What is the difference between sand filters and cartridge filters?

5 Minute Read

At their very heart, both sand filters and cartridge filters are the same. They filter your pool water so that you will be left with sparkling and clean water. But the way they work, what they’re made of, and even cost, vary greatly. Lets go over both types to see which is the perfect filter for your pool. But before we continue, here’s Mr Pool Man himself explaining the main differences between sand filters and cartridge filters.

We hope you enjoyed watching that as much as we enjoyed making that video! Now on to the article!

Pool Sand Filters

From the name itself, sand filters use sand as a media to catch debris and other small particles before sending crystal clear water back into the pool. Expense wise, the initial cost of a sand filter is generally higher than cartridge filters, but over time, it becomes cheaper as you don’t need to replace the filter media as often.

Cleaning sand filters is pretty straightforward and it uses a technique called “backwashing” it’s basically reversing the flow of water and it’s a very simple task that can be done in just a few minutes. In fact, it takes longer to read our backwashing guide than to actually backwash the pool if you’ll believe that. For more information on backwashing your pool, be sure to check out our guide on how to backwash a pool sand filter through the button below.

Every three to five years, you may have to change out the sand in your sand filter as they may have gotten worn out over time. Sand filter media starts off with jagged edges that snag debris down to 20 microns in size and over time, these edges get worn smooth by the water passing through the filter, effectively reducing its filter efficiency until it no longer filters the water properly. For more information about how to change pool sand filter media, click the button below.

Pool Sand Filter Recommendation

Of all the sand filters we offer on our online store, we highly recommend the Water TechniX Sand Filter Aspire. The Aspire is compatible with different kinds of sand filter media such as sand, Zelbrite, and silica media. It also has a 2-year warranty on the valve and gauge and a whopping 10-year warranty on the tank itself! It also has an automatic air bleed to stop buildup of pressure inside of the tank, ensuring that your pressure readings will always be accurate and relieves stress off of the tank. It’s suitable for regular pool systems as well as salt water pool systems as well.

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Pool Cartridge Filters

Pool Cartridge Filters are much simpler (and compact!) than pool sand filters. Cartridge filters use filter cartridges that are constructed from synthetic fabrics that are attached to a plastic frame or core. Cartridge filters can trap particles down to 10 microns in size, which means that you’ll end up with much clearer water when compared with that of a sand filter. The downside to this is that since it catches more stuff, then more cleaning is required.

To clean a filter cartridge, you have to take it out of the housing, and rinse it off with a garden hose. There will be times when the cartridge itself can get gunked up by debris or other unmentionables, and if this is the case, then you’ll have to use a specialty cleaner like the Zodiac filter cleaner to give it a good overnight soak to melt the gunk away.

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As for replacing the filter cartridges, if you remember the video, there’s really nothing to replacing the cartridge, just open it up, pop out the old one and put in a new filter. The downside to this is that filter cartridges can be expensive and they need to be replaced more often than sand filter media. You can browse our collection of pool filter cartridges by clicking on the button below.

Cartridge Filter Recommendation

If we were to recommend a cartridge filter, our choice would be hands down the Davey Cartridge Filter Easy clear. When it comes to a price point ratio with its features, it beats everything else that we have online hands down. Read more on why we chose this cartridge filter by clicking on the button below when we answer the question, what is the best pool cartridge filter.

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You really can’t go wrong with either a sand filter or a cartridge filter, it just boils down to what you need and what level of maintenance you’re willing to perform. If you need help deciding between the two, you can check out our guide on choosing the right pool filter through the button below.

Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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Post author:

Tom Hintze

Head of eCommerce & Operations at Mr Pool Man,
Co-Founder at Water TechniX


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