Swimming Pool Filter Maintenance
A clean and fully functioning filter is crucial for maintaining swimmer’s comfort and extending the life of your swimming pool equipment. As a filter collects dirt its efficiency increases meaning that it starts to collect more and more dirt. Therefore it is important that you do not clean or backwash your system too frequently as the filter will never be able to reach its full cleaning potential.
Sand filters come in various sizes to accommodate various flow rates
There are three different types of swimming pool filter, D.E (Diatomaceous Earth) filters, Sand Filters and Cartridge filters. The size and type of filter best suited will depend on the usage and size of your swimming pool. Each filter requires different levels of maintenance and care. If you are not overly confident in carrying out maintenance yourselves, weekly visits from a professional are advisable to ensure the smooth running of your system.
The sand in a sand filter is specially graded to trap particles in the 20-100 micron range. As with all the filters listed, as a sand filter begins to collect dirt its efficiency for trapping more dirt increases. When the pressure gauge on your filter shows a reading 8-10lbs over its clean starting pressure, it is time for your filter to be backwashed. This process involves turning a valve so that the water flows through the filter backwards, flushing out the dirt. A sand filter should, in most cases, be able to operate continuously for a period of 4 weeks before backwashing. If you find yourself having to carry out a backwash on a more regular basis then you may be facing sand problems. If you do find sand in your pool and it hasnt been brought in by bathers, then it is likely to be coming from the filter. Sand in your swimming pool could be down to a broken lateral or standpipe, so to locate the cause, you will need to empty the tank, repair and refill with fresh sand. Gradual loss of efficiency may be hard to notice but if your filter requires more frequent backwashing, and then you may have to look into sand bed replacement. A properly sized filter could average 10 years without sand changes but water balance problems, calcium deposits and mudballing of the sand bed may result in premature changes. It is possible to treat your sand annually with chemicals to prevent it from sticking together. Even just the years of a pump forcing water over the sand grains can wear away the sharp edges reducing the sands efficiency to collect dirt.
It is very rare to discover your sand filter tank to be leaking, however leaks often occur in and around valves or where o-rings need replacing and when components are not tightened and sealed properly.
Your sand filter should last you a very long time if you keep your swimming pool well maintained. A new filter may be in order if your current filter is outdated or of an unsuitable size for your swimming pool. Make sure all works are carried out by a qualified professional.
Diatomaceous Earth Filter
The Diatomaceous Earth Filter is the most efficient filter on the market with the ability to trap particles down to 3-5 microns. Similar to the sand filter, when the pressure gauge reads 8-10lbs higher than the clean reading, it indicates a need for backwashing. After backwashing a Diatomaceous earth filter, a new application of diatomaceous filter powder is added to the filter by pouring it into the skimmer. When backwashing a diatomaceous earth filter it is important to carry out the process several times until the water runs clear. Each time you go through the backwash process, you will get more dirt out of the grid, giving it a more thorough backwash. An annual breakdown of the filter is necessary to thoroughly clean the filter grids. Make sure skimmer and pump baskets are kept clean to allow for full flow entering the filter.
Like the sand filters, a properly sized diatomaceous earth filter should be able to operate for a period of 4 weeks between backwashings. A filter which requires backwashing on a more regular basis could indicate a problem with the grid or sizing problems. The filter grid fabrics can become clogged with Calcium deposits or oils so the grids can be soaked in warm water with a little TSP to remove such deposits.
If Diatomaceous powder is found in the pool you may either be facing holes in the fabric of the grids, a crack in the manifold that the grids attach to and may more reasons. Remove the grids and give them a thorough inspection to see where the damage lies.
If you find your water quality to be slacking slightly, check all valves. Valves can allow the water to bypass the filter, returning it back into the pool unfiltered. Be sure to run your filter for long enough each day and ensure you are not adding too much or too little diatomaceous powder into the filter. By ensuring that you fully remove the grid and keep it clean, backwash till the water runs clear then you can ensure that if problems do arise then they are not the result of your filtration system.
With the ability to trap particles of 25-100 microns in size, the cartridge filter is the first choice when it comes to spa owners or small above ground pools. The maintenance required for cartridge filters is alot less demanding than the other 2 filters on the market due to no required backwashing. Cartridge filters are not designed for backwards flow. To keep the filter doing the best job possible, the cartridge can be removed and hosed down thoroughly. Each time the cartridge is removed and cleaned, the filtering ability reduces slightly. Cartridges need replacing every 2 to 5 years or whenever filtering ability is reduced as to require a replacement. A correctly sized filter can operate for approximately 6 months between cleanings and do not require professional help when replacing.
How long should I run my filter for?
To determine how often you should run your filter for daily depends on how often your swimming pool is being used and how dirty it is. It is suggested that your swimming pool filter be run for at least 8 hours a day or for 24 hours consecutively if your pool is particularly dirty. Self programmed timers now make life easier for you so you can set an 8 or 12 hour schedule while you are away from home. If you are unsure how long you should be running your filter for to maximise the cleanliness of your pool, contact a professional.
Take time to observe your swimming pool’s filter and get to know how it sounds when it is functioning efficiently. Check for leaks and listen for changes in sounds. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge reading and backwash your system monthly. Make sure you arrange regular visits from an expert to ensure all is in working order. Ensure all other components of your swimming pool are working efficiently and that your water quality is well maintained as these can have negative effects on how your swimming pool filter runs.
Many pool owners are mislead into purchasing a filter that is too big for their swimming pool as they believe it will do a more efficient job at keeping your swimming pool clean. By getting a filter that is over sized for your swimming pool will actually result in the other components of your swimming pool having to work harder and will raise energy costs considerably. If you take good care of your filter it will serve you well for over 20 years.