How to Clean the Three Most Common Above Ground Pool Filters

How to clean an above ground pool filter

If you have an above ground pool, you’ve got a dirty job to do. Whether you have a cartridge, D.E., or sand pool filter, it needs a cleaning every so often (see below for when). The good news is you don’t have to be Mike Rowe to handle it, or even get that messy. We promise.

As always, these are general guidelines. You’ll want to follow your owner’s manual for the full instructions on how to clean your above ground pool filter.

When to Clean an Above Ground Pool Filter

When your filter is first up and running, or right after you clean it, note the “normal” PSI that it operates at. Write it down so you don’t have to worry about remembering it. Whenever your filter pressure is 7-10 PSI higher than normal, it’s time to clean your pool filter.

How to Clean a Cartridge Pool Filter

Before you get started, we recommend having a second cartridge on hand and ready to use to avoid filter down time while cleaning.

  1. Turn the pump off and close the slide valves to and from the filter to prevent water loss.
  2. Open the air relief valve on top of the filter to lessen the pressure inside the tank.
  3. Loosen the locking ring and lift off the tank.
  4. Remove the tank lid from the tank body.
  5. Spray both the inside and outside of the filter element. Work from the top down making sure to wash between all pleats.

Note: Mid-season you should spray the filter AND soak it with BioGuard’s Kleen It Filter Cleaner.

  1. Reassemble the filter, OPEN the slide valves, and turn the pump back on.
Video showing how to clean a Black Diamond Cartridge Pool Filter

How to Clean a D.E. Pool Filter

Diatomaceous earth (D.E.) pool filters are one of the most efficient types of pool filters available, because they filter things as small as 4 microns. When you clean a D.E. filter, you’re getting rid of the existing D.E. in the filter, rinsing it, and adding new D.E.

Important to know: D.E. (short for diatomaceous earth) is a light, powdery substance that can easily get into your eyes and cause some serious pain and damage. For this reason, avoid cleaning a D.E. filter on a windy day, wear sunglasses (or even better, protective goggles) when you do, and don’t stand down wind. If you do happen to get D.E. in your eyes, don’t rub! Flush with water.

D.E. filters can vary in shape, size and construction. Below are instructions on how to clean a D.E. Element Filter. Instead of there being a D.E. filter grid inside, it has what is called an element cartridge. In fact, this style of D.E. filter looks just like a cartridge filter.

Now let’s get to it.

  1. Turn your pump off and close the slide valves to and from the filter.
  2. Remove the threaded plug on the DRAIN port at the bottom of the tank. Open the manual air release valve and allow the water and excess D.E. to escape the tank.
  3. Remove the tank lid by unscrewing the lock ring/cover. To do this – push down on the lock tab and turn the lid to the left.
  4. Pull the entire filter element straight up and out of the filter tank. Rinse it well using a garden hose attached with a spray nozzle.

A couple of notes on this step:
– Mid-season it is recommended you rinse the filter element AND soak it in BioGuard’s Kleen It Filter Cleaner spray.
– If you see any cracks on the top of the filter element or you have D.E. spitting back in your pool through the return, it means it’s time to replace your filter element. As a general rule, these elements last 2-3 years and it’s always a good idea to have another on hand just in case.

  1. Thread the plug back into the drain port.
  2. Place the filter element back into the filter tank and close the lid tightly.
  3. Open the slide valves to and from the filter.
  4. Mix the recommended amount of D.E. powder per your filter instructions and water in a bucket until it reaches the consistency of pancake mix. Below are the recommended quantities for the HydroMax D.E. Filter System that we carry:
    – 50 SQ FT = 1½ lbs of D.E. powder
    – 75 SQ FT = 2½ lbs of D.E. powder
  5. Turn the pump back on. When the water starts streaming in, close the air relief valve.
  6. Remove the skimmer basket. With the pump running, SLOWLY pour the D.E. mixture into the thru-wall skimmer.

How to Clean a Sand Pool Filter

A sand pool filter is one of the easiest to clean. You just go through a backwash and rinse cycle.

In addition to going by PSI, also consider cleaning your sand pool filter once a week to help cut down on algae in your pool.

  1. Turn the pump off.
  2. Attach a backwash hose (if desired) to the backwash port.
  3. Set the control valve to the “Backwash” position and turn the pump on.
  4. Backwash for 2-3 minutes or until the water runs clear out of the backwash port.
  5. Turn the pump off and turn the control valve to the “Rinse” position. Turn the pump back on and rinse for approximately 30 seconds.
  6. Turn the pump off and turn the control valve back to the “Filter” position.
  7. Turn the pump back on and resume normal operation.

We’re Here to Dish the Dirt on Cleaning an Above Ground Pool Filter

If you’re unsure of any of the steps, we’re here to help. Contact us or stop in at any one of our locations.

Sign Up For Special News & Deals!

Newsletter Sign-Up