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Filters and pumps are absolutely essential to proper in-ground swimming pool maintenance. Without such equipment, dirt, debris and other contaminants can accumulate in the water, creating an unpleasant and unhealthy swimming environment. On the other hand, with the help of filters and pumps for in-ground swimming pools, pool owners can enjoy clean, well-circulated water. Of course, in order to get the most out of your pool equipment and to ensure that it functions properly, it's important to purchase filters and pumps that will be a good match for your pool and your maintenance routine. The following information is designed to help pool owners become informed about the various options available when it comes to choosing filters and pumps for in-ground pools.
In-ground swimming pool pumps are the driving force behind pool water circulation. Electrically operated, pool pumps propel water from the swimming pool through the filtration system before sending it back to the pool through the return port. Pool owners will typically run in-ground pool pumps for anywhere from six to 24 hours per day. While operating a pool pump less often will save electricity, it's important to keep the circulation system running for at least eight hours each day in order to keep the pool water clean.
Most important in selection of a new pool pump is to resist the urge to oversize the pump. A pump that is too large not only costs more to operate, but makes filtration inefficient, and could damage filters and other equipment. Replacing your pump with the same make/model/horsepower is usually a safe bet, or if you want to switch make or model, use the pump Flow Curve charts to match the pump flow rate to the Filter design flow rate. Different pumps of the same horsepower can produce vastly different flow rates.
Standard pumps spin the impeller at 3450 RPM, all the time. Variable Speed pumps, required for all inground pump installations over 1-hp by 2021, allow the user to select a lower speed, which saves large amounts of energy. There are medium head VS pumps, like the Hayward Superpump VS or the Pentair Superflo VS, are around 1.5 hp, suitable for most average-sized pools. Larger flow VS pumps, like the Hayward Tristar VS or the Pentair Intelliflo VS, are equipped with 3 hp motors, made for large pools and those with high volume water features.
Pentair Intelliflo VF pump, which stands for Variable Flow, is also available. This special pump can sense the pressure and adjust pump speed automatically to provide the correct flow rates for different functions, such as filtering, cleaning, spas or fountains. Intelliflo SVRS, Safety Vacuum Release System, which senses vacuum pressure and shuts off the pump if suction intake lines (such as a main drain) are blocked, or flow is otherwise restricted.
Installation of a Variable Speed pump is not much different from a regular pump - the same plumbing and wiring is done. VS pumps are all 230V however, and cannot be converted to 115V. VS pumps also have their own timer, and can take over such duties from a mechanical time clock. The most important thing with installing a variable speed pump is to reduce restriction as much as possible. Using Sweep Elbows instead of regular 90s, Slide valves instead of Multiport valves, Cartridge filters instead of DE or Sand, and 2" plumbing and valves instead of 1.5", all will serve to reduce operation costs even more.
While pool pumps are responsible for circulating pool water, in-ground pool filters are responsible for removing debris and contaminants from the water. This is a vital task as pool water contaminants have the potential to cause swimmers to contract illnesses and infections. Accumulating debris can also cause dirty, cloudy water that is unpleasant to swim in and potentially dangerous, as reduced visibility makes swimmer supervision more difficult.
In-ground swimming pool filters are available in three main types -- sand filters, cartridge filters and DE filters. While all pool filters perform the same task, each type uses a different filtration media to trap debris. The various types of pool filters also differ with respect to their effectiveness and their maintenance requirements. When selecting in-ground pool filters it is therefore helpful to know which type of filter will provide you with the level of filtration you want while aligning with your maintenance preferences.
Sand filters (such as Hayward Pro Series Side-Mount Sand Filter) are currently the type of pool filter most commonly used by owners of in-ground swimming pools. These filters use sand as their filtration media and as pool water passes through the sand beds, debris particles and contaminants as small as 20 to 40 microns are trapped and prevented from returning to the swimming pool. In order to keep sand filters working at their best, occasional backwashing is necessary.
Instead of sand, cartridge filters (such as Hayward Star Clear Cartridge Filters) use fibrous cartridges to trap debris. These in-ground pool filters provide greater surface area for filtration than sand filters and are able to filter out impurities and debris particles as small as 10 to 15 microns. These filters also exert less strain on pool pumps than sand filters as they can operate at a lower pressure. Cartridge filters also become clogged less easily and do not require backwashing. However, cartridge filters must be cleaned with a garden hose from time to time.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) filters provide the highest standard of water filtration currently available to residential pool owners. With the ability to filter out particles as small as 2 to 5 microns, DE filters are even able to trap certain types of bacteria. The reason why DE filters are able to provide such excellent filtration has to do with the diatomaceous earth powder used as the filtration media. DE powder is derived from the fossilized exoskeletons of diatoms and is a very porous powder with many microscopic nooks and crannies. As water is propelled through DE powder, contaminants and debris particles become trapped in those microscopic pockets.
Since DE filters provide such excellent filtration performance, they are becoming increasingly popular among residential pool owners. However, their popularity also has to do with their low cost of operation. With respect to maintenance of DE filters, these in-ground pool filters are similar to sand filters in the sense that they require periodic backwashing to ensure ongoing effective performance. As is true of sand and cartridge pool filters as well, DE filters are available from many top pool supply brand names.