How to Troubleshoot Every Type of Pool Filter & Problem

Written by Michael Dean
January 11, 2024

troubleshooting lots of pool filters

Your pool filter is possibly one of the most important parts of your swimming pool. It helps keep your swimming pool clean and safe for you and your family to enjoy. Due to its importance, it’s equally important to know if your pool filter is acting up. If you are experiencing some issues with your pool filter, whether it’s a sand, DE, or cartridge filter, you’re in the right place.

In this article, I will go over some of the common filter problems you may encounter with each of these filter types and how to fix them before going over some FAQs.

Main Takeaways

  • Common filter problems include sand/DE leaking into the pool, pressure inconsistency, and chemically unbalanced water.
  • If your pool filter is not starting at all, it may be due to: an overloaded circuit, loose connections, or a jammed motor.
  • If your pool filter is making loud noises, it may be caused by: an incorrectly mounted pump, bad bearings in the motor, or a blocked pump.
  • To keep your pool filter working well, clean your pool and maintain chemical and water levels.

Common Sand Filter Problems and How to Fix Them

Three common sand filter problems may arise:

  • Sand leaking into the pool water
  • High filter pressure
  • Low filter pressure

Whatever the issue, your sand filter is the heart of your pool, so you should fix the problem as best as you can before the issue gets worse. The last thing you will want is to deal with a broken filter and a dirty, unsafe pool.

Head to my sand pool filter troubleshooting and maintenance article to learn how to fix these common sand filter issues.

Common DE Filter Problems and How to Fix Them

Some of the common issues with DE filters are similar to those of sand filters.

  • High and low filter pressure
  • DE leaking into the pool
  • Filter is not properly cleaning the water

If your pool water is incredibly cloudy despite all the chemicals being perfectly balanced, your DE filter may be the cause.

Want to know how to fix these above DE filter issues? Check out my DE filter troubleshooting article for tips.

Common Cartridge Filter Problems and How to Fix Them

For cartridge filter owners, some of the most common issues that may come up include the following:

  • Pressure inconsistency
  • A leaky clamp
  • Chemically unbalanced water

Although these issues may seem like a pain to deal with, They can easily be fixed if you know what you are doing.

Head over to my article on cartridge pool filter troubleshooting and maintenance to learn how to fix these common filter problems.

Pool Filter Won’t Start At All?

If your pool filter won’t start at all, this generally points to an electrical or motor problem. Let’s go over a couple of the most common reasons for this and what to do when encountering it.

Overloaded Circuit

If your filter or pump overheats, it may cause the motor to shut down due to an overloaded voltage. This is usually a simple fix. Simply ensure nothing is blocking the fan and that it has enough space to breathe.

Loose Connections

If any of your connections are loose, this may also cause your pool filter to not start at all. Check all your lines and connections for any broken or frayed cords that may cause this issue. If you find any that are loose, replace them with new cords. Once the connections are fixed, your filter should run again as normal.

Jammed Motor

A jammed motor can also be a cause for this issue. Look at your motor; if it is clogged with debris, it’s time to clean it out. Carefully remove all debris with your hand, and your pool filter should start running again as new.

Pool Filter Making Loud Noises?

It’s pretty normal for a pool filter to make some kind of noise, but if it’s louder than normal, this may point to a couple of different issues.

Incorrectly Mounted Pump

If your pump is not mounted correctly, it can lead to loud noises as it vibrates. Ensure your pump is mounted on a stable and level surface to avoid this issue. Also, consider purchasing a vibration isolation pad to fix this problem further if it persists despite leveling the ground.

Bad Bearings in the Motor

If your pool filter is making a whirring or screeching noise, the bad bearings in the motor may be the problem. This is a common issue as they are used to reduce friction in the motor, so they are susceptible to a lot of wear and tear. Unfortunately, once you determine the bearings are the issue, you will need to replace the entire pool pump more likely than not.

Blocked Pump

If debris gets caught inside the pump, the filter must work twice as hard to suck in the water to clean it. And since it is working harder, this effort is shown audibly, resulting in a noisy filter. To fix this issue, turn off the filter and clean the pump basket and impeller.

Debris caught on the outside of the pump may also cause a noisy filter. Check your skimmer basket; if it is filled with debris, clean it out and rerun the pump. Once all the debris is cleaned out of the pump, the filter should run normally.

Pool Filter Leaking?

If you notice a leak around the area of the housing of your filter, you are likely dealing with a faulty or worn-out o-ring. The o-ring is a rubber seal that seals the filter. To replace an o-ring, unscrew the clamp and take out the old o-ring, put in a new one, make sure it is lubricated, and re-seal.

Pool Filter Pressure Issues?

With a pool filter, now and then, you may deal with a pool filter pressure issue. Your filter may be experiencing high pressure, low pressure, or no pressure at all.

High Pressure

You are dealing with high pressure if your filter gauge is reading 10 psi above the normal range. Several issues can cause this. To fix this, first, make sure the pressure gauge is working correctly. If it isn’t, replace it. If it works properly, another issue could be a dirty pool filter, which you can fix by backwashing and cleaning. Another issue that can cause high pressure in your system is a system air leak. If this is the case, you’ll need to locate and seal the air leak. For more details on fixing such issues, check out my full article on reducing high pressure.

Low Pressure

If your pool filter has low pressure, there’s not enough pressure in the filtration system to efficiently circulate and filter the water. A clogged filter or a dirty pool generally causes this. To fix this issue, manually clean your pool and empty the skimmer basket. You should backwash and clean your filter for good measure as well.

No Pressure

If your pool filter has no pressure at all, this could be due to a broken impeller, which is the only moving part in a pump. Replacing the impeller can be complicated, so you may need to hire a professional for this. But if you want to tackle this problem on your own, read my guide on how to replace a pool pump impeller.

General Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Pool Filter Working Well

The pool filter is an essential part of the pool and is why your swimming pool is safe to swim in. Without it, you would be swimming in dangerously murky waters that are horrible to look at and bad for your well-being. Since the pool filter is so essential, you must make sure your filter runs well.

Part of making sure it runs smoothly is to look after it properly. Here are some of my key maintenance tips to keep your pool filter working well.

Clean Your Pool

Cleaning your pool cannot be emphasized enough. Sweeping, scooping, scrubbing, and skimming are all important things to keep in mind to keep your filter happy. Ensure you are regularly skimming and scooping the water to prevent filter clogs, and make sure your filter isn’t doing unnecessary work by cleaning the large debris that can easily be scooped up by hand or with a vacuum. And just as importantly, you should scrub your pool and keep it nice and clean. This way, your filter can focus on cleaning the water properly.

Maintain Chemical Levels

Keeping your pool clean is just half the work; you should also maintain the correct chemical levels in your pool water to keep your pool filter working at its best. Test your pool water often and adjust the chemicals as necessary. Doing this will prevent algae and other microorganisms from breeding in your pool and filter.

Maintain Water Levels

This may not seem like a big deal, but it is worth noting that a pool owner should maintain proper water levels. Water levels will naturally fluctuate, so you must keep an eye on this. The water level should ideally be halfway up the pool skimmer. With the water at this ideal level, your pool filter will be able to work at its best.

If you need a new filter, read my recommendations for the best swimming pool filters on the market.

When to Call a Professional

Obviously, a pool filter is a pretty complicated piece of equipment, and you won’t always be able to fix it yourself. If you have gone through this troubleshooting guide and are still struggling to fix the issue, I highly recommend calling a pool professional. They will not only help to diagnose the issue, but they will also be able to fix it quickly, allowing you to get back to the most important thing: swimming!

Essentially, if you are dealing with a complex electrical, plumbing, motor, or any other filter issue, it is best to call an experienced pro. Otherwise, you may actually worsen the problem!

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.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you tell if your pool filter is clogged?

You can tell if your pool filter is clogged by observing reduced water flow, increased pressure on the pressure gauge, or cloudy water in the pool. To fix a clogged filter, you generally need to clean or replace the filter.

Why isn’t water flowing through your pool filter?

The most common reason water isn’t flowing through your pool filter is that your skimmer basket is filled to the brim. You should make sure to clear out the skimmer basket every day, especially after a storm.

Can you DIY fix a pool filter?

As long as you have basic DIY skills, you should be able to fix many issues you may come across a pool filter yourself. However, if you’re unsure what the issue is or are dealing with a more complicated electrical, plumbing, or motor issue, it’s best to call a professional!

Keep Your Filter Running Smoothly

As you can see, quite a few things can go wrong with your pool filter, from basic maintenance issues that you can easily DIY to major issues that will require the help of a pool professional. After reading this post, I hope you have a broader understanding of your pool filter and are armed with some ways to fix it when necessary.

Have more questions on how to troubleshoot your pool filter? Shoot me a message; I am always here to help you with your pool needs.

Scroll to Top