Filter Cartridges: Rejuvenate or Replace?

unicel-cartridge-guy-reading-tabletMonitoring your cartridge filter’s performance and sticking to a cleaning routine will help to keep your pool as clean as possible and extend the life of your pool or spa filter cartridge.

Over time though, algae, dirt, body oils, lotions etc., will build up in the cartridge to the point that cleaning will not suffice. Read up on some tips for when to clean/rejuvenate a cartridge, and when to replace it.

Pool & Spa Filter Cartridge Rejuvenation

Cartridges should be cleaned whenever there is an increase in filter pressure of approximately 8 PSI (pounds per square inch) or more above the ‘clean’ operating pressure. As a general rule, cartridges need to be cleaned every few months, assuming the filter is properly sized and you haven’t had an unusually large burden placed on the filter (such as very heavy bather loads or a bad algae bloom). Regardless of the cleaning schedule you are on or the filter pressure, if you notice a change in water quality, inspect the cartridge for holes or tears. If there are no holes, perhaps additional cleaning is necessary.

How to Clean a Pool & Spa Filter Cartridge

To properly clean a cartridge you should first remove any large dirt and debris particles and then soak it in a cleaning solution to dissolve built up oils and minerals.

unicel-cartridge-guy-sprayingA garden hose will help to remove any large debris, but you can give the cartridge a more thorough cleaning with the help of some tools. The more thoroughly you clean the cartridge, the longer it is likely to last. The Filter Flosser is a high pressure cleaning head that attaches to a garden hose to force dirt and debris out of the crevices in your filter.

Another option is the pool filter cleaning wand which is a brush that connects to a garden hose to increase water pressure. This allows you to easily brush between pleats and have water flow through at the same time.

Once you’ve removed the debris, soak the filter in a solution to remove built up oils and mineral deposits. Natural Chemistry’s Filter Perfect or In The Swim’s Granular Filter Cleaner are great options.

unicel-cartridge-guy-using-filter-perfectFilter Perfect is a highly concentrated, natural enzyme cleaning solution. Dilute 1 liter of filter perfect in a bucket of 5 to 10 gallons of water and soak the cartridge for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Remove the cartridge from the solution and rinse thoroughly. Granular filter cleaner has similar  instructions to Filter Perfect, add 1lb. of the filter cleaner to a bucket of water, soak for 24 hrs, then rinse.

Pro-Tip: Always allow the cartridge to dry after soaking before placing it back in to the filter tank. Keeping an extra cartridge on hand allows you to switch cartridges at cleaning time, instead of waiting for the filter cartridge to dry completely.

Pool & Spa Filter Cartridge Replacement

Most of our customers find that they need to replace their cartridge after about 12-15 cleanings, but a cartridges useful life may be longer or shorter depending on its performance and the demands placed on it. If you are noticing that you need to clean your cartridge about twice as often as you did when it was new (for example, cleaning it every 2 months instead of every 4 months) it’s time to consider a replacement. It is always a good idea to keep a record of the filter pressure and the date you last cleaned the cartridge; this will help you to quickly determine when it may need to be replaced down the road.

unicel-cartridge-guy-in-boxEven without a rise in filter pressure and increased cleanings, if you notice that the water stays cloudy or green despite proper chemical balance, or you notice that you have to run your filter much longer to achieve clear water, it could be time to replace your cartridge. Of course, try cleaning it first, but if the problem doesn’t clear up in a few days, the cartridge probably should be replaced.

If you develop very cloudy water or a bad algae bloom you may very well end up spending more on additional chemicals and electrical costs from running your system more than normal than you would spend purchasing a new filter cartridge.

Pro-Tip: Inspect your cartridge every time you clean it, looking for holes, cracks or tears. If you notice any rips, torn bands, or cracks in the end of the cartridge, it needs to be replaced.

In The Swim carries hundreds of replacement pool & spa cartridges. All you need to find a replacement cartridge on our site is the part number and/or the dimensions (length and width). As always, if you have any questions regarding how to care for your cartridge or how to find a replacement, give us a call at 1-800-288-7946!

Jackie Wolski
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

My thanks to Unicel for these great 3D images!

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