To DE or Not to DE: Which Type of Pool Filter Is Suitable for Your Location?

When choosing a type of filter system for a swimming pool, most of us will prioritise low cost, ease of maintenance, and perhaps energy efficiency and low water usage. However, the demands that will be placed on your pool filter by the surrounding environment are often overlooked. A pool filter suitable for small, urban pools can find itself hopelessly clogged with sand and dust if fitted to a pool out in the middle of the desert. Conversely, a filter suitable for arid environments may not filter out microbial nasties more common in lush, humid environments.

With this in mind, here are three common types of location, and the pool filter types that complement them best.

Dry, inland areas and bushland 

The dryer areas of Australian get very dry, and relatively large amounts of dust, sand and particulate matter are present in the air and blown on the wind, particularly during the summer months. You may also find yourself contending with sandstorms and droughts. As such, using a pool filter that is robust, easily cleaned and simple to maintain is key. 

Sand filters are well suited for a pool in an arid environment. These simple filters push your pool water through a large tank of sand, which filters out even very small pieces of dirt, sand and detritus, before releasing the filtered water back into the pool. Sand filters are inexpensive and extremely durable, and a well-maintained sand filter will last many years before it needs to be replaced or refilled with new sand. 

When it comes to cleaning out a sand filter, it will need to be taken out and washed out about once a week (more often in dusty conditions) to prevent the filter becoming clogged. Sand filters are advantageous in this regard, as they can be fitted with automatic backwashing valves that periodically reverse the flow of water through the filter to clean it out. The waste material is then dumped in a waste tank, or flows directly to the sewer line.

These automatic valves can be an expensive addition, and can vary in quality, but they are the easiest way to prevent your filter becoming overwhelmed without resorting to frequent and messy manual backwashing.

Lush, tropical areas

If you live surrounded by abundant flora and fauna, keeping your pool water as clean and clear as possible will probably be your most pressing concern. The increased levels of microbial life in the surrounding areas, as well as the shade provided by extensive tree cover, means that algae and slime will probably appear in your pool at the drop of a hat.

Diatomaceous earth filters are the last word in pool water clarity—no other filter is capable of capturing particles as small as DE filters, and even microscopic algal cells will not escape their grasp. DE filters are more expensive to buy and maintain than other options, but since they only require cleaning and earth replacement once or twice a year, you will not find yourself constantly up to the elbows in organic slime. Please be aware, however, that diatomaceous earth is carcinogenic in dry powder form, and should be disposed of properly.

Compact, urban areas

If you have a small pool on a property located in a city or large town, you probably won't have a huge amount of space to play with when it comes to filter maintenance procedures. While there is less dust to deal with, it's important to filter out the higher levels of airborne pollution, which is generally too fine for sand filters to deal with; too much pollution can provoke rapid algae growth. Urban areas are also more likely to have legislation preventing you from flushing out a filter directly into the drains, due to the increased strain on local sewer systems.

For these places, choose a cartridge filter. These devices operate with a simple series of mesh filters, capable of catching much smaller particles than sand filters. Cartridge filters are small in size and very energy efficient, and are generally the cheapest option, even when you factor in replacement mesh filters, making them ideal for smaller pools. They are also much simpler to clean than other filters, requiring no messy backwashing; taking the mesh out and spraying it with a hose a few times in a season is generally sufficient. 

Learn more about your options by consulting companies like Leisure Coast Pool Centre.