Sand Filters vs. Cartridge Filters

What Kind of Filter is Best for Your Pool?

We hear this question all the time.  In your professional swimming pool opinion, should we buy a sand filter or a cartridge filter?  The answer to that question comes down to what is important to you.

What Does a Pool Filter Do?

Contrary to popular opinion, the filter attached to a pool does not sanitize the water.  That is the job of the chemicals circulated through the pool.  The filter is one part of the circulatory system of the pool.  Its job is to catch debris, so as to limit the particles floating out in the pool.  When the filter is doing its job, it plays a big role in creating the crystal-clear water that every swimmer desires. 

Every filter does the same thing.  The media that it uses to do that job (sand, cartridges, etc.), is really the only difference.  Every pool has skimmers and some pools have one or more drains on the floor of the pool.  When the filter pump is running, water (and particulates) are pulled into the skimmers and/or drains, through the piping, into the pump, then into the filter, through the filter media, and then jettisoned back into the pool.  This is the pool cycle.

“Sand Filter” Vs. “Cartridge Filter”

Pete Alewine sells and services two types of pool filters: sand filters and cartridge filters.  A sand filter holds 250 lbs or more of special filter sand.  The pool water filters through the sand, which catches debris and small particulates, and sends clean water back into the pool.  Sand filters are less expensive initially than their cartridge counterparts, are easy to maintain, and only require filter media changes every 5-7 years (depending on usage).  All sand filters have an installed pressure gauge.  When the internal pressure of the filter rises 10 psi from when it was last cleaned, the owner knows that it is time to clean out the residue inside the sand.  This is accomplished easily by “backwashing” the filter.  This is usually a job that takes less than ten minutes, does not require a service call, and does not require taking the filter apart.

A cartridge filter uses cloth-type material as the filtering agent.  Water is introduced through the filter, runs through the material, and sends clear water back into the pool.  The cartridges, themselves, usually need to be replaced every 3 to 4 years, depending on usage.  The filter needs to be opened up and the cartridges thoroughly cleaned at least twice a year, but may be more often, depending on usage and environmental factors.  Both the initial filter purchase, and the cartridge elements themselves, are more expensive. However, the cartridge material itself filters out smaller particles than their sand counterparts.

Pros and Cons of Sand Filtration

Easy to use Backwashing lowers pool water
Low Maintenance Constant backwashing can throw off chemical balance
Relatively Inexpensive Requires a sand change every 5-8 years
Removes small 20-40 micron-sized dirt and debris Backwashing is easy, but some may not like having to do their own maintenance
Backwashing is easy and does not require an expensive service call Does not catch all of the smallest particles like a cartridge filter
Less expensive initially  

Pros and Cons of Cartridge Filtration

Removes smaller particles than sand filter (10 to 15 microns) Initial purchase and maintenance costs higher
Cuts energy costs by using lower pressure Not practical for larger commercial pools
Low impact on water chemistry Cartridges need to be replaced every 2-4 years
Larger surface area screens more particles Need to open filter and wash cartridges
Simple maintenance schedule without backwashing  
Less wear and tear on pool equipment  

Are you ready to learn more about either type of filter?  Are you in need of a sand change or a filter cartridge clean?  Find out more about our Service Department today by clicking here.

Do you have any Pool Service or Maintenance related questions that you need answered?  Give us a call Monday through Saturday.  Our main number is (706) 863-1207. 

Pete Alewine Pool & Spa is an Evans pool builder, retail store and pool service provider serving Augusta, Aiken, Columbia, Lexington and surrounding areas.  We’d would love the opportunity to earn your business!

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