How to Choose The Right Pool Pump (Steven's Version)

Are you in the market for a new pool pump but feeling overwhelmed by the numerous options available? 

In this article, we will guide you through selecting the perfect pool pump size for your needs, whether you’re looking for an above-ground pool pump or an in-ground pool pump.

When it comes to pool pumps, size matters.  To find the ideal pump size, you need to consider several factors, such as the volume of your pool, the hydraulic requirements, and the desired flow rate.  What that all means is, does your pool have a spa or any other water feature or do you have solar on your roof that the pump needs to get the water up to, things like that that make the pump have to work harder.   The more requirements the pump has to meet the larger and more powerful it needs to be.  

When you understand these elements, you can ensure that your decision will be the best for the longevity of your pool pump.

How Pool Pumps Work?

To understand how a pool pump works, it's essential to know its main components and their functions. A typical pool pump includes a motor, impeller, strainer basket, and housing.

The motor is the heart of the pump and is responsible for powering the impeller. The impeller, housed inside the pump, spins at high speeds when the motor is turned on. As the impeller rotates, it creates a centrifugal force that pulls water from the pool through the intake ports.

Before the water enters the impeller, it passes through a strainer basket. The strainer basket is engineered to capture large debris like leaves and twigs, preventing them from getting into the pump and causing harm.

Once the water passes through the strainer basket, it enters the impeller. The spinning impeller pushes the water through the pump and into the filtration system. The water is forced through a series of filters, which remove smaller debris, dirt, and contaminants.

After the water is filtered correctly, it is returned to the pool through the return ports. The return ports are strategically placed around the pool to ensure even distribution of the filtered water, keeping the pool clean and properly balanced.

It's important to note that the size and power of the pump motor, as well as the design of the impeller, can vary depending on the size and type of pool. Larger pools may require more powerful pumps to ensure proper circulation and filtration.

What Are the Basic Components of a Pool Pump?

To understand the anatomy of a pool pump, let's start by examining its basic components. A typical pool pump consists of the following parts:

1. Pump Motor

The pump motor is the powerhouse of the pool pump. It is responsible for providing the necessary energy to drive the entire system. 

The pump motor transforms electrical energy into mechanical energy that drives the impeller to generate the required water flow. Pool pump motors are powered by electricity, and their horsepower varies based on the pool's size and capacity. In a variable speed pump the power consumption is determined more by speed settings than it is by HP rating.  

2. Impeller

The impeller is a vital component of the pool pump that is responsible for generating the necessary water flow. This refers to a spinning disc equipped with curved blades that rapidly rotate when driven by the motor.

As the impeller rotates, it creates a centrifugal force that draws water into the pump and propels it through the filtration system. 

3. Pump Housing and Strainer Basket

The pump housing and filter basket form the enclosure that houses the motor and impeller. The pump housing is typically made of durable materials such as plastic or polypropylene. It is designed to withstand the constant flow of water and the pressure the pump generates. The strainer basket, located at the front of the pump housing, acts as a barrier to collect and trap debris, preventing it from entering the pump and causing damage.

4. Pump Lid and O-ring

The pump lid and O-ring are essential components that ensure a watertight seal and maintain the integrity of the pump system. The pump lid, located on top of the pump housing, provides access to the strainer basket for cleaning and maintenance. It is secured in place by a locking mechanism or screws to prevent any leaks. The O-ring is positioned between the pump lid and housing, creating a tight seal that prevents water from escaping.

Troubleshooting Common Pool Pump Issues

Like any mechanical system, pool pumps can experience issues from time to time. Here are some common pool pump problems and their potential solutions:

Pump Fails to Turn On

If your pool pump fails to turn on, see if the pump is properly connected. If it’s working correctly, the issue may be the motor or internal components. In such cases, it's best to consult a professional to diagnose and repair the problem.

Low Flow Rate 

If you notice a decrease in water flow or pressure, it may be due to a clogged or dirty filter, a blocked intake or return port, or a malfunctioning impeller. Start by cleaning or replacing the filter and checking for any port obstructions. If the issue persists, it's advisable to seek professional assistance.

Excessive Noise From the Pool Pump

Excessive noise from the pump can indicate loose or worn-out parts, such as bearings or impellers. It can also be a result of improper installation or mounting. 

Inspect any loose or damaged parts and verify that the pump is firmly mounted. Should the noise continue, it's advisable to get a professional to examine and fix the pump.

Pool Pump Leaks

Leaks can occur in various pump areas, including the housing, fittings, or plumbing connections. If you notice any leaks, it's essential to address them quickly to prevent further damage.

Pool Pump Overheating

Pool pump overheating usually occurs due to a malfunctioning motor, inadequate ventilation, and restricted water flow. 

Check for obstructions or debris blocking the cooling vents and ensure proper water flow. If the motor continues to overheat, it may require professional attention.

It's important to note that these troubleshooting tips are general guidelines, and specific issues may require professional assistance. 

If you need more clarification with repairing tasks, it's best to consult a pool professional to avoid further damage to the pool pump system.

What Size Pump Do I Need?

When determining the right size pool pump for your swimming pool, there are several important factors to consider. These factors will help you make an informed decision and ensure that your chosen pump suits your requirements.

Calculating the Pool Volume

The first step in determining the right pump size is to calculate the volume of your pool. The pool volume is typically measured in gallons or liters and is an essential factor in determining the pump's flow and turnover rates.

To calculate the pool volume, you can use the following formula:

Pool Volume = Length (ft) x Width (ft) x Average Depth (ft) x 7.5 (for gallons) or Pool Volume = Length (m) x Width (m) x Average Depth (m) x 1000 (for liters)

Once you have the pool volume, you can move on to considering the flow rate and turnover rate required for your pool.

Understanding Flow Rate and Turnover Rate

Flow rate refers to the amount of water circulated through the pool system in a given period. It is typically measured in gallons per minute (GPM) or liters per minute (LPM). The pool volume and the turnover rate directly influence the flow rate.

The turnover rate refers to the number of times the entire pool volume is circulated and filtered within a specific period, usually measured in hours. The turnover rate is an essential factor in maintaining clean and properly filtered water.

To calculate the turnover rate, you can use the following formula:

Turnover Rate = Pool Volume / Desired Number of Hours for Complete Circulation

Understanding the flow and turnover rates will help you determine the appropriate pump size to effectively circulate and filter the pool water within the desired timeframe.

Matching Pump Size to Pool Volume

Once you have calculated the pool volume and determined the desired flow and turnover rates, you can match the pump size to the pool volume. It is recommended to choose a pump that can circulate the entire pool volume within a period of 6 to 8 hours.

A pump that is too small for your pool volume may not be able to achieve the desired turnover rate, resulting in poor water circulation and potential water quality issues. 

By selecting a pump size suitable for your pool volume, you can ensure optimal water circulation and filtration, resulting in a clean and well-maintained swimming pool.  The main factors to consider are plumbing size and type, any additional requirements expected of the pump, such as suction side pool cleaner or other restriction on the inlet side, as well as water features such as spa jets or a waterfall, and if your pool has requirements of pushing water up heights. These will all require a higher HP pump to perform as desired.   

Most states are adopting policies to stop selling single speed pumps to make all new pump purchases variable speed pumps. The cost difference, especially with a Black+Decker pump, between a single speed and variable speed pump is not a huge gap and the variable speed pump will pay you back within a year or two with the cost savings and lower power consumption. You can even apply for state and federal rebates for switching from a single speed pump to a variable speed, further narrowing the price gap. A variable speed pump can run for much longer, promoting clean and clear water, while still saving you money on your power bill.