Types of Pool Filters: Which is Right for Me?

Swimming pools are a great source of fun for family and friends. This is especially true if you live where it is hot for many months out of the year, like Texas. For homeowners lucky enough to have one, a sparkling cool pool to slip into after a long day at work is great to look forward to.

Swimming is a great way to relax, relieve stress, and exercise. However, the thought of swimming in a pool filled with dirt and floating debris can be a real turnoff. Fortunately, there are different types of pool filters that keep your water clean and clear so you can enjoy the best swimming experience possible.

If you do have a pool, you know how important maintenance and keeping your pool clean are.

What is a Pool Filter?

The pool filter is one of the most important parts of a pool. It’s a crucial part of your pool’s filtration system, which cleans out dirt and debris from the water and returns clean water back into the pool.

The pool filter is pretty simple in its structure: it’s basically a housing with a mesh filter inside it. A pump sucks water through the mesh and out at the other end, where it’s then piped back into the pool through the return jets on the walls. The filter removes dirt and debris from the water as it passes through, leaving you with clean and clear swimming water.

The Benefits of a Pool Filter:

  • Keep your pool water cleaner
  • Increase the efficiency of your pool’s chlorine
  • Creates a healthy pool ecosystem

The Different Types of Pool Filters

before image of a pool

There are three main types of pool filters: sand, cartridge, and diatomaceous earth (DE). Each has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to know what each filter does to help you determine which one is right for your swimming pool.

The micron size rating on a pool filter tells the pore size of the filter. The smaller the number, the smaller the pores are, which means better filtration of smaller particles. 

Sand Filters

Sand filters are the most common type of pool filter used in the commercial setting. They’re the most cost-effective type of filter on the market. They do well in removing particles and organic materials from your pool’s water. Sand filters trap contaminants in the 20 to 40-micron range, which is where human hair falls. 

Over time, these trapped particles build up and render your sand filter less effective. You would need to replace it every 5-7 years if you want it to continue doing its job properly.

The Pros of a Sand Filter:

  • Is the least expensive option
  • Requires the least amount of maintenance
  • Straightforward to use
  • Works for any size pool

The Cons of Sand Filters:

  • Is not the most effective option
  • Excessive backwashing can waste water
  • Backwashing may affect the chemical balance of the pool

Cartridge Filters

Cartridge filters are the most common type of filter used in swimming pools. Cartridges come in many sizes, shapes, and configurations. Most cartridges are made of polyester or polypropylene and have pleats or grids that trap dirt and other contaminants.

Paper, polyester, and nylon are all common materials used in filter cartridges. These filters are able to handle small particles (10 – 15 microns).

They have a long life and are relatively inexpensive, but they require more maintenance than other types of filters. Cartridge filters need to be cleaned every two weeks or so, depending on how much debris is in the water and how often your pool is used. To clean the filter, all you need to do is remove it and hose it off. Remove any debris from the outside and replace the filter back in the pump. The filters should be replaced every 2 – 3 years.

The Pros of a Cartridge Filter:

  • More efficient filtration capabilities
  • Less water waste
  • Easy to clean and replace

The Cons of Cartridge Filters:

  • Cartridges are more expensive
  • Cleaning is required frequently

 How to tell when your filter needs cleaning? The pressure gauge on your skimmer reads above 20 PSI (pounds per square inch). This indicates that there is a clog in the system somewhere, and the pressure is building as water can’t get through easily. You may also notice the water looking a little cloudy.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filters

backyard pool with water features and basketball goal

DE filters are common in larger pools. They work well on pools that are located in areas that are more prone to debris like dirt, such as areas surrounded by a lot of trees. They do an excellent job of filtering out all types of particles that might make their way into the pool.

DE filters have strong filtration capabilities and can capture particles as small as 5 microns in size, filtering out some of the smallest debris as well!

The Pros of DE Filters:

  • Most effective at filtering small particles
  • Backwashing is only necessary every few months
  • Filters can last several years when properly cared for

The Cons of DE Filters:

  • Most expensive option of the 3
  • Higher maintenance
  • Filter-grade DE Powder can be toxic to animals and humans 
  • Potential restrictions for disposal
  • You may need to check with your municipality for regulations regarding the disposal of your DE filter

Need Help Deciding Which One Is the Best for Your Pool? 

If you’re still not sure which type of pool filter is best for your pool, contact us at Summerhill Pools. We can help you understand the difference between all the different types of filters and help you find one that is right for your particular style of pool.

If you have questions about where to buy filters or how often they should be cleaned or replaced, give us a call! We’ve got decades of experience in this industry and would love to help out with any questions or concerns.

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