Change Pool Filter Sand to Ensure the Effectiveness of Your Filter

It is fair to say that owning a pool is an exciting investment for your home. You’ll be able to swim and relax in a pool without leaving the comfort of your home. And your home parties will be more impressive due to the pool’s addition. But such luxury comes with high costs as well …

It is fair to say that owning a pool is an exciting investment for your home. You’ll be able to swim and relax in a pool without leaving the comfort of your home. And your home parties will be more impressive due to the pool’s addition.

But such luxury comes with high costs as well because a pool’s maintenance can be quite costly. And to cut costs, sometimes you need to do the maintenance yourself.

One of the pool maintenance that you can do yourself is change pool filter sand. Read further to know all about the importance of pool filter, why you need to change the sand, and how to replace the sand properly.

Pool Filters – The Role That It Plays

Why Are Pool Filters Important?

The pool water is exposed to outside elements like the wind, humans, insects, and animals. These elements bring in unwanted matters like lots of dirt, germs, bacterias, bugs, and small elements that can badly affect your pool and the users. A pool filter removes all these unwanted materials and maintains good water quality.

Change Pool Filter Sand: A Mother And Child Enjoying In A Pool
Keep your pool safe and clean with proper maintenance

Maintaining a good quality of pool water gives three main benefits.

The first one is it prolongs the service life of pool equipment. Unwanted materials can clog up the pump and tubes of your swimming pool system, resulting in early parts replacement. And we don’t want unnecessary costs due to parts replacement.

The second benefit is it lessens the needed pool cleaning. Good water quality inhibits the growth of algae and slime in your pool. So you’ll spend less time cleaning the pool and more time enjoying it.

The third, which is probably the most important reason, is that it ensures that the water is safe for the swimmers’ use. A pool filter removes bacteria and algae that can be harmful to humans. We will talk about pool contaminants further below.

Pool Contaminants And Possible Health Effects

As we have previously said, the pool is exposed to many contaminants. But aside from those organisms, the pool users themselves contribute to the water contamination.

The swimmers’ bodily fluids, like sweat, saliva, hair, dead skin, and urine, add ammonia, urea, keratin, amino acids, and other organic compounds. These are relatively safe but, when left untreated, can affect water quality and harm humans.

Some of the mild effects of the unclean pool water are diarrhea and skin rashes. But other severe cases can lead to vomiting, eye infections, respiratory problems, and inflammations.

Testing The Quality Of Pool Water
Prolong your pool equipment by maintaining a good water quality

We don’t want to experience those health problems. That is why proper pool maintenance and filtration is crucial for your home swimming pool.

The Sand Pool Filter – Parts and Sand Types

Before you change the sand in your pool filter, it is imperative to know the parts of a sand pool filter. This will allow you to follow the instructions better. Also, there are many types of pool filter sand that you can use as your new sand.

A Pool Filtration System
Knowing the parts of a pool filtration system will help in pool maintenance

Parts Of Sand Pool Filters

You can find the core parts of a sand filter below. Different brands have different names for these parts, and design can vary depending on the manufacturer’s design and customer needs. There are also minor parts in a sand filters’ product manual. These are just the major working parts.

Multiport Valve

A Multi-port Valve
Spotting the multi-port valve is easy – it has a lever handle and many ports

The multiport valve is a valve where you can usually find the inlet, outlet, and backwash ports of a sand filter. This valve is where your pipes from the pool and pump connect and are usually removed first during maintenance. You can generally find the multi-port valve at the top of the sand filter. But there are some brands and models that have the multi-port valve at the tank’s sidewall.

Distribution Baffle

The distribution baffle is a liquid diffuser that is connected to the inlet of the multi-port valve. You can find the baffle at the top of the sand filter. Its purpose is to spread the water entering the sand filter evenly. The water’s even distribution at the top ensures maximum efficiency and effectivity during the filtration process.

Filter Tank

The filter tank is the main body of the sand filter. It is usually made up of high-grade plastic. Some manufacturers use metal or ceramic, but those are usually rare and are probably custom made for certain customers. It holds all the parts and the large volume of the sand. 


The laterals are horizontal pipes located at the bottom of a sand filter. These pipes are connected to the standpipe and have holes in which only water can pass through them, not sand. During the pool filtration process, the water enters through the distribution baffle and is forced down into the sand. Then the water at the bottom of the tank enters into the laterals.


The standpipe is a single vertical pipe at the center of a sand filter. It is connected to the outlet port of the multi-port valve. During the filtration process, the pool water entering the laterals are then collected into the standpipe. Then the standpipe will lead the water out to the valve.

Drain Ports

The drain port is an essential part of a sand filter. This port is solely built for the purpose of maintenance. You can find it at the bottom part of the tank, and usually looks like an extruded pipe with a cap cover on it. During maintenance, you just need to remove the cap to drain the tank. 

Types of Pool Filter Sands Used In Filtration

Another thing that you need to consider if you want to change the pool filter sand is the type of sand that you will use. There are three main types of sand that are used for pool filtration; each has its unique characteristics and costs.

Silica Sand

The most common type of sand used in a sand filter is silica sand.

Silica Sand
Select a filtration sand based on your needs or preferences

To form silica sand, manufacturers grind the ground quartz into powder. They have to be precise in the grinding process because #20 silica sand, the most commonly used filter sand, needs to be 0.45mm to 0.55mm in size. The filtration capability of silica sand can remove unwanted elements up to 100 to 20 microns. 

Silica sand is the cheapest of the three options. This low price is due to the abundance of ground quartz. So if you have a tight budget, then silica sand is for you.

The only downside for silica sand is that it is not eco-friendly due to the mining of quartz. Also, it has the shortest lifespan, five (5) years, out of the three sand options because it is the densest.

Glass Sand

Glass sand is one of the newer filter options in the market. 

To produce glass sand, manufacturers recycle used glass. They collect, crush, and process used glass bottles and other compatible glass materials. So if you want to support Earth’s sustainability by recycling, then you should definitely use glass sand as your filter replacement.

The other benefit of glass sand is its service life. Due to being lighter and the recycling process, glass sand has a service life of 10 years. The filtration capability of glass sand is greater than silica; it can capture particles up to 40 to 5 microns.

The only downside to glass sand is the cost. The resources and energy used for recycling add to the cost of glass sand. That is why it is more costly than silica sand. 

Zeolite Sand

Zeolite sand is the most expensive out of all the sand options. Zeolite sand costs four times the amount of silica sand. The greater cost is due to two reasons: abundance and filtration abilities.

When compared to the abundance of silica sand and glass sand, zeolite can be considered scarce. This is due to zeolites comes from volcanic rocks, which can only be found on active volcanoes.

Zeolite sand offers greater performance as compared to silica sand and glass sand. Due to the zeolite’s internal hexagonal structure, it can filter out unwanted materials up to 5 to 2 microns in size.

If budget is not a problem for you and you want a cleaner pool, then you should use zeolite sand when you change the filter’s sand.

Pool Filter Sand Replacement – Why and How

Why Change The Sand of Pool Filters?

Due to wear and tear from the water pressure, the filter sand loses its filtration capabilities overtime. That is why it needs regular replacement. Usually, the filter sand can last up to 5 to 10 years, depending on the type of filter material used.

How To Change The Sand Of Pool Filters?

Materials, Tools, And Parts That You’ll Need

Before you change the sand filter, here are some of the things that you need to prepare:

  • New sand for your filter (Amount is dependent on filter size)
  • Wet dry vacuum
  • Pipe saw
  • Spare adaptors and fittings
  • Teflon and duct tape 
  • Water hose (for rinsing)

Step 1: Stop The Water Circulation 

Stop the water circulation by turning off the pump. Disconnect also the pump from the main breaker. This is a crucial step before draining because some water pumps will have their motor burnout due to overloading when there is no pump load.

Step 2: Drain The Filter Tank

After turning off the pump, you can now drain the tank. You can do this by opening the cap of the drain port at the bottom of the tank. This can take a while so you should do this early in the morning then come back later that day to continue the sand filter change. Or you can start draining at night, so you can continue to replace the sand filter the next morning.

Step 3: Remove The Multiport Valve And Cover The Standpipe

Once the tank has been drained, you need to remove the multiport valve next. This is usually at the top and connected via threaded adapters to the water and pump pipes. If the connections are stuck, cut off the pipes to continue the work.

After removing the multi-port valve, you will see the standpipe at the opening. Quickly seal it with duct tape to prevent unwanted materials from clogging the laterals.

Step 5: Remove The Old Sand and Rinse the Tank

Remove the sand in the tank by vacuuming it with a wet & dry vacuum cleaner. Take note that ordinary vacuums can’t be used for this. Use only heavy-duty ones to prevent your vacuum from getting busted. You can also do the old sand removal manually but it will take more time.

After you remove the sand, it’s time to remove all remaining sand by rinsing it with water. You can do this quickly by using a pressure washer if you have one. 

Step 6: Inspect The Tank and Pipe Assembly

After a thorough rinse, remove the standpipe and laterals from the tank. Then visually inspect for cracks or other possible damage to the filter components. Cracks and damages can lead to less efficient filtration and water losses. 

Step 7: Fill In With New Sand

After the visual check of the filter components, you can now move on to putting in the new sand. Before filling in with the sand, plug the drain port, place the laterals and standpipe, and fill the tank halfway. The water in the tank will serve as a damper for the sand that will enter the filter. 

Step 8: Backwash And Test

A Pressure Gauge On A Pool Filter
Check for a reading on the pressure gauge to know if its correctly working

After filling in with the new sand, reconnect the multi-port valve and the pipes. Turn the pump back on and backwash first. Once done with backwashing, you can turn the pump on again to start with the filter test. The installed pressure gauge should register a reading. Monitor for a day to see if the pump and sand filter is operating smoothly. 

With our comprehensive guide on how the change your pool filter sand, you can be confident in doing it yourself. Share your experience in the comments section. We love to hear from you.

Having questions about swimming pool maintenance? These articles will give you a complete guide on how to do it by yourself.

How about using Pool Filter Sand in an Aquarium? Click here to learn its pros and cons.

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About the author

Brian Anderson

The rather dry pool world out there is in need of some passion to make it shine. With the help of my son Ruben and his wife Maria our mission is to help you create the favorite spot of your house - your pool.

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