Do You Run a Pool Pump While Swimming?

Hey there, fellow pool enthusiast! Today, we're diving into a question that has sparked many a poolside debate: "Should you run a pool pump while swimming?" As your trusty pool maintenance bestie, I'm here to break down the nitty-gritty and help you make an informed decision that will keep your swimming experience crystal clear and enjoyable.

The Light-Case Scenario: Poolside Serenity

Let's start with those glorious moments when you're lounging by the pool, soaking in the sun, and not a care in the world. Picture this: the water is calm, glistening in the sunlight, and inviting you for a refreshing dip. In this scenario, running your pool pump while swimming might not be necessary.

When the pool is relatively clean, and there are only a few swimmers, the water circulation from the pump might not be vital. Instead, the natural movement of swimmers can help keep the water from stagnating. This is when you can bask in the gentle ambiance of your pool without the constant hum of the pump in the background.

The Worst-Case Scenario: Party Time, or Nature Strikes?

Now, let's flip the coin to those days when your pool is the life of the party, bustling with friends, family, and cannonball champions. During high-usage periods, running your pool pump while swimming becomes more of a necessity than an option. When there's a higher bather load, the pool water can become a melting pot of sunscreen, sweat, and all things that come along with a good time.

Running the pump during these occasions ensures that the water is properly filtered and sanitized. Not only does this help maintain water clarity, but it also ensures that the pool's chemical balance remains stable, preventing any unwanted surprises the next time you test the water.

Oh, and let's not forget about Mother Nature's surprises. Fallen leaves, flower petals, and other debris can quickly turn your serene oasis into a bit of a mess. In such cases, running the pump while swimming can help prevent debris from settling on the pool's surface, making your post-swim cleaning routine much smoother.

Finding the Sweet Spot: Balancing Fun and Maintenance

So, what's the verdict? Well, my pool-loving pal, it all boils down to finding the sweet spot that suits your swimming habits and pool maintenance preferences.

For those lazy pool days with minimal swimmers, feel free to give the pump a break and enjoy the calm waters.

When your pool is the go-to spot for gatherings, keep that pump running to ensure water quality remains top-notch.

If you're dealing with unexpected debris, turning on the pump can save you from a post-swim clean-up marathon.

Pro Tips for Pump Success:

Use Timers: Invest in a pool pump timer to automate circulation cycles, so you don't have to worry about remembering to turn it on or off.

Run Off-Peak: Electricity costs less during off-peak hours, so consider running the pump during these times to save on energy bills.

Regular Maintenance: Keep your pump in tip-top shape by performing routine maintenance such as cleaning the strainer basket and backwashing the filter.

Should Pool Pumps Run Continuously? The Myth vs. Reality

You might have heard that running your pool pump 24/7 is the gold standard for pristine water. However, let's clear the waters on this myth. While continuous operation does have its merits in terms of filtration efficiency, it's not always necessary, and it can lead to higher energy costs.

Should I Replace My Pool Pump With a Variable Speed?

How Do Variable Speed Pumps Differ?

Variable speed pumps are the newest technology when it comes to swimming pool pumps.  Unlike the induction motors we chatted about above, VSPs have a permanent magnet motor. If you are thinking, “Hey!  Electric cars use those!”, you would be correct.  A permanent magnet motor is a type of electric motor that in addition to windings, uses a permanent magnet,

Variable speed pumps allow you to run it on varying speeds, or, different RPMs.  The lower the RPM, the less energy is consumed.  They allow you to draw only the amount of power you actually need at a given time.  If you are using the spa or vacuuming, you would use a higher speed.  If you are just circulating the water to keep the chemicals active and accomplish your desired turnover rate, slower is better.  Not only is filtration more effective, but you actually put less strain on your plumbing and filter, extending their life span.  

Variable speed pumps come with a fan cooled, self contained motor.  They are also digital.  The programming and time clock are all on the pump itself.  So your intermatic timer no longer decides the time.  

Some variable speed pumps even come with a relocation kit that allows you to wall mount the keypad.  VSPs are also much quieter than single speed pumps.  Even on a higher speed setting.

Show Me the Money!

Let’s talk about the financial advantages of having a VSP.  You may receive a rebate from your utility company if certain criteria is met such as the pump being Energy Star Certified.  If you live in a state like California, you are required, by law to install a variable speed so you would save money on fines.  

The most savings come from the operation of the pump.  Variable speed pumps pull less energy, so even if you were to run your VSP at 3,400 RPMs like your old single speed ran on, it would still use less energy!  As homeowners, you will find few opportunities that will arise where that high of an RPM is needed.

Keep in mind when upgrading to a variable speed pump, our pool size hasn’t changed.  What I mean by that is we still have to get every drop of water through the filter (known as a turnover).  If we are running our pump slower it moves less water so therefore we have to run the pump longer to move the same amount of water.

Most people balk when they see the prices of variable speed pool pumps.  They can be significantly more money than a single or a 2-speed pump.  But that is because of all the features and benefits.  Plus, I can’t think of another thing you can buy that pays you back.  

That’s right.  Most people see their money returned in the form of lower electric bills in just a year or two.  On average, you will be saving approximately $70 a month on your power bill.  Maybe more in your neck of the woods.  Variable speed pumps are 90% more efficient than old school single speed.  So there is value in this investment.

How Should My Variable Speed Pump Be Programed?

There is not a one answer solution to this.  Your options are endless.  I have customers that run their variable speed pumps for 24-hours a day at a very low speed.  I have customers with water features that run their pump on a higher setting when it is on.  

What I suggest to most customers is a combination on the two.  First and foremost, you want your varaibke speed pump to run when you most need your chemicals.  

This is the hottest part of the day.  The chemicals only mix and work effectively when the water is moving.  Remember, moving water is happy water.  Think of a flowing river versus a stagnant pond.  One is clear and inviting and one is murky and green.  This is because of movement or lack thereof.

I suggest running your pump on a higher setting for an hour or two. This would be somewhere in the high 2,000 to low 3,000 RPMs. This starts the day strong to make sure the pump is fully primed and this will allow a good mixture of your chemicals, your automatic pool cleaner to run around, take care of skimming any overnight debris, and get a good portion of your pool water through the filter. Then, I suggest dropping it down to a low-to-medium speed. 

This would be in the mid 1,000's to low 2,000 RPMs depending on the size of your pump relative to the size of your pool. Let it run at this speed for 8+hours. This is an incredibly energy efficient operation speed and will provide the bulk of your daily filtration and should provide at least one turnover. A turnover is when the amount of volume of pool water you have makes it through your filter to be cleaned. We want to aim for 1-2 turnovers per day at a minimum. 

We can then run a couple of hours at a medium-to-high speed in the mid-to-high 2,000 RPM range to take care of any debris that may have been blown into the pool during the day. After that, we can finish our daily schedule with a few hours at an ultra low speed in the low-to-mid 1,000 RPMs to finish the day out. At this point, we just need the water to trickle through. We are keeping it moving to keep the chemicals active and also keeping it what? Happy.

Turnover Rate and Flow Rate

Ideal turnover rate for a single speed pump is 6-8 hours.  Since we have a variable speed pump, we are running it slower.  Our pool size , however, has not changed.  We still need to move the same amount of water, it just takes longer.  8-12 hours is a common turnover rate here in California.   You’ll need to know the gallonage of your swimming pool for determining these.  

Turnover Rate (TR) = Gallons Divided by Flow Rate (FR) Divided by 60

Don’t know your flow rate?  

Questions About Running A Pool Pump

Can I Run My Pool Pump Every Other Day? Pondering the Pump Schedule

If you're wondering whether you can get away with running the pump every other day, it's possible—but keep an eye on water clarity. In some cases, running the pump daily for a shorter duration might be more effective in maintaining consistent water quality.

Can I Leave My Pool Pump Off for a Week?

Yes, you can, but with caution. Leaving your pool pump off for a week can lead to water stagnation, reduced chlorine distribution, and potential algae growth. If you plan to do so, ensure your water chemistry is balanced, and consider using a pool cover to minimize debris and evaporation.

Is It Ok to Turn Pool Pump Off While on Vacation?

Yes, it's possible to turn off your pool pump during vacation, but not without preparation. Before you do, make sure your water is balanced, shock the pool, and clean the filter. Consider using a timer to run the pump for a short duration each day to maintain water circulation and prevent water quality issues.

Should I Run My Pool Pump on High or Low?

Running your pool pump on low speed is generally more efficient for regular circulation. It helps save energy while still maintaining adequate water flow. High speed is best used for tasks like backwashing the filter or running pool equipment that requires higher flow rates.

How Long to Run Pool Pump in Summer?

During the summer months, aim to run your pool pump for about 8 to 12 hours a day. This duration allows for sufficient turnover, ensuring all the water passes through the filter. However, factors like pool size, bather load, and pump efficiency can influence the ideal runtime.

Is It Better to Run a Pool Pump at Night or Day?

Running your pool pump during the day is generally more effective. Sunlight promotes chlorine breakdown, and daytime operation ensures better chemical distribution. If you're concerned about energy costs, consider running the pump during off-peak hours in the early morning or late evening.

What Happens If I Don’t Run My Pool Pump For Long Enough? Unveiling the Outcome

Neglecting the pump's operation can lead to water quality woes. Insufficient circulation can cause chemicals to become unevenly distributed, leading to cloudy or algae-prone water. It's like skipping brushing your teeth—you might regret it later.

Should I Run My Pool Pump When It Rains? Rain or Shine, Pump Time

Rain, rain, go away? Not when it comes to your pool pump! Rainwater introduces contaminants, so running the pump during and after rainstorms is a smart move to prevent those unwelcome visitors from settling in your pool.

When is the Best Time to Run My Swimming Pool Pump? Timing Matters

Timing is key to optimizing pump operation. Running the pump during off-peak hours not only saves on energy costs but also ensures that the pool is in top shape when you're ready to dive in.

Is It Okay to Turn Your Pool Pump Off at Night? Nocturnal Pause for the Pump

Giving your pool pump a well-deserved rest at night won't negatively impact water quality. In fact, many pool owners find it energy-efficient to run the pump during daylight hours and switch it off at night.

Cost, Chemicals, and the Shock Factor: The Trio of Considerations

Running your pump affects more than just water circulation. It impacts chemical distribution, the effectiveness of shock treatments, and ultimately, the cost of maintaining your pool. Finding the right balance is key.

Final Thoughts: Your Pool, Your Rules

At the end of the day, whether to run your pool pump while swimming is a decision that should align with your lifestyle and pool preferences. Your pool is your personal oasis, and your comfort is key. So, whether you're floating lazily or hosting a splashy shindig, remember that a well-maintained pool is a happy pool.

Catch you on the flip side, and may your pool adventures be as refreshing as a cannonball on a scorching summer day! 🏊‍♂️🌞