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Pool Care For Dummies: 10 Pool Filter Basics You Need to Know Before You Dive Into Buying One

You’re in love with your brand new pool. But if you don’t maintain it, it’ll turn into a murky mess before you know it.

Stop before you call that pricey pool cleaning company, though. You can maintain your own pool with the right tips and products by your side.

Pool care for dummies starts with your filters. Here are ten basics every pool owner should know to keep their pool sparkling all year round.

How Do Pool Filters Work?

Before diving into the basics, let’s discuss how a pool filter actually works.

Understand, that your pool has its own plumbing system, just like your bathroom or kitchen. Filters are essential to that system. Pool water must be filtered before it’s heated and chlorinated.

There are three types of pool filters to know: cartridge filters, sand filters, and DE filters. These filters work with pumps and motors to keep your pool clean.

The second rule of pool care for dummies is choosing the appropriate filter for your pool design. Here’s what you need to know to find the right filter for your pool.

1. Strainer Basket

Filtering pool water is a process. The first “stage” in this process is straining. This means the first thing you need to look for is a functioning filter basket.

Your filter basket is where debris goes to die. That’s why an old or poorly-made basket is such a problem.

These look like filtered buckets and slip right into the pool’s skimmer. After replacing your filter basket, remember to keep it clean so it functions at its best.

2. Pool Filter Sand

Sand filters are the oldest type of pool filter. These are ideal for saltwater and above-ground pool designs.

The sand used in these filters isn’t your typical beach sand. Pool sand filters use specialized sand that traps harmful contaminants in their place.

This sand should be replaced every three to five years.

3. Cartridge Filters

Cartridge filters are especially popular with swimming pool owners. They’re small, easy to install, and don’t require backwash plumbing, unlike sand filters.

Cartridge filters are also ideal for small above-ground pools and hot tubs.

Contaminants and debris are strained out through a pleated paper filter. These filters also come in polyester-paper blends. Plus, you only have to replace these filters once a year!

4. DE Filters

DE filters stand for diatomaceous earth filters. Wait, diatomaceous what?

Diatomaceous is a type of sedimentary rock that traps harmful particles. Pools with DE filters are frequently cited as having the clearest, cleanest water.

DE rock is ground into a powder and pasted directly onto filters. Water then passes through these DE-coated filters. DE works like a sponge to absorb particles unseen by the naked eye!

DE filters should be replaced every five years. But they can last up to 10 years.

5. Spring Pool Care for Dummies

Now that you know which filters you need, let’s talk filter maintenance.

Pool season starts in spring (if the weather permits it!) This means you need to routinely clean your filters.

You also need a pool cover to prevent debris from creeping into your pool when it’s not in use. This is especially true during April showers.

Always turn off your pumps and motors before cleaning your filters. You also need to backwash your sand and DE filters for at least five minutes before cleaning.

6. Buy a Good Spray Nozzle

To get your filters nice and clean, you need to invest in a good spray nozzle. This attaches to your water hose so you can get inside the nooks and crannies of your filter.

For particularly dirty filters, water alone may not be enough. If this is the case, you’ll need to dilute filter cleaner with water.

You can also soak cartridge filters before spraying them down.

7. Cleaning Your Sand

If you decide on a sand filter, remember to periodically clean your sand. It’s not enough to just replace your sand every few years.

Pool filter sand requires its own type of pool cleaner. Like your filters, you must backwash your pool sand before cleaning it.

Sand cleaner works like dish detergent to rid your filter sand of grease and sticky oils. This is great for all the stuff that your backwashing didn’t catch.

8. Pool Filter Brands to Know

Now that you understand what to look for in pool filters, let’s start shopping.

Not just any brand will do. Some brands provide much higher quality than others.

Hayward and Pentair are two brands popular with pool owners. Here are several more quality brands to consider:

  • Pleatco
  • Unicel
  • Aladdin
  • Waterway Plastics
  • ClearChoice
  • Filbur
  • Rainbow Plastics

These quality filters work best when paired with the right pool cleaning accessories.

Let’s dive in!

9. Pool Accessories to Know

Filters are essential for keeping your water clean and free from harmful contaminants. Without proper filtration and cleaning, you expose yourself to dangerous water-borne illnesses.

Along with maintaining your filter, use a special sponge to absorb pool scum. Scum is caused by suntan lotion, body oils, and other topicals swimmers use. Since scum doesn’t filter out in the backwash, you need to clean it out separately.

To avoid residue from hard water, invest in a soft water attachment for your filter. Special deep-cleaning kits are also available for pools and spas.

10. How to Spot a Defective Filter

Pool care for dummies comes with a learning curve. You may need help installing and using your pool filters for the first time.

Once you’re comfortable, look out for signs of defective filters. If your pool water is still cloudy despite cleaning, upgrade to a better brand. The same goes for excess pool scum and dirt.

Your filter may also be defective. Make sure your lids, filters, and clasps are held firmly in place. Loose parts may cause sediment to sneak through as well.

Keep Your Pool Sparkling

You’re proud of your pool. Let’s keep it that way!

The key to a sparkling, clear pool is routine maintenance. You don’t have to be an expert. A crash course in pool care for dummies is all you need.

Keep your pool looking it’s best. Stop by often for the latest insider tips and products to power your pool! 

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