All bead filters tend to cake in ponds that are overloaded with fish and/or plants. An overabundance of algae can literally glue the beads together after a season of use. If your bead filter is needing to be backwashed more than once a week it’s time for maintenance.
During winter many of us turn off the pump and the unit is left with standing water all winter long. Before cranking it up for the new season it’s imperative that a thorough power backwash be performed on the filter to loosen any gummed-up debris that has collected in the beads and flush out the system. If pond water coming through the filter smells “rotten” it is telling you that bad bacteria has built up in the filter over winter.
Here’s how to perform a yearly maintenance on your bead filter:
Put on the scrubbiest clothes you can find.
With the pump off drain all the water from the unit. (Open the bottom drain on the filter)
Take the unit apart. The valve can be taken off the top of the smaller units. The double canister styles can be split apart.
Stir the beads. Use the pole to your net or anything that can take a little pressure.
Scour down the inside walls of the tank with the pressure of a hose.
Make sure no bead clogs are left then reassemble the unit.
Perform a power backwash by opening the bottom drain on the unit and turning the pump on with the valve at the backwash position. You’ll see very dirty water come out the bottom. Keep doing it until it comes out clean.
Close the bottom drain then backwash as normal. Rinse for a minute or two then you’re ready to begin filtering for the new season. In fact, it will flow like the filter is brand new!
If this maintenance is performed before the filter seeds for the new season you can do a more thorough cleaning. You do not want to clean it too thoroughly when the bacteria is trying to grow.