Running the Pump vs Running the Filter, is there a difference?

Written By Timothy Te

19th February 2021

These two pool maintenance terms are actually so interrelated that it’s easy to mistake one (or interchange for that matter) one for the other. So in this quick guide, we’ll go over why they’re interchanged, what the parts are, and when to use one term over the other. But first, let’s go over each component shall we?

What is a pool pump?

A pool pump is basically the heart of your pool’s circulation system. It’s the piece of pool equipment that “sucks” in the water on one end and pushes it out back to the pool on the other end. This also ensures that your pool chemicals are properly circulated around the pool to ensure that all of the pool water is properly sanitised.

Interested learning more about pool pumps? We have a dedicated post here detailing how pool pumps work. 

What is a pool filter?

A pool filter is the one in charge of catching dirt, debris, and contaminants from the pool water to ensure water clarity. The way it works is that it has a media that allows liquids to pass but not solid particles of a certain size.

Types of pool filters

  • Sand Filters - These are our favorite types of pool filters because of the ease of maintenance. Sand filters can be cleaned out with just a few turns of a switch and the media won’t need replacing for at least half a decade.
  • Cartridge Filters - Cartridge filters are some of the more affordable pool filtration options out there, but maintaining the filters can sometimes be a pain as the cartridges have to be taken out of the housings and hosed down manually. Not only that, but the filter elements have to be replaced every few year. We’re not knocking it though, it’s just a personal preference as we prefer our pool maintenance tasks to be as hassle-free as possible.

P.S. Did you know that there's actually a filter for your pool filter? Do you need it? Is it just marketing hype? Does it really work? Read more about pre-filters here!

What does “Running the filter” mean?

Running the filter basically means turning on the pool pump and allowing the pump to push the water through the filter elements. Filters have no capacity on their own to move the water in your pool so this is dependent on your pool pump, so basically, running the filter means to turn on the pump!

What does “Running the pump” mean?

Running the pump means turning on the pump and allowing it to draw the water in from the pool and circulate it. The main difference between running the pump and running the filter is that you can actually run the pump without running the water through the filter. This is done in situations where you’ll need to circulate the pool water but you don’t want the water to pass through your filters like when you’re floccing the pool or if your filter is under maintenance (if your filter is broken, you’ll still need to circulate your pool water!)

So what’s the takeaway?

It’s simple, when someone says run your filter, they basically mean “turn on your pump” and when someone says run your pump, you’ll have to check the context if the water needs to be filtered, but 9 times out of 10, they’ll mean to run your filter or run your pump normally!

Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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Written By

Timothy Te

Pool Guru at Mr Pool Man

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