The pool pump is one of the most vital pieces of pool equipment. Think of it as the heart of your swimming pool, circulating water through the filtration system and returning it to the pool, clean and free of contaminants. In an ideal world where saving energy and money don’t matter, we would all run our pool pumps all day long, every day of the year. But in reality, it is important to find the right balance, so that you are running your pool pump long enough to keep your water clean, while keeping your electric bill as low as possible.

Calculate Your Pool’s Turnover Rate

The amount of time that a pool pump should run depends on the size of the swimming pool. In order to keep pool water clean and free of algae, all of the water in the pool needs to move through the filter system one time per 24-hour period. The amount of time that this takes is also called the turnover rate. To calculate turnover rate, follow these steps:

  1. Determine Your Pool Pump’s GPM. All pool pumps are designed to circulate water at a certain speed or flow rate. Determine the GPM  (gallons per minute) for your pool pump by checking the owner’s manual. Determine Your Pool Pump’s GPM. All pool pumps are designed to circulate water at a certain speed or flow rate. Determine the GPM  (gallons per minute) for your pool pump by checking the owner’s manual.
  2. Calculate the volume of your pool if you don’t already know it.
  3. Use the following calculations to determine the turnover rate for your pool:

Total pool volume ÷ GPH = turnover rate

Example:  40 GPM x 60 = 2,400 GPH    

20,000 gallons ÷ 2,400 =  8.3 hours

So, this means that a 20,000 gallon pool with a 40 GPM pump should be run for 8.3 hours per day.

There is another rule of thumb that some pool owners use to determine how long to run their pool pump. This one is useful in times of very hot weather and heavy pool use. The rule is that for every 10 degrees F of air temperature, you should run your pool pump for one hour. This means that if the temperature outside is 90 degrees F, your pool pump should run for 9 hours per day. This rule only applies to single-speed pumps, as variable speed pumps usually run longer each day, depending on their operating speed.

When to Run Your Pool Pump

Many pool owners ask us when is the best time to run the pool pump. The answer is that the pump can be run any time of day. To save on energy costs, do not run your pump during peak hours. Peak hours are the times of day when the rate you pay for electricity is higher. Check with your electricity provider to find out when peak hours are in your area.

However, keep in mind that the pump should always run after you add chemicals to the pool for even distribution. Certain chemicals, like pool shock, should be added at night to avoid dissipation in the sun. Always run the pool pump overnight after shocking the pool.

Choose the Best Pool Pump for Your Pool

Whether you are looking for a new pump or want to ensure that the one you have is right for your pool, there are some important things to consider.

Gallons Per Minute

As we discussed earlier, the GPM of a pool pump is the flow rate. To find out what the ideal flow rate for your pool is, use the following formula:

Total pool volume ÷ 8 = GPH

GPH ÷ 60 = GPM

Now that you know the GPM for your pool, make sure that your pool pump puts out at least this GPM, or slightly higher.


The more horsepower that a pump has, the faster it pumps the water, and the less time it needs to run. But more horsepower isn’t always better. Choose a pump that is the right size for your filter and plumbing system. Larger pipes and filters can accommodate larger pool pumps. However, if the pump is too large for the pool, it will waste energy and cost you extra money.


Pool pumps are available in single-, dual- or variable-speed. Dual and variable-speed pumps can be run on high speed part of the day for cleaning and on a lower speed the rest of the time for filtration. While dual-speed pumps perform better and use less energy than single-speed pumps, variable-speed pumps are the most energy efficient option, and they are usually quieter.

Whether you have an inground or above ground pool, when you have the right pool pump and you are using it properly, you can achieve sparkling clean water even during the busiest and hottest times of the swim season. If you have questions about your pool pump, or any of our pool products, call us today at 800-574-7665 or visit us online at