Sand in the pool is a problem. It’s gritty to play around on and it also means there’s probably something wrong.
But the question is how did it get in there and how do we get rid of it?
Why is there sand in my pool?
Unless the beach is in your backyard, you might be a bit puzzled about how sand is getting in your pool. But if you have a sand filter, that’s your answer.
One caveat here before we start — make sure the “sand” in your pool is not actually yellow (or mustard) algae. This type of algae is sometimes kind of a beigy or yellowy brown and has a texture close to that of sand.
To distinguish, try to scoop some of it up. Once you get it out of the water, you should be able to easily distinguish between algae and sand. Sand will fall apart into granules and algae will stay in small clumps.
Mustard algae isn’t super common except in warm water or freshwater climates, but it is possible to get it.
If you decide that the substance is actually sand, keep on reading. If it’s yellow algae, you’ll need to take care of it like you would any other algae growth.
Your sand filter is designed to “wash” your water within the filter, so if it’s suddenly leaking its medium into your pool, you have a problem. There are a couple of reasons this could be happening, but it all means something is broken.
The first thing to look at is the standpipe. This is a plastic pipe-like part that runs right down the middle of the sand inside the filter.
At the top of the standpipe is the multiport valve and at the bottom is the lateral assembly. This just kind of looks like a wheel with a bunch of little plastic pipes as the spokes.
See the example below where the standpipe is running up and down through the middle. And number 4 is the lateral assembly (or multi-lateral under drain assembly).
(image credit: https://www.homebuiltpools.com/equip/filters/types/sand.htm)
Anyway, these are the two most likely parts to crack and allow sand to seep through, ending up in your pool. So, the solution to your problem is two-fold — you need to fix your filter and you need to remove the sand.
What is the best way to get sand out of a pool?
You might be relieved to know that getting all the sand out of your pool is not terribly difficult. But what you might not want to hear is that it’s going to take a little time.
It’s a process!
You’ll obviously need your pool vac for this, but it’ll probably take a little bit more work than just a normal vacuuming.
Change your filter settings. First, you’ll need to turn the multiport valve on your filter to “waste.” This sends the sand right out the backwash hose rather than back into the filter.
Now, some people will tell you to set the valve to “filter” so that it will go right back into the filter. This seems logical, but it can actually cause all the sand to get stuck inside the vacuum and further damage the filter.
After all, remember, the reason the sand got into your pool in the first place is probably because your filter isn’t working the way it should.
HOWEVER, another option is to fix your pool filter or replace it before removing the sand. In this scenario, you would, in fact, be able to use the filter setting to remove the sand.
Sweep up the sand. Use your pool brush to brush as much of the sand as you can into one area. If there’s a lot of sand, you can brush it up into a few piles.
Vacuum. Vacuum up the pile(s) of sand, moving as quickly and steadily as possible. If you move too slowly, you risk spreading the sand out again.
Repeat. No matter how quick you are, you’ll probably still have a little leftover sand that gets scattered. You may have to sweep it up and vacuum again at least a couple of times.
Fix or replace your pool filter. If your filter is old and the parts seem to be wearing out more and more, you might be better off replacing it than trying to fix it.
BUT it’s always worth a try if it can be saved. Especially since the parts are inexpensive and easy to replace.
Let’s cover how to fix your sand filter in the next section!
Fill your pool. During the process, you’ll probably lose some water, especially if you do use the “waste” setting. So, fill your pool back to the appropriate level.
How do I fix my broken sand filter?
More often than not, your problem is going to be with the laterals at the bottom of the filter. This is because the weight of the sand can sometimes cause cracking, especially if the filter is moved.
Usually, when you buy the laterals, they come with the whole assembly, including the standpipe. But you can get laterals by themselves and they’re a lot cheaper that way.
Check over the whole assembly, though. If it looks like there’s any chance any part of it is worn or about to crack, it’s best to go ahead and replace it.
For either part, here’s how to tackle the project:
Then, remove all the hoses and pipes and unscrew the valve clamp to loosen it. You can keep it attached but move it aside if you’d like.
Now, carefully remove all the sand by scooping it out or vacuuming it out with a shop vac. Carefully because you’re trying not to shift the standpipe too much and cause further damage.
Once all the sand is removed, you should be able to pull out the standpipe with the attached lateral.
Look over the assembly well to determine what parts are damaged. If you just need a lateral or two, you can easily unscrew the old ones and attach the new ones.
Same goes for the standpipe. If that’s what’s broken, simply remove the laterals from the old one and attach the new one.
Fold the laterals up on the repaired assembly and reinsert them into the tank. Once it’s in place, push the laterals back down into their extended position.
Fill the tank with a little water. If you pour a lot of sand directly onto the laterals, you might damage them again.
Add the sand back to the filter slowly. You can either use the sand you previously removed if it was not too dirty.
Or you can go ahead and add new sand while you have everything taken apart.
Reattach all the hoses and pipes to the filter.
Set the valve to “backwash” and let it run for about 30 seconds.
How do I keep sand out of my pool?
Keeping sand out of your pool just depends on how it’s getting in. If you really do live close to a beach or go to one often, you could be bringing it in on your clothing or accessories.
If that’s the case, you’ll of course just need to make sure everything gets rinsed off before putting these items away.
But if you did get sand in your pool because of a damaged pool filter, you just need to make sure it’s repaired and keep an eye on things.
While you may not be able to predict when these parts might break, you can do some things to try to prevent it. For one thing, the sand in your filter should be replaced every 5-7 years.
If you start to notice your filter isn’t working well, even after it’s been backwashed, it’s probably time to replace the sand. Failing to do this can cause damage to other parts of your system, which can eventually lead to all kinds of problems.
Also, be careful with the tank if you have to move it. Movement can cause shifting in the weight of the sand and crack the laterals or the standpipe.
Same thing goes for when you replace the sand. Be careful not to move the lateral assembly around too much.
And when you do replace the sand, thoroughly inspect that assembly for any potential problems. It’s much easier to replace any damaged parts while you already have the filter unassembled.
When you do replace the sand, this poses another opportunity for sand to get in the pool. This is because there is usually some very fine sand in the mix that can cycle through the filter.
To prevent this, backwash your filter immediately after you add the new sand. Then, turn the valve to “rinse,” which will pack down the sand and help keep loose sand in its place.
Also, be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Overfilling your tank with sand can also cause some excess to escape through the filters.
And use a good quality sand with your filter. Or at least know your medium.
In other words, use sand specifically designed for pool filters. Sandbox sand will not work!
FAQs When There is Sand in Your Pool
Can I put sand in my pool?
We do actually hear this question some. Maybe because people want to create a soft bottom on the pool or create a sort of beach...who knows.
Whatever the reason, though, this is a bad idea. That is, unless you have a disposable-type pool you won’t be using a pump with and plan on tossing it later.
Putting sand in your pool intentionally just creates a lot more work for your pool filter. It will eventually break down and need to be replaced.
Why is my sand filter leaking sand into the pool?
Like we’ve covered here, the main reason a sand filter leaks sand into the pool is because of a broken part. Inspect it and repair it as soon as possible if this is happening.
How often should I backwash my sand filter?
It’s a good idea to add backwashing to your regular pool maintenance routine, preferably once a week.
But if you need a good indicator of when you absolutely have to, keep an eye on the pressure gauge. When it gets to about 8-10 psi over the starting level, it’s time to backwash.
Can i vacuum sand out of my pool?
You can and will probably have to use a pool vacuum to remove the sand from your pool. But a vacuum alone is usually not enough.
You’ll also need a pool brush to sweep the sand up into manageable piles.
You probably won’t find sand in your pool very often but when you do, it can be a bit of a pain. Staying on top of weekly pool maintenance and replacing your media whenever necessary will go a long way toward preventing this mishap.