Easy DE Pool Filter Maintenance You Can Do

You want the best?  You got the best!!  Pool filter I mean.  D.E. filters do a great job of cleaning your pool water.  In fact, they're the best, compared to a sand filter and cartridge filter.  But a D.E. filter needs maintenance and cleaning.  D.E. filter maintenance is essential when you want your pool water to stay crystal clear and inviting all swimming season.  It's important to backwash and clean a D.E. pool filter on a regular basis.  New pool owners might find this difficult, but it's very easy with the proper teaching.

Your D.E. filter is the most efficient type of pool filter available and can trap particles down to 3 - 5 microns, which is about the size of a white blood cell.  D.E. filters are so good, they'll need some T.L.C. a little more often.

Easy To Understand DE Pool Filter Maintenance

What Is A D.E. Filter?

Although D.E. filters are more similar to sand filters, the filtering approach is a little different.  Sand filter use, well, sand, as their filter media.  Diatomaceous Earth, or D.E. filters use powdered fossilized remains of algae and bacteria called diatoms to filter the pool water. 

This powder is added to the skimmer and coats the grids found inside the D.E. filter.  This coating collects particles and debris in your pool water, and clean water is then returned back to the pool.  A D.E. filter provides the most thorough cleaning.

Is A D.E. Filter The Best Kind Of Filter?

Choosing the right pool filter for your pool is an important decision.  You should choose the filter that's not only right for your pool, but for your wallet.

You'll need to factor in such things as initial costs, maintenance costs, repairs, and ease of operation.  If you are looking for the absolute best in pool filters and not considering price and maintenance routine,  the a D.E. filter would be your best option.  If you'd like a pool filter that's a little more budget-friendly, you might want to consider a sand filter or a cartridge filter.

Why Should I Backwash My Pool Filter? 

You know you should keep your pool filter clean, but why is backwashing a good method, or needed?  Backwashing a D.E. pool filter simply means you're reversing the flow of water inside your filter tank.  This action effectively loosens up the caked-on D.E. powder and impurities that have accumulated on your D.E. grids, and removes them during the backwash cycle.  This cleaning action restores the grids in your filter to their highest efficiency.

How To Backwash Your D.E. Pool Filter 

The first step in cleaning your D.E. pool filter system is top off your pool because you're going to be using a lot of water from backwashing.  You run the risk of sucking air through the skimmer if the water level gets too low.

  • Clean out the skimmer baskets.
  • Turn the filter pump OFF and clean out the pump basket.  Replace the pump basket and screw or tighten the lid back on the pump pot. 
  • With the PUMP TURNED OFF, put the backwash valve into the BACKWASH position.  The slide valves are pulled up for backwash and pushed down for filter.  If you have a multiport valve, it should be clearly marked BACKWASH.
  • Turn the filter pump back on and run the pump until the water in the site glass is clear.  If there is no site glass, the water at the end of the backwash hose or line needs to be clear.  Once the water is clear, turn off the pump.  Cleaning the swimming pool filter grids has less to do with backwashing for a certain amount of minutes.  You'll need to do it until the water runs clean.
  • Be sure the filter pump is off BEFORE changing the valve position. 
  • Turn your multiport handle to the RINSE setting, then turn the pump motor on for 10 - 15 seconds.  This rinses the lines of any residual dirt and debris. 
  • Turn the motor off and put the valve back to the FILTER position.

Before any D.E. pool filter maintenance is to be done, don't change any valve positions when filtering or backwashing.

DE Pool Filter Maintenance 

Some may recommend that you repeat these steps two or three more times so it can stir up loose dirt which was not backwashed with the first cycle.  You can if you want but it's not necessary.  You'll need to “re-charge” or "re-coat" the pool filter grids with fresh D.E. filter powder.  With the filter pump running, slowly add about 1 pound of D.E. for every 10-12 square feet of filter space.  Basically it's this: 48 sf. D.E. filter = about 4 pounds of D.E. (check your owner's manual for details and exact specifications).

I strongly urge you to get a D.E. scoop.  This will give you the best measurement.  If you have a D.E. scoop, then 1 scoop = 1/2 lb. of D.E.  If enough D.E. is not added back in the filter, you can damage the swimming pool filter grids, cause poor filtration, and other pool filter problems.  Don't use a coffee can.  Just remember to check the owner's manual and/or manufacturer's instructions if you have any questions.

If you're the least bit hesitant cleaning your D.E. filter, by all means hire a local and qualified swimming pool professional.  D.E. pool filter maintenance starts with backwashing your pool filter, but it doesn't remove oils, lotions, leaves, bacteria, algae, etc.

The D.E. swimming pool filter grids need to be removed and washed generally about twice a year to keep your filter running properly.

How To Clean You D.E. Grids

To clean your swimming pool D.E. filter grids, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  The following are just suggested pool cleaning tips.  

  • Turn OFF the swimming pool filter pump.  If you have a breaker box, it's a good idea to turn it off before cleaning your D.E. pool filter.  You don't want to get 220 of your best friends to hit you at one time. 
  • Open the air bleeder valve so vacuum pressure inside the tank can be released. 
  • Open the drain plug located on the bottom of the filter allowing the water inside the tank to be drained out.
  • Remove the clamp holding the top of the tank to the bottom of the tank.  This is called the "belly band".  Some pool filters may have bolts instead of clamps.
  • Carefully remove the top of the filter tank.
  • While the grids are still in the tank, use a hose with a spray nozzle and spray off the filter grids.  Doing this will help remove excess debris and D.E. buildup and makes removing the grids a little easier.  Allow the swimming pool filter grids drain for a few seconds.
  • Carefully remove the filter assembly from the tank.  It's best to see your manufacturer’s directions at this point.  Some pool filters are constructed differently.  Most filters and grids should lift straight up to remove the grids from the filter tank.
  • Disassemble the filter grids.  Pay attention to how you take it apart so you can put it back together.
  • Wash each pool grid with a spay nozzle on a garden hose.

Be sure you dispose of your used D.E. properly and do not inhale it while recharging your grids.  It can be harmful to you and aquatic life.  Watch the video below to learn how to clean your D.E. grids.  

DON'T use a pressure washer to clean the grids.  You'll probably tear them and then you're going to be in a world of hurt.  It's best to wash the D.E. filters on the grass as the D.E. will not harm it and is biodegradable.  You'll just have a big clump that looks like wet flour.   

  • From top to bottom, clean the manifold, and look for cracks.
  • If the grids are not coming clean, you can soak them in a large garbage can filled with pool filter cleaner solution for about 4 – 8 hours.
  • Clean out the inside of the filter tank. 
  • Carefully inspect each part for cracks, each grid for ripped seams, punctures or tears in the fabric, belly band O-ring, manifold screen, etc.
  • Check the condition of the air relief assembly and make sure it's connected. 
  • Assemble the grid assembly and tighten the connecting rods.  Shake the assembly lightly as the rods are tightened to insure that the entire assembly is secure.  
  • Place the grid assembly back in the filter tank.  Take care not to pinch the O-ring while installing the assembly.  
  • Realign the top half of the filter body, install and tighten the belly band and be sure the O-ring is in place between the top and bottom half.  This will make a good tight fit.
  • You may want to use a silicone lubricant on all O-rings and gaskets before installing to assure a better water-tight seal.  Please don't "crank down" on any of the fittings.  Just a nice snug fit is all you need. 
  • Screw the drain plug back in the bottom of the filter. 
  • Set the backwash valve in the FILTER position. 
  • Turn the breaker box back on.

Now would be a good time to take a step back and look at the filtration system to make sure everything is in order.  Once these steps are done, your D.E. pool filter maintenance is finished.  

Release Your Inner D.E. Pool Filter Maintenance Self

When the time is right to backwash your pool filter or clean your D.E. grids, you'll be prepared with the knowledge, equipment, and procedures.  You'll know how to keep your pool clean and clear which, in turn, helps your filter live a long life. 

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