D.E. stands for “diatom elements”. Diatoms appear under a microscope as tiny sponges. They are the fossilized remains of phytoplankton (otherwise known as algae!) and as such, they are the only kind of algae you want in your pool because they clean the water.
D.E. pool filters are made of a nylon-type fabric set in grids, a.k.a. elements or septums. The powder is added at the skimmer and dissolves in the pipe on its way to the filter tank where it is trapped on the fabric. As water passes through the coated fabric particles are trapped in the powder aka “cake”.
A word of caution: D.E. pool filters should never be operated without D.E. powder coating the grid because the fabric could become damaged. Handy with an awl? You may be able to repair the rip in your D.E. grid yourself. Otherwise, new, individual D.E. grids cost $24 to $29 per grid, and manifolds start at about $120. Labor time is 60 to 90 minutes to inspect and clean. Grid replacement is an additional cost.
In D.E. pool filters, the powder that coats the filter grids does the actual work, trapping particles down to 3 to 5 microns. D.E. filters are the most efficient type of pool filter on the market because they trap particles much smaller than the naked eye sees.
Tip: Too much D.E. powder risks clogging the filter, straining your pump, and reducing circulatory pressure in your pool.
DE filters need to be cleaned periodically. If they fill up with DE and debris, system pressure will rise because water is not able to circulate past the filters.
In the Phoenix area, you should run your D.E. pool filter a minimum of 6 hours each day in the summer and 4 hours each day in the winter for a 15,000-gallon pool.
Typical clogs in Phoenix area D.E. filters are debris-based. You will know it is time to backwash the filter and remove the clogged dirt when the water flow rate decreases and the pressure reading on the D.E. filter increases.
If you see D.E. floating in your pool you could have a valve issue, you might need to run your pool longer or clean your filters, or you could have an over or under abundance of powder in your filters.
D.E. filters can have single, multi-port, or slide valves and the instructions for cleaning each type differs. Your particular D.E. filter came with instructions for backwashing or one of our experienced AMCO pool techs will backwash your filters and add D.E. as part of your pool service contract.
Cleaning D.E. filters is an additional charge of $79 and includes:
Removing and cleaning the individual grids
Inspecting individual D.E. grids for tears
Replacinge grids if necessary (grid price extra)
Inspect bolts, the manifold, and header plate
Hosing (and soaking if necessary) the grid assembly
Reassembling the filter and adding a fresh batch of D.E.
Your pool should have the correct size D.E. filter for the gallons of water it must process, and that filter should be backwashed about once a month.
Each backwash takes approximately 4 or 5 minutes. If you are going to do it yourself, first make sure skimmer baskets and pump baskets are clean. Backwash filters until clear, then filter for 5 secs with pump running. Repeat 3 times. When the water is completely clear, you know you are ready to put the correct amount of D. E. powder ion the filter.
Tip: Backwash is not allowed to flow into the street or sewer system but it is ok for your grass. (Especially if you live in a rural location, your city or town may have discharge regulations for D.E. powder as it may choke small aquatic life that swallows it.)
AMCO recommends having your D.E. filters cleaned 3 times each year.
Feel free to call us at 623-932-9104 if you have concerns or questions about your swimming pool service or would like your DE filters cleaned!
Is it time to check your D.E. filter?