I currently have a high capacity cartridge filter setup for an in-ground pool. Due to high organics (15 pine trees along the border of my property that are directly over the pool), I've found the cartridge filter filters really well but has to be cleaned every 2-4 days. Additionally, cartridges don't clean well. You can use a cleaner to clean them, but that requires 24 hours soaking during which time you aren't filtering. All in all, I find I have to order new cartridges every 1-2 months during the season, which gets expensive. I'm now thinking of switching to a sand filter, to reduce my overall maintenance and ongoing costs. Is this recommended?


  • Maine (short swim season)
  • 1hp pump
  • 16'x32' pool estimated 24,000 gallons
  • Hayward c9002 filter - est. 43,000 gallon turnover/8hrs
  • What size pool? What size pump? And what climate?
    – Tyson
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 14:45
  • @Tyson - see edits
    – Jason
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 15:26
  • No shared water hot tub/spa involved? I'm trying to see a reason they sold you that cartridge filter originally. For a pool only a sand filter would be preferable. It seems like this might have a "premium up-sell" them something they don't need type of design. Sand is fine for your needs as long as it's pool only.
    – Tyson
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 2:43

2 Answers 2


I have found a lady's nylon in the skimmer basket and in the pump basket catches pine needles very well but you will need to clean both baskets but the filter stays clean. After cleaning the filter and installing I used to dissolve diatimatious earth in the intake on pools with cartridge filters it coats the filter and will help clear fine matter 10-15um I thought it was 5um, if not using diatimatious earth most element filters at the level they have printed unroll cleaned then they pass larger particles. There are several brands of sand filters out there pump and filter for under 200$ these use silica sand that filters 20-40um the filters are easier to maintain when you see the pressure across the filter increase (reduced flow because of back pressure) you change a lever or 2 on big units it flows the water backwards (backwash)through the filter then out to a drain or on the ground. When the water is clear some units have a rinse that flows the water normally to settle the sand but dumps down a drain or on the ground. Then running normally into the pool. Sand filters are what most large pools use and every commercial pool I have worked on. Sand filters have the least maintenance and on a home unit I have seen the sand last for more than 10 years. But keeping large items out of your pump will extend the pump impeller life in both cases. Just looked up the micro level of the 2 types and added them.

  • I have a "sock" over my basket, but there is so much fine sediment (pollen, etc.) from the trees, that the cartridge stills clogs easily.
    – Jason
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 17:14
  • 1
    I would say a sand filter is in your future. They are not hard to swap out , when filling the filter with sand make sure not to breathe the dust (wear a mask for safety). Only takes a couple of minutes to backwash and then all the gunk is gone.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 20:22

The main difference is that the sand filter traps larger particles by allowing them to settle to the bottom of the filter tank. This gets the bulk of your problematic stuff out of the water, but it doesn't necessarily take care of everything in the water either. Sand filters can allow the pool to become cloudy because the particles are too fine to settle.

Sand filters also require a periodic backwash. You change the mode of the sand filter to backwash and, when you engage the pump, the water turns a giant paddle at the bottom of the tank. This stirs the sand up and ejects it via the water moving from the pump into your waste line. You then have to follow this with a rinse, to push any remaining floating materials out of the tank, and settle (also a waste ejection).

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