Last Updated: February 2, 2021

Why Is There Sand in my Pool? How To Remove It

Written By: Pool Care Guide

Quick Answer

If there is an increasing amount of sand in your pool, your pool is likely using a sand filter. Sometimes, when that sand filter breaks, the water flowing through the filter pulls the filtration sand into the pool. 

If you fix the pool’s sand filter, it will naturally pull in the sand. Fixing the sand filter is usually pretty easy because you often just need to swap out some simple inexpensive parts, but you will need to gain access to it first. We’ll tell you how to do that in the long answer section. When it is up and working, you can help to remove the sand from the pool by following these three steps:

  • Brush up any areas where sand has accumulated
  • Set your filter to “filter”
  • Manually vacuum your pool and/or brush any areas that have accumulated sand

If You Don’t Own a Sand Filter - It probably isn’t sand. In this case, you should click over to our guide on removing mustard algae. In that guide, we will tell you how to test for it and what to do about it.

Long Answer

Does Your Pool Have a Sand Filter?

One very popular type of filtration system uses sand filters. The sand acts as a filtration medium that captures pool contaminants. Sometimes, when one of the filter components breaks down, the sand in the filter is pushed into the pool via the continuing water flow that is continuing to run through the filtration system.

If you have one of these filters, then it is the likely source of your sand problem. If no, you probably have a mustard algae problem.

Rule Out Mustard Algae

Of course, even if you have a sand filter, it might still be mustard algae. We’ll need to eliminate it from the possibilities before we can solve the problem. Thankfully, mustard algae is pretty easy to identify. Without looking too closely, it can be easy to confuse mustard algae with dirt or sand scale, but there are some identifiers that make differentiation easy.

Visual - As you might expect, mustard algae can look yellow, brown, and somewhere in between those two colors. Dirt can sometimes take on a similar appearance, so it might be easy to confuse them without making physical contact.

Physical - Dirt, calcium scale, and sand are all grainy and solid. Algae is slimy. If you are having a difficult time determining if those walls are calcium scale or algae, take a brush to it. When you scrub mustard algae, the water will quickly become cloudy.

Live Near an Ocean or a Lake?

It is worth noting that those pesky particles of sand can be carried upon the back of the wind and slowly accumulate within your pool. This isn’t likely because filters should filter the sand out. However, it is possible.

What Part of the Filter Is Likely Broken?

Lucky for you, filtration systems are not that complicated, so there aren’t many parts that can go wrong. In all likelihood, the filter has broken at one of two points, the standpipe or the laterals. Both of those likely points are going to be located in your filtration tank, so you’re going to need to open that thing up. If it is like most systems, you will gain access by removing the multi-port valve from the top of the unit.

Standpipe - Less Likely

The standpipe is a hard plastic tube that runs to the center of the filtration system. Before the actual filtration happens, the incoming water is ushered in via the standpipe. Sometimes, the standpipe can crack. When it does, water, sand, and other debris are pushed into the pool.

Laterals - More Likely

After the water runs through the standpipe, at the bottom of the filtration tank, the water splits off into one of eight to ten tubes called laterals. While the sand filters out the pool debris, the laterals filter out the sand. They can break easily, so they are the most likely failure point.

How to Access and Fix the Broken Sand Filter

If you want a full breakdown on getting into your sand filter, you will need to click over to our guide on how to change filter sand. In this article, we will give a very limited rundown on how to gain access to the sandpipe and laterals.

Before you can access these components, you will to need to empty the filtration tank of its sand first. This will take some effort, and it will take a lot more effort if you don’t have a shop-vac on hand. With a shop vac, you won’t need to manually scoop up all of the hard-to-reach sand. Okay, here’s a quick series of steps to access the standpipe and laterals:

  • Step 1: Drain the tank - Remove the drain plug at the bottom of the tank
  • Step 2: Remove the collar that clamps the multiport valve to the filtration tank
  • Step 3: Remove pipes from the multiport valve
  • Step 4: Twist and remove the multiport valve
    • Be careful not to knock around the standpipe that is connected to the multiport valve. If it moves around too much, the laterals will probably break.
  • Step 5: Temporarily ducktape the standpipe opening. Any sand that enters the standpipe opening will be sent back into the pool. The ducktape will prevent this from happening.
  • Step 6: Scoop or vacuum out all of the sand from the tank.
  • Step 7:  When you have access to the standpipe and laterals, the actual fix is super easy. Simply swap out the broken part with the replacement. You don’t need any special knowledge or tools. You just need access which you will have at this point.
  • Step 8: Remove the ducktape from the standpipe and hook everything back up.

How to Remove the Sand That Is in Your Pool

When your filter is up and running again, you will still need to do a couple of things to remove the sand from your pool. First, set the multi-port filter to “filter.” Second, manually vacuum and/or scrub any piles of sand that you find in the pool. The vacuum will remove sand and brushing the piles will encourage circulation. Circulating sand will naturally be picked up and added to the sand filter’s sand pile.

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