Having a backyard pool is a wonderful addition to you family lifestyle, offering fun, exercise, and a great place to cool off on hot summer days! Unfortunately backyard pools can get expensive to maintain. One way to save some money is to do what you can to extend the life of your pool filter cartridges. And one way to do that is to clean the pool filters regularly! Want to know how to clean a pool filter? Read on!
In this article, which deals with cartridge style filters (as opposed to DE or sand filters), we’ll be looking at the following:
- How to know if your pool filter needs cleaning
- How to clean a pool filter (cartridge)
- Why acid wash a pool cartridge
- What type of pool filters to purchase for the longest life
- More pool filter tips
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How do you know your pool filter needs cleaning – or replacing?
Most people go by the rule of thumb that you need to clean your pool filter every 6 months, or once per swimming season, depending on where you live. That’s ok, and it’s easy to remember, but if you want to be more specific, the answer is that you need to check the pressure gauge.
When you initially set up your swimming pool cartridge filter, you’ll see that there is a green arrow on the pressure gauge at the optimal/normal operating pressure. 7 (or 8) PSI above the normal operating pressure (different depending on the environment where you live) is a red arrow. Once the pressure rises 7 (or 8) PSI above your normal operating pressure, you need to clean it!
The pool filter needs replacing if you notice that the pressure rises quickly to the “red arrow” after you’ve cleaned it. This means it is no longer functioning properly. Or, if the dirt simply won’t become unclogged regardless of your efforts, it’s time to replace it.
How to clean a pool filter (cartridge filter)
- Make SURE the equipment is turned off at the breaker! Don’t forget that some equipment runs on computer or manual timers – it may appear off, but be absolutely sure it’s powered completely off.
- Release the air at the top of the filter to relieve the pressure inside the filter.
- Use a wrench to remove the top canister from the bott/om one. (If you haven’t released the pressure, you won’t be able to remove it). You’ll need to remove the nut, springs, washers, and all to get the lid off. Take care not to loose these pieces and keep in mind the order of reassembly for later.
- Lift lid straight off and set aside.
- Remove the top cap holding the filters in place. Depending on your filter system, you may have 3 or 4 cartridges. Remove all from the pool filter base and set aside for cleaning.
- Drain the remaining dirty water from the filter system (plug on the base).
- To wash the cartridges:
- Use a hose with high pressure to spray them clean from external debris.
- Pour a diluted solution of muriatic acid and water (1:4) over the standing cartridges (tilt the cartridges as you pour to allow solution to get nicely into the folds) and let stand for just a few minutes (1-2), then hose off.
- If you have time, instead of pouring the solution over, you can fill up a large garbage can (check for no holes) with the acid/water (1:10 is fine), and soak the filters in the solution for 12 hours. Then remove each filter, and spray down from top to bottom.
- Replace cleaned filters into the slots (the ends with the words on them point up)
- Reattach the cap, sealing completely.
- Remove the air from the pressure canister, and check to ensure the pressure gauge indicates a much lower pressure than before washing. Should be good to go!
Why acid wash a pool cartridge?
Acid washing is a more complete cleaning than water cleaning, and will give you more life from your cartridges. Cartridges that are fully cleaned regularly will last much longer than ones that are partially cleaned.
The muriatic acid eats away the film of calcium that gets on the cartridges over time and use. Removing this film allows the filters to do their job again.
What type of pool filters should I buy?
You want to buy good quality cartridge type filters if you want to be able to wash them repeatedly without wrecking them. Quality filters are ones that are made with pleated fiberglass mat or synthetic filter material — not ones made with paper. Like so much else in life, you get what you pay for – buy cheap, you’ll be replacing them very quickly.
Pool Filter Cleaning Tips
- If your pool is in a location where a large number of people swim in it, or where suntan-lotions and other materials accumulate, you may wish to pre-soak the filters with a dish-washing liquid solution to remove the oils before doing a thorough washing.
- If you have extra filters, it’s best to store them in a plastic bag or other container after they are cleaned to prevent insects from making a home in them.
- If you use a clarifier in the pool water, be aware that your filters may become clogged much quicker than if you don’t – clarifiers cause the particles that cloud the water to get caught more easily in the filter media.
- If your pressure gauge doesn’t have 2 arrows (green for the optimal pressure, red for 8 pounds above), then create the “optimal range” yourself! When you set the pressure after it’s clean, or when you just set it up, use a drop of nail polish to indicate the prime, and add a second drop 8-10 pounds above. Anywhere between the 2 dots will be just fine!
Hopefully this “How to clean a pool filter” guide was helpful! If you have more questions, let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help you out!