5 Signs You Need to Replace Your Filter Cartridge

Welcome to the wonderful world of Pool Cartridge Filters and all the fun it entails. Their relatively low cost and maintenance comparative to DE and the better water purification compared to a sand filter are huge selling points. The only catch of cartridge filters is the sticky situation of replacing the cartridges. One of the hard parts for pool owners is knowing when to replace these cartridges, and that is why we are here to help.

Cartridge maintenance can be broken down into two categories, “Saving it” or “Chucking it.”   The saving it category will contain the weekly maintenance chores of checking water pressure, light cleanings and the occasional deep clean.  The “chucking it” category involves determining if the cartridge is worth saving or if it should be binned and replaced.  This guide will give you a few key symptoms of a cartridge that should be replaced.

click here to view pool cleaning accessories ( brush, vacuum hoses and heads)

a pressure gauge showing high pressureA High PSI

A spike in your pressure reading is a sign of mounting strain within the filter.  A common cause of a high PSI reading is a dirty cartridge, which is usually remedied with a quick hosing off. If a quick clean does not fix the issue, try a deep clean, using an overnight soak with a cleaning agent such as Leisure Time Filter Clean. If the treated cartridge still spikes at a high PSI, it is due to be replaced.

Cartridges are made out of polyester material called Remar. When the Remar material becomes oversaturated, it restricts water flow and requires cleaning. Eventually, the material becomes so caked with dirt particles a simple hose down or chemical soak will not unclog the fabric. At that point, the only recourse is to replace the filter cartridge.

**Consult your owner’s manual for your cartridge cleaners optimal and critical service readings.**

Cracked End Capscartridge cracked

The plastic end caps on your cartridges act as bookends sandwiching the material into a tight compact form.  End caps are made of heavy-duty plastic but can be susceptible to harsh water chemistry making them brittle.

Once an end cap begins to crack or chip, it best to replace the cartridge right away. If a cartridge with a broken end cap is repeatedly used, a piece of the broken material may circulate through the filter system causing equipment damage.

Flattening Of Pleats

When Remar becomes over-saturated with dirt particles the pleats will deform. This deformation is called flattening and greatly restricts water flow and cleaning capability. A broken or missing band will also cause pleat flattening.

Tattered, Frayed or Ripped Fabric

UUQuHzSThrough the natural wear and tear of water pressure, chemicals and dirt particles blasting the Remar, the cartridge material may begin to fail. Holes in the material will provide dirt a clear path to recycle back to your pool, making efficient filtering virtually impossible.

The sign of fraying or micro-tears in the fabric is usually a “furry” look to the surface. This furriness is caused by the tiny fibers ripping apart and standing straight on end. When this is noticed, be prepared to replace the filter cartridge because the micro-tears will eventually turn into one big rip.

Crushed Cartridge

These failures are normally caused by a catastrophic inner core collapse. The inner core of your cartridge is the plastic reinforcement cage that backs the pleats, preventing collapse.  A failure of this type will cause the cartridge to resemble a crumpled soda can with pleats.

The likely suspects for this issue are an already cracked inner core, sub-standard cartridges, or a cartridge that was too small. The latter commonly occurs when a pool owner buys the incorrect cartridge size but installs it anyway.

Well, that is the dirt on old cartridges, if yours suffer from any of these symptoms it is time for replacements. If you need help tracking down the correct filter cartridge or have other pool-related questions, do not hesitate to give us a call at 877-372-6038

Get Your Replacement Cartridge Now!

62 thoughts on “5 Signs You Need to Replace Your Filter Cartridge

  1. We acquired an above ground pool last summer. It came with 2 filters so we’ve been switching them back and forth constantly after battling a green pool. Now that the pool is clear again (yay) we’ve noticed that we have great suction right after changing a filter but within 10 min or so, suction goes down to almost nothing. I can take it out and spray it down and its great again for another 10min. I did a deep clean on the better of the 2 (one is showing signs of fraying on the pleats) but even after that, it still did the same thing. We just purchased a new motor for our pump and it seems to be working great. Any suggestions?

  2. Hi , I’m having terrible trouble . I have a specks cartridge filter. I hose it clean then the filter works for two hours and then stops sucking al again . I’ve been doing this for days added clarifier shock and algucide and pools green. Is it time to replace the filter cartridge. It looks fine when I hose it clean but figure this is stopping the pump working as it works once I hose it for a short one .

  3. Quick question: could persistently high phosphates seen up to 1 month after a hosing down of the cartridges mean the cartridges need to be replaced?

  4. Hello. The salt/filter system runs daily for at least 6 hours using a variable speed pump. We have 2 filter cartridges that have been used interchangeably for about 4 years. The pool looks good and the routine water testing typically indicates minimal corrective needs. What would be the indicators that the filter cartridges need to be replaced?

      1. I learned today that alot of my problems are because Im cleaning my cartridges reactively instead of proactively. Even though the cartridges are clean, Im still fighting bad water. Going to make that adjustment.

        1. One of the things I have learned as an adult is preventative maintenance costs a lot less than full repairs. Get a routine, set reminders just make it part of your schedule, and you should notice a difference in the health of your pool.

  5. My pool skimmer is not sucking in water and collecting the little particles of dirt and mosquitos on top of the pool. What could be the problem? Is it time to replace the filter? The pool does maintain clean through the main drains though.

    1. First, make sure the skimmer line is open and clear; confirm that any diverter valves on the line are in the open position. Check your filter’s pressure gauge for pressure loss. Look for signs of air in your system, like: air bubbles pour from return lines, pump priming issues, large air bubbles in pump basket.

      Or you can try readjusting return nozzles to stimulate flow, by pointing that all right or left.

  6. If I have strong water circulation does that mean that the filters are clean enough? Pool has been green and cloudy. Tried the chemicals, but still cloudy. I had very low pressure and I cleaned the cartridge filters, didn’t notice any rips, now have plenty of pressure for circulation, but cloudy and somewhat green water. Should I replace filter. Cartridges have been in use about 4 months

    1. Green water has less to do with the filter than it does with sanitation chemicals. You have green water because you don’t have enough chlorine in the pool. You need to do a shock treatment, filter, rinse and repeat a time or two to get rid of the algae. As for the strength of the flow, that is going to vary if the cartridges have been cleaned or not; or if the water is dirty (green water.)

      Green water is algae. Cloudy green water s a sign your chemicals are working because the cloudiness is dead algae.

  7. the suggestions just really work. we must follow these to solve this type of cartridge problems. the common issues are- A High PSI, Cracked End Caps, Crushed Cartridge, Flattening Of Pleats etc. to know more Epson Technical Support Canada. I am very much benefited by this post.

  8. I just have a small 10′ x 30″ pool and the pump only has 1 tube going from the pump to the output in the pool. I vacuum it using a garden hose attached to the small vacuum. It sucks up the dirt and pushes the same dirty water back out through the catch net. How can I filter the dirty water? Thanks

  9. Hi. We have a Pentair filter system with 4 filters in it, about a year old, and we noticed that the filters were all cracked on the bottom end, so we replaced them all. About 4 months later, 2 are cracked again. We have 2-20 foot “solar” heaters that are the kind that water just runs through little tubes and heats up, and the plumbing was originally set up for a DE filter system, with a backflush valve, which we have left connected but don’t use. Something else that might be of help informaiton wise is that the PVC is mostly 1.5″ but in one small section it goes to 1.25″. We have a 1 HP pump and a pool with about 40,000 gallons, and the pressure is usually around 15 psi, although we opened the heater valve for a second and it got to 30psi just for a few seconds. These filters are very expensive so any insight is appreciated. Thank you!

  10. is it ok to have psi at 15 my pool is new 14 days old and doesnt keep pressure at 10 seems not enough suction , how do i fix this , im thinking i got a lemon

    1. Hello Sue – PSI readings are going to vary from pool to pool. The size of the pump, filter, and feet of head is going to change the normal PSI reading from pool to pool.

      So is your clean filter PSI start at 10, and then slowly works it’s way up to 15?

  11. Get new filter. I had same problem. I also used a bag of Burnout 3 and 1 big bag of arm & hammer baking soda. Now it’s really clear. Maintain chlorine level

  12. My pool water is completely balanced, yet it is still cloudy. I purchased my cartridge filters in 2016 and they still appeared clean. Yet I cannot get rid of what appears to be fine dust particles on the pool. It is extremely cloudy. Do you think new filters will fix this problem?

    1. I have the same problem. I have run out of options. I am anxiously awaiting an answer. My pool filter cartridges are only 2 years old and are used May through September.

  13. I purchased a set of 4 Pleatco advance cartridges for my Hayward C3025 filter 8 months ago. Everything was great until about a month ago. Since that time I’ve noticed the cartridges don’t come as clean as before. They seem to have a dark stain over them. Also, the pressure of the filter system goes way up after just a few days. Should I buy new filters or is there another option?

  14. Hi Matthew, if the white strips of fabric running around the filters break do I need to replace the filters? Everything else looks fine and they are quite new. Thanks

  15. Backwashed and cleaned my Anthony 52-2 DE pool filter grids. Put the correct amount of DE through the skimmer. Pool pressure was 12 psi before cleaning. Now it is around 5 psi. Pool has been running great for two weeks. However, I have not watched or seen this direct, but the filter is blowing through the pressure relief valve either during the high speed or low speed cycle. Not home or around to see, but pool water is everywhere and can tell it is coming from the pressure relief valve as the water is dripping from the palm trees and over the fence. Again, never see it happening and when I run the pump it seems fine and pressure is at 5psi when I check on it during either of the two cycles – 12am to 6am (3450 rpm) and 12pm to 3pm (1725 rpm). I

    1. That’s a good question that I do not have a solid answer for. It could be a pressure gauge that needs some Teflon tape or a crack in the stem of wherever the pressure gauge screws in.

  16. If filters have been subject to excessive pressure, it’s a good idea to check the manifold also. It is not uncommon to find large holes or wide cracks in them.

  17. Living on a golf course causes alittle extra time with cleaning my Cartridge and that’s OK. How ever this past 4 Months I have noticed Small ” Black particles laying on the bottom of my pool mostly in the shallow end very close to on of the jets. I have solar panels that work fine however were put on the home in the late 90’s. I’m getting two conflicting answers to my issue. One is the cartridge is old and breaking down as wits the material coming apart and unable to hold in the dirt, the other is that the solar panels are breaking down ( The black fabric). When running the pool the gauge is always right were it should be.. What’s you take on this.? Thanks for taking the time to read this … Mrs. Gracie Russo

    1. Have you taken a closer look at the black flecks to determine if it is organic material that could be from dirt getting past the cartridge or no inorganic material from your panels?

      1. Have your water tested and post the results. You may be adding shock, but it may not be enough for your CYA levels. Or you aren’t maintaining a high enough level chlorine after shocking.

        Take a sample of your pool water to a pool store for a free test, and post the results below.

    1. I had the same problem, buy an 8 lb bucket of ALUM from the pool shop, clean your filters first then sprinkle the entire bucket around the pool and circulate for 2 hours. Let it sit for 12 hours overnite and vacuum. It says to vacuum to waste but I just cleaned my filters really good again and presto! You have clear blue water. The alum attracts all the green organic matter in the pool and drops it to the floor. Some of it will sit on top of the water but while you vacuum it will eventually sink as well!

    2. We were having a problem like that, but found the pH was too low. Adjusted the level and used super shock, it cleared up in 24 hours.

  18. I have questions about my PAP150-M4 filter. I have noticed a few weeks after purchasing and installing a new filter, the bottom of the filter will start to collapse. I have been told by my pool store several different reasons, which I don’t agree with. What causes the bottom of the filter to start folding/collapsing? Also, how long should my filter last if taken care of?

    1. To much water pressure or weak inner cage would be the leading caused for cartridge collapse. There is no set time for a cartridge replacement, as it depends on the size of the pool, size of cartridge, location, and use. The cartridge should be replaced when cleaning and chemical baths no longer work in lowering filter pressure.

      You can try contacting the manufacturer to see if there is a warranty.

    2. When you replace your filter cartridges, always refill the cartridge tank slowly (pump as low as you can set it) with the air vent wide open.

      When the tank is full, the water evenly flows through the full length of the cartridge(s).

      If you run the pump with only a bottom portion of the carts covered by water and the rest of the tank filled by air, all the water the pump is pumping is forced through the small “wet” portion. This high flow rate can dramatically increase pressure on the fabric, pleats etc.
      I can imagine that running for very long with only a portion covered (perhaps waiting for your auto bleed to sloooowly get the air out of the tank) could collapse the filter.

      Always – air relief full open, pump on lowest until filter tank is filled with water.

    3. It is collapsing because you are putting it back into the housing wet. If you take it out and clean it. Let it dry before you reinstall it. I’ve had this happen to me several times. I’ve had the same filter for about four years. I just order a new one because my pool is really cloudy and the filter isn’t working as well anymore.

        1. Yes, it can. Some filter series has models that use the same cartridge size; the main difference is how much fabric is used for the pleating. The higher the square footage, the higher the filter rate. So if you mistakenly bought the 100 square foot cartridge for your 150 square foot filter. They would look the same, but the 100 sq ft cartridge has a lower filtering rate which would increase pressure in the system and restrict flow. You would also notice that you would need to clean the filter more often.

  19. I would really like to look at my pool filters and see how they are working. I have been noticing that it doesn’t seem to be doing as well as it used to. Last time I cleaned them out, I did notice that the fabric was a bit worn and tattered. This may be the issue, so I should probably look into getting some new filters that have new fabric. Then I can be sure that all the water is being cleaned properly!

      1. I recently bought a new cartridge for my pool I have a Jany cj200 filter however ever since we receive about 10 inches of rain this week, I notice my pump isn’t suctioning any water, I checked the line and their not plugged, I checked the skimmers and their not suctioning, so you think it’s because the water level of my pool is too high

        1. @Art
          Sounds like an issue in the pump area…just to day I took the pump apart to find a wad of grass clogging up the inlet of the impeller…needless to say, I had less than 1 lb of pressure on the filter pressure…just figured it out today. So you may want to check with issues around the pump.

    1. Your filter will last longer if you clean it every month that your pool is up and running. Take the cartridge out and hose it down thoroughly. If you can drain and clesn the canister,do that. Also clean out the line filter by the pump too. I can use a filter for 2+ years when zi do this. We have the pool operational all year too.

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