What is a Pool Pump and Do I Need One?

Stagnant water is home to all kinds of bacteria, parasites, and all the transmissible diseases they carry. If you have a pool or are planning to get one anytime soon, it’s important to note that a swimming pool can quickly turn into a swamp if you let the water go stagnant.

With any luck, you would already know this, which is why you’re reading up about the importance of pool pumps and water circulation. In this article, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding pool pumps.

How Do Pool Pumps Work?

Pool filter system

In a nutshell, pool pumps pull water in, then pushes it through a filter and send the newly cleaned water back to the pool. This is how the filter catches all the debris and impurities that may have infiltrated your pristine swimming pool.

All water circulation systems, no matter how basic, have a motor, an impeller, a debris basket, and two separate water pipes.

The pump motor powers the impeller, which moves the water at a high velocity, allowing the inlet pipe to suck in water. This will then be channeled straight to the filter– where any debris will be relegated to a basket, before the water, now fresh and sparkling, is expelled back into the pool through the outlet pipe.

Depending on their grade, price range, and manufacturer, some pool pumps would have more value adding features that may improve the quality of its operations and in effect, your pool.

Do I Need A Pool Pump?

If you have a permanent fixture pool, then yes, you need a pool pump. Blow-up swimming pools can simply be emptied after every use, so using a pump is optional. However, in-ground pools can only survive without a filtration pump system for a maximum of two days before dirt and bacteria start accumulating. In more severe cases, you could be facing a full-on algal bloom.

A common misconception among pool owners is that a water pump is only necessary for in-ground pools. However, unless you plan on draining the water out of your above-ground pool every after use, you will need a pool pump to keep the water safe for swimming.

Pros of Having A Pool Pump

  • Spreads out chemical disinfectants evenly

Some pool owners make the mistake of thinking they can skirt around the costs of purchasing a pool pump by relying on chemical disinfectants like chlorine. While pools do benefit from the addition of certain chemicals, you still need a pool pump for this strategy to work.

Pouring chemicals directly into a pool where water is not circulated is a recipe for disaster. You still need a pumping system if you want to spread the chemicals evenly. Otherwise, you will end up with one part of the pool that’s overly treated (and possibly toxic) and other parts that are brimming with impurities.

  • Makes pool water relatively safe when ingested

You might be thinking there’s no need to make swimming pool water safe for ingestion. It’s not like you build a pool to drink water from it, right? However, relevant studies have found that the average adult ingests 32 mL of pool water per hour of leisure swimming. If you have kids in the family, you should be more worried since young ones ingest four times more than this. 

Cons of having a pool pump

  • Initial costs

It’s very expensive to install a water pump system, and you have to add that to the initial cost of building the actual pool. However, it’s simply not practical to keep an open basin of stagnant water. If you are not prepared to invest in a pump system, then it might be wiser to consider not having a pool at all.

  • Recurring costs

You also have to be prepared that the entire cost of purchasing and installing a pool pump is just half of the deal. These systems comprise a significant portion of the power bills paid by pool owners. On average, pool pumps consume 5,000 kWh a year.

Pool Pump FAQs

1- How do I pick the perfect pump size for my pool?

First, you have to know how many gallons of water your pool can hold. If you don’t already know this, you can find online volume calculators that can determine how much water your pool can hold, depending on the depth, width, length, and shape. 
Once you have this information, you can narrow down your search to pool pumps that can cater to the capacity of your pool. Manufacturers are pretty transparent about the capacity and turnover rate of their systems, although it still pays to take a look at reviews and customer feedback to ensure that you’re getting enough bang for your buck.

2- For how long should I run my pool pump every day?

The ideal running time of most pool pumps range from 4 to 8 hours, but ultimately, it still depends on the water capacity of your pool and the turnaround rate of your pool pump. 
Take your pool’s volume and divide that by the turnover capacity of your pump (in gallons per hour), then you will arrive at the number of hours in a day that you have to run the pump.

3- I can’t afford a pool pump. Are there any alternatives?

There are two viable alternatives to having a pool pump. Both of them are cheaper, but a lot less efficient and time-consuming to operate.
First, you can use a double-ended siphoning hose to empty out your pool and replace it with fresh water. The hose itself will definitely be cheaper than a decent pool pump, but manually siphoning out the water from a pool, no matter how small, will take so much longer. If you have a landscape pool with over 20,000 gallons of water, this alternative is far from practical.
If you want to substantially cut down the time you need to empty out a pool, you can opt for a shop vacuum instead of a siphoning hose. These will have a more powerful and efficient suctioning mechanism, although it should still take you hours to empty out even a medium-sized inflatable kiddie pool. Keep in mind that you might have to extend the length of the vacuum’s hose, since you can’t have the main motor come in close contact with open water.

The Bottom Line

A pool pump is what keeps a pool clean and sparkling – it’s essentially the heart of the pool’s filtration system.

While there are a couple of ways you can improvise in order to evade having to invest in a pool pump, if you value your time and effort as much as you value money, then nothing beats doing it the right way and installing a reliable pump system for your pool. 

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