3 Types of Pool Filters

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very clean pool filter setup

The job of a pool filter is to remove dirt and other particles from pool water. While the majority of large debris is often removed manually or becomes trapped in the pool’s skimmer, a filter removes extremely small particles that make the water cloudy or murky. Three types of filters can help make any pool a safe and clean swimming environment.

Cartridge Filter

A cartridge filter is composed of a tank housing three to four cylinders acting as a filtering element. These cylinders consist of a fine material that provides a smooth surface that traps dirt and small particles. These particles are held in the cartridge until the filter is cleaned or changed. Cartridge units can trap material as small as 10 microns in size, or about 1/9 the size of a grain of salt.

Cartridge filters require very little maintenance. Depending on the dirtiness of the filter, you can simply hose it off to clean it throughout the swimming season. Also, consider soaking the cartridge in detergent for a more thorough cleaning. Remember that a small amount of dirt is needed to keep the filter functioning properly, so refrain from cleaning the filter if it is barely dirty.

Diatomaceous Earth Filters

More commonly referred to as DE filters, these units are powerful enough to remove particles as small as 3 microns. The inside of the structure resembles a cartridge filter but is filled with diatomaceous earth instead of a polyester cartridge. This powder is composed of fossilized plankton skeletons which hold dirt together very well. The material is packed into plate grids inside the pump’s body.

The DE filter cleans the best out of all the filters, but requires more maintenance and is more expensive than regular cartridge models. Backwashing may not be the most efficient way to clean the filter out either as it may with cheaper models. Removing the used DE powder and disposing of it correctly is the best option for an intense cleaning routine. Check the proper way to dispose of this material as some areas may classify the plankton powder as hazardous waste.

Sand Filter

As the name implies, sand filters use sand to catch and trap dirt. Most filters of this type can hold hundreds of pounds of fine pool sand. Water enters the filter from the middle of the pump and is released in a shower through a pressurized pipe that sprays the water onto the sand where the dirt is caught by the sand’s sharp edges. Water is then released at the pump’s bottom and flushed back into the pool.

Sand filters remove particles down to 20 microns in size, which means they are not as effective as the other two models. Routine backwashing is needed to cleanse dirty sand and water from inside the filter. Unfortunately, the backwashed fluid is wasted, therefore water must be replenished to the pool. While it may not clean as professionally as the other two, a sand unit will no doubt keep the average pool crystal clean.

All of the filters serve the same purpose – to help keep any swimming environment safe. However, it is important to not rely on the filter alone. Proper chemical treatment is crucial in maintaining water’s clarity and safety. Untreated water may be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

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