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Pool Filter Cartridge Replacement

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pool cartridge filter Cartridge filters are my preferred filter type, by far, when it comes to choosing the best possible pool filter. The only downside is simply the cost of the filter itself combined with the cost of periodic replacement of the filter elements. If you care for and maintain your pool filter elements well then you should easily get between three to five years of life from each of your filters. There are however a number of ways that you can inadvertently reduce the service life of your filter elements. This article aims to help you with three things:

How to know when you need to replace your cartridge filter elements

How to avoid early failure of cartridge filter elements

How to find the correct replacement elements for your filter

Replacement pool cartridge filter elements are quite expensive by comparison to sand filters or D.E. filters, which do not require expensive replacement components. Back when I was contracting I had a very simple sales pitch for customers who asked about cartridge filters. I would say that they are three times as much money as a sand filter and about three times as good at filtering debris. If you are looking for better filtering abilities and a reduction in the amount of chemicals you use in your pool then a cartridge filter is worth considering. Small floating particulate in the water is especially visible at night with the lights on in your pool. If you are a night swimmer then perhaps the extra money would be worth it if you find that you don't like how turbid the water looks at night with the lights on.

Sand filter (new sand) - 20 micron

Sand filter (old sand) - 40 micron

Cartridge filter - 10-15 micron

D.E Filter - 5 micron

One micron (micrometer) is equal to one millionth of a meter (1/1,000,000 meters) or about .00004 inches. The lower the number of microns that a filter is able to remove the better. For a quick comparison you can see that a cartridge filter can remove debris three times smaller than what a sand filter can remove. In turn a D.E filter can remove physical debris three times smaller than that of a cartridge filter. So why then do I recommend cartridge filters over D.E filters?

D.E filters (diatomaceous earth) certainly remove the smallest physical debris from pool water - no argument there. They however require regular cleaning and maintenance, more so than either sand filters or cartridge filters. If you are a handy person then you can do this yourself and it is really not all that hard or time consuming to do. Another concern is about the health implications of working with D.E. Do not confuse the diatomaceous earth that people use as a dietary supplement or insect deterrent with pool grade D.E. Food grade D.E is amorphous silicon dioxide. Pool grade D.E is crystalline silicon dioxide which is much more dangerous to work with due to the potential harmful effects of exposure. If you don't mind the extra work, or extra labor cost, and you also don't mind storing and working with crystalline silicon dioxide then D.E filters do the best job of all three filter kinds. For my money, and my pool, a well sized cartridge filter is a superior option. It provides enhanced water clarity over a sand filter while requiring the least amount of ongoing maintenance.

How To Make Your Cartridge Filter Elements Last

Since cost of replacement cartridges is one of the biggest concerns, and one of the only drawbacks to cartridge style pool filters, it will be important that you get as much service life as possible from each of yours. There are, unfortunately, many ways which you can inadvertently ruin your filters. This is a problem that is widely seen in the pool service industry. Any one of these improper maintenance procedures can result in your needing to replace your filters again:

Pressure Washing Cartridge Elements - Cleaning a cartridge filter element is a slow process. Many pool owners and inexperienced pool technicians have turned to a pressure washer to "help" clean out the pleated paper elements easier and faster. The problem with this is that cartridge filters are only made from paper. They are not suitable to withstand the water pressure from even moderately sized pressure washers. If you use a pressure washer to clean your cartridge filters then you very likely can rip the paper.

Acid Washing Cartridge Filters - There are two ways (chemically) that you can clean a cartridge filter. One is an acid based treatment for removing scale and the other is a degreaser based treatment for removing oil. Scale buildup on cartridge filter elements is extremely uncommon however the advice to soak your elements in mild acid is not. When you clean a pool cartridge filter you need to soak them in a degreasing solution to remove the oils which are saturating the paper. If you use an acid solution on greasy filters then you will effectively bake the oils into the paper and permanently ruin your filters. The symptom of this problem is a filter that raises in pressure very shortly after cleaning it.

Improper Cartridge Filter Cleaning - When your pool system pressure rises 7 PSI above the clean operational pressure of your filter then you know it is time to clean them. This should involve soaking in a degreaser and rinsing thoroughly. Many pool owners mistakenly rinse the filters with a garden hose. Unfortunately the majority of cleaning that needs to happen is actually from oil that saturates the paper, and not from the skin, hair and physical debris stuck in the pleats of the filter. Rinsing your dirty filter with a garden hose will only serve to remove some physical debris from the filter. This possibly might reduce the pressure of your system by a marinal amount but degreasing is required to remove the oil from the paper.

Sustained High System Pressure - If you are a little lazy about cleaning your cartridge filter elements then you may find that you end up replacing yours sooner rather than later. When you first install a new cartridge filter on your pool system you should note the clean operational pressure of your system. This will be your benchmark for comparison so that you know when to clean your filters. If you let your filter climb above 7 PSI over the clean operational pressure for your system, especially for long periods of time, this will certainly result in less service life from your filter elements. By reducing the system pressures (cleaning the filters, increasing pipe diameter, reducing the velocity of water flow) you can make the working environment easier on your filter and you will likely have a longer service life from your filters as opposed to a system where the normal operational pressures are higher.

Flocculants & Clarifiers For Cartridge Filters - Flocculants and clarifiers are both chemicals that you might add to deal with cloudy, turbid or green water in a pool. Pools with cartridge filters can actually damage the filter elements by using these chemicals. Some pool chemistry purists would argue that you should never need either of these chemicals to maintain your pool, and they are probably right, since if you keep your chlorine and pH in balance, and keep your filter media clean, then you should never have a problem with cloudy or green water to begin with. You should not use floc or clarifier on pools with a cartridge filter as they can permanently plug up the filter elements.

Cutting Bands Around Cartridge Filters - Cartridge filters have bands that help the filter to hold its shape under pressure in the pool system. More than one pool owner has made the mistake of cutting these thinking that they are supposed to do this. DO NOT cut the retaining bands around your cartridge filter elements or you will find yourself shopping for replacement filters immediately.

Whether your cartridge filters are five years old, or only one day old, once they have a hole in them then they are garbage. Sure you can try to run your pool filter even if it has holes...but this would be a lot like running your car tires with holes in them. The same goes for the other failures that you can have such as the paper becoming permanently blocked from baked in oils. You can attempt to keep using a failed filter element but this will result in poor water quality at best, and a dangerous failure of your filter at worst.

When To Replace Your Pool Filters?

Aside from the example above of having holes in the paper of your filter, how exactly can you tell when (if) you need to replace your filter elements? Unlike a sand filter which can be somewhat ambiguous about when you should have it serviced, a cartridge filter will tell you right away if there is a problem - through the filter pressure. Pressure gauges tend to get broken very easily and many pools do not have any active way of telling what the system pressures are. Replace your pool filter gauge if it is broken. If yours does not reset to zero when the pressure is turned off then this indicates the gauge is out of calibration and damaged and should also be replaced. You can tell that your cartridge filters need to be replaced when the pressure of your system increases 7 PSI or more over the clean system operational pressure and cleaning them does not resolve the increase in pressure.

Normally when you notice that the system pressure for your pool has risen this is an indication to you that it is time to clean your filters. After cleaning, which usually will involve soaking in a degreaser and rinsing, you should be able to note a reduction in the system operational pressures again, hopefully down to the level of the original clean operational system pressure. As filters get older they will start to break down and become plugged and this will cause a repeating pattern of your system pressures climbing too high. Eventually even proper cleaning of the filter will not reduce the system pressures again, or will reduce them only for a very short period of time before the system pressure climbs again. It is at this point that you should order new replacement filters.

Any other signs of physical damage to the filters, either the paper or the plastic end caps, requires that you replace the filters. The dynamic pressure that pool filters operate at will make any attempt to repair cracks and holes in the filter unsuccessful. If you are attempting to replace your pool filters yourself then be sure to note how the filter came apart so that you can put it back together the exact same way. If you have any doubts then be sure to contact an industry professional as pool filters can be dangerous - especially split tank style cartridge filters.

How To Find Your Replacement Filter

Replacement pool cartridge filter elements are one of the most popular pool and spa items that owners tend to purchase online. There are a few reasons why ordering online will be an advantage to you as a pool owner but the most important is just the cost. If you are paying 100% markup from your local pool store then this will make the ultra aggressive online prices seem very appealing. Another advantage of purchasing online is the selection that you will have available to you. Most often when purchasing from a retail store or local contractor you will be given only one option for your replacement filters when in reality there are a few reliable manufacturers. Most industry professionals have their opinions as to who makes the best replacement filters. The most common sources for replacement pool filters are OEM (original equipment manufacturer),Pleatco and Unicel.

Pleatco and Unicel are strong players in the aftermarket for pool and spa filters. Should you use OEM products for your filter or is it OK to purchase a cheaper option from Pleatco or Unicel? The answer to that will depend on who you ask. The equipment manufacturers will tell you to use OEM but Pleatco and Unicel will obviously tell you that aftermarket filters are as good or better. Pool and spa industry professionals will lean one way or another based on their experience but it is safe to say that there is not a consensus among the industry as to who makes the best replacement filters. In most of the cases the decision about which replacement filter to buy will boil down to price. Sure the cheapest filter might not be the best possible one, but pool owners tend to take the less expensive route when presented with the option of a cheaper viable product.

If you are not sure which filter make and model that you have then you can cross check this article about pool filter reviews to find a picture of yours and the associated model number. Once you have the model number then pick your replacement filters from this list:

Filter model: Pentair CC50 (160314)
Original part number: R173213
Pleatco replacement: PAP50-4
Unicel replacement: C-9405

Filter model: Hayward C751
Original part number: CX760RE
Pleatco replacement: PA76
Unicel replacement: C-8411

Filter model: Pentair CC75 (160315)
Original part number: R173214
Pleatco replacement: PAP75-4
Unicel replacement: C-9407

Filter model: Jandy CS100
Original part number: R0462200
Pleatco replacement: PJANCS100-4
Unicel replacement: C-8410

Filter model: Pentair CC100 (160316)
Original part number: R173215
Pleatco replacement: PAP100-4
Unicel replacement: C-9410

Filter model: Hayward C1200
Original part number: CX1200RE
Pleatco replacement: PA120
Unicel replacement: C-8412

Filter model: Jandy CS150
Original part number: R0462300
Pleatco replacement: PJANCS150-4
Unicel replacement: C-8414

Filter model: Pentair CC150 (160317)
Original part number: R173216
Pleatco replacement: PAP150-4
Unicel replacement: C9415

Filter model: Hayward C17502
Original part number: CX1750RE
Pleatco replacement: PA175
Unicel replacement: C-8417

Filter model: Jandy CS200
Original part number: R0462400
Pleatco replacement: PJANCS200-4
Unicel replacement: C-8418

Filter model: Pentair CC200 (160318)
Original part number: R173217
Pleatco replacement: PAP200-4
Unicel replacement: C-9419

Filter model: Hayward C2020 / C2025
Original part number: CX480XRE
Pleatco replacement: PA56SV
Unicel replacement: C-7458
Note this filter is 14 3/16" in length

Filter model: Hayward C2030
Original part number: CX481XRE
Pleatco replacement: PA56L
Unicel replacement: C-481RE / C-7456
Note this filter is 17 3/8" in length

Filter model: Pentair CCP240 (160310)
Original part number:R173572
Pleatco replacement: PCC60
Unicel replacement: C-7469

Filter model: Jandy CS250
Original part number:R0462500
Pleatco replacement: PJANCS250-4
Unicel replacement: C-8425

Filter model: Sta-Rite SJM120
Original part number:S7M120 (25021-0200S & 25022-0201S)
Pleatco replacement: N/A
Unicel replacement: N/A

Filter model: Pentair CCP320 (160340)
Original part number:R173573
Pleatco replacement: PCC80
Unicel replacement: C-7470

Filter model: Hayward C3020 / C3025 / C3030
Original part number:CX580XRE
Pleatco replacement: PA81
Unicel replacement: C-7483

Filter model: Jandy CL340
Original part number:R0554500
Pleatco replacement: PJAN85
Unicel replacement: C-7459

Filter model: Sta-Rite S7M400
Original part number: S7M400 (25022-0224S & 25021-0223S)
Pleatco replacement: N/A
Unicel replacement: N/A

Filter model: Pentair CCP420
Original part number: R173576
Pleatco replacement: PCC105
Unicel replacement: C-7471

Filter model: Hayward C4020 / C4025 / C4030
Original part number: CX880XRE
Pleatco replacement: PA106
Unicel replacement: C-7488

Filter model: Sta-Rite S8M150
Original part number: S8M150 (25022-0203S & 25021-0202S)
Pleatco replacement: N/A
Unicel replacement: N/A

Filter model: Jandy CL460
Original part number: R0554600
Pleatco replacement: PJAN115
Unicel replacement: C-7468

Filter model: Sta-Rite S8M500
Original part number: S8M500 (25022-0225S & 25021-0224S)
Pleatco replacement: N/A
Unicel replacement: N/A

Filter model: Pentair CCP520 (160332)
Original part number: R173578
Pleatco replacement: PCC130
Unicel replacement: C-7472

Filter model: Hayward C5020 / C5025 / C5030
Original part number: CX1280XRE
Pleatco replacement: PA131
Unicel replacement: C-7494

Filter model: Jandy CL580
Original part number: R0357900
Pleatco replacement: PJAN145
Unicel replacement: C-7482

Filter model: Hayward C7000
Original part number: CX590XRE
Pleatco replacement: PA89L
Unicel replacement: C-7484
Note this filter is 19 5/8" long

Filter model: Hayward C7030
Original part number: CX591XRE
Pleatco replacement: PA89
Unicel replacement: C-7485
Note this filter is 19 1/8" long

When ordering filters be sure to double check the number of filters you need to buy. Many of the smaller filters require only a single filter element however most of the large filters require four filter elements. Most manufacturers offer the replacement filters in single packs or also in packs of four. Packs of four are most typically noted with a "PAK4" added at the end of the product number. If you are searching for a set of four then try adding PAK4 to the product number when you search on Amazon. If you have noticed that some filters are white, while other (often more expensive) ones are blue, the blue indicates the use of "mircoban" antibacterial technology used in the filter material. Most commonly this would be noted with an "M" at the end of the product part number and the color of the filter material is blue. If you are still having trouble finding your filter you can check out this article about filter reviews and try to match up the pictures to the filter that you have.

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