Swimming Pool Operation Overview

Correct pool operation relies on three main functions: Circulation, Filtration, and Sanitation/Water Chemistry. Below you will find an explanation of all three.


Circulation of your pool is controlled by your pool pump. Having the right pump is very important. Preferably, a pump should circulate all the water in the pool once every eight hours. This is known as the turnover rate. If the pump is too small, there will not be enough flow to circulate all the water in your pool in a reasonable amount of time. If the pump is too large, it could cause damage to the plumbing and/or pool equipment. Consult your pool professional if you are concerned about your pump size.

Pool Pump


Filtration of the water in the pool is managed by your pool filter. There are three main types of pool filters:

  • Sand Filter View Pic - Uses sand to filter small particles in the water. Sand filters have the least filtering ability of the three filters and is limited to about 20-40 microns. However, this is usually sufficient in most pools. Advantages of sand filters are that they are very easy to clean and maintain. Cleaning the filter involves simply turning a valve on the top of the filter or side of the filter for side mount varieties.

  • Cartridge Filter View Pic - Cartridge filters use pleated cylindrical cartridges to filter the water. Cartridge filters can catch particles in the water to about 10-15 microns, which is slightly better than sand filters. However, a disadvantage of cartridge filters is that cleaning them requires disassembly of the filter.

  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE) View Pic - DE filters have the best filtering ability of the three types, which is at about 2-5 microns. DE filters use grids packed with DE powder to filter the water in your pool. Like cartridge filters, cleaning the grids requires disassembly of the filter.
Pool Filters

Sanitation & Water Chemistry

Keeping pool water in balance is essential to having a properly maintained pool. Even one out of balance parameter can cause issues in a pool, so it is important to keep every variable as close to its ideal range as possible. Following is a list of some of the factors that affect water chemistry. Use a test kit like the one to the right to check these items and then add chemicals accordingly:

Pool Test Kit