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.

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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

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

  1. Before you go spend a ton of money, get an $8 tube of magic lube and grease all your O rings with it and you just might find yourself surprised that things return to normal.

  2. I started my pool with a clean and dry set of cartridge filters. I have had these filters for 5 years. Once i start the pump, i have good waterflow into the pool. There are no visible air bubbles in my pump basket. After a day, i notice that waterflow into my pool has weakened substantially and i now see air in my pump basket window. I know that this air is usually caused by an air leak on the suction side, but I tested and believe i ruled out any leaks. Can back pressure from the cartridges cause the air in pump? Or do i have a leak on the suction which is only noticeable when pressure builds up in my filter?
    I also tried running the pool without cartridges. Waterflow is perfect for days. The resistance of cartridges is definitely causing the issue.

    1. Cartridges generally last a few seasons but 5 years pushing it. I would try giving them a nice chemical/acid soak to clear any debris you can’t shift with a hose then give them another try. If the pressure issue persists, it is probably time for new cartridges.

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