Maintaining your swimming pool entails more than choosing which chemicals to treat the water. A pool is a system that includes chemicals, filters, and equipment that work together to ensure the water is clean and safe for you and your family to use.
Changing the sand in your pool filter is an inexpensive way to ensure your pool stays clean and sparkling each swimming season. While you can seek help from pool maintenance professionals, changing your pool filter sand is something you can do on your own.
Types of Pool Filter Sand
Pool filter sand is different from playground sand because it is explicitly ground to help maintain clean pool water. Playground sand is too fine, whereas pool filter sand grains are larger and sharper to trap particles, while allowing water to flow through.
There are different types of sand that you can use in your pool filter. All are inexpensive, low maintenance options that prevent your pool water from becoming cloudy and dirty. It mostly comes down to personal preference.
Glass sand is an environmentally conscious option for pool filters. Instead of being manufactured or mined from the ground, manufacturers use recycled glass. Pool filter glass collects particles from your pool water, but it is fine enough that it will not cut you.
Glass sand is easy to maintain in your pool filter because it is lighter and less dense than other types of pool sand. Glass floats easier in water, making backwashing your pool filter easier and less time-consuming to maintain.
Silica #20 sand has become one of the most common types of pool filter sand today. Unlike other manufactured pool filter sand, silicon dioxide, or quartz, is mined in the United States and then ground down to make silica sand.
Silica pool filter sand is popular because it is a very inexpensive and efficient medium for pool filters.
Zeolite is a honeycomb-shaped mineral that forms naturally in volcanic rock. Its unique shape helps it to capture dirt and debris while filtering your pool water. Zeolite’s complex shape also helps it to trap particles that may otherwise get passed Silica sand.
Using Zeolite sand in your pool filter may save you money in the long run since you do not have to backwash Zeolite pool filters as often as Silica or glass sand filters.
How Often Should You Change Your Pool Filter Sand?
While some pool owners claim that you do not have to change your pool filter sand, it is vital to change it every three to five years. You might need to change it more frequently if you use your swimming pool on a more regular basis.
Why You Need to Change Your Pool Filter Sand Regularly
Regularly cleaning your filter will help to extend the use of your pool filter sand, but it does not completely clean it. Routinely changing your sand will help keep your pool water sparkling and safe.
Dirty and clogged up sand will prevent your filter from performing its best. This could cloud your water and mean having to purchase more chemicals to balance out the pH and chemical composition of your pool water. Changing your pool filter sand regularly will reduce the need for expensive chemicals.
How to Change Your Pool Filter Sand
Follow these easy steps to change your pool sand and maintain an efficiently running filter.
1. Turn the Pump Off
Make sure that there is no power running to your pool filter. This will stop it from pumping water into your system while you are working on it. You’ll usually find the switch near the filter.
2. Thoroughly Drain the Filter Tank
Remove the drain plug on the bottom of the filter and allow the tank to drain out thoroughly. It can take up to an hour for your filter tank to drain completely.
3. Remove the Collar From the Base of the Multiport Valve
You will need a screwdriver to remove the bolts that hold the collar in place. The collar clamps the multiport valve in place, so you might hear professionals refer to it as a clamp rather than a collar.
4. Unscrew Pipes Connected to the Multiport Valve
Having pipes connected to the multiport valve will make it difficult to remove. Most pipe connections use unions that you can remove with a screwdriver. However, if your pipe is not connected by unions, you will have to use a saw to cut the pipes instead. You may then want to replace the pipes with unions to make changing your pool filter sand easier.
5. Remove the Multiport Valve
Carefully twist and pull up on the valve while maintaining a firm grip. Slowly work the valve off, so you do not damage anything inside the tank.
6. Cover the Standpipe With a Rubber Plug or Tape
Covering the standpipe will prevent sand from falling into the pipe and working its way into your pool water. You can use duct tape to cover the standpipe, but make sure that whatever you use is easily removable once you are finished changing the sand.
7. Remove the Old Sand
It is easiest to remove the old sand using a shop vac or a similar tool. Slowly lower the nozzle of the shop vac into the filter tank, being careful not to touch or damage anything inside of the tank. If you do not have a shop vac, you can rent one from a local hardware store.
If you prefer to remove the sand without a shop vac, you can use a cup to scoop the sand out of the tank. We recommend wearing gloves if you choose this method as the sand has been filtering debris and particles out of the pool, and it may be unsanitary.
8. Clean the Tank
Use a garden hose to thoroughly clean the inside and outside of the tank, removing any excess sand. Allow time for drying afterward so that moisture does not build in the tank or other parts. Moisture can cause damage to your filter over time.
9. Reattach the Drain Plug to the Bottom of the Tank
Once you’re done cleaning the inside of the tank, you can add the new sand. Before you add new sand, make sure you have sealed the drain plug at the base of the tank.
10. Pour New Sand Into the Tank
Be sure to use pool-grade sand to keep your filter running efficiently.
11. Fill the Tank with Water
Using a garden hose, fill the tank so that the water is level with the sand.
12. Lubricate the O-ring on the Multiport Valve
Use a thin layer of multipurpose lubricant around the outside of the O-ring. Properly lubricating the O-ring will make reattaching the multiport valve to the tank easier.
13. Reattach the Multiport Valve to the Tank
After removing the tape from the standpipe, position the valve over it, and carefully reconnect it. Wiggle the valve to make sure you have a tight connection.
14. Reattach the Pipes
Screw the collar and pipes back into the multiport valve as tightly as you can to prevent leaks. You can turn the filter back on once you have reattached all the pipes.
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The Bottom Line
Regularly changing the sand in your pool filter will prevent needing more expensive maintenance and chemicals. You can easily change the sand without having to schedule an appointment with a professional.
If some of that sand starts leaking into your pool, read my guide on how to remove sand in your pool.
Once you find pool-grade sand that works for you, you will be able to maintain a crystal clear pool for many years to come.