The Pros & Cons of Different Types of Pool Filters

A pool filter is a necessary piece of equipment that traps the inevitable dirt and debris that gets into pool water. After all, nobody wants to be swimming around in murky water, especially since some of the contaminants in unclean pool water have the potential to make you sick.

Here are the pros and cons of the different types of pool filters.

Points to Ponder

First, consider the following points when choosing the type of pool filter you need:

  • the size of your pool
  • maintenance time needed for cleaning
  • energy efficiency
  • cost
  • micron rating (the smaller the micron rating, the smaller the contaminants it can trap)

Size Matters

In order to get the right size of pool filter for your pool, consider the following points:

  • Find the surface area and the volume of water your pool holds
  • Find the pool’s maximum volume of water then use the pool’s volume to find out how much water can move through your filter in about a minute. This is called the ‘’flow rate’’, which differs depending on the kind of pool you have.
  • Establish how long it takes for the pool water to completely cycle through the filter
  • All filters have a gallon-per-minute design rating and turnover (cycle through) rate. Choose one that has a minimum turnover rate of 10 hours.
  • Water speed can affect your pool’s turnover rate. The faster the speed of the water moving through the filter, the more resistance to flow the water has.

Calculate the pool’s capacity in gallons and divide by the desired turnover rate in hours. This will give you the minimum flow rate needed in gallons per minute (G.P.H.) Divide that number by 60 to get the G.P.M. and choose the appropriate filter.

Three Types of Pool Filters

There are three different types of pool filters.

Sand Filter

A sand filter traps dirt particles in its silica sand media. When the particles build up, the filter needs to be “backwashed” to rinse the sand clean. It’s a five-minute process typically done every few weeks but backwashing is somewhat inefficient and can waste thousands of gallons of water every year.

As a rule, sand filters sift particles ranging from 20 to 40 microns in size. The sand in this type of filter should be replaced every three to five years.

Diatomaceous Earth Filter

The diatomaceous earth or DE filter, has a media bed made of fossilized exoskeletons of tiny diatoms that coat the filter housing and act as small sieves. Some DE filters can filter down to five microns.

This filter also requires backwashing and may require higher water pressure to run, making them less energy efficient than a typical sand filter.

Cartridge Filter

Cartridge filters have parts that last up to five years and work by trapping debris in a basic cartridge. They don’t require backwashing and only need to be hosed off and cleaned a few times during the swimming season.

You may find the constant removing and cleaning of this filter to be time-consuming and the micron rating is not as low as a DE or a sand filter.

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