sand pool filter

When it comes to keeping your swimming pool clean, the filtration system is where all the action occurs. While there are a few different types of swimming pool filtration systems available, sand filter systems are the most common. That’s because they are less expensive, low maintenance, and most importantly, they work! Let’s talk about pool filter sand, and how and when to replace it so that you can enjoy clean, clear pool water all season long.

Types of Pool Filter Sand

Many people think that any type of sand, such as play sand, will work as the filter media in a sand filter pump, but that is not the case. In order to trap small particles and contaminants like bacteria and algae that make their way into your pool filter, silica sand, glass sand, or ZeoSand must be used.

SIlica Sand

The most common type of pool sand is #20 silica sand. SIlica sand particles are made from ground quartz, giving them jagged edges that are perfect for trapping debris and contaminants as water passes through. 


ZeoSand is a highly effective alternative to silica sand that is made from zeolites, a type of volcanic rock mineral. One pound of ZeoSand can replace two pounds of silica sand, so you need less to keep your filter running properly. ZeoSand has a superpower, too! It can chemically trap chloramines, helping to reduce eye irritation and pool chemical usage.     

Glass Sand

Glass sand is made from recycled glass, and it is an environmentally friendly pool sand option. Even though the granules feel smooth, they can still trap small particles down to 2 microns as they pass through the filter. 

Reasons to Change Pool Filter Sand

After several seasons of providing you with crystal clear water, there are a few reasons why you will need new sand in your pool filter. First, the sand particles get worn down over time, and edges become smooth, making them less effective at trapping contaminants. Second, each time you backwash your sand filter, small amounts of sand are lost, which add up to large amounts after a while.  And finally, oils, dead algae, and dirt build up in the sand over time, causing poor water quality.

When to Change Pool Filter Sand

Typically, sand should be changed every three to five years. You will know it’s time to change it when the filter requires more frequent backwashing. (Backwashing should be done when the pressure gauge has climbed 8 – 10 psi above normal.) Ideally, you should change the sand in your pool filter before you notice problems such as dirty or cloudy water.  

How to Change Pool Filter Sand

When it’s time to add clean silica sand to your pool filter, follow these simple steps:

  1. Turn off the pool pump and drain the filter by removing the drain plug from the bottom of the filter tank.
  2. Remove the multiport valve.
  3. Cover the open standpipe with duct tape.
  4. Remove the old sand with a shop vac or by hand.
  5. Rinse out the tank with a garden hose.
  6. Replace the drain plug and fill the tank halfway with water.
  7. Add the new sand. As a general rule, the tank should be about ⅔ full with sand, but check your manufacturer’s instructions to be sure. Many people like to use a few cups of D.E. powder as an additive to increase the efficiency of the filter. 
  8. Fill the tank the rest of the way with water.
  9. Replace the connections, including the multiport valve.
  10. Backwash the filter for at least two minutes, then rinse for one minute.
  11. Run your filter, making sure that the pressure gauge is reading normally.

Sand Filter Top Picks

In the market for a new sand filter? Whether you are looking for an in-ground or above ground pool filter, Doheny’s has the best quality sand pool filters from the top brands like Hayward, Pentair, and many more. Check out some of our favorites:

Hayward In-ground Pro Series Sand Filter

The Pro Series Sand Filter from Hayward is one of our top picks because it offers superior filtration and an easy-to-use 7-position Vari-Flow control valve. Water in the filter is evenly distributed over the sand bed by the top diffuser, and this reliable unit has a corrosion-proof filter tank. Includes a one-year warranty.   

Doheny’s Sand Filter System

The Doheny’s Sand Filter System offers optimal performance and affordability all in one. This system comes with everything you need to filter your above ground pool, including the pump, filter, dial valve, and connection fittings. Available in 16 inch, 19 inch, and 24 inch sizes, this filter system is both energy efficient and powerful, so that you can have a sparkling clean pool without spending a lot of money.

When you want a pristine swimming pool that your friends and family can enjoy, a sand pool filter is a great choice. If you have any questions about how to maintain your pool filter, or about any of our products, please contact our pool care experts today at 800-574-7665 or check out our website at