Pool Care Pool Maintenance

How Long Can A Pool Go Without A Pump?

Imagine you woke up early in the morning prepared to run the pool equipment for a relaxing day ahead, only to be surprised by a non-operational pump. Can you fix it? You can’t. You try calling for a technician that can make a house call; no one is available. By now, you’re already asking yourself, how long can a pool go without a pump?

The simple answer is only a short time, a week or so, depending on the pool maintenance you did, temperature, and the weather before the pump broke down. You can also swim in it, provided the chlorine and other chemicals stay balanced. If it starts to get dirty, you will have to move the water somehow to keep the swimming pool clean, balanced, and free of algae.

What Happens to a Swimming Pool If Pool Pump Stopped Working?

A pool pump is an essential component of the pool circulation system. It helps keep the water moving and runs the water through the pool filtration system. If it’s this important, what would happen if it were to break down?

For starters, the water will stay stagnant. It will no longer get filtered by the dirt, dust, and other debris. If it gets dirty, it will remain that way until you restore it.

The pool skimmer(s) will stop working. It would clean the floating debris like the leaves and twigs from the water surface. That leaves matters to your hand to use a leaf net.

If the pump isn’t circulating the water, the pool chemicals won’t be distributed too. It would mean that some places will be balanced and others won’t, leading to a whole set of problems.

The stagnant water will support the growth of the most-feared problem, water algae. If the temperatures are high, algae development can be boosted, and it might overrun your swimming pool.

What to Do If Your Pool Pump is Unavailable

If your swimming pool is likely to stay without a pool pump for more than a week before you can get it fixed or replace it, it’d be best to stop swimming. That could help maintain its clean condition if it was in a healthy state before the unit breakdown.

Continue maintaining the chemical balance to minimize the work you need to do after your pool pump starts working again. Test the water regularly to know what’s changing when the pump services aren’t available.

If you don’t do these, you might end up emptying the pool once you replace or restore the pump. More, you might have more than a green pool to deal with; the walls might get stained or worse. Remember, stagnant water and a temperature rise could lead to rapid algae growth. Be cautious.

How to Keep Pool Clean Without a Pump

If your pool pump is unavailable and you still want to keep your swimming pool clean, here are a series of things you can do:

Test and Keep Pool Water Balanced

Unbalanced pool chemistry turns pool water cloudy and starts irritating the skin. It’d become a perfect habitat for the nasty algae and harmful bacteria. Test your pool chemistry stability regularly. Do it twice or thrice a week, which the period you will be without a pump.

Keep the Cyanuric Acid 30 – 50 parts per million. It helps protect the chlorine against sunlight while also establishing the required level of Free Chlorine.

Free Chlorine should be between 1-3 ppm. It acts as a sanitizer responsible for maintaining the pool water, making it secure for the swimmers and germs free.

Acidity or Alkalinity refers to the PH level of the pool water. Ideal pool acidity should be maintained at 7.5 – 7.8; it helps avoid skin irritation and protects the pool from eroding.

The Total Alkalinity is ideal for maintaining the PH levels balanced. Its optimum levels range between 60 – 120 ppm.

There is also Calcium Hardness maintained between 220-350 ppm depending on pool type. Keeping it at optimum levels helps prevent damage to the pool plaster.

Use best pool testing kits like digital pool test kits to get reliable test results and establish what chemicals need balancing. Adjust them according to keep the pool balanced.

Properly balanced water is clear with no odor and doesn’t cause irritation or leave residue on the skin.

Skimming the Debris Out

One of the pool equipment that stops working once the pump breaks down is the skimmer unit. That means the pool water surface won’t be skimmed off the substantial floating debris like leaves and twigs.

You’ll have to do it yourself. Get a skimmer net with a telescoping pole and skim the debris out of the pool. It’d be best to do this at least once a day to get rid of the debris before they accumulate.

You could also invest in an automatic pool skimmer. It will scoop the debris out for you. All you will need is to empty it when the debris bag is full.

Brushing and Vacuuming

Don’t forget to brush the pool bottom before you can call it a day. Dirt, like sand and other heavy materials, will settle on the floor and other pool surfaces. Brushing the heck out would help keep the pool clean and help move the water a little to prevent algae growth.

Investing in a manual vacuum cleaner can help remove the surface dirt before spread it all over the swimming pool. Brushing disturbs the dust and dirt, making it impossible to remove them when the filter is not working.

The vacuum can also help capture the flocculants that cause the microscopic debris to clog together and sink in the pool bottom.

You could also consider investing in an automatic pool robot cleaner. It can help clean the swimming pool and move the water a little. However, it must be a standalone model that doesn’t rely on the pool pump power to operate.


If you live in hot areas, shocking your pool can help kill any algae taking advantage of the pump’s absence to start growing. At high temperatures, algae growth doubles depending on the effectiveness of the sanitizer.

Shocking can help prevent this and keep your pool safe from any spores that might found their way into the pool. Pool shocking requires you to raise the chlorine levels for a short time drastically. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and pour the shock around the pool evenly. Read more about pool shocking here.

With the pump missing to circulate the water, you need a way to stir the water and allow the sanitizer to reach all the pool corners. Stir water manually with a leaf net as you clean it; it will help distribute the chemical and prevent hot spots.

Final Verdict!

You swimming shouldn’t go for more than a week without a pump. If your swimming pool pump breaks down, do all you can to get it fixed or replace it as soon as possible. During this time, balance the pool chemistry, skim and brush, vacuum, and shock it.

Also, maintain the pool water level. If too much, reduce it through filter drain or backwash, or you can siphon the water out. If you’re replacing a single-speed pump, consider replacing it with a variable speed pool pump; it can save you from electrical bills.

About the author

Sharif Miah

Hi! I'm Sharif, the founder of Globo Pool® and I have been working in the pool & hot tub industry for the last few years. I love to share my experiences with people & hope you are enjoying my information and lessons!

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