How to solve
pool filter problems and improve efficiency?
Pool filter problems are actually mechanical in
nature, but manifest themselves in ways that can
make them appear to be chemical problems. An
inefficient or ineffective filter can lead to
cloudy, hazy, dull pool water - just like a
chemical problem!!! Inadequate filter cycles can
add to difficulties in controlling algae.
Ultimately, it should be the filter that removes
particles from the pool water. Chemicals can
decompose or destroy byproducts, dead algae and
debris, but it is the pool filter that may have
to remove them. Some chemicals can help make
pool filters more efficient. Some filter systems
are more efficient than others and help the
chemicals work better. Crystal clear water and
optimum swimming pool water quality are not
possible without the meshing of pool filtration
and chemical treatment. Clarifiers may be able
to help some filters perform better, but are not
usually recommended, for use with D.E. Filters.
However, a Nano-Stick
Clarifier, adds no chemicals to the
water and is safe with all types of pool
filters. If problems arise, refer to the
Page, as a source of problem-solving
information, broken down into various
categories. Scroll down the page and click on the linked
or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product.
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Problem-Solving Information, in a question and
2-Speed Or Variable Speed Pump Will Reduce Costs?
How does a 2-speed or variable speed pump save money?
My electrical costs are high, due to the rates charged, and
a savings would be of interest. Thank you.
Babylon, NY 6/14/2107
There is real money to be
saved. Enough to recoup the investment. This may
sound counter-intuitive, but this is how the physics work.
Let's assume, you run the pump, for 8 hours a day and switch
to half speed, for same number of hours. It would
seem logical, that you would cut the costs in half, but that
is not the case. You would reduce power usage, by 2 to
the third power, and
power usage would drop
to 1/8. If you reduce the speed, for the same 8 hours
by 2/3, the savings will be 3 to the third power and
electrical usage would drop to 1/27. If you
compensate, for the weaker return flow, by running the pump
24/7, the cost at 1/2 speed would be 3/8 of what it was at
full speed. At 1/3 speed, and operating 24/7, the
electrical costs would be 1/9, as compared to 8 hours, at
full speed. I agree that this may seem to good to be
true, that that is how the physics determine the electrical
usage. On the negative side, flow to some areas of the
pool may be weaker and create a dead zone. You could
add a Circulator, to each
return jet and create a spiraling return flow, which will
improve circulation, to all areas of the pool. You
also have the option of running at full speed, a periodic
basis. There's another plus. At reduced speeds,
the flow through the filter is decreased and that increases
the efficiency of the filter. The source of this
information were articles written in industry trade
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I have an
in-ground pool (approx. 15-18K gallons) with a new cartridge
filter which as installed Oct. 2015. During this summer
(2016), I noticed some air bubbles in the return jets along
with some silt, but my water level has been holding steady.
The pressure on the filter gauge has maintained at 15-17
PSI, since installation, and does not increase much, if any,
over time. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Steve S., Denton, TX, 9/29/2016
You didn't say anything about
cleaning the filter cartridge or performing any routine
sure that the pressure
is within the manufacturer's recommendations. High
pressure results in poor circulation and low pressure is a
sign of inadequate filtration. I would start by
cleaning the filter cartridge and inspecting it for any
defects. Silt should not be passing through the
filter. Cartridges do not last indefinitely, so
inspection is a must, a the first signs of a problem.
Cartridge cleaning can be made easier and more effective,
using an Automatic Filter Cartridge
Cleaner. If problems continue, you might try
replacing the existing cartridge.
We have a new salt chlorine
generator for our in ground fiberglass pool. Right now the
chemicals are perfect and the pool is beautiful. But we are
going to cover it and leave for 2 months, with our neighbor
coming to check the water level once a week. We live in a
HOT desert area. Do we need to run the filter as often as we
do when we are using the pool (which is 5 hours a day) or
can we run it for a shorter period of time while we are away
and the pool is getting zero use. Thanks for your time. I
have read a lot of the questions and answers and it seems
like you would be the one to ask. Thanks.
Russ W., 5/18/2016
Five hours a day is not all
that much time, especially in hot, sunny locations. I would
not reduce the time. If your
chlorine generator is in-line, you certainly need the
pump running time maintained, at a level high enough to meet
the pool's chlorine needs. An
auto-filler will solve the
water level product. However, all things considered, it
might pay to have a pool service look after the pool.
It could help protect your investment. I hope that the information
provided was helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/18/2016
Single Speed, Two-Speed
Or Variable Speed Pump?
concerns which type motor to use on the filter system for
cost savings. I operate my pool different from most pools. I
use an ionizer system I installed several years ago. My
difference, I never close my pool for winter. This saves me
close down and start up chemicals but I do add some liquid
chlorine every week. I cover the pool with a net to keep out
leaves. I run my filter every day during the year but do
vary some days in winter when algae should not be a problem.
Which type motor should I use, single stage, double stage,
or variable speed motor for cost savings? The ionizer has
paid for its installation in chemical savings and I question
if a more expensive motor would pay for itself in operating
cost. Enjoy your Web Site and always look for any thing I
need from your site.
Either way, 2-speed or variable speed will afford you big
savings on electricity. If you operate it at half speed, for
twice as long, you can save 75%
on the cost of electricity. The only down side is that the
return flow will be weaker and some dead zones may develop,
as a result of the diminished strength of the return flow.
Adding The Circulator
should help make a difference, by creating a spiraling
return flow. This better eliminates dead zones and
improves chemical distribution. I hope that the
information provided was helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/19/2016
Can A Robotic Pool
Cleaner Reduce Filter Cycles?
If using a good robot cleaner,
is it still necessary to run the pool pump and sand
filtration system too? Can a robot cleaner replace the old
filtration system? Thanks.
Andy A., 11/15/2015
Replacing the filter is a tall order. I know a manufacturer,
that makes high end
robotic pool cleaners, that tried
to do just that. The results were promising, but not quite
good enough to recommend it as a standard operating
procedure. However, every pool situation
is unique. In more practical terms and in cases where there
are no ongoing algae or clarity issues, a quality robotic
pool cleaner, with a built-in micro-filter, should be able
to reduce the number of hours of filter operation. I would
start, by cutting the filter time, in half and make up the
difference, with the robotic cleaner. See how that works
out. In any event, I would still operate the pool pump, for
at least 4 hours a day. It would require a well built and
reliable robotic pool cleaner, because of the increased
hours of usage. There's no doubt that the cost of
electricity will be reduced. Another cost saver would be the
use of a variable speed or two speed pool pump.
I hope that the information
provided was helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/15/2015
The Right Clarifier To
Use With Zeolites?
What clarifiers on the market are compatible with zeolite
Jack .C., Greenwood, SC 2/7/2014
Virtually all of the
clarifiers, used in this industry, are based on a
polyelectrolyte. They work by causing fine particles,
otherwise pass through
some filters, to adhere to one another. This makes
them larger and easier to filter out. The problem is
that they can cause filter media, to do the same. This
includes sand or D.E. filters, as well. The only type
of clarifier that is 100% safe to use, with any type of
filter and with all pool chemicals is the
Nano-Stick. It doesn't add
any chemicals to the water. Instead, it oxidizes and
destroys fine particles, using Nano-Titanium Technology, as
particles enter the Nano-Stick. It is 21st century
technology. All you have to do is hang the Nano-Stick,
typically from a ladder, and it will work 24/7 and last 4-6
months. There will be no interaction with the
zeolite, so it would
positively have no ill affects on the filter media.
How To Replace Filter
We just bought
a pool, with a pool, and we are new to pool ownership.
I understand the sand has to be periodically replaced
and I prefer to start with a clean slate. How do I
replace the sand? Thank you.
Frank N., 6/2/2014
The filter system should be
turned completely off. Rotate the control head
to the closed position. Close all ball valves, if present,
to minimize the water loss. Remove the neck clamp, which
holds the control valve onto the tank. Slowly remove the
filter head, off of the stud pipe, that runs the entire
length of the filter tank. Set aside and protect, from
damage. The stud pipe should still be positioned, in the
middle of the sand filter, while all of the sand is removed.
Use a cup or a shop vacuum, to remove all of the old sand
Inspect the laterals. Most sand filters will have 6-8
laterals. Check to see, if the holes have expanded or
cracked, as this could allow the fresh sand to get back into
the pool. If there are signs of damage, consider
replacing all the laterals, at one time, to help avoid
performance issues. Make sure that the bottom-most
lateral remains attached, to the stand pipe. If
unattached, you might require a new stand pipe.
Use only filter grade sand or sand replacement filter media.
When ready to add the fresh sand, cap off the top of the
stud pipe, to make sure that sand does not get down into the
middle of the pipe. Allowing sand to get into the
middle of the pipe, will allow cause sand to get into the
pool, when filter operation is resumed. Use the sand cap
grate that was supplied, with your filter. If you no longer
have the piece, use a suitably-sized plastic cup, to close
off the center pipe. Distribute the new sand evenly,
around the stud pipe and outside of the tank. Try to
evenly coat the bottom of the filter. Add only the
exact amount of sand, that your filter requires. Do
not over-fill or under-fill the sand filter, as this could cause
improper filter performance. Make note of how much
sand is required, for future reference. Reassemble the
filter and turn on the pump.
Above ground sand filters typically hold between 100-200
pounds of sand. each. Inground sand filters typically
contain between 325-900 pounds of
sand. Filters vary according to model and
manufacturer, so make sure you are of the correct amount
of sand, that is required, for proper performance.
Sand is typically replaced every 3-5 years, but will vary,
based on seasonal usage and other factors.
Zeolites are a sand
replacement media, that provides improved filter
performance. The correct amount of zeolite is
1/2 of the normal weight of filter sand.
I hope that this information
Choosing A Single
Speed or A Variable Speed Pump?
I am looking
to replace my existing pump and am trying to decide between
a single speed or a variable speed model. They claim
big savings are possible with a variable speed model.
Is that true?
Lakeland, FL, 11/1/2013
Yes, it is true! Just
like driving at a slower speed increases the MPG, operating
a pump, at a lower peed, produces significant savings on
electrical usage. Even though you will have to operate
the pump for many more hours to turn over the same volume of
water, the savings are worth the investment. If you
cut the RPM's in half and double the length of the filter
cycle, you will still reap major savings and benefit from
keeping the water moving, for longer periods of time.
In some states, it is already mandatory that a multiple or
variable speed pump be installed, in all new construction.
This is the way to go, as it will pay for itself, with
energy savings and you should get better results, as well. I hope that this information makes the decision easier.
Help The Filter With Skimming and
Any suggestions about how to reduce
filter cycles? I would like to
reduce my electric bills.
Macon, GA 3/3/2015
This are several ways, but a
floating pool surface cleaner/skimmer
is probably the easiest way to
improve effectiveness. The
Floating Pool Surface
Skimmer operates fully autonomously
and operates off any suction line,
throughout the day. It helps
filter out fine debris and improves
circulation. If you use a
suction-side pool vacuum, it can
still be used, at the same time, by
using the special hookup attachment. It will
eliminate dead zones and allows you
to shorten the filter cycles.
It keeps the pool cleaner, for
longer periods of time and that
translates into time and money
saved. I hope that this
information is helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster,
► Diatomaceous Earth
(DE) Or Sand?
Are earth (DE) filters as good or
better than sand filters?
Bill M., Columbus, OH, 8/31/2012
There is general consensus that DE Filters are capable of
removing smaller particles than sand filters. This usually
translates into better water quality and fewer water clarity
problems. However, there are other considerations to
consider, in choosing a filter. You might want to consult
with a local pool professional about the best choice for
your area. The efficiency of a sand filter can be improved
by substituting a zeolite sand filter replacement media
for the filter sand. It will remove particles, as small as a
few microns, which is far better than ordinary sand filters
and most other types, as well. This product is modestly
priced, lighter in weight and longer lasting. I hope that I
have been helpful.
Sincerely, Alan Schuster, 8/31/2012
► How Often
To Replace The Sand?
I have some questions about replacing
the sand in our pool filter. We purchased the pool in July
2001 so it has been in use for 1 and 1/2 summer seasons. The
pool is an above ground pool, 52 inches deep, and 18' round.
We have not had any filtering problems but I thought that I
read somewhere that the sand should have been replaced after
the first season of use. Should I replace the sand in the
filter before I use it for the summer of 2003 or is it okay
to use the same sand again this year? Under normal operating
conditions, how often should the sand in the filter be
replaced? Thanks for your response.
The Grays, 6/7/2009
Simple enough question! But no simple answer! This is a very
subjective area. Ask multiple people and you'll get multiple
answers. Unless the filter manufacturer, instructs to the
contrary, I don't see the need to replace the sand every
year or two. Much will depend upon the filter and pool
conditions. If things are working properly, I am inclined to
go as long as 3-5 years. Consider that the pool is in
operation for only part of the year. If there are problems
with the pressure readings, loss water clarity or any signs
of channeling, I would consider replacing the sand. Always
use a filter grade sand or a zeolite sand filter
replacement media. Zeolites can be used as a sand
replacement and will produce much better results, reduce
filter cycles, save on chemicals and the frequency of
backwashing. A modestly dirty sand filter actually works
better than a clean one and it is a mistake to backwash or
replace sand with too great a frequency. I hope that I have
been helpful. Enjoy the season.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/7/2009
► Zeolite Use
With A Salt Chlorinator?
I have a salt water chlorination
system with a sand filter. I am investigating the
possibility of using Zeolite, instead of ordinary filter
sand. Are there any issues that I should be aware of? Would
the zeolites still need to be recharged with a more
concentrated salt water solution periodically, since there
shouldn't be any issues with chloramines? Regards.
Terry T., Austin, TX, 6/2/2012
Good question! Pools with
salt chlorinators work extremely
well with zeolites: a sand filter replacement media.
In a standard, chemically chlorinated pool, zeolites will
attract combined chlorines and hold them to the media. In
order to release the combined chlorine, an eight to ten
percent sodium chloride solution is used to reverse the
adherence of the combined chlorine, restoring and improving
the filtering performance. A follow up shock treatment will
probably be required to get the combined chlorine level to
under 1 PPM. Chloramines collecting on the surface of the
Zeolite should not be an issue with the salt chlorinating
systems, since the pool water will already have around 3,000
ppm of salt content. This negates the need to regenerate the
zeolite, with a high sodium chloride solution. The
effectiveness of the chlorine, produced by the salt
generator, should destroy any ammonia-based by products or
chloramines, that are introduced into the pool, at normal,
typical levels. All of the water, passing through the salt
chlorinator, will be free of ammonia-based byproducts and
chloramines, when the salt chlorinator is working within its
limits. Use a filter bed cleaner, at the end of the
swimming season, to remove any mineral scale, oils, scum or
organic matter that may cling to the media. These two
products work well together to produce better water quality
and better chlorination. Enjoy the season.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/3/2012
Cartridge Filter Pressure?
I got an inground pool last year. A
few weeks ago, I started my pump and began adding chemicals.
My pump is running at the max pressure 30 lb. I was told
that the pressure should only run between 15-20 lbs
pressure. It is a cartridge filter. What do I need to do to
get the pressure down?
Stacy J., 4/5/2005
Your pressure is probably too high because of all the
debris, dead algae, etc., that has been removed. It simply
needs some routine servicing. You have a cartridge filter
and you need to remove it and thoroughly clean it with a
garden hose. This procedure should be performed on a
periodic basis, usually every week or two. There is an easy
way to clean cartridge filters, that you might look into.
The BLASTER Automatic Filter Cartridge Cleaner
uses a simple garden hose connection and there's nothing to
install. I hope that I have
cleared things up and gotten on the way to better water
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/5/2005
► Cleaning A
We just had a new pool installed and
it has a cartridge filter. How often should it be cleaned
and how? Thanks.
Mike M., 6/24/2009
There is no set rule and it will vary with the season.
Usually, every 1-2 weeks or when the pressure rises to the
point where the water flow has diminished. Use a garden hose
and spray the cartridge from the top down and it is being
rotated on one end. Simple enough, but a little on the wet
side. Depending on water chemistry the cartridge should be
soaked in diluted acid or chlorine solution, according to
the manufacturer's instruction. If you would like to clean
the filter cartridge better and with less effort, the
Blaster Automatic Filter Cartridge Cleaner is the right
product. I hope this information will help. Enjoy the pool.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/25/2009
► Not Quite
I have an inground pool with a
supposed high-end cartridge filter. I use a salt chlorine
generator and I still think the water is not at its best. I
maintain the pH at 7.4-7.8 and the free chlorine at 1-3 PPM.
Adam S., Jupiter, FL, 2/1/2010
A filter cannot always remove everything, especially organic
wastes, body oils, cosmetic residues and many dead
microorganisms. Traditionally, it would be suggested that a
liquid clarifier be added. However, it may be OK with your
filter, but not with a DE filter. There is an alternative to
adding more chemicals to solve this problem. There is an
effective non-chemical means of destroying the organic
wastes, byproducts and various particulates. The
is a clarifier that uses 21st century technology to improve
water clarity and quality, without contributing anything to
the water. The "stick" is suspended from a ladder or rail.
Light activates the Nano-Titanium ceramic media inside and.
as water passes through the porous material, oxidation and
decomposition occurs, powered by nothing more than the
catalytic effect of the light upon the Nano-Titanium. This
will help you better looking and feeling water. The
Nano-Stick for pools is 32 inches long and less than 3 inches
in diameter. Each stick treats up to 10,000 gallons of water
and lasts 4-6 months. I hope that this information will help
you to a clear solution of the problem.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/1/2010
► How Much
Zeolite Is Required?
If a pool filter system takes 6 bags
of sand (300 pounds), how much zeolite does it require? What
size packages are available? Is more better? My filter is
3.0 cubic feet. Will adding more zeolite better improve
the performance? Thank You.
Richard B., 1/10/2005
You should require one-half of the weight of sand, given the
fact that zeolite is much lighter than sand. Zeolite
is conveniently is typically packaged in 25 and 50-pound bags. More is
not better. Just impractical! Each 50 pound bag of
zeolite is approximately 1 cubic foot. This makes the
calculation very easy. In your case, you require 150 pounds
or 3 cubic feet, which comes out to 3 of the 50-pound bags.
Clearly, the water quality will be greatly improved, by
simply adding the recommended amount of zeolite. Have a
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 1/10/2005
Cleaning With Zeolite Media?
I know that zeolite has to be
regenerated with a salt solution at least once a season, but
does it also have to be cleaned? Thanks.
Ron C., Texas, 6/20/2008
A leading manufacturer of zeolites recommends cleaning the
media with a soaking filter cleaner that removes scale and
organic oil build-up at least once per year, as a good
maintenance practice. This is addition to the regeneration
with a salt solution, that should be done at least once a
year. Other situations that would warrant cleaning the media
would be after plaster dust is removed on a new in-ground
gunite pool and in extremely high hardness conditions.
Zeolite, being somewhat of a natural water softening
mineral, will remove some calcium carbonate in high hardness
conditions. The cleaning will remove any scale build-up from
these conditions. A “Cleaning and Regeneration” product,
specifically formulated for use with zeolite filter media is
available at many pool professionals. I hope that this
information will prove helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/20/2008
► Effect On
I would like to add The Circulators to
my pool. I have a solar system and I don't want to
cause the backpressure to rise. Can I add The Circulator, to
each of the three returns. Thanks for the chance to ask
Frank M., Bonita Springs, FL., 3/13/2008
The Circulator will not increase the backpressure to any
great extent, as determined by a leading pump/filter
manufacturer. Adding The Circulator Circulation Booster, to
each of your returns (3) will help get the most out of your
Solar Heating System, assure better distribution of
chemicals an d eliminates the dead zones that promote algae
growth. I hope that you'll find the information helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster/ 3/13/2008
Media and Salt Chlorinators?
I have an in ground pool (76,000
Liters) with a salt water chlorinator and a gas fired
heater. I have been reading your site and using your
knowledge for some time now. I am interested in a couple of
issues. The first is the discussion around “cleaning” the
sand in my filter. I have struggled with cloudy water this
summer which seems to be a result of the wet weather we have
had. It seems that every time we get a good rain fall my
pool goes cloudy and develops and algae problem. My water
chemistry has been good. I will be closing the pool in a
month or so and I might as well use the heater! and I am
interested in knowing more about the need to “clean” the
sand in the filter due to the problems I have been seeing
this summer. Why is this done? When is the best performed?
Is it something that should be done on a regular basis and
if so how often? My second issue is the filter media itself.
What are the benefits of me switching my media from sand to
Zeolite? Does the salt water system I have make this type
of media more beneficial or are we simply comparing apples
to apples? If it was beneficial when the best time is to
make this change, when I close the pool or when I open it in
spring? As always. Thanks for the help.
Mark H., Toronto, Ontario, 9/13/2006
Zeolite sand filter replacement media can help you
remove those small particles that might, otherwise, pass
right through a sand filter. The fact that you have a salt
chlorine generator, makes it even easier. You will never
have to regenerate the Zeolite, because of the salt in the
water. Zeolite will allow you to go longer between
backwashes and produce better quality water. Occasionally,
the Zeolite filter media will need to be cleaned, like any
sand filter: once a season should be more than adequate for
a pool like yours. I suggest that you test the water for
free chlorine and determine that a level of 1-3 PPM is being
maintained. Test the salt level, to make sure that it is in
the proper range. Your cloudy water and algae problems
may more related to the free chlorine level and not totally
related to the filter performance. Areas of poor circulation
create dead zones that promote algae growth, even when the
water tests out well. Better circulation assures better
distribution of the sanitizing chemicals and makes algae
problems less likely. The Circulator is an easy-to-install
device that will dramatically improve circulation and
eliminate any dead zones. I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/13/2006
Regenerating Zeolite Filter Media?
Thanks for all the great info on your
site! We just replaced our sand in our filter with zeolite
media. The immediate improvement in water clarity was
amazing! I am wondering if there is anything we need to do
different with pool care, chemicals, etc now that we are
using this. Each spring when we open our pool, we use a
super floc. (we have a mesh security cover). Will we still
be able to use this or would that not be advisable now with
the zeolite. Just asking to be prepared for next year. Also
should we still be using a clarifier weekly, as we have been
for the past several years. We have read that the zeolite
needs to be regenerated with salt water solution. How often
is that necessary? Thanks again for the service you provide.
You should find less need to use clarifiers because of the
improved filtration. If it necessary to regenerate the
Zeolite at least once a season, in outdoor,
residential pools. Zeolite helps remove chloramines
from the pool water and regeneration restores the ability of
the filter media to perform this important function.
Individual pool circumstances can vary greatly and
regeneration should be considered, whenever shock treatment
to control the combined chlorine level becomes more
frequent. Regenerate as follows:
1. Drain the existing water from the filter, then close the
inlet and outlet valves.
2. Mix the salt solution, 3 pounds of salt in five gallons
of water, in a plastic container.
3. Open the filter vessel and pour the salt solution to
completely cover the zeolite filter media.
4. Allow the salt solution to stand in the media bed for a
minimum of four hours.
5. Backwash the salt solution out the discharge drain with a
6. Resume normal filtration of the pool water.
If you have ever given thought about getting a
generator, you might be interested to know that it will
totally eliminate the need to regenerate the zeolite media.
I hope that the information will prove helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/16/2010
Regeneration And Ozonator?
I switched to Zeolite this year
with great improvement in pool clarity. I use an ozonator
with low level chlorine: 0.6 ppm. Ozonators claim to
minimize chloramines. What would you recommend for year end
maintenance cleaning of the zeolite filter?
Al P., 9/5/2010
I would clean the zeolite at least once a year, in
order to help keep peak performance. This should be a
regular maintenance item performed at least once a year in a
residential pool and more often, in a commercial pool. The
ozonator will reduce chloramines and that is a plus. Still,
during the course of the season, some chloramines will be
formed. In areas where pools are filled with high
mineral/hard water, cleaning the media for scale build-up
once every six weeks is good maintenance. I hope that this
information is helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/6/2010
► Will "The
Circulator" Cause Pressure Rise?
Was wondering what kind of back
pressure these would cause in my pump system. I would
require three. Thanks.
There should be no noticeable increase in the pressure, but
The Circulator will make the water come alive and the dead
zones will be eliminated. You will have fewer algae
problems, better heat distribution and more effective
chemical usage. I hope that this information is helpful.
Have a fun holiday weekend!
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/23/2008
► Bumps And
What is bumping the filter mean? I've
read it in a few of your answers. Also, when we backwash,
the little spyglass never clouds up, but does have white
chunks swirling in it. Does this mean my DE is chunked up?
If so what causes that? Thanks.
Some DE filters have a handle that allows you to "bump" or
redistribute the filter media, instead of backwashing. These
filters are usually not backwashed. It doesn't sound like
your filter can be "bumped" and needs to be backwashed
instead. The "clumping" doesn't necessarily mean anything.
"Clumps" can occur from the removal of dead algae and
debris, the use of biguanide sanitizers or "quat" algaecides
or the overuse of clarifiers. If you do have a D.E. and
want to avoid the problems, that liquid clarifier cause, you
should consider the use of a Nano-Stick Clarifier. This 21st
century product has no negative effect on the filter media.
and lasts for 4-6 months.
Enjoy the season.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/30/2009
► Sand Vs.
Zeolite: operating costs?
Thanks for all the advice on the web
site. I have a small above ground pool (18' x 4') and I am
using the biguanide chemicals. I have a sand filter that has
been great but now in it's third season I am finding I need
to run the pump about 3 times longer than last year to avoid
cloudy water. I am very tempted to switch to the zeolite,
but I was wondering, all other things equal, if it will
require more electricity to operate per gallon filtered than
the sand? My intuition tells me that if the filter works
better, the pressure will be higher and the flow rate will
be lower (for a given pump), thus requiring more time to
filter the entire pool. Is this true? Has anyone ever
compared the cost of electricity of sand vs. zeolite?
Kevin W., 7/8/2004
I don't know if studies have been done on operating costs,
but I would hazard a guess that you will get better water
quality with less filter time using
zeolite. Sand filters
can be very inefficient in removing fine particles. With
zeolite you will have effectiveness that is
comparable to a DE filter,. without a lot of the DE
problems. There will less need to run the filter for
extended periods of time to clear up the water. You should
be able to run the filter on a more predictable cycle, so
long as proper water sanitation is maintained. I hope
that I have cleared things up a bit. Enjoy the season.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/8/2004
Hi Alan, first of all, thanks for
spending the time to perform this service. Many of your
responses to others have already helped us. We are new pool
owners: came with the house. It's a 20 yr inground, 25,000
gal concrete pool. We hired a company to "open" the pool
that provides this service to others in our area. They
started by shocking and adjusting water chemistry - got rid
of the green, but cloudiness remained. Then more chlorine
shock ~ 5 days later. Another 4 days, and it's still cloudy.
I noticed the pressure reading on the new instrument was ~
25 over this entire period, and never really changed that
much (even after backwashing) - but outflow back into the
pool always decreased with time, suggesting something was
retained by the filter. Next, they tried a quart of that
clarifying agent you recommend, which improved the
cloudiness somewhat You could see the bottom of the shallow
end. After 2 more days ~ 1 lb of DE powder was added to the
skimmer, which plugged the filter, so we had to backwash
out. At this point, I suggested we investigate the filter.
It's not new, and the fact the pressure doesn't change
suggested channeling to me; but they wanted to trying
shocking 1 more time, so we did so today. By the way, water
chemistry was fine, except for today, we had to acidify to
get back within the normal range. We also have been
backwashing 2x daily. Alan, what is your diagnosis and
recommendation? Thanks much.
J. and C., Dayton, OH, 6/4/2010
From your letter, it is safe to assume that you have a sand
filter and it is very possible that channeling is part of
the cloudy pool water problem. A defective pressure gauge is
another possibility. If you have a sand filter, an excellent
way to greatly improve filtration is to replace the sand
with a zeolite sand
replacement filter media. You mentioned that you added
several doses of shock, but did not state any chlorine
readings. If you are unable to maintain a Free Chlorine
reading for a reasonable period of time, it could be that
there is still algae and debris in the pool. This will
consume the chlorine and cause a continuing clarity problem.
The key to your problem is to maintain a stable chlorine
reading of 1-3 PPM for an overnight period and maintain a
properly working filtration system. The high pH reduced the
effectiveness of the chlorine, decreased the solubility of
calcium minerals and may have contributed to the problem.
You could use an algaecide, follow the label--more is not necessarily better. Rather than use a one-time only clarifier,
which might interfere with filtration, use a
Clarifier. It hangs in the pool, works 24/7. lasts 3-4-months
or more and does not adversely affect filters. I hope that
I have been helpful. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/4/2010
Rising Filter Pressure?
We have a 20'x40' inground pool, 1-1/2
hp pump and a D.E. filter. We have fantastic water pressure
immediately after bumping or flushing the filter, but the
pressure builds quickly and soon the water pressure slows
way down, usually within 15-30 minutes. We are starting this
season with poor water quality and we really need constant
circulation to get it cleared up, but the pressure builds so
quickly that the filter is not doing any good. The high
pressures have also caused water to seep around the seal of
the filter. I've cleaned the filter thoroughly and added
D.E., nothing seems to help. The filter is plumbed according
to the manufacturer's specs, but there is no filter bypass.
Should I add one? Should we switch to a sand filter? This
thing is just too restrictive to do any good. HELP!
Shelly and Tia, 4/12/2009
It seems apparent that your problem is due to the clogging
of the filter. The poor water quality is causing debris and
algae to slowly reduce the water flow, raising the pressure.
If you are using biguanide, it may be part of the problem
and will require an alternate treatment. If you are using a
clarifier or a quat algaecide (dimethyl benzyl ammonium
chloride or similar) stop the use, at least temporarily. Add
shock to the pool to boost the Free Chlorine reading to 5-10
PPM and keep it there. Retest the water every few hours and
add more product, as needed. Keep the pH at 7.2-7.6. Bump
the filter and, if after the Free Chlorine level has be
elevated, the problem continues, you should consider
cleaning the filter and replacing the DE. A DE filter can
produce excellent water quality, but can be overwhelmed by
too much material in the water. That's where I think you
are. The chlorine will change all that. If you are using
biguanide, get back to me. I hope that the information will
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/12/2009
► Dirt In The
I have a few spots, that seem to
collect dirt and debris. I guess it follows the natural
water flow in the pool. I use a Robotic Pool Cleaner every
other day and while it does a great job, there is dirt
accumulating in a few spots. Any suggestions.
John. L. Clearwater, FL, 5/26/2005
A Robotic Pool Cleaner
usually does a great job. Nonetheless, new debris will
settle in areas, based on the flow patterns.
The Circulator is a circulation boosting device that
can be easily installed in each return and it will
dramatically improve the circulation, by as much as 1500%.
This should help prevent dirt from accumulating in any
particular spots. And as a bonus, you'll get better chemical
distribution and be less likely to have chemical dead spots. I hope
that this information will prove helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/26/2005
Replacing Sand With Zeolite?
Alan, my husband and I purchased a
home with a pool last year. We have had some "issues"
getting good, reliable help with our pool and have resolved
that we are going to have to learn to care for it ourselves
and with the help of friends and people like you. I have
been searching the internet for 2 hours now to find detailed
directions for replacing the sand in my sand filter (30,000
gallon pool) and adding zeolite sand replacement media. Can you help? We
have been told that the best time to replace the sand is
prior to opening as the sand is the driest. We were hoping
to work on it this weekend. I really appreciate your help!
Kara G., Utica, OH, 5/8/2009
It definitely is easier to handle dry sand. You need to
remove all of the sand. While the filter is empty, clean and
inspect everything. Now you're ready to add the
zeolite. You will need 1/2 the weight of sand. That
is, if your filter required 300 pounds of filter sand, you
will need 150 pounds of zeolite. Otherwise, you operate the
filter in exactly the same way as with sand. The difference
will be in the water quality. It will be much better. Enjoy
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/8/2009
We have an inground pool and after
shocking and putting in other chemicals needed to get the
pool ready for summer, the water is a beautiful color, but
we cannot see the bottom of the pool. We've taken in 3 water
samples to our pool supply store and they have suggested
that we might need to change the sand in our filter. How
expensive is this and is it easy to do ourselves or would we
be better off hiring someone? How much does the sand cost
and where do you buy it?
Bobby L., 5/15/2009
Sand should be replaced every 3-5 years. Cost is modest and
only certain types of sand is suitable. Pool dealers should
carry the right kind. Even better than sand would be using a
zeolite sand filter replacement media. Zeolites are modestly priced, weighs 1/2 as much as sand and produces
much better water quality. Sand filters can become channeled
and lose their efficiency. There is some work involved. The
sand has to be removed and the filter cleaned and inspected.
Most pool owners do it themselves. Some points to remember!
Backwashing too often is a common mistake. Generally, the
filter should be backwashed only when the pressure is too
high. With zeolites, you will get better results,
using fewer chemicals and shorter filter cycles. I hope that
this information will be helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/15/2009
Zeolite's Effect On
Reading through a California
Contractors study guide I came across a statement in their
glossary regarding Zeolite. In it they state: " Zeolite
filter: Filter used to soften water. Filter medium is
zeolite, a substance which will remove calcium and magnesium
from water, replacing them with sodium. Does not remove
suspended matter from water." I live in an area that has
very soft water, with little or no calcium, we experience
very aggressive water conditions. We add Calcium Chloride to
our water on a regular basis. The question that concerns me
is, does Zeolite remove calcium and manganese from the
water? I have been using Zeolite exclusively for all my
commercial sand filter installations for years. I use it on
heavily abused resort spas in conjunction with ozone,
bromine and ORP controls. The media backwashes easily and
the water is clear all the time. My clients have reduced
their water consumption, especially their draining and
refilling by an easy 75%. The savings in heating a freshly
filled spa is enormous. It's a great product and worth the
extra expense. I am concerned about the Calcium statement!
Stan Z., Mammoth Lakes CA, 12/27/2006
This statement refers to a manmade zeolite that has been
modified to be used with water softeners.
a natural mineral and can be used in pools and spas with
hardness, in the normal ranges, without any problem. If the
hardness is above 400 PPM, zeolite may lower the levels and
that would be of benefit to the overall water chemistry. I
hope that this has cleared up the mystery.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/27/2006
► DE and
I have a sand filter and recently it
filled with zeolite. When I used sand, I used to add some
DE to increase the efficiency or so I thought. Is this
practice worth continuing? Thanks.
Edward H., 4/22/2005
Zeolite in a sand filter produces much better water
quality than just sand alone. Using DE as a filter aid, with
zeolites, is not necessary or recommended. With
zeolite, adding filter aids should no longer be
required, as it can remove the finest particles. Hopefully
this answers the question.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/22/2005
Last fall, after weeks of struggling
with cloudy water, I saw your website and concluded that the
sand in my filter was probably channeled. I replaced the
sand with a zeolite filter media. Since then all has been sparkly. What
causes channeling? Is it possible that zeolite could also
become channeled? How does one prevent channeling? Once it
has happened, is replacing the filter media the only
solution? Thanks for your help!
Niki P., 7/30/2012
There are a couple of situations where channeling can occur
in zeolite. The most common occurrence happens when
mineral scale builds-up in the media. This can occur when
dealing with a high mineral water source, such as well
water. It can also occur when calcium hardness
is allowed to run too high. Since Zeolite is a natural water softening
media to some degree, it can remove and bond calcium
carbonate when concentrations are high. It is suggested to
keep calcium hardness below 250ppm in pool water. A common
mistake that some pool builders make after plastering a
gunite pool is to allow the plaster dust to build-up in the
filter without cleaning the media. Plaster dust contains a
high concentration of calcium carbonate. The combination of
the two can create a hard layer of media and result in
channeling. The media should be cleaned with an acid based
sand filter cleaner or a muriatic acid solution, after the
first couple of week’s operation to correct this problem.
Another situation where channeling can occur is with the use
of biguanide. This material can cause sand, zeolite and D.E.
filter media to coagulate. It can not be backwashed from the
filter and can result in diminished efficiency. Some of the
biguanide manufacturers suggest monthly cleaning of the
media, when used with this chemical. I hope that the
information proves helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/31/2012
Backwashing With Zeolite?
I recently purchased a sand filter.
Instead of using sand, my dealer suggested a zeolite
replacement media. I was
told to backwash the filter whenever the pressure rose 10
pounds above the initial pressure. I was told this would be
about once a week. However, this is what I observe: If the
filter runs non-stop for several days, the pressure
gradually rises, say about 6 pounds. However, if I stop the
pump after, say 5 days, to add chlorine, or maybe because we
have a stretch of cold weather and the pool doesn't need
filtering 24 hours a day. When the pump restarts, the filter
pressure returns to its initial start-up pressure and rises
slowly again over a period of several days. The result is
the pressure never rises close to 10 pounds above its
start-up pressure. Should I backwash once a week whether or
not the pressure has risen? This is what the dealer says to
do. I'm reluctant to backwash, if its not necessary because
a good backwashing drops the water level 0.5" to 1", so I
usually have to add water before or after backwashing.
Colin T., St. Louis, MO, 5/25/2009
The dealer was knowledgeable enough to suggest
a zeolite, as it will
provide better water quality. He seems unaware that
zeolites decreases the need to backwash, because of
in-depth filtration. Backwash when the pressure is too high
or a few times a season. Once a week is totally unnecessary
for your pool. I hope that this
information will help clear things up.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/25/2009
► Scaling And
My pool is located in a very hard
water area and I have some scaling and cloudiness issues.
The pool maintenance company has mentioned something called
a magnetic conditioner. What is this?
Roy N., Chandler, AZ, 6/2/2005
Magnetic water conditioners
contain strong permanent magnets,
that are strapped on the return lines. Pool water passing through the return lines is subjected to
a magnetic field, causing micro-changes in some of the water
content. In short, the magnets are said to cause some
beneficial changes: reduction and elimination of calcium
scale, improvement in sanitizer efficiency and some positive
effects on the overall water chemistry, clarity and
filtration. In very hard water situations, this type of
product can make a substantial improve in the water quality.
No power is required and installation should be a simple. I
hope that I have been of assistance.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/2/2005
► Lack Of
I emailed you a few weeks back about
cloudy pool water (despite good water levels) and you told
me to add DE to my sand filter and I must say it worked like
a charm. I now know I was backwashing too frequently, which
no one told me before. Recently, I had a HORRIBLE algae
attack (I’m guessing due to a vacation) which made my pool
the prettiest and brightest green I have ever seen! I have
since shocked the dickens out of it and it is now finally a
bright cloudy blue. This actually looks good to me since it
was so green for the last 10 days! Now I know I have to just
get rid of the cloudiness. It seems to me that if I add DE
to my sand filter it works better, but what can I do to not
have to go out at 3am and make sure the pressure is not too
high and the filter is not working at all? I fear something
is wrong with my sand filter because I used to backwash too
much. I live in Wisconsin so there is not much swim time
left but I would like to get my filtration system to the
point where not only is it working the best but I know what
to do for next season. The pool is not even a year old and
is 18 X 4. Thankful.
PS I have been told to only use sodium based chlorines as
opposed to calcium ones. Is it fair to say that I can stick
with that general rule?
can pass right through some sand filters. Adding an
occasional dose of a blue clarifier can help improve the
ability of the pool filter to remove these fine particles.
Backwashing a sand filter doesn't damage the filter: it just
lowers the efficiency by opening up the spaces between the
sand grains. Adding DE helps to reduce the spaces and
improves efficiency. Think of it as clean dirt. Don't add so
much DE that the pressure will rise towards the upper end of
the operating range. Another means of increasing the
efficiency of a sand filter would be to replace the sand
with a sand filter replacement media, such as
a zeolite. Another effective means of improving the
water quality is with a robotic pool cleaner. It acts as a
second, moving filter, as it vacuums the underwater
surfaces. And it will save you lots of time! Sodium
hypochlorite is popular in many areas. The only reason not
to use calcium hypochlorite would be because your calcium
hardness is already high enough or should not be increased
beyond its present level. Another effective means of
improving the water quality is with a robotic pool cleaner.
It acts as a second filter, as it vacuums the underwater
surfaces. And it will save you lots of time! The
Nano-Stick is a clarifier than
is hung in the pool, usually from a ladder. It helps oxidize
and decompose ultra-fine particles and eliminates
some wastes, as well. It does not interfere with any type of
filter and can last up to 6-months, while working 24/7. I
hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/10/2010
Hi, Alan! Love your website. I opened
my pool and decided to change the sand in my pool filter -
something that I never tried before. Anyway, it all went
well but I have very little pressure. I tried backwashing,
etc. but nothing helps. I was thinking that perhaps one of
the lines got clogged with sand but then I read one of your
responses and perhaps I have one of those channels. You
mentioned a NANO-STICK Clarifier, but I have no idea
what this product is. Do you sell it? If it doesn't correct
the problem, do I start all over again? Thanks so much!
Barry N., 6/17/2006
You may not have done anything wrong. A freshly filled sand
filter is not as efficient as a somewhat dirty one. If you
used a filter grade sand, it may just take a while for the
pressure to rise. Backwashing will achieve just the opposite
effect. In the future, backwash only if the pressure is too
high. Try this. Add 1 pound of D.E. to the skimmer with the
filter operating. This will help increase the pressure:
think of it as clean dirt. The next time that you replace
the sand, give some thought to using
a zeolite sand replacement media, instead
of the sand. This sand filter replacement media will produce
consistently better water quality that ordinary filter sand.
You didn't mention anything about cloudy pool water. If the
water is clear, I would play it by ear. The Nano-Stick
Clarifier, that I referred to, is a new breed of pool
clarifier, that can be used in all pools and with all types
of filters. It is hung, from a ladder and uses Nano-Titanium
to remove fine particles and oxidize wastes. It works 24/7
and can last up to 6-months. Just hang and start improving
your water quality. Enjoy the summer.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/17/2006
► No Water
My problem is that the filter is not
pulling any water. What could be the problem? Thank You.
B. K., 11/27/2009
There could be several reasons: clogged filter, clogged pump
strainer, loss of prime, broken pump impellor, clogged line
or valve, closed valve or an air leak. Check to see that the
valve is in the correct position. Backwash the filter to
waste. Resume filtering. If the water is still not flowing,
shut off the filter and open the pump basket cover. Pour
water into the basket (clean it out first), in attempt to
manually prime the pump. If none of these things work, you
will have to check the lines, impeller and valves: the
answer is there, it is a matter of elimination. If you have
a filter operating manual, check to see if it has a
trouble-shooting guide. It might help solve the problem.
Good luck and I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/27/2009
► Green Water
Won't Clear Up?
Hi, Alan, your web questions and
answers are very helpful and informative. Thank you. I have
a problem with my pool water. About 2 weeks ago, my pool
water started to get green, cloudy and ugly. I realized I
had slipped and ran out of chlorine. I figured, no problem,
I'll just shock with a couple pounds of chlorine granules,
and it will clear up as it had in the past. However, it is 2
weeks later, the water is still bright green and I cannot
see the bottom. I have added at least 8 lbs of chlorine and
tried something recommended by the pool store - a chemical
that binds to chlorine to clear up/kill algae better. I have
run the filter for 12 hours here, 24 hours there, etc. Here
is some other information. The pool water is about 4 years
old without being completely flushed and re-filled--and now
it is too hot outside (I'm in Arizona) to risk cracking the
pool finish (I understand you should not empty your pool if
the temperature outside is above 80 degrees F). The pool is
about 18,000 gallons with a sand filter. In the past, a
little shock and an extra 12 hrs of filtering always cleared
up the problem. Do I need to change my sand? Is it possible
to run out of sand in the filter? I'm thinking it is a
filter problem, and not a chemical problem - my chlorine
level is off the charts on my test kit (it goes up to
10ppm), I'm guessing it is 30ppm or higher based on the
quantities of chemicals I used. Do you have any suggestions
to help? Thank you.
John U., Arizona, 5/15/2009
You told me a lot, but still not enough. If you're testing
for Free Chlorine and the level is as high as you state, it
is not likely that the problem is still algae. Sand filters
can be subject to such problems. If the sand has not been
replaced in a long time, it might be a good place to start.
Sand filters can become channeled and that prevents proper
filtering efficiency. If you are going to replace the sand,
you might consider using a zeolite sand replacement
filter media. This product is modestly priced, weighs
one-half as much as sand and provides much better filtering
efficiency. This will help increase the efficiency. If your
filter pressure was low, it could be an indication of
channeling. Try adding a NANO-STICK Clarifier. It will help
remove the fine particles, works 24/7, lasts up to months
and is safe to use with all types of filters and pool
chemicals. Thereafter, backwash only occasionally or when
the pressure is too high. Have you considered a
Cleaner? With a built-in micro-filter, it can remove dead
algae and help prevent future growth by improving the water
circulation across the pool bottom. For information on this
product visit the Website Store. The green color could be
minerals such as copper or iron - have the water tested for
their presence. I hope that this advice proves helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/15/2009
Wow - great advice! I can see the
bottom of my pool for the first time in 2 weeks after just
16 hours of using the DE and Blue as you suggested. I had
to backwash about 3 times during that period because of all
the green gunk that was being cleaned out of the
pool. Still a little cloudy, but I should have it licked
today. Thanks again, Alan.
John U., 5/17/2009
It's worked for a lot of people. Enjoy the summer.
► Pump Motor
How do I know the hp of a motor, I
need to replace, if the old one has no data on it?
J. R., 2/27/2004
The pump size will be determined by the size of the pool,
filter and pipes. Bigger is not necessarily better.
Depending upon the type of pump in place, you might be able
to use a smaller pump. I suggest that you visit a local pool
professional with the following information: pool size in
gallons, filter type and model number and the size of the
pipes (measure the diameter - they will be able to relate
that to pipe size). I hope that I have been of some
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/27/2004
► How Long To
Run The Filter?
We have a 24' above ground pool. I
replaced the liner this past weekend, and so far, everything
seems good. My question is about the length of time daily
that the filter should run. I have a 1 HP pump with a 16"
sand (100 lbs) filter. I've heard that the electrical costs
are not that much different to run it 24/7 - but the
previous owners only ran it about 8 hrs a day. We have
minimal leaves, bugs, etc that fall into the pool, but my
thinking is that it the surface of the water is constantly
being skimmed and cleaned, it will lead to less debris
getting to the bottom (then having to vacuum, etc). What
is a good rule of thumb, and are the pumps designed to run
continuously? Thanks in advance.
Mark C., Kentucky, 5/31/2005
How long a pump should run does, in part, depend of the pump
size, pipe size and the type of use the pool receives. In
essence, it is pool size and pumping rate. A turnover rate
of every 4-6 hours is reasonable. Pumps are designed for
long running periods, but that does make it necessary. To
run it 24/7, as compared to 8 hours daily, will cost you
exactly 3 times as much. This is not air conditioning! If
the pump is running, so is the electric meter. In your
case, 8 hours daily should be quite adequate. The skimmers
will never get all the debris and some will inevitably reach
the bottom. Better in invest in a
Robotic Pool Cleaner,
instead of operating the pump continuously. It will act as a
moving main drain and as a second micro filter. hope that I
have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/1/2005
► Using A
Thanks for your great pool service
website... it is much appreciated. We have a home in Gulf
Breeze that is a rental and is/has been sitting empty for a
couple months now. Our electric bill seems a bit high, due
to the fact that we have turned off the hot water heater
and adjusted the air conditioner up considerably. We suspect
that the drain on power is coming from the main pump for the
pool that runs continuously. The pool is gunite and is about
33 feet long by 15 feet wide. We have pool maintenance about
twice a month. Can we put a timer on the pump that will
allow it to run less time but still filter the pool
properly? Aloha and regards.
Robert B., 11/15/2006
The pump does not have to run 24/7. Timers are routinely
used to control time and duration of filter cycles. I
suggest that you try filtering for 8 hours a day. During
peak seasonal use, you might have to up it a bit. During
periods of reduced use, you might be able to scale back on
the filter time. No pools are alike, so some common sense
needs to be applied. How well you maintain the water
chemistry and the pool's surrounding can play a role. Pump
size can make a difference. Ideally, you want the water to
turn over about 1-2 times a day. I hope that this
information has been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/15/2006
► How Big A
I need your honest, impartial answer!
I have a 20,000-gal, inground, gunite pool that is currently
running a sand filter (which I want to convert to
zeolite), but my main problem is with the MOTOR. It
has a 1.0 hp motor and I have some people (current and prior
pool owners) tell me that that is NOT enough - that I need
to run 2.0 hp to really circulate the water (the water is
NOT moving well). Others - including the pool store who
COULD talk me into a bigger motor and make money - tell me
that 1.0 hp is sufficient. It's not a question of money. I
can handle it. But WHAT is the truth? HOW big of a motor do
I need? Can I compromise and get a 1.5? Thanks!
Dayle V., Orange Park, Fl, 5/9/2010
No simple answer. Pump size is related to pool size, filter
performance and pipe size. Still 1 HP does seem on the small
side. I suggest that you replace the sand with
zeolite, as you planned. If the water flow is not
adequate to turn the pool over every 4-6 hours, you might
consider something bigger. Biggest is not always best. I
would move up to 1.5 HP. Have you ever considered a
Pool Cleaner. It acts as a moving filter and is independent
of the pool pump? I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/10/2010
The Filter Parts?
Is there a way I could give my in
ground pool filter an acid bath myself? Is it just matter of
taking the filter tubes and submersing them in let's say a
muriatic acid solution. Do you know the name of the type of
acid used for this purpose, where I can buy it, what the
dilution rate is, how long it needs to be soaked, rinse with
water afterwards, etc? Thank you.
Vince G., 5/1/2004
The disassembled plastic parts should be placed in a
suitably sized plastic container. Add water and about a
quart of muriatic acid for each 5-gallons of water. If you
don't want to use muriatic acid, you can add two pounds of
pH reducer, instead. There are products formulated for this
purpose that contain other ingredients, to help with the
cleaning. Soak at least a few hours - overnight or until
clean. Rinse off. Use rubber gloves and eye protection. This
is not for metal parts! I hope this information proves
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/2/2004
► Is It A
Filter Or Chemistry Problem?
the last few weeks we have been having problems keeping our
pool clean. The beginning of the season we had no problems.
The pool water remains milky-cloudy and there always seems
to be sand on the bottom of the pool. We have a sand filter
and I have been vacuuming daily and backwashing daily
without results. The pool chemistry is within normal limits.
The sand in the filter has not been changed in two years. Is
this a filter problem? I need help! Thanks.
Lisa, Patterson, LA, 6/21/2009
The sand could be from the filter or could be tracked into
the pool on the bottom of swimmer's feet. The pool filter
pressure should help indicate if there is a filtration
problem. If the pressure starts off normal after backwashing
and rises over a period of a few weeks, that would be
typical of most sand filters. Sand filters should not be
backwashed daily: that will decrease the efficiency of the
filter and could result in cloudy water. Normally, a sand
filter should be backwashed whenever the pressure rises too
high. Sand, from the filter, should not be getting into the
water. If that is truly the case, it is indicative of a
problem and, perhaps, you should seek advice on servicing.
It is not uncommon for sand to be in the filter for longer
than 2 years. The cloudy water can be due to inadequate
chlorination or inadequate filtration. You might consider a
NANO-STICK Clarifier. It can be used with all types of filters and pool chemicals. It will work 24/7 and is simply
hung from the pool ladder. It only needs to be replaced
every 6 months, on average. The next time your sand is
replaced, consider using a zeolite sand filter
replacement media. It will produce much better results. I
hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/22/2009
► Sand Filter
Hi Alan, we have opened our
above-ground pool this year, and so far everything has been
ok. BUT, my husband has tried to connect the vacuum and it
seems as though when the vacuum is connected, sand is being
blown through the water return. The return seems ok, and the
volume of water is strong so I don't think it is dirty
already. All the hoses seem ok, fittings ok with no leaks.
The pressure reads ok. Everything seems fine until we try to
use the vacuum, and then we see sand being returned. The
pool is only one year old, and at the closing last season we
were advised by our pool company to empty the sand filter
and clean it; which is what we did. My husband did not
experience any problems when he connected everything, and we
haven't noticed any problems in the two weeks we have had
the pool opened. We considered emptying the filter and doing
it over, just to make sure. Any suggestions? Thanks.
The Wife, 5/9/2008
Unless I am missing something, all you should have to do
hook up the vacuum is to close off one skimmer (if there are
two) and connect the hose to the skimmer intake. Sand should
not be coming into the pool just because the vacuum is being
used. Something is not right. Sand filters do not have to be
emptied every year. In addition, a sand filter should not be
backwashed too frequently, as doing that will reduce the
effectiveness. I suspect that something was done correctly
during the replacement of the sand. You might as well do
whatever is necessary to check that everything is in its
proper place and in working order. Speak to the dealer. He
may have a trouble-shooting guide and should be familiar
enough with that pool filter make and model to offer you the
proper remedy. Good luck with the problem.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/9/2008
I am a new pool owner and want first
of all to thank you for your very helpful web page! I have a
29K gal. pool/spa with a 48 sq. ft. DE filter. The pool has
been opened about three weeks. I have been testing my water
and maintaining a good balance. The water appears clean and
clear. The initial start up pressure on the gauge was 13.
The pool company told me that I should backwash at 23. Is it
normal that the gauge has not gone over 15 since we began
operating the pool? Am I just "bored" and looking for
something to do or should I backwash after a certain period
of time, regardless of the pressure gauge? Thank you.
Ken D., Freehold, NJ, 6/30/2004
You must be doing an exceptional job maintaining the proper
chemistry and that, in turn, is preventing the growth of
algae. Algae growth is the usual cause for the pressure to
increase. The fact that the pressure has not increased very
much, over the past few weeks, is due to the fact that there
has apparently been very little material for the filter to
remove. If you read through the archives, you will notice
that pools requiring pool filter backwashing, usually have
algae or clarity problems. Don't backwash unless necessary.
A mid-season backwash might be reasonable, if not done for
any other reason. Keep up the good work. Golf, tennis,
fishing or swimming are good hobbies.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/30/2004
► How Long To
We have been told many different
options on how often to be running our filter for our 21,000
gal inground pool. In order to save energy costs everyone
seems to have their own little quirk about how often or when
to run their filter. Some say every other day, for two days
straight after a busy weekend, nighttime only, etc. What is
your best recommendation?
Julia H., 4/30/2005
Start with 8 hours a day. When the pool is not being used,
perhaps, you might get away with 6 hours. During peak use,
you might need more. How well you maintain the water, how
much bather usage, how powerful the pump, exposure to
wind-blown debris and other factors all contribute.
Depending upon the sanitizing method, you might need to have
the filter operating for more or less time. Having a
Pool Surface Skimmer or
Robotic Pool Cleaner can reduce the time, as it acts as a
second filter and as a moving main drain. If you can,
operate the filter while the pool is being used. Have fun
and I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/30/2005
► How Long
I live in South Florida and have a new
pool of three months. I’ve been told that a pump should run
at least 8-12 hours a day. I have a timer and a pool pilot
salt chlorine generator. My question is should I run the
pump continuously for that amount of time or break it up
throughout the day? I know the most important time is during
the hottest part of the day. I was also told that by running
the pump for several hours at night might reduce algae
buildup, which I’ve noticed has popped up around the tile.
Robert, Florida, 5/9/2005
This is a gray area. Running the filter for 8-12 hours
should be enough. Times will vary based on pump size, pipe
size, filter performance, bather load, location, etc. It is
always a good idea to operate the filter during periods of
use, as this helps remove silt that might otherwise settle
to the bottom. Breaking up the filter run into 2 separate
periods is a good idea. If your pool is being maintained
with a chlorine feeder, chlorination only occurs while the
filter is operating. By splitting the time, the pool is not
more than 6 hours away from a chlorine addition. In your
case, the algae is developing because you are probably
failing to maintain a sanitizer level adequate to carry the
load throughout the day. You need to focus on the free
chlorine level and keep it at 1-3 PPM, for as much of the
time as possible. Using the right tester can help. The
ColorQ All-Digital, Water Analyzer
will provide the right information with reliability and
convenience. Check the pH and stabilizer level to assure
optimum chlorine performance. Your Pool Pilot salt chlorine
generator can maintain proper free chlorine levels much
better than a chlorine feeder or manual additions of
chlorine products. Keeping your filter cartridge clean will
improve water flow and circulation. In turn, this makes
algae growth less likely and improves the water quality.
Usually cartridge filters are cleaned weekly, especially in
the peak of the season. You can use The
BLASTER automatic filter cartridge cleaner and save yourself
the weekly chore. It requires no installation and is worth
looking into. I hope that I provided some help with your
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/10/2005
► D.E. In The
I have a gunite pool with a D.E.
filter. There was a tear in one of the filter grids and
about 10 pounds of D.E. found its way into the pool before I
realized it. Will the D.E. be removed from the pool under
normal operation after fixing the grid?
Richard R., 6/10/2003
Your filter should be able to remove the D.E. The problem
will be to get all of the D.E. into the main drain or the
skimmers. Adding a dose of a "Blue" Clarifier might be a
consideration. If you have an
automatic pool vacuum, it
might be a good time to make use of it. If it is a
suction-side cleaner, at least it will get the D.E. off the
bottom and into the filter intake. I hope that I've been
helpful. Enjoy the pool season.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/10/2003
Cloudy And Green?
Thank you for the great web site. We
just bought a house and it has a 27' diameter X 52" high
pool. The water has never been quite right. The water is
green. The algae level seems to rise and fall. We shock, a
lot. We figured out that we need stabilizer and calcium so
that the chlorine level seems to have started to level out.
Now we have a huge algae problem. I know the pool is 3-5
years old. I also know the sand in the filter has never been
replaced. I am told that this may be a part of the problem.
How hard is it to change the sand and is there a guide we
should use? I am getting frustrated with the situation as I
have been working at it for 3 weeks now and have yet to see
non-green water. We backwash, we run the filter all the
time, we vacuum and skim. We have a chlorine floater, as
well as, all the shocking we do. Any help you could offer
would be appreciated. Thanks.
Jeanette W., 6/5/2009
The problem all centers around the lack of an adequate level
of free chlorine. Adding the stabilizer and calcium probably
did little to help control the algae. You must keep adding
shock at the rate of 1-2 pounds per 10,000 gallons, until a
Free Chlorine readings is established and last thru the
night. The longer it takes - the more chlorine will be
required. At this point the water should clear. Adding a
NANO-STICK Clarifier should help, as it will remove fine
particles and oxidize debris, using NEW 21st Century
technology. All you do is hang it from the ladder. Safe in
all pools and with all types of chemicals. It adds no
chemicals to the water. It might be a good time to replace
the sand and start with a clean page. Visit a local pool
professional with the make and model number. They will have
replacement sand or, even better, a zeolite sand
replacement filter media and should be able to tell you how
to go about making the change. Contrary to common sense, a
sand filter should not be backwashed too frequently. A
slightly dirty filter works best! The key is the chlorine:
add it every few hours, keep the pool filter running and
make sure that you are testing for Free Chlorine. It will
all clear up for you. I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/5/2009
Diatomaceous Earth Filter And Floc?
Alan, is there any problem using floc with DE filters? I
thought that I heard not to do this somewhere. Thanks.
Frank K., 6/17/2008
I've never been a big fan of floc. However, it does work. It
clears up water by creating a gelatinous precipitate that,
as it falls to the bottom, attracts suspended matter and
takes it to the bottom. The end result is that you have a
bigger amount of sediment to remove, by vacuuming. The
problem with DE pool filters is that if you get too much of
the gelatinous sediment into the filter, it can clog the
filter. Inasmuch as it is impossible to vacuum all of the
gelatinous material to waste, without leaving a small
quantity behind, you may end up with a clogged filtration
system. DE pool filters are very efficient and are usually
able to deal with suspended matter, in the course of normal
operation. If you would like to use an additive to help the
water quality, I suggest that you try a
Clarifier. This product is highly effective at removing fine
particles and, unlike liquid clarifiers, it does not
coagulate the D.E. Safe with all types of chemicals. Just
hang it from the pool ladder and it will work 24/7, for up
to 6 months. I hope that I have been of assistance.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/17/2008
Filter To Choose?
I am in the process of replacing a
tired old sand filter. My pool is approx. 20000 gallons and
I see a lot of ads for cartridge filters. How do they
compare to sand filters for effectiveness, etc? They don't
seem to be as popular in Canada as down south. Thanks for
any info that you may have.
Ed L., Osoyoos, B.C. Canada, 4/2/2008
I am not an expert on pool filters. However, based upon the
questions that have been submitted to me, over many years, I
would conclude that you are more apt to be satisfied with
the water quality, if you elect to utilize a quality
cartridge filter or a modern sand filter, using
a zeolite sand filter replacement media in place of
sand. Zeolites are modestly priced, longer lasting and can
produce results rivaling a D.E. filter. Speak with some of
the local builders. Good luck with your decision.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/2/2008
We have an in-ground, 30 mil, vinyl
pool with 17,400 gallons. This summer we had a sudden onset
of yellow-green silt looking stuff that goes right thru the
filter. It is an older style, (20 years) 102 square foot,
paper cartridge in a stainless steel bullet looking thing.
Up until now it has worked fine. When the problem came on we
suspected the cartridge so we replaced it. No help. The
filter base had a small internal crack so we replaced it
too. No help. I even fell for the "worn out filter pump"
story and replaced the old 3/4 horse with a new 1 HP pump.
It moves a lot of water but it didn't cure the problem.
Actually, the old motor and pump were making some noise.
Earlier in the summer the pool cleaner booster pump went bad
and we just plugged it off to continue using the filter
pump. I don't know if there is a connection or not. We have
used a variety of clarifiers to no avail. Last summer I put
some D.E. in it and it worked fine, but now everything just
goes thru the filter as if it wasn't there at all. We are at
the end of our rope. All I get from the locals is to replace
the entire filter with a newer, high dollar system. Is that
what I'm facing? I find it hard to believe that this is an
isolated problem. We have also totally replaced water twice
after other attempts turned sour. We have quizzed neighbors
with similar pools and they have no problems. What's up?
Rick P., Bakersfield, CA, 8/14/2009
From your description it sounds like you have "Yellow
Mustard Algae." While it is possible that you might have had
a filter problem, pool water filtration alone will not
remove yellow mustard algae. Changing the water will not
solve the problem. To control this type of algae, proper
chemical treatment is required. Please refer to the
Yellow-Mustard Algae Problems, for more complete information on
treatment. Good luck!
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/14/2009
► Filter On
The filter must be on while adding
chemicals to the pool? Is this correct? I was doing the
Luis S., 6/2/2005
The filter should always be operating while adding
chemicals, unless specifically directed otherwise.
Generally, you do not want chemicals to remain on the bottom
for prolonged periods. Always follow the manufacturer's
directions and never mix different chemicals together!
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/3/2005
► Too Much
For The Strainer Basket?
A Southern Magnolia tree which is
flowering this time of year (May-June) overhangs the pool.
If the leaves weren't bad enough, tiny flower parts
(stamens, I believe) fall into the pool by the thousands,
get past the strainer basket, and clog the impeller. I've
had someone come out and clean the impeller twice now (very
expensive) but it clogs up again within days. Should I try
to get a basket with finer holes? Wrap the strainer basket
in a nylon stocking? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
Brian D., 6/2/2004
Good idea!!! Although, it has already been invented. Local
pool dealers should have something that can be fitted into
your skimmers, to act just as you described. They are
sock-like, cover the strainer baskets and act as a
pre-filter. If only they were all this simple! Enjoy the
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/2/2004
D.E. Filter Or Sand/Zeolite Filter?
What is the best filter type for a
plaster finish gunite pool and attached spa with salt water
chlorination system? Does a sand filter with Zeolite really
filter as well as DE with less maintenance? Thank you.
Candice S., 10/31/2009
A sand filter filled with zeolite, in place of
ordinary sand, will provide filter efficiency similar to
that of a DE filter. Having a
salt chlorine generator will
even make it easier, as it will not be necessary to ever
regenerate the Zeolite. You'll get the water quality you
want, with the ease and convenience of a sand filter. I hope
that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/1/2009
► A Cartridge
Filter Or A D.E. Filter?
I'd like your opinion on Cartridge
Filters. I had my above ground pool for 7 years and it came
with a D.E. filter. I never had a problem with it. Last
year, we had a built in pool installed and I was torn
between getting a D.E. or Cartridge filter. I decided to get
the cartridge filter because it's easier to maintain
(according to the sales rep). I noticed a few things with
this filter. It does not keep the water as clear as the D.E.
filter. Why? Is it because it's not able to filter out the
small particles like the D.E.? Is there anything that I can
do to keep the water clearer? Are these cartridge filters
Charlie W., Hemet, CA, 7/23/2010
Bull's Eye!!! You hit it right on the head! DE Filters can
remove smaller particles than cartridge filters. For people
who neglect their pool maintenance, a DE filter can be a
chore. For those who take care of the pool, a DE filter
provides better water quality. Adding a
should help, as it will remove fine particles and oxidize
debris, using NEW 21st Century technology. All you do is
hang it from the ladder. Safe in all pools and with all
types of chemicals. It adds no chemicals to the water. It
might just become your next best friend. I hope that I have
been helpful. Enjoy the summer. I'm sure that you will come
to terms with your new filter.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/23/2010
► No Prime?
opened my pool. I blew out the lines, plugged them as I
normally do. This is my second inground pool and 15
closing/opening. My current pool only two years old is
giving me a problem. I can not get a prime. I can not locate
any air leaks. The pool store said since I closed the pool
myself, I probably did it wrong and the lines underground
are cracked. After 15 years of doing this I have a hard time
believing I have both a skimmer line and main line crack. I
am going to pool the pump and check the impeller, seals,
etc. Is there anyway to check the lines, pressurize them
etc? I use a compressor to blow out the lines out. Any
advice would be greatly appreciated.
Phillip M., 4/28/2005
I agree that it would be highly unlikely for two separate
lines to crack at the same time. Most likely the problem is
in a seal or gasket. If disassembly and repair does not
solve the problem, you might have to resort to having the
lines pressure tested. Some pool service techs have the
necessary equipment and expertise. If there is a leak, I
would suggest that you give
Fix A Leak a try, before tearing
up the concrete or decking. You might even try it before the
pressure testing. This products works well to seal suction
side leaks up to 1/8" in diameter. Good luck and I hope that
I have been of help.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/29/2005
► Trying To
Decide On Filter Type?
We are trying to figure out what type
of filter to use. We are leaning toward the DE for the water
clarity but the installer told us that he has replaced them
because people found them too high maintenance. He is
recommending either a sand filter or cartridge filter, but
will install whatever we want. The installer also informed
us that DE can only be used with chlorine because biguanide
will cause it to clog. Is this true? Also, what are the
required maintenances for the DE, sand and cartridge
filters? Thank you for your assistance.
Laura M., Central PA, 7/13/2009
DE should give you the highest water quality, but is can be
difficult for those that do no take care of the pool water
chemistry and sanitation. Biguanide will interfere with DE
filters. A sand filter, with a zeolite sand filter
Replacement media in place of ordinary sand, can provide
water quality rivaling DE, with simple maintenance.
Cartridge filters have simple maintenance and reasonable
water quality. If you're set on biguanide, go with sand or cartridge. If you are trying to be chlorine
free, there is a better way. The combination of an
and a mineral sanitizer or
dual-ion mineralizer is chlorine
free, highly automated and can be used with all types of
filters. You still should try and maintain a low free
chlorine level. Good luck with your choice.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/13/2009
► No Water In
Your website is extremely informative.
Recently bought a house with an outdoor inground concrete
pool. A few days ago I found that although the pool pump was
turned on, no water could be seen in the filter window and
also the needle in the pressure gauge does not move. I
checked the basket near the pump for leaves etc but there
were no debris. What do you think is the problem? Thank you.
Elizabeth, Birmingham, U.K., 1/23/2007
There is no water flow and that is why the gauge is reading
zero. The pump has lost its prime. The question is why?
Check all the seals. Shut off the pump. Clean out the
strainer baskets. Make sure the valve to the skimmers and
main drain, if present, are open. Use a garden hose and fill
the pump basket with water. Do it for a minute or until it
remains filled. Quickly close the lid to the pump strainer
and turn it on. Hopefully, the pump will re-prime and the
water will start circulating. If this does not work, you may
have a blockage. Remove the lines going in the pump and use
a shop vacuum to blow them out. If bubbling occurs the lines are clear. I hope that this information proves
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 1/23/2007
I carried out your instructions and
while re-circulating the water I discovered a leak under the
pump. An engineer came out and found a crack in one of
plastic pipes near the ball valve next to the pump. It's
sorted. Thank you so much for the invaluable advice. I
discovered your website last year whilst trying to learn
more about pool maintenance etc. It's good to read about
other people's experiences with their pools. Thanks and Have
A Nice Day!
Elizabeth, Birmingham United Kingdom, 1/24/2007
We are getting an in ground pool this
summer and considering A DE filter over sand as cost is
about the same and better efficient, but our pool sales guy
says he heard that when the DE is backwashed it can be toxic
to pets and will kill the grass. Doesn't seem true, is it?
Could you suggest any pro's and cons of the DE filters?
Dave, Chandler, Arizona, 3/25/2008
There is no question that a DE filter can produce better
quality water than a sand filter. There are some health
questions, regarding DE, that may be exaggerated. While it
can be harmful, over a long period, to inhale DE particles
(manufacturers and packagers), I don't believe there is
significant risk when used, as directed, in a swimming pool.
I have heard nothing about toxicity towards pets, but DE is
suggested as being useful in insect control. DE filters are
more efficient and capable of removing smaller particles. On
the down side, they are more prone to clogging, especially
if algae problems are frequent. There is another alternative
that you may be unaware of. You can use a zeolite, a
sand replacement filter media, in place of ordinary filter
sand. The result is that the filter efficiency is greatly
enhanced and comes close to that of DE. Otherwise the filter
is operated in exactly the same way as a sand filter. Good
luck with your choice. Enjoy the pool!
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/25/2009
► Need To
Replace The D.E.?
Just had the pool resurfaced. A lot of
muriatic acid was used to take off white powder on the pool
walls. My question is after backwashing, do I have to refill
the filter with D.E.?
Jerry, Homosassa, FL, 5/12/2005
If you have the type of filter that allows for backwashing,
you must replace the DE, after every backwash. I hope that I
have been helpful.
Sincerely, Alan Schuster, 5/13/2005
► Sand In The
I have an in-ground pool that is
approximately 15 years old. I have noticed these past 2
years that, after rinsing the filter, sand returns into the
bottom of the pool. While draining the pool, for the winter,
I placed the controls back into the filter position and,
after a short while, there were piles of sand on the bottom
near all 3 return lines. What is causing this? Is it because
the filter is too low on sand or is some thing broken?
Richard R., Granite Falls, MN, 6/17/2008
Something is definitely wrong with the filter. Sand should
not be getting into the pool, as you are describing.
Exactly, what is wrong is beyond the scope of my knowledge
(Too many filters and models).
I'm sure that a local dealer, that sells or services pool
filters will be able to help you to trouble-shoot the
problem. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/17/2008
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