Types of Pool Filters: Which is Right for Me?

The Canturbury job contained four beautiful water spouts - each creating a stream that jutted out equal distance. It looks beautifully when installed properly but requires a strong understanding of hydrodynamics to plumb correctly.When you’re getting a pool installed or you need to replace your pool filter, there’s an important decision you must make: what kind of pool filter should I get? There are three different types of pool filters – DE filters, sand filters, and cartridge filters – and each has their own benefits and detriments. As you go through the process of purchasing a new pool filter, you should weigh the pros and cons of each kind to help you choose the best type for your needs.

1. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filters

DE filters are the newest kind of filter. The filtering component is a DE powder, made out of crushed seashells and silica secreted from sea creatures called diatoms. The DE filter has a series of grids coated in this DE powder, and as the pool water runs through these grids, the DE powder collects the dirt and debris in the water.

Pros of DE Filters

  • Filter out the most debris. DE filters can catch much smaller microns of debris than sand or cartridge filters can.

  • Better water clarity.

  • Safer water to swim in.

Cons of DE Filters

  • Require the most maintenance. These filters require you to reverse the water flow (known as “backwashing”) from time to time in order to wash out the dirt and debris that are caught in the filter. While all swimming pool filters must occasionally be cleaned, DE filters must be cleaned the most often, and the process of cleaning them is the most complex.

  • Some DE powder must be replaced each time the filter is cleaned. When you backwash a DE filter, some DE powder will wash out, so you’ll have to add more DE powder each time you clean the filter.

  • Can be the most expensive. DE filters are fairly expensive. Add in the cost of the DE powder and filter parts that you’ll have to replace over time, and the cost can really build up.

  • DE powder may be a carcinogen. Silica dust – like that which is found in diatomaceous earth – is linked to lung cancer. It may be dangerous if you breathe in some of the powder as you’re cleaning the pool filter.

2. Sand Filters

As the oldest type of filter, sand filters are commonly found in pools. Sand filters work by pulling water in through a pipe and releasing the pool water into an empty space above the sand. The pool water then trickles down through the sand, and the sand collects the dirt and debris that’s in the water. Finally, the water enters the laterals at the bottom of the filter through holes that are too small for the sand to go through, and the clean water is released back into the pool.

Pros of Sand Filters

  • Least expensive of the three types of filters.

  • Require less maintenance than DE filters.

  • Sand doesn’t wash out during the backwash process.

  • Sand only needs to be replaced every 3-5 years.

Cons of Sand Filters

  • Filter out less debris than DE filters do.

  • Require more maintenance than cartridge filters do.

  • The least energy efficient.

  • Waste the most water during the cleaning process.

3. Cartridge Pool Filters

Finally, there’s the cartridge filter, which is one of the most popular kinds nowadays. These can be single element with only one filter or multi-element with 2-4 filters. You’re usually better off with the multi-element filters.

The filtration process with cartridge pool filters is pretty simple. Water flows into the filter, through the cartridges, and back into the pool. The cartridges are made from a spun polyester which traps the dirt and debris as the water flows through.

Pros of Cartridge Filters

  • Require the least amount of maintenance. Unlike sand and DE filters, cartridge filters don’t require backwashing. Cleaning simply requires removing the filters and thoroughly cleaning them with a hose.

  • Cartridges last for three years. Depending on the type, they may even last up to eight years. Plus, the process of replacing them is really simple – remove old one, put in new one.

  • Work well with the most energy-efficient pumps.

  • Conserve more water than sand or DE filters.

Cons of Cartridge Filters

  • Filter out less debris than DE filters do.

  • More expensive than sand filters.

  • Need to be cleaned 1-3 times a year.

The conclusion? It’s completely a personal choice which kind of filter you go with. And if you have a reputable pool company perform the maintenance for you, then maintenance isn’t as much of a factor.

If you’re looking to replace your pool filter or need regular maintenance and cleanings for your pool, contact Summerhill Pools. Their pool professionals will advise you on the best kind of filter for your needs and help you keep it maintained through the years.