How Long Should You Run Your Pool Pump For?

As a swimming pool owner, you might feel like you should already know how long to run your pool pump, but the answers might vary if you ask other pool owners or experts.

Before you turn on the pump and walk away, you should think about a few key factors, including cost, chemical balance, and ventilation. Ideally, you should run your pool pump throughout the day, all year round. But this is not cost-effective because your electric bill will get ridiculously high.

Although turning your pool pump on permanently will be ideal, it is neither feasible nor necessary. You must understand the type of pump you have, the pool pump’s purpose, the size of your pool, and how to get the best out of its features.

It’s possible to estimate how long the pump should work for your pool and then operate it for that duration of time. To find out how long your pool pump should work, you’ll need to do some arithmetic. Don’t worry, we’ll show you how to do it.

How Pool Pumps Work

The water in your pool must remain in constant motion. Otherwise, it can turn into a stagnant swamp, breeding algae, and other microbes. 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 is then pushed out by the filter. No matter your filter type, it won’t function until water passes through it. The filter can trap particles and bacteria in this manner.

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 of the water to flow into the pump/filter mechanism. The turnover rate of the pool is 12 hours if the water circulates twice a day and six hours if it circulates four times per day.

How to Calculate Your Pool’s Turnover Rate

To calculate the turnover rate, you need to measure your pool’s depth if you haven’t already. Our pool calculator is a handy tool for figuring out the turnover rate.

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.

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

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 as your pool needs. It’s good if the one you pick pumps a bit faster than you need. Be careful that you don’t go below the necessary GPM.

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.

When You Should Run Your Pool Pump

When to operate a pool pump is just as critical as how long to operate it. Although you need to run the pump for at least eight hours, is that eight hours at a stretch? Should it be at night time or during the day?

Operate Your Pool Pump During Non-Peak Hours

Have you noticed that the energy cost you pay varies during the day? It’s dependent on what utility companies refer to as peak hours, which are times that more consumers are consuming more electricity and causing more strain on the power grid.

Peak hours differ from one place to the next. In hotter weather, peak hours are likely to coincide when people switch on their air conditioning, such as late afternoon or early evening as they come home from work and pump on the A/C.

It only takes a phone call to your provider to find out the non-peak hours in your region. 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.

Run Your Pool Pump for Intermittent Hours

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

You can run your pump for three hours now, two hours later, and three hours much later. You’re covered as long as it lasts for at least eight hours every 24 hours.

Running Your Pool Pump During the Day

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

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

You’re also expected to run your pool pump after adding chemicals to the pool. The pool must be flowing to allow the chemicals to circulate in the water. Otherwise, you risk having extremely clean spots on one side of the pool while the other sides remain dirty.

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

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Pump Types

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

Single, Dual, or Variable Speed Pool Pump

If your pool pump is single-speed, we 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.

However, if you want to get the most out of your investment, we advise that you go for a variable-speed pool pump. Variable-speed pumps use less energy, speed up turnover and filtering, and you might even be eligible for a utility refund if you use one. 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 can turn the water over, allowing you to operate it less often and for shorter periods. However, the scale of your filter and the pipes in your filtration system play a big role here.

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

Then there’s one more issue. If you have a small pool, using a three-horsepower pool pump can be excessive. It might waste resources and increase your 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.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how long to operate your pool pump per 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 that you need to address.

Questions? Let me know.

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