Buying Guides

Above Ground Pool Filter Operation

Above-Ground Pool Filter Operation and Care

The pool filter is one of the most important pieces of above-ground pool equipment because it’s the part of the filtration system that captures and removes dirt and debris from a pool. Pool chemicals sanitize the pool water, but the filter actually removes the particles, sediment and small debris to keep your pool water clear, clean and ready for fun.

Here’s everything you need to know about operating and caring for your above-ground pool filter.

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Polaris Prestige™ 22" Filter Learn more
Polaris Prestige™ 19" Filter Learn more
Above-Ground Pool Filter Types

There are three types of above-ground pool filters.

  • Sand Filters – These are one of the most popular types of filters for above-ground pools, thanks to their effectiveness and cost. They can filter debris as small as 20 microns. Sand filters are the low maintenance option for above-ground pools because with sand filters you only need to replace the sand every 5 to 7 years.
  • Cartridge Filters – Cartridge filters remove contaminants as small as 10 to 15 microns. Over time, as they trap and accumulate debris, they need to be taken apart and cleaned with a water hose. In addition to the maintenance, cartridge filters last between two and three years.
  • Diatomaceous Earth filters – Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filters are the most effective above-ground pool filter option because they can remove particles as small as two microns. But DE filters are the most expensive choice and require the most maintenance of the three options. If you choose a DE filter, you will need to change it out about once a month.

Here at Polaris, we’re proud to offer the highly-effective Prestige Above-Ground Sand Filter, which uses sand as a filtering agent to trap bacteria and debris as water passes through it. Our filter captures contaminants measuring 20 microns or larger. To provide context, a human hair is approximately 70 microns in size and the human eye can only see objects that are between 40 and 50 microns in size or larger. Sand filters should be replaced every 5 to 7 years.

How Above-Ground Pool Filters Work: A Step-By-Step
Sand Filters:
  1. Water is pumped in from the pool and pushed through a filter tank filled with sand
  2. Debris and contaminants are caught on the spiky edges of the sand
  3. Clean pool water leaves the filter and is pumped back into the pool
Cartridge Filters:
  1. Water is pumped from the pool and into the filter where it passes through the filter membrane
  2. The fabric membrane traps debris and particles
  3. Clean pool water flows back into the pool
DE Filters:

DE filters work the same way sand filters do; however, because it traps the smallest debris particles, you need to replace the DE about once a month to keep your pool clean.

Choosing an Above-Ground Pool Filter for My Pool

A filter’s effectiveness is measured by gallons per minute (GPM). When selecting a filter size, choose a filter with the same (or greater) GPM as your pool’s pump. When in doubt, it’s best to choose a larger filter versus a smaller one.

When choosing an above-ground pool filter, select one that is compatible with your pool’s pump. Often, above-ground pool pumps and filters can be purchased as one kit. Beyond that, choose an option that fits your budget and maintenance goals.

For a low-maintenance, effective option, consider the Prestige Above-Ground Sand Filter:

  • Available in 19” and 22” sizes
  • Corrosion and UV-resistant
  • Combo water/sand drain plug
  • Quick and easy installation
  • 7 position multi-port valve

To learn more about the Prestige or get more information about above-ground pool filters, reach out to your local pool professional today.

How to Clean an Above-Ground Pool Filter

Cleaning your above-ground filter depends on what type of filter you have. For example, if you have a sand filter like the Prestige Above-Ground Sand Filter, you don’t have to clean it at all. Instead, you backwash it occasionally, which is super easy:

  1. Turn off your pool’s pump
  2. Set the filter valve on the sand filter to backwash
  3. Turn the pump on and allow it to backwash until the sight glass on the filter runs clear
  4. Turn off the pump

And that’s it! If you have a cartridge filter, regularly remove the cartridge and spray it down with a water hose. The cleaning frequency depends on how much debris you have in your pool. Some cartridge filters have a gauge that will tell you when to clean it, but you have to check some manually.

Additionally, cartridge filters need to be deep cleaned about twice a year. To do this, leave the filter soaking in filter cleaner overnight.

Like sand filters, DE filters need to be backwashed to stay functional. You also have to replace the DE when it stops trapping debris.

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