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What You Need to Know About Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Swimming Pool Filter Systems

It’s important that swimming pool owners understand their pool. Not just when to call a repairman or order a new part, but how the equipment works. There are three different kinds of swimming pool filter systems to choose from: diatomaceous earth, sand, and cartridge filters. Today we’re going to focus on the diatomaceous earth (DE) filters and how they work.

How a DE Filter System Works

Out of the three types of systems available, the DE filter system is sometimes considered the most effective because they have the best micron rating, generally ranging from one to three microns. The smaller the micron number, the smaller the particle, which means filters with a smaller micron rating will do a better job of cleaning your pool’s water.

The DE filter works by adding Diatomaceous Earth powder, which contains microscopic skeletons of diatoms, a type of algae, to the pool filter. The powder acts like a sponge and absorbs the dirt and debris particles that come through the pool filter and sifts them out using the skimmer box. If you have a DE swimming pool filter system, it is important to regularly monitor the pressure gauge of the pool filter tank. When the pressure increases, it means there is a large amount of dirt in the system and needs to be backwashed. A general rule of thumb is to backwash when the gauge reads 8-10 pounds.

Backwashing your DE Filter System

There are two techniques to choose from to backwash your DE filter system:

Using a Side Valve to Backwash

  1. The first thing you need to do is make sure your pool filter isn’t running and, if you have one, get out your backwash hose. Unlock the plunger and pull it upwards roughly three inches.
  2. Next, open the air bleeder system and turn the pump on. When the hose fills with water, run it for about two minutes or until the water is clear.
  3. Turn the pump off and put the handle back to its original position, then turn the pump back on for about 15 – 30 seconds and turn it off again.
  4. Backwash again and repeat about three times. When the pump is turned off, lock the plunger back in its place.
  5. Finally, turn the pump back on at a low pressure and add more of the Diatomaceous Earth powder. Watch the pressure carefully through the entire backwashing process.

Using a Multiport Valve to Backwash

  1. Again, the first step with this backwashing technique is to make sure your pool filter is switched off and the valve is switched from filter to backwash.
  2. If you have one, install your backwash hose into the filter but if you don’t, open the waste valves.
  3. Next, open the air bleeders and turn the filter system on and once the hose fills with water, let the filter fun for about three minutes or until the water is clear.
  4. Then, turn off the pump and move the valve to the rinse setting and have it rinse for about 10 seconds.
  5. Once the rinse is complete, turn the valve back to backwash and repeat those steps three times.
  6. When you have finished, turn the system off and return the valve to the filter position.
  7. Lastly, add more of the DE powder before the system is turned back on. Again, watch the pressure throughout the entire process to ensure that there aren’t any problems.

Troubleshooting DE Filter Systems

Be sure to check your DE pool filter throughout the swimming season to be sure that nothing is clogged. You can clean and unclog your filter by turning the system off and removing the grid part of the filter for cleaning. Rinse off the grid piece and soak it in a mixture of water and cleaner.

If you notice your pool water is cloudy and your filter isn’t clogged, it may be because you aren’t running your filter system often enough. You should run your filter daily, but the amount of time you run it per day depends on the size and age of your swimming pool filter. If it’s old, it will most likely have to run most of the day, whereas if it’s newer, it should only have to run for part the day.

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