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How to Change The Sand in a Pool Filter

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Every 3 to 5 years you should change the sand in a pool filter.

Over time, the sand inside the filter loses its coarseness and becomes smooth and round. This makes it very hard for the sand to catch really small debris particles. Sand is like a fine wine, it gets better with age, but then has its peak and it’s all downhill from there. Unlike wine, this time period is very short.

How to Change The Sand in a Pool Filter

Are you ready to change the sand in your filter? Has it been about 3 to 5 years since you or someone else has done it? Ok let’s get started.

NOTE: This is very easy to do. Just follow the directions and you will save yourself some money.

What You’ll Need


1. Turn Off The Pump And Drain The Filter


Turn off the filter and pump and make sure your timer isn’t set to turn back on. You don’t want the pump to kick on while you have everything disconnected. If the pump runs dry, it can burn out.

Remove the drain plug from the bottom of the filter tank and let all the water drain out. This may take a while, so you can do this ahead of time.

2. Remove The Multiport Valve


Remove the hoses or pipes that are connected to your valve. If your valve is hard plumbed with PVC pipe, you will have to cut the pipe and install union fittings so that you can easily change the sand from here on out.

Remove the clamp or collar that holds the valve to the tank. You may need your screwdriver for this task.

Once the collar and pipes or hoses are removed and disconnected, gently twist and pull up on the multiport valve to remove it.

NOTE: The valve is attached to a standpipe that runs into the sand. At the bottom of the standpipe, there are laterals that spread out along the bottom. Try not to twist too hard, because the laterals could break under the weight of the sand.

3. Cover The Standpipe


Inside you’ll see the standpipe that leads down into a large pile of old filter sand. Before you remove and add the new sand, you need to cover the top of the pipe. You don’t want sand getting inside the pipe, because when you finally finish and turn it on, that sand will end up in your swimming pool.

4. Remove The Sand


Remove all the sand by using your industrial shop vac or a large cup and scoop out all the filter sand.

SMART TIP: I suggest using a shop vac, it makes the job faster and much easier.

5. Rinse Out The Tank and Laterals


Now you should see that the filter standpipe has a number of laterals sticking out of it. Use your hose and rinse out the rest of the filter sand.

Take this time to check the pipe and laterals for any cracks or other damages. If the pipe or laterals are broken or cracked, replace them right away before adding the new sand. Broken and cracked laterals will cause sand to end up in your pool.

6. Fill The Tank Halfway With Water


Before we add the new sand to the filter, set the standpipe and laterals in place and centered, replace the drain plug on the tank, and fill it halfway full of water. This will cushion the fall of the sand onto the laterals which will protect them from breaking.

7. Add The New Sand


Remember, you are working with heavy bags of sand. I suggest to place one bag at a time upright near the top and cut the bag open, letting the sand slowly pour into the filter.

Depending on the size of your filter tank, you may have to do this several times. Remember, just take your time to prevent sand from spilling everywhere. And make sure that standpipe is covered.

NOTE: Only use filter sand! There are different types of sand out there including bar sand and play sand, but only your local pool company offers the correct coarse filter sand or filter sand substitute.

8. Fill The Tank With Water To The Top


Once all of the sand is in your filter, fill the rest of the filter up with water. Replace the multiport valve, collar, and pipes or hoses securely and tight.

9. Backwash and Rinse The Filter


Before you turn your filter and pump on, turn your multiport valve to Backwash. Prime your pump and turn it on. Let the filter backwash for at least 2 minutes or until the sight glass is running clear. This will help to get out all of the sand dust and extra debris in the new sand. I recommend using a backwash hose here.

Afterwards, shut off your pump, turn your multiport valve to Rinse, and turn your pump back on. Rinse the filter for about 1 minute.

10. Run The Filter


Great! You are all finished. Shut off your pump, turn it to Filter, and turn your pump back on.

Check the pressure gauge. Whatever the gauge says should be your normal running pressure. Keep an eye on this. When the pressure goes to about 10 psi over the normal running pressure, you need to backwash the filter. Over backwashing gets rid of the dirt and debris that will actually help pick up new, smaller debris particles. Don’t over backwash. Use the pressure gauge as your backwash indicator.

Happy Swimming!

Recommended Reading

Sand Filter Media: Sand Vs. ZeoSand Vs. Filterglass
Sand, ZeoSand and Filterglass, what sand filter media should you use? Find out everything you need to know about these filter particles right here.
How to Reuse Your Filter Backwash Water
Stop the damage to your property by reusing your filter backwash water in many creative ways that can improve your lawn and make use of the extra water.
How to Backwash a Sand Filter
Learn how to backwash a sand filter: a simple process that cleans the sand inside your filter using clean water from your swimming pool.
How to Use a Multiport Valve on a Sand Filter
We making learning how to use a multiport valve very easy with this video tutorial and step-by-step guide.
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Last Updated: Sunday, July 28th, 2013