While I was driving home from my morning swim at the Y, the windows down and high 70s sun warming my pale skin, I suddenly realized it’s time to start prepping the pool at home. It may not be big enough for me to exercise in daily, but it’s always given the family a great reason to get together for hours of summer fun in the sun. Of course, we always make sure that everyone has a nice layer of SPF 30 or higher sunscreen and that there’s plenty of water to stay hydrated. These are small steps to ensure that your family stays safe and healthy in the hot summers, but there’s more you can do.
In every pool, a good filter is an absolute necessity. Even if you keep your pool covered when not in use, there will be particles and debris coming in from the wind—leaves, dirt, and a ton of bugs. Pool filter systems work by taking the water in the pool and sending it through a filtration system where it is cleaned, re-chlorinated, and introduced back into the pool as clean water. It’s essentially a recycling process that keeps the water clean, so you can stay clean.
Sand filters are probably the most common filter type. Water is washed through an amount of sand, and the sand traps debris, making the water that flows back into the pool cleaner. The sand will become crowded with extra debris and oils, and should be replaced often. When the pressure increases, you’ll know it’s time to replace the filter. It’s pretty inexpensive, but you’ll need to keep a closer eye on it to make sure that there isn’t too much pressure building in the filter system.
Cartridge filters are a little more costly, but they are simple to use, easily maintained, and still relatively cheap. Instead of using a particle-based filter system, cartridge filters use several sheets of filter paper that trap particles. I prefer these, for the reasons above, and it’s easier to tell when they need to be replaced. The more inexpensive cartridge filters will obviously have to be changed out more often, so I always go a grade higher, and mine can last up to 5 years.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filters
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filters are similar to sand filters. They use tiny fossilized remains of diatoms—a type of phytoplankton—to trap debris as small as five microns (a measurement equal to one thousandth of a millimeter). These are usually regarded as the strongest type of pool filter for their ability to trap such incredibly small particles, but more common in older pool systems, like hotels and communities. They tend to be more of a hassle when cleaning out and keeping track of pressure, but if you’re looking for an immaculate pool, this one will do the trick.
Regardless of the type of filter you use, it’s important to keep an eye on them. A filter’s packaging may claim a lifespan of five years, but that doesn’t mean it will actually last that long and remain effective. When you’re getting your pool ready for summer, make sure you check the pressure gauges and filter.