Over time, your pool filter is going to age to the point were it needs to be replaced. Weather, UV light from the sun, age, physical damage and technology are all conspiring to ensure that you will have to replace your pool filter at some time (if not many times) during the life of the pool itself. Many people opt for replacement by a professional which is perfectly fine but if you can cut and glue PVC pipe (or want to learn how), you could save hundreds of dollars doing it yourself.

Removing the Old Pool Filter

The old pool filter in need of replacement.
The old pool filter in need of replacement.
The first thing you should do is turn off your pool system. Turn off the circuit breakers for your pool equipment and if you have an automated system, set it to service mode. You don’t want anything to turn on while you are replacing the pool filter.

Next examine the old pool filter to see not only how to remove it but how it is installed. Pay close attention to where the water flows in and out of the pool filter and mark the PVC pipes at their source (put masking/painters tape around the pipe and label one “IN” for the input side and “OUT” for the output side). Installing the pool filter with these two pipes reversed will damage the new pool filter.

Pool filter being drained with lid and cartridges removed
Pool filter being drained with lid and cartridges removed
To remove the pool filter, you will need to drain it of as much water as possible. To do this, remove the drain plug from the bottom of pool filter and open the pressure relief valve. Pay close attention to your pool during this step! Some pools sit higher than the pool equipment. If you see the level of the pool decreasing, you may need to shut a valve to stop the flow of water from the pool or you may have a defective backflow valve. If this happens, close the pressure valve and replace the drain plug until you can fix the issue.

Now you should be able to safely remove the lid from your pool filter and set it aside. Remove the cartridge filters, sand or D.E. material from the pool filter to help lighten the pool filter. Next, you are free to cut the PVC pipes connecting the old pool filter but use caution. In the picture, you can see power lines, control lines and other PVC pipe. Cutting one of these accidentally could mean more work for you or an expensive bill from a pool professional. As always, think before you cut. Also, be careful not to be too rough while cutting the PVC pipe, it is connected to pumps and other things that might leak if you vibrate the PVC pipe too much.

Pool filter removed and area cleaned
Pool filter removed and area cleaned
After cutting the pipes that connect the pool filter, be VERY careful when removing it. The pool filter may still be heavy and in tight spaces, it can be awkward to remove. If the old pool filter bumps into the existing plumbing or pool equipment, you might break something which could be costly to repair. Finally, get an idea of were the new pool filter needs to be placed to have easy access for the existing PVC pipes and clean the area were you are going to place it.

For a tutorial on how to cut, prime and glue PVC pipe, please view our post titled “Tutorial: Cutting / Priming / Gluing PVC Pipe“. It will give you helpful hints and instructions on how to work with PVC pipe.

Installing the New Pool Filter

New pool filter in place and ready to install
New pool filter in place and ready to install
Take the new pool filter and place it were you think it should go. Be very careful not to damage any of the the existing plumbing or pool equipment. If it takes two people, get someone to help you. Dropping the new pool filter could damage it and the remaining pool equipment.

Examine how the pool filter sits in relation to the “IN” plumbing and the “OUT” plumbing. Does the pool filter need to be turned or adjusted? Now is the time to do it. Also get an idea of how you want the PVC pipe to connect everything together. If you have a hard time visualizing it in your head, it sometimes helps to draw it on a piece of paper.

Now, add up all the elbows and couplers you will need. Take that number and add at least two or three extra of each kind (you might make a mistake or want to practice some). Finally, make a rough estimate of how much pipe you need. You can measure if you like but always add another stick of PVC pipe to your list just in case (PVC pipe is typically sold in 10foot long sticks).

Note: Did you remember to check the diameter of the PVC pipe that you are currently using for your pool equipment as well as the diameter of the PVC pipe needed for the new pool filter? Hopefully they are the same (usually 2 inches in diameter) but if they aren’t, you will have to get adapters to make the two fit together.

After you return with your supplies from your local hardware/home improvement store, double check to make sure you have everything you need. Now is the time to buy missing supplies instead of stopping in the middle of your project.

As you begin assembling the PVC pipes, couplers and elbows which will make up the plumbing for the new pool filter, take your time, measure every cut and think every step through (this will help keep mistakes to a minimum). The only time you need to hurry is when you apply glue and you only have seconds then. Remember, mistakes happen but a lot of mistakes can be easily corrected or worked around with PVC. If you have to cut out a section and replace it, give yourself enough pipe to glue a coupler or elbow onto it.

Conclusions

Completed installation of the new pool filter
Completed installation of the new pool filter
Replacing your old pool filter with a new one is not something that a professional has to do. With a little patience and forethought, you can do a great job yourself in less than a day. Just remember to be patient and methodical but when you apply the PVC glue, work quickly and decisively.

Tools required:

  • Tape measure
  • Painter’s tape (it removes easier and cleaner than masking tape)
  • Saw to cut PVC pipe (hack saw, reciprocating saw, etc.)
  • Box opener or file to smooth edges on cut PVC pipe
  • PVC glue (I prefer Rain-R-Shine PVC Glue)
  • PVC primer (I prefer Purple Primer)

Lessons Learned:

  • Take your time and think through the project (How will everything fit together?)
  • Buy more PVC pipe and fittings than you need (you can always take it back later)
  • Practice cutting/priming/gluing the PVC BEFORE you start assembling the finished product!

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