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How to Know When a Sand Filter Needs New Sand

By Kimberly Johnson ; Updated September 21, 2017
Sand filters remove debris from pool water.

All inground and aboveground pools require filters to remove dirt and small particles from the water, thus cleaning it. There are various types of pool filters, and one type uses sand. A sand filter is filled with fine sand that traps the debris as the water flows through it. However, the sand eventually wears down and does not filter as effectively. There are signs to watch for that indicate when the sand must be replaced.

Backwash the sand filter by shutting off the main pump at the control panel and following the manufacturer's instructions for your specific model to complete the backwashing procedure. After cleaning, write down the pressure reading on the filter, and the date.

Look at the pressure reading for the filter on a daily basis and compare it to the original one you wrote down. When the reading increases to between 8 lbs. and 10 lbs. over the pressure recorded after cleaning, it's time to backwash again or to replace the sand. Go to Step 3 to know which.

Compare the date that the pressure has risen 8 lbs. to 10 lbs. with the date you wrote down at the previous backwashing. If the dates are within two weeks or less of each other, it's time to replace the sand in the filter.

Run your finger over some of the pool elements, such as the inside of the filter and the pump assembly. If your finger feels greasy or you see visible residue, the sand is not filtering properly, and you should replace it.



  • Always refill the sand filter with #20 silica sand that is 45mm to 55mm.
  • If you have not experienced any of the described symptoms, plan to replace the sand every seven to 10 years.
  • Write down the date you replace the sand and place it in a safe location so that you will always know how old the sand is.


  • Do not replace the sand more often than recommended, because some dirt in the sand actually increases its filtering capacity.

About the Author


Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.