pool filter

How to Choose the Right Pool Filter

During regular operation, the pool pump sucks water in from the main drain and skimmers, then circulates it through a filtration tank ranging in size from mid-size to large. Inside that tank is one of three types of pool filters: sand, cartridge, or Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.). The pool filter works to achieve water clarity by removing impurities down to a specific micrometer or, in the case of pool filtration, micron. Of course, not every pool filter is as efficient, nor as affordable as its competition.

Here’s how to choose the right pool filter for your pool and budget.

Pool Filter Choices

Sand Filters

If cost is a concern, you may want to consider a sand filter, which uses silica sand to grab contaminants as small as 20 microns. This system is incredibly easy to use and maintain. Short of needing the occasional backwash – to avoid a build-up of debris – the equipment requires very little maintenance. The sand within the filter, though, needs to be replaced every five to seven years. Alternatively, you can use ZeoSand or Filter Glass, which trap smaller particles and last longer than silica.


  • Low cost
  • Simple to operate
  • Requires little maintenance


  • Sand must be replaced every five to seven years
  • Backwashing is far from environmentally friendly
  • Lower filtering ability than cartridge or D.E. filters

Cartridge Filters

Save water by eliminating the need to backwash with cartridge filters. These filters only need to be removed from the tank, hosed down, and reinserted once or twice a year. Available in a variety of sizes, cartridge filters operate at a lower pressure than other filtration types, which makes them incredibly energy efficient. The upfront costs associated with cartridge filters tends to be higher than sand and D.E. filters.


  • Traps dirt particles as small as 10 microns
  • Low pump pressure yields energy savings
  • Does not require backwashing


  • Cartridges must be replaced every few years
  • Deep cleaning required once or twice a year
  • Higher initial investment

Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) Filters

According to Hayward, a Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) filter is made from fossilized material, called diatoms. These filters act as a mesh strainer to remove particles as small as three microns from the water. D.E. filters provide unsurpassed water filtration to deliver clean and clear water. They do, however, require frequent backwashing. The D.E. powder will need to be replenished after each backwashing session, as well.


  • Grabs particles as small as five microns
  • Delivers the clearest water possible


  • Most expensive option
  • Requires frequent backwashing
  • Annual or semi-annual maintenance required, depending on usage

The Right Filter Size is Essential

Factors such as pool size, local weather conditions, and frequency of use should be considered when choosing a filter. As should your maintenance preferences and budget requirements. Because the wrong size filter can cause problems, along with a shortened lifespan, it’s recommended that you consult with a pool professional. They can help you choose the correct filter size for your specific application and equipment.

Noisy pump? Leaking filter? Affordable Pool Repair specializes in residential and commercial pool pump and equipment repair. We are one of the premier pool repair businesses in Phoenix. Our technicians are CPO certified and some of the best in the industry. We are also committed to providing top-quality service and affordability. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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