If you own an in-ground swimming pool or above-ground pool, it’s important to have a quality pool filter to keep water clean. Pool filters collect excess debris which keeps harmful bacteria from infiltrating pool water. There are many different types of filters available, but they are all designed to clean and clarify your pool on a routine basis. Following is a simple breakdown of pool filter options so you can choose the right one for your needs.
Cartridge Pool Filters
Cartridge filters are taller and more narrow in design than other pool filters. They are 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. Microns is the unit of measurement used for pool cartidges. The smaller the number, the more material it can collect.
Once your pool pump pushes water through the filter and into the pleats, fibers trap dirt and debris and then circulates clean water through the pool.
- Cost: Cartridge filters are more expensive than sand filters, but they're easy to maintain. This is great for small to medium-size pools, though newer options are also available to accommodate larger pools.
- Features: These filters clarify water without compromising water flow rates. They also save water over time since backwashing is not required for operation.
- Microns: Cartridge filters strain contaminants as small as 10 microns.
- Maintenance: Most cartridge filters are equipped with an indicator gauge so you know when they’re dirty. The filters are easy to clean and only need to be replaced every three-to-five years depending on how often your pool is used.
Sand Pool Filters
Sand filters feature a tank-like design that sits 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: Sand filters 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 needs to be cleaned or replaced regularly.
- Microns: Sand filters strain contaminants as small as 30 microns.
- Maintenance: They require backwashing and draining before closing the pool for the season. This can be a time-intensive process, but it makes for an easier pool opening the following year.
D.E. Pool 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
Different types of pool filters require different types of maintenance.
Use a garden hose to clean cartridge filters every four to six weeks. If the filter is dirtier than usual, soak it in a solution of one part water to two parts filter cleaner to remove excess oil and mineral buildup. Cartridge filters must be replaced when they become fuzzy or excessively stained. They are generally inexpensive and easy to swap out. Use filter cleaner to remove excess oil and mineral buildup.
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, follow manufacturer instructions when choosing and replacing sand. Most parts within the filter can easily be replaced. If your unit is broken, repair the drain assembly or other interior components before purchasing a new filter.
The grid on D.E. filters is prone to calcium buildup and requires regular cleaning. However, the grids are extremely durable and can last up to ten years before replacement. 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.