Last Updated: October 16, 2022

Understand Pool Filter Settings - What Do They Mean?

Written By: Pool Care Guide

Your swimming pool needs to have crystal-clear water that is free of bacteria and other contaminants. This goal is only achievable with a sound filtration system with efficiently working components to ensure the water is clean.

But first, understand how the filter works and the different settings to help you operate the component adequately.

What Does a Pool Filter Do?

A pool filter is one of the essential parts of the circulation system. It is responsible for removing dirt, leaves, hair, and other debris that could make the water dirty. The three basic types of filters are cartridge, diatomaceous earth (D.E.), and sand.

How Does a Pool Filter Work?

The filtration process starts when water from the swimming pool enters the pump and goes to the filter. Next, the water passes through the different layers of filtration material, where impurities get trapped before entering the return jets and returning to the swimming pool.

How Do You Prime a Pool Pump For Water Circulation Through the Filter?

If your pool pump isn't working, it may be because it needs to get primed. No water circulates through the system when a pool pump loses its prime. As such, water won't get to the filters for cleaning, and your pool will become dirty.

Priming a pool pump is a relatively simple process, but it's one that you'll need to understand before you can get your pool up and running again. So here's a quick guide on how to prime a pool pump:

Start by ensuring all the valves are in the correct position for water to flow through the system. If any of the valves are closed, water won't be able to circulate, and the pump won't prime.

Once you've checked the valves, look at the skimmer baskets and ensure they're clear of debris. If the baskets are full, water won't be able to reach the pump, and it won't prime.

Next, check the filter to make sure it's clean. A dirty filter can also prevent water from reaching the pump and cause it to lose its prime.

If everything looks good, turn on the pump and let it run for a few minutes. If the pump doesn't prime within a few minutes, there may be an issue with the pump itself, and you'll need to contact a professional for help.

This step will allow water to circulate and reach the filters for cleaning. The goal is to ensure that all the water undergoes filtration without leaving the chance of impurities getting to the pool.

The Three Types of Filters

There are three types of filters that you can choose.

Cartridge Filters

Cartridge filters contain fabric that can trap small and large particles. The main differentiating factor of this type is the size of the impurities it can remove from the water. For example, cartridge filters with a 21-micron rating can only trap particles larger than 21 microns.

The only drawback, however, is that it needs regular cleaning because the pores can get clogged quickly.

Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) Filters

A D.E. filter (diatomaceous earth filter) is ideal when you have a swimming pool with high bather loads. It uses D.E. powder to coat the surface of the grids. The powder features fossilized algae that can trap tiny particles—even those that are 3 microns in size.

The only downside to this type of filter is that it needs to be back-washed frequently to prevent the D.E. powder from cake-building and to clog the grids.

Sand Filters

A sand filter is composed of layers of sand of different sizes. The largest sand particles are at the bottom, while the smallest is at the top.

As water passes through the different layers of sand, larger impurities are trapped at the bottom, while smaller ones get filtered at the top. The only disadvantage of using a sand filter is that you'll need to replace it every five years.

Pool Filter Settings: What You Need to Know

Now that you know the basics of how a pool filter works and the different types available, it's time to learn about the settings. These will help you determine how often you need to clean or backwash the filter and how much water should flow through it. Here are the different pool filter settings for varying conditions.

Backwash

This pool filter setting comes in handy when you want to clean and after vacuuming the pool or when the pressure gauge indicates a higher-than-normal reading.

Backwashing your pool is simple. You only need to reverse the water flow to flow back into the pool instead of out to the drain. Here is a step to step guide on how to do it:

  1. Start by turning off the pump and closing the valve before the filter.
  2. Next, open the valve after the filter to release any pressure that has built up.
  3. Set the valve to “backwash” and turn on the pump.
  4. When the water from the backwash hose becomes clear, turn off the pump and close the valves.
  5. Finally, open the valve before the filter to resume normal flow.

Filter

As the name suggests, this setting is practical when you want to filter the water. The "filter" setting resumes normal flow after backwashing.

To set your pool filter to "filter," turn off the pump and close the valve before the filter. Then, open the valve located after the filter and set it to "filter." Finally, turn on the pump.

Recirculate

The recirculate setting circulates the water without going through the filtration system. It is useful when you need proper water circulation without having to filter it. Here is a guide on how to set your pool filter to recirculate:

  1. Start by turning off the pump and closing the valve before the filter.
  2. Next, open the valve after the filter to release any pressure that has built up.
  3. Set the valve to “recirculate” and turn on the pump.
  4. If you want to stop recirculating, turn off the pump and close the valves.

Drain and Close

The drain and close setting do exactly what it sounds like—it drains all the water out of the filtration system so you can clean it.

To set your pool filter to drain and close, turn off the pump and close the valve before the filter. Then, open the valve after the filter and set it to "drain." Finally, turn on the pump until all the water has fully drained from the system.

Rinse

The rinse setting helps to remove any impurities that may have been left behind after backwashing. To set your pool filter to rinse, follow these steps:

  1. Start by turning off the pump and closing the valve before the filter.
  2. Next, open the valve after the filter to release any pressure that has built up.
  3. Set the valve to “rinse” and turn on the pump.
  4. When the water from the backwash hose becomes clear, turn off the pump and close the valves.
  5. Finally, open the valve before the filter to resume normal flow.

Waste

The waste setting bypasses the filtration system altogether and drains the water directly to a waste line. This is useful when you need to drain the pool quickly, such as when you are vacuuming the pool. To set your pool filter to waste, follow these steps:

  1. Start by turning off the pump and closing the valve before the filter.
  2. Next, open the valve after the filter to release any pressure that has built up.
  3. Set the valve to “waste” and turn on the pump.
  4. If you want to stop draining, turn off the pump and close the valves.
  5. Finally, open the valve before the filter to resume normal flow.

Choosing the Ideal Pool Filter

The best pool filter for your home will depend on a few factors, such as the size of your pool, the type of pool you have, and your budget. For instance, if you have a large and frequently used pool, a sand or D.E. filter may be better than a cartridge filter.

On the other hand, if you have a small pool that is only used occasionally, a cartridge filter may be the better choice. And if you're on a tight budget, a cartridge filter will likely be the most affordable option.

Also, consider the possibility of the pool getting dirty to determine the best filter. For example, suppose you have trees near your pool. In that case, you may want to opt for a cartridge filter with a higher micron rating to trap smaller debris particles.

Finally, keep in mind that the best pool filter is one that is properly maintained and serviced regularly. Therefore, no matter which type of filter you choose, cleaning and inspecting it periodically is essential to ensure it's working correctly.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know more about pool filters and settings, you can decide which filter is suitable for your home. Then, with the right filter, you can enjoy clean and healthy pool water all season long.

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