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how long to run above ground pool filter


How to Determine How Long to Run Your Above Ground Pool Filter

If you are the proud owner of an above ground pool, you already know that maintaining proper filtration and chemical balance is crucial to keeping your water sparkling clean and healthy for swimming. However, you may be wondering exactly how long to run your pool's filter to ensure optimal results. The answer varies depending on several factors, including your pool's size, pump flow rate, and the level of usage. In this article, we'll take a closer look at how to determine how long to run your above ground pool filter.

Understanding Your Pool's Filtration System

Before we dive into the specifics of filter run times, it's important to understand the basic components of your pool's filtration system. Typically, an above ground pool setup includes a skimmer, pump, and filter, as well as hoses and fittings. The skimmer collects debris and surface contaminants like leaves, while the pump pulls the water through the skimmer and into the filter. Inside the filter, water passes through a porous medium like sand, diatomaceous earth, or cartridge material, which traps dirt and debris before the cleaned water is returned to the pool.

Factors That Affect Filtration Run Times

Now that you have a general idea of how your pool's filtration system works, let's take a look at factors that can impact the amount of time your filter needs to run each day. Here are five key things to consider:

1. Pool Size: The larger your pool, the longer it will take for water to cycle through the filter. Therefore, a larger pool may require longer filter run times than a smaller one.

2. Pump Flow Rate: The flow rate of your pool pump (measured in gallons per minute, or GPM) will also impact filtration efficiency. A higher flow rate may require shorter filter runs, while a lower flow rate may require longer ones.

3. Usage: If your pool gets a lot of use, especially during peak season, you may need to increase filter run times to keep up with the demand.

4. Sun Exposure: Pools that get a lot of sun may require more frequent filtration to prevent algae growth and maintain water clarity.

5. Chemical Balance: Proper water chemistry is essential for effective filtration. If your pH, alkalinity, or chlorine levels are out of whack, you may need to run your filter longer to compensate.

Determining the Right Filter Run Times

So, with all of these factors in mind, how can you determine the right duration for your above ground pool's filter runs? There are several methods you can use, but here are two common options:

Method 1: One-Turnover Rule

One common guideline for filter run times is the one-turnover rule, which states that you should run your filter for the amount of time it takes to cycle all the water in your pool through the filter once. To calculate this time, you'll need to know your pool's total volume (in gallons) and your pump's flow rate (in GPM). Here's the formula:

Pool Volume ÷ Pump Flow Rate x 60 minutes = One-Turnover Time

For example, if you have a 15,000-gallon pool and a pump that runs at 30 GPM, your one-turnover time would be:

15,000 ÷ 30 x 60 = 5 hours

Therefore, you would need to run your filter for at least 5 hours per day to complete one full cycle of your pool's water.

Method 2: Manufacturer Recommendations

Another option is to consult your filter's owner's manual or contact the manufacturer for specific recommendations. Each filter model may have slightly different requirements based on size, media type, and other factors. The manual should provide guidance on how many hours per day to run your filter for optimal performance.

Some filters may also have built-in timers or automation systems that can help you adjust run times based on various factors like pool usage, temperature, and more.


Maintaining a clean and healthy pool requires a bit of effort and attention to detail, but the payoff is well worth it. By understanding your above ground pool's filtration system and taking into account factors like pool size, pump flow rate, and usage, you can determine how long to run your filter each day for optimal results. Whether you follow the one-turnover rule or consult your filter's manual, a little bit of planning and diligence can ensure your pool stays crystal clear all season long.


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