3 diy steps to determine pool pump cycle duration in hours

Understanding Pool Pump Operations.

To keep the pool free of debris and sanitized, the pool pump motor must circulate the water from the pool all the way back to the filter and back to the pool.  This whole process is considered the pool pump cycle.

It is strongly recommended by the pool builders to run your pool pump at least for two cycles per day to keep the water sanitation high.

Determining an accurate number of hours in each pumping cycle could save you money and win happy neighbors

The steps below will help you determine one cycle duration as accurately as possible.

Step 1: Total Head Calculation

First, you need to identify is the length of the pipe from the pump to the pool. You will be required to use your tape measure to determine the length or ask for assistance from the pool builder or the pool service technologist.

If you have two drains, you will need to calculate the length for both and average the length.

Once you calculate you add 10% for buffer.

Step 2: Determine the Pool Water Volume

To determine the pool water volume, you can use an online pool volume calculator.  Or you can do it manually. For a Rectangular or Square pool, you will find the volume by multiplying the width by the length to give you the surface area of the pool. When multiplying the surface area by the depth, you get the volume in cubic feet. And since you know that there are seven gallons of water in a cubic foot, then by multiplying the pool’s cubic feet by 7.5 you will arrive at the volume of the pool expressed in gallons.

Step #3: Determine the Water Flow

This depends on the horsepower of the pool pump motor that typically ranges from 60 – 100 Gallons per Minute (GPM).  You will be required to refer to the manufacturer’s chart.  When you look at the pump motor chart, you will need the total head length that we calculated in step one.

Below is an example for Max-Flow II.  Depending on the model and the length of the total head, you will be able to calculate how many GPM it will process.


    • A common pool holds 18,000 to 20,000 gallons of water. For this example, we will use 20,000 gallons.
    • We will also use 80 GPM for the water flow. This translates to 4,800 gallons per hour.
    • To calculate the number of hours you will need to run the pool pump you will divide the total number of gallons by the number of gallons per hour that that pump can process.
    • Calculations: 20,000 / 4800 = 4.16 hours
  • For this pool, we will round the total hours to 4.5 hours.


While most pool providers will recommend running the pump for a duration of 6-8 hours per cycle, not understanding how long your pool should run to sanitized your water will increase your electricity bill and a pool pump noise level for your neighbors.

Considering the duration mentioned above, you are likely to save almost half in electric bill and your neighbors will enjoy a lesser time of a noisy pool.

To save more money, you will be required to contact the utility company to determine the peak time and avoid them as much as possible.

Ensure to check the pool pH to maintain a proper cycle duration. In uncontrollable conditions like rain, your swimming pool pump may be required to run for an extra hour.

View pool pump enclosures here.

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