877-372-6038.

72 thoughts on “How Long Should I Run My Pool Pump?

  1. Hello I have a salt water pool (kidney shape)
    Volume is 11,000 gallons, do I need to run the pool pump 24/7 or I can run for shorter amount of time.
    How do I adjust the pump speed if I want to run the pump slower. As the psi is 25 all the time

  2. Can I run my filtration cycle on my pool pump less when I have a solar heater cycling water for 7 hrs. a day?

  3. Hi,

    I have a Pentair SMBW 4060 filter with an intelliflo variable-speed pump. I have roof solar heating, but otherwise it’s pretty basic (no salt generator or such). During the season I run it for 7 hours a day at a speed (2400 RPM) that yields 50-90 gpm flow and 15-25 psi pressure, depending on if the solar is on or not.

    I live in Southern Cal, so water is in the pool all year. Offseason I run slow (1400 RPM) and long (10 hrs/day) to save money (saves $75-100/mo). Flow is 60 gpm, pressure is 1-2 psi. There is no air in the system (checked air valve), the water is clear, and I’m turning 36k gal of water for a pool of about 22-23k gallons.

    BTW, pump feeds straight into filter (no way to bypass it) and flow is being measured with a gauge at the outlet of the filter.

    Pool guy says that the filter must see 10psi minimum. This makes no sense to me nor is there any documentation or discussion I can find about a required filter pressure minimum. Looks like a way to waste money and wear things out running the pump faster than is required for the situation.

    The deep end of the pool away from the skimmer has poor circulation, but that is a design flaw (pool is from the ’70s) because 95% of the water is returned before the halfway point in the pool. It has poor circulation to the deep end regardless of pressure at the filter or flow, summer or winter. I run an Aquabot Turbo T-Jet cleaner a couple of times a month to ensure the water is sparkling and any settled dust at the deep end is removed.

    Anyway, is there actually a pressure minimum that must be reached for a DTE filter to function?

  4. Hi,
    I’ve just moved to house with a pool that is under a tree. The leaves are a constant challenge. I have a leaf catcher which works well, but when I turn the pump off the leaves sink to the bottom (usually overnight). I was wondering if it might be possible to run the pump at one hour increments (12 times in 24 hours) so the leaves don’t have a chance to sink?

  5. I bought a pool 20′ round from Sam’s . The Pool equipment that came with the Pool was completely useless. My pool turn Green within the first week I had it. After many trips to some other company Pool supply and Hundreds of dollars wasted on chemicals. I decided to by a stronger filter and pump, before Throwing the pool in the garbage. Since then i had no issue keeping the pool clean & Clear. S
    So it appears Inyo Pools Sales pool that will fail straight out of the box. And it will cost the consumer as much if not more then what they pay for the pool to even Make it work. INYO Pools , make the pool so you can only get parts from them. They do not even give the merchants the sale the pool Parts > Not even hoses.
    IF you talk to a agent . they have no knowledge of the product and will refuse to let you speak to someone who does.
    Im going to have to tear my pool down because this company cant even sale me a simple replacement hose for the filter. Or do they know what size hose to get. But it isn’t a size you can buy at the same place you purchase the pool. or anywhere else.
    My advise is to run filter 24 hours all year. And if possible return the inyo pool and buy someone else product . Poor customer relations. Very poor service.

    1. It appears you are completely confused about which company you are attempting to contact. We do not make pools, nor do we sell through Sam’s Club. You are probably trying to smear Bestway or Intex, but again that is not us. We do not sell parts for Intex or Bestway pools either.

      Just to make sure I was not speaking out of turn, I checked our system for your name. There is no order for a pool, chemicals, pump, or filter with that name.

  6. How long do you run the pool pump after adding 5 gallons of muriatic acid for a no drain acid wash? Was told run it for 24 hours for 5 days (brush daily) by the pool company. Is that accurate or can I run it for 6 hours for the remaining 4 days instead? It has already been on for 12 hours.

    1. Yes, the 24 hours a day for 5 days sounds about right. The run times we are referring to in the article are for everyday use, not specific chemical treatments as in your situation. I would stick with what the pool company recommended if you want the treatment to work.

  7. I am not really worried about the cost or clarity, although both should be OK, I am more looking at the benefit to the actual pump by running it 24/7. Is it really better for the pump to run continuously? Will I get a longer life out of it on average? Pentair VS that I can run at a low speed for much of the day and run higher speed some of the day and never turn off.

  8. I calculated the amount of water exchanges I have to do. I was wondering if it matters the time of day it is better or worse to run a pump? Ie. Better to run during the hot sun of the afternoon or better at night or does it matter?

    1. in my experience, running the pump during the day had the best results. Chlorine gets burned off by the sun, so running your pump during the daytime ensures that your chlorine level stays at an adequate level. The downside is that it is more costly to run during the day due to peak hour electricity costs. So you may want to consider running you pump for 4 or 5 hours during the hottest parts of the day, then supplementing it with a few hours at night.

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