Comparing Sand, Cartridge, And DE Pool Filters For Tampa Homeowners

Three main types of in-ground pool filters: sand filters, cartridge filters, and diatomaceous earth (DE) filters

In-ground swimming pools are a popular addition to homes in Florida, where the warm climate allows for year-round enjoyment. An essential component of pool maintenance is the filtration system, which keeps the water clean and clear by removing debris, dirt, and other contaminants. There are three main types of in-ground pool filters: sand filters, cartridge filters, and diatomaceous earth (DE) filters. Each has its unique advantages and best use cases, especially considering Florida’s specific environmental factors and the expertise of a dedicated pool company.

Sand Filters

Sand filters are one of the oldest types of pool filters. They operate by pushing pool water through a bed of sand, where debris and particles are trapped in the spaces between the sand grains. Over time, the accumulated debris causes the water flow to slow, indicating the need for backwashing – reversing the water flow to clean out the trapped debris.


– Cost-Effective: Sand filters are generally less expensive than other types of filters, both in initial purchase and maintenance costs.

– Low Maintenance: They require less frequent cleaning than cartridge or DE filters. Backwashing is typically needed only every few weeks to months, depending on pool usage and size.

Best Use Case in Florida:

Sand filters are an excellent choice for larger pools, where the high volume of water can be efficiently managed with less frequent maintenance. They are particularly suited to areas with lower levels of fine particles in the air, as sand filters are less effective at capturing very small particles compared to DE or cartridge filters. An experienced pool company can provide additional insights and maintenance services tailored to Florida’s conditions.

Cartridge Filters

Cartridge filters contain one or more pleated filter cartridges made from polyester or other synthetic fabrics. Water passes through these cartridges, and particles are captured on the surface of the pleats.


– Efficient Filtration: Cartridge filters can capture smaller particles than sand filters, down to about 10 to 15 microns, making them more effective at producing clearer water.

– Energy Efficient: These filters operate at a lower pressure than sand filters, which can lead to energy savings, especially in terms of the pump’s electricity usage.

Best Use Case in Florida:

Cartridge filters are well-suited for pools located in South Tampa, areas with a lot of trees, plants, or other sources of fine debris. Their superior filtration capabilities can help keep the pool water crystal clear despite the presence of fine pollen, leaves, and other natural debris common in Florida’s lush landscapes. Consulting with a pool company can help homeowners choose the best option for their specific situation.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filters

DE filters use a fine powder made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae, to filter the pool water. The DE powder coats a set of grids or fingers inside the filter housing, and as water passes through, the DE captures particles as small as 3 to 5 microns.


– Superior Filtration: DE filters offer the highest level of filtration among the three types, capable of removing even the smallest particles for the clearest water.

– Flexibility: Like sand filters, DE filters need to be backwashed, although the DE powder must be replenished afterward.

Best Use Case in Florida:

DE filters are ideal for pools in areas with high use or those that require the highest water clarity, such as pools used for competitive swimming or those in particularly dusty or pollen-heavy environments. They are also well-suited for homeowners who prioritize water purity and are willing to undertake the slightly more complex maintenance process associated with DE filters. A knowledgeable pool company with experience in DE filters can guide homeowners through the selection and maintenance process, ensuring optimal performance in Florida’s unique environment.

Considerations for Florida Pool Owners

When selecting a pool filter in Tampa, FL, homeowners should consider several environmental and usage factors:

– Local Flora: The presence of trees and plants can significantly impact the type of debris entering the pool, influencing the filter choice.

– Climate: Florida’s warm climate means pools are used year-round, requiring a reliable filtration system that can handle continuous use.

– Water Conservation: Backwashing filters like sand and DE can use a significant amount of water. In areas where water conservation is a priority, a cartridge filter, which does not require backwashing, might be the better choice. Consulting with a professional pool company can help homeowners make an informed decision based on these considerations.


Selecting the right filter for your in-ground pool in Tampa Bay involves weighing factors such as budget, maintenance preferences, and the specific challenges posed by the local environment. Whether you’re drawn to the cost-effectiveness and ease of maintenance of sand filters, the superior filtration capabilities of cartridge filters, or the unmatched water clarity provided by DE filters, making the right choice is crucial for ensuring year-round enjoyment of your pool.

For residents of Tampa, FL, and the surrounding areas, JJB Pools & Spas is your go-to source for expert advice and a wide selection of pool filters and equipment. With our deep understanding of Florida’s unique pool maintenance needs, we’re here to help you find the perfect filtration system that fits your lifestyle, ensuring your pool remains a clear, clean, and inviting oasis. Trust JJB Pools & Spas for all your pool filter and equipment needs, and experience the peace of mind that comes with knowing your pool is in the hands of experts dedicated to your satisfaction and enjoyment.

Picture Source: JJB Pools & Spas