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wakeworld 09-10-2012 8:00 PM

Pool Filter Problems
I've had two pool guys come out to my house and neither of them have been able to solve my problem, so I thought I'd ask the REAL experts...wakeboarders! :)

I have a regular paper filter system (Pentair) that runs at about 10 pounds of pressure and when it gets up to about 20 pounds, I take it apart and clean the filters. For years I only had to do it a few times a year.

Lately it's been doing a couple of strange things. The first is that it will act like the filter needs cleaning (pool vacuum slows down, water flow slows down), but instead of the pressure increasing, it decreases down to about 2 pounds. It also occasionally behaves correctly where the pressure will go up as if the filters are clogged. However, I know they can't be clogged because I just recently cleaned them.

For example, I cleaned the filters yesterday and it worked fine all day running at 10 pounds. However, today it is running really slow and the pump is at 25 pounds. Last week, I cleaned them and they ran a few days before the pressure dropped to about four pounds.

I know my description is very confusing because it sounds like there is more than one thing going wrong, but I'm at a loss. I can't believe these pool guys don't have any idea what's wrong. Any input would be appreciated.

wakeboardin 09-11-2012 7:35 AM

I had a similar issue a while back just cleaned the filter added DE and all was fine then the hot spell kicked in and I moved my filter times after 6 pm to try to offset the electric needs. I then started getting a mild algae and then my filter started doing the same thing acting clogged low flow and high psi on the filter 23psi then the next day it would turn on and run fine for an hour then result back into the same high psi. I talked to the pool store and others and they all pointed to the filter.

I tore apart the filter and had algae on the screens so again had to clean them and the issue went away. Have you had any algae issues? if so pull the filter apart again I know its a pain but that is where everything points to. If you have done this then I would consider the pump starting to fail as much as you don't want to hear that. To check your pump motor you would need to add a amp clamp on it to verify the current its pulling if it increases when it starts to fail then it could be the culprit.

On another note my system is all automated and I have Pentair whisper flow pumps that I believe are two stage I wonder if some type of program or setting is allowing the pump to cycle different outputs possibly.

Anyways thats a few issues to look at off the top of my head, let us know what transpires.

Gnargnar 09-11-2012 7:48 AM

Pumps will either work or not, if a pump is on its way out its gonna be the bearings and you'll hear it

wakeboardin 09-11-2012 9:24 AM

I disagree about the pump I had this happen on an older pump previous pool. Everything ran normal and all the sudden it would increase in pressure and couldn't figure it out had pool guys come out then the last pool guy found that the pump motor was going out replaced it problem solved.

yjwrangler95 09-11-2012 10:24 AM

I had a similar issue and it was my pump impeller.

Gnargnar 09-11-2012 10:43 AM

Wakeboardin not to question your intelligence but that makes no sense, pumps don't just start sucking more amps than rated and increase gpms and pressure

wakeworld 09-11-2012 10:45 AM

I think I narrowed it down to the filters. I replaced the last batch of filters less than six months ago because they started clogging up within a week or two, so I was always cleaning them. For my new set of filters, I decided to splurge and get actual Pentair brand filters to make sure they didn't fail as quickly as the last ones. Unfortunately, they clogged even quicker. So today, with the filter running at 25 lbs, I removed the filters altogether and it went back down to 10 lbs.

So despite the filters being relatively new and having just been cleaned on Sunday, they appear to be the problem. The only explanation I can come up with is that we are on well water and something in the water changed and is clogging up the filters on a microscopic level and it causes them to clog up much more quickly. Therefore, I'm probably looking at replacing my paper cartridge filter with a DE filter and handing about $1,000 over to a pool guy to do so. :( Not happy about that, but I will be happy if it solves this problem.

As far as the low pressure situations go, I still can't explain them. The screen at the top of the filter (which pushes up against the pressure gauge) was kind of bungled up and may have been causing the gauge to read wrong, but I have no way to know for sure. This is why I'm a little hesitant to blow money on a filter. I'd be real bummed if that turned out to not be the problem!!

Gnargnar 09-11-2012 10:53 AM

I would definitely not switch to de. I found that the new pentair filters are made with a new material that clogs faster, I've always had good luck with unicel cartridges. Have u done a deep clean on the filters with filter blaster or a soaking agent? What kind of trees surround the pool? That screen u talked about is just an air relief and wouldn't cause the drop or rise in psi that you're experiencing. Did u take that valve apart yet? Your well water wouldn't cause this prob either.

wakeworld 09-11-2012 11:13 AM

Why wouldn't you switch to DE?

Not many trees around the pool. We really don't get any leaves in the pool at all until fall. I have a leaf catcher as well, so no leaves make it to the filter.

I have not done a deep clean on the filters, but since they are just six months old, I wouldn't think I'd have to. If I have to deep clean them every few months, it's still going to be a big pain in the ass.

No, I didn't take the valve apart since the pressure went back to normal when I took the filters out. I put my old filters in (which I replaced because they were clogging after a week or two) and it's working fine so far.

If well water is high in metals, phosphates, etc., couldn't that cause a clogging problem? Obviously, the dirtier the water going in, the quicker the filters are going to clog.

wakeboardin 09-11-2012 11:28 AM

Yes Dave your right on with the dirty water with any filter and if its high in calcium this can also cause an issue. However I have only had DE on all my pools and did use paper on a above ground spa I can tell you that I am not sure what the difference between a deep clean and regular clean is that you are referring too, maybe back flush versus breakdown? I will get a buildup on DE as well as mentioned before with algae that did not clear out with the back wash I needed to break it down then I usually lay them out and hit them with my PSI washer lightly which make things go much faster.

Gnar, the pump is driven by the motor and as the internals started to fail due to rust and bearing issues it created drag on the armature creating increased amperage draw sporadically. Hope that helps

Gnargnar 09-11-2012 11:36 AM

De is a hazmat in 8 states, EPA is trying to get rid of it, and it's not worth the effort to clean, if anything go to a sand filter. If youre not having the low pressure prob than the valve is prolly ok. Metals and phosphates cause problems than can lead to clogging, but you would have to drain and fill your pool monthly with fresh water to raise those levels. Adding an inch a week to keep water level up wouldn't cause this. Are the pentair filters that synthetic paper material that they started using recently? If so I've noticed they require cleaning more often, not sure why exactly. I would all say that I've noticed a very different pollen situation with the weird spring and rain in the summer that caused my pools to react differently than previous years up here in Sacramento. When was your last time u drained the pool?

Gnargnar 09-11-2012 11:44 AM

Yea Dave.....bearings. Google filter blaster, "acid baths" are illegal now but there are soaking agents that help to eat away the build up of oils etc that a hose won't get out.

norcalrider 09-11-2012 12:59 PM


Originally Posted by Gnargnar (Post 1782121)
De is a hazmat in 8 states, EPA is trying to get rid of it...

Do you have a link? I know it is USEPA labeled for use as an insecticide however, I've never heard of it being hazardous waste nor an EPA ban.

wakeworld 09-11-2012 1:00 PM

The pool is eight years old and has never been drained. :) Not sure what the filters are made of.

Gnargnar 09-11-2012 1:25 PM

I don't have a link mik, it's just what I've heard in the pool industry lately. epa doesn't like it after its been used as a filter media. Well David I'd do a deep clean on filters and see what that does. Did u say u have the original filters and then a set of replacement pentairs? Did u buy any generic replacements ie filbur or unicel

norcalrider 09-11-2012 1:28 PM

I'll have to look into that. Have a good friend with a small hard cider company and they use DE to filter. Guessing regulations would cause a problem.

wakeworld 09-11-2012 1:40 PM

Not sure what brand of filter I've got in there right now. They were cheap online filters, so I know they aren't Pentair or Unicel. They are the second set I have purchased. The originals have been trashed and the third set is the Pentairs that are currently giving me problems.

Gnargnar 09-11-2012 2:57 PM

Can u return those pentairs? Do u have the same issue with the 2nd set?

wakeworld 09-11-2012 3:05 PM

No, I've had them for about six months, so I don't think I can return them. The previous set had the same issue, but they lasted a little longer, maybe two years. However, the first set lasted about five years.

Gnargnar 09-11-2012 3:13 PM

5 to 7 WAS average for that filter, but sounds like you got the new crappy design 6 mo ago. The pool I service that has them im having to do the filters every 2-3 months. You had your pool water tested recently?

wakeworld 09-11-2012 7:46 PM

I was wrong. I just looked at the newest filters and they are Unicels. I haven't had it tested recently for anything more than the normal stuff. I should probably have it looked at for other weird minerals.

Gnargnar 09-11-2012 8:23 PM

Does the Unicel part number on the top,of the filter start with an E or C

wakeworld 09-11-2012 8:31 PM


Gnargnar 09-11-2012 8:32 PM

That's the full 6 oz rated media so I dunno man, clean those suckers real good

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