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WITHOUT A POOL FILTER your pool will quickly turn into a swamp, no matter how much sanitizer you add. While chlorine and other sanitizers kill bacteria and algae, these dead organisms and other debris need to be filtered out of the pool in order to keep the water clean. Your pool filter is fed by your pool pump, and all pool filters work in more or less the same method – pool water is forced through a filter mechanism at high pressure, and the resulting water that comes out is greatly reduced of debris and is then pumped back into the pool. All filter types also suffer degradation in performance eventually and need to be cleaned or recharged. There are three main types of pool filters:


Like the air cleaner or oil filter in your car, a cartridge filter is a removable element that catches debris. Unlike the air cleaner or oil filter in your car, however, these cartridge elements are reusable. Many filter canisters – the big barrel sized thing you see beside the pool pump – can accommodate up to four of these cigar shaped filters. Advantages with this type of filter are that they can be reused, have a massive surface area to catch debris, need to be cleaned only once or twice per season, and do a fairly good job of catching even the smallest particles. Disadvantages with these types of pool filters are their initial expense, with a set of four costing several hundred dollars – but they will last for up to five years. The only maintenance that’s required is that once or twice a year you pop the lid off the canister housing, remove each cartridge, and individually hose them down to remove debris. You’ll also want to clean out the canister housing – and most have a drain at the bottom to accomplish this.


Sand is an excellent filtration material and a low cost option as well. The way this system works is that water is forced through a bed of sand inside a canister from the top, and then flows through the sand all the way to the bottom, where it re-circulates into the pool. It’s a simple and easy system, although as the sand becomes more clogged with debris, the flow of the pool drops – in some cases dramatically if the sand isn’t properly maintained. These types of filters need to be backwashed, which is another way of saying that you run the water through this type of pool filter in reverse, and then discard the waste water. Backwashing will recharge the sand for a little bit of time, extending the life of the sand and temporarily restoring the flow. At some point, however, the sand needs to be replaced, and since it is simply sand, the cost to do so is relatively inexpensive. Advantages of this system are that its filtering material is inexpensive, and the overall system is bulletproof. Disadvantages are that sand is the least effective method of filtering pool water, and because of the size of the sand particles, it lets certain debris pass through. It also needs to be backwashed once a month or so.


Working on the same principle as sand, except far more effective, Diatomaceous Earth, or DE, is a very effective filtration method. DE is simply a naturally mined substance that is similar to a fine powder that is used to coat a series of grids within the filter housing, with each particle of DE acting as a filter material. DE filters can remove particles as small as 5 microns from the water, meaning that the net result of a DE filter is super clean polished water. DE is similar to sand in that it needs to be backwashed every so often, and suffers degradation in performance if the filter is too clogged. Advantages of DE are that it provides some of the cleanest water available, and is inexpensive. Disadvantages to DE are that the same backwashing system and maintenance schedule as sand needs to be adhered to and thus is more work than a cartridge type filter.

You can’t really go wrong with any of these types of pool filters – the one you choose will be based according to your needs, and all of them are proven, tested, and reliable, giving you perfect water for years to come.

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