Pool Pumps

Selecting a Pool Pump

The heart of your circulation system, your pool pump pulls water from one or more suction ports (skimmers and main drain), and pushes it through the filtering, heating and sanitizing equipment, and back to the pool through the wall or floor returns, pressure cleaners or water features. The pool pump has the most important job on the pool equipment pad, because when the pump is not working, nothing else works either.

Which pump is right for your pool?

Contrary to selecting a pool filter, a bigger pump is not always a good thing. Unless you have been advised by a pool professional, or are otherwise certain that your existing pump was undersized, it would be wise to keep the same horsepower as you have now. Different pumps produce different flow rates, even if they are the same horsepower. More important than matching pump horsepower, is matching pump flow rates. Flow rates that are too high can damage your filter and piping, and result in ineffective filtration.

If the existing pump has done you well, it is easiest to replace a failed pool pump with the exact same make/model/size of pump. The height and length is also the same, which makes the plumbing job much easier. A different pump will usually require some adjustment to fit the pipes to the height of the front inlet and the length to the back discharge port. Dimensions of most pumps can be found on any specific pump’s product page, and some do match up.

How do pool pumps work?

The water is pulled from the pool by a brass or plastic impeller that is shaft driven by an electric pump motor. On the way to the pump, the water is under a vacuum, which creates the suction. After the water leaves the impeller, the water is put under pressure, being pushed until it is released into the pool. The design of the impeller and impeller housing creates the suction required to lift water, and the pressure to force it through the filter. An air tight suction side is necessary (without air leaks) to create the vacuum to pull the water from the pool.

The electric motor is powered from a breaker on your electric panel (or fuse box), at 115 or 230 volts. Usually motors over 2 hp need 230V power to operate, and most smaller hp pumps convert to accept either 115 or 230 volts. Above ground pumps are often 115V only, and have a pump power cord for GFCI outlet power. Electrical consumption will vary by pump, and manufacturers have been designing motors and pumps (the wet end) which are more efficient and consume much less energy than older pumps. Energy efficient motors draw fewer amps; the smaller the amperage draw of the motor, the less expensive it is to operate. On motors with reversible voltage (115V/230V), Amps is listed on a motor nameplate with two numbers, i.e. 16/8. The first number refers to the amps used to start the pump with 115V, and the lower number is when the motor is wired with 230V.