7+ Ways to Circulate Pool Water Without a Pump

Pool water needs circulation to prevent stagnation and debris buildup. Methods include using a shop vacuum, siphoning hose, robotic pool cleaner, automatic pool skimmer, adjusting pool jets, creating manual movement, and swimming in the pool.

how to circulate pool water without a pump

Circulating your pool water prevents it from stagnating. It also ensures the water goes through the filtration system to remove debris before it can build up.

Running your pool pump is the best way to keep the water circulating, but there are alternatives you can use if you’re wondering how to circulate pool water without a pump.

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Method #1: Create Movement With a Shop Vacuum

Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black

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Wet and dry shop vacuums are heavy-duty cleaning devices that can handle liquids. If you have a shop vacuum or can rent one, it’s an effective way to create movement in your pool water.

However, you must ensure you’re using a wet and dry vacuum since not all shop vacuums can safely suck liquids.

You can use a shop vacuum to drain your pool if you want to do a partial water change. You can also pour the water back into the pool provided that the shop vacuum canister is clean if your goal is to circulate the water without changing it.

A shop vacuum can effectively clean the sides and bottom of the pool if you need to get rid of debris or sludge. The downside is that this method can be slow.

Method #2: Use a Siphoning Hose

HORUSDY Gas Siphon 6FT Multi-Purpose Super Easy Siphon Pump,1/2" Valve Virgin Grade Tubing Safe (white)

You can use a siphoning hose to drain water from an above-ground pool. This method works as long as you’re draining water to a spot that is lower than your swimming pool.

Siphons use atmospheric pressure to move liquids. Once you start sucking water through the siphon, the liquid will decrease atmospheric pressure, and more water will flow through the tube.

A simple garden hose can siphon water out of your above-ground pool. All you have to do is suck water through the hose to get the siphon started.

Siphoning water out of your pool will create movement, but you’ll have to replace the water you drained out of your pool. Adding water can help keep the pool clean while your pump is down, and pouring the water into your pool will create additional movement.

Method #3: Invest in a Robotic Pool Cleaner

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Vacuum Cleaner — Smart Navigation and Top Load Filter for an Ultimate Clean — Ideal for All Types of In-Ground Swimming Pools up to 50 Feet in Length

A robotic pool cleaner is a worthwhile investment if you want to save time on pool maintenance. Features can vary from one model to another, but all pool cleaners have a vacuum system that can remove debris from the water.

Some models feature rotating brushes that can scrub the bottom of your pool, and you can also find recent models with built-in sensors that help the pool cleaner navigate its environment.

A robotic pool cleaner won’t replace your filtration system because it only catches large debris. However, the combined action of the vacuum system, rotating brushes, and robot moving at the bottom of the pool will help the water circulate.

Method #4: Upgrade Your Pool With an Automatic Pool Skimmer

Betta 2 - Solar Powered Automatic Robotic Pool Skimmer with Twin Chip-Controlled Salt Chlorine Tolerant (SCT) Motors (White)

The purpose of a pool skimmer is to catch the debris floating on the surface of the water. You can use solutions like nets or vents that catch debris and store them in a basket that you have to empty regularly.

These solutions are inexpensive and suitable if you have a working pool pump. However, if you’re wondering how to circulate pool water without a pump, you can use an automatic pool skimmer.

These devices float on the water’s surface and suck debris and algae. It’s a great way to keep your pool water clean, and the device’s movement will prevent the water from stagnating.

Since algae need sunlight to thrive, many species tend to rise to the surface. Disturbing the surface with an automatic pool skimmer can prevent algae from spreading.

Method #5: Adjust Your Pool Jets

DANMAR Directional Pool Skimmer Jet Return Nozzle, Fits Inside Most Swimming Pools Hydrostream Return Inlet Fitting, Reduce Skimmer Net Maintenance, Pool Cleaner, More Leaves & Bugs in Basket, White

Many pool owners turn their jets off when they’re not using their pool to conserve energy. While there is no reason to leave your pool jets on if you have a working pool pump, your pool jets can help circulate the water if your pump is down.

If you have a single jet, angle it toward your pool skimmer to eliminate as much debris as possible. Angling it toward the surface can also prevent the water from stagnating.

If your pool has several jets, you’ll get better results if you adjust them at a 45° downward angle. The jets will push water toward the bottom of the pool before it bounces back to the top in a circular motion for optimal circulation.

Pointing two opposite pool jets straight at each other is another technique you can use to help water circulate.

Method #6: Create Some Manual Movement

Manual movement isn’t a long-term solution, but it can prevent your pool water from stagnating if there is no power or if your pool pump is down.

If you’re wondering how to circulate pool water without a pump, there are a few different solutions you can use:

Skim the surface of your pool with a net. Use broad motions to disrupt the surface as much as possible.

Do you have a boat oar? You can use roaming motions to circulate water. Oars have a unique shape that can push and circulate water.

A clean shovel can create a similar phenomenon in the water if you don’t have an oar or paddle. You can also use a clean rake to create movement on the surface and prevent an algae bloom.

Method #7: Swim in Your Pool

Swimming will create movement in your pool and disrupt the surface, especially if you use swimming strokes that displace a lot of water, such as the butterfly or the front crawl.

Diving is also a great way to create movement on the water’s surface.

Note that swimming in a pool with a broken pump isn’t ideal. It’s fine if the pump has been down for a day or two, but if your pool has been sitting for days without a working filtration system, it’s best not to swim in it.

Swimming in a pool with a broken pump isn’t ideal for children and people with sensitive skin. Before you try this method, you can skim the surface with a net to get rid of debris and drop a tablet of chlorine to eliminate germs.


Read on to learn more about circulating pool water.

How can I keep my pool clean without a pump?

A pump remains the best way to clean your pool, but you can manually remove debris, twigs, and dead bugs (or frogs) or use a robotic pool cleaner. Adding chlorine to the water regularly is the best way to prevent bacteria from growing.

How often should my pump run?

If you use your pool regularly, running your pump for at least eight hours a day is best. Note that your pump doesn’t need to run for eight consecutive hours.

You can, for instance, run it for a few hours in the morning and run it again during your evening swim.

When should I replace the pump filter?

A typical pump filter cartridge will last for 20,000 hours. You should replace it once a year or once every two years, depending on how often you use your pool.

What causes pumps to fail?

Clogged filters and cartridges are a common issue. Air leaks can also happen. If you have an old model, electrical problems and overloaded circuits are other possible causes.

More FAQs

How do I keep my above ground pool clean without a pump?

To keep your above ground pool clean without a pump, you can sweep the water’s surface regularly using a broom or a push broom. Additionally, you can use a swimming pool cleaning solution like American Pool Company’s QuickShot Swimming Pool Cleaner or apply chlorine by brushing it onto the pool.

How long can pool sit without pump?

The pool can sit without a pump for a certain period of time. However, if the pump is turned off for a week or even a month, there will be consequences. During this time, the pool will become dirty as there will be no filtration. Additionally, the lack of circulation will prevent the chemicals from properly distributing, resulting in the water potentially turning green as algae begins to form.

How long can a pool go without a pump?

A pool can go without a pump for a certain period of time. However, if the pump is turned off for a week or even a month, there will be consequences. The pool will become dirty as there will be no filtration without the pump. Additionally, the lack of circulation will prevent the chemicals from properly mixing, potentially resulting in the water turning green due to the formation of algae.

What happens if you don’t filter pool water?

If you don’t filter pool water, it can lead to recreational water illnesses (RWIs) such as diarrhea, ear infections, respiratory infections, rashes, and/or inflamed eyes and lungs. However, maintaining and caring for your pool properly eliminates any cause for concern.

What happens if you don’t have a pool pump?

If you don’t have a pool pump, the pool will become dirty as there will be no filtration system. Without the pump, the chemicals in the water will not circulate properly, leading to the formation of algae and the water may turn green.

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