DE Filter cleaning nightmare for noobs

Nursenini

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Sep 22, 2015
2,122
Bixby, Ok
#1
Well, 3 hours later, hubby and I barely survived cleaning our DE filter for the first time. Pretty sure we almost got divorced (j/k).
We followed the tutorial on here to the letter.

We had a major problem right off the bat. Our "wonderful" PB placed the filter so close to the pumps that we cannot get the drain plug unscrewed. SMH They will be getting a call Monday morning.

So, I baled out the water and dirty DE that was left in the bottom of the filter, all but an inch or 2.

We disassembled the manifold and sprayed off the grids well. I inspected them and saw no damage or holes.

We reassembled it without too much difficulty. DEFINATELY a 2 person job, at least for me.

Lubed the O rings and the manifold pipe, put the grid assembly back in the case, put the top back on, reseated and tightened the clamp.

So far, so good, except the filter drain plug issue.

Mixed my 9lbs of DE into a slurry. Made sure the air relief valve was open. Turned the breaker back on and started the pump. When water started to come out the air valve we closed it, turned the pump off.

I remixed the DE slurry, turned the pump on high and poured the DE in the skimmer. Went back and reopened the air valve for a few seconds to make sure all the air was out, closed it, and now we should be golden.

Nope.

My previously beautiful sparkly CLEAR TFP water is now cloudy. Not a ton, but definately noticeable.

I want to cry.

What went wrong???

Will this filter out? Pump is still running on high to try to clear it.

I'm so done with the stress of this pool. I thought cleaning the filter would be a confidence builder but it has just caused more anxiety.
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
20,330
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
#2
You might have gotten some of the old sludge down a clean passage while bailing and scooping, since the grids were out at the time. As soon as the thing started flowing, it would be flushed out to the returns. Let it settle out and vacuum it up. If it doesn't clear up, then you get to disassemble it all again and see if there is a tear in a grid or if something wasn't seated right. Just out of curiosity, did you have a vent tube with a screen on the end of it? If so, did you remember to thread it up so the tube is at the top?
 
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Nursenini

Nursenini

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Sep 22, 2015
2,122
Bixby, Ok
#3
There was a white mesh covered tube at the top...I didn't read anything about what to do with that....it was upright when we put the lid on.

- - - Updated - - -

So, should I turn off the pump and just let it settle?
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
10,924
Bedford, TX
#4
N,

It is pretty normal, for me anyway, to have a little DE blow back into the pool.

As Richard says, it should clear up soon and will not have lasting effect on your water clarity.

I think you may have broken my record... It took me about an hour and a half to get the grids back together in the manifold the first time I cleaned a DE filter. I almost gave up, when like magic they all fell into place. Takes about 5 minutes now that I an used to it.. :p


edit... I would let the pump run and capture as much as possible and then robot or vacuum up what is left tomorrow..

Jim R.
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
20,330
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
#5
There was a white mesh covered tube at the top...I didn't read anything about what to do with that....it was upright when we put the lid on.

- - - Updated - - -

So, should I turn off the pump and just let it settle?
If it's run its usual schedule, yes.

Want to know my secret to vacuuming? Move the valves so you empty the spa into the pool. You can brush most stuff into the spa drain as the water gets low. Then reverse it when you connect the vacuum. I can get most of the pool vacuumed before water starts coming over the spillway. The advantage is: no crosscurrents from the pool returns or the spillway to stir things up while I'm vacuuming.
 
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Nursenini

Nursenini

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Sep 22, 2015
2,122
Bixby, Ok
#6
Thank you both both for your speedy replies!

N,

It is pretty normal, for me anyway, to have a little DE blow back into the pool.

As Richard says, it should clear up soon and will not have lasting effect on your water clarity.

I think you may have broken my record... It took me about an hour and a half to get the grids back together in the manifold the first time I cleaned a DE filter. I almost gave up, when like magic they all fell into place. Takes about 5 minutes now that I an used to it.. :p


edit... I would let the pump run and capture as much as possible and then robot or vacuum up what is left tomorrow..

Jim R.
Jim, this gives me hope and settles my anxiety somewhat.


Our big issue (fight) was over whether or not to disassemble the manager fold or just hose off what we could. I wanted the full disassemble, hubby just to anted to hose off what we could in like get of our drain situation and do a full disassemble once we could open the drain. We ended up doing the full disassemble. On one hand, it was still filthy where the hose wouldn't reach but, on the other hand, maybe we wouldn't have this issue if we had just done what hubby wanted. This caused a bit of a delay ;)
It all still took longer than I expected.

If it's run its usual schedule, yes.

Want to know my secret to vacuuming? Move the valves so you empty the spa into the pool. You can brush most stuff into the spa drain as the water gets low. Then reverse it when you connect the vacuum. I can get most of the pool vacuumed before water starts coming over the spillway. The advantage is: no crosscurrents from the pool returns or the spillway to stir things up while I'm vacuuming.
We usually run most of the day on medium speed and had it off for a few hours while we monkey'd with the filter.

Those are great vacuuming tips!

Confession- I have only vacuumed the pool twice. Since getting Wall-E, he does all the cleaning now.
Is it ok if I just run him after I shut the filter off and let thing settle? His fine filters are great at trapping all this fine Oklahoma dirt.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,689
Tucson, AZ
#7
Denise,

Good Job!! I mean it, you tackled a hard part of DE filters. Here's a couple of suggestions -

1. Next time, backwash the filter first for a few minutes and you'll expel most of the DE in the filter body.

2. Leave the backwash valve in backwash when you open the air relief valve before removing the lid. The water will flow out of the filter into the backwash line and completely drain almost the entire filter body of water.

3. When recharging, it's ok to just turn the pump on and run it while you mix the slurry up. You're not going to damage the grids by running it for a few short minutes without any DE. With that said, never turn it on and off like that. Just run the pump (slow speed is fine) and add your DE to the skimmer (SLOWLY). Then let the pump run for 24 hours...do not turn it off.

It is totally normal to get a little DE shooting back from the returns on recharge. The DE gets into the return path through the grids and the air relief assembly. Until the DE fully coats the grids, the system will take time to get back to normal. After the pump is turned back on, brush the pool a lot to mix up any DE that may be there. It will eventually get into the pump.

I would not run your robot. It's just going to get plugged up with DE and the filter screens in them are not designed to work with DE. Just pull it out and rinse it off.

Use a manual vacuum head to clean the bottom of the pool and help suck up any DE around.

Let us know how it goes.
 

Thinkly

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2009
299
#8
Leave everything running overnight, have a few cocktails and see what it looks like in the morning.

It's usually pretty easy to tell if the filter is putting DE back into the pool. You can hold a sock over one of the returns for awhile for example.

Or just follow my above advice. You might be pleasantly surprised in the morning. Or maybe not but either way I doubt it is much of an issue.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Nursenini

Nursenini

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Sep 22, 2015
2,122
Bixby, Ok
#9
Update-
DE was cleared up by morning. Before I could stop him, hubby put the robot in the pool. I was at work and he was trying to help. Wall-E's filters cleaned up well, so it looks like there was no harm done.

Matt, the on/off/on of the Filter are the exact steps from the DE cleaning tutorial here on TFP...maybe it needs to be reviewed?? I just followed the instructions step by step. Hope I didn't hurt my pump motor...

Pool company is sending someone out on Monday to see what they need to do to enable us to open the filter drain plug. To me it looks like they need to move the filter over and shorten the distance between the filter and the heater.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,689
Tucson, AZ
#10
Nah, you didn't hurt the pump...I just think it's a waste of time. Plus, with my variable speed IntelliFlo, if you turn it off and then back on, it goes into high-speed priming mode for 20 secs. Therefore, I'd rather just turn the pump on once and be done with it. You're really not going to damage anything if you run it for a few seconds with no DE. If the filter were truly that fragile, then I'd say they did a poor job engineering the filter. And, as proof, I have been doing it my for years with no ill effect on the filter whatsoever.

Whatever you feel comfortable with....up to you. Good job tackling the filter cleaning and figuring out that the drain plug was blocked by a bad install. They should definitely move the filter as it's really not that much work.

As for Wall-E, poor little guy was probably choking up on all that DE...I'm sure the filter on it is fine.
 

foobert

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 19, 2013
143
Bay Area, CA
#11
Pool company is sending someone out on Monday to see what they need to do to enable us to open the filter drain plug. To me it looks like they need to move the filter over and shorten the distance between the filter and the heater.
When I had my pool re-plumbed, I did a full dimensionally accurate 3D model of how I wanted the pump pad laid out and plumbed. The pool company literally laughed at me. Whatever -- the layout sucked before, and I'm the one that has to deal with it for the rest my time at this property. The worker that actually did the plumbing was cool about it and nailed the layout, with few minor tweaks to the plumbing routing to make his assembly easier without compromising the spirit of what I wanted.

It's infuriating to me me when work is done with no thought to make things usefully accessible.
 

ctrav

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Apr 23, 2017
2,398
Northlake TX
#12
Hello...I am new to the site and considering a DE filter. If you had it to do over would you still choose a DE filter...Thanks and when you can would you take a look at my post for new pool in Northlake....
 

kevreh

In The Industry
Jun 2, 2007
412
Annandale, VA
#13
Hello...I am new to the site and considering a DE filter. If you had it to do over would you still choose a DE filter...Thanks and when you can would you take a look at my post for new pool in Northlake....
Ah, that's easy. No, I would never go with a DE filter again. Many folks here are happy with sand filters, and better yet (more expensive) cartridge filters. DE is too fussy and messy to deal with, IMHO.
 
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Nursenini

Nursenini

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Sep 22, 2015
2,122
Bixby, Ok
#14
Hello...I am new to the site and considering a DE filter. If you had it to do over would you still choose a DE filter...Thanks and when you can would you take a look at my post for new pool in Northlake....
Hi! Welcome to TFP!!! This is the best place with the very best people!!

This is my first pool, so no prior experience. I did a lot of research, asked a lot of questions, and settled on the DE in spite of my PB's objections. I think, as a nurse, I have a heightened awareness and caution regarding bacteria, so the finer filtration was appealing to me. Having backwashed a couple of times plus doing one breakdown cleaning, I didn't find it horrible. The breakdown is something that I need my husband's help with solely due to his strength and my lack of it as well as being short. Otherwise, I could/would just do it myself.
When we eventually need to replace the filter, as of right now, I wouldn't choose anything else.
With that said, Kim and others here LOVE their sand filters and wouldn't change it. Many add a little DE to the sand to get a better polish on their water.
I also have a good friend who had an above ground pool with a sand filter. It was easy and she loved it. She then sold her home and bought a house with an existing unground pool with a cartridge filter. She absolutely HATES the filter. Her plan had been to replace it with a sand filter. However, after researching sand vs DE, she has now decided to replace her cartridge with a DE filter.
Just do your research, know what you're getting into in terms of maintenance. The sand is easiest, but in my opinion, the DE is not too bad, just a bit messy. :)

I'll look for your thread!

Nah, you didn't hurt the pump...I just think it's a waste of time. Plus, with my variable speed IntelliFlo, if you turn it off and then back on, it goes into high-speed priming mode for 20 secs. Therefore, I'd rather just turn the pump on once and be done with it. You're really not going to damage anything if you run it for a few seconds with no DE. If the filter were truly that fragile, then I'd say they did a poor job engineering the filter. And, as proof, I have been doing it my for years with no ill effect on the filter whatsoever.

Whatever you feel comfortable with....up to you. Good job tackling the filter cleaning and figuring out that the drain plug was blocked by a bad install. They should definitely move the filter as it's really not that much work.

As for Wall-E, poor little guy was probably choking up on all that DE...I'm sure the filter on it is fine.
Thanks again, Matt! You always make me feel better!

They came out yesterday and did exactly what I thought needed to be done. Problem solved. We can now unscrew the plug!
 

foobert

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 19, 2013
143
Bay Area, CA
#15
Huh. I guess you don't know how green the grass is till you really get on the other side of the fence. I've only ever had a DE filter; I don't find it to be terribly fussy at all. The biggest issue was not having a hard-line plumbed for the backwash. Finally dug the trench and installed one. It's now cheep and easy to maintain for regular servicing. It certainly keeps the water pretty.

The real advantage I see to a cartridge filter is the substantially lower back-pressure (head) it puts into the pumping system. But, having to disassemble to wash the filter every time it's dirty feels just as messy as the (much) less frequent DE filter deep-clean.