The pool filter is an integral piece of pool equipment in maintaining a sanitary swimming environment in your pool. The three most common types of pool filters are sand filters, cartridge filters, and diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filters. While all three types of filters serve the same purpose of cleaning your pool water, they each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Sand Filters

Sand filters are a popular choice because they generally cost less than other types of filters, and they don’t take up as much real estate on your pool deck, making them great for smaller spaces. Sand filters work by pushing water through special pool filter sand where dirt and debris are trapped, leaving clean water to flow back into the pool. Sand filters can remove particles down to about 7-10 microns.

Sand filters require regular backwashing to clean the filter media any time the pressure gauge has reached about 10 psi above normal. While backwashing is not difficult, it does cause your pool to lose water and chemicals. Thus, each time you backwash, you will likely need to add water and rebalance the water chemistry. Filter sand only needs to be replaced every 5-8 years, so you won’t be spending a lot of money there; however, the sand is heavy, and replacing it can be a big job.

Cartridge Filters

Cartridge pool filters are an increasingly popular choice for pool owners because they can filter smaller particles. In fact, they can filter out contaminants down to 5-7 microns. The larger surface area of the cartridges means they can also filter out a higher volume of particles. Generally speaking, you can achieve better water clarity with a cartridge filter than with a sand filter. 

Pool owners also like cartridge filter systems because they are low maintenance. No backwashing is required, but the cartridges need to be cleaned with a garden hose regularly. Replacement cartridges are needed every few years. They are a popular choice for above ground pools, as it is easy to disassemble and store a cartridge filter during the winter months. 

Cartridge filters cost more money up front than other types of filters, and new filter cartridges are significantly more expensive than replacement sand or D.E. powder, but they can save you money in the long run. Cartridge filters can utilize low pump pressure, cutting energy costs and decreasing wear and tear on your pool pump.

D.E. Filters

Last but not least, D.E. filters use diatomaceous earth powder. The D.E. covers grids inside the filter tank where water is forced through to be cleaned. This type of filtration system can remove the smallest particles from your swimming pool, down to about 1-3 microns. 

While they are the best at removing tiny particles from pool water, D.E. filters also require the most maintenance. Filters must be backwashed when the pressure gauge increases to around 10 psi above normal. After backwashing, more D.E. must be added through the skimmer, and the chemicals must be rebalanced. At least twice per year the filter should be disassembled and the grids should be cleaned thoroughly. Grids should be replaced when they become worn or damaged. Always use caution when handling D.E. powder, as it can be harmful if inhaled.  

Whether you are looking for high efficiency, low maintenance, or cost savings, Doheny’s offers a huge variety of pool filters for any budget. If you want the best pool filter for your above ground or inground pool or hot tub, contact our friendly and knowledgeable pool pros today at 800-574-7665 or check us out online at