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Swimming Pool And Spa Filter Types: Diatomaceous Earth

June 17, 2019

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Which Filter Should I Choose For My Pool or Spa?

There are many different kinds of pool and hot tub filters out there. Some work better than otters in regard to microbic collection, whereas others provide a much greater ease of the cleaning burden to the pool and hot tub operator. But which one of these filters is going to be best suited to your needs? In this short series of articles, we are showcasing the three most prevalent kinds of pool and hot tub filtration that you will likely choose from when purchasing a filtration system.



Our last article covered the ins and outs of sand filtration, and in this article we are going to be turning our focus toward another kind of filter media, diatomaceous earth. This article will cover the following information:

  1. How Does A DE Filter Work?
  2. Pros Of Using A DE Filter
  3. Cons Of Using A DE Filter
  4. Use Caution When Using D.E.
  5. Should I Be Using A D.E. Filter? 

It is our goal that by the end of this article, you will be able to know if using a D.E. filtration system is the best system for you or if you should be looking elsewhere.


How Does A DE Filter Work?

D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth) Filters are filled with screens, as shown here. These screens are then covered with a thin layer of Diatomaceous Earth, which looks like a very fine powder. This powder, this Diatomaceous Earth., is made up of crushed up fossilized diatoms (little creatures roughly related to plankton) whose skeletal remains are massively porous. These pores then go to work grabbing all the gross things that can float through our pool water. 


Pros Of Using A DE Filter

Diatomaceous Earth filters are actually quite good at filtration! In fact, Diatomaceous Earth filters have the ability to filter down to 4 microns in size. This is microscopic! To put it in to perspective, a single grain of salt is 100 microns in size and Diatomaceous Earth filters can filter down to 4 microns. That is pretty amazing! This filtration power is by and large the biggest reason people choose to use Diatomaceous Earth filters. This filtration power is capable of even pulling out Cryptosporidium, our most worrisome Recreational Water Illness. Because of this filtering power, the following facilities would do well to install a Diatomaceous Earth filter:

  1. Facilities that service a high number of children
  2. Facilities that service a high number of elderly
  3. Facilities that service a high number of immune compromised individuals. 

All three of these demographics are most susceptible to complications from Cryptosporidium infection. When serving these demographics at your facility, be sure to take the utmost care in keeping them as safe from Recreational Water Illnesses as possible. 


What Are The Cons Of Using A Diatomaceous Earth Filter?

As we can see, Diatomaceous Earth is a very effective filter media. But as with all things in the pool and hot tub industry, with every benefit, there comes a sacrifice. Diatomaceous Earth filtration, though very effective can also pose challenges to operators using the systems. 

Firstly, it is important to remember that Diatomaceous Earth is highly carcinogenic. If the powder is inhaled often, it can cause major health complications down the road. This is why we at Pool Training Academy must insist that you wear a respirator when interacting with this harmful substance. Please consult the SDS sheet for your specific Diatomaceous Earth blend for the exact respiratory protective requirements. 

Secondly, Diatomaceous Earth gets everywhere! It is a very fine powder that needs to be pre-mixed in a bucket and poured down the back pipe of the skimmer in order for it to coat the  Diatomaceous Earth filter screens. You must be sure to direct the flow of the pre-mixed Diatomaceous Earth into the back pipe to avoid spillage into the pool. Also be sure to clean any off the decks that may have spread around during the mixing process. You don't want any of your guests interacting with the  Diatomaceous Earth or having that fine, white powder making your property look cluttered. 

ThirdlyDiatomaceous Earth filters need to be re-coated after every backwash. When your filter's pressure gauge rises 8-10 psi over your starting pressure (the reading right after a fresh backwash) it is time to backwash the filter. The filter backwashes, or cleans itself, similarly to a sand filter. These filters reverse the flow and cause the debris to kick out the waste line. After you have backwashed until the water running through the sight glass on the waste line has gone clear, you are free to go back into filter mode. Just remember though, that you have kicked all the  Diatomaceous Earth off of your filter screens. You will need to make sure you add more Diatomaceous Earth to the filter every single time you backwash in order to insure your filter is doing its job properly. 


Should I Be Using A D.E. Filter? 

The question of whether or not you should be using a Diatomaceous Earth is largely up to you. Again, the main reason property's choose to use these is for their filtration power. Water parks, retirement homes, and recreation centers would benefit greatly from installing a Diatomaceous Earth system. But do keep in mind that these systems can be costly to operate. 

There are arguments, though, for enhanced sand filtration as being more powerful than Diatomaceous Earth filters and can operate at a fraction of the cost and upkeep. Click Here to learn more about sand filters and how they can be enhanced to exceed the microbic filtration ability of Diatomaceous Earth. 


What Do I Need To Know About My Pool?

Knowing the ins and outs of Diatomaceous Earth filtration, and filtration methods in general is only one of the many challenges pool and spa operators face on a day to day basis. This article has given you a good, but brief understanding of Diatomaceous Earth filters. Making sure you have the ability to learn more and, more importantly, as questions is crucial for you as an operator. Thankfully Pool Training Academy offers Certified Pool Operator® Classes year-round and close to you. We offer CPO® classes in Denver, San Antonio, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, Nashville, TN., and much much more! Please click here to sign up for the class that will ensure you are the best pool and spa operator you can be. 

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