How To Clean A Pool Filter and Pump + How Often

Knowing how to clean a pool pump is an extremely important part of proper pool maintenance. Luckily, cleaning any above-ground or inground pool pump is a piece of cake — as long as you have enough time and the right equipment.

You should clean your pool pump once every month or when the pressure gauge reads 10 psi more than normal operating pressure. The proper way to clean a pool pump varies with the type of filter, but all involve removing the filter and giving it a good wash. Make sure you clean the pump basket as well. 

There are several signs of a dirty pool pump and filter, including a decrease in the pressure of the water coming out of the return jets and the pump not filling up properly. Let’s look at how often you should clean your pool pump before moving on to the steps you can follow to clean your pump filter and basket. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Pool Pump And Filter?

Unscrewing electric water pump

It’s best to clean your pool pump at least once every month. A good sign of a dirty filter is a pressure gauge that reads 10 psi more than the baseline operating level. Cloudy water is also a good indication of a pump and filter that need a good, thorough cleaning. 

However, keep in mind that the answer to this question depends on your pump, filter, and the surrounding environment. For instance, if your pool is surrounded by heavy tree cover, then you may need to clean the pump more frequently.

How to Clean Your Filter and Pump Basket

As we mentioned, the right filter cleaning method varies with each filter type. Here’s how you can clean all three filter types:

Cartridge Filter

  1. Switch off the pool pump and depressurize your filter’s tank.
  2. Remove the cartridge located in the filter tank by removing all the clamps holding your filter together.
  3. Wash and rinse the cartridge with a garden hose (preferably one with a spray nozzle) and make sure you clean between the pleats.
  4. If the cartridge filter is extremely dirty, soak it in a strong filter cleaning solution (on Amazon) overnight.
  5. Put the filter cartridge back in place and re-pressurize the filter tank. 

Sand Filter

  1. Backwash the sand filter.
  2. Switch off the pool pump and then move the valve to the “Filter” position.
  3. Lift the pump lid and add a sand filter cleaner to the strainer basket.
  4. Replace your pool pump’s lid.
  5. Switch on the pump for around 15 seconds or just until the cleaner moves from the pool pump to the filter.
  6. Switch off the pool pump and keep it off overnight or for at least eight hours.
  7. Backwash the sand filter for around three to five minutes again to get rid of the dirt and debris build-up dislodged by the sand filter cleaner.
  8. Switch the pump and filter back on. 

D.E. Filter

  1. Backwash and drain your pool’s D.E. filter.
  2. Remove all the clamps holding the filter system together.
  3. Take out the filter manifold from the filter tank and remove all the fingers or grids.
  4. Soak or rinse the filter fingers and grids.
  5. If the filter manifold is extremely dirty, soak it in a muriatic acid solution overnight.
  6. Use a garden hose to rinse the filter tank and then place the manifold back into the tank.
  7. Replace all the clamps holding the filter system together.
  8. Add a D.E. powder solution into the skimmer.
  9. Run the pump for around 30 minutes to ensure proper D.E. distribution.

Cleaning the Pool Pump Basket

Swimming pool equipment installation

Cleaning the pump and skimmer baskets at least once every week can help increase the life of your pump and the seals inside it. Here’s what you need to do:   

  1. Switch off the pool pump and heater. Make sure you wait five to ten minutes after turning off the heater to turn off the pump.
  2. Close the main drain and skimmer valves.
  3. If your pump is located below your pool’s water level, move the filter valve to the “closed” position.
  4. Remove the pump lid. 
  5. Wash the pump basket with a garden hose. It’s better to allow all the contents of the basket to dry completely before turning on the hose.
  6. Check the pump basket for any cracks or other signs of damage. Replace the basket if necessary.
  7. Replace the basket. You may even need to twist and lock it in place, but make sure you don’t over-tighten it.
  8. Check the pump lid and o-ring for any cracks or other damages. Lubricate the lid o-ring with o-ring lubricant (on Amazon) or petroleum jelly if it looks dry.
  9. Install the o-ring and pump lids, but make sure you don’t over-tighten them.
  10. Turn the filter valve to the “filter” position.
  11. Completely open the filter’s air relief valve and the pool’s main drain valve.
  12. Switch on the pool pump.
  13. Once the pump catches a prime, open all the skimmer valves one by one.
  14. Close the air relief valve once it releases a steady stream of water.
  15. Switch on the filter and heater. 

Cleaning the Pump Skimmer Basket 

  1. Switch off the pool pump.
  2. Remove the skimmer lid.
  3. Lift out the skimmer basket and remove all its contents.
  4. Replace the basket.
  5. Install the skimmer lid and turn on the pump. 

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