You go out to your backyard, hoping for a nice refreshing dip when you notice a layer of sand on the bottom of the pool. What on earth is going on here? How did sand get into my pool?
Well, unless you recently went to the beach or have an extra sandy backyard, there are two main reasons why this might have happened. There is no need for alarm. Your pool is not turning into a pit of quicksand.
There are a couple of easy ways to sniff out the sand culprit and quick fixes for removing it from your pool. Stick with us and we’ll have you back to swimming, sand-free, in no time.
How Did Sand Get Into My Pool?
Sand is not magical fairy dust and doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. There are two reasons why you might have sand in your pool, that is, assuming you didn’t bring back buckets of it from the beach.
The first (and most likely) possibility is that your sand filter has a broken part. Even if it seems like your filter is running normally, the components inside might have cracked due to age or overuse, which is causing sand to get pumped back into your pool with the clean water.
But what if my pool doesn’t have a sand filter?
Well, then your situation falls into category number two. The second possibility for “sand” in your pool is actually not sand at all. What appears to be sand may, in fact, be a type of algae called mustard algae. It looks quite a bit like sand when undisturbed.
To find out for sure, take a pool brush and swirl up the water a bit near the “sand”. If you notice a cloud start to form in the water… you just solved the mystery.
Mustard algae is not the end of the world and getting rid of it will only set you back a few hours. Follow these easy steps and your pool will be sparkling clean in no time.
Components of Your Sand Filter
The most likely culprits of this unfortunate scenario are your filter’s laterals or possibly the standpipe itself.
Unless you happen to be a professional pool expert, you probably aren’t familiar with all of the moving parts of your pool’s filtration system. So let’s take a look at these pieces and see where things may have gone awry.
If there happens to be a damaged piece in your sand filter, odds are that it’s going to be one of the laterals. Laterals are the 8-10 small tubes that are attached to the center standpipe and flare out in a starburst shape toward the sides of the filter casing.
Each lateral tube is filled with tiny holes that are large enough to allow water to escape but small enough to keep the sand inside. When water pours into your filter from the top, it works its way through the sand, filtering out small particles and cleaning your pool water.
When the water gets to the bottom, it reaches the lateral array (starburst), which you can think of as a screen or sieve that allows the water to get back to the pool while keeping the sand in place.
The standpipe runs vertically through your filter from the multiport valve at the top to the array of laterals at the base. It’s tough plastic and is less likely to crack than the smaller lateral pieces.
If your standpipe happens to break at any point along its length, due to damage caused by moving the filter or just wear and tear, it means a pile of sand is going to end up in the pool.
Step 1: Fix the Broken Parts
If you have found that one (or more) pieces of your sand filter are busted, it’s very important that you fix the broken parts before you go about attempting to remove the sand from the pool.
It’s a good idea to keep a few replacement parts on-hand in case this situation happens again. If you have an extra standpipe or lateral— great! If not, no worries. Just make sure to order some before starting this process.
Fixing broken laterals or a broken standpipe
To fix a broken piece, first, open up your sand filter and determine what is broken. Once you know where the problem is, you can follow the normal procedure you would for changing the sand within the filter.
Replace the broken part, replace the lost filter sand, then put everything back together. Now that we’ve fixed the cause we can work on getting that bothersome sand out of the pool.
Step 2: Get the Sand Out of Your Pool
Since sand is heavier than water, which means it doesn’t float, the good news is that most of the invading particles will be sitting at the bottom of your pool.
- Water: Grab the hose, put it in your pool, turn on the water, and let it continue to run throughout the whole process. You’re going to overfill the pool a bit. Don’t worry, this is necessary for the next steps.
- Sweep: Grab a pool brush and sweep all of the sand into a pile in one part of the pool.
- Waste: Turn your filter’s multiport setting onto “waste” and turn it on. This will ensure the sand actually gets out of your pool, rather than cycling back through the filter all over again.
- Vacuum: Take your pool vacuum and manually vacuum all of the sand in the pile. With your filter on the “waste” setting, this will remove it from your pool for good. You’re also vacuuming out water while you do this so try to make quick work of it so as not to lose too much excess water.
- Filter: Turn your multiport setting back to “filter” and run your pump normally.
- Test & Balance: Now it’s a good idea just to check your chemical levels and balance as necessary.
Leave the Sand at the Beach
Great work, you’re all done! Now you can go back to take that nice dip you were planning on earlier. With a bit of work and the know-how, you now can fix any little problems like this that might crop up in the future.
Catching issues early is the best way to avoid a small problem becoming a big headache, so with a keen eye and frequent maintenance, you can keep your pool in perfect working order all season long.