Circulation is the process of regularly moving all of the pool water through the filter system by the pump. It is essential that pool water be circulated so that debris can be removed from the pool. The amount of time that you should run your pool pump will depend on several factors including pool size, type, pipe size and how much you are using the pool. If you are looking for a specific time, it is best to consult your pool professional. Running your pump is one of the best ways to ensure that you prevent any water issues.
Your filtration system will remove debris from the pool water. When operating properly, a filter will remove virtually all particles from the water. These particles of dirt and debris are the result of environmental fallout or are left behind by swimmers and, when not properly filtered out, will cause the water to become hazy and cloudy. There are three types of filters commonly used on swimming pools: Cartridge, Sand and Diatomaceous Earth (DE). While each can be effective in keeping water clean, they require proper management in order to gain maximum benefit and service life.
Cartridge filters consist of pleated fabric, typically polyester, arranged in a cylinder form around a rigid core. The fibers of the polyester trap dirt and oils as the water passes through from around the outside of the cylinder and is returned back through to the pool from the center core. Cartridge filters are gaining wider use particularly in residential pool applications because they are easy to operate and if damaged or worn out, easily replaced. They also use less water because they do not require backwashing.
Cartridge filters will give long and excellent service if they are properly handled. A critical first step in keeping your cartridge operating properly is to keep it clean. Regular rinsing of the cartridge will help in removing large debris; however, deep cleaning will not only assure better looking water but longer life from your cartridge as well. Once cleaned, allow the cartridges to dry before reinstalling them. This allows the fibers to expand - thus providing more effective filter area.
Sand filters utilize sand as the filtering medium. Sand grains are placed within a filter tank. Water flows down through the sand either under pressure or by vacuum. Consequently, the dirt in the water becomes trapped between the grains of sand. In fact, sand filters rely on some dirt being trapped in the filter. This condition actually improves its ability to remove very small particles.
Sand is regarded as a good filtering media because it does not react to most chemicals. In addition, the particles are irregular in shape so they tend to interlock creating a fine filtering material. As sand filters become clogged with dirt, the filter begins to lose its ability to clean the water. This is most often indicated by a change in pressure on the pressure gauge or reductions in flow rate through the filter.
When the flow rate through the filter becomes restricted due to the buildup of dirt and other matter in the sand, a process known as "backwashing" is used. Backwashing involves reversing the flow of water through the filter, which in turn causes the sand and dirt to "loosen". As this process takes place, the loose-trapped dirt will be washed out from between the sand grains and flushed from the filter. Backwashing should only be performed when the pressure or flow gauges indicate the need. This is typically no more often than once every week or two. Backwashing too frequently will keep the sand so free of dirt build up that it will not have the ability to remove the smaller particles of dirt and they will simply pass through.
Diatomaceous Earth Filters
Diatomaceous earth (DE) filters come in a variety of forms. Typically they consist of a fine mesh fabric configured in a variety of shapes or forms including bags, grids or screens and "fingers". DE is a fine white powder composed of the skeletal remains of microscopic organisms that lived millions of years ago. These skeletons are mined from the earth and cleaned. The powder is applied to the surface of the fabric and acts to trap dirt as the pool water passes through it. As the DE becomes clogged with dirt, it is washed off of the fabric and replaced with new DE to begin the process all over.
As with other filters, the fabric on DE filters must be kept clean. If oils accumulate on the fabric the DE will not adhere properly and the resulting "holes", areas with little or no DE in place, will allow water to pass through without good dirt removal. As with cartridge filters, regular cleaning with a quality pool filter cleaner is needed in addition to the replacement of the DE when it becomes clogged.
A general rule is to clean or backwash a filter when the pressure increases 7-10lbs over normal operation pressure.