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Thread: Sand or cartridge filter?

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    Sand or cartridge filter?

    We had an Intex 1500 gph sand filter & pump, (one it came with) and got rid of it and got a better Intex 2500 gph pump with a cartridge filter. Should we have stuck with the smaller pump and sand filter. Which do you prefer sand or cartridge? Friends who are pool cleaners said they don't like sand and convinced me to get cartridge. Were they right? I see many of you have sand filters. Thank you.
    Intex 9X18x52 Ultra Frame Pool, 5000 gals, Saltron Retro Saltwater Generator, Hayward Power Flow Matrix 1 1/2 hp pump, Xstream 150 sq/ft filter

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    Charlie_R's Avatar
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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    It comes down to personal preference, actually.

    I am currently using cartridge.

    There are many that like the sand, and have gone with the largest Intex currently offers, the 2650 gph. If you decide to go that route, there are actually two sizes of that one. A 14" and a 16".

    There was for a while a 4000 gph cartridge available, I don't know if it will be offered again.
    15'x48" 4500 gallon Intex pool, buried 1.5 ft. Pac-Fab Dynamo 3/4 hp pump. Hayward S180T sand filter, bought used. Taylor K-2006 test kit. Rocket mass heater based wood fired pool heater.

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    Welcome to tfp, vicsin

    There are cartridge filters which are fine, and then there are intex cartridge filters which tend to be problematic. The general experience on this board is intex sand filters are much better than intex cartridge filters. This does not apply to other brands however.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Charlie_R's Avatar
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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    What Linen says is true. However, you do not have to stay with Intex. If you want to spend a bit of $$, you can get just about any system and adapt the inlet and return to the Intex style of pool wall fittings. See here for details.
    15'x48" 4500 gallon Intex pool, buried 1.5 ft. Pac-Fab Dynamo 3/4 hp pump. Hayward S180T sand filter, bought used. Taylor K-2006 test kit. Rocket mass heater based wood fired pool heater.

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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    I switched from an Intex cartridge to the Intex sand 2650 and have had great results. I couldn't be happier with the upgrade.

    What was the issue with your original sand filter?
    18'X48" Intex Easy Set, 2650 GPH Intex sand filter, Intex SWCG, Intex deluxe skimmer

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    bobodaclown's Avatar
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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    They both have pros and cons. Why not keep what you have?
    17K Kidney Shaped Pool Concrete (Diamond Bright) Pool, 3/4 hp 2 speed 115V Sta-rite Duraglas PEA5D-180L/P2R5D-181L (Impeller C105-92PS Diffuser C1-216P), 1.5 piping, Pentair CC100 Filter , Heat Siphon 100K BTU Heat Pump Pool Heater, Flow meter Blue White Flowmeter Model No. F-30150P, Hayward Astrolight SP0581N, SWCG CalimarTitanium Edition TE45 , Dolphin Nautilus Plus with CleverClean, Lakeland Florida

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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    Original pump was 1500 gph. Wanted To go to 2500 and all I saw had the cartridge. Also pool cleaner friend said that cartridge was easier. Beginning to think that sand might do a better Job though. Thx?
    Intex 9X18x52 Ultra Frame Pool, 5000 gals, Saltron Retro Saltwater Generator, Hayward Power Flow Matrix 1 1/2 hp pump, Xstream 150 sq/ft filter

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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    I have the Intex 2650 pump with the cartridge filter. Dump Intex and get a Unicell filter instead. Much, much better.....I have 3 and rotate them through the pump......I normally get new ones every year. I promise you that you will not be disappointed with Unicell cartridge filters. You will continue to be disappointed with Intex carts....

    Bob E.

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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    Thx. I'll check them out.
    Intex 9X18x52 Ultra Frame Pool, 5000 gals, Saltron Retro Saltwater Generator, Hayward Power Flow Matrix 1 1/2 hp pump, Xstream 150 sq/ft filter

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    bobodaclown's Avatar
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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    I have a cartridge filter (100 sq ft) and it gets cleaned every 6 weeks or so, about a 15 minute job. I also have a SWCG and don't like the idea of back-flushing perfectly good water down the driveway. They (sand/cartridge filters) both do a good job.

    The important thing is to test, maintain proper chlorine level relative to CYA level, filter, and brush your pool. After that it's preference in filter medium and such.
    17K Kidney Shaped Pool Concrete (Diamond Bright) Pool, 3/4 hp 2 speed 115V Sta-rite Duraglas PEA5D-180L/P2R5D-181L (Impeller C105-92PS Diffuser C1-216P), 1.5 piping, Pentair CC100 Filter , Heat Siphon 100K BTU Heat Pump Pool Heater, Flow meter Blue White Flowmeter Model No. F-30150P, Hayward Astrolight SP0581N, SWCG CalimarTitanium Edition TE45 , Dolphin Nautilus Plus with CleverClean, Lakeland Florida

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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    I did not like the Intex cartridge system even with the upgraded cartridges. While they did provide improved filtering vs the Intex cartridges, the maintenance was not an enjoyable way to spend the summer. With the improved filtering comes a faster decline in flow and frequent cleaning / changing filters.

    I fought the Intex cartridge filter system for 1-1/2 summers convinced that it was adequate and the maintenance wasn't that bad. I finally took the plunge and upgraded to the Intex 2650 sand filter for my 18x48 Easy Set. I only wish I had done it sooner. I can't believe how much better my pool ownwership experience has been since.

    I set my new filter up the first week of July. I took my pool down last weekend. I did not have to do any maintenance backwash in between. The flow did not have any significant degrade over the 2+ months, and the pressure did not rise to the point requiring backwash. The water quality is better than it has ever been and I've always got great flow for vacuuming.

    Based on my experience unless cleaning, soaking, dealing with declining flow, and changing filters is the way you like to spend your time; abandon the Intex cartridge system.
    18'X48" Intex Easy Set, 2650 GPH Intex sand filter, Intex SWCG, Intex deluxe skimmer

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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by bobodaclown
    I have a cartridge filter (100 sq ft) and it gets cleaned every 6 weeks or so, about a 15 minute job. I also have a SWCG and don't like the idea of back-flushing perfectly good water down the driveway. They (sand/cartridge filters) both do a good job.

    The important thing is to test, maintain proper chlorine level relative to CYA level, filter, and brush your pool. After that it's preference in filter medium and such.
    I use a SWCG also. One of the reasons I took so long to switch to the Intex sand filter was because I was worried about backwashing. But it looks like that is going to be a non issue in my case. Based on my experience this summer it looks like my backwashing should be few and far in between. Since I did set it up mid season, I did an intial backwash to clean the sand. I just calculated my water loss based on the time and approximate flow rate and added salt and CYA accordingly when I topped off the water. I could have tested to be more exact, but it worked fine for me. For me a very infrequent water chemistry adjustment ends up being better than dealing with the Intex cartridge system.

    I did consider going to a Pentair or Hayward cartridge system because I was worried about the back washing. But I didn't want to mess with adapting the plumbing.

    vicsin, I'm still curious what the issue was with your Intex sand filter? If it was flow or frequency of back washing the larger Intex sand filter would obviously improve both of those.
    18'X48" Intex Easy Set, 2650 GPH Intex sand filter, Intex SWCG, Intex deluxe skimmer

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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    A couple have asked what was my issue with the Intex sand filter. I'll answer again and invite any comments. The sandfilter and pump that came with my pool had the 1000 cfm pump. We wanted to upgrade to the 2500 cfm pump and they only came with cartridges. Also I had a long time pool cleaner friend tell me how antiquated sand filters were. He couldn't believe they still were around. Of course his perspective was one of convenience. He didn't have time to back flush and refill.
    I've read some of you like the 2650 cfm sand filter pump from Intex but on Amazon lots of people had issues with the pump failing way too soon. Seems like it could be a quality control issue, almost like a **** shoot. Most people got great pumps but many were disappointed, too many for me to take a chance. Anyone have any similar experiences? I'm begining to think though, that sand filters have the potential to filter better & backflushing isn't a big deal. Thanks for asking.
    Intex 9X18x52 Ultra Frame Pool, 5000 gals, Saltron Retro Saltwater Generator, Hayward Power Flow Matrix 1 1/2 hp pump, Xstream 150 sq/ft filter

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by bobodaclown
    I also have a SWCG and don't like the idea of back-flushing perfectly good water down the driveway.
    This really isn't an issue for properly sized sand or DE filter when properly maintaining pool chemistry. For example, my filter is 2.2 sq. ft. which is right at the minimum recommended for my 11000 gallon pool (recommend is 2.1). On average, I backwash maybe 7 times a season. I lose about 50 gallons backwashing each time for a total of ~350 gallons for the season. So lets be conservative and say I backwash 10 times a season that would be 500 gallons. 500/11000= ~5%...not enough to be concerned with, it is only 20 lbs of salt for the season ($2 for me).

    Bottom line for most swg pools, filter type does not matter.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    Thx for the info. Like I said I'm begining to think that sand filters will filter better and that back-flushing is no big deal. How do you know what size filter to get, say for a 4500 gallon pool. Any particular brand you lik? Thx.
    Intex 9X18x52 Ultra Frame Pool, 5000 gals, Saltron Retro Saltwater Generator, Hayward Power Flow Matrix 1 1/2 hp pump, Xstream 150 sq/ft filter

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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    Intex 2650 GPH 16" sand filter.

    It comes with a two year warranty, and can typically be purchased for well under $200 delivered. For me I wouldn't consider that too much of a ****shoot.
    18'X48" Intex Easy Set, 2650 GPH Intex sand filter, Intex SWCG, Intex deluxe skimmer

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    Even the 14" is plenty big for a 4500 gallon pool.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by bobodaclown
    They (sand/cartridge filters) both do a good job.
    Not trying to pick on you bobo, but the op was asking specifically about the Intex cartridge system and not about cartridges in general. Although your response is true about filters in general, it prompted me to include some details as to why the intex cartridge systems tend to perform so poorly.

    Intex cartridge systems tend to perform very poorly due to:

    • 1. Being grossly undersized at 5 sq.ft. (A type) and 15 sq. ft.( B type, the one the op has) for the cartridge. According to tfp guidelines, a 5 sq. ft. filter would be sized correcly for pools up to ~330 gallons, and the 15 sq. ft. filter would be sized correctly for pools up to ~1000 gallons.
      2. Pump flow rate too high for filter size. For example the ops filter system is 2500 gph which is equal to ~42 gpm. That equates to 42/15 = 2.8 gpm/sq.ft. which is much higher than the NSF maximum for public pools of 0.375 gpm/sq.ft. (pentair specs for residential is a maximum of 1 gpm/sq.ft. and a maximum recommended flow rate of 0.5 gpm/sq.ft). Now in reality, I would guess this pump does not move as much water as speced, but I would think it still moves much more than the 1 gpm/sq.ft. Even the intex 530 gph (smallest intex cartridge filter system that I am aware of) is too large for the A type filter at 1.8 gpm/sq.ft.
      3. Poor filter media (though as Charlie_R mentions above, other manufacturers filters may help this, but having high flow rate mentioned may be even more problematic then if these alternatives filter to lower particle size). It could be that if intex sized there pumps appropriately, then there filter media would work better. However, it appears that intex assumes their filters are one time use, so I would think one should not expect too much from them.


    In addition, the units that are built with the motor directly below the filter (not the ops version) are suction side filters which can make things even worse.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    Thx for the info. Have any suggestions for the filter-pump combo for my Intex oval 4500 gallon pool?
    Intex 9X18x52 Ultra Frame Pool, 5000 gals, Saltron Retro Saltwater Generator, Hayward Power Flow Matrix 1 1/2 hp pump, Xstream 150 sq/ft filter

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Sand or cartridge filter?

    As jbliz said, the sand filter you had was a good fit (much better than the 2500 intex cart filter for reasons I described above). Was there a reason you changed other than the comment from the "pool cleaners"?
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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