How to Properly Maintain Your Pool Cleaners and Filters

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Your pool cleaners and filters need to be properly maintained and cleaned in order for them to do their job of cleaning your pool and the water in it.  Dirty cleaners and filters can’t clean a dirty pool.  All they can do is recycle the dirt.  That isn’t the kind of recycling you want to do.

Before using your cleaner

Before using your cleaner – automatic or manual – make sure all the inline filters and skimmer baskets are clean and free of debris.  Wash them off with a garden hose or wash them gently with soap and water.  Examine the cleaner head and clean it as well.  If you need to use a brush on it to remove some of the grit and grime, use a soft bristle brush like a shoe brush.  Alternately you can use a toothbrush to get into some of the tighter spots.

Some pressure-side cleaners use a filter bag to gather debris, similar to the bag your vacuum cleaner uses to gather and hold debris.  Too much debris will clog the filter and reduce the pressure.  Empty it out before using it.

After using your cleaner

Once you’re finished using your cleaner, or it’s done working by itself if you have an automatic one, go through the same cleaning and washing process again.  Cleaning your pool will deposit new debris and leaves in the inline filters, filter bag, and skimmer basket(s).   Empty them out and rinse them off with a garden hose.

Drape the cleaner hose over a fence to let all the water drain out of it.  Drain the water out of the cleaner as well.  This is especially important with automatic cleaners.  Once everything is dry, store it in a dry enclosed storage closet or bin.  Never leave it sitting outside where bugs and spiders might try to take up residence in it.

Cleaning your cartridge filter

Cartridge filters are the easiest to clean and maintain.  They have a very fine surface that catches all the dirt and debris.  Simply remove them and wash them off with a garden hose.  You can wash them gently with soap and water, but it isn’t really necessary.  Once the filter is clean, put it back in place and you’re done.

cartridge filters

Image credit: Bill Jacobus, Flickr

Maintaining these types of filters is quick and easy.  Keep track of how old your filters are though.  Their useful lifespan is only about three years, then they need to be replaced with new ones.

Cleaning a diatomaceous earth filter

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is also relatively easy to maintain.  Adding diatomaceous earth is straightforward, simply pour it directly into the skimmer.  As the diatomaceous earth begins filling the tank, keep an eye on the pressure gauge on the pump.  Once it falls to around 8 pounds, you’ve added enough and can stop.

diatomaceous earth

Image credit: Zephyris, Wikimedia

To clean it, you just backwash the filter on a regular basis.  Once a week is a good place to start then adjust it from there.  Unfortunately, diatomaceous earth doesn’t last very long compared to the others.  Since it is made from crushed and fossilized exoskeletons of microscopic diatoms, it is organic and therefore biodegradable.  You’ll need to replace it every six months to a year.

Cleaning a sand filter

Sand filters work because the rough edges of the sand particles catch and hold debris in the water passing through the filter.  As debris builds up in the filter tank it begins impeding the flow of water and the pressure will begin climbing.  Once it gets 5-10 pounds over the regular pressure, it is time to backwash it.

Just like boulders in a stream or river become worn and smooth over time from erosion, sand particles also become worn.  Generally speaking, you should change the same once every five years.

Once the filter tank is drained of water, and the multiport valve has been removed, a shop vac is the easiest way to get all the sand out of the tank.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a long, messy job digging it out with a handheld shovel.

After the sand has been removed, wash the tank out with a garden hose, letting it drain out the bottom drain.  Replace the cap on the drain and put new sand in the tank.  Swimming pool sand comes in 25-pound bags and depending on the size of your tank, you might need up to eight bags to re-fill  it.

Once the tank is full, replace the multiport valve, reattach all the pipes, and backwash it for several minutes to wash away all the dust and microscopic debris.  Then you should rinse it for a minute or two before turning it to the normal filter position.