DE Pool Filter Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Written by Michael Dean
May 8, 2024

troubleshooting a DE pool filter

Pool filters work hard to clean your pool and keep your water clear throughout the season. Since they constantly filter debris like algae, bacteria, and other contaminants, they require some maintenance to keep them functioning in tip-top shape.

In this article, I will cover DE filters. These filters are very effective but require a bit more attention than sand or cartridge filters. Continue reading to learn some pro maintenance tips for DE filters.

Main Takeaways

  • Some common DE filter problems you may come across include having too high/low pressure, leaking DE into the pool, and the filter simply not cleaning.
  • DE filters are pretty durable, so they have a long lifespan; you will need to replace your filter grids every 10 or so years.
  • Make sure you properly look after your DE filter by doing your research and regularly cleaning it to prolong the life of the filter.

Common DE Filter Problems and Solutions

Here are some common issues that may arise in a DE filter and how to fix them.

Pressure is too high

Your pressure gauge is one of the most important features of your DE filter. The gauge will help you determine when it is time to clean and backwash your filter and replace the DE. High pressure is very common in DE filters, which almost always means the filter is dirty and clogged.


Nine times out of ten, the solution is properly cleaning your DE filter. This involves backwashing the filter, removing the filter grid, and cleaning each filter part individually with a hose. Once the filter is cleaned thoroughly, put it back together and replace the DE by pouring it into the skimmer.

Pressure is too low

Your DE filter should ideally be running at around 10-25 psi. If you notice that the pressure is above 25 or below 10, there is likely an issue with the filter. High pressure is usually a sign of a dirty filter, and low pressure is usually a more complex problem.

Remember that your pressure will be 0 when the filter is turned off. Low-pressure readings when the filter is on can be caused by several things, such as a clog in the skimmer basket or plumbing, reduced water movement, and a faulty pressure gauge.


To fix low filter pressure, you will first need to determine the cause. Check the skimmer basket for a clog preventing water flow to the filter. If the pressure gauge is low, you are likely dealing with a water blockage before the filter in the plumbing. A clog in the filter itself will generally lead to high pressure, but if it’s before the filter, it will cause low pressure as less water flows into the filter itself.

You will need to reinstate normal water circulation for your filter to work efficiently. This is usually as easy as emptying the skimmer basket, but occasionally, you will need to turn off the filter and take apart the plumbing, cleaning out any debris.

DE is leaking into the pool

Another common issue pool owners encounter with DE filters is the leakage of the DE particles into the pool water. DE is made up of very tiny ground-up fossil particles that can easily escape piping or filter grids if there are tears or leaks. If you notice the DE is leaking, you likely have a malfunction in your filter or plumbing that needs to be addressed.


DE leakage is generally caused by one of three things:

  1. A tear in the filter grid – Check the filter grid for tears. If you notice a tear, you will need to replace the broken part.
  2. You have added too much DE to the skimmer – Check the manufacturer’s instructions and add the correct amount of DE powder. Too much DE will cause the powder to seep into the pool water.
  3. Leaks in the manifold piping—Damage to the pipes can cause tiny holes to form, allowing DE particles to enter the pool water.

Filter is not cleaning the water

It can be very frustrating to find that your filter is not cleaning the pool water. Cloudy pool water can occur due to chemical imbalances, algae growth, and high calcium hardness. So, it is essential to check all these factors before concluding that the filter is the issue.


If your DE filter is not properly cleaning the water, you will want to check your water flow first. Water needs to flow through the filter media to be cleaned, so the issue could lie with the circulation. Check for any clogs in the pool’s systems, and remove any debris so the water can circulate.

Another cause could simply be a dirty filter grid. If this is the case, deep clean the filter and backwash, and your pool water should return to its previous state.

When to Replace Your DE Filter Grid

DE filter grids are pretty durable and can last a very long time if they are not exposed to harsh conditions of excess debris. On average, filter grids will last ten years or more, but this is not the case for every DE filter.

I recommend thoroughly checking the filter grids and analyzing the wear and tear every few years. Over time, debris and minerals will build up on the grid, making cleaning more difficult. Old, dirty filter grids will get clogged and need to be cleaned more often than new ones. If there are any tears or noticeable wear and tear, it might be time to purchase a new filter grid.

I recommend changing your DE filter grid every four to five years if you live in an area with high pollen or just need to clean your pool filter often. This will likely result in faster deterioration of the filter grid. In pools requiring less maintenance, filter grids can last much longer, but you should check the grid often and change it when it seems to be at the end of its life.

When To Replace The Entire DE System

Replacing your entire pool filter system is not something you will often encounter, if ever. DE filter systems can last decades. Although you may need to replace the filter grids every five to ten years and possibly replace other parts of the filter, the structure and main components of the system can last up to 30 years if well kept.

Here are some signs that your DE filter needs to be replaced:

  • O-rings and other methods of securing are worn down, and the filter is no longer able to contain air pressure
  • The filter is not cleaning the water efficiently even after backwashing and cleaning the manifold or replacing the filter grids
  • Plumbing in the filter is old and has leaks and excess rust

If you think you need a new one, head over to my recommendations for the top pool filter systems.

DE Pool Filter Maintenance Tips

Pool owners must create a solid cleaning and maintenance routine for their pools and pool filters. Here are some basic maintenance tips for prolonging the life of your DE filter.

Do your research

Before purchasing your DE filter, spend a good amount of time researching different models and sizes and decide which is best for your pool. Choosing the right filter can make a massive difference for your swimming pool.

Never turn the valve to backwash while the filter is on

Turning your pool to backwash without turning the filter off is never a good idea. The pressure change can destroy the gasket and cause other expensive damages.

Regularly clean and deep clean your filter grid assembly

You will need to rinse, backwash, and change the DE in your filter about once a month, but deep cleaning is also a necessity from time to time. Depending on the state of the filter grids, you should deep clean two to four times a year. Deep cleaning involves soaking the grid in light acid, scrubbing the interior of the filter, and thoroughly cleaning each component of the filter.

Read the instructions

I cannot overstate the importance of reading the manufacturer’s instructions and making sure to add the right amount of DE. The amount of DE powder to add can vary from product to product, so it is important to add the right amount, or your filter will not run correctly. Knowing when the pressure is too high or too low is equally important.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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Common DE Problems Are Easy to Solve

A lot can happen to your DE filter, but most problems can be solved pretty quickly if you’re prepared with proper maintenance and know what to look for. Head over to my article on common pool filter problems for more maintenance tips on other types of filters.

Questions? Let me know.

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