cleaning a sand pool filter

One of the most important tasks related to pool maintenance is to clean the filters when necessary. Sand filters are one of the most common types of pool filters. Many pool owners choose this type of filter because they are economical and simple to operate. In this article, we’ll be covering the steps for cleaning a sand pool filter.

How to Identify the Type of Pool Filter You Have

There are several types of pool filters, so your first concern is to make sure you know what kind of filter you have. Before doing any kind of cleaning or maintenance, you should know not only the type of filter but the brand name, model, and size. It’s always useful to have a manual or website to consult for any specific instructions for your filter.

The 3 Main Types of Filters

The three main types of pool filters are cartridge, diatomaceous earth (DE), and sand. cartridge filters are usually plastic-framed cartridges of varying sizes. DE filters use diatomaceous earth, which is finer than sand particles, to filter the water. Sand filters are large canisters of sand that trap debris as water flows through them.

You can find out the kind of filter, as well as the brand, by looking at the tag attached to the filter’s tank. You’ll need to know this for cleaning as well as for obtaining replacement parts. The tag will tell you the model name, size, and manufacturer. If you still aren’t sure, go to the pool manufacturer’s website and type in the information such as the serial number or call them. If the information on the tag is faded or illegible, you’ll have to contact the manufacturer or a pool service company for help (e.g. take a photo and email it to them).

How Often Should You Clean Your Filter?

Ideally, your filter cleaning schedule should be determined by the filter pressure gauge. Whatever the normal PSI (pounds per square inch) is when your filter is new/clean, add 10 PSI to that number. Maybe even mark it on your gauge with the “clean+10” value. Once your PSI value reaches the mark, it’s time to clean the filter. If you want to put a time frame on it, it’s about once per month. But it’s far better to gauge your cleaning frequency on your pressure numbers.

Although going too long between cleanings can be a problem (because too much pressure build-up can damage pool equipment), cleaning too frequently can be a problem as well. As debris accumulates, the filter gets more efficient at doing its job. If cleaned too often, the filter efficiency will never have an opportunity to improve. So, stay in that sweet spot and wait till you get that 10 PSI rise, but, if you can help it, no more than that before you do your next cleaning.

Equipment You Need to Clean Your Filter

It’s best to have everything you need close at hand when you’re ready to clean your filter.

  • Backwash hose. To clean your sand filter, you’ll need a backwash hose to carry away the wastewater. If your pool has a built-in waste line, you won’t need to use a separate backwash hose. If not, it’s best to buy a heavy-duty hose that will last a long time. You’ll need a hose that’s long enough to reach the drainage point such as the sewer.
  • Multiport valve. This is the valve on your filter that controls the flow of water. The normal setting is “filter.” When cleaning the filter, you’ll be setting it to “backwash” and “rinse.”
  • Filter cleaner. Get a sand filter cleaner that’s compatible with your make and model. You’ll only need to use this solution for an annual cleaning or whenever a deep cleaning is needed.
  • Pool filter owner’s manual. This will provide any special instructions as well as the proper PSI settings that indicate your pool filter is clean.

Regular Maintenance vs Deep Cleaning

The sand filter cleaning steps outlined below refer to both backwashing and deep cleaning. Backwashing should be done as needed, usually monthly. Deep cleaning, which should be done annually, requires the use of a filter cleaning solution. Steps 6 through 8 are only necessary for deep cleaning. If you notice that the water is not staying as clean (and you’ve ruled out other possible causes, such as improper water chemistry), you can do a deep cleaning.

Cleaning a Sand Filter Step By Step

Here are the steps to follow to clean your sand filter

Set the Multiport Valve to “Backwash”

In the normal “filter” position, water is directed from the pool pump to the filter and back into the pool. During backwashing, the process will be somewhat reversed, but the water will exit the backwash hose. Note that you should never reset the multiport valve while the pump is running. You’ll have to reset it several times during the cleaning process. Always make sure the pool pump is off when making adjustments to the valve setting. You start by backwashing the filter for about three minutes to remove any large debris from the sand

Shut Off the Pool Pump

Be sure to turn off your pool pump before you perform any maintenance or adjust the multiport valve settings. If you change the settings, such as from “Filter” to “Backwash” while the pump is running, it can damage the valve.

Attach the Backwater Hose

Attach the backwater hose to the filter’s waste or backwash port. Make sure you comply with local ordinances, which often prohibit dumping pool water into public sewers. You may need to use your home’s own sanitary sewer line.

Set the Multiport Valve to the “Backwash” Setting

Turn the pump back on. Let it run for a minute or two. The water should look clear after this.

Turn Off the Pump

Return the valve setting to “Filter.”

Add the Filter Cleaner

Remove the strainer lid from the filter. Pour the solution into the strainer basket and replace the lid.

Turn the Pump Back On

Leave the pump on for about 15 seconds, which will be long enough for the cleaning solution to reach the filter.

Turn the Pump Off Again

Give the filter cleaner time to work. Leave the pump off for at least eight hours or overnight.

Set the Valve to “Rinse”

Backwashing results in sand and debris getting settled in the filter. Rinsing will flush out all this debris from the filter. Turn the pump on and allow it to run on rinse for about a minute. Turn off the pump once more.

Return the Valve to “Filter”

Turn the pump back on and normal filtering will resume. Check the pressure gauge to make sure the setting is within the normal “clean” PSI range.

Keep Your Sand Filter Working Its Best

There are quite a few benefits to using a sand filter for your pool. Sand filters are reasonable and easy to use. They last a long time. You can handle most tasks, such as cleaning the filter, yourself without needing to make a service call. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind for proper maintenance of your sand filter.

  • Excessive backwashing can reduce the filter’s efficiency. Observing the PSI is the best way to know when it’s time. You should also not continue backwashing once the water is clear.
  • Don’t neglect the rinse cycle, which flushes out any remaining debris from the pipes and filter.
  • To keep your pool water clean, it’s essential to maintain the proper pool chemistry, such as the right alkalinity. This prevents bacteria from spreading, which can slip through your sand filter. Do not backwash the pool if you have a large amount of debris. Remove the debris by vacuuming or using a pool rake before backwashing so you don’t damage the filter.
  • Algae is another type of problem that can’t be solved by backwashing. Deal with the problem by vacuuming and using the appropriate chemicals to get rid of the algae.

Changing the Sand

While backwashing and adding filter cleaner keep the filter clean, over time, the sand becomes contaminated and needs to be replaced. Depending on how often you use your pool, the quality of your water, and how well the filter is performing, you’ll need to change the sand at some point. On average, sand needs to be replaced every three to five years.

You shouldn’t change the sand in your filter any more than is necessary. It can be a messy job and you’ll need to dispose of the old sand properly. Before doing this, be sure to try backwashing with filter cleaner. If you are ready to change the sand, you should consult the filter manual for instructions or have a pool service professional handle it.

Check Out Our Products and Pool Maintenance Guide

ProTuff has a wide selection of high-quality products and information for pool owners. If you have a pool or are considering one, you should be familiar with every aspect of maintenance. Our complete pool maintenance guide provides comprehensive information on everything you need to do to keep your pool in the best possible condition throughout the year.

We also provide helpful information for anyone considering a pool. Consult our guide to the hidden pool costs, such as permits, inspections, pool decor, insurance, and more.

Pool maintenance demands that you have the best equipment on hand. One of the most basic items you need is a quality pool rake to fish out debris from your pool. Many rakes are fragile and will break easily. The netting also tears, rendering them useless. ProTuff has sturdy rakes that are made to last.

To learn more about any of our products, contact us.

Disclaimer: Pool ownership and maintenance is very complicated, and we know every situation is unique. While we’ve done our best to cover the best practices here, we encourage you to reach out to ProTuff directly at with any specific questions you may have.

A Step-by-step Guide for Cleaning a Sand Pool Filter
Tagged on: