Keeping your pool filter clean and running properly means it can do its job, and your pool can stay clear and sparkling. Cleaning your pool filter isn’t difficult at all and should be a part of your regular pool maintenance.
The way to tell if your filter needs to be cleaned is to check the pressure gauge on the top of the filter. You should know what the normal psi rating for your filter is, and when the psi is 8-10 greater than it normally runs at, it’s time to clean it.
There are three basic kinds of filters, so let’s take a look at the proper way to clean each:
Sand Filter: This is a filter made up of a large container full of sand, which when water passes through, traps dirt and particles inside. There are two types of sand filters that are used for pools. The first and most common type is called a high-rate sand filter. This is the kind that uses regular sand to filter the water. The second type is called a rapid-rate sand filter, which uses various-sized rock and gravel to support a layer of sand.
How to Clean: Sand filters are said to be the easiest to maintain, lasting about 5 years before needing cleaning. To clean a sand filter requires a procedure called “backwashing”, whereby the water flows backwards through the filter and flushes out the dirt. First, turn off the pump. Then find the valve on the filter and rotate it to the BACKWASH position. Then, open the air bleeder on the top of the filter, and turn on the pump. Allow the pump to run for 2 – 3 minutes, or until the water turns clear. While the pump is running, keep an eye on the pressure gauge and be ready to shut it off in case of a spike in pressure. Once the backwashing is finished, shut off the pump and move the valve back to the FILTER position.
The sand itself only needs to be replaced every 7 years or so. If you find yourself needing to backwash frequently (every couple of weeks, as indicated by the pressure gauge), there’s a good chance your sand needs to be replaced.
Cartridge Filter: These filters use cartridges made of a paper or fabric-type material to filter the water. It provides a large surface area so particles are easily caught and held by the filter. Some filters contain more than one cartridge, all depending on the type.
How to Clean: Cartridge filters can’t be backwashed, so in order to clean them the cartridge must be removed from the filter and washed. Start by turning off the pump and opening the air bleeder. Then, open the filter and remove the cartridge. Spray the cartridge with water, washing away as much of the dirt and debris as you can. This may be all that’s needed, and you can now return the cartridge to the filter. If the cartridge is still dirty, you should soak it overnight in a cartridge cleaner, which can be purchased from any pool supply store. Allow the cartridge to soak in the cleaner for at least 8 hours, then take it out and rinse it for 5 minutes before putting it back in the filter.
Cartridge filters should be cleaned every 3 months, but during the summer they may need to be cleaned more often.
DE Filter: DE, or diatomaceous earth, is a soft rock made up of old sea fossils, that easily crumbles up into a powder. DE filters not only remove the smallest particles of any filter, but also give the water a sort of “polish” as it goes through the filter. The water is forced through the diatomaceous earth, past a grid and then back into the pool.
How to Clean: Like sand filters, DE filters can also be cleaned with backwashing, and the procedure is similar. Start by turning off the pump and opening the air bleeder valve. Then switch the valve to the BACKWASH position. Turn on the pump and run for about 5 minutes or until the water becomes clear. Then turn off the pump and set the valve to the RINSE position. Rinse for about 15 seconds and turn off the pump. You’ll want to repeat these steps a total of 3 times, each time backwashing and rinsing again. This will ensure the grid is cleaned thoroughly. Make sure you turn the pump off after each step. After you’ve finished, switch the valve back to FILTER and turn the pump on.
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