How Long Should I Run My Pool Equipment? / Can I Run My Equipment at Night? / How Many Hours Does my Pool Need to Run?

Equipment Operation Times

First: Get your water circulation adjusted properly. If this doesn't happen, you are going to need a ton more operating time to keep your pool healthy. Really, this point is ESSENTIAL to get right. Take the time to read it. (Click HERE)

 One of the biggest reasons for pool water continuously being cloudy, or green, is that the customer thinks he can keep things looking good on far less time than is required. When servicing a pool, and I find that the customer has changed the operation times, and the pool is looking lousy, and the chemicals are depleted because it’s fighting all of the muck that didn’t get filtered out because of their changes, I offer the client a couple of options.


1.)         You can find another pool man, and fire him because your pool is always green, your kids have pink eye, …

2.)         You can let me run the pool twice as long at night as it would have needed during the day because:

a.)         All algae grows during the day.

b.)         You need more chlorine circulated during the day.

c.)         Most of your dust storms, rain storms, … happen in the evening at the end of the day, and if it isn’t filtered out as it comes in, it leaves a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty things.

d.)         If you are going to swim, most of the time that is going to be during daylight hours, and if so, it is hotter, so you perspire more, and put more waste products into your pool which cause algae, bacteria growth, …

e.)         And, even if we do run your equipment “all night” to keep your pool clear, we may still have to run it a couple of hours during the day to keep it clear.

3.)         You can just trust that I know what I am doing, or you can trust the pamphlet from SRP that reads: “If you want to do what’s best for your pool, you will need to run it during the day. If you want to do what’s best for your electric bill, run your equipment at night.”. Even your electric company knows what’s best for your pool.

4.)         Since I will not be able to keep your pool clean on once a week pool service, we can go to twice a week service at double the cost of current service.


Proper Equipment Operation Times:


1.) You need to run your Equipment Long Enough:


        a.) Base (Minimum) Times (Phoenix Area) (Note: These are "Base" or minimum times you need to run your equipment, IF EVERYTHING IS ABSOLUTELY PERFRECT. (! pool in a thousand qualifies) You will need to add more (Minimum) time based on the situations listed later on.) 


                A.) Summer - 6 Hrs./day Play Pool, 8 Hrs./day Diving Pool

                B.) Winter - 4 Hrs./day Play Pool, 6 Hrs./day Diving Pool


        b.)  Add 25-45% to your base times for a Floor Head or Suction Side Cleaning System (Note: Even with a Separate Floor Head Pump, you are still mixing clean and dirty water resulting in longer times to get the same filtration. 3/4 of your circulation is now pulled through 30' of twisting, turning, corrugated tube, and a cleaner with a 3/4" mouth, greatly reducing water flow. Yet this estimate surprises some people. Energy efficient suction side cleaners are energy wasters. You have to run your big pump longer to get the same amount of water through your pump and filter. That's just the way it is.)


        c.) Add 25% to your time for a Sand Filter (Because Sand filters only filter down to 30-40 Micron Particles, they require longer hours to stay even with dirt, debris and bather loads. Yes, a lot more of the gunk stays in the pool because your filter can't catch it. That means more breeding stock in the pool for algae, bacteria, ... higher Chlorine demand, and, ... a need for longer filtration times. (Click HERE for more)


        d.) Add 25%-75% to your time for having a Cartridge filter ( If your elements have not been cleaned in the last 2 months, and have not been replaced in the last year to year and a half (Phoenix area), chances are that your flow is restricted enough, or that the filter is bypassing enough, that you need AT LEAST this much extra time. For most pools, if it has gone much past these times, chances are you are wasting your time running any equipment at all, as your elements are probably lifting up and the dirty water is going back into the pool without any filtration at all. And yes, this is based on averages. There are some pools that need less, and some pools that need more. Please read the information under "New Pool or Equipment Replacement Recommendations" - "Filters" Click HERE)


        e.) Add 25% if you have an In-Line Chlorination System (In deck chlorinator, salt chlorine generator, Stand alone chlorine feeder, ...)(See "Water Chemistry" in this section) (Click HERE for more)


        f.) Add 25% if you have High Debris or bather Loads (People, Dogs, ducks, ...) (Click HERE for more)


        g.)  If you have any of the characteristics listed in the next section add a minimum of 25% to your operation times. If your water still doesn't stay clear increase it another 10-20%


2.) You need to Run Your Equipment at the Proper Times:


     a.) If People are Swimming your pool Equipment should be on.

     b.) If there are storms during a particular time of the day, your equipment should be on.

     c.) In the summer, if the Sun is on your pool, the equipment should be on.


Note: I am aware of the fact that many of us are on "Budget" plans from our electric companies. The electric companies even admit, in writing, “If you want what's best for your electric bill, because you have to stay on a budget plan, run your equipment at night. If you want what's best for your pool, run your equipment during the day.”.


        Not running your equipment AT THE PROPER TIMES, can, in some instances, be overcome by increasing the total operation time when you do run it, by a minimum of 25%. Keep in mind that some people have found that it requires up to 60%, or even 100% longer operation times to keep the same water clarity as running it during the day, and that not running their equipment during the proper times usually costs up to 30%, or more in chemical costs as well. You may see an increase in your pool service costs. If my costs go up, so do yours.


           Yes, I know all about the guy who has the perfect pool, only runs his equipment an hour a day, hasn't drained his pool in 15 years, has never changed the oil in his car that has 200,000 miles on it, has never been to see a doctor or a dentist, has 450,000 miles on his truck, and has never done an oil change on it either, and gets 85 mpg on his V8 Suburban, ... but you aren't him, and neither am I. Yes, your numbers may differ on the low side, or high side. These are averages.


Note 2: I have diving pools with sand filters, suction side cleaners, AND FLOOR HEADS , and who run their equipment only at night, that need 14 hour operation times to stay clear, and still struggle with it. I have one pool with this setup that needs 18 hours a day MINIMUM, and certain times a year needs 24 hours a day to stay clear, in the middle of the summer during dust storm season. Yes, this is a weird situation, a pool 3 times the size of most, with only floor heads and no return lines, he has scout troupes over to swim all the time, pool parties, ... He has had almost a dozen pool men quit, or get fired, because they couldn't figure it out. I have kept his pool perfectly clear for 5 years straight. That said, "most pools", when we switched the operating times from night to 8 hours from 11 am to 7 pm, the pool stayed clear, and the chemical costs dropped. As with the extreme exception just mentioned, YOUR TIMES MAY VARY. You might only need 4 hours. On the other hand, you might need 24 hours. Every pool is different.