Aqua•Comb

filter-media
Typical cartridge filter.

Owning a swimming pool is practically a requirement in Florida. Our pool, like many, uses a replaceable cartridge-type filter. The filtration system is simple, works well, and it’s easy to keep up. The trade-off for that convenience is the cost of the filter media.

In case you’re not familiar with these things I’ve included an image of a typical filter cartridge. It’s remarkably similar to an aquarium filter, but larger. Mine is about 2 feet tall and maybe around 10 or 11 inches in diameter. It’s basically a perforated plastic tube wrapped with a deeply pleated fiber media, with some support rings at either end. Situated vertically, water flows from the outside in, through the perforated tube, exiting through the bottom of the perforated tube. Any debris not caught by the skimmer basket and pump screen becomes trapped within the pleats.

A top-quality, name-brand filter cartridge costs around a hundred bucks.

My contractor suggested that frequent cleaning would extend the life of the media. It made sense. Cleaning is theoretically simple: direct a spray from a garden hose at the outside; work your way around the unit, letting gravity carry away any debris. In practice, the pleats make this a time-consuming task. And after a while, crouching on the ground with a spraying hose in one hand and stabilizing/positioning the cartridge with the other hand makes every minute feel like an hour.

I quickly learned that having spare cartridge on hand is a good idea. Swapping cartridges handling the rest of the maintenance to bring the filter system back online only takes several minutes, leaving one free to concentrate on the cartridge.

Filter Flosser
Filter Flosser. Quality made from aluminum, but not very effective. Click the image for an enlarged view and you’ll see why.

Over the years I’ve tried several tools and tricks. I first rigged a stand from PVC tubing to orient and support the cartridge at a comfortable height and angle. (It doubles as a towel rack poolside. Or maybe the towel rack doubles as the work stand?) Water everywhere! Cleaning was much more effective because it freed a hand to spread the pleats. But there sure are a lot of pleats and by the end of the job my fingers were raw! The media, it turns out, is kind of abrasive. I tried a tool called the Filter Flosser (inset), designed to concentrate a water blast between the pleats . That’s a pricey tool that’s not very effective. I even tried letting the media dry out, cleaning it with a jet of air from my shop compressor. That beat my fingers up even worse, took about as long as the garden hose and wasn’t as effective.

Enter the Aqua•Comb!

aquacomb

This awesome little unit caught my eye at the local Pinch-A-Penny, where I pick up chemicals and what have you. The guy behind the counter (who happens to own the store) told me that he bought one for himself and it works great.

I thought the price was somewhat high for plastic. But it really does work, saves a ton of time, uses less water, and makes way less mess. Okay, the tag says “…as little as 5 minutes” so it could be more – and it is. But still, nowhere near the time it took by hand. The bottom line? Worth it!

Why? The comb teeth, for one. They get between the pleats, way down deep, and they save your fingers. The water jets are fewer and, thus, more powerful. It’s easy to direct the jets down for optimal water flow as the comb teeth provide access between the pleats. For complete coverage you do need to follow the instructions, but overall it’s so fast that what reads like repeat work really isn’t.

This tool – along with its derivative products – is going to make the inventor a well-deserved bundle of cash! What’s more, it’s an American company, making products from USA sourced material with American labor. Which is more than Harley-Davidson can say.

Here’s their website, go see for yourself. If you have a pool or spa using cartridge filters – or a horse or dog (use your imagination!) – and you do your own labor then you probably need this product.

Go ahead and say it.