How to Clean Pool Cartridge Filter

To help you enjoy your time in the pool, and get the most out of your swimming pool, your pool filter needs to be clean. Here are some useful tips on how to clean a pool cartridge filter.

When it comes to water, you always have to ensure it is clean, clear, and healthy safe. So should be your pool water. We all desire to have the highest quality of water to swim in right?

But, that won’t happen on its own, you have to play your role well. And that includes maintaining a pool filter. It would even be better if your pool uses a cartridge filter since it’s so efficient and easy to maintain.

How to Clean Your Swimming Pool Cartridge Filter

Honestly, cartridge filters are easy to clean. However, the cleaning process primarily depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Identify When You Need To Clean Your Pool Filter Cartridge

Identify When You Need To Clean Your Pool Filter Cartridge
  • Some of the situations include:
    • When it has already been 3-6 months since you last cleaned your filter cartilages. However, some filters go up to 2 years before needing cleaning. So, there is no one-fit-all rule. Just estimates that you need to work with.
    • When the pressure increases by 8-10 PSI over the clean starting pressure.
  • Generally, your filter should have two arrows that tell you when you need to clean it. But for this, you have to configure it properly while installing.
  • In case you live in a generally dirty environment, or if your cartridge is undersized, you might have to install some pool skimmer socks every few weeks or months according to need.
  • You can also hose down the cartridges without using chemicals.
  • Additionally, if you want to prolong your filter cleaning intervals, you can consider opening the drain valve on the bottom of your pool cartridge’s housing every so often (let’s say once a month), to flush out any trapped debris. Remember to close the pump output when doing this.

Cleaning Products To Clean A Pool Cartridge Filter

Cleaning Products Needed To Clean A Pool Cartridge Filter
  • MURIATIC ACID: popularly referred to as hydrochloric acid, this component is a must-have in any household. It’s best for both household and pool maintenance. Using Muriatic acid is the best way to get rid of iron, calcium carbonate, algae, and other related minerals from your cartridge. Ensure you have enough stock, which could be 1-2 gallons depending on where you will be cleaning your filters.
  • TRISODIUM PHOSPHATE POWDER (TSP): Like muriatic acid, TSP is great for general house cleaning. It’s an ideal cartridge pool filter cleaner because it doesn’t form unending soapsuds, as with normal soaps. If you don’t have any, you can use a dishwasher detergent.
  • SILICONE PASTE: Best for reconditioning, lubricating, and sealing the O-rings on your cartridges. One with a butter-like consistency is better than the more runny option.

Tools And Supplies

  • PLASTIC TRASH CAN – the size of the trash can depends on the size of filters you intend to clean.
  • HOSE SPRAY NOZZLE get a multi-functional one if possible. Also, if you won’t have to regularly hold its lever down, the better.
  • MEASURING CUP to measure chemicals
  • SAFETY GLASSES for your eye-protection
  • NITRILE GLOVES for handling muriatic acid
  • SOCKET to hold the ring bolt
  • DRIVE TORQUE WRENCHaccording to the user manual
  • DRIVE RATCHET – for easy loosening of the housing retainer ring
  • RUBBER MALLETto help remove the filter’s housing ring, in case it’s stuck

The Process Of How To Clean A Pool Cartridge Filter

Step 1: Opening up the filter house

Opening up the filter house

Now that you have everything you need, let’s get started with the cleaning process.

First, you need to turn off the pump, especially if yours is running on an automatic timer. Afterward, ensure all the inlet and outlet valves are closed.

Next, get your ratchet and socket and use them to loosen, and finally remove the bolt that’s used to hold the clamp together. The size of the socket you need depends on your filter brand.

If you remove the bolt and realize that the clamp is stuck on it, use the rubber mallet to remove it. Once done, you can now proceed to remove the top housing, which will reveal the filters. Remember, since the filters still have some water, it will spill out once you remove the top.

So, to avoid creating an unnecessary vacuum consider draining the filter housing first, or opening the breather valve at the top.

Next, remove the top manifold and then remove the filters in a slight rocking motion.

Step 2: Flush the filters with lots of water

Once you remove the filters from the water, ensure you quickly rinse them off. The last thing you want is to let the dirt stick to the filters.

For this, avoid using a pressure washer, but rather use a regular garden hose under moderate pressure, from a 45-degree angle. You don’t want to damage the filters.

Carefully focus your attention on flushing out all the debris from in-between the pleats. For small particles, use a brush.

Pro tip: to avoid lots of clean-up later, choose a spot near the grass or house drainage for filter cleaning. They carry a lot of dirt and debris, but it’s usually decomposable leaves, fiber, and probably silt. So, you don’t have to worry about toxicity.

Step 3: Submerge the filters in the TSP solution

Submerge the filters in the TSP solution

Fill your trash can, or whichever bucket you intend to use with water and add TSP. Aim at 1 cup of TSP per 5 gallons of water. Soak the filters, ensure they’re submerged, and leave them overnight. But if you don’t have much time on your side, at least 3 hours will be enough. You can also use a dishwasher detergent instead of TSP.

Once the time elapses, remove the filters, and rinse them off to remove any visible/loosened dirt.

Step 4: Rinse and clean the filter housing

If you have no urgent matter to attend to, take advantage of the time when the filters are submerging in the TPS to clean the filter housing. Saves time!

Begin by first cleaning the insides of the house, and flushing out any accumulated debris and dirt at its bottom through the drainage.

For this, you will need a cup of TSP or dishwasher detergent. Pour it inside the filter house and then give it a thorough cleaning, with the help of the hose water.

Once the insides are clean and satisfying, you can proceed to clean the exterior part of the housing and clamp bearing surface to minimize your workload.

Afterward, carefully reassemble the filter housing, before filling it up with water. This will activate the degreaser. Use a rod to ensure it is well mixed and dissolved. Let it sit for a few hours, before draining out the fluids and sealing it up. This will allow you to circulate the pump to ensure the water remains chlorinated even without the filters.

Step 5: Submerge the filters in the TSP solution for a second time

Step 5:  Submerge the filters in the TSP solution for a second time

NOTE: you can skip this step if it hasn’t been long since you cleaned your filters.

However, if it’s been more than a year since you cleaned your pool’s filters, it’s best to give them a well-deserving 2nd TSP or dishwasher detergent bath.

For this, repeat the same process we did in step #3.

Step 6: Wash the filters with Muriatic Acid

It’s now time to wear your gloves, and safety glasses and proceed to give your filters a muriatic wash. This is especially important if they have traces of algae, iron, or calcium carbonate, plus other related mineral stains.

But, since you dedicated your day to giving the filters a thorough clean, you might as well go through with this step even if your filters show no stains.

The amount of muriatic acid you need depends on the size of filters you will be washing and the amount of water. But generally, a ratio of 1:1 or 1:2 should do, depending on how stubborn the stains are.

If you don’t want to go through so much trouble, you can use one gallon of acid with just enough water to cover the filters.

Once submerged, you can leave the filters to sit in the mixture overnight or simply let the bubbling stops. Then remove them and rinse them thoroughly with water. If you have some ammonia or baking soda, you can use them to neutralize the bath before pouring it over any safe area, such as a wet driveway. If you don’t have baking soda/ammonia, dilute the acidic water as much as possible before disposing of it.

Step 7: Rinse off the filters

Rinse off the filters

Give the cartridge filters one last wash with plenty of water. They shouldn’t be realizing any water by now.

Step 8: Reinstall the filters

Now that your filters are clean, reinstall them into their housing, just temporarily to ensure they stay wet. For a perfect fit, ensure the bottom seal plate is properly positioned.

Step 9: Clean the seals and lubricate them

If the seals are still usable, clean them using the silicone paste, then apply a lubricant to prevent leaks. If you’re not comfortable with using lubricants, just clean the seals, and leave it at that.

Step 10: Reassemble the housing filter

Now that everything is clean, reinstall the clamp using a torque wrench. Ensure to lubricate the bolt whenever necessary, before tightening it.

Step 11: Clean and refill your pool

Next, ensure you clean the pool of any remaining dirt and then start the pump to refill the pool to its proper level.

Step 12: Measure the Pressure

Now take the pressure measurement by turning on the pump while making sure all the air inside the filter housing is purged. Note down this pressure and use it as a guide to help you identify the proper time to clean your filters, again.

Enjoy Your Clean Pool

Enjoy Your Clean Pool

Congratulations! You’ve successfully cleaned your cartridge filter. It’s now time to enjoy a well-deserved dive in your clean and healthy pool water. Enjoy!

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