Can You Run A Pool Pump Without A Filter?

4 dirty cartridge filters on the grass.

In order to keep a swimming pool crystal clear and sanitized for swimmers, – it requires chemicals, a pool pump and a filtration system to remove contaminates and unwanted particles from the pool water.

There could, however, be situations that may at times require you to turn on your pool pump when a filter is not available and make you wonder if you should be running your pool pump while there is no filter installed.

If you are waiting for a cartridge filter replacement and need to run your pool without a filter to circulate your water and chemicals, you can safely do so. Make sure the filtration system is locked tight, secure and add a new filter as soon as possible to keep your pool from becoming dirty.

In any case, operating a pool in this way should only be temporary. Whether you are using a sand or cartridge filter, there may a few reasons in which you decide to not filter your pools water.

Cartridge Filter

A cartridge filter is one of the best ways to filter small particles out of your pools water. With this type of setup it does not require a backwash like a sand filter, but instead routine cleaning of the filter and occasional replacements.

It is recommended to always have the filter in place when the pump is on, but if the need arises, you can temporarily remove the filter while still having the pump circulating water.

  • If the filter becomes damaged or needs to be replaced from excessive usage, it can cause the flow of your water to become restricted and not flow properly. You can remove the filter until you get a replacement while still circulating your pools water. Be sure you have the filter housing securely closed and any loose objects inside of it removed before operating the pump.
  • The housing that the filter sits in can become damaged. In this case you may need to bypass the filter altogether while awaiting for a repair. You can route your hoses in way that bypasses the filter unit so that you water can still flow keeping your water chemicals circulating.

Sand Filter

Sometimes you may want to have your newly added chemicals to circulate freely without any filtration. If you have a sand filter, this can be done on most units by switching it to circulation mode.

Rarely will you use this setting, but it is the same as running your pump without a filter. Everything that is being pushed through the filtration system will bypass it and return it back into the pool unfiltered.

Circulation Mode

A few reasons in which you may actually want to run your pool without using your filtration setting on your sand filter.

  • If your sand filter’s pressure is maxed out and it needs to have a backwash performed, setting it to this setting until you can complete a backwash is one reason for this setting. This will allow the pools water to continue to flow until you can complete this task.
  • Adding new chemicals. You may want to have newly added products go round your pool without them being strained. This is especially true if you are adding them near or directly into your skimmer. This will allow it to immediately be sent thru your jet returns to mix in the water at a more rapid rate.
  • The multiport valve seal may have sprung a leak. While the leak may be continuous in multiple settings, it is possible that when you move the dial from filter to circulation mode it will reduce the leak by sending the water directly back into the pool, instead of through the center of the filter where it catches debris. You can use this setting until you get a new sear or valve replacement to reduce water loss.

Like I said, you may go an entire season without using this setting, but at times it may be needed. Just don’t forget to place your port back to filter as soon as you can.

It is also important to not change these valve settings while your pool pump is turned on. Always turn the pump off before switching any setting on the valve.

Why Filters Are Important

Water flow is crucial to keep your pH, alkalinity and chlorine levels intact, but as important is the filtration process. Without a filter you will only be circulating dead algae, debris and other killed bacteria inside your pools water.

The filter cleans the water by removing the unwanted particles, grass, leaves and other debris that is floating in the water. Where can I buy Augmentin

Without a filter it will start to become cloudy and dirty. For the best performance of any filtering system, it is key to have a scheduled maintenance schedule. Depending on the amount of use your pool has, that can be weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly.

The most crucial thing is keeping it cleaned regularly to avoid issues during the season and unwanted repair costs.


A pool should not be operated without a filter for a long period of time, however in rare cases where you need to do so for a short period of time, you can do so safely.

It is recommended that for cartridge filter system that you have extra filters on hand to avoid lengthy waits for replacements and any repairs that do need to be done, be done in a timely manner.

Circulation of your water is important even when a filter is not being used to help maintain chlorine levels, but without filtration the water can be cleaned thouroughly.

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