Getting DE Powder in Your Pool?

108 thoughts on “Getting DE Powder in Your Pool?

  1. Excellent article. As a pool service professional, those are all the issues I look for when diatomaceous earth is getting past the filter and disturbing water clarity in the pool.
    Thank you,

    1. Mike thanks so much for the nice comment and helpful advice. I took a look at your website and you have a lot of great pool info. thanks for sharing and we would love for you to actively participate in our Blog.

    2. I have a Hayward 24 DE filter and just replaced it but I still have DE going back into my pool after I backwash it and some dirt and DE at times when I vacuum …what’s the problem??

        1. I changed all of my o-rings, I changed the DE grids so they are brand new, no cracks in the filter. There is water coming out even when I am not backwashing. What does this mean?

          1. Just to clarify, did you change the spoke spider gasket in the filter valve? That is the number cause of backwash leaks?

            Another option for be a bad diverter spring in the multiport valve. Does the valve handle have more of a jiggle than it used to?

          2. Yes it is more loose than before. I also did not replace the spider gasket. Would you recommend I just switch from DE to Sand? I would rather just buy a new filter as opposed to continuing to fix this one.

          3. Yes, that would be the next step. The diverter should be firmly planted to the base of the valve or you will get stray going through the wrong ports. Your loose diverter may be allowing water to bypass your filter grids.

    3. OK so HOW please to remove the DE that has settled at the bottom of a pool? When I vacuum, it disturbs the settled DE and creates a cloud dust that cannot be vacuumed! me needs help! Thanks!

  2. I had broken grids so I replaced them…the broken grids allowed the d e.powder back in my pool…my pool has a layer of powder on the whole bottom…when I replaced the grids the water was running clear until I started vacuuming the pool…all the powder started to come back in the pool…what can I do to fix this problem.

    1. Tough situation you are in but I have two suggestions. First is the tried and true method of 24/7 filtering/backwashing to rid yourself of the DE. I use a poolbrush to agitate the settled DE on the pool floor every few hours so make certain it gets filtered out.

      Or use the more direct method, vacumming your pool with your multiport valve set to waste; this will rid your pool of the DE for good and will also alert you of deeper issues if you still see DE entering your pool.

    1. Hello Debbie, set your multiport valve to the regular filtering mode, then use a hose to vacuum the DE at the bottom of your pool. The filter grids should catch the DE like they should have on the first try.

  3. I just replaced my pump and now I’m having problems with the filter pushing De back in the pool. My old pump was not running very well but I had no issues with the de. I’ve cleaned everything out and there is not problem with the grids or pressure could the pump be to good and pushing it back in the pool

    1. The addition of a new pump would not cause DE to bypass grids. If DE is entering your pool, the usual culprits are torn/damaged grids or a cracked manifold. Re-examine these parts of your filter.

      1. DE returning to my pool even though I have replaced all grids, new manifold and the O-ring on the stand pipe is fine. Also replaced spring in multi-port valve. DE returning with pump on and off. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. The only other thing in the housing of a DE filter that may leak DE is the standpipe. The standpipe is the pvc pipe that runs up the side of the DE grids. It could be cracked or the o-ring that sits at the top of the standpipe could be warped or missing.

  4. Hi – I replaced all the grid and switched to cellulose fiber and now i have my pool covered in cellulose fiber, i don’t understand why this is happening. Any help is appreciated.

    1. Most bloggers and pool companies claim that if you see DE returning to your pool, its probable that your grids are torn.The Hayward owners manual on page 5, in its explanation of ‘CLEANING” states that the filter needs to be cleaned (backwashed) when pressure goes up 10psi in 24 hours, OR WHEN CLOUDY WATER RETURNS TO THE POOL FOR LONGER THAN 30 SECONDS (bumping)
      “Cloudy water ” is not defined, but the implication is that cloudy water can be expected upon starting the pool,at least for a short time.
      Assuming that “cloudy water” is DE at least in part , that fact should be pointed out in the “PROBLEM” section which indicates that
      DE leaking back into the pool through return lines is from broken grids or broken plates or other fairly serious problems.If your pool is quite dirty, that 30 seconds of cloudy water returning INTO YOU POOL WILL LOOK LIKE A STORM OF TISH going into your pool. You will surely believe that all of your grids or fingers have dissolved completely. Check you grids, if they appear ok, bump often backwash several times shock, brush and be patient Don’t do what I did and rush to buy a new filter, because some pool guy told me I had bad grids.

  5. OK, interesting scenario. I have a chlorinator and check and replace the chlorine tabs weekly. When I open the chlorinator and then reclose it and turn the filter back on, DE shoots out through the air jets! What can be the cause?

      1. sustained until all the air gets out of the line. Im assuming air gets in when the chlorinator is open. the system is also higher then water level.

        1. First impressions, the issue, seems like a torn grid or a cracked manifold. I am not sure why the DE is only coming out when air is present. If I were to venture a guess, I would say there is something funky going on with the internal air bleed of the filter. The only way to know for sure is to open up the filter.

        2. Hi Matt, did you ever find out why it was shooting de out of the jets? Did you fix the problem? Having the same problem here

  6. Hello. I have a Doughboy 12×20 above ground pool. I had to replace the original DB motor because it wasn’t working properly with a new Hayward Pro. I turned it back on, the pressure filter said psi 20 and DE was spilling out and is on the floor of the pool. Do you think I should get a new Hayward filter system or replace the old systems grids etc… Can you actually run the DE at psi 20, swim, and operate it when its releasing DE into the pool?

    1. The PSI of each pool set up is going to vary; I couldn’t tell you if that is a super high PSI for your filter or not. But you can take a look at your filter’s documents to reference any pressure level tolerances provided by the manufacturer.

      If you upped the power of the pump, then it may be a good idea to up the filter as well. Normally, when you buy a pump and filter pack on a new pool, the units are mated together to for optimal flowrates, an updated/upgraded pump may be pushing your old filter past its capabilities. A good DE filter to consider is the Hayward DE Perflex EC40AC

  7. Question: if the pool water has a lot of DE in it causing cloudiness, is it dangerous to swim in? I’ve read that DE powder is dangerous. Thanks!

    1. DE is a fine powder that can be hard on the lungs. AFAIK you aren’t at any risk from DE in the pool water. I would assume it can irritate eyes and misconstrued membranes, so it depends on what you do in the pool. That much said, the same bypass that’s returning DE to the pool is returning unfiltered water to the pool. It’s easy to mistake an algae bloom for a DE leak, and if you have a DE leak you can have algae at the same time. You can also have a bacterial bloom, but if the sanitizer level is good a bacterial bloom is unlikely.

      1. DE is dangerous if inhaled as it can clog airways. DE can be digested without side effects.

        As mentioned above, the cloudiness may also be algae bloom, so I would test the water’s chlorine levels before replacing parts.

        The first thing would be to just fix the issue on why there is DE in your pool. Replace the torn grid or cracked manifold and vacuum the DE cloud.

  8. I recently replaced the entire grid and manifold unit on my pentair filter. I also checked all o rings in the stand pipe and the pump itself. Lubed everything and all looks good. Also checked my backwash valve. It seems I am still getting de back in pool, and it is definitely coming from the returns, not the skimmer or main drain. I read the article and can’t seem to pinpoint any more possible issues. Any thoughts?

  9. Hello, when I started to recirculate my pool to shock, de shot in the pool. I have never seen that happen on recirculate. I just replaced my grids 2 months ago. Thank you for your time.

    1. The problems mentioned in the article would still apply, check the grids, manifold, and valve (spider gasket and spring) to make sure everything is good to go. Report back with what you find, if anything.

  10. I back washed the filter yesterday. (haward DE)
    Multi port valve.
    I recharged with DE. Made sure all looked good – pressure, water flow, leaks. All looked fine. I left pool area for a few hours and when I can back I had lost over an inch of water. Took multi port valve apart and the spider gasket was torn. The water was going into pool by returns and also going out the waste pipe. (Waste pipe goes underground and into woods so would not notice this immediately.
    I replaced gasket today and I am no longer loosing water. My question is this: when I added the DE after back washing – would it have gone to the grids as normal or did it escape out the waste pipe? I have been running the filter all day and the pressure has maintained at 18 psi.

  11. Not knowing when and where the tear to the spider gasket happened I could not tell you if the grids were properly charged. I would proceed by backwashing the filter again and then recharging, it takes the guessing game out of it. Or you could open the filter and check the grid coverage.

    1. Run the in floor cleaning system and the filter. The in floor jets will stir the DE into suspension and it will be trapped by the filter. That said, DE shouldn’t be bypassing the filter.

  12. Just rinsed off grids last night due to debris returning through jets, everything looks good. Noticed a leak on top of my Hayward pro-grid from pressure gauge. Is that what caused DE to enter pool through skimmer basket? Also, still have debris retuning through jets. Ready to fill pool with dirt and make a giant flower garden.

    1. A crack near the pressure gauge would not push DE to your pool. The parts of your filter restricting the release of DE powder are the grids, the manifold and the standpipe. The crack or rip should be in one of those spots.

    2. There is an air bleed valve under the pressure gauge on most filters. The valve has several o-rings. It will leak if the o rings are cracked. It will also leak if it was closed while spitting a water/de mix and de is preventing the o rings from sealing. Turn the pump off, remove the screw-in assembly. If de caked rinse it off, if the o rings are cracked or mashed flat, replace the o rings. For some valves the entire spindle complete with seals is a replaceable part, which is a good option for inexperienced people since they may pit tears in the o-rings while installing them. If you change the o-rings only, liquid dish soap is a good lubricant that rinses off well and won’t be absorbed into the rubber. Don’t use Vaseline or any petroleum grease, the rubber will soften and swell and fail rapidly.

  13. Just got my grids and manifold replaced and new multi port valve. DE will shoot out of the return jets for a couple minutes when pump first starts up and then runs ok. Having an issue where air is getting into the system somehow so not sure if it’s related (air bubbles coming out of return jets). Only thing I’m not completely sure about with the new filter grids is the standpipe o ring… it seems to be a little skinny so possibly not sealing well enough. Would that seem like the culprit?

    1. Air would need to be already in your filter for the standpipe o-ring to play any role in your jet’s air bubble problem. The normal culprit is an o-ring on the suction side of your pump; which is, from your skimmer, main drain, all the way to your pump’s strainer housing. The most common source of the air leak is the pump’s strainer lid o-ring.

      We have an article on this subject, have a read: Why Do I Keep Getting Bubbles In My Jets?

  14. I have a DE system. DE keeps getting in pool. I have replaced grids, manifold, and valve gasket. I have a polaris vac system that the filter keeps getting clogged with non DE material. What would next best guess be to check for DE and “other material” leakage?

    1. What do you mean by “other material?”

      The only other part I would suspect a leak is the side standpipe; the PVC pipe that runs vertically up the side of the grids into the manifold. If you have replaced the manifold, grids, and valve spider gasket, then that is the only other place that DE can slip by the filter. The standpipe might be cracked or the o-ring that seals the joint between it and the manifold may be warped.

        1. If you mean you have a Polaris system that draws unfiltered water into a separate pump and the Polaris system is becoming fouled by grass clippings, then you need to add a basket to keep large debris out if the Polaris.

  15. THIS IS A GREAT SOURCE OF HELP. I have a question.
    I have a slide backwash valve, Down is filtering, up is backwash. Barring the DE components (grid, manifold, etc), would it be possible the o-rings in the slide valve are going and allowing some DE into the pool?

    I hate to mess with it since I’ll bet it will be quite an effort to pull out the valve but something tells me theres trouble in there.

  16. I have a perflex de filter with all these fingers and when i backwash im still getting some discharge out jets and some de. any ideas, i dont have a multiport valve. I just open the bottom valve on filter to discharge.

  17. i asded De powder into the skimmer and filter instead of backwash. is this bad?, how can I get rid of the DE Thai it’s in the pool. is this harmful?

        1. It should not be breathed because it is not good for your lungs. Also, some areas have restrictions on ways your backwash it. But when applied and used properly, DE is not dangerous.

  18. My Cartridges
    are new within a few years. I replaced o ring also internally. It seems that there are no holes in cartridges. Any suggestions?

    1. I would not categorize DE grids that are a few years old as “new.” If you are just taking it on face value that the grids are only a couple years old and they wouldn’t rip, I’d say you are skipping the most likely answer.

      Like I said in the article and in a lot of the comments above, check the grids and the manifold for hairline cracks. Report back

  19. Hello. I’ve been struggling to get my DE filter to continuously return water back to the pool. It’s seems to operate correctly for about 20 minutes then there is little to no water returning to the pool. I’ve noticed, when this happens I also see a reduced amount of flow in the pump. Please help!!

  20. I am getting DE and dirt back into the pool. Grids are two years old and no rips or holes. Manifold is new. O ring on Standpipe is new, could not see any cracks in the standpipe, spider gasket in valve assembly is new. Just had the pool resurfaced and have been taking a lot of debris out of filter baskets. I am pretty sure the spa check valve has debris stuck in it as the spa will drain down unless I close the valve completely. I am going to take it out and check it. Will debris in the check valve cause the DE problem?

    1. Not likely, because the water would be routed through the filter before it comes back to the pool/spa. And if the filter is operating normally, the DE will be captured and will not pass through to the pool. You may need to have a technician come out and take a look at it because it sounds like you have covered everything else.

  21. not often mentioned that Hayward states in its manual than cloudy water can return through the water returns
    for 30 seconds after bumping. With a very dirty pool the clouds will be thicker Several pool companies have tried to insist that my grids or finger (therefore my filter) were bad.

  22. I have a Pantair FNS PLUS 60 with a Hayward DE separation tank C9002SEP and the filter seems to be fine , problem is when I backwash to the separation tank after about 20 seconds it shoots DE into my pool via return jets. No problem with DE during filter operation only on backwash. I contacted Haward and was told to replace the DE bad , witch I did , same problem. I have inspected spider gasket in my multi valve assembly and it seem to be fine, spring seem strong and only residue is in the waste port inside to multi valve.
    Am confused and would appreciate any help.

    1. I presume, your multiport Valve’s waste port is piped directly to your separation tank, then the tank line from the separation tank is brought back to the return line? If that is the case then I do not see how DE could be getting back to the pool unless it was a bad spring or spider gasket.

      You probably should have someone come out and take a look at it.

      1. I find no evidence of DE in any other port when my MPV was open for inspection ,I did see a little DE in the waste port , but that makes sense. My pool pro looked at it with me and no sign of gasket problem and I would think i would see DE in another port if it was bypassing. Separation tank is piped waste to inlet and outlet goes to a tee which proceeds to the pool return line, i”ve been using this system for 5 years without a glitch. It starts about 20 seconds into backwash and not on filter setting. I”m very confused .
        Thank you Matthew for your quick response and knowledge.
        Any thoughts ?
        thanks again

        1. You might want to try asking this question in Inyo’s forum so you can post pictures of your plumbing. Because working blind while trying to fix a pipe issue is not the easiest thing to do.

  23. I have two problems I have not seen much if any comment on any blog. I had tiny bubbles coming out the returns and thought it was DE going back into the pool. There were no leaks in the pipes by the pump and filter and I replaced and greased the pump basket o-ring. It turned out to be the Jandy valve next to the pump was full of leaves and sticks and air was getting into it. I removed the valve handle with cover, cleaned it out and replaced and lubed the o-ring. That fixed the bobble problem.

    I have had DE and other small debris go back to the pool, which I normally discover when the screen in the Polaris hose where it connects to the pool wall gets clogged. Usually it is a torn filter grid(s) that DE is bypassing. Recently my daughter mistook DE that I had in a chlorine bucket for chlorine and she added several pounds of extra DE to the pool (instead of chlorine). (Poor training on my part). Sometime after she added it, the DE went back into the pool. She took the Pentair FNS60 filter apart and found the manifold was off the standpipe, so very little DE was on the filter elements because it had passed right back into the pool. This happened to me a few months ago and I found a small crack in the 2-inch female pipe part of the manifold where it fits over the standpipe. I replaced the manifold and the o-ring on the standpipe and it had a tight fit after putting the filter element assembly back into the filter.

    Would the filter element assembly jump off the standpipe because there is too much DE in the filter and maybe the pressure was to high? This did not happen for 15 years and now has happened twice in six months.

  24. I’m sure because I watched my son-in-law remove the filter lid via FaceTime. They cleaned the filter elements, reassembled the filter and put in half as much DE as usual (~3 lb.) since there is so much DE in the pool. My daughter brushed the pool immediately and within three hours the pressure went from 12 psi to 25 psi, so the algae-laden DE in the pool must have found its way back into the filter. The next day (today) the pressure was back down to 14 psi, so I thought the manifold must have jumped off the standpipe again. They dissembled the filter and found dark green DE on about 2/3 of the surface area of the filter elements. The rest of the element area had no DE on it, so I don’t know if the DE made its way back to the pool again but not sure how it did since the manifold was down on the standpipe.

  25. I don’t think you mentioned algae in your previous message. But the haziness you are seeing in your pool may be dead algae and not DE. If there is algae in your filter, then you do not have enough chlorine in the pool to keep it away.

    It sounds like you need to do a shock and algaecide treatment in combination with filtering/backwashing to kill the algae and dispell the white haziness.

  26. Hi there. I have a Hayward pump system with the fingers and this is the third year with this unit. This year the pump has done a nice job on pumping but the filter aid comes back into the pool as soon as I put the aid back in. I have had a Pool for twenty five years and this year is the first time I had to deal with this. I have to valumn all the time. I have taken the pump top off and take a hose and wash off the fingers and it does okay for a few days. Then it starts all over again. I have to pump the pool every day too. A bit frustrating at this time. I can look for tears in the fingers more closely but as of now it looks ok. Any thoughts
    Thank you

  27. Hello,
    I found a hex head screw underneath the pool pump debris basket,maybe from the impeller or diffuser,not really sure.What effect would this have on how it filters the pool?

    1. If the screw was sitting outside the pump, underneath it, it likely is not from the impeller or diffuser. if the screw is sitting underneath the actual strainer basket it could be an impeller and diffuser.

      Honestly, I don’t know what could happen to your pool because like you I do not know why it is from. If you want to find out, open the pump and look for and missing screws. It could be just a loose screw from a skimmer faceplate or from who knows where.

  28. Just installed a new Pentair FNS 60. After adding the DE, the pool is now very cloudy. Is this normal with a brand new filter or might there be a bad part/issue with this new filter?

    1. DE powder should not be entering your pool, especially when there is a new filter. Before installing the filter did you remove the grids or manifold? Or do you remember any point during the unboxing and installation where a rip could have occurred?

      Make sure you have the filter’s multiport valve set on FILTER and not RECIRCULATE. The recirculate setting bypassed the filter when would send all the DE directly back to your pool.

  29. Experiencing same problems as above with DE going back into pool. Inspected grids for tears, standpipe for cracks and re-lubed the o-ring, and manifold looks good also. After a while we saw the pool full of DE powder and I pulled my hayward muti-port valve apart and saw the entire valve caked with DE. Spyder gasket looked good also. Any other things I could be over-looking? Thanks

  30. I have DE coming in to the pool, but it only seems to be doing it when I turn on my super pump for my Polaris. When I do this a large cloud seems to shoot out the line for the Polaris and a little bit seems to shoot out two of my other three return jets.
    My grids were replaced last year, Had a new Multi-port valve the year before.

  31. HI, I have a Starbright DE35 that is shooting DE into the pool. I’ve replaced all the grids inside, vacuumed it 4 times over the course of a week and I still have DE leaking int o the pool. Any thoughts on what the cause could be?

      1. Yes manifold and valves were all checked, would the little metal air relief cause this? I’ve had it replaced once before and it was fix in place as in didn’t move at all, now I can easily pull it off and on. I only ask because the last time DE was getting into the pool that peice had broken off

    1. Because that is a DE filter that does not use a multiport valve, you may want to install a check valve either between the pump and the filter or before the pump to prevent the backflush of DE powder.

      Is this pump and filter system installed above the waterline of the pool? I’m pretty sure this is a filter meant for above ground pools, meaning there should not be backflush from the filter into the pool as it is usually installed below the waterline of the pool. Because the filter has no valve or built-in backwash valve, if the filter is above the waterline, the DE is able to drain backwards from the filter through your skimmer.

  32. Matthew, I have a large DE filter probably a Hayward (at least 25 years old). January I replaced all the filters, the manifold and basically all the parts on the inside. I have taken it apart, cleaned it and put it back carefully and tight (3 times) … BUT I am still getting DE back in the pool, in fact nearly all of it. What else should I look at? It’s a fairly new variable speed Pentair pump too. So frustrating. But I didn’t look at the pipe that I hammer the manifold down to. Thanks.

    1. When your pump turns off does it lose prime? By that I mean, does the water in the pump and filter backwash into the pool? if it does, then that could be the source of your DE leak. When your water backflushes there is nothing to stop DE from entering your pool. If the powder is localized around the main drain then that is the issue. I suggest checking your pool plumbing for air leaks.

  33. Please I need help!…I was emptying my pool (waste) for excess of water when I realized DE (???) coming out of the jets (a lot)…:( what can be the problem? never had this problem before.Thanks.

      1. Hello Matthew, you seem like a knowledgeable guy! I backwashed my Hayward DE4820 this past Friday, added in my DE and went about my day. I went up to the Pool on Saturday and the Water was quite cloudy. I didn’t even think to check my filters. I added some shock because we had quite a bit of rain, thought maybe it was that. I went about my day… Saturday evening the pool looked like Skim Milk only a bit cloudier UGH!! I stopped my filter immediately and took the cartridges out to inspect. Sure enough.. Quite a few holes and rips! Not good.

        I have no cartridges on order. Filter is off for the mean time. Hoping some it it settles to the bottom while I wait for delivery. On to the question…

        Once new filters are installed. I will put in say 3 scoops? ( asks for 6 for initial) but if it will be filtering the DE from the existing water as well I don’t want to over load the pressure. I am assuming there are at least 4-6 scoops worth in the pool 🙁

        WILL the new cartridges trap the particles or will I need to FLOCC on re circulation to help drop the DE particles, wait a 24-48 hours and vacuum to waste before I install the new filter grids? What would you recommend. All other parts are in good working order.

        1. I’m sorry, typo. I have NEW filter grid set on Order, no “no cartridges on order” lol.
          Name is Dan by the way, sorry forgot to put my name.

  34. Hi Matthew,
    Our gym recently opened the pool after draining and renovating it. A girl swam in it and noticed white powdery water. She said her lungs were burning and her eyes and told manager. He seemed unresponsive. She called health department and they closed pool down 2 days later while I was swimming in it for about ten minutes. They closed it down for new uninspected material and cloudy water.
    They said prolly DE leaked in pool.
    I’m wondering if swimming in a pool for the fifteen minutes I did is dangerous to my health.
    The inspector checked chlorine and ph level the day they closed it down and they said those levels were okay.

    1. DE powder is usually only harmful if breathed in. A breathing mask should be worn when adding the new dry powder to the skimmer, or handling it. If the DE powder was in the water, you wouldn’t have a danger of breathing it in unless you inhaled a bunch of water. I’m not even sure if that would have that much of an effect. DE powder is edible and is even sold in health food and vitamin isles.

      DE is unlikely to cause the irritation described.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply. I read DE has other uses but the type that is edible is different than the grade of DE used in pools.
        So it seems the caution is when handling it in powder form. However I was swimming in it when the water was white and powdery looking due to the DE leak ( obviously problemsxwith the filter) I was most concerned with the DE leaky water getting in my eyes and whether the powdery water can cause any long term health hazards due to leaking in a pool. You seem to have a lot of knowledge with these DE leaks.

        1. It can irritate the eyes, but I don’t think it would cause lifelong damage. If it was causing that much damage, you would likely be at a doctor’s office right now, instead of debating the possibilities.

          You should be fine.

  35. We have a brand new unground pool DE was leaking into the pool. the serviceman came, hosed out the grids( to check for tears) checked the o rings and found nothing. next filtering there was even more DE. Im so freaked out. There is an air bubble in the pump that he said was probably not a big deal bc it was brand new. If I pay for new grids ($450) and the problem persists what am I to do? I really can’t afford to replace every component of a BRAND new pump. The company that put the pool in is really not wanting to help us. Any ideas?

    1. Where is the DE coming from? Can you see DE powder coming out of the returns or do you just see it at the bottom of the pool? When your pump turns off, does it lose prime?

      If the powder is at the bottom of the pool or surrounding the main drain, your pump may be losing prime and backflushing all the DE into the basin. A pump losing prime could be the result of a tiny pinhole air leak on the suction side of your system. That air bubble in the pump strainer could be a sign of that. How to Identify and Correct Air Leaks

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