You finally did it—you got a pool installed in your backyard. And you were incredibly glad you did, since it’s a nice way to cool off at the end of a long day. Then, your power bill came and your jaw dropped. You had run the pool pump all day, every day, and now you’re wondering: When is the best time to run a pool pump in the summer?
Like some questions, the answer isn’t entirely straightforward. Depending on your situation, you could choose to run your pump at night only, you may decide to switch to a different sized component to save money or you could find that running your pump all day long is preferible.
Homeowners want to do what’s right and keep their pools pristine, but they often don’t quite realize what they’re getting into, or ways to cut costs while still maintaining your pool. Let’s explore how to keep your pool running efficiently during the most popular time to swim during the year.
What’s The Best Time Of Day To Run A Pool Pump?
Throughout the day, power companies charge different amounts for power, depending on how much is being used by homeowners in the area. The hours that are most popular for power usage, better known as peak hours, are hours you want to avoid if you don’t want to pay a premium for your electricity. You may be wondering how in the world can you estimate what hours hour neighbors are using the most power? The good news is: you don’t have to! By simply calling your power company, you can learn more about the rate schedule.
Most likely, power will be the cheapest overnight, when the vast majority of us are comfortably snoozing. Additionally, surface evaporation and heat loss are lowest at night, so water circulation is much more efficient during those hours. While it is nice to have the pool pump running while people are actually using the pool, don’t consider it mandatory.
What about running the pump off-season?
Generally speaking, overnight hours tend to be cheaper, no matter what time of year it is. However, there’s no harm in asking your utility provider what’s considered “non-peak”, and if those hours ever change. Regardless of when you choose to power up your pool pump, it also helps to have a dedicated pool pump schedule. An experienced pool professional can help you create a pump schedule to keep your pool at its best.
You might also want an automatic pump timer that turns the pool pump on based either on the pool temperature or a pre-set time of day. This way, you’re maximizing both efficiency and convenience.
Should A Pool Pump Run Continuously?
The simple answer is yes. In an ideal world, the best thing you could do for your pool would be to run the pump all day, every day. However, as you may have discovered, that will get you an electric bill so ridiculous that you’ll have to get two more jobs to cover it. Don’t think that means you have to stop using your pool, though. While continuously pumping is technically “best,” it’s not necessary to have a safe, clean pool.
So, how long and how often do you need to run your pump? They don’t go over this in the pool maintenance for beginners handbook.
It’s generally recommended that all of the water in a pool needs to be filtered at least once every 24 hours. If the pool is being used heavily (like, for example, if you host a pool party), you’ll probably want to cycle it through the filter twice that day.
Several variables will determine how long it takes your pump to cycle through all the water in your pool. The two major factors are the type and nature of the swimming pool pump being used and the size of the swimming pool. With regards to the pump, the efficiency and flow rate will dictate how fast and how well the pump cycles the pool water. The size of the pool tells you how much water a pump has to turn over. The larger the pool, the greater the amount of water, which means it will take the pump more time to get through a filter cycle.
A swimming pool specialist can easily help you calculate exactly how much time your specific pool pump will take to complete a full cycle. However, the typical turnover rate for an average pump running an average-sized residential pool is somewhere between 6 and 10 hours.
Also, you don’t have to run your pool pump continuously during each filtration cycle. You could run it for several short periods throughout the day and get the same results. However, if you do this, make sure you keep checking the chemical balance and clarity of the water.
Take note that these recommendations are for residential pools. Commercial pools need to have their water cycled over several times in a day.
One thing pool owners will want to keep in mind is that it’s not enough just to filter your pool. The water chemistry also has to be appropriately balanced. If the chemistry isn’t right, you’ll probably experience sanitation issues, no matter how much you use the pump.
How Does A Pool Pump Work?
One great thing about pool pumps is that they basically all work in a similar manner. So, regardless of the shape, size or features of your pool, it relatively easy to grasp the general ins and outs of the pool pump system.
Generally, a pool pump pulls water from a swimming pool, pushes it through a water filtration system and then deposits it, now clean, back into the pool. It can’t be overstated: those two systems—the pump and the filtration—are vital to the health of your pool’s water.
Want to think about it in a different way?
Water circulates in a swimming pool much like blood flows in our body’s circulatory system. The pump and filtration system are the heart and arteries of your pool. The filtration system acts as the highways that the pump powers the water along, making sure it moves throughout the entire space to keep your pool water clear and free of contaminants.
Let’s review the process, step by step:
- First, the pump draws the water through a series of skimmers and drains. The skimmers screen out large debris from the water’s surface.
- When the water reaches the pump, it’s passed through the pump basket, which strains out even more debris before the water goes into a diffuser.
- The diffuser directs water to the impeller.
- Every pump has an electric motor that spins an impeller. The spinning impeller creates a centrifugal force that generates pressure that drives water through the entire pool pump system.
- Once the water is forced out of the impeller, it’s pushed through that pool filters that catch any remaining debris.
- The water is then heated and treated before being pushed back into a swimming pool.
A pool pump can, therefore, be described as having two principal parts:
- The electric motor that drives the impeller
- The hydraulic “wet end” part, which consists of a strainer lid, O-ring, basket, diffuser, impeller and shaft seal. These components channel the water into and out of the pool pump.
A piece of advice from the experts: Using a small-sized pump can significantly reduce your pumping and maintenance costs. Consult a pool professional to help you get the smallest possible pump that’s compatible with your pool’s piping and flow characteristics so that you can save on any unnecessary costs on your monthly utility bill.
So, what happens if your pool water doesn’t cycle as it should? Or if your pump just isn’t working quite right?
The Most Common Pool Pump Problems
One of the most important parts of owning a pool is being able to recognize signs that your pool pump isn’t working as it should. A defective pump not only costs more money to run—it also jeopardizes the health of anyone who uses your pool.
What are the signs that you might have some type of issue with your pump?
A Dirty Pool
The most obvious sign of a pool pump that has stopped working—or isn’t being used enough—is when the pool water becomes turbid, begins to stink or develops a soapy texture. Homeowners often come across this issue when they turn their pool pumps on after keeping them off for the winter. It’s important that if you are closing the pool for the season, you continue to use the pump to prevent any of these problems from happening.
A Noisy Pool Pump
When in operation, a pool pump may become noisy for a few different reasons. It could, for instance, be that some screws have come loose, or there’s a reduced amount of water getting into the pump. Whatever the issue, you should have it checked out quickly to avoid any potential damage or the need for extensive repairs.
A Pump That Doesn’t Turn On
Defects in the electric supply to the pump’s motor are the most common cause of a pump not turning on. Unfortunately, they are not the only known causes.
A Pump That Doesn’t Pull Water
If your pump isn’t pulling water, there might be obstructions in the various components of the pump system. Jammed impellers can also cause a pump to not pull water. If water flow stops altogether, it could be due to small air bubbles getting into the pump basket. Ideally, a pool pump should be airtight, but sometimes there’s a leakage in one or more valves or gaskets. Fixing this problem means finding and repairing the leak.
ABC Can Keep Your Pool Working Efficiently
DIY pool fixes may seem easy at first, but most professionals will tell you that these repairs almost always end up being a bad idea, and cost more in the long run. If your pool pump develops any type of problem, contact the pool experts at ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our pros have been fixing any type of problems pool owners have had for decades, and can quickly handle even the most complicated repairs. We’ll get the job right, the first time, so you can get back to enjoying your backyard oasis.