Best Above Ground Pool Filters

A pool filter is an important resource, and its as important as the kidney would be for the human body. We know, even if it sounds unusual, the metaphor hits the nail on the head! Also, even if chlorine and sanitizers work well to kill contaminants, the filter is also an equally useful resource. The main issues associated with failing to use a swimming pool filter include cloudy water, debris accumulation issues and more. As such, this type of water is not suitable for swimming or exposure to people, especially those that have sensitive skin.

So how do you choose a good sand filter for above pool ground? Well, since it involves your health, cost should be at the least of your worries at this point. You want a filter that will capture contaminants that are easy to clean and maintain, and can last for several seasons. Making good choices is crucial for the functionality of your pool and this guide should help.

Getting Started With Above Ground Filters

Above ground pool filters are generally the unsung hero when it comes enjoying a hot afternoon of leisure for anyone with an above ground pool. An above-ground filter can work every day to trap various types of dirt, including germs, bacteria, pollen, dust, dirt, and more. These are contaminants that might easily find their way to your pool. Thus, you should know that above ground pool filters have the same technologies as in-ground pool filters. That said, they are only available in a small package, and with a reasonable price point.

Types of Above Ground Pool Filters

  • Diatomaceous earth (D.E) – these are types of filters that can eliminate small particles that average between 2-4 microns. It’s a filter you install through the use of a tool known as a skimmer. The skimmer has the role of coating the filter grids and perflex tubes. Every 3-6 weeks, you will have to rest the filter cake by using the easy to use bump handle. You may also have to repeat this process once or twice per season, drain the tank and flush it with fresh DE powder. More so, above ground pool, DE filters have a common line of Hayward filters.

  • Cartridge filters – get a pleated cartridge, and use it to filter out particles that average at 10-20 microns. The good thing is that these types are convenient and simple to maintain using DIY techniques. They also have the lowest resistance levels of all filter types you will find on the market. You can clean the filter after four weeks by using a clean hosing technique.

  • Sand filters – for above ground pools consist of graded pool filter sand, which can trap particles with average sizes of 18-30 microns. Also, the sand filters are simple to operate, and you can clean them through backwashing techniques every three weeks. The above-ground filters might include the VL series, smaller Intex, and more.

Sand Filter for Above Ground Pool FAQ

Q. What is the longevity of pool filters?

A. While an above pool filter has a long lifespan, the filter media and its other internal components might soon get damaged. More so, DE filters or tubes have the longest lifespans that might average at ten years or more. The cartridge filters might last up to three seasons, while the sand filters might last for years. Various factors come into play in the longevity of a swimming pool filter such as the size of the pool, and the level of water maintenance.

Q. What is the right size of a pool filter?

A. A large pool filter has several benefits over the conventional filter you will find in most pools. These include faster prevention and cleanup of compromised water, and a filter that offers longevity. When buying a pool filter system, you should ensure that you go for one that can filter the water in your pool. Go for the largest size within your budget – yes, you can still save when buying for large pools!

Q. How do you install an above ground filter?

A. When buying an above filter, you should note that it comes with several components. These include a base, adapters, hardware, and more. When integrating

Above Ground Pool Filter Installation

When getting a complete above ground and pump filter, consider getting one with a suitable installation system. These include hoses, hardware, adapters and the base. When joining a separately purchased filter and pump, consider getting the correct installation kit. You will easily find these connectors on various markets online. Once the process is complete, integrate the return and suction lines. Next, add some water to the pump, and then connect it to a grounded outlet for convenient circulation.

How Sand Filters Work

how sand filters work

Most filtrations systems in pools work in specific ways. At this point, the pump sucks in water which travels through the skimmers. Then, the water travels to a large filtration tank that is packed with sand for the purification to start.

Every grain of sand is abrasive on all sides. To test this theory, you should get a microscope, and you will notice the sand has several rough edges all around. Thus, this is how it captures contaminants and debris that move through the filter.

Over time, exposure to contaminants, debris and more causes the sand to wear down, and rough edges disappear due to erosion.. Finally, the sand then becomes smooth and won’t be able to capture any debris.

At the same time, particles might also get trapped in the sand and might accumulate over the life of the filter. It’s a backup technique for when the sand starts to smoothen out, which can compromise the quality of water. Eventually, such an issue will compromise the flow of water through the filter, which may compromise the efficiency of the filter.

The filter should have a filter on the side to inform you of any increase in internal temperature, a sign to clean the filter. Using the backwash technique will reverse the flow of water, which will, in turn, flush all the debris to waste.

Since the silica will trap particles that average at 20 microns or larger, you have to ensure the swimming pool chemistry has to be excellent. If your pool does not have sufficient sanitizer to kill tiny bacteria, a sand filter won’t remove them either. Thus, the debris and dirt might float around in the pool.

Sand Filter Alternatives

While #20 silica is the conventional media in sand filters, you can enhance the efficiency of the system with the right products. You add the powder once you complete the backwash process, or replace the sand. Also, you can completely replace the silica with either one of these two options:

Cartridge Filters

While they are typically more costly than sand filters, cartridge filters are simple to maintain. More so, they are more effective because, especially if you are going to use them in a small pool. Cartridges are energy-efficient and affordable. Over time, the contaminants may accumulate, and the filter might require cleaning. Instead of backwashing, an easier solution would be to just remove the cartridge from the tank. Then, you can spray it with a hose to help dirt and debris conveniently.

At some point, consider spraying down the filter with a cleaner, and then soak the filter regularly in some muriatic acid. Even if this is a physically demanding procedure, you will waste much less water.

Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) Filters

While it’s the most expensive and requires lots of maintenance, it can filter out particles as small as 5 microns in size.

D.E filter tanks have grids or “fingers,” which are covered using a unique white powder. Usually, the powder is manufactured using the crushed remains of minute organisms referred to as diatoms. While D.E and sand filters vary significantly, the fossils in D.E also consist of silica. It’s a powdery substance, which works well for pest control, toothpastes and cosmetics. More so, the D.E made for pool filters are also heat treated to function as filtration media. Thus, avoid sprinkling pest control powder in your pool when you don’t have D.E.


Zeosand it’s made using a mineral referred to as zeolite. You need half as much, as you would with a conventional swimming pool filter sand. Zeosand is unique because of its crystal-like structure, which is ideal for trapping contaminants. Thus, it works well to improve the clarity of the water and might require a relatively small amount of backwash. Also, Zeosand lasts for a long duration, so it has a lifespan which is similar to silica.

Filter Glass 

This refers to a finely crushed and recycled glass. That said, don’t worry about the cuts – because it has a smooth surface area. Since the glass has a negative electrical charge, it will attract positive electrical particles during the filtrations process. The common particles in this category include iron and manganese. You can even use 20% less filter glass as compared to silica, because it’s efficient and can remove particles as small as 4 microns.Furthermore, the filter can also last well over three times longer than the conventional pool sand filter.

Backwash or Bump Cleaning

Similar to sand filters, D.E filters consist of pressure gauges which you can use to check for the right time to perform maintenance procedures. Usually, you can backwash D.E filters just as in the same way as sand filters. Some D.E filters even have unique features such as convenient bump handles. These work to lock the D.E off the grids and fingers for convenient use.

Whether you prefer to backwash or bump the filter, you will have to add some D.E powder after each cleaning session. Remember that it can be challenging to know the specific amount required, so you must disassemble and clean the filter each year.

How to Add New D.E. to the Filter

  1. Once you have cleaned the filter, instead of adding D.E powder to the grids directly, you will achieve better coverage if you can use it in the skimmer of the pool.

  2. Then, mix the D.E with adequate water to produce a slurry, which will, in turn, produce a thin and creamy solution.

  3. Ensure you keep the pool pump running.

  4. The next step is to add the solution the skimmer directly slowly

  5. As the D.E travels through the filter, it will finally move through the grills. Leave the pool undisturbed for a few hours to ensure the product mixes as required. Thus, you may have to perform this process in the evening or run the pump all through the night.

Illegal Backwashing

Ilegal backwashing is among some of the major complications that affect water pumps usage. You may have specific regulations that dictate the methods you can use to dispose of D.E

Rinsing D.E from the grids can cause the powder to accumulate over time, which in turn creates a concrete-like residue. The residue will, in turn, clog storm drains, and lead to the suffocation of fish eggs. When it comes to disposing of the D.E filter, it’s best to use a disposable container because it seals shut and won’t be used again. Confirm with local authorities for specific information, to ensure you don’t get a fine. More so, check to confirm that you don’t compromise the environment.

Cancer Risk and its Link to D.E Filters

While D.E is a common carcinogen, it has only shown it causes cancer in mice when inhaled in the long term perspective. When using such appliances, it’s best to practice the correct safety techniques. Using a chemical mask at this point would be useful to prevent any health hazards to your breathing system. Also, ensure you keep pets and children away from the area you are using D.E powder, as well as the storage area. Remember to clean up spilled powder as well.

How to Troubleshoot A Sand Filter for Above Pool 

Since it’s a resource that plays a major role in cleaning your pool, ensure you keep the filter in good condition at all times. Filters can be prone to various issues, and being able to recognize them on time is crucial in the troubleshooting process. Here is a list of the common sand filter issues you might come across:

Leakage Issues

Have you noticed or heard the sound of water drips around the filter? Or, have you noticed any small puddles of water below the water pump? If this is the case, then the pump has a leakage.

A leak in the filter won’t lead to a significant drop in the level of your pool water. That said, it’s crucial to identify and repair the complication before it progresses.

The first step is to find the cause of the leakage in the system. Evaluate the filter tank to determine if it has holes. If you come across one, you can seal it to avoid any further damage to the pump. Also, be prepared to replace the tank, as a patch likely won’t offer longevity. If you have a split tank filter, evaluate all sections to ensure it’s free from damage. Detach the band, and evaluate the O-ring for tear and debris. If it’s worn out, you may have to replace it. Using a gasket lubricant is imperative to ensure the ring stays in the right position and well hydrated.

Cycle Problems in Above Ground Pools

For those who have pool filters that seem to function in short cycles, and you notice this issue even when the pool is undisturbed, then this might be indicative of a flow rate problem.

The likely issue at this point would be that the flow rate is excessive, which means that the pool pump might be too strong for the filter. It might also mean that the filter is not large enough for the pool.

If you have the correct filter, then consider performing a simple backwashing process to clean it up. When backwashing, you may have to repeat the process until the water is no longer cloudy. The process might take a few minutes to complete.

In some cases, filters function in short cycles, while algae as well as debris might lead to clogging issues. Thus, clean the pool filter thoroughly, and consider replacing it if it’s damaged.

When You Notice Filter Material in The Pool

You are likely to come across filter material at some point in the pool, regardless of your chosen type of filter. That said, if you notice it even when it is not backwashed, then there might be a filter problem.

The first step is to evaluate the bolts that hold the filter in position. If the bolts are loose, this can let the particles escape back to the pool. If they are not, then check for other complications.

For those who have a sand filter, components such as the standpipe and later filter may be compromised, usually due to wear and tear. The solution at this point is to perform a replacement. Even more, if it’s a D.E filter, then it might even have a tear on the fabric or cracks around the manifold – which are major issues. Again, if this is the issue, you may have to get the manifold replaced.

Water Pressure Complications

Evaluating the pressure gauge should be part of the pool maintenance procedures. Complications with water pressure can compromise the performance of your pool filter.

  1. A blockage anywhere on the filter might easily compromise the pressure in the filtration system. Plus, if the pressure is too high, then ensure you check all sections of the filter for the blockage.

  2. Ensure you check the filter system thoroughly to determine the presence of clogs, and clean it if required. If the pump and the filter are clean, evaluate the return valve to ensure it’s still in good condition. In this case, it should be easy to open. Then, re-check every component in the system to determine if you can find a clog.

  3. Winterizing your above ground pool means that you have to drain the pump and sand filter. Plus, winterization also means that you have disconnect components such as the hoses for the pool, filter, and pump. Once the winter season is over, and outdoor temperatures start to increase, it’s time to reopen the pool for the coming season. Remember to keep track of where each of the hoses attaches to the filter, pump, and pool. The steps to consider include:

  4. The next step is to place the sand filter close to the pump. Place it close to the skimmer and the return in the swimming pool. Furthermore, remember to keep the pump and filter below ground level. Following this, place the filter and pump on concrete blocks for stability when in use.

  5. Turn off the circuit breaker in the pool. At this point, you can hardwire the pumps to the circuit breaker if you find it convenient. You may also have to separate the switch which operates the pump. Once you turn off the breaker, no electricity will flow through the system and it should be safe to service at such a point. Plus, it also lets you connect the pump directly to the filter safely.

  6. Get your flexible pool hose, and put some clamps on each side in preparation. Then, integrated either end of your pool hose to the skimmer, and inlet sides that exist on around the swimming pool pump. Get a screwdriver, and use it to tighten hose clamps. Then, secure the hose to the skimmer and the pump as well.

  7. The next step is to attach another hose to the outlet port on the pump. Remember to connect the remaining end of the hose to the inlet porn on the sand filter. Once it’s complete, ensure the hose clamps are well sealed with a screwdriver. Direct the remaining section of the hose over the outlet port which is on your sand filter. Then, integrate the remaining section of this hose to the outlet port as well, which sits on the side of most swimming pools.

  8. Switch on the circuit breaker on the pump. The next step is to adjust the calibration of the lever on the filter and set it to the “backwash” position. Once it’s complete, turn on the above ground pool pump. Allow the pump to operate for a few minutes, and ensure it eliminates the contaminants that are on the silica. The silica is in the sand filter, and then turns off the pump.

  9. Turn the level on the filter to the “rinse” selector. Switch on the pump for a few minutes, or until you can see clear water coming from the sight glass in the filter. Switch off the pump.

  10. Rotate the lever on the above-ground sand filter to the “filter” selection. Switch on the pump to operate the pump and filter as required.

Tools You Will Need

  • Concrete blocks

  • Screwdriver

Top 3 Sand Filter for Above Ground Pool

Hayward W3S270T ProSeries Sand Filter, 27-Inch, Top-Mount

Discover the excellence of the Hayward W32S270T ProSeries Sand Filter. This top mount filter comes with an efficient and multi-lateral underdrain assembly with precision-engineered components. More so, this best sand filter for above ground pool has a self-cleaning and 360-degree slotted laterals. These are two components that provide a balanced flow and backwashing benefits.

The Hayward WS3270T also has a unique top diffuser. The role of this component is to ensure water flows of the sand filter for the best filtrations results. You will also be pleased this unit has a unitized and corrosion-proof filter tank which is made using rugged material. It’s made using polymeric material, which is popular for longevity. With the unique six-position, Hayward Vari-Flo control valve, with an easy to use lever – this unit is perfect for filtering water. It even has a unique action lever, which you can use to dial in any specific filter handles.

To make things better, this unit comes with a top mount and side mount filter, with a precision-engineered self fold cleaning system. Thus, you can be sure of efficient flow and evenly distributed water for a balanced backwashing process.


  • Self-cleaning laterals for balanced flow and backwashing

  • Six position Vari-Flo control valve with use to use lever handle 

  • Large pressure and sand water drain for rapid winterizing


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Swimline Sand Filter Combo for Above Ground Pools 

With the Swimline Sand Filter Combo, you have a robust and reliable addition to your swimming pool care regimen. This unit has all the features you need to clean your pool and ensure it’s clean for all users in your home.

For instance, it comes with a fully integrated sand filter, pump pressure valve, and stands for ease of use. Yes, that’s right! Ease of use is a crucial factor to consider when it comes to buying excellent sand filters for your needs. Plus, with 2400 gallons per hour pumping capacity, you can be sure of a high-performance pump for your needs.

It also has a heavy-duty design, whereby it will never rust, and molded PE tank construction will ensure longevity. For convenience, this unit comes with two 1.5” filter connect hoses each for the ultimate user experience.


  • Fully integrated sand filter and pressure valve stand

  • Offers an exceptional 2400 gallons per hr pumping capacity

  • Never rust and blow-molded PE tank construction

  • Comes with two 1.5” filter connect hoses 


  • Takes a few minutes to install correctly

Hayward SP1580X15 Power-Flo LX Series 1-1/2-Horsepower Above-Ground Pool Pump

With the Hayward SP1580X15 Power Flo Series, you also have a robust and reliable addition to your pool care regimen. The pump comes with a strainer, which offers high-performance results for most types of swimming pools. The pump is completely drip proof, and the heat resistant seal is exceptionally durable. Plus, the pump has a 1-11/ inch intake and discharge and high-performance impeller, which offers high performance each time.

The Hayward SP1580X15 PowerFlo LX pump comes with a clear cover, which lets you see when the basket requires cleaning. Also included is a convenient drain plug, to make pump maintenance a breeze. Equipped with a thermal overload mechanism, the pump will shut off the motor when it senses a compromise in its overall performance.

Also, the motor will auto-restart when safer heat levels are reached. For storage and wintering, you will find these procedures to perform on your pump each time. Yes, you should always protect your pump from freezing conditions. Furthermore, you may also have to drain thoroughly and clean out any debris when using the pump.

  • 100 percent drip-proof and heat resistant double-size seal

  • Comes with a high-performance impeller

  • The heat resistant double-sided seal for longevity

  • Corrosion proof reinforced thermoplastic for all-weather performance


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You have to make savvy decisions when it comes to taking good care of your swimming pool. You must consider various key factors into perspective to ensure your pool is safe for users, and that its components function as required. When you have a clean pool, you are sure of a disease-free and clean environment for having fun each time. As a pool owner, it’s good to stay informed, because it will save you a lot of hassle and even cash in contractor services. Thus, this is why this sand filter for above ground guide is an excellent place to start.

A sand filter is best for those who are shopping on a budget, and maintenance. Plus, it also works great for large pools because it’s not prone to clogging or damage issues.