A Complete Guide On Swimming Pool Filters

Who doesn’t love a dip in a swimming pool? If it’s clean, of course. A dirty swimming pool is a nuisance at best and a health hazard at worst. That’s why swimming pool filters are so important. However, filters need to be properly cleaned and maintained in order for them to continue working effectively. Read on to see how this pool filter guide can help you keep your pool filter in top condition.

What Is A Pool Filter And Why You Need One

Pool filters help keep your pool’s water clean and clear. It works by trapping any contaminants or debris in your water. These include dead bugs, hair, dirt, bacteria, and sunscreen residue. This helps make the water safe to swim in, which is important because when you swim in the pool, your body absorbs the water through your skin. The last thing you want is to be absorbing contaminated water.

Pool filters work in conjunction with pool pumps and require a certain pressure to function. The pump helps regulate the pressure and pushes water through a skimmer, then to the filter. The filter then traps any leftover dirt or impurities. After it’s been cleaned, the water continues on back into the pool.

A pool filter does not need to run 24/7 to be effective. The recommended run time is 8 hours a day, which keeps your pool clean without overworking the filter.

Find out Your Filter

Types of Filters

Not all filters are built the same. Knowing the different types of filters and how they work is important because it will help you know how to clean them, thus keeping your filter operating properly. The three types of pool filters are:


Cartridge filters are a plastic cylinder surrounded by a pleated polyester filter that is capped on each end. This is located inside of a tank. Water flows into the tank and disperses through the pleats, where impurities get caught. They are energy efficient and generally inexpensive.


Sand filters are great for larger pools and won’t clog as easily as other filters. Water is pushed into a large filtration tank containing sand that then captures any particles. But it’s not made up of just any sand. Typically these filters contain silica sand. Each grain of silica sand is barb-like, helping any impurities or contaminants getting caught on the sand.

Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.)

DE filters are the filters that trap the smallest of particles, making them more expensive than sand or cartridge filters. A DE filter tank contains grids covered in a powder made from crushed fossilized remains of diatoms (tiny aquatic organisms) and some silica.

How To Clean Swimming Pool Filters

Cleaning your pool filter is important to keep it functioning effectively. A dirty filter is a filter that doesn’t work. Each filter needs to be cleaned differently.

Cleaning Cartridge Filters

The easiest filter to clean, a cartridge filter simply needs to be removed from the pool, hosed down, and put back. Here are the steps to properly clean it:

  • Turn off the pump and filter system
  • Remove any air from the system by turning the air relief valve slowly.
  • Remove the clamps or latches holding the filter together. Check the owner’s manual if unsure.
  • Remove the top of the filter.
  • Carefully remove the filter cartridge and inspect it for any wear or damage.
  • Using a garden hose, spray it down. Make sure to clean between the pleats. You can also soak it in a bucket of pool cartridge cleaner overnight if it is extremely dirty.
  • Now that the filter and cartridge are out, check the O-ring. Apply lubricant if it’s in good shape and replace it if it’s worn out.
  • After the cartridge has been rinsed thoroughly, return it to the filter and secure it in place.
  • Replace the filer top and latch it closed
  • Turn the system back on and open the air relief valve to release any excess air. Keep it open until you see a steady stream of water spraying out from it.
  • Put the filter back and make sure the PSI is within the normal range.

Cleaning Sand Filters

Cleaning a sand filter is a little tougher, but follows a majority of the same steps. To clean it, you’ll need to backwash it. The steps are:

  • Attach a backwash hose to the backwash/waste port.
  • Turn the filter system to “off.”
  • Turn the multiport valve to “backwash.”
  • Turn the filter back on.
  • For a minute or until the water runs clear, keep the backwash hose on.
  • Afterwards, turn the system off and set the valve to “rinse.”
  • Turn the filter back on and let it rinse for about 30 seconds
  • Turn the system off, remove the house, and set the valve to “filter.”

Cleaning DE Filters

With DE filters, you can either chemically clean and rinse the filter like a cartridge filter, or you can backwash it. If you clean it like a cartridge filter you will need to rinse off the manifold and grids to rid it of grime and buildup. This includes rinsing off the DE powder to replace it with new powder.

When To Clean Your Filter

This pool filter guide would not be complete without telling you when to clean the filter. Clean your pool filter when the pressure gauge increases by about 8 PSI or more and is not at the normal operating pressure. If the pressure never changes, clean the filter every six months to maintain it. Cloudy pool water is also an indicator that your filter might need to be cleaned.

When It Comes To Pools, We’re The Pros

Our pool filter guide can help you find out what filter you have and how to clean it, but Emerald Pool and Spas offers much more than filter information. If you need help with cleaning your pool filter or anything else pool-related, you can trust the professionals at Emerald Pools and Spas. Keep your pool pristine and the water clean with our pool cleaning service, from brushing and tile cleaning to filtration repairs. Contact us today to experience our complete, premium pool care.

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