If you're lucky enough to have an above-ground pool, you know how important it is to keep it clean and well-maintained. And the filter is one of the most important components of any pool maintenance system. The filter removes dirt, debris, and other contaminants from the water, ensuring it stays crystal clear and safe for swimmers.
With so many different types of filters on the market, it can be tough to know which is best for your pool. We've put together this guide to the best above-ground pool filters.
We'll help you choose the right above-ground filter to keep your pool looking and feeling its best all season long.
- Getting Started With Above-Ground Filters
- Types of Above-Ground Pool Filters
- Sand Filter for Above Ground Pool FAQ
- Above-Ground Pool Filter Installation
- How Sand Filters Work
- Sand Filter Alternatives
- Cartridge Filters
- Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) Filters
- Filter Glass
- Backwash or Bump Cleaning
- How to Add New D.E. to the Filter
- Illegal Backwashing
- Cancer Risk and its Link to D.E Filters
- How to Troubleshoot A Sand Filter for Above Pool
- Cycle Problems in Above-Ground Pools
- Pool Filter Water Pressure Complications
- Top 3 Sand Filters for Above Ground Pool
- Hayward W3S270T ProSeries Sand Filter, 27-Inch, Top-Mount
- Swimline Sand Filter Combo for Above-Ground Pools
- Hayward SP1580X15 Power-Flo LX Series 1-½-Horsepower Above-Ground Pool Pump
Getting Started With Above-Ground Filters
Above-ground pool filters are generally the unsung hero when enjoying a hot afternoon of leisure for anyone with an above-ground pool. An above-ground filter can work daily to trap various types of dirt, including germs, bacteria, pollen, dust, and dirt.
These are contaminants that might easily find their way to your pool. Thus, you should know that above-ground pool filters have the same technologies as in-ground pool filters. That said, they are only available in a small package and with a reasonable price point.
Types of Above-Ground Pool Filters
- Diatomaceous earth (D.E) – these filters can eliminate small particles that average between 2-4 microns. It’s a filter you install using a tool known as a skimmer. The skimmer has the role of coating the filter grids and perflex tubes. Every 3-6 weeks, you will have to rest the filter cake using the easy-to-use bump handle. You may also have to repeat this process once or twice per season, drain the tank and flush it with fresh DE powder. More so, above-ground pool DE filters have a common line of Hayward filters.
- Cartridge filters – get a pleated cartridge and use it to filter out particles that average 10-20 microns. The good thing is that these types are convenient and simple to maintain using DIY techniques. They also have the lowest resistance levels of all filter types on the market. You can clean the filter after four weeks using a clean hosing technique.
- Sand filters – above-ground pools consist of graded pool filter sand, which can trap particles with average sizes of 18-30 microns. Also, the sand filters are simple to operate, and you can clean them through backwashing techniques every three weeks. The above-ground filters might include the VL series, smaller Intex, and more.
Sand Filter for Above Ground Pool FAQ
Q. What is the longevity of pool filters?
A. While an above-pool filter has a long lifespan, the filter media and its other internal components might soon get damaged. More so, DE filters or tubes have the longest lifespans which might average ten years or more. The cartridge filters might last up to three seasons, while the sand filters last for years. Various factors come into play in the longevity of a swimming pool filter, such as the size of the pool and the level of water maintenance.
Q. What is the right size of a pool filter?
A. A large pool filter has several benefits over the conventional filter you will find in most pools. These include faster prevention and cleanup of compromised water and a longevity filter. When buying a pool filter system, you should ensure you go for one that can filter the water in your pool. Go for the largest size within your budget – yes, you can still save when buying for large pools!
Q. How do you install an above-ground filter?
A. When buying the above filter, you should note that it comes with several components. These include a base, adapters, hardware, and more. When integrating
Above-Ground Pool Filter Installation
When getting a complete above-ground and pump filter, consider getting one with a suitable installation system. These include hoses, hardware, adapters, and the base. Consider getting the correct installation kit when joining a separately purchased filter and pump. You will easily find these connectors on various markets online.
Once the process is complete, integrate the return and suction lines. Next, add water to the pump and connect it to a grounded outlet for convenient circulation.
How Sand Filters Work
Most filtrations systems in pools work in specific ways. At this point, the pump sucks in water which travels through the skimmers. Then, the water travels to a large filtration tank packed with sand for purification.
Every grain of sand is abrasive on all sides. To test this theory, you should get a microscope, and you will notice the sand has several rough edges. Thus, this is how it captures contaminants and debris that move through the filter.
Over time, exposure to contaminants, debris, and more causes the sand to wear down, and rough edges disappear due to erosion. Finally, the sand then becomes smooth and won’t be able to capture any debris.
At the same time, particles might get trapped in the sand and accumulate over the filter's life. It’s a backup technique for when the sand starts to smoothen out, which can compromise water quality. Eventually, such an issue will compromise the water flow through the filter, which may compromise the filter's efficiency.
The filter should have a filter on the side to inform you of any increase in internal temperature and a sign to clean the filter. Using the backwash technique will reverse the flow of water, which will, in turn, flush all the debris to waste.
Since the silica will trap particles that average 20 microns or larger, you must ensure excellent swimming pool chemistry. If your pool does not have sufficient sanitizer to kill tiny bacteria, a sand filter won’t remove them either. Thus, the debris and dirt might float around in the pool.
Sand Filter Alternatives
While #20 silica is the conventional media in sand filters, you can enhance the system's efficiency with the right products. Add the powder, or replace the sand once you complete the backwash process. Also, you can completely replace the silica with either one of these two options:
While they are typically more costly than sand filters, cartridge filters are simple to maintain. More so, they are more effective, especially if you will use them in a small pool. Cartridges are energy-efficient and affordable.
Over time, the contaminants may accumulate, and the filter might require cleaning. Instead of backwashing, an easier solution would be to remove the cartridge from the tank. Then, you can spray it with a hose to help dirt and debris conveniently.
At some point, consider spraying down the filter with a cleaner and then soaking the filter regularly in some muriatic acid. Even if this is a physically demanding procedure, you will waste much less water.
Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) Filters
While it’s the most expensive and requires lots of maintenance, it can filter out particles as small as 5 microns in size.
D.E. filter tanks have grids or “fingers” covered using a unique white powder. Usually, the powder is manufactured using the crushed remains of minute organisms called diatoms. While D.E. and sand filters vary significantly, the fossils in D.E. also consist of silica. It’s a powdery substance that works well for pest control, toothpaste, and cosmetics.
More so, the D.E. made-for-pool filters are also heat treated to function as filtration media. Thus, avoid sprinkling pest control powder in your pool when you don’t have D.E.
Zeosand it’s made using a mineral referred to as zeolite. You need half as much as you would with a conventional swimming pool filter sand. Zeosand is unique because its crystal-like structure is ideal for trapping contaminants.
Thus, it works well to improve the clarity of the water and might require a relatively small amount of backwash. Also, Zeosand lasts for a long duration, so it has a lifespan that is similar to silica.
This refers to finely crushed and recycled glass. That said, don’t worry about the cuts – because it has a smooth surface area. Since the glass has a negative electrical charge, it will attract positive electrical particles during filtrations. The common particles in this category include iron and manganese.
You can even use 20% less filter glass than silica because it’s efficient and can remove particles as small as 4 microns. Furthermore, the filter can last over three times longer than the conventional pool sand filter.
Backwash or Bump Cleaning
Similar to sand filters, D.E. filters consist of pressure gauges that you can use to check for the right time to perform maintenance procedures. Usually, you can backwash D.E. filters just in the same way as sand filters. Some D.E. filters even have unique features, such as convenient bump handles. These lock the D.E. off the grids and fingers for convenient use.
Add some D.E. powder after each cleaning session if you prefer to backwash or bump the filter. Knowing the required amount can be challenging, so you must disassemble and clean the filter yearly.
How to Add New D.E. to the Filter
- Once you have cleaned the filter, instead of adding D.E. powder to the grids directly, you will achieve better coverage if you can use it in the pool's skimmer.
- Then, mix the D.E. with adequate water to produce a slurry, which will, in turn, produce a thin and creamy solution.
- Ensure you keep the pool pump running.
- The next step is to add the solution to the skimmer directly and slowly.
- As the D.E. travels through the filter, it will finally move through the grills. Leave the pool undisturbed for a few hours to ensure the product mixes as required. Thus, you may have to perform this process in the evening or run the pump all night.
Ilegal backwashing is among the major complications affecting water pump usage. You may have specific regulations that dictate the methods you can use to dispose of D.E.
Rinsing D.E. from the grids can cause the powder to accumulate over time, creating a concrete-like residue. The residue will, in turn, clog storm drains and lead to the suffocation of fish eggs.
When disposing of the D.E. filter, it’s best to use a disposable container because it seals shut and won’t be used again. Confirm with local authorities for specific information to ensure you don’t get a fine. More so, check to confirm that you don’t compromise the environment.
Cancer Risk and its Link to D.E Filters
While D.E. is a common carcinogen, it has only been shown it causes cancer in mice when inhaled in the long term perspective. When using such appliances, it’s best to practice the correct safety techniques.
Using a chemical mask at this point would be useful to prevent any health hazards to your breathing system. Also, ensure you keep pets and children away from the area where you are using D.E. powder and the storage area. Remember to clean up spilled powder as well.
How to Troubleshoot A Sand Filter for Above Pool
Since it’s a resource that plays a major role in cleaning your pool, ensure you always keep the filter in good condition. Filters can be prone to various issues; recognizing them on time is crucial in troubleshooting. Here is a list of the common sand filter issues you might come across:
Have you noticed or heard the sound of water dripping around the filter? Or, have you noticed any small puddles of water below the water pump? If this is the case, then the pump has a leakage.
A leak in the filter won’t lead to a significant drop in the level of your pool water. That said, it’s crucial to identify and repair the complication before it progresses.
The first step is to find the cause of the leakage in the system. Evaluate the filter tank to determine if it has holes. If you come across one, you can seal it to avoid further damage to the pump. Also, be prepared to replace the tank, as a patch likely won’t offer longevity. If you have a split tank filter, evaluate all sections to ensure it’s damage-free. Detach the band, and evaluate the O-ring for tear and debris. If it’s worn out, you may have to replace it. A gasket lubricant is imperative to ensure the ring stays in the right position and is well-hydrated.
Cycle Problems in Above-Ground Pools
For those with pool filters that seem to function in short cycles, and you notice this issue even when the pool is undisturbed, this might indicate a flow rate problem.
The likely issue at this point would be that the flow rate is excessive, which means that the pool pump might be too strong for the filter. It might also mean the filter is not large enough for the pool.
If you have the correct filter, consider using a simple backwashing process to clean it up. You may have to repeat the backwashing process until the water is cloudless. The process might take a few minutes to complete.
In some cases, filters function in short cycles, while algae and debris might lead to clogging issues. Thus, clean the pool filter thoroughly, and consider replacing it if it’s damaged.
Notice Filter Material in The Pool
You are likely to come across filter material at some point in the pool, regardless of your chosen type of filter. If you notice it even when it is not backwashed, there might be a filter problem.
The first step is to evaluate the bolts that hold the filter in position. If the bolts are loose, the particles can escape to the pool. If they are not, then check for other complications.
Components such as the standpipe and later filter may be compromised for those with a sand filter, usually due to wear and tear. The solution at this point is to perform a replacement. Even more, if it’s a D.E. filter, it might even have a tear on the fabric or cracks around the manifold – which are major issues. Again, if this is the issue, you may have to get the manifold replaced.
Pool Filter Water Pressure Complications
Evaluating the pressure gauge should be part of the pool maintenance procedures. Complications with water pressure can compromise the performance of your pool filter.
- A blockage anywhere on the filter might easily compromise the pressure in the filtration system. Plus, if the pressure is too high, ensure you check all filter sections for the blockage.
- Ensure you check the filter system thoroughly to determine the presence of clogs, and clean it if required. If the pump and the filter are clean, evaluate the return valve to ensure it’s still in good condition. In this case, it should be easy to open. Then, re-check every component in the system to determine if you can find a clog.
- Winterizing your above-ground pool means that you have to drain the pump and sand filter. Plus, winterization also means that you must disconnect components such as the pool, filter, and pump hoses. Once the winter season is over and outdoor temperatures increase, it’s time to reopen the pool for the coming season. Remember to keep track of where each hose attaches to the filter, pump, and pool.
- The next step is to place the sand filter close to the pump. Place it close to the skimmer and then return to the swimming pool. Furthermore, remember to keep the pump and filter below ground level. Following this, place the filter and pump on concrete blocks for stability.
- Turn off the circuit breaker in the pool. At this point, you can hardwire the pumps to the circuit breaker if you find it convenient. You may also have to separate the switch which operates the pump. Once you turn off the breaker, no electricity will flow through the system, and it should be safe to service at such a point. It also lets you connect the pump directly to the filter safely.
- Get your flexible pool hose, and put some clamps on each side in preparation. Then, integrate either end of your pool hose to the skimmer and inlet sides around the pool pump. Get a screwdriver, and use it to tighten hose clamps. Then, secure the hose to the skimmer and the pump as well.
- The next step is to attach another hose to the outlet port on the pump. Remember to connect the remaining end of the hose to the inlet port on the sand filter. Once complete, ensure the hose clamps are well sealed with a screwdriver. Direct the remaining section of the hose over the outlet port, which is on your sand filter. Then, integrate the remaining section of this hose into the outlet port, which sits on the side of most swimming pools.
- Switch on the circuit breaker on the pump. The next step is to adjust the calibration of the lever on the filter and set it to the “backwash” position. Once it’s complete, turn on the above-ground pool pump. Allow the pump to operate for a few minutes, and ensure it eliminates the contaminants on the silica. The silica is in the sand filter and then turns off the pump.
- Turn the level on the filter to the “rinse” selector. Switch on the pump for a few minutes until you can see clear water coming from the sight glass in the filter. Switch off the pump.
- Rotate the aboveground sand filter lever to the “filter” selection. Switch on the pump to operate the pump and filter as required.
Tools You Will Need
- Concrete blocks
Top 3 Sand Filters for Above Ground Pool
Hayward W3S270T ProSeries Sand Filter, 27-Inch, Top-Mount
Discover the excellence of the Hayward W32S270T ProSeries Sand Filter. This top-mount filter has an efficient and multi-lateral underdrain assembly with precision-engineered components. This best sand filter for the above-ground pool has self-cleaning and 360-degree slotted laterals. These are two components that provide a balanced flow and backwashing benefits.
The Hayward WS3270T also has a unique top diffuser. The role of this component is to ensure water flows of the sand filter for the best filtrations results. You will also be pleased that this unit has a unitized and corrosion-proof filter tank made using rugged material. It’s made using polymeric material, which is popular for longevity. With the unique six-position Hayward Vari-Flo control valve with an easy-to-use lever – this unit is perfect for filtering water. It even has a unique action lever, which you can use to dial in any specific filter handle.
To improve things, this unit has a top mount and side mount filter, with a precision-engineered self-fold cleaning system. Thus, you can ensure efficient flow and evenly distributed water for a balanced backwashing process.
- Self-cleaning laterals for balanced flow and backwashing
- Six-position Vari-Flo control valve with use-to-use lever handle
- Large pressure and sand water drain for rapid winterizing
Swimline Sand Filter Combo for Above-Ground Pools
With the Swimline Sand Filter Combo, you have a robust and reliable addition to your swimming pool care regimen. This unit has all the features you need to clean your pool and ensure it’s clean for all users in your home.
For instance, it comes with a fully integrated sand filter and pump pressure valve and stands for ease of use. Yes, that’s right! Ease of use is a crucial factor to consider when buying excellent sand filters for your needs. Plus, with 2400 gallons per hour pumping capacity, you can be sure of a high-performance pump for your needs.
It also has a heavy-duty design that will never rust, and molded PE tank construction ensures longevity. For convenience, this unit has two 1.5” filter connect hoses for the ultimate user experience.
- Fully integrated sand filter and pressure valve stand
- Offers an exceptional 2400 gallons per hr pumping capacity
- Never rust and blow-molded PE tank construction
- It comes with two 1.5” filter connect hoses
- Takes a few minutes to install correctly
Hayward SP1580X15 Power-Flo LX Series 1-½-Horsepower Above-Ground Pool Pump
With the Hayward SP1580X15 Power Flo Series, you also have a robust and reliable addition to your pool care regimen. The pump has a strainer, offering high-performance results for most swimming pools. The pump is completely drip-proof, and the heat-resistant seal is exceptionally durable. Plus, the pump has a 1-11/ inch intake and discharge and a high-performance impeller, which offers high performance each time.
The Hayward SP1580X15 PowerFlo LX pump has a clear cover, letting you see when the basket requires cleaning. Also included is a convenient drain plug to make pump maintenance a breeze. Equipped with a thermal overload mechanism, the pump will shut off the motor when it senses a compromise in its overall performance.
Also, the motor will auto-restart when safer heat levels are reached. For storage and wintering, you will find these procedures to perform on your pump each time. Yes, you should always protect your pump from freezing conditions. Furthermore, you may also have to drain thoroughly and clean out any debris when using the pump.
- 100 percent drip-proof and heat-resistant double-size seal
- It comes with a high-performance impeller
- The heat-resistant double-sided seal for longevity
- Corrosion-proof reinforced thermoplastic for all-weather performance
In conclusion, investing in the best above-ground pool filter is crucial for maintaining a clean and healthy swimming pool. With so many options available, it's important to consider factors such as the filter type, size, and maintenance requirements when choosing the right one for your pool.
Whether you opt for sand, cartridge, or D.E. filter, maintain and clean it regularly to ensure optimal performance. With the right filter, you can enjoy a crystal-clear pool all season long and create countless memories with friends and family.
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