Pool Filters: The Ultimate Guide

Welcome to our Ultimate Guide to Pool Filters! Your one-stop shop for everything you ever wanted to know about pool filters. We’re going to go over what each filter type is, how to maintain them, and how to tell when it’s time to replace them. We’re also going to give you some tips and tricks on how to make your filters last longer so you can save money while at the same time, keeping your pool sparkly fresh!

Pool Filters: What is a cartridge pool filter?

A cartridge filter is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a filter in the form of a cartridge. This is a very popular choice for many pool owners as cartridge filters are very convenient when it comes to replacement and maintenance. Before we get into the nitty gritty of what pool cartridge filters are, here is our resident pool guru Tom to give you a quick overview of pool cartridge filters.

Pool cartridge filters can filter down all the way to 10 microns in size which makes the water of your pool much clearer than compared with a pool sand filter. This also means that you will have to clean your cartridge filter more often than pool sand filters simply because they catch MORE dirt and debris than sand filters.

Pool Filters: How often do you clean pool filter cartridges?

There’s no real “fixed” schedule to clean pool filter cartridges as it will all depend on your actual pool usage, but as a rule of thumb, we suggest that you clean your pool filter cartridges at the very least once a month. Aside from monthly cleaning, we also suggest to clean your pool filter cartridges after certain events like:

  • After a heavy rain storm
  • After a pool party or heavy usage
  • After an algae bloom
  • If your pool cartridge filter shows higher than normal pressure readings

To learn more about the details of when to clean your pool filter cartridges, check out our dedicated blog post, which is coincidentally named, How often should I clean my pool filter cartridge?

Pool Filters: How to Clean Your Pool Filter Cartridge

Cleaning your pool filter cartridge is pretty straightforward. First step is to turn off your pump (unplug it to be sure) After that, simply vent your cartridge filter first to relieve the pressure inside the canister, remove the collar so you can take off the cover and pull the filter cartridge out. To avoid messy splashes, you can also unplug the drain plug located at the bottom of your cartridge filter unit to drain out all of the water first.

Once you have the filter cartridge out of the unit, give it a good rinse with a garden hose, making sure to spray water in between each pleat to get all of the gunked up debris trapped in your filter. To make your job easier, we suggest getting something like the Water TechniX Waterwand to make the task easier. It’s specially designed to rinse up to 8 pleats at a single pass, essentially cutting down the rinsing time by a factor of 8!

We also recommend giving your filter cartridge a good soak in some filter cleaning solution at least twice a year to remove any stubborn buildups that can’t be removed by a hose alone. Filter cleaning solutions like the Zodiac Filter Cleaner are specially formulated to melt away stubborn dirt and debris from your filter cartridges without harming the filter elements themselves. This is great not only for deep cleaning your filter cartridges, but for extending their lifespan as well.

Pool Filters: How to Change pool cartridge filters

Replacing your pool filter cartridge is pretty straightforward. Just like cleaning your filter cartridges, turn off your pump, vent the canister, remove the collar and take the old filter cartridge out. Replace with a new filter cartridge and close up your unit. That’s all there is to replacing a pool filter cartridge. This is also one of the reasons why cartridge filters are so popular with home pool users, just take out the old cartridge and replace with a new one, what could be easier than that?

Read up more on Water TechniX filter Cartridge replacements, they work as well as the original filter cartridges fromt manufacturer but at a fraction of the cost!

Pool Filters: When to change pool filter cartridges

Again, this will depend on the usage of your pool, but a safe answer to this question would be to replace your filter cartridges every one to two years. Here are some signs to look out for that are excellent indicators that it’s time to change out your pool’s filter cartridges.

  • When your filter cartridge is showing signs of damage
  • The filter’s pressure gauge is showing high PSI readings even after cleaning
  • The pleats look damaged or flat
  • The cartridges are crushed
  • Filter elements looking frayed and tattered

For a more detailed breakdown of how to determine if your pool filter cartridges need replacing, check out our article entitled How Long Does a Cartridge Pool Filter Last.

Pool Filters: What is a Sand Pool Filter?

A pool sand filter is one of the oldest filtration types that’s being used in pool systems. It uses silica sand or glass sand to filter your pool water, catching particles down to 20 microns in size. As water passes through the sand inside the pool sand filter, dirt and debris get caught by the sand, leaving you with clean and clear filtered pool water. For a much clearer overview of pool sand filters, here’s Tom again with a quick rundown of what a pool sand filter is.

While sand filters are less adept at catching particles less than 20 microns in size, they’re a very popular choice for many home pool owners because of the ease of maintenance. Backwashing your sand filter (more on that later) only takes a couple of minutes and it can be done with minimal fuss. Also, unlike filter cartridges that need replacement every couple of years, pool sand filter can last as much as 7 years before needing replacement.

Pool Filters: How often to backwash pool sand filters

There’s conflicting advice all over the internet on when to backwash your pool sand filters. Some will say to backwash it once a week and others will say to backwash it every two weeks or longer. We here at Mr Pool Man take the latter stand on this. Backwashing your pool sand filter too much will actually decrease the efficiency of your filter, and not only that, it wastes a lot of water as well!

Keep your backwashing schedule to every two weeks or until your pressure gauge shows that it is at least 10 PSI above your “just cleaned” or regular pressure levels. A slight pressure buildup is fine when it comes to pool sand filters as this is just the sand being compacted this actually provides a much “tighter” filtration which traps more dirt and debris than a freshly backwashed sand filter.

Pool Filters: How to Backwash your Sand Pool Filter

Backwashing your sand pool filter is pretty straightforward. We suggest making a small printout of the following steps and laminating it and hanging it near your sand filter’s multiport for easier reference.

Backwashing Steps

  • Turn off pool pump (important)
  • Set the multiport valve to “Backwash” and ensure that it clicks into place, turn on the pool pump for 2 minutes or until the water in the sight glass runs clear.
  • Turn off pool pump (important)
  • Set the multiport valve to “Rinse” and ensure that it clicks into place, turn on the pool pump for 1 minute or until the water in the sight glass runs clear.
  • Turn off the pool pump (important)
  • Set the multiport valve to “Filter” and ensure that it clicks into place, turn on the pool pump.

That’s it! You’ve successfully backwashed your pool! Take note that different situations call for different backwashing schedules, be sure to check out our comprehensive backwashing post by clicking on the button below if you want more information on backwashing your sand pool filter.

To know more about the difference between sand filters and cartridge filters, click here.

Pool Filters: How and When to replace sand filter media

Sand filter media should be replaced anywhere from three to seven years, depending on how heavy the pool usage is, with the average at around five years. Changing sand filter media is a pretty labor intensive task so it’s best done if you have a lot of time on your hands and you’ll need some help doing it as well. Here’s a quick step-by-step rundown of how to replace your pool filter’s sand media.

  • Turn off your pumps (unplug them to be totally safe)
  • Drain the filter unit by unplugging the drain cap at the bottom.
  • Remove all of the fittings and pipes that are attached to the sand filter and make sure to place them somewhere safe (don’t leave them lying around where you can step on them and crack them)
  • Once the fittings are removed, twist off the multiport valve and set aside
  • Once the multiport is off, you should see the standpipe in the middle of the filter unit, cover the top of the standpipe with some cloth and secure with some duct tape or with a string/rubber band so that sand won’t enter it.
  • Scoop out the old sand using a small bucket (be careful not to damage the laterals) or use a venturi pump to drain out the sand. We really recommend getting a venturi pump as this will not only be better for your back, but this will turn hours of scooping out sand into a few minutes of draining.  
  • Once all the sand is out, give the inside of the sand filter a good rinse, making sure that the interior is free of any debris and any stuck gunk.
  • Once everything is clean, replace the drain plug and refill the sand filter with water about halfway full.
  • Add the required amount of sand
  • Fill it up with water and reassemble the multiport and reattach all of the pipes and fittings.
  • Once everything is snug and secure, run a backwash and rinse cycle to make sure that everything is working properly then return back to its normal filter setting.
  • Take note of your pressure reading to have a baseline for future backwashes.

Now this is just a very quick sand replacement guide, to learn more about replacing the sand in your pool filter, check out our dedicated post on the subject called How to Change your Pool Filter Sand.

Pool Filters: How Much is a pool Filter

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of many different pool filter systems out there so we’re limiting our answer to the two of the best sellers on our online store. For pool cartridge filters, our recommendation is the Water TechniX Cartridge Filter Eclipse filter cartridge system while for sand filters, our pick would be the Water Technix Sand Filter.

In a nutshell, these two products have consistently shown to be our best-sellers and coming in from a cost-to-feature ratio, it’s hard to beat them. We’ll even go as far as to say that these two are the best in their classes! For more information on how we got to this conclusion, check out our dedicated articles on each of them by clicking on the buttons below!

Pool Filters: How long to run a pool pump for summer

Summer is here! This means that the temperature is rising and the water is getting warmer. Warmer water means that algae and other microorganisms are more active. The warmer the water, the more active these critters will be, so that means that you will have to run your pump more often than normal. When your pool water temperature reaches about 80F or roughly 27C you should start running your pol pump longer.

Run your pump for at least 12 hours or till you get two full turnovers of your pool water. When it comes to pool filters and running your pool pump, it is best to over-filter your water rather than under-filtering it and risking algae blooms and other pool problems. To determine how long you should run your pool pump to get one complete turnover cycle of your pool water, check out our blog post titled How long should I run my pool pump.

Rule of thumb is, the hotter your water and the weather, the longer you should run your pool pump. This is where having an ECO pump like the Water Technix Pump VorteX ECO Variable speed pump. Having a variable speed pump allows you to run your pump longer (even up to 24 hours!) without running up your electric bills through the roof. For more information on ECO pumps, check out our list of Best ECO Pool Pumps

There you have it! Everything you wanted and needed to know about pool filters! Be sure to bookmark this page as we will be adding and updating the information on this guide when we get them! If there’s anything we missed, be sure to let us know through the form below.

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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