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Changing Filter Sand
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Changing Filter Sand


How to Change the Sand in a Pool Filter So you need to change the sand in your pool filter? Well lets get started!

Supplies

You will need media to put back in your filter. Most filter manufacturers recommend 20 grit silica sand, and some larger filters recommend a certain amount of pea gravel at the bottom. The amounts should be listed on the tank or in the owner’s manual. If you re not familiar with it, Zeolite is an excellent alternative to sand make sure to inquire about it. It is also helpful to have a replacement gasket, or oring to reseal the part of the filter you will disturb when you open it up.

Backwash the Filter

First give your filter and extra good backwashing, you are going to be working with the sand directly, you will want it as clean as possible. Next, shut off the power to your pool pump. Make sure you do more than just turn off the timer you do not want the pump coming on the middle of the job. You certainly do not want to try and remove the filter lid with the pump running! This would be very dangerous. Also if your filter is below water level you need to turn off any valves that will stop the pool from draining down into the filter when you open it up.

After you turn off the pump and close the valves (if needed) then it is a good idea to try and drain the filter tank. First open the air vent on the top of the filter and relieve any trapped pressure and allow it to drain a little. You can then open the bottom drain, if the filter has one, to allow the filter to drain as far as possible. Now we are ready to get to the business at hand.

Getting to the Filter Sand

To change the sand in a pool filter, you first need to get to the sand. For some filters the backwash valve is up on top and you need to remove the valve, for others there is a simple lid, for even others there is a split in the middle of the filter tank and the filter tank opens up. For any of these arrangements you may need to remove a band clamp or lock ring or sometimes unthread the lid or valve directly from the tank, on still others the valve or lid may bolt onto the top of the filter. Ascertain the correct method for opening your filter and get in the center where the sand lives.

Once you get in your will see one of number of things.

  • You may see a pipe right in the center of the hole right in your way, the bad news is that is most likely to stay in your way. If you have the center pipe make sure to cover it up so sand does not fall down the center pipe, a plastic bag and rubber band over the pipe accomplishes this well.
  • You may see a small strainer basket or a diffuser of some sort and/or a side pipe coming in. Almost all of these can be lifted off or unthreaded and gotten out of your way somehow. Once again cover and center pipes to keep sand out of them while you are working. Remove the Old Sand from the Filter

    After getting at the sand you need to remove the old sand. For my thinking there is rarely anything better than a plastic cup for this trick. It is small and soft and should not damage the laterals should you run into them. Laterals? Before we get too far we had better talk about the laterals.

    The laterals in a sand filter are the most delicate part of the filter, their job is to keep the sand in the filter. If you break them or crack them you will get sand in your pool and have to do this all over again to fix them, so be careful!

    The laterals are like the spokes of a wheel and are arranged in circle near the bottom of the filter. They are small pipes with holes in the side too small for the sand to pass through, over time they can become a bit fragile. When you get near the bottom of the filter move slowly and be careful of the laterals and you should not damage them.

    So get your plastic cup or other sand scooping instrument and dig out the filter sand. On some filters you may run into a layer of pea gravel on the bottom of the tank this needs to be scooped out as well.

    Clean out the Fitler

    Get out as much sand as you can and rinse the filter out with a hose, get as much as you can washed down the lower drain. Once you get the filter empty, clean out the drain fitting well and get the drain cap back on. It is now time to fill the filter back up. Putting the Sand Back In

    When you fill the filter back up you need to be careful with the laterals again. If you pour of sand on top of them and there is nothing holding them up, they can be broken. The trick is to get some sand under them to hold them up before you get weight on top of them. Now you know almost enough to fill the filter up again.

    Now fill your filter tank halfway up with water, and slowly pour in a few pounds of the sand or gravel. Then reach in and spread it around underneath the laterals. Repeat adding small amounts until you fill in completely under that laterals. Once you have the gaps under the laterals all filed with sand, you can simply pour in the rest of the filter media. Reassemble the Filter

    Now reassemble your filter the same way as it came apart. Make sure to clean the sand out of threads, etc. to make sure that nothing gets stuck when putting it back together. It is smart at this point to replace the closure oring or gasket that you disturbed when you opened the filter.