What Causes Poor Pool Circulation


Poor pool circulation can be the root cause of many unsolved water problems. On all accounts it appears that we are doing the right thing and adding the right products but we’re missing something. And that SOMETHING is the reason the pool isn’t coming around to its usual fabulous condition.

SO who, what, where, when does that mean? Good Question!


What is circulation?

Circulation refers to how your water flows through your equipment system and around the body of the pool. It starts with water in the pool, being sucked down through your skimmer, through the pump, filter, heater and back into the pool.


Why is it important?

Circulation is as important as chemistry and filtration but is
often overlooked when caring for a swimming pool. Think of these three items, circulation, chemistry and filtration as a three legged stool. Each leg is equal and if one fails, the stool falls. Lack of understanding how important the stool is prevents many from solving simple pool problems.

In simple terms, for optimal circulation the pump should be sized properly, running 24/7, the weir skimmer door in place and the complete returns pointed downward at a 45 degree angle. Regularly brush dead spots and encourage swim time.


Here is a guide on the top factors affecting circulation.


  • How long you run your pump – Should be 24 hours a daycirculation system b
  • Pump Size- This does not necessarily mean half, 1 or 1.5hp but how much water your pump is sized to move.
  • Pool shape- Shapely pools may not have the same circular water movement around the body of the pool
  • Angle and placement of returns- All returns should should be complete and be pointed down at a 45 degree angle away from the skimmer
  • Presence of the skimmer door (weir) – Must be present and functional to move the top 5’ of water towards the skimmer
  • Dead spots- These are spots in the pool which do not get direct water flow. These spots can be stagnant and require more attention. Brush frequently.
  • The amount and duration of swimmers swimming- Movement of water increases circulation


Even though you can get away with 10-12 hours per day for proper turnover (how many times the entire capacity of the pool water goes through the filter), 24 hours a day is recommended to prevent algae growth. Stagnant water breeds problems. Poor circulation leads to water clarity and algae problems which can be expensive and result in frustrating down time. Timers are not recommended however if you have an inground pool you should strongly consider a variable speed pump to reduce your energy costs.


The best thing you can do is understand your pool’s circulation and use these tips to work with your pool. This will ensure your family will continue to enjoy  impromptu cannon balls!


Having circulation, filtration or chemistry problems? Tell us all about it and we will help you with a personalized solution. Email us at info@rrpools.ca, or call our office at 902-876-2773


  1. Roger

    Ive backed washed and cleaned the filter. I have an 18 ft by 4 ft deep. The pump has a two speed motor. In the low position in barely moves water at all. I had the pump rebuilt 3 years ago. The hose is a little long at 5 ft.

    • Kara Redden

      Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. I have sent you a message that I hope will help with your situation. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

  2. Mike Owens

    I have poor circulation problems with air bubbles coming from jets. I replaced gasket at the pump strainer basket but still had same problem. Then noticed a crack in the strainer basket at the pool around 2 inches on the flange neck of the return line. Can air be pulled in through the crack causing air in the line resulting in bubbles and poor circulation

    • Kara Redden

      Hi Mike,

      Typically the skimmer basket sits under the water so I wouldn’t think that that could be the reason. Unless you are referring to the skimmer body itself. Anything cracked or not properly sealed that has access to air starting from the skimmer to the beginning of the pool pump could be a cause of a suction leak and create the air bubbles you are seeing. Providing your water level is at the correct height I would start with lubing your pump lid and oring.

      Best of luck! Kara

  3. Betty Austin

    I have just replaced the motor on the filter because it was making a noise. I thought that was way I had a circulation problem. The same size motor was put in that was taken out a 3/4 hp..but it is barely circulating the water. What could be causing this?

  4. Gwen Hibdon

    I recently replaced the sand filter (Hayward 200lb) on a 30 ft round pool. When installing laterals were down, filled about half full with water, covered the center to prevent sand from getting into it, and filled the filter with sand. When trying to backwash or rinse the water is discharged but not at the same high pressure as before. When in filter mode it is running at about 5-6 psi. Since this installation the pool pump and hose between the pump and filter have also been replaced. Do you have any idea what the problem could be? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  5. Stephen Bailey

    I have a Coleman (Intex style) soft-sided 12’x22′ pool with notorious circulation issues. I frequently get algae growth leading to weeks of remediation. I do my best to maintain the chlorine and stabilizer, and get the water tested weekly but nothing seems to keep the water in ideal condition.

    I want to build an add-on circulation and filtre systems that I hang over the side of the pool – bypassing the built-in system.


Leave a Reply

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