Owning an above ground pool is a fantastic way to enjoy summertime fun and relaxation in your backyard. However, to ensure that your pool remains clean, safe, and inviting, you must have a reliable filtration system. Above ground pool filters are essential for removing dirt, debris, and other contaminants from your pool water, keeping it crystal clear and hygienic for swimmers.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain what above ground pool filters are, how they work, and introduce you to the top 3 brands in the industry.

Above Ground Pool Filter

What is an Above Ground Pool Filter?

An above-ground pool filter is a crucial component of your pool’s circulation system. It removes impurities and maintains water clarity. As water is pumped out of your pool, it passes through the filter, which traps contaminants before the clean water is returned to the pool.

There are three main types of above ground pool filters:

  1. Sand Filters: These filters use a bed of special-grade sand to capture debris and impurities. As water flows through the sand, particles get trapped, leaving clean, clear water behind.
  2. Cartridge Filters: Cartridge filters feature a cylindrical cartridge made of pleated polyester material. As water passes through the cartridge, contaminants are caught in the pleats, providing efficient filtration.
  3. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filters: DE filters use a fine powder from fossilized algae called diatoms. This powder coats a grid inside the filter, creating a highly effective filtration system that can remove even the smallest particles.

How Above Ground Pool Filters Work

Regardless of the type of filter you choose, the basic principle remains the same. Your pool pump draws water from the pool and pushes it through the filter, where contaminants are trapped and removed. The clean water is returned to the pool through the return jets, ensuring continuous circulation and filtration.

As the filter captures more and more debris, it becomes clogged and less efficient over time. Regular maintenance, such as backwashing (for sand and DE filters) or cleaning and replacing cartridges, is essential to keep your filtration system working effectively.

Top 3 Above Ground Pool Filter Brands

When choosing an above ground pool filter, selecting a brand that offers high-quality, reliable products is essential. Here are the top 3 brands in the industry:

1. Intex

Intex is a well-known name in the above ground pool market, offering various filters to suit various pool sizes and types. Their filters are known for their durability, ease of installation, and efficient filtration.

Top Intex Above Ground Pool Filters:

  • Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump
  • Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump
  • Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater System with E.C.O. (Electrocatalytic Oxidation)

2. Hayward

Hayward is a trusted brand in the pool equipment industry. It offers high-quality above-ground pool filters that are built to last. The filters are designed for optimal performance and easy maintenance.

Top Hayward Above Ground Pool Filters:

  • Hayward W3S220T ProSeries Sand Filter
  • Hayward W3C1200 SwimClear Cartridge Filter
  • Hayward W3EC40AC Perflex D.E. Filter

3. Pentair

Pentair is another leading brand in the pool industry, known for its innovative and efficient filtration solutions. Its above-ground pool filters are designed to provide superior water clarity and simplify maintenance tasks.

Top Pentair Above Ground Pool Filters:

  • Pentair Prowler 820 Aboveground Cartridge Filter Pump
  • Pentair CFSN21 ProSeries Aboveground Sand Filter
  • Pentair Warrior Aboveground Cartridge Filter Pump

Choosing an Above Ground Pool Filter

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Above Ground Pool Filter

When selecting an above ground pool filter, there are several factors to keep in mind:

  1. Pool Size: Ensure your chosen filter is appropriately sized for your pool’s water volume. A filter that is too small will struggle to keep up with the demands of your pool, while an oversized filter can lead to inefficient operation and higher energy costs.
  2. Filtration Type: Consider the pros and cons of each filtration type (sand, cartridge, or DE) to determine which one best suits your needs. Sand filters are low-maintenance and affordable, cartridge filters are easy to clean and replace, and DE filters provide the finest filtration but require more upkeep.
  3. Ease of Installation and Maintenance: Look for filters that are easy to install and maintain, with clear instructions and readily available replacement parts. This will save you time and effort in the long run.
  4. Energy Efficiency: Choose a filter with an energy-efficient pump to help reduce your operating costs and minimize your environmental impact.
  5. Brand Reputation and Warranty: Invest in a filter from a reputable brand that offers a solid warranty and customer support. This will give you peace of mind and ensure you have a reliable product that will last for years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I run my above ground pool filter?

It’s recommended to run your above ground pool filter for at least 8-12 hours per day or longer during peak usage or after heavy rainfall. This ensures your pool water is continuously circulated and filtered, maintaining optimal water clarity and hygiene.

How do I know when to clean or replace my above ground pool filter?

You’ll typically need to backwash sand filters when the pressure gauge reads 8-10 psi above the normal operating pressure. Cartridge filters should be cleaned or replaced when the flow rate decreases or the pressure rises significantly. DE filters require backwashing and replacing the DE powder when the pressure gauge reads 8-10 psi above the normal operating pressure.

Can I use a different type of filter than what my above ground pool originally came with?

In most cases, yes. However, it’s essential to ensure that the new filter is compatible with your pool’s plumbing and pump and that it is appropriately sized for your pool’s water volume. Consult with a pool professional or the filter manufacturer to determine the best option for your specific pool.

How long do above ground pool filters typically last?

The lifespan of an above ground pool filter depends on various factors, such as the type of filter, the quality of the product, and how well it is maintained. On average, sand filters can last 5-7 years, cartridge filters can last 2-5 years (with regular cleaning and replacing cartridges), and DE filters can last 5-7 years (with proper maintenance and replacement of DE powder).

What are the signs that my above ground pool filter needs to be replaced?

Some common signs that your above ground pool filter may need to be replaced include:

    • Consistently poor water clarity, despite regular cleaning and maintenance
    • Reduced water flow or increased pressure, even after cleaning or backwashing
    • Visible cracks, leaks, or damage to the filter tank or components
    • Excessive noise or vibration from the filter during operation If you notice any of these signs, consult a pool professional to determine if a replacement is necessary.


Investing in a high-quality above ground pool filter is essential for maintaining a clean, safe, and enjoyable swimming environment. By understanding the different types of filters available and the top brands in the industry, you can make an informed decision when selecting the best filter for your pool.

Consider factors such as pool size, filtration type, ease of maintenance, energy efficiency, and brand reputation when choosing. With the right above ground pool filter and proper maintenance, you can enjoy sparkling clean water and a hassle-free summer swimming experience.