How to Clean Your Pool Filter Cartridge in 14 Simple Steps

To get the most out of your pool it’s important for you to keep it maintained on a regular basis. Pool water is a careful balance of chemicals that relies on constant filtration. Yard chemicals, oils from skin, and sweat can disrupt that delicate balance and can contaminate the water. A key part of the system is your pool filter, sometimes called your pool filter cartridge. The pool cartridge is where larger particles of organic matter and debris are filtered out of the pool water thus keeping the water crystal clear and reducing the amount of chemicals needed. A clogged filter is not as effective because it restricts water flow and reduced water flow means less filtration. Less filtration means there are contaminants floating in the pool that could harm you or other making swimming unpleasant. So, make sure you follow these steps and clean the pool cartridge filter as well every time you’re cleaning your pool.

When to Clean Your Pool Cartridge

Knowing when to clean the pool cartridge is critical for proper maintenance of your pool. Fist, take a look at your pump. You should notice a round gauge that looks like a clock with a single hand. This is your pressure gauge. This measures the pressure at which your pump is pushing water through the system. A good indication that your pool cartridge needs cleaning is a high pressure reading. If your gauge is reading between 8 and 12 PSI, it’s time to clean your filter.

Cleaning Your Pool Cartridge

Using an ordinary garden hose alone to rinse the pool cartridge is difficult and wastes a lot of water. And while it may dislodge some of the larger particles of pool debris, it won’t do anything for the fine organic matter stuck in the filter or remove contaminants. Think about it, would you just rinse your clothes off without using laundry detergent? Or take a bath without soap? Of course not. To get a truly deep clean for your pool cartridge, you need to use a pool cartridge filter cleaner. Though this may seem like a hassle, using a pool cartridge cleaner makes the job fairly easy. Just follow the below steps.

STEP 1: Turn Off the Power

The first step is to turn the power off to your pump. The pump pushes water through the pool cartridge and returns it to the pool. To get to the pool cartridge you first have to turn it off. It will be extremely difficult to get the pool cartridge cover off with the system still pressurized. Even if you were able to get it off, you would still risk causing damage to the system and injury to yourself. If your pool pump is plugged into an outlet, then go ahead and unplug it as well. If not, then make sure you switch the breaker off. If someone comes along and tries to run the pump while the pool cartridge and cover is removed, then the pump will not be able to pressurize the system and the pump will run dry. This will damage your pump and it will be costly to replace. To avoid all this, just turn it off.

STEP 2: Relieve the Pressure

The next step is to release the pressure that’s built up in the system. Somewhere on the pump there will be a small knob. Usually, its round and has a hole in the side for bleeding air out. This releases the pressure as well. If you have problems finding it, look back at your user manual that came with the pump. Once you locate the water flow knob, turn it in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions and release the pressure.

STEP 3: Remove the Pool Filter Head

To access the cartridge filter for pool, you’ll have to remove the pool filter head. This will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but generally, you will be able to see the filter because it will have a clear dome so you can see the trapped debris. Sometimes these are simple twist-off and other times there may be a couple of knobs to loosen. Consult the owner’s manual and remove the pool filter head. Ensure the pump is not running before attempting this.

STEP 4: Remove the Pool Filter Cartridge

At this point, you should be able to reach in and simply pull the pool filter cartridge out. If it’s been a while, it may be lodged in there. Gently wiggle the cartridge free being careful of any sharp edges that you could scrape your hand on. If you have recently chlorinated the pool, wear safety glasses in case some chlorine isn’t completely dissolved.

STEP 5: Rinse

Now that you have the cartridge out, you want to get the bigger particles out. Think of this as the pre-rinse on a washing machine for your clothes. You’ll notice that the cartridge has little ridges and valleys all around. The valleys are where most of the debris will be. Place the cartridge on the ground. Using a hose, simply spray the cartridge with water. The more pressure you have, the more dirt you’ll be able to dislodge. Most hardware stores will have nozzles that will produce a pretty powerful jet of water. Start at the top of the cartridge and work down each valley. Continue in this manner until you’ve worked your way all the way around the cartridge. Remember, you just need to get the bigger particles.

STEP 6: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Now you want to place the cartridge in a tall, narrow container. The idea here is to have the container just a little bigger than the filter, both in height and circumference or as close to the cartridge size as possible. Place the dirtiest part of the filter on the bottom of the container. Use a 5-gallon bucket or something similar to mix enough TSP pool cartridge filter cleaner solution to fill the container by mixing 1 cup of TSP pool cartridge filter cleaner powder per 4 gallons of water. Make sure you wear rubber gloves and safety glasses to avoid injury. Do not get it on your clothes or in your eyes. Also, don’t forget to read the safety instructions on the box. Pour the pool cartridge filter cleaning solution over the filter until the cartridge is completely submerged.

STEP 7: Soak

Let the filter soak in the pool cartridge filter cleaner for at least 3 to 4 hours. For best results, let it soak for 12 hours.

STEP 8: Rinse with a Hose

Using rubber gloves and eye protection, remove the filter from the TSP pool cartridge filter cleaning solution. Place the cartridge on a hard surface and rinse with a hose. You don’t need a lot of pressure here, just gently rinse it with an open hose.

STEP 9: Replace the Filter

Once you have thoroughly rinsed the cartridge, place it back into the filter housing. Again, the pump should still be off at this point.

STEP 10: Check and Lubricate O-ring

While you have the filter head off, it’s a good idea to check the rubber O-ring on the inside of the cover. Lubrication will help seal against leaks and extend the life of the O-ring. Simply rub a thin coat of lubricant along the seal. Look for cracks or rough edges while you’re at it. If you find cracks or the O-ring is otherwise damaged, take it to your local pool supply store and have it replaced.

Step 11: Replace the Filter Head

Replace the pool filter head ensuring the O-ring is properly seated and then lock it down tightly. If your pressure gauge is attached to your filter head, ensure that it’s positioned so you can easily read it.

STEP 12: Turn the Power Back On

Now turn the power on. It may take a few minutes before you see water in the filter head as the pump primes itself.

STEP 13: Close the Pressure Relief Valve

At this point, the water flow knob should still be open. As the pump pressurizes the system, air is pushed out through this valve. Once water starts to come out in a steady spray, close the valve.

STEP 14: Observe

As water circulates back into the pool, watch for leaks. If you don’t see water return to the pool after a while, turn the power back off and check the filter head and ensure the seal is undamaged and seated properly. A clean filter allows increased water flow. If you have fountains on your pool, you should notice it spraying higher and the water in the pool circulating faster.

It’s important to service your pool regularly. To maintain a hygienic pool and keep your pool in the best possible condition, get a good quality pool cleaner and make good use of it. Also, remove and clean the filter cartridges regularly using a pool cartridge filter cleaner. Remember, safety is of the utmost importance. Make sure you turn off the power before removing the cartridge. Always wear gloves and eye protection when handling any pool chemicals. Most of all, enjoy swimming in your pool!


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