Pool Water Circulation Systems: A Quick Guide


If you’ve never owned a swimming pool before, you might be curious about how pool water circulation systems work. What are the different parts? How can you help keep your new pool running smoothly? Questions about new water circulation systems are common. Put together by swimming pool builders in South Florida, here is a quick guide to get you started with your new circulation system. 

Skimmers and Drains

The skimmer and drain are the first stop your pool water will take as it’s recycled into the system. Skimmers are the common rectangular openings high up on the wall of the pool. They collect debris from the water, ensuring that leaves and other debris don’t reach the pump. To make sure your skimmers are working properly, the pool water should always be about level with the skimmer. 

The drainage system is located on the floor of the pool, usually in the deepest part. This is where the water enters the circulation system, using suction to draw water into the system. Main drains can be dangerous, especially for small children. To prevent tragic accidents, you can install two drains (which can reduce the suction needed in each drain), or install an emergency shut-off system. These systems usually shut off the pump automatically when they detect a rise in pressure, which is usually caused by something getting caught in the drain.

The Pump

The pump is the very heart of your new circulation system. Each part of the circulation system either carries water to the pump or away from it, making it one of the most important parts of your circulation system. Water from the skimmers and drains flows to the pump. 

Your pump should be the right size for your pool. Your pool builder can help you determine which pump is best, and will likely install the optimal size regardless. Based on the size and volume of your pool, the pump should be powerful enough to circulate all of the water in your pool in 8 hours or less. You should run it 8 to 10 hours a day to maintain your pool and ensure that water keeps moving through the system. 

The next parts of the circulation system move water back towards the pool. 

The Filter

The filter is one of the most important parts of your circulation system, next to the pump. The filter removes debris and small impurities from your pool water. Impurities commonly removed by the filter include dust, dirt, algae, and residue from sunscreen and other skin products. 

There are three different types of filters. Sand filters use sand of a specific size to catch debris as the water passes through. They are less expensive than the other options but ultimately require more maintenance. 

DE filters use a clay-like powder instead of sand. This filters out debris down to 5 microns, which catches just about everything. It’s expensive but efficient. Finally, there is the cartridge filter. It collects debris and must be removed and washed every few months. It will need to be replaced, especially if you use your pool often. 

Special Equipment

Specialized equipment like heaters, chemical feeders, and more are located after the filter. Heaters use natural or propane gas to warm the pool water as it returns to the pool. It doesn’t require much maintenance. 

Chemical feeders are usually used for maintenance. These feeders contain time-release doses of chlorine and bromine, so you don’t have to do much (if any) manual balancing. 


The returns are the locations where pool water re-enters your pool. These jets release clean, warm water back into your pool. There are usually at least two jets located around the perimeter of your pool. Usually, they can be adjusted to direct the flow of water. Pointing them all in the same direction can help circulation within your pool and make the entire system more efficient.

Even larger pools with multiple returns sometimes have circulation problems. There’s no way for returns to cover the entire area of your pool, especially in wider designs. For this reason, you should brush dead areas regularly to prevent dirt and algae build-up. 


As you can see, pool circulation systems aren’t very complicated at all! It’s a simple system that works for most pools, and it’s essential to the health of your pool. By keeping up with maintenance and making sure you’re doing all you can to keep your pool clean, your pool will last for many years.

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow by Email