This independent website is funded by its readers. It can earn a commission on any purchases made through product links, at no extra cost to the buyer.  Learn more >

Good pool filtration ranks right up there on the list of things that keep your pool crystal clear and inviting. We’re going to take a look at a few easy things you can do to improve your pools filtration.

Even the performance of efficient pool filters can be improved with a few of the tips and tricks we’re going to show you here.

Pre Filtration Is A No Brainer

Adding an auxiliary type of filter, a pre-filter, before the pool water enters the main filter on your equipment pad is an easy way to boost your primary filters performance. What’s even better this is cheap and no tools are required either.

How’s it done ? There’s a couple of ways we recommend. 

Pool Skimmer Socks

Couldn’t get much simpler than this. Just stretch the sock over the top of skimmer baskets and the ultra-fine mesh captures large, small and fine debris before it enters the pool system.

Floating contaminants like leaves, bugs, sun tan oil, hair, pesky pollen and other all manner of other floating debris are picked up before reaching pool pump and filter.

As Easy As It Gets - Pool Skimmer Socks
402 Reviews
As Easy As It Gets - Pool Skimmer Socks
  • [30 Skimmer Basket Socks] Get great value with this pack of 30 premium pool skimmer filter socks. Crafted from durable, ultra-fine mesh, these socks are designed to fit most pool skimmer baskets for superior filtration.

Sand filters in particular will require less backwashing so less water being simply pumped away through the swimming season.

These skimmer socks are pretty long lasting and can be rinsed out and reused several times before needing replacing.

It’s best not to use them if you use chlorine tablets in your skimmer basket as your method of sanitising your pool. The release of chlorine directly through the sock will accelerate the deterioration of the mesh material. A minor drawback really when compared to all the obvious benefits they offer.

Add Filter Balls To The Skimmer

Primarily made as an alternative to using sand in a sand filter they can also be dropped into the skimmer basket to pick up debris before it reaches the filter. They do a fine job picking up fine and medium debris and particles as they pass through the skimmer.

They’re not as 100% efficient as a skimmer sock but they do have the benefit of being able to be used along side chlorine tablets in the skimmer basket.

These filter balls have a very long life indeed and can be washed and reused over and over again. When they’ve reached the end of their useful life just pop them with your other plastics for recycling.

We really rate this type of filtration medium and have written a complete article on the benefits of filter balls here >>

Rx Clear White Luster Eco-Friendly Filter Balls
1,091 Reviews
Rx Clear White Luster Eco-Friendly Filter Balls
  • A REPLACEMENT FOR SAND - Rx Clear Luster Filter Media is designed to be an alternative to pool filter sand for pool filters. One box of filter media (1.5 lbs) equals 50 lbs of sand. A pea gravel base is recommended with the use of this product. Just layer pea gravel above laterals to cover them. Clarifiers should not be used with this product.

Improving Cartridge Filter Performance

These are the most effective form of common pool filters but do require much more maintenance than sand filters. Sizing them to match the pool and pump is critical for optimum cleaning performance too.

In the case of cartridge filters big is definitely better. An undersized or a just adequate filter is going to give mediocre filtration results. There’s a lot of pools suffering from under-sized filters so having them running at the best is super important for water clarity. As a general rule of thumb a filter should have 100 sq ft of filter surface area for every 10000 gallons of water.

Keeping them running their best simply requires deep cleaning them. Doing that as part of your maintenance schedule is great but don’t be too inflexible on this. Seasonal weather conditions and pool usage need to be factored in to your schedule and the filter pulled and cleaned according to what’s been happening to your pool.

Simply hosing them down only occasionally is good enough to remove deeply trapped debris.  For oils they need to be soaked in a filter cleaner for the best results. There’s plenty to choose from but we recommend

Essential Pool Filter Cartridge Cleaner
580 Reviews
Essential Pool Filter Cartridge Cleaner
  • Bes Value – Best Bang For Your Buck Online! Our 32 Fl. Oz (2 Uses) Formula Can NOT Be Beat on Price. Our Product Is Most Effective at Removing Oil, Grease, Dirt & Soap Than the Other Guys. Get the Most Out of Your Pool & Spa Filters Now for Only A Fraction of The Price as Other Brands Without Jeopardizing Quality!

In the case of cartridge filters big is definitely better. An undersized or a just adequate filter is going to give mediocre filtration results. There’s a lot of pools suffering from under-sized filters so having them running at the best is super important for water clarity. As a general rule of thumb a filter should have 100 sq ft of filter surface area for every 10000 gallons of water.

Keeping them running their best simply requires deep cleaning them. Doing that as part of your maintenance schedule is great but don’t be too inflexible on this. Seasonal weather conditions and pool usage need to be factored in to your schedule and the filter pulled and cleaned according to what’s been happening to your pool.

During the pool season there may be a few times when an inspection and a hose down might just be enough. You can get into the hard to reach places with an attachment for your garden hose that’s designed for the job. Here’s a good example

Aquatix Pro  Pool Filter Cartridge Hose Cleaner
6,032 Reviews
Aquatix Pro  Pool Filter Cartridge Hose Cleaner
  • SAVE TIME: Pool cleaning can be a real chore! Aquatix Pro Premium Cartridge Cleaner removes debris and dirt effortlessly for a clean flow of water.

Add Clarifier To The Pool

As the filters reach the end of their useful life it’s time to extend it with a pool clarifier. It helps to clump particles together for easier removal by the filter. A small amount goes a long way and a bottle of clarifier should be part of every pool shack inventory.

A new filter will keep on top of pool contaminants without a clarifier but adding a little to an older one will push the need to buy a new one down the road a little.

Improving Sand Filter Performance

Easy to use, with pretty much zero maintenance a sand filter is the go to for many pool owners. It can happily work away for years with the occasional backwashing to keep it running smoothly.

But they’re not without issues and unlike their cousin the cartridge filter they can’t be inspected internally. They’re fitted with a pressure gauge of course which gives you a window into what’s going on inside the pressure vessel.

Most owners just use the gauge as an indicator of when to backwash though but it can tell you much more than that. We’ve written an article on understanding a pool pressure gauge here >>

Dose Filter Sand With DE Powder

Adding DE powder can help trap micro particles. Diatomaceous Earth powder is a natural product of the fossilised algae. It’s structured with many more sharp edges than regular pool sand.  That means it will  traps the finer particles that escape through the regular sand. There are specially manufactured DE filters, but a little of the powder can be added via the skimmer to a regular sand filter to improve performance.

Be cautious when adding, just a half to a full cup would probably be more than sufficient for most domestic sand filters. Dilute in a bucket of pool water before adding. Keep a close eye on the pressure gauge for a day or two after adding as it will pick up all the smaller particle the filter sand didn’t and will cause an increase.

Sand Channeling And What To Do

Channeling is a fairly frequent problem with sand filters that can easily go undetected. Most often caused by too powerful a pump or too small a filter, take your pick !  The effect is the same which ever it is, and the effectiveness of filtration is massively reduced.

Again this shows the importance of matching your pump and filter correctly.

Simply put instead of passing through clean sharp sand the pool water is forced through various channels created in the sand bed. Result little to no filtration. You’ll notice an unexpected gradual drop in pressure when this starts happening and cloudy water returning to the pool.

Unfortunately channeling very often creeps up on you. There’s not an instantaneous change in pressure it happens over time and that’s why it’s hard to spot. Cloudy water being pumped back into the pool is an obvious sign something is wrong and channeling could just be the culprit.

Solutions? Match pump or filter sizes! Buying and installing a new pump or filter isn’t something any pool owner will do in a hurry.  But changing out filter medium to filter balls is easily do-able.

Filter balls reduce pump pressure, eliminate channeling, are lightweight and light on your wallet too. They’re a great all round product and we always recommend them over sand whenever it’s time to change out filter pump sand.

Solutions? Match pump or filter sizes ! Buying and installing a new pump or filter isn’t something any pool owner will do in a hurry, or change out filter medium to filter balls.

Filter balls reduce pump pressure, eliminate channeling, are lightweight, and light on your wallet too. They’re a great all round product and we always recommend them over sand whenever it’s time to change out filter pump sand.

Mud Balling And Solutions

Mud balling in the sand filter can be an easier fix. Often it’s something we can fix with some chemicals an a little time.

Mud balling is an accumulation of oils , body detritus and other random debris that sits on top of the sand. Sun tan oils are generally the culprit for kicking off a mud balling episode. You’ll notice higher than normal pressure gauge readings with mud balling.

Serious cases need to be cleaned out manually and the entire filter medium replaced. Fortunately most cases can be treated with chemicals if they’re caught early enough though.

In The Swim Liquid Sand Pool Filter Cleaner
380 Reviews
In The Swim Liquid Sand Pool Filter Cleaner
  • In The Swim sand filter cleaner is a fast acting solution that helps restore your sand filters efficiency by eliminating build-up such as oils, minerals, and gunk. Giving users crystal clear water in their swimming pools.
  • Our sand filter cleaner improves the backwashing process by breaking down oils, non-living organic contaminants, and mineral accumulation. This will help reduce build-up and increase the flow rate and circulation rate of your sand filter. We recommend you allow your filter to run through a proper cleaning cycle for best results.
  • Regular use of our sand filter cleaner can save you money by extending the lifespan of your sand filter; avoiding the need to purchase a new filter prematurely.
  • Our pool sand filter cleaner is safe to use with all types of sand filters, including in ground and above ground swimming pools. We recommend an initial dosage of 8 fluid ounces.

Adding this to the filter via the skimmer and allowing to soak for at least an hour. Overnight is better if possible. This can often be the simple no hassle solution to mud balling issues.

Images from Amazon Product Advertising