Recently, I came to the realization that I could no longer procrastinate a Sand Change for my 5-year old Hayward Sand Filter (S244T).
Are FilterBalls A Game-Changing Pool Product?
I’m usually quite skeptical, to the point of cynicism, and always hesitant to “experiment” with my pool in fear of creating more work for myself instead of practicing my cannonballs. After digging a little deeper though, I found some pretty impressive numbers and claims at FilterBalls.com.
First off, it’s going to be easier and less work the next time I open up my filter. At the time of reading that I had never changed the sand in a sand filter before (I’ll get to that…spoiler alert: it’s not fun) so these points mean much more to me now than they did a month ago.
I found FilterBalls to be super easy to manage, and it improved circulation and filtration, with lower filter pressure and higher flow rate.
• 100x lighter than sand filter media
• Just one pound of FilterBalls replaces 100 pounds of sand.
• Eliminate hauling and disposal of hundreds of pounds of sand.
Having just priced out how much it was going to cost to replace 300 lbs of sand for my sand filter. Mailing 300 lbs of anything is expensive, and I wasn’t thrilled about that either. So cost was a big selling point:
- FilterBalls cost less than other sand alternatives
- One 1-lb bag of FilterBalls replaces 100 lbs of sand
- Saves Big on shipping costs
Reading on, I also discovered that FilterBalls are recyclable, are can make my other equipment last longer (from running less), which in turn is going to save energy. My much better half is an environmental scientist (and an even bigger skeptic), and I was excited to show her how I was going to save the world one FilterBall at a time. Or at least save us a few bucks over last year’s robust summer electric bill.
- More complete backwashing for longer filter cycles
- Lower system pressure than sand
- Higher flow rates than sand
- Removes particles down to 10 microns
Like any savvy shopper I tracked down as many reviews on FilterBalls as possible. I found stellar reviews and a handful of reviews that made me take pause. FilterBalls coming out of the backwash hose after backwashing and FilterBalls flying through the plumbing through the jets into the pool didn’t really make sense to me. From the most logical of perspectives, FilterBalls are much larger than grains of sand. They are slightly smaller than a baseball. The only way that a FilterBall could find it’s way outside of your filter tank would be if the standpipe wasn’t properly attached.
3 Pounds Of FilterBalls, Please… Express Delivery
When the surprisingly small box arrived at my doorstep, I thought there had to be a mistake. For one, the box was so light it felt like it was empty, and it was even harder to imagine hauling 300 lbs of sand from my doorstep to my pool filter. I confused the heck out of the delivery guy by explaining to him how lucky he was because this box (as I tossed the box from one hand to the other) could’ve weighed 300 lbs! Now all I had to do was drain the filter, pull off the multiport valve, and scoop out the slimy sand from my filter tank. Ugh.
So, There’s No Easier Way To Do This, Huh?
In my 5 years of owning my sand filter I knew that this day would come. I dreaded it. I blew it off for a year. I blamed my pump for the poor water flow. I told myself the vacuuming suction was always this weak, that’s just the way it is. The pool was always kinda murky, never crystal clear. Those nights of marveling at my nearly invisible pool water were embellishments of my imagination.
I had almost done it all in the realm of pool maintenance, and I was ready as I was ever going to be to change my filter media for the first time…all greasy, milky, sewage-y, 300 lbs of wet filter sand. Ugh.
For the sake of science and for pool owners everywhere, I wanted to first benchmark my own flow rate and filter pressure, before changing from sand to FilterBALLS.
Using a Doppler Flow Meter shown here, and my existing pressure gauge on my Hayward S244T Pro Series the old filter sand was operating at:
- 20 psi
- 38.3 gpm
With the FilterBalls installed, replacing the filter sand, the readings were:
- 16 psi
- 42.9 gpm
A lower operating pressure with a higher flow! Not staggering numbers but to be fair, my Hayward Super Pump (1.5 HP) struggles with my small plumbing system. The FilterBalls have been reviewed as a perfect match for a Variable Speed Pump, and when working in tandem they have potential to deliver an even higher level of energy efficiency.
The FilterBalls website says that you can run the pump up to 50% less. Running my pump half the time but achieving better results would surely make me a loyal FilterBalls customer for life. Actually, scooping the rancid sand out of my filter tank for 1-1/2 hrs, scoop by slimy scoop was enough to make me a fan, but optimal clarity and minimal electricity would be the cannonball on top.
Less Chemical Usage, Smaller Electrical Bill
Okay, so I haven’t received my new electric bill this month yet. But it doesn’t take Nikola Tesla to do the math when you are running your pool pump 25 hours less a week. The routine before FilterBalls was to run the pump during the day, 8am – 6pm roughly, or 10 hrs. per day.
Now, my pump is running (most days) on my pump timer from 6-9am, and 6-9pm, a reduction of 40%, and running when the electricity costs less, off-peak. Our pool-guy editor (Hi, Davy), tells me that this is not enough filtering, 6 hrs per day, especially come August – but you should see how good the water looks after nearly 2 weeks of 6 hr days. We will see how well FilterBalls work overall, when I report my findings near the end of the season.
The FilterBalls Blu10 were officially in action at 12:30 pm on Saturday the 10th of June. By Monday night I was calling for my girlfriend to come out and see what a clear pool really looks like. She didn’t come out. But she appreciated my enthusiasm…I think.
Over the last 12 days I have added only my trusty enzyme Pool First Aid and a treatment of PhosFree, to combat an issue with some soil that washed into the pool, and I’ve shocked once. The pool looks the best it’s looked in years, and the pump (or filter?) is much quieter when it is operating, a significant noise reduction in fact.
In the past, I typically have to fight off cloudy water every other week or so. We’ll see how it goes through the summer, but so far things look great. Stand by for my follow-up report on FilterBalls at season’s end.
Where Do I See Myself Five Years From Now?
When I ask myself this question in regards to the inevitable day when these FilterBalls will need to be replaced by the next generation of FilterBalls, I can tell you much more easily and quite clearly – where I DON’T see myself:
- I don’t see myself slowly chaffing away my skin with sandy sludge full of who knows what type of bacteria
- I don’t see myself trying to salvage my laterals from tiny little grains of sand that have clogged the water flow for five years
- I won’t be careening a wheelbarrow filled with hundreds of lbs of wet sand (it’s way heavier wet!) throughout my yard
- I don’t see myself buying bottle after bottle of Sand Filter Cleaner in hopes of squeezing a little more life out of the sand
So, do FilterBalls work? The results have been great for me, but in all fairness to you, our loyal In the Swim Blog Reader and fellow pool owner, it’s only 12 days into this romance, but I am thoroughly enjoying the honeymoon.
However, at this early stage I can certainly vouch for this much: FilterBalls are easier to manage, increase your flow rates and lower your filter pressure and they cost less than DE, Cartridges, or other filter sand replacements. And so far, or at least until it gets really hot and not counting stormy days or heavy use when I run the pump longer, I’m reducing my daily energy use by about 40%.
And with the money I will saved from my significantly smaller electric bill (TBD) and less trips to the In The Swim Store for clarifier, I will buy this variable speed Superpump which will use even less energy, saving me more money and making the world a greener, better place. 🙂
Check back in a few months, to read how the rest of the summer turned out. Have you tried FilterBalls Blu10 in your sand filter? Leave a Reply below, we love to hear from our In the Swim Pool Community!
InTheSwim Staff Blogger