Pro Tips: How Often Should Your Pool Filter Be Cleaned?

March 8, 2021

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Are you wondering how often a pool filter should be cleaned? A clean pool filter is vital for anyone owning a pool, as a dirty, clogged filter means polluted and downright unhygienic water. A clogged filter also puts more stress on the pool pump, leading to early breakdown and the need for more frequent repairs and replacement.

Most pool filters need cleaning every 6 months. How often should a pool filter be cleaned depends on the filter type, how often you clean the pool itself, and local weather conditions, as well as chlorine and other chemical levels in the pool.

Since a high-quality, clean pool filter is vital for enjoying clean, safe water and for keeping the pool pump in good working order, you might consider some added tips on how to clean the pool filter, when to adjust your cleaning schedule and often-overlooked signs that indicate it’s time for a new pool filter. You can then discuss any questions you have with a pool cleaning company near you and know that your pool will always be clean and pristine and ready for swimming!

How Often Should a Pool Filter Be Cleaned?

how often should pool filter be cleaned

First, don’t confuse the pool filter with a screen located along a pool wall or floor. That screen or skimmer basket covers the pipes or hoses leading to the pool pump, which is what pulls water toward the pool filter.

Your pool’s filter is connected to that pump and an attached chlorinator. The filter itself might look like a small tank, which holds a filter or cartridge inside. That screen or skimmer basket along a pool wall should be rinsed often and especially when you notice leaves and other debris collecting in that crevice, but note some indicators that it’s also time to clean the pool filter itself:

  • Noticeable changes in water quality are your first sign that it’s time to clean or change the pool filter. Sand or silt collecting at the bottom of the pool, water with a greenish tinge, oily water, and other such visible dirt and debris is often the result of a dirty or clogged filter.
  • Pool filters might need cleaning after higher than average pool usage. For example, if you had a weekend pool party, all those extra people in the pool mean added body oils, hair care products, dead skin cells, shed hair, suntan oils, and other residues potentially clogging the pool filter!
  • Storms or high winds blow sand, dirt, dust, leaves, and other debris onto a pool’s surface; this debris then ends up in the filter. If you’ve experienced particularly strong storms in your area, check the filter for needed cleaning.
  • If water has evaporated from the pool and it needed refilling, note that it takes some time for the chlorine in the pool to kill residues in that water. Check the filter for needed cleaning or changing after refilling the pool.
  • Checking the pool pump pressure gauge can also tell you if the filter needs cleaning. Check the gauge right after cleaning or replacing the filter and then monitor it over time. If it rises by 10 psi, it’s time to clean the filter again!

While these are all indicators that the pool filter probably needs cleaning, don’t wait for any of these signs to appear before checking the filter’s condition! Inspect your pool’s filter every month or even every week, especially during peak usage or swimming season, so you know if it needs cleaning or is showing signs of excessive wear.

Cleaning and Reusing Pool Filters

wondering how often a pool filter should be cleaned

Many pool filters are designed to be cleaned and reused repeatedly. These filter types might be more expensive than disposable paper cartridges, but they can last for years before needing replacement, saving you money in the long run. To clean and reuse pool filters properly, note a few commonly asked questions and pro tips:

Can I use a power washer on a pool filter?

Avoid power washing the filter as this often means too much pressure and the risk of damaging it. Instead, use a garden hose without a sprayer to get in all the cracks and crevices of a filter and rinse it clean.

Can I use bleach on a pool filter?

Avoid soaking the pool filter in bleach as this can soften and damage the fibers that make up the filter. Bleach is also not typically needed to clean away mold, mildew, algae, and other debris. Instead, note that most filters need a good soaking in a cleaning solution designed for pool filters, in particular, to loosen dirt, grime, oil, and other debris.

What if soaking doesn’t clean the filter?

Some filters might also need cleaning with a special brush or another tool, to remove loosened debris and ensure the filter is clean and pristine, and ready for use! If your particular filter doesn’t seem to get clean after soaking and rinsing, check with a pool supply company near you, as the filter might simply need replacing rather than cleaning.

Why Does My Pool Filter Get Dirty So Quickly?

cleaning pool with skimmer before cleaning pool filter

There are a few reasons why a pool filter might get dirty far more quickly than expected. A pool cleaning professional near you can check your pool and filter and offer some personalized tips and suggestions, but note a few tips from the pros on why some filters clog or need cleaning more often than others:

  • If your chlorine levels are too low, this might allow algae to grow and then die and get clogged along the filter, making it dirtier sooner than expected! Note needed chlorine levels for your pool’s size as well as general weather conditions in your area.
  • An undersized filter will get clogged sooner rather than later, as it’s working hard to collect lots of dirt and other debris better managed by a larger filter. As with chlorine levels, check the proper size filter for your pool size and upgrade to something larger if needed.
  • Tracking dirt and grime in from outside the pool can mean a dirty filter! Ensure pool guests rinse off before heading into the pool; at the very least, ask them to rinse their feet or wear outdoor shoes going to and from the pool, to keep their feet clean and avoid excessive dirt and debris in the pool.
  • High winds also blow lots of dirt and debris onto pool water, so that it then ends up in the filter. Consider investing in a pool cover or solid panel fences around your yard, to reduce airborne debris.
  • Even with a high-quality filter, pools need consistent cleaning and vacuuming. Ensure you’re using the skimmer frequently and keeping water as clean as possible, to reduce wear and tear on the pump and filter.
  • Trees are notorious for dropping debris onto pools, which then clogs the filters! If you have tree branches hanging over your home’s pool, consider trimming back those branches as much as possible.
  • Avoid blowing residues into the pool every time you mow or otherwise maintain your lawn. Aim leaf blowers away from the pool and switch to a bagged mower, to keep grass clippings, dust, and dirt out of the pool.

When to Change the Sand In Your Pool Filter

Sand pool filters need fresh sand about every 3 to 5 years; however, this schedule can vary according to your pool usage and if there are any extenuating circumstances that might mean dirty sand sooner than expected! Check your filter’s sand twice per year and note if it seems black, oily, or otherwise dirty and muddy, and change it as needed.

It’s also vital that you keep an eye on the pool water and note if you see dirt coming back into the water, excessive oil, sand, and silt at the bottom of the pool. These can all indicate that it’s time to change the sand in the filter. If you’re changing sand more often than expected, ask a pool care expert about upgrading to a larger or higher-quality filter.

The Life Expectancy of a Pool Filter

Even the best pool filter will wear out over time and need replacing. Most pool filters need replacing every 3 to 5 years, with a high-quality filter lasting perhaps 7 years at most. Pool pumps typically last longer, from 8 to 12 years, or 10 years on average.

While your filter manufacturer will note how long your filter should last, consider replacing it if you suddenly need to start cleaning it more often than usual, as this indicates a worn filter. Also, if you clean the filter but the pool water stays green or cloudy, it’s probably time for a new filter altogether.

Running a Pool Pump Without a Filter Cartridge

You can run your pool pump without a filter cartridge, to maintain circulation after the cartridge has dried up or needs replacing. Ensure that the cartridge tank is properly reassembled and that you’ve removed its internal parts, to avoid damage.

Note, too, that you don’t want to make a habit out of running the pump without a cartridge, as that filter is vital for trapping and locking dirt and debris. The longer you run the pump without a filter cartridge, the more debris that circulates through the pump line and the more wear and tear the pump suffers!

What Happens If You Don’t Clean a Pool Filter?

algae growth in pool

Cleaning a pool filter might not be the most enjoyable part of owning a pool, but it’s vital for ensuring clean, healthy water! If you let your pool’s filter get overly dirty, it won’t work as effectively, leaving dirt, sand, silt, and other debris in the pool water.

A pool filter also helps trap algae growth and other contaminants, so ignoring needed cleaning can mean allowing for more algae growth in the pool itself. This can mean unhealthy water that irritates your skin and sinuses every time you swim.

Your pool’s pump also pumps water from the pool to the filter. When pool water is dirty and full of contaminants and debris, the pump needs to work harder to pull that water from the pool and pump it to the filter. In turn, a dirty filter means excessive wear and tear on the pump and premature breakdown.

The longer you ignore needed filter cleaning, the sooner the filter will also need replacing! Cleaning it often will keep it in good condition, reducing wear and tear and ensuring the filter stays functioning properly for as long as possible.

Pro Tips for Keeping Your Pool Clean & In Good Condition

pool filter cleaned showing clean pool

Your pool water’s cleanliness depends a lot on how well you maintain the pool throughout the season. Note a few tips for keeping your pool clean and in good condition no matter the weather or average pool usage:

  • Clean that screen or skimmer basket often and especially if you’re in an area with lots of debris in the air; for example, if there is a beach or desert nearby, there is probably a lot of sand in the air, which then gets stuck in that skimmer basket. Rinsing it clean keeps that debris from washing back into the pool water.
  • Check the pool chemistry often, even daily during peak usage. Adjust your chlorine and other chemicals as needed, to ensure proper chemical levels and clean water.
  • Monitor the pool’s flow meter, which tells you how much water is being run through the filter and chlorinator regularly. While you don’t want to overwork the pump, it’s vital that the water get pulled through the filter as frequently as needed for your pool’s size.
  • Brush the pool walls regularly, to loosen dirt and debris and allow it to get flushed through the filter rather than build up along the wall.
  • Avoid homemade cleaners or items not meant for pools, as these can interact with chlorine and other chemicals and keep them from working as they should.

If your pool water always seems dirty, oily, or otherwise unpleasant, it’s time to invest in the services of a pool cleaning professional! He or she will check and maintain chemical levels as well as clean the pool so that it’s always ready for use.

Sarasota Pool Service Pros is happy to bring this information to our readers and we hope it helped you better understand how often should a pool filter be cleaned and receive ongoing pool maintenance. If you’re looking for expert pool services in Sarasota, FL, give us a call! We offer FREE quotes and convenient appointments that work around you.

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