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How To Add D.E. Powder To Your Pool

Categories: How To Guides, Filters, Maintenance & Upkeep
If you own a D.E. Filter or are planning on investing in one as the water filtration system for your swimming pool you will at some point or another need to add D.E. powder to your pool. Below we provide a brief overview of what D.E powder is and how it works and a detailed step by step guide for safely adding D.E. powder to your pool.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is crumbled into a powder. It is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms, a form of hard-shelled algae. When D.E. is mined for use in pool filters, it is heated and crystallized. It becomes a chemical agent, and creates toxicity when ingested. Since it becomes a chemical agent, it is important to handle it carefully and properly!
Why is D.E. powder used?
D.E. is a substance that is used to coat the filter grids of a D.E. Filter, trapping dirt and debris as small as five microns (1/10 the width of a human hair). D.E. Filters are considered to be the most efficient type of filter on the market in comparison to its competitors (Sand Filters and Cartridge Filters). Why? D.E. Filters filter out smaller particles, and they are more compact than other types of filters. The D.E. powder is what actually filters your pool water in a D.E. Filter. 
How do I add D.E. powder to my pool properly and safely?
D.E. powder is used for D.E. Filters only. It is added into the skimmer. The added powder dissolves in the pipe on its way to the filter tank and coats the nylon-type grids when it reaches them. Water continues to pass through first the powder, then the grids. The debris from the pool is trapped in the D.E. powder. Result? Clean pool! As simple as adding D.E. to your filter may be, taking the proper precautions and safety measures will prevent potential damage to your filter and harmful effects to yourself. Below is a step by step guide to adding D.E powder to your skimmer and the safety precautions you should follow.
Is there an alternative to D.E.?
Yes, Fiber Clear is a natural filtration media that replaces Diatomaceous Earth in all swimming pool and spa filters. Fiber Clear is biodegradable, non-toxic to humans and fish, can be backwashed safely, will not clog drains or sewers like D.E., and costs less than D.E. per application. No additional modifications to the filter are needed for using Fiber Clear. It gets added to the skimmer just as you would with D.E. When using Fiber Clear you can expect to use approximately 1/8th as much compared to D.E. Check out our blog article on the advantages of Fiber Clear.
How to Guide:
  1. Backwash the D.E. Filter - Backwashing flushes out the debris from the tank by reversing the flow of water. Do not backwash if installing a new filter.
  2. Determine Amount of D.E. Powder - The manufacturer’s recommended amount of D.E. will be found in the filter’s owner’s manual. New grids require using the full recommended amount. If replacing D.E. after backwashing, generally around 80% (.5 cup less) of the recommended amount is needed. Using the full amount may end up in your pool, as the grids have retained some of the powder. Note: Too much D.E. will clog the filter and decrease its’ efficiency. Too little D.E. will not catch enough debris and cause the grids to clog with debris. 
  3. Check Filter Mode - The Multiport Valve (MPV) must be set to FILTER mode.
  4. Turn Pump ON - Once ON, let it reach prime.
  5. Close Relief Valve - Close valve when a stream of water shoots out the end of the valve.
  6. Add D.E. Powder - Wearing a protective mask that covers your mouth and nose, carefully scoop D.E. into the skimmer closest to the pump and filter. After adding D.E., make sure to close the lid of the skimmer. 
  7. Monitor the air pressure gauge - Stop adding D.E. when the gauge hits the normal operational range (consult owner's manual for range). 
The most common issue pool owners encounter is the D.E. powder ends up in the pool. This means either the filter is clogged, it is not functioning properly, or the filter's manifold or grids may have cracks. Either way, it might mean getting a pool professional involved to help solve the issue.
Safety Precautions:
Personal Protective Equipment:
  • Safety glasses with side-shields
  • Protective, rubber gloves
  • Mask covering mouth and nose
  • Wash contaminated clothing before reuse
Handling procedures:
  • Avoid contact with skin, eyes, and clothing
  • Avoid breathing powder
  • Avoid creating dust
  • Do not mix with other chemicals
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling
  • Do not handle until all safety precautions have been read and understood
First Aid Procedures:
  • If inhaled, remove yourself from the area and get fresh air.
  • If breathing is difficult, give oxygen.
  • If not breathing, give artificial respiration.
  • Call a POISON CENTER or doctor/ physician.
Skin contact:
  • Rinse immediately with water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Call a physician if irritation develops or persists
Eye contact:
  • Rinse immediately with water, also under the eyelids, for at least 15 minutes.
  • Remove contact lenses, if present, after the first 5 minutes, then continue rinsing eye.
  • Call a physician if irritation develops or persists. 
  • If swallowed, DO NOT induce vomiting.
  • Drink 1 or 2 glasses of water.
  • Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person.
  • Call a POISON CENTER or doctor/ physician. 
Medical conditions associated with chronic exposure:
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Lung Disease (Silicosis)
As always, if you have any questions about anything we covered in this blog article please feel free to contact us at (888) 836-6025.
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Pool Supply Unlimited is an e-commerce company that loves water. We love to pump it, filter it, heat it, chlorinate it, light it up and stare at it while we're barbequing a fat, juicy steak. There are real pool professionals working here. Our guys have seen thousands of pools in their careers, no exaggeration. We are based in San Antonio, TX and can land most products to your door (within the 48 contiguous states) in less than a week.
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