3 main types of filtration in the pool industry D.E., cartridge, sand filtration/permanent media
By: ACG Technologies
The commercial pool industry recommends using one of three filtration types available: DE, cartridge, and sand. But what's the difference between pool filtration systems and which one should you use?
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filtration System
Diatomaceous earth is silica-based, filtration material composed of crumbled, sedimentary rock containing fossilized organisms called diatoms. Of the 3 filtration types, D.E. is clearly the best and will filter down to 2-micron sized particles when operated properly. Sold as a fine powder that is slightly abrasive, DE efficiently absorbs and filters impurities and microscopic contaminants from swimming pool water.
This type of filtration works by using what is called an element that is wrapped in porous polypropylene fabric. You then coat the element with the D.E. powder evenly around the entire element or element assembly. The D.E. then catches the biologicals and particulates and allows clean water to pass through. Eventually, the D.E. will saturate and need to be discarded and replaced. This type of filtration is the least forgiving of all three types and requires close attention to be paid to the cleaning procedures.
DE meant for pool filtration has been calcinated (heat-treated)
Sand Filtration Systems
This filtration type falls under a broader category of permanent media filters. It is classified as a "sand filter" when sand is used as the media of a permanent media filter. These types of filters typically work by bedding the media to a manufacture specified depth above the laterals at the bottom. Water will flow into the top of the vessel and simply go through the media into the laterals and back out to your body of water.
When utilizing regular filtration sand in a permanent media filter, this would be the worst of the three in size of particulates filtered and typically lands in the 20-40-micron range. That being said, there have been many
improvements in this industry and CPI now offers an NSF-listed glass media that has been tested to remove particles down to 5 microns. This glass media is much less susceptible to other issues with sand filtration like tunneling or calcifying/hardening.
A large advantage to permanent media filters is the cleaning procedure called backwashing. To do this, you typically just reverse flow for a period of time or until you see the water clears up. With a very forgiving cleaning process that is easily automated, this is probably the most popular filtration type nationwide.
Cartridge Filtration Systems
Cylindrical in shape and containing pleated filter material, a cartridge filtration system can remove contaminants 10 to 15 microns in size from pool water. Although sand filters can also
capture microscopic debris, cartridge filters are the easiest to maintain compared to DE and sand filtration. Pool owners using a cartridge filter typically need to replace the filter once a year. The size (square feet) of a cartridge determines how much it costs.
Advantages of using a cartridge filtration system include its low maintenance, affordability, and capacity to maintain water clarity. Compared to D.E. and Sand filtration, cartridge filtration is less prone to operator errors that could result in actual loss of filtration. It would require an actual rupture in the cartridge to have bypass whereas D.E. and sand filters can have bypass with tunneling or improper D.E. coating and precoating procedures. This is why this filtration is the preferred filtration type for spas which are extremely small bodies of water that can be contaminated very easily. Improper cleaning of the cartridges will lead to shorter filter runs but won't result in loss of filtration.
For over 40 years, Com-Pac Filters has been helping pool owners select the right filtration systems and pool pumps for their commercial swimming pools. Don't take a chance with the expense and stress of dealing with cloudy, dirty, contaminated water. Contact us today for immediate assistance with purchasing the best filtration system for your pool.
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