Your Complete Guide to Pool Filter Cleaning

pool maintenance professional checking pool filter

When you have an outdoor pool, dirt and debris will naturally fall into the water. Sticks, for example, can be captured and removed by a net but smaller particles must otherwise be trapped before they reach the pump. That’s where a pool filter comes in, helping to trap dirt and debris and keep your water clean so you can enjoy swimming. 

In short, the filter accomplishes this by:

  • Trapping larger particles, including leaves, dead bugs, hair, and so forth
  • Also trapping fine particles, which includes bacteria
  • Helping to evenly distribute pool chemicals that keep the water sanitary

Having the right kind of filter in your pool and keeping it clean are both important, and this guide will walk you through the necessary steps to take so you can spend as much time as possible simply relaxing and having fun by and in your pool. If there’s any way that our premier Jacksonville pool cleaning team can help, please contact us online or call 904-222-0809.

Types of Pool Filters

Three main types exist:

  • Sand filters: Pool water is filtered through fine sand in a canister. This traps debris, including particles as small as twenty microns. A micron is about one millionth of a meter (or, said another way, about one millionth of a yardstick), so twenty microns is quite small.
  • Cartridge filters: These look similar to an air filter in your car, being pleated in a similar way. As water flows from the outside to the inside of one of these filters, particles trapped can be as small as five microns, much smaller than the capacity of a sand filter.
  • Diatomaceous earth filters: Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powder, and this filter comes in a canister like a sand filter does. Fabric is coated with this porous substance and can filter out dirt and debris as tiny as three microns.

These filter types are listed in order of their effectiveness (least to most) and cost (also least to most). So, sand filters trap the least amount of debris but are also the least expensive; DE filters are the most effective and cost the most—with cartridge types falling in the middle in both categories. You can weigh the pros and cons and make the right choice for your pool.

Right-Sizing Pool Filters

Filters come with flow ratings, calculated by gallons per minute (GPM) per square foot. One rule of thumb is to get a filter that has, at a minimum, a capacity of one square foot per 10,000 gallons. The filter’s flow rate must have the same GPM as the pool’s pump, but it can be higher to help ensure that it can handle what the pump sends. When possible, go bigger with a filter.

Best Way to Clean Pool Filters

Read the instructions that come with your filter. To help, here are general tips for each of the three main types of filters. In each case, make sure the electric heater is off before cleaning and then, when done, turn it back on.

Sand Pool Filter Cleaning

Stop the pump and close suction and return line valves. Open the pump’s cover to empty the filter basket and then put the cover back on. Open the drain outlet’s valve and put the setting on “backwash.” Open the suction and return line valves before starting the pump back up. You can rinse your sand filter for a couple of minutes before stopping the pump and turning the setting to “rinse.” Rinse for a minute or so before stopping the pump again and putting the lever back to the default position of “filter.” Close the drain outlet valve and turn the pump back on.

Cartridge Pool Filter Cleaning

When cleaning cartridge pool filters, turn off the pool pump and disconnect the water supply to the pool. Turn the air relief valve (typically counter-clockwise), usually found on top of the filter’s compartment, so that water will drain from it before you remove the lid. You’ll hear air coming out of the compartment when you’ve properly turned the valve. Once you’ve finished removing air, open up the compartment to remove the filter. You will probably need to use pliers or a wrench to open the compartment but be careful not to damage the seal gasket during the process.

Next, examine the filter to ensure it doesn’t have tears or holes. Then gently use a garden hose to spray away debris, including in between the pleats. Once this is complete, let it dry in the sun. Then use an air compressor or shake the filter to get rid of any remaining particles.

DE Pool Filter Cleaning

Turn off the pump and put the multiport valve to “backwash” before turning the equipment back on and backwashing for a minute or two. When completed, turn the pump off again before putting the valve back to the original setting. Repeat these steps as many times as necessary, usually a couple more times with each round being shorter, timewise, than the previous one. Then you’ll need to add diatomaceous earth back into the filter, doing so slowly and steadily while the equipment is on. Then remove any air out of the filter’s tank.

When your pool is surrounded by trees and other landscaping, you’ll end up with more leaves, sticks, and other plant-related debris than if any greenery is kept further away from the pool. If possible, move nearby landscaping or keep it well trimmed; regularly scoop out large debris and also vacuum the pool. Rainstorms and windstorms can increase the amount of debris that ends up in the water and heavy use can add more particles to the water so increase maintenance appropriately.

JOMO Pool Service in Jacksonville, FL

From cleaning pool filters to backwashing a pool, and from balancing chemicals and more, JOMO Pool Service provides second to none pool cleaning and maintenance services. In fact, we offer four different levels of pool cleaning services so that you can pick the amount of service that works best for you—so you can spend your time enjoying your beautiful pool with friends and family members, not dragging out dragging brushes, vacuums, chemicals and more to check off an item on your list that you’ll need to do all over again soon. 

To discuss what service level is best for you, please contact us online or call 904-222-0809.

Pool Filter FAQs