Pool Sand Filter Maintenance

Proper pool sand filter maintenance is an important part of keeping your pool system running smoothly and water clean and free of debris. The time you spend keeping your filter operating at peak performance will pay off with an increased enjoyment of your pool and improved efficiency of you pump and salt water system chlorinating capabilities. A backwash takes only minutes and can be the difference between dirty pool water and clean water.

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A properly maintained sand filter will allow you to spend more time enjoying your pool and less time maintaining it. They are easy to backwash and sand is relatively inexpensive, especially considering how infrequently it needs to be replaced. The most common form of maintenance you will perform with your sand pool filter is a backwash which should be done every week or two and depending on usage. 

Pool Sand Filter Maintenance Step by Step

A sand filter is a great option for salt water pool owners because of it's simple design and ability to keep almost any sized pool clean. When you compare the filtration capabilities to cartridge and D.E. filters they don't quite compare but they filter well enough for a lot of pool owners. The cost to maintain a sand filter is significantly less when you compare the cost of sand to the price tag of replacement filter cartridges or diatomaceous earth powder.

Pool sand filter maintenance is pretty simple and as a general rule you should perform a backwash when the pressure rises 6 to 8 pounds above normal operating pressure, as measured on the attached pressure gauge. In addition to backwashing you will need to change the filter sand out roughly every 2 to 4 years for maximum efficiency. 

An indicator that the sand needs to be replaced is cloudy water or water that doesn't clear up after a backwash, assuming the water chemistry is in check. As the sand ages it loses its ability to trap particles effectively, the grains of sand lose the rough edges and become rounded. The sand can also clump or calcify which creates channels where the water passes through unfiltered. 

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Sand Filter Backwash Instructions

  1. Empty the skimmer of debris, leaves, etc. as they will get sucked and trapped in the filter and forced back into the pool.
  2. Turn the pump off and empty the basket of debris.
  3. Ensure that the "cut-off" valve is open if necessary.
  4. Switch the backwash valve to "backwash" and turn on the pump. Run the pump until the water runs clear that can be seen in the sight glass.
  5. If the filter does not have a plunger valve switch to "rinse" and run until water runs clear.
  6. Turn the pump off and switch to "filter" position. 
  7. Turn the pump back on. 

Changing Filter Sand

If you need to change the sand refer to your owners manual for instructions on how to open your filter. Replace with the appropriate amount of sand depending on the size of your filter. If you are unsure you can fill your filter tank 2/3 full of sand as a rough estimate.

  1. Remove the sand either by scooping it out or using a shop vac. It's important to get as much of the old sand out as possible.
  2. Check for signs of damage or cracks that could be compromising the effectiveness of your filter.
  3. Cover the standpipe with a cloth or rag to prevent any sand from getting in during your thorough cleaning.
  4. Fill the tank with sand just above the laterals and then follow with filling sand up to cover the laterals.
  5. Lube the tank o-ring and all other o-rings with a teflon based lubricant or sealant.
  6. After closing the tank, backwash for about 5 minutes and then set valve to "filter" position.

Keep in mind that if you use water softening chemicals there is the possibility that the life of your sand will be reduced. If you are using a salt water system, water softening chemicals won't be required to achieve soft silky water anyway so it's a good idea to stay clear of these products. If you find that sand isn't meeting your filter expectations you might consider adding a small amount of diatomaceous earth to your sand or consider using zeosand.

The pool sand filter maintenance routine is the quickest and most straight forward maintenance you'll perform on any of the available salt water pool filters. The quality of filtration isn't as superior as a D.E. or cartridge filters but for pool owners that wants to spend more time swimming and less time maintaining their pool they are a great choice.


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