How Long Should You Run Your Pool Pump For?

Written by Michael Dean
August 16, 2023

swimming pool pump next to a stopwatch

Running your pool pump is one of the standard maintenance procedures you will be tasked with as a pool owner.

Learning the optimal times to run your pump and how long to keep it running is important. Ideally, you should run your pool pump throughout the day, all year round. But this is not very cost-effective as it will raise your electric bill considerably. So, there are better options that I’ll cover.

Below, I explain how long to run your pool pump for, the best times to run your pool pump, and answer some frequently asked questions on this topic. Let’s get started.

Main Takeaways

  • Calculating your pool’s turnover rate will help you determine how long to run your pool pump.
  • You should run your pool pump for however long it takes to complete at least two turnovers per day, typically at least eight hours a day.
  • A few factors can help you decide when to run your pool pump, like when your utility company’s peak hours are, how often you shock the pool, and how much use the pool is getting.

The Quick Answer: How Long to Run Your Pool Pump

In a perfect world, you should run your pool pump all day, every day. However, for most swimming pool owners, you should run your pool pump for at least eight hours per day. Below, I cover a more precise way to get to an ideal run time, but first, let’s start with how your pool pump works and some basic math.

How Pool Pumps Work

Your pool water must remain in constant motion. Stagnant water can transform your beautiful water into a swampy algae breeding ground.

Circulation is one of the most critical aspects of keeping the pool fresh and swimmable. The pool pump is the component of your pool’s filtration system that keeps the water circulating.

Water is drawn in by the pool pump and pushed out by the filter. No matter your filter type, it won’t function until water passes through it. The filter is then able to trap particles and bacteria in its media.

All the water must pass through the filter system at least once a day to keep it clean and germ-free. The turnover rate of your pool is the period it takes for all the water to flow into the pump/filter mechanism.

How to Calculate Your Pool’s Turnover Rate (And How Long to Run It For)

Learning the turnover rate for your pool will give you the amount of time to keep your pool pump running. To calculate the turnover rate, measure the depth of your pool if you haven’t already. My pool pump calculator is a handy tool for figuring out the turnover rate. Your pool system should complete at least two turnovers per day.

Here’s a step-by-step:

Divide the capacity of your pool by eight to get the number of gallons per hour (GPH) that needs to drain (your flow rate). Your pool capacity (volume) can be calculated using the length, width, and average depth. My calculator linked above walks you through how to do this.

Most pool pumps are measured in gallons per minute instead of GPH. To determine the gallons per minute (GPM) that you must pump to achieve maximum turnover, divide the GPH by 60.

Your formula becomes:

GPH = Total Pool Volume/8

GPM = GPH/60

Once again, if you don’t want to do the math for turnover and flow rate, just use the calculator I linked above.

Choose the Right Pool Pump

Once you have done the math correctly, choosing the right size pool pump is relatively easy. Look for one that pumps at least the same GPM your pool needs. It is good if the one you pick pumps a bit faster than you need. Be careful that you don’t go below the necessary GPM, though.

Choosing the right pool pump for your specific needs means your pump will run at the proper speed to switch your pool’s water over in an eight-hour cycle. I cover more information on the pump types below, and you can also read my pool pump reviews and pool filter reviews for specific recommendations.

When You Should Run Your Pool Pump

When to operate a pool pump is just as critical as how long to operate it. Most pool owners will choose to run their pool at night when no one is using it, but the pump is the most effective during the day. This is because algae needs UV rays to reproduce, so the filter will do more work during the day.

Operate Your Pool Pump During Non-Peak Hours

To save you a bit of money, I recommend running your pool pump during the non-peak hours of the day. Electricity costs you more during peak hours.

When “peak hours” occur depends on when more neighbors are consuming more electricity and causing more strain on the power grid.

It only takes a phone call to your provider to determine your region’s non-peak hours. If you have that information, try to plan your pool pump run time for those hours to save money.

Using a programmable pool timer to switch the pump on and off at the appropriate times would make things even easier for you and save you money in the long run.

Run Your Pool Pump for Intermittent Hours

To complete at least one turnaround period, you must operate your pool pump for at least eight hours daily. But it doesn’t have to be eight consecutive hours. You can refer to the non-peak utility hours and plan to run your pool pump accordingly.

You can run your pump for three hours now, two hours at lunch, and three hours before bed. You’re covered as long as it stays pumping for at least eight hours every 24 hours.

Running Your Pool Pump During the Day

Keeping your pool pump running during the day while people are swimming in it may make sense, but there are other things to consider.

Your utility company’s off-peak hours could be at night, mainly if you live in a hot environment where people are more inclined to use air conditioning during the day.

You can only add chemicals like pool shock at night or dusk. If you use it during the day, the sun can burn out most of it, reducing its potency. To thoroughly distribute the shock, operate the pump at night and for at least eight hours.

On the other hand, running your pool pump during the day has a higher chance of filtering out algae and bacteria while people are swimming in it.

My expert recommendation is to run the pool for a few hours during the day and a few hours at night. However, if you plan to shock your pool, leave the circulation for nighttime, as you will need to run the pool pump for 8 -10 hours after shocking.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

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How Pump Types Affect When To Run Your Pool Pump

The time it takes to operate a pool pump depends not only on non-peak utility hours or the time of the day, but also on the type of pump you use.

Single, Dual, or Variable Speed Pool Pump

If your pool pump is single-speed, I suggest upgrading to a dual-speed at the very least. Your turnover and efficiency will increase. In some states like Arizona and California, authorities ban the installation of new single-speed pool pumps despite their electricity-saving ability and efficiency.

If you want to get the most out of your investment, I recommend you use a variable-speed pool pump. Variable-speed pumps are more energy efficient, speed up turnover and filtering, and you might even be eligible for a utility refund – all of which save you money on your energy costs. They are often quieter than single-and dual-speed pumps since they rotate at a lower RPM.

They are usually more expensive, but they’re an excellent long-term investment for your pool’s maintenance and efficiency.


The more horsepower your pool pump has, the better it turns the water over, meaning you will need to use it less often and for shorter periods. However, the scale of your filter and the pipes in your filtration system play a significant role here.

So make sure you use the correct size pump for your pool. For instance, a pump with too much power may take a toll on a small filter. In contrast, a one-horsepower pump would run slower if your machine requires a three-inch pipe (or can accommodate a three-horsepower pump).

Furthermore, using a three-horsepower pool pump can be excessive if you have a small pool. It might waste resources and unnecessarily increase costs. Make sure you have a pump that isn’t too strong for your filtration system but powerful enough to turn over your pool’s volume at a sufficient speed to reach the needed GPM amount.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to run a pool pump at night or day?

The right time of day depends on the circumstances. For instance, if you are shocking your pool, you must run the pump at night as you cannot shock the pool during the day. But in general, pool pumps should run during the day, as this is when the pool gets the most action and when the most algae and bacteria will form.

Can you run a pool pump too long?

Some pool owners make the mistake of running their pool 24 hours a day. They may have crystal clear water and algae-free water, but they are paying for it! Running your pump all day will increase your power bill to astronomical levels and put a lot of strain on your filter. I recommend an absolute maximum of 10 hours a day for frequently used pools.

Can you run your pool pump with a solar cover on it?

Yes, you can run your pump while your solar cover is on the pool. You can read my entire article answering this question for the benefits.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how long to operate your pool pump every day is critical in maintaining a crystal-clear pool and saving money, especially if you have an older single-speed pump. Make sure that all of the water in your pool passes into the filter at least once a day to keep it clean.

If you’ve been running your pool pump 24 hours a day throughout the week, now’s the time to reassess and adjust how long you run the pump. If you stick to the recommended run time and are still having issues with the water quality, you might have some other issues you need to address.

Questions? Let me know.

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