Buying Guide

Pool Filters Buying Guide

Cartridge Filters
A pool filter on a white background
  • Cartridge filters are taller and more narrow in design, made of a bonded polyester fiber mix. The interior features a plastic cylinder surrounded by pleated polyester filter media that is capped on each end. 
  • Once your pool pump pushes water through the filter and into the pleats, dirt and debris is trapped in the fibers while the clean water is recirculated through the pool.
  • COST: These are typically more expensive than sand filters, but they're relatively easy to maintain. This is great for small to medium-size pools, though newer options are also available to accommodate larger pools. 
  • FEATURES: They clarify the water without compromising water flow rates, while also saving you water in the long run since backwashing is not required for operation. 
  • MICRONS: Cartridge filters strain contaminants as small as 10 microns.
  • MAINTENANCE: Most cartridge filters come equipped with an indicator gauge so you know when they’re dirty. The filters are easy to clean and usually only need to be replaced every three to five years, depending on how often your pool is used each year.
Sand Filters
  • Sand filters feature a tank-like design, and they sit atop a stand with a plastic pipe in the center. The filter is filled with a special kind of sand that catches more fine dirt particles and debris once your pump pushes water through the mechanism.
  • COST: These are generally less expensive than cartridge filters. 
  • FEATURES: Sand filters operate by using water pressure to strain finer bits of debris. As a result, the sand inside will need to be cleaned or replaced regularly. 
  • MICRONS: Sand filters strain contaminants as small as 30 microns.
  • MAINTENANCE: They need to be backwashed and drained before closing your pool for the season. This can be a time-intensive process, but it makes for an easier pool opening the following year.
D.E. Filters
  • Short for Diatomaceous Earth, D.E. filters use a fine, highly porous powder compound to filter your pool water. 
  • COST: These are the most expsensive filter option since they catch the smallest particles and provide exceptionally clean water.
  • FEATURES: The filter itself is made of a grid-like part that works with pressure plates and a diaphragm gasket to strain the water.
  • MICRONS: D.E. powder is significantly finer than pool filter sand, which means your water will be exceptionally clear using this kind of filter. D.E. filters strain contaminants as small as 30 microns.
  • MAINTENANCE: The super-fine powder particles can easily get clogged, and startup is often quite cumbersome. 
Pool Filter Maintenance

Cartridge filters

  • Use a garden hose to clean the filter every four to six weeks.
  • If the filter is dirtier than usual, try soaking it in a 1:2 solution of water and filter cleaner to remove excess oil and mineral buildup.
  • Cartridge filters need to be replaced once they become fuzzy or excessively stained. They are generally inexpensive and easy to swap out.

Sand filters

  • If you notice your pool is becoming cloudy or otherwise changing colors, use a sand cleaner to disinfect the particles.
  • Whichever sand filter you choose, make sure to follow the manufacturer instructions when choosing and replacing the sand.
  • Most parts within the filter can easily be replaced. If your unit appears to be broken, try repairing the drain assembly or other interior components before purchasing a new filter.

D.E. filters

  • The grid on D.E. filters is prone to calcium buildup and will require regular cleaning. 
  • However, the grids are extremely durable and can last up to 10 years before a replacement is needed.
  • These filters are made of many internal parts, including: gauges, clips, rings and other fittings. While they tend to last longer, they can be more of a hassle to fix.