Choosing a Pool Sand Filter: Inground Pools vs Above Ground Pools

A pool sand filter helps to clean the water and keep it clear. It is an affordable and efficient filter in contrast to a standard cartridge filter. Sand filters eliminate the need to buy expensive filter cartridges. A sand filter is a good alternative for both in-ground and above ground pools.

How It Works

Sand is the most popular filter method. During a normal cycle water is pushed through the sand in the filter and any particles are trapped in the bed of sand. Then a system at the bottom of the filter returns the water back to the pool. The sand used in these kinds of filters is not sand found at the beach or in a kid’s sand box. The sand has to be changed at the start of the swimming season. There are different types of sand available.


A sand filter should be cleaned on a regular basis, about once a week during the busiest swimming months. The filter is cleaned by backwashing. Backwashing consists of turning the valve so that the flow of water is reversed, cleaning out the filter. A multi-port valve has a handle that can be turned to settings of filtration, backwash, circulation, rinse, purging, winterizing, and closed.

Above Ground Filters

Above ground pools are less expensive to install and are removable. They do have to have the same upkeep and cleaning as a regular pool. Part of keeping the pool clean is selecting the right filter. You must get a filter that is made especially for an above-ground pool. In-ground pool filters are not made for an above ground pool. Consider the size of your pool, calculated in gallons, when looking for a pool filter. This is to make sure that your water is filtered properly and minimizes bacteria and pollutants in the water. Also the plumbing is run above ground for an above ground pool.

In Ground Filters

In ground pool filters are usually bigger since inground pools are bigger and hold more gallons of water. You should get a sand pool filter that is intended for an above ground pool since it is plumbed differently. You must still know the gallons of water that your pool holds to determine the size of pump that you will need.


Some pool technicians would argue that a sand filter is less expensive to maintain than a cartridge filter. But the cartridge filter may be better at filtering debris from the pool. For the clearest water the best option may be a DE (Diatomaceous Earth) filter which filters out even the finest particles. For instance a sand filter can filter out debris down to about 40 microns in size. A DE filter can filter particles as small as 5 to 8 microns in size. The decision of which filter to use should be based on considering price, maintenance cost, the amount of time the pool is in use and the kind of debris that gets in the pool. The goal is to get the best quality of water that results from filtering.