How to Reduce High Pressure in Your Pool System


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There are several high water pressure scenarios that come up and for one reason or another have no apparent solution. You just replaced a failing motor or pump and your pressure jumped up from 10 to 20. Or your pressure crept up from 10 to 20 due to a dirty filter. You sprayed the debris off you filter cartridge like you did 50 times before but this time the pressure remained high. Or every time you turn the pump off, the back pressure is so high that it blows the cover off the skimmer or pushes the vacuum hose out of the suction port. This guide discusses these scenarios and possible solutions to correcting them.


Step by Step


Step 1

Why do I have high pressure? A pool system’s pressure is generally measured at the filter’s pressure gauge; the usual range is 10 - 25 pounds per square inch (PSI.) When you installed your filter, or after a thorough cleaning, make a note of the “clean filter” PSI. This rating will be used as a benchmark for pressure tests down the line.

High pressure is generated by three conditions: 
  1. The pump is pushing a higher water flowrate than the filter can handle efficiently.   is trying to move a larger flow of water (GPM) than it can handle; 
  2. A blockage after the filter is causing a bottleneck, creating backpressure inside the filter.    is a blockage (BLK) in the system after the pump - from the pump's discharge port. 
  3. A suction air leak before or at the pump is causing an air pocket inside the filter, which in turn creates the dreaded backpressure.
  4. Excessive plumbing creates backpressure as the water’s momentum gets slowed by every turn or rise in elevation it makes.

Step 2

Clean your Filter. The most common cause of high pressure in a pool is a dirty filter. Take cartridges as an example, as the material sives dirt from your pool water, the cartridge fabric more and more clogged. The clogging means the water has fewer and smaller perforations in the filter media to squeeze through. This creates a traffic jam of water, that presents itself at spiking PSI reading on the pressure gauge. Cleaning methods for each filter type:

  • Cartridge - Spray down cartridge for standard cleaning. For extra dirty cartridges, we suggest using a liquid filter cleaner. Click Here to View the Liquid Filter Cleaner
  • DE - Backwash thoroughly, open filter to hose down grids and remove any linger DE powder and debris in base of filter. The Filter Clean chemical can also be used to fresh up old grids.
  • Sand - Backwash thoroughly. If the filter sand is older than 5 years or shows signs of clumping or channeling, replace sand.

Step 3

Check your filter media - If your filter’s pressure is spiking after changing your filter media you may have fallen into one of these traps:

  • Sand - too much sand slows filtration of the water through the tank, creating backpressure
  • Cartridge - Replaced your cartridge with the incorrect size. Though a cartridge may be the same overall dimensions as your original cartridge, the square footage may be significantly less. Less surface area, makes for less flow, then to high pressure. Click Here to View Replacement Filter Cartridges
  • DE - Installing the wrong grid size. Or applying too much DE powder when recharging the grids. Click Here to View Replacement DE Grids

Step 4

Clogged Breathing Tube - Most filters have a breather tube to automatically purge air trapped at the top of the filter. This tube generally run from just under the top dome to the bottom of the tank. The breather tubes of some of the DE filters are integrated in the top manifold assembly and exit out through the discharge line. Air pressure in the top of the filter tank will build up if these breather tubes become clogged.

Click Here to View Replacement Filter Parts

Step 5

Oversized Pump - If your high-pressure reading has come directly after switching out your whole pool pump or pump impeller and motor assembly then you may have incorrectly sized the equipment. A pump’s flow rate is determined by its’ horsepower (HP,) whether it is a high or medium head style and the feet of head rating of PVC plumbing. If you jump up a HP, switch to a High head style from a medium head without accounting for feet of head differences then your pump’s flow rate could make a leap by 10 or more GPM. 
If your filter was already maxing out on the smaller pump, all that extra water has nowhere to go, and the rise in backpressure begins.

Correcting an oversized pump:
  • Replace impeller with a lower HP version to lower the GPM output. This is by far the cheapest option, but make sure you refer to your pump’s schematics to determine if the diffuser needs replacing as well.
  • Replace whole pool pump with the correct match
  • If the new pump is a dual or variable speed, run only on the lower speeds.
Click Here to View Replacement Pump Parts

Click Here to View Replacement Pumps 

Step 6

Closed Diverter Valves - If you have any diverter valves after the pump and filter, make sure they are completely open for max water flow. A partially closed diverter valve will throttle water flow, creating a flow bottleneck

Click Here to View Replacement Diverter Valves

Step 7

Enlarge Return Jets - One manufacturer has suggested replacing the return jets with ones with larger exit holes. This won't be as effective a change as something like changing your pump's impeller, but it should help.

Click Here to View Common Return Jets

Step 8

The key to eliminating high pressure in your pool filter system is reviewing potential flow restrictors or blockages in your system. 

Clean Your Filter - If you have diverter valves after the pump, you may have inadvertently closed off a section of your return lines. This action will restrict the total return flow and cause back pressure in your system. Open up these return lines.


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Anonymous  Posted: 3/13/2023 

We’ve had a lot of rain and my pool has been full for at least 2 weeks with water coming out of the skimmer basket. I haven’t had a chance to reduce the water level because of constant rain. Today the gauge blew off the top of my filter. Could that pressure build up be related to the pool being full with no air in the top of the skimmer basket?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 3/16/2023 

The plumbing shouldn't have any air in the system; no air is a sign of a properly sealed plumbing line. An overflowing pool would not cause the filter's pressure gauge to pop off.

 Posted: 5/23/2022 

My DE pump jumps up from 12 PSI to 26 PSI within an hour after a backwash/grid clean. If I throw it on recirculate mode, it runs just fine at 12 PSI. It was running fine a few days ago, but this started after the first backwash of the season. Pool has been open for a week now.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/23/2022 

Is your water clear? If the water is clear, but your pressure is spiking, you likely need to deep clean the filter. You may have added too much DE when you recharged the grids after the first backwash.If the water is not clear, your filter is filling up with debris clouding your water. You'll need to keep backwashing until the water is cleared.

 Posted: 4/10/2022 

After the pumps shut off dirt is at the bottom of pool. What could cause dirt at bottom of pool cause the dirt

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/14/2022 

Does the system lose prime after the pump shuts off? If the pump loses prime, then the dirt at the bottom of your pool is the result of the filter and pump strainer contents backflushing into the pool.

 Posted: 6/2/2021 

I have a high PSI with new cartridge filters. The pool was green upon opening however was able to get that blue but now slightly cloudy in the deep end. New filters are still pretty clean after reaching 28psi (again new filters) in just 24hrs. I believe I have a blockage because I can't seem to see any where air is getting in.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/4/2021 

If that cloudiness in the deep end is lingering dead algae, the spike in pressure is the cartridges getting clogged by it. I would do a clarifier or a flocculant treatment to clear the cloudiness once and for all. If the high pressure persists, then I could try cleaning the cartridges to clear them of leftover debris.

 Posted: 8/20/2021 

Hi Matt, I have the same issue as Gina described. My cloudiness in the deep end after I shocked the pool. I added clarifier yesterday and pool has been running for over 12 hours but I see no difference. The filter is only a few days old and my pressure is 26-28 psi, I feel almost no pressure from return jets so I don't think the water is circulating at all. Would it help to temporarily remove the filter to let the clarifier circulate throughout the system? If not, how would you suggest that I make the water clear? I already did all of your troubleshooting steps and confirmed pump is not oversize. It's one horse power and my pool is 6000 gallons.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/23/2021 

Your water pressure is slowing down because your filter is picking up all the stuff the clarifier is coagulating. You will need to repeatedly clean the filter as the clarifier collects the particulates in the water. The clarifier does not dissolve the particulates, it just binds them into larger bits so your filter is able to catch them. 

 Posted: 5/10/2021 

I have a Jandy Cs filter, with pressure gauge reading at 30psi. Filter cartridge has about 12 hours on it. I have no jet/return pressure so company told me to clean the filter. I did that with a hose then soaked in the filter cleaner. This pool hasent even been swam in yet. Nothing changed so I turned on the pump with no filter, has perfect pressure reading as well as perfect jet pressure. That would indicate the filter is dirty...if I’ve cleaned it, when it wasent really dirty in the first place, and soaked it, and still have the 30psi and no jet pressure, what would my next step be? Could this new of a filter need replaced? It came with my pump and was professionally installed so I’ve ruled out that it’s not the right size. It worked perfectly for the first few days now this.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/13/2021 

Is your water clear or is it cloudy or green? If the water is not clear this probably means it is getting clogged with whatever material or substance that is murking it up. How old is the cartridge? If the cartridges a few seasons old and It no longer returns to its normal "clean PSI reading" after a chemical soak, then it is probably time for a new one.

 Posted: 9/20/2020 

hayward filter cartridge was replaced, since then the pressure gauge remains at 33 when the pump is on. The only way to reduce it is to backwash for several minutes but within 5-10 minutes after turning on the pump the pressure goes up again to 33. With the old filter, the pressure was maintained at 20 and never had any problem. Not sure what else to do since this problem started with the new filter which was inserted on 08/2020

 Posted: 3/11/2021 

I have the exact same problem. Hayward DE 6000 filter. After cleaning the filter thoroughly, the exact same thing happening. After doing the backwash, it runs great for next few minutes and then the pressure shoots up to 35PSI and flow/pressure from the outlet drops drastically. Did you find any solution? Thanks much

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 3/12/2021 

How much DE are you adding to the filter? Is your water clear and balanced or are you having to do any chemical treatments?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 10/19/2020 

What is the model number of your filter? Cartridge filters do not have a multiport valve, nor do they have a backwash function.

 Posted: 8/22/2020 

Would a worn or leaking spider gasket in the sand filter head cause high pressure? I changed the sand less than a year ago and I'm running about 20 lbs pressure after a backwash.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/24/2020 

We're missing a couple of key facts: What is the standard "clean" psi when the new sand was put in, and at what PSI do you let it get to before you backwash? I don't believe a bad spider gasket could cause an issue with the pressure gauge. Are you sure the pressure gauge is working correctly? We also have this guide on lowering your pressure, give it a read:

 Posted: 6/1/2020 

hi. I have a sand filter. Last year, before closing it work great. This year, we just opened the pool it reads 30psi. I backwashed and it didnt help. I changed the sand. Still 30psi. Any ideas?

 Posted: 4/26/2022 

I have the exact same problem, did you ever figure out a resolution?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 10/23/2020 

Did you check anything else on the system as we mentioned in the guide? Did you check for blockages in the pipe?

Anonymous  Posted: 4/16/2020 

The cap on my pump keeps shooting off when I turn my pump on, even when I screw it back on tightly. What could be causing this?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/17/2020 

Is there a blockage in the return line or is the filter really dirty? The threads could be stripped, or there is a hairline crack that opens up when the pump builds up pressure.

 Posted: 4/4/2020 

When I backwash the psi drop down to 20psi but with in an hour it is back up to 30psi. It seems to stay there but I don’t like it that high. I have just replaced the DE filter, the backwash device was replaced last year. Strangely after the backwash device was replaced, I seem to get air in the motor filter and the only why to fill with no air was to backwash. It would fill with no air the run fine. Pool service crew told me it was fine. The pool struggled to stay clear so this year I replaced the DE filter but things are not going well. If you can share an advise that be awesome.

 Posted: 5/12/2021 

My pool is 30,00 gallons. What should my pressure be running at

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/13/2021 

Is your pool 3,000 or 30,000 gallons? And we are talking about PSI in this article, there are no prescribed PSI levels according to pool size.  Do you mean gallons per minute?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/7/2020 

If your pool is not clear, either from debris or algae, then that would explain the spike in pressure soon after backwashing. You may be overdosing the grids with too much DE: How Much DE to Add?

 Posted: 3/22/2020 

Will cracked cartridges cause high psi

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 3/23/2020 

I guess it would depend on how bad they are cracked. Are they cracked enough to hinder flow rate through a portion of the pleats? If so, then yes, it would cause high flow rate. But Chances are if a cartridge is causing issues, either it is dirty and needs cleaning or replacing, or it is too small.

 Posted: 12/4/2019 

I have a question: To backwash my filter what must to do with the water pipes, do I need to close any valves or they must be remain opened as in the filter position? Thanks

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 12/4/2019 

Hello Flavio - You shouldn't have to change any other valves besides the filter valve. The valve will reverse the flow of water through the tank and flush it out of the waste line.

 Posted: 11/17/2019 

Hi there. I got my cartridge filter. But after 2 hours i turn on pump my psi went really high. And i have to wash the filter everyday. My filter just 2 months old

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 11/19/2019 

Have you completed any of the troubleshooting mentioned in this guide? If not, then I would begin with that.

 Posted: 8/6/2019 

I have indoor inground pool with a sand filter. Last week the filter was at 30 psi. Backwashed it and went back to normal OP 10 psi. Now pressure is back to 30 psi

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/7/2019 

Try backwashing it again; if the filter's pressure rises quickly again, you may try a filter cleaning cycle. If your filter sand is more than a few years old, then it may be time to replace the sand.

 Posted: 7/29/2019 

Hello, I noticed my pressure gauge reading 50-60 PSI. The needle does not drop significantly when the pump is turned off. There are cracks in the valve casing with water leaking out. PSI does not change after backwashing and I do not have cloudy water problems. Pump is pentair superflow 1.5 hp. Filter is Hayward S244T. PVC is 1 1/2 inch. Return orifices are 1, 1 inch hole, and 3, 1/2 inch holes. Could my high pressure be due to the three 1/2 inch return orifices? Or an air leak? I am planning on purchasing and replacing the entire valve casing because it is leaking, but I need to fix it high pressure problem too. Thank you

 Posted: 8/29/2019 

Brandon, I'm having the exact problem. What exactly was the cause of the issue in your situation? I'd really appreciate any feedback. Thanks

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/29/2019 

Have you considered that the pressure gauge might be broken? It is a pretty cheap fix, I would try a new pressure gauge.

 Posted: 6/18/2019 

We just moved into a house where the Hayward catridge pool filter pressure was 28psi. I cleaned the filter and it went down to 20psi. When I took the catridge out to clean it the filter had no air relief tube in it. Would this cause the pressure to be high?

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/20/2019 

Going by your description, it sounds like the pressure was high because the cartridge was dirty. The pressure going down after cleaning the cartridge, seems like a normal thing.