There is a lot of confusion about various filters, many different opinions, and several important facts to consider. The first is that a pool can be properly maintained with any of the filter systems available: Sand, Cartridge, or Diatomaceous Earth (DE). Here is a brief description of each type:
Water is pushed through a bed of filter sand and removed through a set of lateral tubes at the bottom.
The filter area of a sand filter is equal to the area of the filter itself.
For example, a 24" filter will have 3.14 square feet of filter area. Only the top 1" of sand is actually used to filter the water. The principle behind this filter is that water is pushed through the filter sand, somewhat like an espresso machine. Dirty water goes in the top and clean water exits out the bottom. As the filter sand becomes plugged with debris from the pool, the pressure increases on the filter and the water flow drops. In order to clean the filter, you just run it in reverse and dump the waste water; this is referred to as "backwashing" the filter.
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