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How to Clean a D.E. Pool Filter

Your D.E. filter does a great job of cleaning the water in your pool, but periodically they need a good cleaning themselves.

How to Clean a D.E. Pool Filter

This regular maintenance is essential if you want your pool filter to stay in great shape and do its job. You don’t want to swim in dirty water now do you? I didn’t think so. That’s why it is important for you to clean a D.E. pool filter on a regular basis the right way. For new pool owners, learning to do it the first time is the most challenging part of pool ownership.

Let’s take a look at how you clean and maintain your D.E. filter properly so we can help take some of the guesswork out of your pool maintenance.

What Are D.E. Pool Filters?

While many of you who already own pools are very familiar with this type of filter, new pool owners or those of you considering pool ownership may not. Basically, a D.E. pool filter is a filter that contains a grid that is covered in D.E. powder. The powder is what does the heavy lifting of pool filtration in these systems.

A D.E. filter is actually the most efficient type of pool filter available. It is able to trap particles as small as 3 to 5 microns. That is well below the smallest size that the human eye can even see. How’s that for cleaning?

When Is It Cleaning Time?

Like any filter, a D.E. filter will need to be cleaned. Over time, the D.E. will trap dirt and other contaminants from your pool just as they are supposed to do. If they become too clogged, they can’t do their job.

In addition to knowing how to do it, you need to know when to do. In most cases, you will need to perform regular backwashes and replacement of the D.E. On top of that, you will also need to remove and completely clean the filter.

Here is when you should do it:

  • Backwash and replace your D.E. when the pressure gauge rises 8 – 10 psi above normal.
  • Backwash and replace your D.E. once a month if your pool is getting regular use.
  • Completely clean the filter at least once a year and sometimes twice a year depending on usage.

How to Clean a D.E. Pool Filter

Now, let’s take a few minutes to look at the two main cleaning methods you will be using to keep your D.E. filter clean and ready to do its job.

1. Backwash and Replace

First, we will look at the simple cleaning procedure of backwashing and replacing the D.E. This will be the most frequent type of cleaning you give your filter, but it is also the easiest to do and requires very few tools to get it done. All you will really need is replacement D.E. to add to the filter once you complete the backwash process.

  1. Turn off the pump motor.
  2. Look for the valve handle that is set to FILTER and switch it to BACKWASH.
  3. Roll out your backwash hose to your waste line or drain.
  4. Open the air bleeder assembly on the filter and then turn the pump motor on. Watch the pressure gauge for any kinks in the line and be prepared to shut it off fast if necessary.
  5. Once the hose fills with water, run the backwash for 2 to 3 minutes or until the water begins to run clear.
  6. Turn off the pump motor and switch the valve to RINSE.
  7. Turn the pump motor on and let it rinse for about 10 seconds.
  8. Repeat this process 3 to 4 times to ensure a thorough backwash.
  9. Switch the valve back to FILTER and turn the motor on.
  10. Add 1 pound of D.E. for every 10 square feet of filter area. Check your manufacturer’s documentation to find out how much you will need for your particular filter.

2. Time for a Full Cleaning

While the backwash and replacement D.E. will do a good job keeping your filter clean, at least once a year and sometimes twice a year you should disassemble the filter, inspect it and give it a thorough manual cleaning.

  1. Shut off the power at the breaker.
  2. Turn the pressure relief valve to relieve any remaining built up pressure in the system.
  3. Remove the drain plug at the bottom to drain all the remaining water from the filter housing.
  4. Remove the filter housing top by turning the nut on the belt’s tightening bolt until you can easily remove the belt.
  5. Take note of exactly how the housing gasket is installed and how the grid assembly is mounted so you can replace it the same way when you are finished.
  6. Pre-wash the grid assembly before you remove it to get rid of any dirt and grime that could be weighing it down.
  7. Pull out the grid assembly carefully and place it on a flat surface that is free of anything sharp or pointed that could damage the grid.
  8. Inspect the grid assembly for large clumps of muck and look for any damage to the grid. If you notice damage, it could be time to replace the grid.
  9. Place the grid assembly on its side and remove the nut on the bottom. The grid may fall apart but if it doesn’t remove the bottom out of the assembly.
  10. Remove each grid one at a time and wash them thoroughly being careful not to tear any part of the grids.
  11. With a hose, clean the top and bottom of the assembly and clean out the filter housing.
  12. Reassemble the grid assembly and rewash the entire grid one more time.
  13. Replace the grid assemble and reassemble the filter housing top.
  14. Replace the drain plug at the bottom and make sure it is tight so it does not leak.
  15. Verify that the pressure valve is open.
  16. Check the water levels in your pool and fill the pool if your water level is too low.
  17. Move the valve to the BACKWASH
  18. Turn the breaker back on to restore power.
  19. Backwash for about 30 seconds to remove any dirt that may have collected on the filter when it was on the ground.
  20. Turn off the pump and switch the valve to RINSE. Rinse the filter for 20 seconds.
  21. Switch your valve back to FILTER and make sure the skimmer is sucking water.
  22. Add 1 pound of D.E. for every 10 square feet of filter area. Check your manufacturer’s documentation to find out how much you will need for your particular filter.

While this method is clearly much more involved and more difficult than other options, it is still important that you perform this task at least once a year to ensure your pool remains clean.

Your D.E. pool filter is one of the most important parts of your pool’s filtration system. At the end of the day, you want to make sure your water is clean. A D.E. filter does a great job at that, but only if you do your part as well. By regularly backwashing and replacing your D.E. and by performing a deep clean of the filter at least once or twice a year, you can keep your D.E. filter in great shape so it can do its job.

How to Clean a D.E. Pool Filter

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Last Updated: Tuesday, May 24th, 2016