The pump and filter system associated with an above ground swimming pool is the first line of defense in maintaining clear and clean water. Without it, the pool would quickly turn unusable. In order to operate a pump and filter system properly there are some basics that you as an owner need to know about installation and use. The pump is the heart of the system because once the skimmer gravity feeds the water to it, the pump pushes that water through the sand filter and eventually back into the pool. Here is what you should know.
Place the system near the skimmer so that all of your hose connections will reach. Consider elevating the system by placing it on a grouping of level patio blocks to prevent damage from flooding when it rains. Never install the system under your deck or in an inaccessible place, which will increase the degree of difficulty for simple maintenance. Good planning will have you install union connections or gate valves at both the suction and outlet ports of the pump. This will allow you to stop the water flow for maintenance or to disconnect when moving the system indoors for the winter. Always use Teflon tape on plastic threaded connections and hand tighten.
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If you have up to a 24-foot round pool, then you should have a 1-hp pump. All larger pools require at least 1½-hp pumps. On top of your sand filter is a multi-port valve that can be intimidating if you are not sure what function all of the settings perform. Start with the filter setting, which will be used the most. The pump pushes water into the body of the sand, which traps foreign particles before returning the clean water to the pool. Every time you change a setting on the multi-port valve, turn the power off first, change the setting and then turn the power back on again. This will save the spider gasket inside the multi-port valve, just below the handle. Its function is to keep the inner compartments separated so that the sand remains in the filter tank and not in your pool.
Backwash is the setting to use when the pressure gauge rises between 5 and 8 pounds per square inch (ppi), which is higher then where it normally is. The pressure has built up because it is harder for the water to get through the grains of sand due to all of the trapped particles that are in the filter. Backwashing reverses the flow of water in the filter canister, so that the water is now pushing out all of the trapped particles in the sand and making it clean again. There is a sight-glass on the valve indicating the color of the water flowing through it. Backwash the filter until the water in the glass runs clear and then shut off the pump. Backwashing expels a lot of water from the pool during this process so pay close attention and shut it off as soon as it is clear.
Two settings hardly used are Re-circulate and Winter/Closed. Re-circulate is like a closed loop between your pool and the multi-port valve and back again. The water never goes into the sand. Use this setting to mix a chemical in the pool that does not require immediate filtering. Winter/Closed stops all water flow to the multi-port valve.
Rinse is the setting to use immediately after backwashing. It resettles the sand into the compartment where it belongs and clears the way to filter again. Without using the rinse setting, loose sand will travel into the pool when filtering begins.
Waste is the setting to use when ridding the pool of major debris. If there is a large grouping of leaves in one place on the bottom of the pool, suck them up and out of the pool without them going into the sand for filtering. This will avoid clogging your skimmer and pump baskets with the leaves. Like backwashing, water is pouring out of the waste port at a high rate of speed. When you have removed the leaves, stop vacuuming immediately.
These settings on the multi-port valve are able to handle every contingency a pool owner may encounter. Common sense will dictate which one should be used and when, now that you are aware of all of their functions.