How To Change Sand In a Sand Filter


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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 contaminates as well. Also, the sand will start to ball up or the water will create channels through 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.

Click Here to View our Available Sand Filters

Click Here to View Replacement Sand Filter Parts 



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.

Please click here to view multiport valves. 

Please click here to view 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.

Please click here to view ZeoSand 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.

Please click here to view the backwash hose.

Please click here to view hose clamps.

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.

Please click here to view multiport valves.

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 remove 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 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.

Please click here to view multiport valves.

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.
.NOTE: Before you fill the tank with sand, line the tank up with the piping and do a trial install so you don't have to move the 300 # tank into place.

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 silicone lubricant and place it on the underside of the valve.

Please click here to view Magic Lube O-ring Lubricant.

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.

Please click here to view diverter valves.

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".

Click Here to View our Available Sand Filters

Click Here to View Replacement Sand Filter Parts 


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.

Please click here to view pressure gauges.


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Anonymous  Posted: 6/10/2017 

My husband replaced the sand in our filter a few weeks ago, but I don't think he rinsed the sand to waste before turning the filter on. Our water looks terrible after 2 weeks of chemicals and running filter non-stop. Could this be the problem? Also, we added sand just based on the number of lbs it needs and going by the number of pounds per bag of sand. Is this right or should we be going by the actual sand level in the filter? Thanks. It's mid-June and we haven't been able to get in our pool yet, so are very frustrated - help would be appreciated.

 Posted: 6/9/2017 

Very helpful thank you for your time

 Posted: 6/4/2017 

Thanks for the simple, yet thorough, instructions. Just the right amount of information for a novice like me to follow along and not screw anything up! Had my previous home owner installed unions this project would have been quicker. At least now they're installed so next time there'll be no cutting or pvc cement involved.
Thanks again!


InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/1/2017 

Anonymous (no flow) - Even if one lateral was up, that should not prevent flow. With an above ground pool, your pump does not have to pull water from the pool. Water will fall from the pool to the pump at the bottom of the pool through gravity. So it the tube between the pool and the pump is open, you shouldn't have a problem there. Now the pump has to push the water through the filter. Check to make sure your pump's impeller is not clogged. If the impeller is clear and the tube to the top of the filter is clear you should be getting water into the top of the filter. Now check the spider gasket in the filter's multiport valve. If it is damaged, it may be blocking flow out of the filter. Generally, though, you would have flow, it would just be going out the wrong port.

Anonymous  Posted: 5/29/2017 

I have a Dream line high rate sand filter .I had to take the pool down for because we moved .I bought the pump last summer worked wonderful , put it back together did everything it said in the instructions it wont suck the water from the pool and it dont have any pressure. If one of the laterals are not flat at the bottom could this be the problem. The pump is coming on and sand tank is filled with water and the scimmer has water no line are blocked or clogged

 Posted: 5/26/2017 

This is well done and very user friendly. Thanks for taking time out to provide this for everyone. Kudos and God Bless.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/15/2017 

Gary - No, your pool does not have to be filled up to normal operating level before you change your filter sand. But you will have to fill it before you turn on your pump so the pump will prime.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/15/2017 

glenncz - Good point and thank you for your input. I will incorporate your comment into our guide.

 Posted: 5/15/2017 

Do my pool need to be filled up to the normal pool level before I can change the sand.

 Posted: 5/13/2017 

Article was super helpful for amateur first time sand change. But you left one super impt thing out!!!! I got to the point of washing the filter out and emptying it on side. Then I hosed/cleaned pad and "sort of" put it back where it was. Of course after putting 300 lbs of sand in it the hoses didn't line up. i think good advice would be to do a dummy fit of cap and hoses to make sure filter is back in same spot and much easier to move it empty. Then fill it up with sand.

 Posted: 3/13/2017 

My in ground pool is only 3 years old, last year I installed a heat pump. My problem is that my filter develops too much back pressure and shuts down my heat pump after only a few days from backwash. I backwash and rinse again, and it works fine for a few days then shuts off again. My question is my sand already bad?

Anonymous  Posted: 8/15/2016 

Awesome guide, thank you. Much easier than I thought it might be. This was the answer to weeks of cloudy pool water and endless chasing of chemicals. My filter was about 7 years old. I overpaid on Amazon prime for #20 silica sand but got it in 2 days and it arrived while I was already taking the multi port valve off.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/19/2016 

Edwin - Check the spider gasket in you multiport valve to make sure it is not damaged and letting water into the wrong ports. Then remove the sand in your filter and check for cracks in the laterals, the lateral hub, and the standpipe.

 Posted: 7/17/2016 

When I vacuum my pool, some of the dust comes out of the jets even though I backwash four or five times.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/1/2016 

C-Ray – I’m assuming that you have a Waterway Carefree Sand Filter that looks like this. Waterway bought out Proline. To determine the diameter of the filter tank, take a string and measure around the circumference of the tank at its widest point. Divide that measurement by 3.14 to get the tanks diameter. If it is 22" you will need 150 lbs of sand. If 26”, you will need 200 lbs of sand.

 Posted: 5/31/2016 

Great article. Very thorough and helpful. One question- how can I figure out how much sand to use in my filter? It's a Proline sand filter from 2007. Label on the filter is worn out and tattered. No clue on the model number. Only thing I can make out is P25121 on the label, but my internet search shows nothing related. I'm guessing the filter is a 22 or 26 inch

 Posted: 5/29/2016 

My husband changed the pool filter sand as instructed with no issues, and when he was finished he first attempted to backwash. Nothing happened. No water came out of the waste line at all. What could be the issue?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/4/2016 

Princess - Some sand has very fine sand in the bag that gets through the laterals. Try vacuuming up the existing sand with a suction vacuum. If you get more sand, you may have a broken lateral or standpipe which means taking the sand out again to inspect the pipes.

 Posted: 5/2/2016 

Changed sand in my filter now we have lots of sand in the bottom of our pool. What did we do wrong?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 11/3/2015 

H Abed - I would guess that you have a broken lateral or standpipe. You will have to change the sand in order to find out.

 Posted: 11/2/2015 


When I backwash as usual for 2-3 minutes, I get a hand-full of sand from the waste pipe, does that mean something wrong in the sand filter or it is normal to get some sand out with the water?



InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 11/2/2015 

square - I do not know what the plug is for. Maybe to partially drain the pool or to add a small light?

 Posted: 11/1/2015 

At point of refilling pool from being replastered! There is a white screw-in plug, when filling pool, water leaks from the plug! It's a early '80's pool, Anthony Pool I think! The plug is at end of pool near steps! Do you know what it is for?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 10/12/2015 

adding filter sand - When you pour sand into your filter, you might want to first fill the tank half way with water to protect the laterals from the sand pouring in. When you turn the pump on to go operational, the pump will fill up the tank the rest of the way.

Anonymous  Posted: 10/11/2015 

hi I purchase this dynamo pump and sand filter, how much water do I have to put with the sand ?


InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/22/2015 

George - The bigger the better. Wet sand is heavy so a more powerful vac will get the sand out faster.

 Posted: 9/22/2015 

Enjoyed the article on changing filter sand. I am going to be purchasing a new wet dry vac and was wondering what size works best for getting the sand out? ie 6.5 hp with 2 1/2" hose or 5hp with 1 1/2" hose? thanks

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/19/2015 

glen4cindy - It sounds like you may have a damaged spider gasket in your Multiport Valve. If you are vacuuming the dirt to the waste port, a damaged spider gasket might allow that dirty water to also divert back to the pool through the valve's recirculation port. See our guide on "How to Replace a Spider Gasket on a Multiport Valve". If you are vacuuming in the "Filter" mode, you might have a broken lateral that would pass the dirty water unfiltered back to the pool. See our guide on "How To Replace a Lateral in a Pool Sand Filter".

 Posted: 7/18/2015 

Hello, This is only the 3 year we have had our sand filter. At this time, when we vacuum, the dirt from the bottom of the pool will come back into the pool through the returns. We can have a crystal clear pool. After a short time of trying to vacuum, our pool is so cloudy we can barely see the bottom. It has been suggested our sand might be dirty and might need to be changed. But, so soon? Please help. Thanks.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/12/2015 

huggy bear - It's not clear what you are asking here. "White or brown sand?" doesn't matter but you have to purchase sand made for pools. And are you trying to fill the 9" gap to get more filtering? You can't. Your filter needs that gap for effective rinsing during backwash.

 Posted: 7/10/2015 

White or brown sand in my jacuzzi 9" gap of free space now can I use scrap piece pvc pipe to extend above stack and fill tank then remove and install rest of filter

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/2/2015 

changing sand - Reasoning sounds good. Sand isn't going to wear out or clump if it's used less than average. Of course our 5-7 years is an average across the country. As long as your pool is clear, you shouldn't need to replace your sand, but sounds like you are getting close.

Anonymous  Posted: 7/1/2015 

Good Video. I live in Wisconsin, where we are lucky to get a good 3 month swimming season. So I'm guessing that there are about 3 or 4 swimming "years" here to equal one southern swimming year, where the pool is open near year round. So should my sand last 3 to 4 times longer than the 5 to 7 years that you have listed? My current filter sand still seems to be doing well after 17 years.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/17/2015 

Greenpoolguy - You may have a lot of algae trapped in your filter sand. Try shocking the pool again. Then repeat a backwash - rinse cycle 3 or 4 times in a row to loosen up the sand/algae. If that doesn't work, change your sand. It should be changed every 5-7 years.

 Posted: 5/15/2015 

Hey !
Thanks for all the advice. Quick question, just started my pool last week for the 1st time (new owner of the house)and I cant get the water to clear out. It's now swampy green. I did a shock treatment, backwashed once / twice a day, raised chlorine, dropped the ph, etc. Same result. I had the water analysed at the pool shop and all seems ok (PH level, chlor, etc.)
They said that it's probably my sand that isn't filtering well (it's 6 years old). Could that be it ? When I backwash, water does come out green for a minute then turns clear afterwards.
Any help will be appreciated !


Anonymous  Posted: 5/13/2015 

Very informative. Thanks.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 1/12/2015 

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...

 Posted: 1/12/2015 

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?

 Posted: 10/12/2014 

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

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/15/2014 

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.