How to Backwash an Above Ground DE (Diatomaceous Earth) Filter: A Step-by-Step Guide

Above ground pools with Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filters require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and crystal clear water. Unlike in-ground DE filters, above ground DE filters often feature a bump handle designed to extend the life of the DE and the filter. This guide provides detailed instructions on how to effectively backwash an above ground DE filter.

Step 1: Prepare for Backwashing

Before you begin the backwashing process, gather all necessary materials:

  • DE powder for replenishment after backwashing
  • A backwash hose, if not already attached

Step 2: Turn Off the Pump

Safety first. Ensure the pool pump is turned off at the power source to prevent any accidents while adjusting the settings on your filter.

Step 3: Attach the Backwash Hose

If your system requires a separate backwash hose, attach it securely to the filter’s backwash outlet. Make sure it directs the expelled water to an appropriate area that can handle the volume without causing erosion or other issues.

Step 4: Engage the Bump Handle

Before reversing the flow, manually operate the bump handle on your DE filter several times. This action loosens the DE within the filter, making the backwashing process more effective by dislodging dirt and debris trapped in the DE.

Step 5: Set the Filter Valve to “Backwash”

Adjust your filter’s valve to the “Backwash” setting. This changes the flow of water to reverse through the filter, effectively removing the accumulated debris and dirty DE.

Step 6: Turn On the Pool Pump

Reactivate the pool pump, allowing water to flow backward through the filter. This reverse flow flushes out dirty water through the backwash hose.

Step 7: Run the Pump Until the Water Clears

Monitor the clarity of the water exiting through the backwash hose. Initially, the water will appear cloudy as it contains the dirty DE and contaminants. Continue running the pump until the water runs clear, which typically takes a few minutes.

Step 8: Turn Off the Pump

Once the water is clear, shut off the pump again at the power source to stop the backwashing process.

Step 9: Reset the Bump Handle

Operate the bump handle several more times to re-settle the remaining clean DE inside the filter. This helps to prepare the filter for the next cycle of operation.

Step 10: Return Valve to Normal Setting

Set the filter valve back to its normal operating position (usually labeled “Filter”).

Step 11: Reactivate the Pump

Turn the pump back on to resume normal filtration. It’s important to ensure that water is flowing smoothly through the system and that there are no leaks or other issues around the filter and pump.

Step 12: Add Fresh DE Powder

After backwashing, it’s necessary to replenish the DE in the filter. Add the recommended amount of DE powder through the pool’s skimmer, which will carry the DE to the filter and recoat the grids or fingers. This step is crucial as it restores the filter’s ability to trap dirt and debris effectively.

Step 13: Check and Clean Up

Finally, disconnect any backwash hoses used and store them properly. Ensure the area around the filter is clean and dry, and inspect for any signs of leakage or wear.


Regular backwashing of your above ground DE filter is essential for maintaining the cleanliness and efficiency of your pool. By following these detailed steps, you can ensure your pool remains a healthy and enjoyable environment for everyone. Remember to consult your filter’s manual for specific instructions and maintenance schedules tailored to your particular model and setup.


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