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Can A De Filter Still Work Without De Powder?


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#1 Gavin

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 09:25 AM

just wondering. If the pool doesn't get dirt much can a DE filter still work without DE powder? Could it work like a cartridge filter?

#2 pooltech9

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 11:37 AM

The pressure will increase very quickly and you will impact the grids, rendering them useless.

#3 AFiremanFirst

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 11:43 AM

spa savant is exactly right. Yes it will work, no not as good as a cartridge. A cartridge is usually, at least 450 sq ft of filtration (yes I know there are smaller and larger) DE on the other hand is usually 48 sq ft of filtration (again smaller and larger available. think of a DE filter as 3 dimensional, and a cartridge as 2 dimensional (absolutely no relevance as to how each of them appear, but hypothetically). DE is what makes a DE filter so precious. On the other side of the coin never ever put de in a cartridge! You're fortunate to have a DE filter, and DE is cheap! Use it! Spa Savant's statement that your psi will climb rapidly is exactly right, because it gets the fabric dirty rather than the DE functioning, high pressure destroys, grids, manifolds and diminishes flow rendering it's purpose useless.

#4 Gavin

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 04:36 PM

spa savant is exactly right. Yes it will work, no not as good as a cartridge. A cartridge is usually, at least 450 sq ft of filtration (yes I know there are smaller and larger) DE on the other hand is usually 48 sq ft of filtration (again smaller and larger available. think of a DE filter as 3 dimensional, and a cartridge as 2 dimensional (absolutely no relevance as to how each of them appear, but hypothetically). DE is what makes a DE filter so precious. On the other side of the coin never ever put de in a cartridge! You're fortunate to have a DE filter, and DE is cheap! Use it! Spa Savant's statement that your psi will climb rapidly is exactly right, because it gets the fabric dirty rather than the DE functioning, high pressure destroys, grids, manifolds and diminishes flow rendering it's purpose useless.


Thanks guys. This is a 5,400 gallon fiber glass pool. hardly ever gets dirty. had some problems finding a DE leak and basically my repairman gave up and said it was best to remove all de and run it without like a cartridge filter. I guess I will have to open it up and clean it on a regular basis...maybe every 6 months?

#5 AFiremanFirst

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 04:43 PM

not a chance! more like every month! with DE you would go every six months with a backwash every month. A de leak comes down to 3 things. A air relief filter missing, a cracked manifold or a grid with a hole in it. should be a simple inexpensive fix!

#6 Gavin

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Posted 05 May 2010 - 05:30 AM

not a chance! more like every month! with DE you would go every six months with a backwash every month. A de leak comes down to 3 things. A air relief filter missing, a cracked manifold or a grid with a hole in it. should be a simple inexpensive fix!


we replaced the cracked manifold and replaced two fingers. Haven't tried checking the air relief filter. where is that located? seems when I bump de might be going back to the pool. is this something to do with this air relief filter?

Thanks! B)

#7 trader4

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Posted 05 May 2010 - 06:22 AM


not a chance! more like every month! with DE you would go every six months with a backwash every month. A de leak comes down to 3 things. A air relief filter missing, a cracked manifold or a grid with a hole in it. should be a simple inexpensive fix!


we replaced the cracked manifold and replaced two fingers. Haven't tried checking the air relief filter. where is that located? seems when I bump de might be going back to the pool. is this something to do with this air relief filter?

Thanks! B)


You should probably find another repair guy. The advice to run the DE filter without DE was bad. And if you have to replace the manifold and 2 fingers, I don't know why he would not have recommended replacing the entire assembly. That makes sense because:

A- the whole assembly as a package is usually favorably priced compared to replacing it a couple pieces at a time

B- If 2 fingers and the manifold were bad, it's a good sign the rest isn't going to last that much longer

C - An hour or two of the guys labor when he has to come back is equal to the difference in cost between the 3 parts and the full assmebly

#8 txpoolguy

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 07:27 AM

Agree with trader4.

#9 Gavin

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 01:29 PM



not a chance! more like every month! with DE you would go every six months with a backwash every month. A de leak comes down to 3 things. A air relief filter missing, a cracked manifold or a grid with a hole in it. should be a simple inexpensive fix!


we replaced the cracked manifold and replaced two fingers. Haven't tried checking the air relief filter. where is that located? seems when I bump de might be going back to the pool. is this something to do with this air relief filter?

Thanks! B)


You should probably find another repair guy. The advice to run the DE filter without DE was bad. And if you have to replace the manifold and 2 fingers, I don't know why he would not have recommended replacing the entire assembly. That makes sense because:

A- the whole assembly as a package is usually favorably priced compared to replacing it a couple pieces at a time

B- If 2 fingers and the manifold were bad, it's a good sign the rest isn't going to last that much longer

C - An hour or two of the guys labor when he has to come back is equal to the difference in cost between the 3 parts and the full assmebly



I agree. Unfortunately the whole assembly over here costs almost as much as a new filter....around $1,500.

But I should have recommended just changing the filter for a cartridge filter or letting the owners know that we could replace the cracked manifold but might end up having to replace more parts and might be cheaper just to change the filter one time.

#10 AFiremanFirst

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 02:58 PM

"where is the air relief?". Well that's a good question. On a val-pak manifold (a much better after market manifold in most cases) it's built in and looks like pin holes in the top of the manifold. hayward uses a "hose" kind of thing with a "sock" over it and a zip tie. Pentair uses a metal screen sometimes on the end of a short pipe off the top of the manifold. If you see a spot you could push something into your manifold through, then theres a problem. pull a schematic of your filter, or post your brand and model, and I'll tell you what to look for.

#11 txpoolguy

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 03:34 PM

Fireman, he's got a different kind of DE filter, Perflex, most likely. It's not built the same as the DE filters you're referring to and doesn't backwash the same. It does have an air relief assy, called "vent valve" in the parts diagram.

#12 GCAT

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 06:05 PM

I think I have damaged my grids by running isufficiently low amounts of DE. My back wash just does not clean the grids well enough anymore and R pressure creeps up in just a few days. I have ordered a new set of Pentair grids (249.00) and will install them this week. The filter specs state the DE amount is 6LBS,I will measure out 6LBS on a scale and make sure to always put the right amount back in. Obviously, during normal backwash the actual amount of DE added should be slightly less than 6LBS. I know, I know, I can clean the grids with acid but its a pain.

#13 txpoolguy

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 08:41 AM

Don't clean the grids with acid. After disassembling the filter and grid assy, use a good detergent/degreaser and a stiff plastic bristle brush to clean the dirt and oils off the grids. Acid isn't nice to the fabric and should only be used as a last resort.
Grids aren't normally "ruined" unless they have holes or tears in the fabric, or have crushed internal supports. Usually your bag of DE will have a chart for measuring the proper amount of DE. It's heavily debated about how much to add after backwashing, but you want the proper amount for coating and for depth on the grids. Many people only use half, but this isn't a good practice. DE is cheap, so don't scrimp on something that protects a more expensive item. No manufacturer of DE filters recommends less than a full coating. Since the filter manufacturers don't make/sell DE, there's no reason for them to recommend more than actually needed. A little over or under won't make a difference, but try to get reasonably close.

#14 Pool Clown

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 09:13 AM

That may be too much D.E. for "traditional" filter grids. For years, the rule of thumb was to take the filter area, and put a decimal in the middle of it, and thats how much D.E. to use. Example 60 square foot would be 6.0 lbs. of D.E. Now we are in the 21 century, and they are making filters with different designs. Example, the Sta-Rite Modular D.E. (not the vertical grid) filters resemble a cartridge filter, only they are covered in the nylon, and they require significantly more D.E. to precoat. Example: a 60 Sq. Ft. requires 9 lbs. of D.E. And the Bump filters are probably different as well. So the best advice would probably be to find out your particular requirement from your owners manual. Too much D.E. can be harmful as well as too little.

So read that manual!!!

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#15 Gavin

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 11:49 AM

That may be too much D.E. for "traditional" filter grids. For years, the rule of thumb was to take the filter area, and put a decimal in the middle of it, and thats how much D.E. to use. Example 60 square foot would be 6.0 lbs. of D.E. Now we are in the 21 century, and they are making filters with different designs. Example, the Sta-Rite Modular D.E. (not the vertical grid) filters resemble a cartridge filter, only they are covered in the nylon, and they require significantly more D.E. to precoat. Example: a 60 Sq. Ft. requires 9 lbs. of D.E. And the Bump filters are probably different as well. So the best advice would probably be to find out your particular requirement from your owners manual. Too much D.E. can be harmful as well as too little.

So read that manual!!!



some of them tell you how much de to add on the filter...at the haywards seem to.

#16 Gavin

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 11:50 AM

Fireman, he's got a different kind of DE filter, Perflex, most likely. It's not built the same as the DE filters you're referring to and doesn't backwash the same. It does have an air relief assy, called "vent valve" in the parts diagram.


Its a Hayward ec64 with bump handle and a bleed...I guess thats the vent?

#17 txpoolguy

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 06:58 PM

Refer to your owner's manual for proper amount of DE. If you don't have one, you can usually download a copy from the manufacturer's website. The depth of the DE coating on the grid is beneficial as well, so using less forces more frequent disassemble/cleaning than if the full amount is used, too much overloads the grid and can cause damage.

#18 Pool Clown

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 09:08 PM

These DE numbers come straight from the manufacturer's recommendations.

Tx, I've looked at the Sta-Rite, The Hayward, and the Purex (now Pentair) sites, and can't find in the online manuals of their filters requiring the amount of D.E. you suggest. Which Manufacturer are you referring to, with those amounts?

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#19 txpoolguy

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 07:30 AM

I stand corrected. I think I backwardized the terms "volume" and "weight", due to an aging brain. I'll go weigh a bunch of DE today to make sure I'm not misinforming anyone. Agred, too much DE is as harmful as too little.

#20 poolguyinsc

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 04:49 AM

No.

#21 Gavin

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 04:22 PM

so far so good. the pool is better than its ever been. keeping fingers crossed. might have to clean it more often but its working great so far with no DE.

#22 Pool Clown

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 04:27 PM

so far so good. the pool is better than its ever been. keeping fingers crossed. might have to clean it more often but its working great so far with no DE.

This will be a good experiment.

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#23 txpoolguy

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 05:44 PM

Interesting... with no DE, filtration quality should be far worse than with sand. Kind of like using a screen door to filter water. Might take a few days/weeks for enough particulate to accumulate, but let us know.

#24 Gavin

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 04:15 AM

Interesting... with no DE, filtration quality should be far worse than with sand. Kind of like using a screen door to filter water. Might take a few days/weeks for enough particulate to accumulate, but let us know.


This is a 5,400 gallon fiberglass pool. There are no trees around and doesn't get dirty. Its a clean pool and easy to maintian. I would not run without DE on a gunite pool or if this pool was a dirty pool. Its been like 2 weeks so far and the pool is looking better than it ever did. I will take pics next time I go by. The owner is very very happy now.

#25 Pool Clown

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 05:54 AM

Just a little info on that statement. The type of particulate that is currently invading your filter right now is the type you can't even see. Visible debris, (if any) of course is going to be picked up. Plaster vs. fiberglass makes little difference here. As the particulate in question is coming from the environment.

You asked the question "Can a D.E. filter run without D.E.?" No one said yes, and you started to run it w/o D.E. anyway. I suppose you are doing this to keep from having to do some sort of maint, but in the long run, may cause you to have to do more.

Good luck with this, i hope it wont be too expensive...

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#26 Gavin

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 02:09 PM

update..the pool is cleaner than it has ever been. In fact when I arrive at the pool the pool is so clean I could walk away and not clean it...no one would know. But I do still brush, skim and vac and check the chems. I keep the FC above the min CYA/FC and there is no problems at with this pool. This pool is runing better than any other pool I have. Of course the day will come when I will have to clean the filter. but its been several months now and its still good.

#27 waterbear

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 06:10 PM

the day will come when you will have to replace the grids. Also, DE grids to not filter down to micron size so you are not really filtering the water at all. But like it was said before, you decided to do what you wanted to do even though advised against it.

I hope this is your own pool and not a customer's but I do not think this is the case since I have answered posts of yours in the past and have gotten the impression you are in the industry. If you are it is exactly stuff like this that gives pool care techs a bad rep and hurts the industry as a whole since you are NOT properly caring for this customer's pool but just being lazy and trying to make your job easier.

Sorry if this seems harsh to you and if it is your own pool then ignore what I said.
But if you are servicing someone else's pool and getting paid for it then you really need to do your job properly.
I've tested more water than I ever care to think about!
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#28 Gavin

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 03:40 AM

the day will come when you will have to replace the grids. Also, DE grids to not filter down to micron size so you are not really filtering the water at all. But like it was said before, you decided to do what you wanted to do even though advised against it.

I hope this is your own pool and not a customer's but I do not think this is the case since I have answered posts of yours in the past and have gotten the impression you are in the industry. If you are it is exactly stuff like this that gives pool care techs a bad rep and hurts the industry as a whole since you are NOT properly caring for this customer's pool but just being lazy and trying to make your job easier.

Sorry if this seems harsh to you and if it is your own pool then ignore what I said.
But if you are servicing someone else's pool and getting paid for it then you really need to do your job properly.


Thank you for the reply. no problem. not harsh just realilty. I'm sure I will have to replace the whole filter one day. Its an old filter. I had a repairman do this job. I think what I have learnt from this is that if you have a DE filter with movable parts inside it is best to replace it than try to fix it. Even if you fix it next week something else inside could break or crack and will end up costing you more in the long run. at least with a new filter, if properly cared for, will last many years.

NOTE: I do NOT recommend anyone do what I did. I recommend they replace the filter with a new one.

#29 Pool Clown

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 06:19 AM

You replaced the manifold and two fingers. Curious, who paid for that? The customer? Does the customer also know that you put him on a collision course for another bill when his "old filter" finally succumbs to your experiment? Water bear is right, it's practices like this that give people in our industry, or the pool care industry rather, a black eye.

Your a professional, you know this is not the correct way to operate a filter, and you listened to a "repair guy" instead. I hope that he does not work for you. If he does, you should let him go (if it's not too much trouble). If the filter is old, as you say, and not clearing the pool anymore, it should have been replaced, one bill, done. The only person that matters here has to pay the bill. Doesn't that bug you at all?

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#30 Gavin

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 10:32 AM

You replaced the manifold and two fingers. Curious, who paid for that? The customer? Does the customer also know that you put him on a collision course for another bill when his "old filter" finally succumbs to your experiment? Water bear is right, it's practices like this that give people in our industry, or the pool care industry rather, a black eye.

Your a professional, you know this is not the correct way to operate a filter, and you listened to a "repair guy" instead. I hope that he does not work for you. If he does, you should let him go (if it's not too much trouble). If the filter is old, as you say, and not clearing the pool anymore, it should have been replaced, one bill, done. The only person that matters here has to pay the bill. Doesn't that bug you at all?


It did at the time but I learn and I move on. I do not dwell on negatives but keep moving forward and up. I am in business to make money not lose money. Once my clients are happy, the pool is in great condition and I get compensated for my time that is all that matters. eventually this filter will have needed replacing anyway. we will replace it with a small Hayward cartridge filter and the pump is needing replacing so will replace that the same time.

#31 waterbear

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 02:25 PM


You replaced the manifold and two fingers. Curious, who paid for that? The customer? Does the customer also know that you put him on a collision course for another bill when his "old filter" finally succumbs to your experiment? Water bear is right, it's practices like this that give people in our industry, or the pool care industry rather, a black eye.

Your a professional, you know this is not the correct way to operate a filter, and you listened to a "repair guy" instead. I hope that he does not work for you. If he does, you should let him go (if it's not too much trouble). If the filter is old, as you say, and not clearing the pool anymore, it should have been replaced, one bill, done. The only person that matters here has to pay the bill. Doesn't that bug you at all?


It did at the time but I learn and I move on. I do not dwell on negatives but keep moving forward and up. I am in business to make money not lose money. Once my clients are happy, the pool is in great condition and I get compensated for my time that is all that matters. eventually this filter will have needed replacing anyway. we will replace it with a small Hayward cartridge filter and the pump is needing replacing so will replace that the same time.


Right here is a very big reason I choose to no longer work in the industry. I could not in good conscience when things like this occur to unsuspecting customers way too often.
I've tested more water than I ever care to think about!
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#32 quantumchromodynamics

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 02:25 PM

Gavin, you're being dishonest and unprofessional. You're not doing the right thing for your client and you know it. Do the right thing. If you can't make money doing things right, then get out of the business.

Maybe no one will be hurt or killed this time, but it's only a matter of time if you keep making decisions like this. Perhaps when you decide that a GFCI isn't necessary on an underwater light or some other similar decision.
You can't manage what you don't measure. Get a good test kit. I recommend the Taylor K-2006 for chlorine or the Taylor K-2106 for bromine.

#33 Gavin

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 03:46 PM

Gavin, you're being dishonest and unprofessional. You're not doing the right thing for your client and you know it. Do the right thing. If you can't make money doing things right, then get out of the business.

Maybe no one will be hurt or killed this time, but it's only a matter of time if you keep making decisions like this. Perhaps when you decide that a GFCI isn't necessary on an underwater light or some other similar decision.


Thanks for your reply and your concern quantumchromodynamics. I guess you are also in the pool biz as well and know the challenges. I know about under water lighting btw. I studied electrical engineering and was once an aeronautical engineer. My business is growing rapidly and we are the premier pool company in the country. I see no way but up. definitely not quitting. I will be the next millionaire poolman by the end of the year. Take care and have a great life!

#34 waterbear

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 07:20 PM


Gavin, you're being dishonest and unprofessional. You're not doing the right thing for your client and you know it. Do the right thing. If you can't make money doing things right, then get out of the business.

Maybe no one will be hurt or killed this time, but it's only a matter of time if you keep making decisions like this. Perhaps when you decide that a GFCI isn't necessary on an underwater light or some other similar decision.


Thanks for your reply and your concern quantumchromodynamics. I guess you are also in the pool biz as well and know the challenges. I know about under water lighting btw. I studied electrical engineering and was once an aeronautical engineer. My business is growing rapidly and we are the premier pool company in the country. I see no way but up. definitely not quitting. I will be the next millionaire poolman by the end of the year. Take care and have a great life!


Funny, I never heard of you as the 'premier pool company in the country'. I guess you are no longer an aeronautical engineer because you cut corners there too and got booted out. It is only a matter of time...

I have answered several of your posts in the past and the amount of knowledge that you do not have would make me guess you are a newbie in the biz that really does not have a clue except for the one you bought.

This is a prime example:
http://www.poolspafo...=1
(last sentence in the bottom of your first post)

and a pH of 7.0 IS neutral but I guess you never had a college or even a high school chem class or you would have known that.
I've tested more water than I ever care to think about!
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#35 quantumchromodynamics

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 07:25 PM

NOTE: I do NOT recommend anyone do what I did. I recommend they replace the filter with a new one.


My business is growing rapidly and we are the premier pool company in the country.


Premier? Based on what?
You can't manage what you don't measure. Get a good test kit. I recommend the Taylor K-2006 for chlorine or the Taylor K-2106 for bromine.

#36 waterbear

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 07:33 PM

Gavin, In march of 2010 you started this thread:
http://www.poolspafo...=1
In it you are indicating that you are just learning about pools. How did you become the premier pool company in 3 months?
You said some things in the thread that indicated that you learned much of the little that you know from the Troublefreepool website (that I was a moderator on since it started for several years until the management changed) and was also a main contributor of material on that site and one of the authors of their 'pool school' area.
So please explain how you could be such a newbie with limited knowledge in March of this year and in June you own the premier pool company in the country?
I will put on my hip boots before you start so I can wade through it without getting soiled.

Don't make me embarrass you with more examples but quit while you are ahead.

Oh yeah, had to add this gem from December of 2009:


Just wondering and I think I'm right but I shouldn't be using trichlor tablets while the FC is high? I need FC to come down.


Just in case you didn't really understand back in December (just 7 months ago) I will explain it for your now. Trichlor will add chlorine to the pool so if you want the chlorine to come down it would be a good idea NOT to use any trichlor or any other form of chlorine for that matter.


Premier pool company in the country? I think not.

Oh yeah, then there was this gem from April (2 months ago only!)
http://www.poolspafo...=1

If you really were in the business you would know that the major wholesale suppliers in Florida are TeamHorner, SCP/Superior (both Poolcorp), and Gorman and that, as a service tech, you could buy from them wholesale.

Oh, snap! Dude, you just got served!
I've tested more water than I ever care to think about!
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#37 Pool Clown

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 10:02 PM

After reading those links, i think he thinks he is the premiere pool company in the country, just not this country.

Factory Warranty/Service for:
Jandy, Pentair, Sta-Rite, Raypak, Polaris,
and Paramount pool cleaning systems.


#38 icreatepools4u

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 06:33 AM

DE filters are great. They filter down to something like 3 microns. You need not buy cartridges for them. If you keep your pool clean they're pretty low maintenance, requiring backflushing and reloading of the DE or Fiberclear powder every month or so. But at least once a year, and probably more often unless you keep your pool absolutely immaculate, you need your entire filter assembly, including the grids, cleaned. I've had to have mine cleaned twice in about 6 months.

#39 waterbear

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 10:56 AM

DE filters are great. They filter down to something like 3 microns.
More like 6 microns.

You need not buy cartridges for them.
True but you do need to buy DE powder or a substitute on a regular basis and the grids do need replacement evenually (sometimes quite expensive to do).
If you keep your pool clean they're pretty low maintenance, requiring backflushing and reloading of the DE or Fiberclear powder every month or so.
Assuming it is a backwash and not a bump filter.
In a bump filter you 'bump' the dirty DE off the fingers so the dirt and DE can mix together and then the fingers get recoated with dirty DE. Never quite understood the logic in that.Posted Image

But at least once a year, and probably more often unless you keep your pool absolutely immaculate, you need your entire filter assembly, including the grids, cleaned. I've had to have mine cleaned twice in about 6 months.

And there you have it, breaking down DE filters is a JOB and needs to be done about twice a year. FWIW, I clean my cartridge filter twice a year and it's a lot faster than I have ever been able to service a DE filter. Carts can filter to about 20 micron, there is no used DE to dispose of (and no separation tank if required by code) and a well cared for cart can last about 5 years before it needs replacing.
I've tested more water than I ever care to think about!
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