A backyard swimming pool is sure to provide hours of fun – but it also comes with a bit of ongoing maintenance. To keep your pool free of the microscopic particles that can cause cloudy, dirty water, chlorine alone doesn’t do the trick: you’ll need a filtration system. There are three types of pool filters: cartridge, diatomaceous earth, and sand. Below, Cannon Pools and Spas highlights the differences between these filters.
A cartridge filter is an efficient, easy-to-maintain option. When pool water flows into the cartridge, a polyester or paper filter traps dirt and debris, allowing clean water to flow back into the pool. These filters can trap particles that are 10 microns or larger.
Cartridge filters are more expensive than sand filters, but they have a few big benefits. First, a cartridge is the easiest type of filter to clean: simply remove the cartridge and spray it with a hose to clean it off. This is a much more environmentally friendly option than sand and diatomaceous earth filters, which are cleaned by running a backwash. Backwashing can use hundreds of gallons of water each time.
Another benefit of the cartridge filter is that it works well even at low speeds, so if your pool has a variable-speed pump, this may be a good fit. While the upfront cost of a cartridge may be higher than other filters, there are big long-term payoffs in lower maintenance, good lifespan, and less wasted water – which can mean a lower water bill too.
This type of filter uses sand to trap contaminants as water passes through the filtration tank. Most types of sand filters can trap debris particles that are 20 microns or larger. Over time, the sand in the tank will erode. As those sand particles smooth out, they’re less effective at trapping contaminants, so eventually, you’ll need to clean out the tank and add new sand.
There are two types of sand filters:
With either type, you’ll need to backwash the filter regularly. By reversing the water flow, a backwash flushes all the built-up particles into your local sewer system.
A sand filter is less expensive than a cartridge filter, but there are some notable disadvantages. Besides the additional water required during backwashing, the sand filter isn’t able to capture smaller contaminants the way a cartridge can. So, pool owners with sand filters need to be much more diligent about their pool’s chemical levels to maintain clear and clean water.
This type of filter is quite similar to a sand filter – it simply uses DE to capture particles instead of sand. DE is made by crushing small fossils called diatoms, creating a powdery substance that effectively traps the dirt and debris in pool water. DE can capture contaminants that are as small as 5 microns, making it more effective than a sand or cartridge filter. Unfortunately, it’s the most expensive option of the three, and it requires the most maintenance.
DE filters are typically cleaned by backwashing, just like sand filters. However, each time you backwash a DE filter, you will need to add more powder to replace any DE lost during the cleaning process. And at least once a year, you’ll need to disassemble the filter and clean it by hand. Finally, DE powder can be harmful if you inhale it, so you should use proper personal protective equipment when cleaning or refilling the filter. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, DE can irritate eyes and cause coughing and shortness of breath.
Since 1970, Cannon Pools and Spas has been helping homeowners install and maintain above-ground and inground pools. We’ll help you find the perfect filter for your swimming pool at one of our convenient store locations in Auburn, Cortland, Fulton, North Syracuse, or Oneida. We carry a full range of filter products, vacuums, covers, and other accessories from leading brands, including:
For assistance with upgrading your filter or to learn more about our products and services, contact the team at Cannon Pools and Spas today.