How Often Should You Change Sand In Your Pool Filter?

Written by Michael Dean
December 14, 2023

changing sand in a sand pool filter

Although there are three different pool filter types, the sand filter is the most common one. Water flows through the sand, collecting unwanted debris and sending clean water back to the pool. The sand in the pool filter needs to be changed eventually, but how often should you do it?

In this article, I will explain how long pool sand lasts, the signs to watch out for that show that your sand needs to be changed, and the risks of changing your sand too often.

Main Takeaways

  • You should backwash your sand filter every 3-5 weeks and deep clean it 2-4 times per year.
  • As long as you keep up maintenance, your pool filter sand should last you up to 5 years.
  • Some signs you need to replace the sand include: pressure buildup, channeling, and cloudy water.
  • There’s a sweet spot for how old your sand should be. Pool sand is most effective after about 2 years of use, so changing the sand more often does not necessarily mean your filter will work better.

Roughly How Long Does Pool Filter Sand Last?

Sand in a pool filter will generally last a very long time if the filter is maintained. Depending on how dirty your pool gets, you should backwash your sand filter every 3 to 5 weeks and deep clean it 2 to 4 times a year.

These maintenance practices can allow the sand in your filter to last up to 5 years. Sand can last even longer if the water does not get filthy and shorter if your pool filter needs constant backwashing.

As a pool owner, it is important to keep an eye on your filter and know when the sand needs cleaning and when the sand needs replacing.

Signs That You Need to Change Your Filter Sand

Sometimes cleaning your filter sand is not enough, and you will need to replace the sand completely. Over time, the sharp edges of the sand particles wear down and can no longer catch debris in the filter.

Here are some telltale signs that it is time to change the filter media.

Pressure Buildup

The pressure gauge is a very helpful feature because it lets you know when to backwash the filter. As the filter works to strain the water, it builds up pressure. In other words, the dirtier the filter, the higher the pressure. It is time to backwash the filter once the pressure is 8 to 10 psi over the normal rating.

After backwashing, if the pressure quickly goes back to this high rating, it is likely time to change the sand out completely.


When the sand in your pool filter is old, it may clump together and create gaps between the sand and the walls of the filter. If this is the case, the pool water can go through the filter without contact with the sand. This means your pool water will constantly be dirty.

If you suspect this to be the case, open up the pool filter and check for ridges in the sand or gaps where water could easily make its way through.

Cloudy Water

Many different things could cause cloudy pool water. So it is important not to immediately assume that your filter is the culprit. If you have checked the chemical balance of your pool, thoroughly cleaned the surfaces, backwashed your filter, and shocked the pool multiple times, it is possible that your filter media needs to be changed.

Be confident that this is the case before changing the sand because nine times out of ten, the pool filter is not the cause of cloudy water.

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Risks of Changing Your Pool Filter Sand Too Often

Depending on your cleaning schedule and environment, the sand in your pool filter must change every 3 to 5 years. It is important to note that changing the sand too often has some consequences.

There is a sweet spot for how old you want your sand to be. And it turns out sand filters reach peak productivity after a couple of years of use. As the contaminants build in the sand, they create extra barriers that help trap new debris. So when you change your sand too early, you skip this stage altogether and start fresh when the sand is less productive.

Another risk you face if you change your sand more than necessary is breaking filter components. If you are not extremely careful when changing the sand, you could damage the standpipe, multiport valve, or laterals.

The more you change the sand, the more your filter will be subject to wear and tear. Keeping the wear and tear as minimal as possible will ensure a longer life for your equipment.

Additionally, when parts of the filter break, especially the laterals or standpipe, it is common to notice your pool filter blowing out sand or sand leaking into the pool. Sand in your pool can be an annoying problem that takes time to fix. It must be removed as the sharp edges of the sand can damage the pool liner.

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Bottom Line

Pool filters are essential to keep your swimming pool environment clean and safe. So a pool owner must learn how to maintain their filter correctly. The sand in your sand filter should be changed when the pool shows signs that the filter media is no longer functioning at its best. On the other hand, the sand should not be changed so often that it causes problems with your filter and pool.

You should learn how to tell when your pool’s sand needs changing to extend the life of your filter and keep your swimming pool looking clean and sparkling. If you think your sand needs changing, head over to my guides on how to change your pool filter sand and what to do with old pool filter sand for all the steps. You can also use my sand filter calculator to estimate how much sand you need to put in your filter.

Have any questions regarding sand filters? Read my sand filter basics, sand filter troubleshooting, and best swimming pool filters guides, and feel free to drop me a line!

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