How long does a cartridge pool filter last?

Cartridge Filters Last for one to two years (even up to three if you follow our maintenance guide down below) depending on a number of variables. Today, we’re going to take a look at those variables and see how we can maximize the life of your cartridge pool filter and make it the best use out of it. We’re going to first look at the telltale signs that your cartridge filter needs replacing and then we’re going to go over some cartridge filter maintenance tips and tricks that can help extend the life of your cartridge filter.

Signs that you need to replace your pool cartridge filters

There's no set "time" to replace your cartridge pool filter. Even if your cartridge is three years old and but still hasn't shown any of the signs below then it is still very usable! Good job! It means that you're doing something right with your cartridge pool filter maintenance. It's all about knowing WHEN to replace the filter.

Cracked End Caps

Cartridge pool filters have plastic end caps that keeps the shape of the polyester (or paper) filters to that of the casing. While these end caps are made of very strong plastic that’s designed to last the lifetime of the filter, corrosion and chemical exposure can lead them to turn brittle and crack. If you see any cracks on the cartridge filter’s end caps, replace them immediately. While this isn’t a filter issue in itself and the filter will function normally, cracked end caps may shatter and lead to even bigger problems as it can be recirculated in your pool and damage your pumps or impellers (or heavens forbid that someone accidentally swallows a small piece of plastic).

Frayed or Tattered Filters

A sure sign that your cartridge filter needs replacing is if the filters themselves look frayed and tattered. This means that they’ve already exceeded their lifetime and they can no longer filter out your water properly.

High Filter PSI even after cleaning

If your pool filter’s pressure gauge has a high PSI reading even after giving the pool cartridge filter a good cleaning, this means that the fibers have already permanently been clogged up. This is another sure sign that you will need to replace the filter. Not only is having a high PSI reading an indicator that your filter is no longer filtering the water properly, but it also means that your pump is operating under more stress to keep your pool water circulating. Replace the cartridge to ensure that that the water gets filtered properly and also to prevent damaging your pool pump.

Flat or Deformed Pleats  

The filters, when new, will look like an accordion. Over time, as it filters your water, dirt, debris and other things will saturate your filter material and this will cause it to flatten or deform. Flat and deformed filters have extremely reduced filtering capacities and should be replaced as soon as possible. To avoid this, a good cleaning regimen is recommended.

Crushed Cartridges

This is the equivalent of your pool filter cartridge having a sudden and very nasty heart attack. The last time you opened your pool cartridge, it was fine and then the next time you open your cartridge, you find something that looks like a crushed soda can with filter median squished to the side. There are many issues that can lead to this such as wrong filter cartridge size, poor quality replacements or even a very dirty filter media that has caused the pressure to build up in the canister and crush the entire thing. Suffice to say, if you find a crushed cartridge, replace it immediately.

Extending the Life of your Pool Cartridge Filter

With just a few routine maintenance tasks, you can greatly extend the life of your pool cartridge filters!

Keep your Skimmers Clean

While the skimmers are not the first thing that you think of when thinking about extending the life of your cartridge filters, keeping them clean is a good way to extend the life of your filter. By frequently removing (or dumping out) the debris trapped in your skimmer baskets, you’re preventing these bits and pieces from entering your cartridge filter and thereby reducing the chance of it getting damaged.

Give your filter a hose down

Every two or three weeks, take out the pool filter cartridge and give it a hose down. This will remove larger pieces of debris from the filter and make sure that any algae or microscopic debris won’t have time to settle down in the fibers and become trapped forever in the filters.

Give your cartridge a good soak

Every two to three months, depending on pool usage, we recommend that you give your pool filter cartridge a good soak with the Water TechniX Filter Cleaner solution. This specially formulated cleaner melts away oils (from lotions, sunscreens, and even regular human body oils) that have stuck to your cartridge filter that can’t be removed by spraying with water. This is also formulated to be really safe on your cartridge filter media so you don’t have to worry about your cartridge filter being damaged.


With the simple steps that we have outlined above, not only are you extending the life of your filter cartridges, but you’re also taking a lot of stress away from the rest of your pool components. And also, by replacing your cartridge filters as soon as you see the warning signs, you’re preventing further damage to the rest of your pool system all the while keeping your pool water crystal clear and clean. Don't know which pool filter to get? Click here for an in-depth guide on choosing the right pool filter.

Need a cartridge filter replacement? Click on the button below to open up our selection of pool cartridge filters.

Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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