At Foley Pools, we do everything that we can to ensure our clients enjoy their dream pools in the safest way possible. We’ve heard too many horror stories about something going wrong when cleaning filters. We wanted to write something up just to cover a couple of the basic hazards. While some clients may want to clean their own filters, we always recommend that you hire a professional to take care of it. Now, not every pool filter cleaning horror story turns out as severe as this one, but there are a number of hazards that surround high-grade pool filters. We also don’t expect our clients to handle their pool filters like this. It’s always better to play it safe when dealing with a giant highly-pressurized container.
There are several filters on the market to choose from. However, our recommendation is to go with diatomaceous-earth (DE) filters. Cartridge and sand filter are both also reliable filters (which we’ll cover more in depth in another article), but we have found DE filters to be the most effective. Some of the hazards that we’ll cover here are applicable to other filter types. Our focus here, though, will be on DE filters. There is an added level of maintenance that comes with using a DE filter. DE filter grids are more fragile and the DE itself is hazardous to your respiratory health if you don’t take the right precautions.
What To Know About DE
For those not familiar with what it is, you could initially think it’s something derived from compost- a mixture of fungus and bacteria so dense that it could potentially be used as a filter. Well, it’s nothing like that. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is actually really cool. It’s the white talc-like powder of fossilized remains from marine phytoplankton. Cool, right? What’s even more great is that DE is used as a common insecticide, but with no toxins! You see, any bug with an exoskeleton (fleas, ants, cockroaches, bed bugs, etc) will have its outer shell compromised by these small shards of fossil- leaving the insects internals exposed to dry out.
Food grade DE even provides some great health benefits that many take advantage of. Despite this, since it’s pure silica so you want to make sure you or your pets aren’t breathing it in. If you ever find yourself attempting to clean out your filter independently, always wear a protective mask to prevent any lung damage.
Alright, so we know DE is pretty awesome, but why do we use DE filters as opposed to sand or traditional cartridge filters? Well, it’s because no other filter is able to clean down to the level that DE can- plain and simple. The D.E. filter is the most efficient type of pool filter available to pool owners. It can trap particles down to 3 – 5 microns; well below what the naked eye can see, which is around 35 microns. DE is wildly effective at keeping your pool clean and it’s important to have a professional clean and maintain your DE filter. You want to make sure that you’re reintroducing the right amount of DE to your pool.
Problems With DE
Despite how awesome DE filters can be, there are some drawbacks to using them versus traditional cartridge filters. As we mentioned earlier, DE is VERY effective at filtering sediment out your pool water because it is so fine. This is great as long as it stays in your filter. You really don’t want this stuff getting pumped back into the pool… that is, unless you want microscopic fossilized plankton shards getting into your eyes, hair, ears, etc. And I don’t think you do.
Now, while the purpose of this post is to encourage you to have a professional take care of your filter cleaning, we would rather give you a heads up to some of these issues rather than going in bling (just have a professional do it). That being said, there are a couple reasons for DE to end up back in your pool. Without going too far into detail (we could write a blog series just on troubleshooting your DE filter, alone), some of the common mistakes that leave you with fossil dust in your pool are:
- Torn grid
- Adding too much DE
- Leak in your hardware
- Adding DE while still backwashing
- Not cleaning out your skimmer basket before adding DE
The most important takeaway from this list is the issue of having a torn grid. DE filter grids tend to be more fragile that cartridge filters. It’s important to handle them with extra care should you choose to rinse them out yourself. Though, it is possible to repair a torn grid, it would be easier (though, more costly) to buy replacement grids. Either scenario isn’t one that you want to have to deal with. At the end of the day, when it comes to cleaning DE filters, it’s always best practice to have a professional take care of it for you. It will say you a lot of time and headache.
**It’s important to note that DE filter grids are not like what you imagine when you think traditional cartridge filters. They are a bit more complex in the way they fit together as you can see here!**
A Warning About High Pressure
We almost always install DE filters for our clients. However, whether it be a DE, cartridge, or sand filter, there are always hazards when working with a highly pressurized container. If you decide to clean your own filter, always always always be mindful of reducing filter pressure.
Most state-of-the-art filters aren’t the safety hazard that older filters can be. Despite this, it’s important to make sure that you replace your filter components to minimize the possibility of any accident. When you have your filter cleaned, replace the seals. Have a professional check your clamps once a year or so. But really, it is always best to trust an experienced professional to properly clean and maintain your filter.
You can never be too cautious when it comes to pool safety. We hope that this article was able to point you in the right direction. If you absolutely must clean your own pool filter, please proceed with safety in mind above all else. Just know that we strongly recommend to our clients to trust the task with a professional. Thanks for taking the time to read! We welcome your thoughts, feedback, and filter stories if you have them! As always, you can rely on Foley for any of your maintenance, service, and renovation need. Just give us a call!