Choosing the right type of filter can be intimidating for pool owners, but filtering water is essential…Unless you enjoy swimming through an obstacle course of germs and algae, that is.
Pool filters should run for around eight hours a day, but it’s recommended you run it continuously for 24 hours. Any filter system you choose will require maintenance, and proper care of your filter elements will ensure a long life and healthy pool. It would be wise to spend a bit more on a filter that is a bit larger than what you initially think you need – your money would not be going to waste. Considerations like brand and size are often more important than type!
The three most popular methods for filtering your pool are sand, diatomaceous earth (DE), and cartridge. When choosing a new filter system, consumers need to gauge what is most important:
- Size, size, size….. did we mention size?
- Initial Cost
- Maintenance & upkeep
- Ongoing cost for filter elements, such as sand or cartridge replacements
- Best filtration vs best price
This tried-and-true method of filtration has passed the test of time and remains the most popular among pool owners. True to its name, sand filters all have one common element: sand, which is actually high-rate silica sand that has sharp edges which prove helpful in separating debris particles. In lament’s terms, particle separation is filtration! As water flows from top to bottom and passes through the sand, first the larger bits of debris become trapped in the sand. Once the larger debris has been captured, it essentially helps the sand by blocking the spaces between sand particles and then trapping smaller bits of dirt. Sand filters are cleaned by a backwash process.
Say hi to the trend setter of pool filtration! Although cartridge filtration has been around a while, pool owners are taking note of this method and it’s growing in popularity. Much like with a sand filter, as water passes through the screen of the cartridge element, the larger debris that tags along for the ride is trapped first. As the screen pores fill with dirt, smaller particles can’t make it through the clogged element, thus resulting in debris-free water. To clean the element, you can remove it and wash the inside and outside, using a little pressure with your garden hose. The filters don’t last forever though and will need to be replaced.
Ah, what a fun word to pronounce… Let’s just call this a DE filter. Diatomaceous earth itself if a porous powder much like a microscopic sponge and in a sense can be considered the most natural way to filter your pool. Add this powder to your swimming pool water or directly to the plastic filter grid, then let it naturally circulate, removing contaminates in the process. The DE filters themselves can become coated with the diatomaceous earth (“filter cake”) which actually strains algae, dirt and dust from the water. To clean DE filters, you can backwash it like with a sand filter, but be sure to replenish the amount of powder for continual filtration.
HOW DO I CHOOSE?
It’s hard to say which type will initially cost less to purchase, simply because of the huge variety of sizing and brands. Most pool professionals will have their own opinion of what’s best, and whatever their reasoning it’s usually a matter of personal opinion based on experience.
When it comes to maintenance, the number one point to keep in mind is that a properly sanitized and circulated pool will put much less strain on your filter. In general, cartridge filters tend to be a bit more hassle to clean and maintain. Although a properly maintained filter can last up to five years, it takes a bit of diligence to remove the element and wash it whenever it gets dirty, whereas a simple backwash of your sand or DE filter will do. However, the one pitfall of sand and DE filters is the appearance of sand or diatomaceous earth powder in the pool. The presence of powder indicates a faulty filter part, whereas the presence of sand is fairly common.
Some of the most popular manufacturers of filters are Pentair, Hayward and Sta-Rite. They are all well-established, trustworthy companies and choosing one over the other is always a matter of preference. Products like filter aids can help promote longer filter cycles.
FEAR NOT, PROUD POOL OWNER
There are pool experts out there willing to help you through the process. Be sure to take your time when choosing a new filter system, and contact Swift Pool Supplies at any time if you have questions. Shop on!