how often to change sand in pool filter

Pool Maintenance: How Often to Change Sand in Pool Filter Systems

Is your pool looking cloudy despite it’s working filtration system? Well, if that’s the case, then it’s possible it’s time for you to change the filter sand.

Pool filters and the filter sand itself go experience the workings of time, so at some point or another, you will have to change them. But do you know how often to change sand in pool filters? Well, let’s take a look.

What is Filter Sand?

Just like how fish tanks have their filtration systems, pools have theirs as well. Instead of a mechanical filter that runs at all times, pools use sand. Yes, that’s right, sand.

A pool filter keeps the water clean by trapping the gross things that find their way there. Things like algae, dirt, bacteria, and every dead bug you’ve ever seen floating around. The filters do this with the help of filter media.

Filter media is the material used to actually grab and trap the gross things in the pool. The filter media pools use is sand.

Why Do I Need to Change the Sand?

Well, the filter sand works because it’s surface is rough. The coarseness allows it to grab the dirt and bacteria that are being filtered. As time goes on, the sand will start to lose this roughness and therefore will also lose it’s filtering abilities, allowing the contaminants to remain in the pool.

Types of Sand

Because filter sands need that coarse surface to trap contaminants, not all sand will work. So, unfortunately, you can’t cheat the system and grab some sand from outside. You’re going to have to purchase one of these three types of sand.

Glass Sand

The first type of sand is glass sand. This sand is incredible for the environment because it is made from 100% recycled material.

In addition to its low environmental impact, glass sand minimizes channeling. Channeling is when the water is able to create a straightway through the sand, allowing it and it’s contents to get through unfiltered. The glass sand is able to do this because the grains of sand are all different sizes.

Silica Sand

Definitely one of the most common of three filter sands is silica sand. #20 silica sand to be exact.

This sand is made from quartz, making the edges of the grains of sand perfect for trapping the contaminants. Silica sand doesn’t have an “extra feature” like how glass sand minimizes channeling.

Zeolite Sand

The final of the three filter sands is zeolite sand. Cool name, right? The sand is made from zeolites which are volcanic rock minerals.

In addition to the cool name, zeolite sand is bustling with “extra features”. Zeolite sand has a structure similar to that of a honeycomb. This hexagonal structure increases the surface area of zeolite sand to around 100 times greater than your typical filter sand, allowing it to trap even more contaminants.

The second perk of zeolite sand is molecular sieving. This process allows the sand to chemically trap chloramines for essentially forever, decreasing the frequent use of pool chemical additives.

Cleaning the Sand

Before you ever have to change the sand in your filter, you’ll need to add sand cleaning into your pool maintenance routine.

Generally speaking, backwashing the sand filter will rid of any debris. After backwashing, just be sure to skim the pool thoroughly.

In addition to backwashing the sand filter, treating the filter with sand filter cleaner about once a year will do wonders. Because backwashing only gets rid of certain contaminants, the filter cleaner does the job perfectly.

How Often to Change Sand in Pool Filters?

Generally, you’ll want to change the sand in your pool filter about once every five years. Once you’ve gone past five years without a change, the reliability and efficiency of your filter go down. If you aren’t too sure how long it’s been since your current filter sand was last changed, it’s probably a good idea to change it anyway.

Signs Your Filter is on the Fritz

If you choose not to change sand just in case or you think something is wrong with your filtration system, make sure to look out for signs your filter is going bad.

Some common filter issues include:

  • Broken Laterals
  • Cloudy water as a result of a slow sand filter
  • Dirty sand filter even after backwashing
  • Leaking multiport valves
  • Pressure issues
  • Tank failure
  • Valve failure

If you’re noticing any of these problems with your sand filter, it is in your best interest to change the sand. If the change of sand doesn’t help and you’re still seeing these issues arise, then it’s time you get a new filter altogether.

How to Change the Sand

Now, let’s start changing the sand.

First up, you’ll want to remove the old sand. To do this, open up the filter. If your filter has a multipart valve attached, disconnect it from the plumbing.

The next step is to pull the drain plug and let the water drain. Then, pull the tank apart and scoop out the sand. It is a good idea to use plastic cups so as not to damage the laterals.

After the sand is gone, clean out the tank and make sure all of your laterals are in place. Now replace the underdrain assembly.

After you’ve done that step, fill up the tank with water until it’s half full. Then, add in your sand. Just be sure to level out the sand bed after each bag.

After you’re done adding your sand, it’s time to reassemble your filter and voila! Your filter sand has been changed.

A Beautiful Pool

Knowing how often to change sand in pool filters will keep your pool beautiful for years to come. Your sparkling waters will be the talk of the neighborhood. Just remember to clean and replace your sand regularly so you can keep your pool safe and pristine!

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