Types of Pool Filters: Which One Is Best for You?

Backyard Pool Filter Equipment with Pool Tile Background

Finding the right filter for your inground pool ensures your pool water will be properly cleaned and decontaminated. It’s so important – but there are so many options! Our pool filter guide covers the process of choosing a pool filter based on your budget, the size of your pool, and how often you go for a swim.

How Do Pool Filters Work?

Pool filters work by pulling water through the skimmer or grates along the pool’s edge. The water flows to the pump as the skimmers catch large debris in a net so it won’t reach the filter. Water goes from the pump to the filter, where smaller debris and bacteria are removed. Then the clean water goes through your heater (if you have one) and back into the pool through return jets.

Not all pool filters are the same. They function differently and have different costs and maintenance requirements. Knowing the differences will help you choose wisely.

Common Types of Pool Filters

The top three different types of pool filters are sand filters, cartridge filters, and DE filters. Here’s what they do!

What Is a Sand Filter?

The sand filter is the most common type of swimming pool filter found in commercial pools. Sand filters typically have the lowest up-front cost. In this system, a pump pushes water through sand, which catches contaminants. This type of filter can catch particles as small as .20-.40 microns. Sand filters require little maintenance. To clean and maintain the sand filter, it must be backwashed, or cleaned out, once per week. Typically, the sand needs to be replaced every three years.

What Is a Cartridge Filter for a Pool?

Cartridge filters are commonly found in residential pools. This type of filter comes in many shapes and sizes and has a grate that traps debris and contaminants. The cartridge does a better job of filtering the water than a sand filter does – it can capture a particle as small as .10 microns. However, it’s a more expensive option than the sand filter. It also has a long lifespan, but it requires more upkeep than other filters and will need to be cleaned once a month. To clean the cartridge filter, remove the cartridges and rinse them off. While it is recommended that the cartridges be cleaned at least once a month, depending on the season and overall use of the pool, the cleanings may be needed more often than that.

What Is a DE Filter for Pools?

The Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filter is similar to a cartridge filter but uses DE powder to coat the grates that are inside the filter. This is the best inground pool filter, as it can capture a particle the size of .03 microns when filtering the water. To clean the DE filter, you typically backwash it every three weeks and “recharge” it afterward by adding more DE powder to the skimmers. It’s also recommended to remove and clean the inside of the filter every three months. The DE filter isn’t as popular for residential pools as the cartridge filter because it’s the most expensive filtration for swimming pools.

Dive in and Choose Your Filter

So, which is the best filter for your swimming pool? It’s decision time:

  • If you’re on a tight budget, go with the more economical sand filter.
  • If you want to pay for the best filtration available, choose the DE filter.
  • If you want something in between those options, go with the cartridge filter.

Rely on the Professionals for Pool Filter Maintenance

When your new pool filter is in place, be sure to contact your local America’s Swimming Pool Company for pool filter cleaning services. We’ll help your system reach its full lifespan and effectively clean the water! To get connected with our local pool professionals, request service online or call (866) 253-0455.

Blog Content Updated on June 12, 2023