Diatomaceous Earth (DE) vs. Cartridge Filter


  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filters are used by most pool companies and are less expensive than the best cartridge filters, but they are a major hassle and an ongoing expense.
  • DE filters require monitoring of the filter pressure gauge and when the gauge exceeds a predefined limit, the filter must be cleaned. (approx. every 6 weeks.)
  • To clean a DE filter you will need to backwash about 400-1000 gallons of pool water and dump the white, sandy, dirty water somewhere on your property. (It is illegal to put in the sewer.)
  • To replenish a DE filter you need to measure out just the right amount of powder from the 25lb bag and dump it into your skimmer to recoat the filter.
  • When working with DE, the sharpness of the material makes it dangerous to breathe and a dust mask is recommended when working with it.  Also gloves should be worn to keep your hands from getting dried out and cracked.
  • You will then need to refill your pool with approx. 400-1000 gallons of water and add chemicals to make up for the loss of chemicals in the water you just pumped into your yard.
  • If a DE filter gets a little tear (which they often do) your pool will be contaminated with all of the DE which will instantly turn the pool white and cloudy.
  • And the only advantage of a DE filter is that it is cheaper to install and filters to a smaller micron than most cartridge filters.  Sand filters trap as small as 50 microns.   The best cartridge filters trap as small as 5 microns.   DE filters trap as small as 3 microns.  Anything less than 35 microns is not visible to the human eye.  So any advantage of DE is not even visible.

Bottom Line.  DE filters are cheaper to install, are more of a hassle and cost much more $$ to operate, but provide no real visible benefit over the top of the line cartridge filters.

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Tony Caciolo

Tony Caciolo is the President of Monogram Custom Homes and pools and has completed over 1500 projects in Lehigh, Northampton, and Bucks County

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