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Pool Pumps: The Heart behind a Body of Water

by Marc Dickinson

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Pool pumps act like the human heart. They push vital liquid throughout a body of water, constantly circulating it in order to keep it fresh, healthy, and chemically correct. These small motors simply keep water in motion, which may seem like a silly job, but it's vital for proper upkeep. Circulating the water maintains chemical continuity and prevents it from becoming stagnant. By forcing fresh water from the filters and back into the common area, pool pumps help to remove debris that would otherwise buildup and increase the risk for disease, bacteria, or other health threats. So you need one, but which one works best for your needs? There is an overwhelming selection out there, so here are some tips when it comes to selection and installation.

Don't Get Seduced
Your entire body of water should be fully circulated through the filters at least once every 24 hours, if not more. So your pool pump is a hard worker and an important piece of equipment. However, it's hard to tell which is best for your particular pool. And now that pumps are more state-of-the-art and available with more horsepower, it's easy to get seduced. But you need to choose a model that'll create an optimal balance with your specific needs: not too big and not too small. Bigger does not mean better. It doesn't mean it'll work faster: this depends on the size of your water pipes to and from the apparatus. Plus, if it's too big, the machine will be noisy and may burn out quickly (within just a few years). Also, it may cause damage to your plumbing, fixtures, or other equipment. However, if too small, it may also burn out fast with little circulatory results.

The Perfect Pool Pump
For the best results, it's a good idea to find a smaller model. But a lot depends on your pool: its size, square footage, and overall volume. How many chemicals do you use and how often? What other equipment is being utilized? And how much do you use the pool? Therefore, you want something big enough to handle the job, but small enough that it won't become an energy eater. It may be best to consult a professional who can look at capacity, flow rates, pipe sizes, and overall horsepower to determine which model would work best. Usually 1-2 horsepower will do the trick, and once again, don't give in to the myth of big is best: think small, effective, and most importantly, energy efficient.

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Energy Efficiency
These things run almost all the time, so they can eat up a lot of energy (almost as much as a typical HVAC unit), which makes them expensive to operate. So when purchasing, spend some extra money in the short term in order to save big cash in the long run.
Timers: They'd run all day if they could, but they don't need to. Therefore, try to use them less often by selecting a model with a timer function to control their usage.
Accessories: They don't work alone. Pool pumps function with your filtration system, so buy other equipment to help it out: get a bigger filter, buy a vacuum, install a pool cover, or get a net and remove larger debris yourself. All of this will get the job done faster so your motor won't have to do all the work.
Installation: Here's a quick energy saver. The closer it's installed to the water, the less energy it uses to circulate water back to the main area.

Cost and Maintenance
On average, these machines will run about $100-200, more or less, and they should last about 8-10 years. Eventually they burn out, parts wear out, sealers need replacement, or it may need occasional re-priming (it may lose power because it's just circulating trapped air instead of water). Therefore, it's good to keep an eye on it and hire a contractor immediately once the thing runs down. Since they do sustain a lot of daily wear and tear, it's a good idea to buy new and not used, and though could handle the installation, a professional guarantees proper installation and promises no future problems.

Marc Dickinson has worked in both the general contracting and landscaping trades and is currently a home improvement freelance writer with over 300 articles published.