Water quality is one of the top concerns for fountain owners and municipalities. It’s one of the first questions we’re asked about in the field, and it’s one of the most popular questions we get calls for. Everyone wants to know when they need to clean their fountain’s cartridge filter media or backwash their sand filter media. We’d love to tell our customers a perfect time frame to go by for cleaning the media, but it doesn’t exist. Here’s what we tell them instead.
Whether you have a sand filter or a cartridge filter, the best practice for filter media maintenance is to clean it when your filter gauge shows a change in pressure of 10 PSI, compared to when it has been fully cleaned.
Every fountain environment is unique. Some systems may be exposed to more human contact and debris than others, which would increase the amount of cleaning necessary for proper filter maintenance and water quality. We can’t tell you when your system will reach 10 psi, so the filter gauge we use does it for you. Many filters have a gauge at the top with a dial. The dial has two small arrows that can be rotated around as necessary. The arrows outline the psi danger zone for your filter, or rather when you need to clean the media or element. We recommend setting the dial’s arrows at 10 psi more than the pressure reading in a clean state, to make checking the gauge easier.
If you have a sand filter, you will need to backwash your media (sand) according to the directions included on your filter’s body or in your Operations & Maintenance Manual. For cartridge filters, your media element looks more like a large pleated cylinder stuffed inside your filter body. These paper/polymer cartridge elements are easy to remove in order to wash out the debris with a common garden hose. Your filter body and Operations & Maintenance Manual will also contain a more detailed set of instructions for your particular filter.
Filter media and elements don’t last forever, and there will come a point when you should replace them for optimal filtration. There’s not a perfect time frame for this either, as it depends on time of use and specific volume of debris. When you first get your filter, cleaning the media or element will bring your fountain back to its initial level. Even though your media looks clean, there will always be some residue or particles left behind and it will build up over time. When, after cleaning your filter, the pressure reading is at the original time to clean level, it is necessary to replace the media, or element(s).