When Should I Run My Pool Pump? The Ultimate Guide

Having your own swimming pool is hugely exciting, but there’s plenty of maintenance to get your head around! You want to make sure your pool looks sparkling clean all season long, but you don’t want to break the bank with unnecessary bills!

One of the biggest questions when it comes to regular maintenance is the swimming pool pump.

It’s not necessary to have your swimming pool pump running at all times, as this can be a serious expense on your electric bill. So, how long is needed?

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The Role of the Swimming Pool Pump


First of all, it helps to understand what your swimming pool pump does, so you know when it’s needed.

Pumps are essentially the heart of your swimming pool, keeping the water circulating through the various cleaning systems. A swimming pool pump pushes water through the skimmer baskets, then through the finer filter before being released back into the pool.

The pump also helps evenly disperse any chemicals that you add to the pool.

Ultimately, your swimming pool pump is a vital part of keeping your pool clean and healthy. While your filter removes the dirt, water cannot get to it without the pump!

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Should the Pool Pump Run Continuously?


In an ideal world, yes. In reality, no.

As explained above, the pool pump is the lifeblood of your cleaning system. Only while it is active can the filter be effective at removing dirt. Therefore, you should ideally run your pool pump for as long as possible to ensure your swimming pool stays clean and healthy.

However, the reality for many pool owners is that we simply can’t afford to have a pool pump running continuously. Not only is it expensive, but it’s also not strictly necessary. Furthermore, most domestic pool pumps are only designed to run for 8-10 hours a day (this can vary so check your pump first).

How Long Should a Pool Pump Run?


So we know it doesn’t have to be on for 24 hours, but what amount of time is right for a swimming pool? As with everything else with your pool, the answer can vary on a range of factors, such as:

  • - The size of your pool.
  • - The power of your pump.
  • - How much the pool is used.
  • - How much debris gets in the pool.

However, there are some general rules that you can follow to ensure your swimming pool pump is running for as long as is necessary.

Water being circulated by a swimming pool pump


Commonly, people will talk about running your pool pump for eight hours a day. However, it’s more important that all your water is getting adequately cleaned, which is when turnover comes into play.

It’s recommended that you turn over your swimming pool’s water at least once a day, or twice when in use. But what does this actually mean?

Picture your pool’s pump and filter as a circle. One turnover is when all the water has flown from the pool, through the system and back to the beginning, completing a full circuit.

How you work out when your pool has completed a full turnover relies on the next point, the flow rate.

Flow Rate

One of the biggest indicators of how long to run your pool pump will be its flow rate. Sometimes called the circulation rate, this refers to how much water your pool pump can send through in a certain amount of time.

The flow rate is usually represented in gallons per hour (GPH), but can also be in minutes (GPM) depending on the size. Your filter may also have a max flow rate which you need to consider.

Once you have your pump’s GPH or GPM and your pool’s water volume, you can work out how long it will take for the water to complete a turnover. Divide the volume by the flow rate. Just make sure the pump has enough water to turnover.

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When is the Best Time to Run a Swimming Pool Pump?


The recommendation when it comes to what time to run your pump is in the evening or at night. However, there is no set rule, and running it during the day is fine, also.

Getting your water cleaned is more important than when it actually happens. Therefore, you can choose a time that’s best for you.

Many people choose to run their pool pump during the day, while it’s in use. This choice is perfectly fine and will clean your pool just as well. However, there are a few advantages when it comes to running the pump late at night.


One of the biggest factors when running your pool pump will be the cost. To cut down on the electrical bill, you can look to run your pool pump during off-peak hours, which are usually overnight.


For them to be dispersed evenly in the pool, most suppliers recommend you run your pool pump while adding chemicals to the water. Therefore, if you balance your chemicals after a day of swimming, you’ll want to run your pool later in the day.

A swimming pool pump fountain

When to Run a Swimming Pool Pump Out of Season


Above covers your pool pump during the season, but what about when winter rolls around?

During the off-season, you’ll want to continue running your pump, just for less time than before. Running your pump is essential for multiple reasons, including:

  • - Chemicals – You need your chlorine to keep circulating to clean effectively.
  • - Freezing – If you live in particularly cold temperatures, running the water will stop it freezing over.
  • - Debris – If you don’t have a cover (which you should!), you’ll need to run your pump to remove debris.

How long you run your swimming pool pump for during the off-season depends on how much you’ve closed the pool.

If it’s fully closed with a solid pool cover, it might only need an hour or so every so often, to keep the water and chemicals ticking over. If you have a thin cover, you’ll need to run the filter for around two hours a day to help reduce the likelihood of algae growth.

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Hopefully, this guide answers all of your questions when it comes to running your pool pump! If you have any further questions, explore our blog, which is full of helpful guides. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our team here at 1st Direct Pools, who are always happy to help.