Pool Filter Questions


Pool filters are a crucial part of the maintenance system for swimming pools. In order to keep the water clean and sanitized for swimmers, a pool owner must make sure that her filter system is working properly and take care to maintain it. For new pool owners, filters may be tricky to understand. It is important to have a basic knowledge of filtering systems, however, so you can choose the right type for your pool and practice follow maintenance procedures.

What Does a Pool Filter Do?

  • A pool's filter is the mechanical system responsible for removing visible debris from the water. The filter helps remove leaves, insects, dirt, hair, skin flakes and metal or calcium crystallization. This prevents the water from becoming cloudy or hazy and helps ensure that the water is safe for swimmers.

What Are Some Types of Pool Filters?

  • There are three main types of swimming pool filters: cartridge filters, diatomaceous earth (DE) filters and sand filters. Cartridge filters utilize cartridges to trap dirt and debris and clean the water. The cartridges must be cleaned so the debris is removed. DE filters have a powder-coated filter grid that catches even the smallest of particles. This is typically the most expensive type of filter but they usually remove the most debris from pool water. Sand filters contain sand in a pressurized canister that prevents debris from flowing through the filter system. They usually work well, and are an affordable option for most pools.

What Does It Mean to Backwash a Filter?

  • Backwashing a pool filter is a process by which the water flow through a filter is reversed so accumulated dirt and debris is removed from the filter's components. With most filters, a backwash valve must be turned to begin the process. Backwashing is necessary with both sand and DE filters.

How Often Should A Pool Filter Be Backwashed?

  • There are several factors that determine how often a pool filter should be backwashed, such as the flow rate of the plumbing, the size of the filter and how often the pool is used. Most pool owners can tell when their filter needs to be backwashed by consulting the pressure reading on the filter. Most filter manuals recommend the level at which the filter should be backwashed, so when the filter reaches the specified level, a backwashing cycle should be run.

Which Type of Filter Requires the Least Maintenance?

  • For a relatively low-maintenance filter option, the cartridge filter is usually the best choice. Pool owners must only rinse the filter housing with a hose and remove the cartridge to wash it off. If the cartridge has mineral deposits, it may be soaked in a special solution for removal. Sand filters also offer fairly easy maintenance. Backwashing a sand filter usually loosens any debris that has become embedded in the sand, so the filter system is able to effectively clean the water. DE filters typically require the most complex maintenance procedures.

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  • Photo Credit Swimming pool and pool house image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com
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