D.E. Filters Love Them or Hate Them: Tips and Tricks for your Swimming Pool D.E. Filter

D.E. Filters can be the bane of your existence. Love them or hate them if you do pool service on the West coast you will have to deal with them. Florida and the East coast are not as many. I have grown to dislike them and definitely prefer cartridge filters.

There are three main types of D.E. filters on the market today. The most common is the traditional grid type D.E. filter which consists of a Top Manifold, 8 grids in a circular pattern, and a bottom manifold. This is the type made by Pentair, Jandy, Hayward as well as off-brand makers like Waterway. Pentair makes a unique D.E. filter known as the Quad D.E. Filter and this filter consists of up to 4 cartridges instead of the vertical grids. They also make a Quad D.E. Filter for their Sta-Rite brand. The last type is made by Hayward and is often referred to as a “Bump D.E. Filter” and is their Perflex D.E. Filter. These filters are usually found in above-ground pools and are not very popular in my area.

What makes the D.E. filter so effective is the D.E. itself or Diatomaceous Earth, which is used to coat the grids. This white powder material will filter out dirt, viruses, and bacteria as well as fine particles allowing for crystal clear water to flow back into the pool. If you have ever cleaned a D.E. filter you will notice that the D.E. will be coated with dirt and algae as well as fine debris, leaving the grids clean and white underneath. A cartridge filter cannot do this by design as the dirt, algae, and debris will stick to the pleats in the cartridge material themselves. The D.E. acts as a type of secondary media or you can even look at the D.E. as a shield that absorbs all of the filtered particles allowing for clear water to return to the pool.

There are some drawbacks to D.E. Filters that you need to be aware of. The first drawback is the D.E. powder itself. It is messy and if you have an all cement deck it can be a pain to clean up after cleaning or backwashing your filter. D.E. is also banned by many cities and if they find you expelling D.E. into the street they will find you anywhere from $10,000 or more. Some cities even ban the installation of D.E. filters entirely.

Another drawback is that if a grid or manifold has a tear or crack, the D.E. filter media will blow right back into the pool. Even the smallest tear will allow large amounts of D.E. back into your pool. This will turn the water cloudy and also create poor filtration leading to algae growth and the chlorine zeroing out. A simple fix is to take the filter apart and replace all of the torn or broken parts. But be aware that a D.E. leaking back into your pool is a common issue with a D.E. Filter.

A couple more of the benefits of a D.E. filter is that you can backwash the filter in between cleanings and that you only need to clean a D.E. filter once every 6 months in most cases. Backwashing a D.E. filter is easy and this will expel dirt, algae, and particles from the filter allowing the filter to run efficiently again. Since the D.E. in the filter traps dirt and particles so effectively the filter can go a long time in between cleanings. Typically you will clean a D.E. filter less often than a Cartridge Filter.

Diatomaceous Earth (D.E. Filter): basically this filter type uses D.E. to filter out the dirt, bacteria and viruses. It is the best filtration, down to 5 Microns.
The Good:
– Filters down to 5 Microns or less – excellent
– Can be backwashed in between cleanings
– Only have to take it apart and clean it every six months (In most cases)
– Grids are long-lasting and durable
– Water clarity is very good
The Bad:
– Can be a pain to take apart and clean
– D.E. is messy and gets everywhere
– Grids can tear and leak D.E. into the pool
– Filtration Sq Ft. is limited
– D.E. is banned in some areas and huge fines can occur if it is in the street.

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