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Q&A: John Antretter

As a leading national company in the pool/spa industry, Pleatco, LLC, manufactures highly efficient filter cartridges for pools and spas. To get the lowdown on how these cartridges work, we turned to Pleatco’s COO.

 Pleatco pool filter cartridgesWhy are filters so important in pools, hot tubs, and spas?

John Antretter: The filter is important because it helps to keep your pool and spa water clean and healthy. When you maintain your filter properly, the water flows smoothly, the pressure stays down, and the pump(s) won’t have as much wear and tear. The type of filtration system you choose can also have a significant impact on energy consumption. The three types of filters are sand, D.E., and cartridge filters.


What is a cartridge filter, and how does it work?

JA: A cartridge filter uses pleated filtration fabric, called media, to trap debris, lotions, body oils, and other unwanted particles as water flows through it. Traditional filter cartridges capture particles as small as 20 microns, which are smaller than the human eye can see. The cartridges are shaped like cylinders and inserted into a specific area of the filter that houses the cartridge.


What are the benefits of using a cartridge filter?

JA: A cartridge filtration system is simple to maintain and the most cost effective because it requires no backwashing. Sand and DE filtration systems must be backwashed, which means running your pool water in reverse until the water runs clear (approximately two minutes) in order to clean the filter. This wastes a tremendous amount of water, and must be done whenever the pressure gauge is 8 – 10 psi (pounds per square inch) above the start-up pressure. This can occur as often as once a week or as little as once every two to three months, depending on the bather load in your pool, filter size, and flow rate.

Cleaning a cartridge filter involves only a rinse with the hose and, if needed, brushing the media and/or soaking the cartridge in a cleaning solution. An additional benefit is that cartridge systems can run at relatively low pressure, reducing pressure on the pump; this allows the water to turn over more often and be filtered effectively.

Because of high maintenance and the waste associated with backwashing, cartridge filtration has become the most common type of filter installed in new pools and as a replacement for older sand and D.E. filters. 


What makes Pleatco filter cartridges so efficient?

JA: Pleatco uses the highest quality raw materials on all of its products, which are designed and engineered to maximize water flow and cleanliness and to reduce energy consumption. Pleatco pool and spa filter cartridges use Free-Flow Cores, rather than drilled PVC pipes. The Free-Flow Cores maximize the use of the filtration area and allow water to flow evenly through the entire cartridge, which extends the life of the cartridge and the cleanliness of the water. The Free-Flow Cores also increase the flow of water through the media; this means variable-speed pumps can operate on lower settings, leading to dramatic energy savings. The superior flow of Pleatco cartridges reduces wear and tear on the pumps and prevents unwanted increases in pressure throughout the filtration system. 

The media on Pleatco cartridges is made of REEMAY® high-grade pleated polyester, which is designed specifically to filter water. Pleatco Plus™ cartridges use REEMAY with Microban® antimicrobial protection, which works continuously to inhibit the growth of unwanted bacteria on the filter cartridge.


How do I clean a filter cartridge and how often?

JA: Pools: In a pool, this is determined by the pump pressure. When the pressure gauge reaches about 8 psi above normal pressure, it’s time to clean the filter cartridge.

Hot tubs and spas: Pay attention to how well the heater is functioning and how the water is flowing from the jets. If the water is moving more slowly and/or not heating up as quickly, your filter is probably clogged and requires cleaning. In general, you should clean a hot tub’s filter cartridge at least once a month, and even more often if the hot tub is used heavily. Proper water balance is also key. If you do not regularly maintain the water balance, algae will build up in the media and require that you clean the filter more frequently.

 For both pools and spas, I recommend purchasing two cartridges and alternating between them so you have a clean one to insert while rinsing the other one and storing it (until it’s time to switch again). To keep the media in tact, it’s imperative that you follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions—especially on which cleaning solution to use (if needed). That said, here is the basic procedure for cleaning most filter cartridges:

 Remove the cartridge from the filter housing per the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a garden hose with a straight flow and work from the top down, holding the nozzle at a 45-degree angle. Be sure to get in between the pleats. This should remove most dirt and debris. To remove smaller particles, allow the cartridge to dry; then carefully brush the filter media with a soft brush or use a line of compressed air. If a film of algae or oil develops on the media, remove it as soon as possible by soaking the cartridge in a filter element cleaner for at least an hour or overnight.


How often should I actually replace my filter cartridge?

JA: When a pool or spa is being used, particles from lotions, sweat, dirt, etc., get trapped in the filter media; over time, the media becomes “fully loaded” with particles. At that point, simply cleaning the filter will not remove these particles, so it’s time to replace it. Replacement times differ between a pool and spa:

Pools: If your pool season is four months or less, you’ll only need to replace the cartridge about every two years. If your pool season is longer than four months or you have a year-round pool, you should replace it once per year. 

Hot tubs and spas: Since hot tubs and spas have a much higher bather load than pools, have higher water temperatures, and are typically used year-round, contaminants build up in the filter much more quickly. Spa cartridges should generally be replaced every three months. If your water is unbalanced, however, you may need to replace it more often.


How much do filter cartridges cost?

JA: The price of a filter cartridge varies based on its size. Pool cartridges cost $80 – $160, and spa cartridges range from $15 to $50.


About John Antretter: John Antretter has been with Pleatco, LLC, for four years and is the current chief operating officer. He has 22 years of experience in developing products for both consumer and industrial markets, which included formulating complex products used in the manufacture of semiconductors and other products. 

Photo courtesy of Pleatco, LLC

Visit Pleatco's website to learn more about Pleatco advanced dual-core filter cartridges.

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