How To Circulate Pool Water Without a Pump

Pool water circulation helps keep the pool clean by moving debris into the filter.  Maintenance of pool circulation is necessary for a clear and sparkling pool with healthy water for the swimmers. A pool without proper circulation is prone to pose serious health hazards to swimmers. 

Stagnant pool water is a suitable breeding ground for bacteria such as Escherichia coli. Even though scientists consider most E.coli strains harmless, the bacteria can cause serious urinary tract infections. Stagnant water also provides breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mosquito bites are likely to lead to severe infections such as malaria.

Top Pool pumps are designed to push water up the pipes creating a circulation responsible for the distribution of pool chemicals.  As a pool owner, you already know that pool treatment requires the introduction of chemicals such as chlorine into the water. Chlorine serves as a disinfectant by reacting with water to form compounds that get rid of bacteria and other pathogens.  This explains why a pool pump is important swimming pool equipment.

How To Circulate Pool Water Without A Pump

However, a pool pump may fail to work correctly stopping the proper circulation of water.  Before you think of repairing the pump, you may consider circulating the pool water without a pump. Since pool pumps run through long hours, they are prone to mechanical failure.  The pumps motor may fail to function abruptly while you had already invited your friends for a pool party. The local pool maintenance service companies may be fully booked for the next few days.

How To Circulate Pool Water Without a Pump

The following are the two easier ways to circulate pool water without using a pump.

Using a siphoning hose

This method is suitable for an above the ground pool. A siphoning hose is a flexible tube made of soft plastic. The hose is open on both ends and can be fitted to a garden hose to extend its length.  A siphoning hose of desirable length is the only requirement for this method of pool water circulation. It is worth noting that a bigger hose drains water faster than a smaller hose of the same length. 

How To Circulate Pool Water Without A Pump

Once you have determined the right length of the hose, insert one end to the above the ground pool.  Connect the other end of the hose to a tap. Open the tap and let water flow into the tube up emptying into the pool.  Close the tap and quickly remove the garden hose while pointing it down to the ground. This will allow water to flow from the pool to the ground, completing the siphoning process. Rest as you wait for the siphoning hose to empty the pool.

The siphoning hose drains the pool water as an alternative to a pump.  Once the pool is empty, open the inlet valve to allow the flow of freshwater.  For an inflatable kiddie’s pool, you can repeat this process twice or thrice for proper circulation. However, this method of circulating water without a pump is time-consuming.

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Using a shop vacuum

This is the best alternative to pumping out water from the pool.  While a siphoning hose may take long in emptying a small pool, a shop vac takes a smaller amount of time.  A vacuum cleaner functions by creating a suction effect from the vacuum bag connected to the cleaner. An electric motor connected to the pool vacuum cleaner spins a fan to suck in air into the vacuum bag. This creates a negative pressure into the vacuum hose thus the atmospheric pressure becomes greater pushing water into the hose.

How To Circulate Pool Water Without A Pump

For this method, ensure the vacuum hose is long enough to provide a suitable distance between the pool and the shop vac.  If the vacuum hose is not long enough, you can extend it using a garden hose of a reasonable size. Fit the garden hose firmly to the vacuum hose and switch on the shop vac. The vacuum will suck in water through the garden hose emptying it into the debris bag.  Open the debris bag and let water flow out.

This method is suitable for draining both above ground pools and in-ground pools. For a small inflatable kiddie pool, the shop vac may take less than an hour in draining the pool. Once the pool starts draining, open the inlet valve to allow in freshwater. This will ensure proper water circulation in the pool.

Pool maintenance without a pump

Maintaining the pool once the pump has died requires keen attention to detail. Pool water circulation is the heart of pool water maintenance.  Before disinfecting the pool water with chlorine, ensure you have a chemical reading of the water. This can be done by using water testing kits which are the cheapest and easiest to use.  You can also consider breaking the bank for digital water testing kits. If you are unsure about the chemical readings of your pool, collect a sample of the water and take it to an expert for analysis.

There are two easier ways of increasing chlorine levels in the pool. The first method involves pouring liquid chlorine into the pool and manually stirring with a telescopic handle. Make sure you take safety precautions while carrying out this procedure. Wear protective gloves and goggles to avoid contact with the concentrated chlorine.  The second method involves using the chlorine floaters to disperse chlorine across the pool.  It is the safest method of increasing chlorine levels in the pool.

Chlorine floaters are relatively cheap in the market, consider buying one if you do not own it yet. After adding chlorine, carry out the circulation process as earlier explained.


Even though a swimming pool is a great recreational facility to own in your backyard, it requires consistent maintenance services.  Proper water circulation is the key to unlocking the secret to sparkling clean pool water. A pool pump fitted to a swimming pool is likely to malfunction in the course of its operation.

A pool owner should, therefore, be prepared with alternatives in the unlikely event of a pump failure.  The two methods of water circulation without a pump are to be used depending on the nature of the pool.

My name is Ron Walsh. I’m an industry expert, certified pool technician, and avid lover of all things aquatic. In my beautiful homeland of Florida, where I still reside today, pools are everywhere. Needless to say, I learned to love water at a young age. With my love of water, and pools in particular, it was only natural that I follow a career path in the swimming pool industry. If there’s someone to learn about above ground pools, pool cleaners and maintenance from, it would definitely be me. If you have any question just let me know.

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2 thoughts on “How To Circulate Pool Water Without a Pump”

  1. Hello
    I want to build a pool so I can teach children to be water safe. Our children do not have access to a swimming pool
    1om x 10m maybe 1m-1.5m depth
    I have no money as yet for a pump but I have the land and the water

    I am just going to mix cement, with plaster sand and add something to the mixture to make it more water proof
    Draining – I will use gravity by digging a drain under pool with the floor slanting to drain

    Please help me

    Thank you

  2. 8’Dear Ron, You may think i’m crazy but I am old enough to remember when above ground pools came in an 8′ round but still deep enough for an adult to do water aerobics – 54 ” high? . now in the last few years i have only seen this size in inside pool sales places to show the construction of a pool without taking up alot of room . They were “demo” pools. They had liners and were full of water. That is what I want but cant find. I want a “personal” pool ( rememer the Personal size Pizza? It could be even 6′ round. I found one online that is a 7′ x7′ cube called a Fitmax Therapy pool, but since it sounds “medical” they want $1,600 for this soft side cheap looking thing with a cartridge filter. Kind of a rip off. Got any ideas? Could I build my own pool like I have seen on youtube, but then get a company to make me a custom liner? I love the idea of only treating 1-2 thousand gallons of water. I could ALMOST use a pressure washer holding tank that holds 320 gallons. ($300.00)


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