Cleaning Your Pool Filter Cartridges

Cleaning your filter is necessary for the proper care of your swimming pool & spa. This service should be performed at least two times a year, sometimes more depending on your geographical location and overall maintenance. Check out this week’s video from The Pool Boys for a quick walk through on cleaning and replacing your filter cartridges. The screenshots below also give you quite a bit of information on how to get the task done without any issues.

Having a clean filter does a number of positive things including:

  • Increased water flow
  • Increased filtration
  • Less stress on your circulation pump
  • Less seals burning out in your cleaner pump
  • Increased flow to pool cleaner for better cleaning

Let’s get started!

Turn Off Your Pool Filter and Pump System

turn off filter and pool system

Before you open the filter, turn the pool system off. You want to make sure that the system stays off while you have the filter apart. If you have computerized controls you can put the system into “service” mode. For time clocks you will want to remove the “on” trip tab. Or to be extra certain it will stay off you can switch off the pool system breaker. (If you have time clocks be sure to set them back to the correct time once you turn the breaker back on).

Release Pressure From the Tank

Release the air pressure from the tank

Next open the air relief located on top of the filter to release any vacuum in the system.

Remove the Metal Band Clamp

Remove the metal band clamp and top half of filter

Finally remove the metal band clamp & top half of the filter.

Remove the Manifold

remove the top manifold

Once the top is off you’ll need to remove the top manifold. The manifold shouldn’t be held in place by any type of hardware. TIP: You can take a long, skinny flathead screwdriver and gently work the manifold out of each cartridge by inserting the flathead between the cartridge and manifold and prying upward, being careful not to puncture the cartridge or break the manifold.

Remove the Filter Cartridges

Remove the filter cartridges

After taking off the manifold you can pull out the cartridges. They may be slightly heavy due to being water logged. You do not need to remove the cartridge base.

Remove the Drain Plug to Clean the Bottom of Your Filter

Remove drain plug

In the bottom tank you will be left with dirty water. There is a drain plug located on the bottom of your filter if you would like to drain the water and rinse the bottom tank. (Be careful when removing & reinstalling the drain plug, if it is over tightened it can break off in the filter creating a whole new problem.)

Clean the Filter Cartridges


Stand the cartridges up on a flat surface. Make sure your water hose will be able to reach this area. Rinse the dirt & debris off of the entire cartridge. Do one cartridge at a time using one hand to rinse and one to balance the cartridge.

TIP: Make sure you have a nozzle with decent water pressure, but it doesn’t need to be extreme (We don’t want to create any tearing or holes).

Inspect Cartridges for Tears or Cracks


After your cartridges are clean inspect them for any tears or cracks in the end caps. Also check bands around the cartridge for breaks or detachment from the cartridge. These bands are what hold the cartridge pleats in place allowing maximum filtration. Without the support of these bands the pleats will fold over under pressure, causing poor filtration.

Install the Cartridges Back Into the Filter

Install cartridges back in filter

Put the cartridges back into the filter one by one, making sure you press them down firmly into each spot on the base.

Place the Manifold Back on Top of the Cartridges

Install manifold on top of cartridges and push down

Once the cartridges are in, place the manifold back on top of the cartridges, making sure you press this down firmly as well. Finally, if there is a breather screen or tube check that it is in good condition.

Clean, Inspect and Lubricate the Tank O-Ring

clean, inspect and lube tank oring

Check that the tank oring is in good condition, cleaned & lubricated. I like to wipe it clean with a rag before lubricating. Also wipe the tank top clean where it sits on the tank oring.

Install the Tank Top and Seal the Filter

Install tank top and seal the filter

Make sure the air relief is open and install the tank top. Once the top is in place put your metal band clamp around the filter and tighten down securely.

Tap the tank band to tighten evenly

TIP: A trick that I use is to take a rubber mallet and firmly tap all around the band clamp as I tighten it. This helps to evenly tighten it around the filter.

Turn on the Filter and Check the System

Now that the top is on and sealed you can turn on your pump. You may need to manually prime your pump after having the system open. I also recommend having the air relief in the open position to release air out of the filter as it fills up.

Check for Leaks and Note the Pressure

Check for leaks. Take note of what the starting filter pressure is at. You want to note this starting point to be able to accurately monitor your filter pressure. Once your filter pressure is 7-10psi higher than the starting point you know it is time to open the filter and clean the cartridges.

You can purchase replacement filter cartridges from The Pool Boys in League City, TX. If we don’t have your cartridge in stock, we can usually have it for you the next day on most common models. Don’t forget, our Service Department is ready to do this service for you. Give us a call at 832-473-5715 to set up an appointment or use the contact form below and drop us a note with your make and model of filter and what you’re needing help with.

Thanks and hope you have a great time in your nice clean pool!