Swimming pool filter systems

I know it’s the middle of February and most of you are not thinking about your swimming pools at this time, but the time is getting close. I had a customer of mine come into my store yesterday to ask questions about his above-ground pool. The conversation started out about solar panels and how many he would need to heat his 30ft round above ground swimming pool (answer to come in a future post) but turned to his pool pump. Like a lot of my customers, he used to shop at a “big box” pool store until finding my store.

The 30ft above ground pool package was also purchased at the same “big box” pool store. He was complaining that the pressure on his filter was always running too high and he was always having to clean his cartridge filter. He couldn’t understand why the 2.5 hp pump wasn’t strong enough to keep good flow back to his pool. What I then had to explain is that his pump was overpowering his filter. What this means is that the water flow coming from the pump is too much for the filter to handle efficiently. His pump was too strong.  He asked how this could be since it was bought in a package from the “big box” pool store. 

What I explained to him is that most “big box” pool stores are counting on you to not research what you buying and taking their word on what is the correct setup for a swimming pool. In his case what he has is a pool pump that is moving 140 gallons a minute to a filter that can only handle 60 gallons a minute. This causes the filter to not do its job properly. This will cause filter pressure to run higher shortening the life of the media inside of them and in some cases forcing wastes through the filter back to the pool that should have been stopped by the filter. The water flow rates being too high for the pool filter to handle can also shorten the life of the pump because now it’s having to work a lot harder to move the water.

These “big box” swimming pool stores sell products from the same manufactures as I do. We even have the same sales reps. Over the years I’ve asked why these pump and filter combos that have flow rates that don’t match up are sold at the “big box” stores in packages. The answer I received is that this is the way the “big box” stores want them. It’s obvious that a manufacturer is not going to tell their biggest buyers no. They are going to give them what they want. And what they want is horsepower and lots of it. Those salespeople at the “big box” pool store are going to tell you how much horsepower your new pool pump is going to have and let’s face it, most men will get excited by this. If their neighbor has a 1 horsepower pump on their swimming pool and the salesperson sells you 2 horsepower your going to be sure and tell him yours is bigger. Your pool pump. The problem with this is we are not talking about cars or trucks. We are talking about pool pumps. Horsepower is not a big issue. Flow rates are. Make sure the flow rate for your pump is very close to the flow rate on your filter.

What I have found is that a 3/4 horsepower pump is the most common size that should be on an above-ground pool. I have also found that it is almost impossible to find a 3/4 horsepower pump at a “big box” pool store. They don’t carry them. I have switched many of my customers from 1.5hp -2.5hp down to 3/4 hp pumps and they love them. The flow rates match up so they are using fewer chemicals and having to clean the filters less. Also, they are saving money on electricity.

Please remember whether you are buying a new swimming pool package or replacing an old pump, make sure the flow rates for the pump and filter match. Ask the salesperson what the flow rates are for both. He won’t know but he can look them up. Also, don’t be fooled into believing just because they came in the same box they must match. Manufacturers give the “big box” pool stores what they want. If they don’t have the info you need get the model numbers of the pump and filter and look them up yourself. If they don’t match, have them replace one or the other or don’t buy. Three times in the last few years I have been able to get a sales rep for a major swimming pool products manufacturer to swap out pumps for my customers, at no cost, that was having problems with systems purchased at a certain “big box” pool store. They all had pumps that were pumping 2 times as much water as the filter could handle. All three were sold in kits from the manufacturer. The sales rep knew it was wrong, but they were sold anyway. Make your pool experience easier and more enjoyable. Check the flow rates.

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