How To Change Sand In a Sand Filter

Written by:  Danny Rhodehamel

Every 5 - 7 years you will have to replace the sand in your sand filter. The sand actually wears out. The sharp edges of the sand particles become worn and rounded and don't capture the contanimates as well. Also the sand will start to ball up or the water will create channels thru the sand. You will notice that your pool water is not as clean or the interval between required backwashes is shorter. This guide shows you the steps required to replace the sand in your sand filter.

Tips & Warnings


Step by Step

Step 1

To change the sand in your sand filter you will have to remove the Multiport Valve on the top of your filter. If your filter was not installed with union connections, you will have to cut the piping to your filter. When you reinstall the filter after replacing the sand, this would be a good time to add unions.

Step 2

Before you start to change the sand in your filter, be sure to purchase any material or equipment you will need ahead of time. This might include sand, the O-ring between the valve and the tank, Teflon tape, lubricant, and unions. For the sand use only high rate No. 20 Silica Sand. An example is pictured at left. Check the manufacturer to determine the amount required. This unit (Hayward S180T) uses 3 50 lb bags of sand - 150 lbs total. You can also purchase our superior to sand Click here for our Sand Alternative.

Step 3

Before you start to change the sand, make sure you TURN OFF THE POOL PUMP. For maximum safety turn off the power at the circuit breaker to the pump.

Step 4

Next release the pressure in the filter tank by turning the drain cap at the bottom of the tank a half a turn counter-clockwise. Then remove the cap completely to drain the water out of the tank.

Step 5

Disconnect the waste hose that is attached to the "WASTE" line coming off the Multiport Valve.

Step 6

To remove the Multiport Valve unscrew unions that connect the piping to the "PUMP" and "RETURN" ports. If your filter does not have unions, cut the piping that connects these two ports. Be sure to leave enough room to attach unions later and stagger the cuts so that one union will not be installed on top of the other.

Step 7

Next take off the Multiport Valve flange clamp that holds the filter onto the tank. Screw off both bolts to separate the clamp. Keep track of the vinyl protector caps that are placed over the ends of the screws.

Step 8

With a gentle twisting motion, lift the valve off the pipe inside the tank. If you pull too fast or hard, you risk breaking the lateral pipes at the bottom of the tank.

Step 9

Tape the top of the pipe to prevent sand from entering and clogging the laterals.

Step 10

Remove sand carefully with a plastic cup until you can see the tops of the laterals at the bottom of the tank. If you have a wet and dry shop vac, it might be an easier and faster option to remore your sand.

Step 11

Gently pull the pipe and lateral assembly out of the rest of the sand. Then before you pull the assembly out of the tank, carefully rotate the 10 laterals up to the side of the pipe so that they will clear the hole.

Step 12

Lift the pipe and lateral assembly out of the tank.

Step 13

Check each of the laterals for breaks and replace as necessary. If the laterals are badly clogged you may want to soak them in a bucket of cleaning solution.

Step 14

Wash out the tank with a garden hose.

Step 15

Check the drain cap for cracks and replace it securely.

Step 16

Fill tank about 1/2 way full with water to provide a cushion when the sand is poured in. This will help protect the laterals.

Step 17

Next you will be replacing the pipe and lateral assembly back inside the tank. Make sure the 10 laterals are rotated up. Place the pipe and lateral assembly inside the tank.

Step 18

After the lateral assembly is inside, carefully rotate the 10 laterals 90 degrees in their down position.

Step 19

Make use the pipe is centered in the opening. Tape the top of the pipe to prevent sand from entering and clogging the laterals.

Step 20

The sand filter package came with a cardboard sand shield. If you still have this shield, place this over the pipe and within the opening. If not, you will have to take more care that the pipe remains centered when you pour in the sand.

Step 21

Pour sand carefully into the pool sand filter until laterals are fully covered. For this unit 3 bags should leave at least 6" space between the top of the sand and the top of the filter. Level sand as you pour and make sure the center pipe remains centered in the opening. Be careful when leveling the sand that you do not lift the pipe and lateral assemble up off the bottom of the tank. You will not be able to push the pipe back down without causing the laterals to rotate up.

Step 22

Remove the O-ring on the bottom of the Multiport valve and check it for wear. Since you only do this every 5-7 years, it's probably a good idea to replace this O-ring now. Lightly lubricate the O-ring with a silicon lubricant and place it on the underside of the valve.

Step 23

Remove tape from top of pipe. Slip the Multiport control valve onto the central pipe - check the O-ring to ensure it is positioned correctly.

Step 24

Install clamp around the tank and valve flange. Tighten multiport valve flange clamp with a screwdriver. Tap around the clamp with the screwdriver handle as you are tightening the clamp to help seat the clamp properly. Place vinyl protector caps over the ends of the screws.

Step 25

Reconnect the two unions to the "PUMP" and "RETURN" ports. If you did not have unions, add unions now or glue the pipes back together with straight couplers.

Step 26

With the pump OFF, depress the multiport valve handle fully and turn it to the "BACKWASH" position. Make sure that your waste line is rolled out to where you want to dump the pool waste water.

Step 27

Prime and turn ON the pool pump. Be sure that you have at least one suction and all discharge lines open.

Step 28

Run the pool pump for 2 minutes after you have a steady flow of water out the waste line (after the pump is fully primed). This will flush all the impurities or fine sand particles out of the sand media.

Step 29

Turn the pool pump OFF and turn the valve handle to "RINSE".

Step 30

Turn the pump back ON and run until the water in the sight glass is clear. This should take no more than 1 minute.

Step 31

Turn the pool pump OFF and turn the valve handle to "FILTER".

Step 32

Turn the pool pump ON. This is the normal operating mode for your filter. Note the pressure gauge reading. This is your clean sand filter pressure.

Comments (1 to 40 of 80)

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User: Inyopools

JT sand filter novice - Unfortunately it sounds like the pipe assembly has been lifted off of the bottom when you replaced the sand. The only way to fix this is to remove the new sand and replace the pipe assembly on the bottom of the tank. On the positive side, you are now an expert. After doing this twice, you will be in a real good position to help a neighbor replace his sand...

User: JT sand filter novice

Really good article. Wish I'd read it before tackling this task. No problem getting the sand out but when i refilled it the pipe had obviously not stayed down the bottom - i can't get the multi-thing back on fully - it's about an inch away. Is there anything i can do?..beyond taking alot of the sand back out?

User: Paul

Great directions. My sons and I did this in a little under 3 hours. Thanks for the article.

User: Inyopools

dirtywater - Check the spider gasket in your pool filter multiport valve. If it is damaged, you may be getting waste water leaking into the filter path.

User: dirtywater

I have an above ground pool. I also have a Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter. I used a flocculant in the pool to clear the cloudiness. I vacuumed to waste and noticed the dirty water being put back into the pool thru the inlet. What gives. Just installed the filter this spring after having a cartridge filter for 3 years.

User: King Roy

Very nice - thorough

User: Inyopools

sand level - I've see numbers for the free space above the sand range from 6" to 12". If you don't know what filter you have, I would go with 9" of gap.


I don't know how much sand to put in my filter. When we moved in the label on the pump was all ready gone so I don't know brand or cubic ft. Is 6in from the top of the filter a standard for all or most pumps?

User: Inyopools

System pressure - The gauge pressure for a Hayward S180T Sand Filter will vary with your system configuration - pump size, piping etc, but it typically runs between 10 and 20 psi.


what is correct gauge pressure for a hayward sand filter S180

User: Inyopools

BeckyB - Make sure that the clamp that holds the multiport valve to the tank is on evenly and tightly. Hit clamp gently with a rubber mallet as you are tightening the clamp. Check that there are no cracks in the tank or valve when they come together.

User: BeckyB

We just had the sand in our filter changed. We also had the o ring changed because it was leaking. It is still leaking after we did that. Why would it still be leaking? It is leaking from in between the switch and the tank. Please help I don't know what else it could be.

User: ataloss

I have read all the comments. but I still have a problem. I have nothing that came with my filter system that remotely looks like laterals. There are no pipes or anything like them inside my filter

User: Inyopools

Sly - Most people don't have a place to recycle the sand. We generally place it out for the garbage in the bags the new sand came in.

User: Syl

Excellent instructions. I think I can do this. Stupid question. What do you do with the old sand? Recycle like old food compost? Or garbage bag it and throw it out?

User: Inyopools

jttoler - Make sure you leave at least 6" between the sand and the top of the tank. You may have a blown spider gasket. Are you using pool filter sand?

User: jttoler

was getting sand in the pool, discovered a crack in the centerpipe and laterals. Replaced the center pipe and laterals, followed all steps, and when I run the filter more sand than ever is coming through the return. anyone have any idea why this would happen? This is a hayward S180T932S sand filter

User: Inyopools

Toniamcm - Sounds like everything's as it should be. The sight glass is only connected to the "waste" line so water will only show during backwashing - will be empty during filtering. 15 psi is a good reading for pressure. If your sand hasn't been changed for seven years, you are probably due for a sand change. It will improve filtering. Otherwise you can run the filter and pump as is.

User: Toniamcm

I have a Hayward filter. I am getting it ready for summer. Everything is working except the sight bulb doesn't hold any water when filtering. I am not losing prime, and I have back washed and rinsed several times. The bulb will hold water when backwashing. The pressure gauge is working, but shows only 15 psi pressure. The sand hasn't been changed for seven years, would this be the cause? Can I run the pump and filter like it is until I can get it fixed. Will this damage anything?

User: susag

My shop vac was not as effective as runninng a hose in the tank to make a slurry and just taking a 1" hose and start a sucktion and then letting it drain out. Just have to make sure the hose stays a fraction of an inch away from the sand.

User: Inyopools

sand in pool - Some sand has a fine sand in the mix that goes through the filter. When you change your sand, the "rinse" cycle usually clears this sand out of your new sand. But you are past this point. Try vacuuming the sand on the floor and purging it to your waste line. Also check your multiport valve spider gasket to make sure it is not damaged.


I have changed the sand and checked the latterals for damage but after restarting the pump for 6-8 hours the bottom of my pool has sand in it. I took the filter apart again and rechecked everything again and still have the same problem.

User: Marge

Well I decided to change the sand on my filter. Everything s perfect . All of the advise and comments and questions asked by others really helped do the trick with 100degree temp today it just worked out great!!!!!!!!!!!

User: Marg

I have Hayward model s166t sand filter. Filter water into pool good but backwash just trickling out should I change sand

User: Inyopools

Laterals - The laterals I have seen have slots all the way around the circumference of the lateral. But if the slots on your laterals are only on one side, I do not think it will matter if the slots are up, down, or sideways. The water will get through them in any position.


Should the slots in the laterals be pointing up, down, or sideways?


I just replaced sand in jacuzzi filter. I was very careful to keep the tube resting on the bottom while pouring in sand. I'm unable to connect multi port valve to tube because of 1/2" gap between them. Can anything be done to avoid doing it all over again? Thanks in advance for reply.

User: Inyopools

loose filter clamp - Unfortunately, it sounds like you are going to have to remove the sand again to place the stand pipe further down in the tank.


Good day,my filter is leaking under the clamp, ive replaced the o- ring with no success. Ive called a pool company and they suggested that the pipe may have shifted, and to keep trying to get a good seal, or remove the sand and refill it?

User: Inyopools

pbivens - The filter manufacturers strongly recommend not trying to repair a cracked filter. There is a high risk of them exploding.

User: pbivens

I have a crack in the seam near the top of my older black composite material Hayward pool filter tried JB weld epoxy from outside and worked for one or two hours nowgoing inside, use JB again or something else??????

User: Inyopools

Changing sand - Some people purge the old sand through the filter drain. But you still have to pull the top off to add sand. Another option is to switch to a Cartridge filter. The cartridges are relatively easy to lift out, clean and replace.


this is a hard thimg to do if there is an eaiserway to change sand I want it

User: Inyopools

Rich - It may be that your new sand is not yet "dirty" enough to backwash dirty water. Note: Your sand filter will filter more efficiently if it has some level of debris in the sand. Don't filter too frequently. Wait until your filter's psi increases 10 psi or so.

User: Rich

I just changed the sand in my sand filter (Hayward s180T) and started filtering my pool but when I back wash the filter the water is clear. I'm used to seeing dirty water that then changes over to clean after a few minutes. Any thoughts? Thanks

User: Inyopools

Dave - Sounds like you have a blockage in your system. In the sand filter, check the laterals on the bottom of the pipe that runs through the middle of the tank. See if they are clogged. Then look at your old motor to see if your problem was a clogged impeller.

User: Inyopools

Mark - I had to talk to the filter rep on this one. If the filter cycle is working and there is no flow through the backwash and rinse cycle, he thinks your problem must be a blown spider gasket. If the water isn't going out the waste port at those settings, it has to be going somewhere. If the gasket is blown, the water is probably still going back to the pool. I would check to see if you have strong flow back to the pool in the backwash cycle. If so, you probably need to replace the spider gasket in your multiport valve. Remember to turn off your pump every time you change the valve setting.

User: Dave

I use my sand filter on my pond. The pump is in the collector box, which has a filter, and then is pumped through the sand filter. Last year the flow was fine. This year its a trickle and the motor burned out. It was 1/3 hp and a little small for the job. The sand is only two years old so wondering how to fix the trickle?

User: Mark

I have this exact filter and after completing these steps the backwash and rinse cycles barely flow out of the discharge. The normal filter cycle works fine. I opened the valve and found nothing irregular. The end of last season all worked fine.
Any idea what might have happened when I replaced the sand, and how to fix it?

User: Inyopools

6 bags sand - I just reread the installation instructions for this series of Hayward filters and it does say that 300# of sand is required for the S244T. In a statement for all models, it says "Sand surface should be leveled and should come to within 6" of the top of the filter tank". So it is not clear why your sand level is not at least close to the 6" line. I would add enough sand to get to the 6" line for best filtration.

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