Your pool filter is one of the most important parts of your pool. By working with your pump, it ensures that your water stays clean and free of debris. Without it, your pool water would rapidly turn cloudy and ruin your summer plans.

Cartridge filters and sand filters are the most popular pool filters. Each method offers distinct advantages and disadvantages to keeping your pool clean. So, how do you choose which one is best for you? First, let’s take a look at the differences between the two filters.


Sand Filters

Traditionally, sand filters have been the most economical and compact means of filtration for in-ground and above-ground pools. Silica sand is used to remove particles from the water. The grains of sand are prickly and have little rough edges all over them, which is how they capture contaminants and debris that pass through the filter. Over time, the particles trapped within the sand accumulate, causing poor water flow and reducing the filter’s efficiency.

Eventually, the sand filter needs to be back washed. Backwashing reverses the flow of water through the sand filter, releasing the trapped debris from the sand filter and out of the pool through the backwash line.


Sand Filter Pros

  • Captures 20–40 micron-sized dirt and debris
  • Easy-to-use and simple to operate
  • Low maintenance
  • Backwashing is easy
  • Sand Media holds up much longer than Filter Cartridges

Sand Filter Cons

  • Requires replacement sand every 5–8 years
  • Lower filtering ability than Cartridge Filters (20–40 microns vs 10–15 microns)
  • Backwashing can throw off your water balance


Cartridge Filters

Though more expensive than sand filters, cartridge filters are just as easy to maintain, and more effective as long as you don’t have a huge pool. These filters use large cartridges to filter the water and are made up of several layers of interwoven paper webs. When water passes through the filter, particles become trapped between the paper layers.

Cartridge filters can screen out twice as much dirt and debris as a sand filter, and their larger filtration area allows smaller particles (10–15 microns) to be removed. Maintenance is also much easier because there is no need for backwashing. Instead, the cartridge is removed from the tank and sprayed down with a hose to remove debris and dirt.


Cartridge Filter Pros

  • Removes dirt particles as small as 10–15 microns
  • Simple maintenance & no backwashing
  • Perfect for filtering Above Ground Pools
  • Cuts energy costs by utilizing lower pump pressure
  • Less wear and tear on the pool pump
  • Low water flow impact

Cartridge Filter Cons

  • Maintenance costs can be higher than other filters
  • Cartridges need to be replaced every few years
  • Not practical for very large pools
  • Need to wash filter cartridges at least twice a year, depending on usage
  • Higher upfront price



So which filter is best for your pool? The answer depends on your circumstances.

A sand filter can be your best option if you’re already comfortable with it and your pool doesn’t experience too many green or cloudy water issues. If your pool experiences water clarity issues more frequently and you’re tired of always needing to add chemicals and backwash the pool to fix these issues, a cartridge filter is your best option.

If you are still not sure which filter will work for your pool, contact us to discuss our pool and hot tub maintenance services. Spa Tech will always make sure that your swimming pool in Spruce Grove or Edmonton is always looking its best!

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