If it’s time to buy a new pool filter for your above ground swimming pool, there are few options to consider: sand filters, diatomaceous earth (DE) filters, and cartridge filters. All three filter types are viable options to help keep dirt and debris out of your pool. However, there are some pros and cons for each. Let’s break down the various pool filter types so that you find the right one to buy for your swimming area.
As the name suggests, sand filters clean the water through sand. When the water flows through the sand filter tank, the sand collects the dirty particles and the rest of the water flows through and returns to the swimming pool. When the pressure in the tank becomes high, then the sand filter system needs to be backwashed.
Sand filters are perfect for owners on a budget who don’t want to spend a ton of time maintaining their pool. Sand filters are usually the cheapest option available and last anywhere from 5 to 10 years. Backwashing and rinsing the pool filter is a pretty basic process, and these types of filters generally require little maintenance or repair.
If cleanliness and filtration is your top priority, then a sand filter may not be your best option. While they still get the job done, sand filters have a lower filtering ability than both DE and cartridge filters. Sand filters only remove dirt and debris down to 20-40 microns, allowing smaller particles to pass into the pool water. They’re also your least energy-efficient option.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filters
Diatomaceous earth is a porous powder with microscopic openings. DE filters have internal elements that become coated with the powder and strains dirt, dust, algae, and bacteria from the water. Similar to sand filters, when DE filters become dirty, they are cleaned by backwashing.
If you’re looking for the pool filter that’s going to get you the cleanest water, this is a great option. Because DE powder is so fine, it can sort out finer particles than a sand or cartridge filter — even as small as 5 microns. Fresh powder can easily be added through your skimmer.
On the flip side, this is probably not the best option if you’re looking for a cheap or low maintenance filter option. DE filters tend to be the most expensive and require the most amount of maintenance. DE powder is carcinogenic in powder form, so pool owners should be cautious and store it properly. Keep in mind that some local towns and cities also restrict backwashing with DE filters to prevent contamination in lakes and rivers.
Cartridge filters are one of the newest filters on the market. The water flows through the pool filter tank and through the cartridge filter. They are cleaned by removing the filter cartridge and washing it off or installing a replacement cartridge, not backwashing. They filter debris down to about 10-15 microns, so more than sand filters but less than DE filters.
Cartridge filters are great for owners looking for an energy-saving pool filter and those who want to spend less time on maintenance. You have to clean the cartridge, but that usually takes less time than backwashing. These pool filters also cut energy costs and conserve water by utilizing lower pump pressure, and put less wear and tear on your pump over time.
While you may lower energy costs down the road, you’re likely paying a higher up front price for these filters in comparison to sand filters, and replacement is required about every 3 years. These types of filters are also known to work best in small pools and spas, so they might not be the right option for larger pools.
Purchasing a Pool Filter
If you’re ready to purchase a new filter for your above ground swimming pool, LinerWorld has a variety of options for you to choose from. Please note that it is generally recommended to buy an oversized filter for your pool. A large filter will ensure the water is cleaned properly and often allow you to go longer periods between cleaning. For more information about pool filters, check out our blog or contact our pool experts to discuss your needs.