In-Ground Pool Filters - Choose Between Cartridge, Sand and DE Filters

by Pool Builders on 07-28-2009 in Articles

Savvy pool owners understand that the importance of swimming pool filters is undeniable. Pool filters remove debris and pollutants that would otherwise cause dirty, cloudy water. However, pool filters for in-ground swimming pools are important for more than just aesthetic reasons, as contaminants such as bacteria can cause illness while cloudy water creates ideal conditions for algae growth.

With three types of available filtration systems for in-ground pools, deciding which system is right for you and your pool may seem confusing. Yet, sand, cartridge and diatomaceous earth or DE pool filters will all allow you to keep your swimming pool clean and properly maintained. Understanding the various pros and cons associated with each type of filter will simply allow you to choose the system that will be best suited for your pool and your circumstances.

Sand pool filters are the oldest and most popular type of filters for in-ground swimming pools. They have been used by private pool owners for many years and are great for keeping water free of dirt and debris. These swimming pool filters feature a series of chambers which hold special pool grade sand. As the pool's pump propels water through the filter system, dirt and other debris are trapped in the spaces between the sand particles. They are thus prevented from moving on as the cleansed water continues through the sand, exiting through the bottom layer and returning to the swimming pool.

Approximately every few weeks, the accumulation of impurities in the sand will build up to the point where the pressure in the filtration system will start to rise because the water is having more and more difficulty passing through the clogged sand. As a result, sand filters must be backwashed every so often in order to keep them functioning effectively. Backwashing sand swimming pool filters simply involves reversing the water flow so that the accumulated dirt will be knocked out of the sand beds and can then be removed through the waste line.

Sand filters for in-ground swimming pools are so popular among pool owners because they are simple to use and require relatively little maintenance and attention. Also, in the event that a sand filter becomes particularly dirty and clogged, they are easy and fairly inexpensive to replace. On the other hand, some pool owners dislike having to perform the manual task of backwashing several times during each swimming season. However, the main disadvantage of sand filters is the fact that they are the least effective when it comes to removing smaller particles from the water, as they typically can only trap particles as small as 20 microns.

While cartridge filters have been available for many years, their popularity and acceptance has only recently begun to enjoy a rapid rise. These pool filters for in-ground swimming pools use a cartridge element, similar to the kind found under a typical kitchen sink, to screen out dirt and other impurities. Often made from reinforced polyester material, cartridge filters have a larger surface area than sand pool filters. This means that cartridge filters become clogged less often and therefore require less maintenance. In fact, cartridge filters usually only need to be cleaned once or twice per swimming season.

Another great advantage of cartridge pool filters for in-ground swimming pools is the fact that when they do need to be cleaned, it's very easy to do so. Rather than requiring backwashing, the cartridge element simply needs to be removed from the filter housing and washed down with a hose. While there are inexpensive cartridge elements available that may only last one season, there are also more expensive cartridge elements which will last at least five years. With respect to the ability of cartridge swimming pool filters to filter out impurities, they are more effective than sand pool filters as they can trap particles as small as 10 microns.

The third category of pool filters for in-ground swimming pools consists of diatomaceous earth or DE filters. As is to be expected from their name, DE pool filters use diatomaceous earth as their filtration medium. Derived from the fossilized exoskeletons of diatoms, diatomaceous earth is a porous powder with tiny openings that look like sponges when viewed under a microscope. This powder is used to coat the internal grid elements of the filter, creating a filter cake which strains algae, debris and other impurities from the water.

In terms of maintenance, DE filters are very similar to sand filters in that they require backwashing or draining every few weeks to keep them working effectively. The main advantage of using a diatomaceous earth filter for your in-ground swimming pool is that this type of filter offers the very best filtration, trapping particles as small as 2 to 5 microns.

Accordingly, if you want your swimming pool water to be truly polished, DE pool filters are a great option. However, keep in mind that all of the above swimming pool filters will help you to keep your pool clean and well-maintained. Knowing the specific design features and pros and cons of each category will simply allow you to choose the type of filtration system that will be best suited to your individual preferences.

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