It is literally as important to a pool as our kidneys are to our bodies and as such should be maintained appropriately for clean and clear water.
Let’s take a look at the most common types and some tips on how to clean a pool filter.
Types of pool filters
There are three common filter solutions found in the most pool setups today: sand, D.E. and cartridge filters.
Although they all do the same thing, they each have their own specific maintenance routines and requirements. Sometimes a backwash isn’t enough and you need to open the filter and give it a good cleaning.
Note that not all filters are capable of backwashing and the only option is to open for cleaning. Depending on conditions, filters may need cleaning every 3 months, but typically every 6 months may be sufficient.
If your pressure is over 10 lbs from startup pressure and backwashing isn’t getting the pressure back to normal, it is time to clean.
The exception is if there has been a significant event like an algae outbreak, wildfire damage, heavy storm, or other abnormal event.
DIY pool filter cleaning tips
- Cleaning a pool filter isn’t that difficult. It’s important to first understand what type of filter you have and read the owners manual if available (we know what you are thinking but just do it, there’s some good info in there even if you have to search for it).
- Set aside enough time to do the job, if it’s your first time then double it. You probably want to set aside a morning for the first time you attempt cleaning yourself, that way if you run into issues you have the afternoon to work through them.
YouTube is a wonderful resource that has several DIY channels and videos that can be helpful to visualize what needs to be done. Here are two nice videos that explain the types of filters and how to maintain them (the second video has several “how to” links in the video description section that will be helpful.)
Plan your work
- Clean the work area and remember to look for any critters that may be around before you start working. We have seen snakes, spiders, scorpions and other creepy crawlies that you don’t want around while you are working.
- If you have a DE filter, understand local laws and regulations because some states do not allow DE runoff to enter drains.
- Take pictures along the way so you can remember how things go back together.
- Last but not least, don’t freak out. Be forewarned that you are going to be surprised at the kind of nasty you are going to encounter. It will give you a new respect for your pool’s filtration system.
Gather your supplies
- O-Ring Silicone Lubricant (this is the same stuff that you use on your pump lid gasket.)
- Filter media if you need to replace it (always for DE filters, sometimes for sand.)
- You may need replacement cartridges or grids or laterals depending on your filter type and whether or not you are experiencing problems with media coming out of your return jets and/or poor filtration after cleaning. Inspect all internal filter parts closely as you clean and look for wear and tear so you can be prepared if they may need replacing next time.
Typically a strong blast from the water hose is sufficient for cleaning, but you can also use a pool filter cleaner tool and/or a filter cleaner solution depending on whether or not you are cleaning after a major algae outbreak, big pool party with a lot of oily sunscreen or some other event that warrants chemical cleaning.
Get your tools together
You may only need some of these, depending on the type of filter you have.
- A ratchet and socket or screwdriver for opening the filter.
- A cordless drill will save you time and hassle. You can also mark your socket with a Sharpie and store it in your pool corner in your garage or wherever you keep your pool parts and gadgets so that next time you know what size it is and where it is. Most DIYers have extra sockets anyway, right? 🙂
- A rubber mallet to help seat the bracket when putting it back in place.
- A wrench for removing the drain plug from your filter.
- A good water hose nozzle with strong pressure to rinse the filter.
- A bucket or container to put all of your parts in like the nuts from the bracket, the wingnuts from DE filter manifold, the screen tip in DE filters, filter plugs etc. These things tend to somehow magically disappear, kind of like socks.
- Respirator mask and eye protection for recharging DE system.
A clean pool filter will help your water stay clear and clean, but your pool water needs to be balanced. Sutro pool monitoring system automatically tests your water daily and provides treatment recommendations, so you can make sure your filter has clean water to do its job properly.