Is Your Pool Filter Pumping Dirt Back Into Your Pool? Here’s How to Fix It

Swimming pools are a great source of fun and relaxation, but they require regular maintenance to ensure they remain clean and safe to use. One common problem that pool owners encounter is the pool filter pumping dirt back into the pool. This is not only unsightly but also a health hazard. In this article, we’ll discuss why this problem occurs and how to resolve it.

Why does a pool filter pump dirt back into the pool?

It’s crucial to keep a swimming pool neat and spotless for both health and cosmetic reasons. However, it can be annoying and cause for worry if you discover that your pool filter is pumping dirt back into the pool:

  1. Clogged Filter: A clogged filter can lead to the buildup of dirt and debris, which can eventually cause the filter to pump dirt back into the pool. Over time, dirt and debris can accumulate on the filter media, reducing its effectiveness.
  2. Damaged Components: A pool filter consists of various components, such as O-rings, seals, and gaskets, that need to be properly maintained to ensure the filter functions properly. If any of these components are damaged or worn out, they can cause dirt and debris to bypass the filter and enter the pool.
  3. Incorrectly Sized Filter: If your pool filter is too small for your pool, it may struggle to keep up with the amount of dirt and debris in the water. This can lead to the filter becoming overwhelmed, and dirt and debris being pumped back into the pool.
  4. Poor Pool Chemistry: If the chemical balance in your pool is off, it can cause dirt and debris to stick to the filter media, reducing its effectiveness. Additionally, low levels of chlorine or other sanitizers can lead to the growth of algae and other microorganisms, which can clog the filter.
  5. Inadequate Backwashing: Backwashing is a process that helps remove dirt and debris from the filter media. If the filter is not backwashed often enough, it can become clogged and start pumping dirt back into the pool.

What to Do if Your Pool Filter is Recirculating Dirt?

The first step in fixing a pool filter that pumps dirt back into the pool is to backwash the filter. Backwashing the filter involves reversing the flow of water through the filter to remove any dirt and debris that has accumulated inside. This is a simple process that can be done by turning the valve handle to the backwash position, running the pump for a few minutes, and then switching it back to the filter position.

If backwashing doesn’t solve the problem, the filter cartridges may need to be cleaned or replaced. To clean the cartridges, remove them from the filter and rinse them off with a hose. If they are heavily soiled, soak them in a cleaning solution overnight and then rinse them thoroughly. If the cartridges are damaged or worn out, they should be replaced.

If the filter components are damaged, they will need to be replaced. This is best done by a professional pool technician who can identify the problem and replace the necessary parts.

How to Prevent a Pool Filter from Recirculating Dirt

Preventing the pool filter from pumping dirt back into the pool involves regular filter maintenance. This includes backwashing the filter at least once a week and cleaning the filter cartridges every few months. Another way to prevent dirt and debris from entering the pool is to use filter aids, such as diatomaceous earth or perlite. These aids can help to trap smaller particles that the filter may miss.

Proper pool chemistry maintenance is also important in preventing the filter from pumping dirt back into the pool. Maintaining proper pH levels and chlorine levels can help to prevent the growth of algae and bacteria that can clog the filter.


A pool filter that pumps dirt back into the pool is a frustrating problem, but it can be easily resolved with the proper maintenance and care. By regularly backwashing the filter, cleaning the filter cartridges, and replacing damaged filter components, you can keep your pool filter functioning properly. Additionally, using filter aids and maintaining proper pool chemistry can help prevent dirt and debris from entering the pool and clogging the filter. By following these steps, you can ensure that your pool remains clean and safe to use for years to come. Remember to always consult with a professional pool technician if you’re unsure about any aspect of pool filter maintenance or repair. With a little bit of effort, you can enjoy a crystal-clear pool all summer long.

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