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Pool Filter Cartridges: Should You Clean or Replace?

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Pool Filter Cartridges: Should You Clean or Replace?

Your pool filter cartridge may seem like a little thing, but proper care of your filter cartridges will not only help to keep your pool clean, but also increase it’s useful life. Over time, all filter cartridges will have to be replaced. Dirt, oils and minerals will build up which cleaning won’t remove. Here are some tips to help you decide when to clean a pool filter cartridge, and when to replace your pool filter cartridge.

When You Should Clean A Pool Filter Cartridge

You should clean your pool filter cartridges whenever the filter pressure gauge increases by about 8 PSI or more above the normal operating pressure. Or, at least every 6 months assuming your filter is properly sized and you haven’t had any unusually large stress placed on the filter such as a bad algae bloom or very heavy user loads. Naturally, If you notice a change in your water quality, it’s time to inspect the filter for tears, and a cleaning may be needed.

How to Clean a Pool Filter Cartridge

Make sure you follow your manufacturers guidelines for your specific cartridge. Generally, you will first want to remove any large dirt and debris particles. Then soak it in a filter cartridge cleaning solution to remove built up oils and scum. Use a garden hose & sprayer to remove the larger debris. Make sure you clean between the pleats from top to bottom. The more thoroughly you clean your pool filter cartridge, the longer it will last. Just hosing off it off and replacing it is not recommended. When you clean your cartridges, go through the complete procedure each time. We recommend using a pool Filter Wand; It’s a special brush that you connect to you garden hose to increase water pressure. This allows you to more thoroughly brush the cartridge with a continuous flow of water at the same time. Or, you can use a “filter flosser” to blast dirt and debris out of the pleats in your filter cartridge.

Once you’ve successfully removed all of the loose debris, soak the filter in a filter cleaning solution to remove oils and minerals. Use a high quality filter cleaner for best results. We recommend something like Natural Chemistry’s Filter Perfect. It’s a highly concentrated, natural enzyme cleaning solution. Follow the directions and soak the cartridge for a minimum of 6 hours, or let it soak overnight. Remove the cartridge from the solution and rinse thoroughly. A product like this will work well on oils and minerals, but – if your cartridge is clogged with oily residues, you may need additional steps. Contact us at Sink or Swim and let us help advise you. For best results, allow your cartridge to dry fully after soaking before placing it back in the filter tank. A tall kitchen trash can usually is tall enough; if not, flip it over after 6 hours to soak both ends of the filter cartridge. Pro Tip: If you have replacement cartridges on hand, you can switch cartridges at cleaning time, so you aren’t without filtering during the cleaning and drying process.

When to Replace a Filter Cartridge

Usually, pool owners replace their filter cartridges about every 3-5 years. However, don’t rely on time as the only determining factor. You should always monitor the performance of your filter. Your specific time frame may be longer or shorter depending on the demand placed on the cartridge.

There are 3 basic ways to determine when your filter cartridge is ready to be replaced.

  • Cleaning Frequency: So, Let’s assume you are cleaning your pool filter cartridges when the pressure gauge rises 8 PSI above normal operating pressure. When this time frame in between cleanings begins to shorten significantly, the filter cartridge is probably ready to be replaced. One easy way is to keep track of the filter pressure and the date you clean your filter cartridge. When the length of time between cleanings is half of what it used to be, your filter cartridge has reached it’s “half-life”, and it’s time to replace.
  • Water Quality: Whenever you notice that the water stays cloudy or green despite proper chemical balance, it’s probably time to replace it. You can clean the cartridge first, but if the problem doesn’t clear up in a few days, the cartridge is probably unable to filter the water as effectively as it once did. This is because each time a cartridge is cleaned, the fibers separate a little bit more, allowing fine dirt and algae to pass through unfiltered.
  • Filter Damage: The third way of determining the need for a new filter cartridge is to inspect it thoroughly every time you clean it. You are looking for rips or tears in the fabric. Damage to the filter will reduce the potential for proper filtering. If you have tears, or rips in the fabric, replace the cartridge immediately.

One last point is that under normal circumstances, bigger is better. Bigger cartridge filters have longer filter cycles and fewer cleanings per year. This could be as low as one single cleaning at closing time. Larger filters will outlast smaller filters, so go big! If you have any questions about how to care for an aging filter cartridge, call Sink or Swim at 682-208-1281.

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