Hayward Pool Filter Maintenance

Hayward is a well-established and reputable brand of pool filters. They can be used for in ground pools and above ground pools of all sizes and types and for in ground or above ground spas.

They have several series of filters for all kinds of pools and each series includes a wide range of models for you to choose based on the size of your pool and the pool pump.

Whichever filter you have, regular and proper maintenance is highly important in order for your pool to remain clean and pool water safe to use.

As for the filter models and sizes, the smallest are suitable for aboveground pools, the mid-range for small pools of up to 15,000 gallons and the big filters, best for your pools above 25,000 gallons.

Filters are commonly sized by the square footage of surface area, which is logical because the more square feet of filter media you have, the better the filter performance.

Choosing a larger pool filter has important benefits:

  • Longer filter cycles, or time between backwashing
  • Less bypass of fine particles
  • Better filtration of your pool water
  • Faster clean-up of water issues
  • Longer lasting filter media

Suggested article: 8 Best Pool Filter Reviews 2018

How to change the sand in my Hayward pool filter

Over time as water rushes through the filter, the jagged edges of the sand which help to trap debris will wear down and become smoother. When this happens, the sand can no longer trap debris. Particles and dirt can pass through the sand and go back into the pool. This is why you need to replace the sand in the filter.

When to change sand in Hayward pool filter

If your pool water is chemically balanced, the sand filter is properly sized and running a proper length of time (8-10 hours a day) but the water will not clear up even if you use a clarifier, you probably need to change the sand.

If the filter pressure continues to run high even after backwashing and using a filter cleaner, the sand needs to be changed.

Most manufacturers recommend that you change the sand every 5-7 years, but this can vary depending on water properties and the size of your sand filter. Although 5-7 years is a general guideline, you should always focus on the performance of the filter, or the water clarity rather than changing the sand on a set schedule.

Which sand to use?

The only sand appropriate for use in swimming pool filters is the #20 silica sand (which is 0.45-0.55mm in size). Do not use any other kind of sand; it will not work properly.

How to change sand in sand filter

…before changing it, be sure to read Everything You Need to Know about Sand Filters

Step 1: Take out the old sand

Before changing the sand, you must turn off your pump and disconnect power to the pump at the circuit breaker. Then, drain the water from the filter. There will be a drain cap or plug at the bottom of the filter that you can remove to allow the water to drain out. When the water finishes draining you can begin taking apart the filter to remove the old sand.

Filters with the multiport valve mounted on top will require that you disconnect the plumbing running to the valve.

If you use PVC pipes and do not have unions on these pipes, you will need to cut the pipe to remove the multiport valve. We would recommend that you install unions when you put the filter back together to allow for easier service to the filter in the future.

Filters with the multiport valve mounted to the side will have a dome or access port on top that can be removed to get inside of the tank. Move the diffuser to one side to gain access to the sand.

Before you begin removing any sand it is a good idea to use duct tape, a cup or some other kind of cover to block the opening of the center standpipe inside the filter. This will prevent sand from entering it. If sand gets into the center pipe, it could clog the laterals or will at the very least end up back in your pool when you turn the system back on.

To remove the sand from the filter, you can either scoop it out with a can or vacuum it out. Once you get a good amount of sand removed, you may be tempted to just pick up the filter and dump out the rest, but do NOT do this. The plastic laterals at the bottom of the tank could break very easily under the pressure of the sand falling out and being knocked around. 

When you reach the point where you can see the laterals at the bottom of the tank, proceed carefully so as not to bump and crack the possibly brittle plastic.

On Hayward sand filters, you can remove the laterals and center pipe by pulling up on each lateral to point upwards so you can slide the whole lateral assembly out of the tank.

For other filter brands, you could unscrew each lateral, or just work around the laterals, leaving them in the tank. Most tanks have the ability to remove the entire drain assembly, allowing you to flush out remaining sand with a garden hose.

Step 2: Clean and Inspect the Filter

Once you have all the old sand removed you will have to clean the filter tank and inspect for any damage. Check each of the laterals for any cracks and replace them if necessary. If they are very old and brittle, it may be wise to replace them all at the same time when you replace the filter sand.

Any crack or break in the laterals could result in sand being deposited in the pool when you turn your filter back on, so if anything looks questionable it is better to just replace the lateral. If you turn your filter back on and end up with sand in the pool you could be redoing this whole process just to change one broken lateral, so better safe than sorry.

If the laterals look very dirty or clogged, you can soak them in a cleaning solution or mild muriatic acid solution to remove any buildup. After you remove them from the solution, rinse them with a garden hose and rinse out and clean the filter tank. Replace the drain cap which you had removed to drain the water at the bottom of the tank.

Step 3: Add New Filter Sand

Before you put the lateral assembly back in to the tank, fill the tank about half way full of water.  This will help cushion the lateral assembly when you add sand back in to the tank. After adding the water carefully put the lateral assembly in the tank, making sure that the laterals are tightly screwed into the hub assembly. For laterals that are slotted on one side, face the slotted side downward, or alternate each – half facing up, half facing down.

Be sure that whatever covering you used over the center pipe when you removed the sand is still in place so you do not get sand in the center pipe as you add it to the tank. Silica dust can be hazardous, so wear a respiration mask and watch your breathing while adding filter sand.

Place the bag on top of the tank and slice open the bottom of the bag with a razor knife. Be sure to keep the center pipe straight and fully flat on the bottom throughout the process. If it ends up crooked you may not be able to properly re-install the multiport valve and will have to remove the sand to straighten it.

Step 4: Reassembly and Start Up

Once you have added the amount of sand recommended by the manufacturer, remove the tape/covering you used on the center pipe and install the multiport valve. Reconnect the plumbing to the multiport valve, and if possible, pick up some PVC unions and install to make future filter service easier.

Before resuming normal filtering, you should backwash and rinse the filter for a few minutes to remove any impurities and sand dust. When the water in the sight glass is clear you are ready to begin normal filtering. Turn the pump off again and change the multiport valve setting to “Filter” and turn the pool pump back on.

How to backwash a Hayward pool filter

After a period of time, the accumulated dirt in the filter causes a resistance to flow, and the flow diminishes. This means it is time to clean (backwash) your filter.

Note the reading on the pressure gauge; this is the starting, or clean filter pressure.

When you see the pressure 8-10psi over this reading, give the filter a good backwashing.

With the control valve in the backwash position, the water flow is automatically reversed through the filter and directed to the bottom of the tank. The water goes up through the sand, flushing the previously trapped dirt and debris out the waste line.

Once the filter is backwashed (cleaned) of dirt, change the control valve manually to Rinse, and after rinsing, change it to Filter, to resume normal filtering.

Because backwashing the filter removes water from your pool, backwash your pool filter before adding any chemicals to the water. Include backwashing your pool filter either as part of your weekly pool maintenance or when the pump gauge reads 8 to 10 ppi.

Here’s a step by step guide:

Step 1: Set the Pump to Backwash

Before you change the setting on your pool pump, always turn off the pump first. Then, turn the handle on the pool pump to the backwash position. Then, turn the pool pump on to begin backwashing.

Step 2: Watch the Filter

Depending on your pump, backwashing the pool filter takes about 5 minutes to complete. Watch the pool filter as the water flows backward through the filter to see particles swirling around. When the water inside the filter appears clear of particles, turn the pump off.

Step 3: Rinse the Filter

With the pool pump off, turn the handle to rinse. Turn the pump back on and rinse the swimming pool filter for about 30 to 45 seconds. Rinsing the filter sends clean water through the pipes to wash away any leftover particles and prevent them from returning to the pool. It also serves the purpose of settling the silica sand back to the bottom of the filter. After you rinse the filter, turn the pump off.

Step 4: Filter the Water

Now that you’ve backwashed your swimming pool filter, turn the handle back to the filter position and turn the pool pump back on. Refill the pool to the proper level with fresh water and add any needed chemicals.

You need to backwash the pool filter regularly to maintain proper functioning of your swimming pool filter and to keep your swimming pool clean. Backwashing removes a small amount of water from the pool and should always be done before adding any chemicals.

Remember to turn off the pool pump in between each step.

Here’s a short video showing the whole process of backwashing on a Hayward filter:

How to clean Hayward pool filter cartridge

When water passes through a cartridge filter, the dirt is screened out at the surface of the cartridge element. When the filter is clean, the element will trap larger particles, with finer particles being filtered out as the pores of the element become clogged by the larger debris. The cartridge element can be removed and cleaned by pressure washing inside and out with a garden hose.

  • What you need: Wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Work Gloves
  • Large plastic pickle tub
  • Garden hose
  • Optional second cartridge *

* It’s much easier to complete the cleaning process when you have at least two different cartridge filter media canisters at all times. This way, you can rotate the one you’re cleaning with one the one that has already been cleaned. This will help you get your pool back up and running after regular cleaning almost right away. You won’t need to wait until your filter is completely clean and dry before starting everything back up.

Need a reliable pool cleaner? Check out this review: Best In Class: Hayward Tiger Shark Pool Cleaner Review

Cleaning your cartridge step by step guide:

  1. Set aside at least an hour to take care of this process. If you don’t have a secondary filter cartridge media canister to rotate with the one you’re cleaning, it may take up to 48 hours to complete the process.
  2. Although some owners recommend acid wash pool filter cleaning processes, this guide sticks to a more traditional method of cartridge cleaning.
  3. First, turn off the pool filter and the pump. If possible, flip the breaker or unplug the filter system so there’s no power flowing to the filter. This makes working on it much safer overall.
  4. Turn the air relief valve on the top of your filter to remove the air inside slowly. This is much safer for the lines than simply opening the filter right away and letting all the air escape.
  5. Your filter should have a clamp that holds it together or keeps it in place. You need to remove this. You can probably do this by hand, especially if you have a newer filter, but if your filter is older you might need to use a wrench or screwdriver to remove the clamp. If you can do this by hand, put on your work gloves to prevent any injury to your hands.
  6. Remove the lid of the cartridge filter unit so you can see the inside of the filter.
  7. Remove any other clamps or holders keeping the cartridge in place inside and then take the cartridge out of the filter.
  8. Set the cartridge aside and take a look inside at the other pieces of the filter. If anything looks broken at this time, you’ll need to have it repaired before you put the filter back together. If everything looks okay, give the inside of the unit a quick rinse with your garden hose before continuing. This can help remove any grime that might be starting to build up on the walls of the canister’s holding unit.
  9. Check the cartridge for any signs of damage. Chances are good the filter cartridge is going to be very dirty at this time, and that’s normal. However, you should still be able to tell if the media is torn or has any holes in it. If anything looks amiss, discard this filter and start fresh with a new, clean one.
  10. If it’s time for you to replace this filter media altogether, you can do the same thing. Just discard this one and put in a new one. That’s all you need to do in this instance.
  11. In most cases, you’ll want to clean this cartridge and put it back in for more use. If this is your plan, place the filter cartridge in the pickle tub.
  12. If you have another cartridge to alternate with this one, put it back into the filter now. Close any clamps or bolts to hold the filter media in place, and then close and lock the lid to the filter housing unit once again. Reattach the filter to the pump if needed and turn the power back on. After the pump and filter cycle once, the pool will be ready to be used again.
  13. Now it’s time to get back to cleaning that other filter. At this point, you have a couple of options. First of all, you can add a little bit of filter cleaning solution or even, in some cases, laundry detergent to water in the pickle tub and soak your filter overnight. This is a common choice for many people who have another filter cartridge to alternate with since it requires a little bit more time to complete.
  14. If you prefer, you can also coat the filter thoroughly with a specialized formula designed for cleaning these types of filter media. Depending on the cleaning solution you use, you may need to let the filter soak overnight, or you may be able to soak it for only a couple of hours. Be sure to check on the packaging for your cleaner to determine the right way to use it.
  15. After soaking, rinse the filter cartridge media. You can use a filter flossing device at this time to help you get in between all the pleats, or you can just open the pleats on your own by hand and rinse them out with a garden hose. Whichever way you choose to clean the filter, be sure you remove every drop of the cleaning solution or soap you used. If there is even a little soap residue left on your filter media, the water in your pool will get sudsy and will be very difficult to clean. This can also throw off the pH balance in your pool, which can lead to algae growth.
  16. In some rare instances, you may need to soak the filter again and rinse it once more to completely remove all the grime. This is usually only true if your cartridge is very dirty, very old, or has been exposed to very hard water.
  17. After the filter has been completely rinsed, let the media sit out in the sun to dry for at least 24 hours. At this time, you can either store it until next time or put it back in the filter, depending on whether or not you’re using two cartridges at a time.
  18. To store your filter, place it in an airtight container such as a plastic tub with a locking lid. Make sure the filter is completely dry before you do this to prevent the growth of mold. Keep it in a dry place and check it regularly to be sure no rodents have tried to chew on it, especially if you’re keeping it in the attic or garage.

As you can see, the cartridge filter cleaning is a bit more difficult than with the sand filters but it’s not impossible to do it on your own. In time, you’ll get into the routine and it will be easier and faster.

Here’s a short video for a visual explanation, as well:


Aleks Stanic

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