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Pool Filter Sand: The Complete guide for pool owners

Pool Filter Sand: what you should know

Pool filter sand is a special sand that is specifically used in pool filtration systems. It is designed to stop dirt and particles from entering the swimming pool water. Many pool filtration systems use sand as an effective dirt trapper however, this particular type of sand can be quite expensive. Some swimming pool owners assume that they can just use regular play sand as filtration sand however, they are not the same thing. In this article, we will provide you with in-depth information about pool filter sand, we will outline how to use it effectively and we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using pool filter sand. 

Pool filter sand is often mistaken for regular sand that you would find in a play pit or adventure playground however, there is a difference. Pool filter sand is generally smaller in size, particle for particle. Pool filter sand consists of tiny, fine sand granules, they are usually around .45 to .55 mm per granule. Regular sand would not do the job because the granules need to be small enough to catch tiny dirt particles. For example, most of the dirt that is trapped pool filter sand is extremely small, some pieces are as tiny as 20- 100 microns. Larger granules of sand simply would not work as effectively. Large granule sand would not catch the dirt efficiently enough, therefore the size of the sand particles is crucial. 

When you compare pool filter sand with other types of sand such as play pit sand, it has different components. For example, pool filter sand actually consists of silica and other compounds that are necessary for filtering dirt.  Sand containing silica is not suitable for use in recreational areas such as playgrounds. However, it is needed when it comes to pool filtration systems. Silica offers potent cleaning and filtration capabilities and it works extremely well when used in swimming pool filters. 


You should never use regular sand that you find in a hardware store for pool filters. The sand that is used for pool filters is specifically designed for use in swimming pool filters. Other types of sand will not adequately keep dirt and debris out of your pool water. Using regular sand might just attract dirt, bacteria and other uninvited guests into your pool water. Maintenance is low too, you should only think of changing your filter sand every five to fifteen years. Pool filter sand is actually slightly more expensive than regular sand however, because of the fact that you don’t have to change it often, it is a cost-effective long term solution. 

Different Types of Pool Filter Sand 


Above we mentioned the most common type of pool filter sand, which is silica sand. This type of sand consists of ground quartz, it is sharp and rough in texture which is perfect for catching small dirt particles. 


Glass sand is an environmentally friendly alternative to silica sand, as opposed to silica, glass filter sand does not omit harmful dust particles. It is smoother than silica pool filter sand but it is still relatively effective when it comes to catching unwanted dirt particles.

The granules are not uniform in size which reduces the amount of dirt that can pass through the filter. One good thing about glass sand is that the negative charge accelerates the rate in which iron and manganese pieces are picked up, useful for hard water pools.  

Zeolite Sand 

Zeolite sand comes from volcanic rock particles that go by the name of zeolites. It is highly effective filter sand that could be an ideal replacement for silica sand. It is a powerful pool filter sand because it catches the chlorine byproduct that often irritates the eyes. Zeolite sand can actually facilitate the process of getting rid of chloramines without using large quantities of chemical solutions to eliminate them. 

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How To Use Pool Filter Sand 

The swimming pool pump draws the unclean water toward the filter, then the sand filters the water and the dirt and debris get caught in the sand particles. Freshwater then passes into the swimming pool. 

Eventually, the water softens the rough surface of the sand particles, making the sandless effective for water filtration. If you think about the amount of time water rushes through the filter, the sand will eventually lose its rough texture, making filtration more difficult. Therefore, at some point, it will become necessary to change the pool filter sand. A sign that your pool filter sand needs changing is cloudy or dusky colored pool water. 

When Should You Change Your Pool Filter Sand? 

Pool filter sand can last a long time, generally, it gets better with time, however, eventually, the sand’s ability to filter dirt and debris will drastically decline, this is when it is necessary to change your pool filter sand. Some filter sand can last up to 15 years however, the best time to change it is at the 5 year mark, that is if you want to optimum filtration. If you want your pool filter to work at its highest level, you need to consider changing it when it stops work efficiently. 

Check the pressure on sand filter often, if you notice that pressure has gone up to 10 pounds per square inch or more then you might want to consider backwashing your sand filter. What is backwashing? Backwashing is when you clean or rinses the sand to get rid of excess dirt, this should be done on a regular basis to ensure that the filter is working properly. You can also go the extra mile by using a sand filter cleaner to remove more excess dirt from the filter sand, do this once a year. Using the backwashing method and utilizing filter cleaner can help to maintain your pool filter sand however, at some point you will definitely need to change the sand. 

How to Change The Sand 

Before you start changing the sand, you will need a few tools, below are the things that you are going to need: 

  • Saw (for cutting the pipe) 
  • Wet dry vacuum 
  • Screwdriver 
  • Hose 
  • Torch 
  • Filter sand 
  • Duct tape 
  • Stanley knofe 
  • Nose mask 
  • Backwash hose 
  • D.E Powder 

The Steps 

  • Switch the pump off and drain the tank.
  •  Check to ensure the automatic timer is off. Remember that the draining process will probably take some time, so get this done earlier and continue the process later on in the day. 
  • Take off the multiport valve, this is where you might need the saw to cut the pipe. You will only need to do this if the valve is connected using PVC piping. This might also be the time to consider installing union fixtures so they can be unscrewed, this will eliminate the need for a saw next time around. Take off the clamp that connects the value to the tank using the screwdriver. Turn the valve to disconnect it. 
  • Protect the standpipe with the duct tape. 
  • Take the used sand out by using the wet dry vacuum cleaner.
  • Use the hose and the flashlight so you can to clean the laterals and the standpipe 
  • Put the drain plug in and fill the tank halfway up using the hose 
  • Pour the fresh sand in 
  • Replace the components 
  • Finally, backwash and clean the filter using fresh water from the hose. Now reconnect the backwash hose and set the valve to backwash mode. Continue to backwash for about 3 minutes, this should clean any excess dirt from the fresh sand. This is an important step and it should not be neglected. Make sure the water is fresh and clear before you stop the backwashing process. Now, your new pool filter sand is ready to use. 

If this job sounds too complicated for you, be sure to hire a trained pool technician to do it for you. 

Pros and Cons of Using Pool Filter Sand 

There are no real major cons of using pool filter sand, apart from the fact that it can be slightly more expensive than regular sand. However, in the long run, you will save money as pool filter sand does not have to be changed regularly unlike regular sand. You will have to monitor the state of the pool water to ensure that the filter sand is working efficiently however, it is highly effective for use in pool filters. 

Silica pool filter sand is effective for use in swimming pool filters however, in comparison to glass sand, it is not the most environmentally friendly sand on the market. However, zeolite sand is powerful filtration sand that also facilitates the process of removing harmful chemicals associated with chlorine from the pool. Therefore, if you own a pool and you have sensitive eyes, zeolite sand would be the best sand to use in your pool filter. There are plenty of different brands out there on the market but if you are unsure of what to choose, talk to an expert. 

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