How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

Getting your first pool, and learning how to clean it yourself, can be quite confusing at first. Learning how to vacuum properly and efficiently is probably the most important thing to learn. So a question many people first have when getting a pool is should I vacuum a pool on backwash or waste or filter?

You can vacuum a pool on backwash, in theory at least, but it would be similar to vacuuming to waste. The water would be pumped backwards through the filter before passing out through the backwash hose. But some dirt would be trapped in the filter and would then end up back in the pool once the pump was back on the filter setting.

I will try and explain why it would not be worthwhile to vacuum on backwash fully so that you can understand better. You can also read my article How do pool vacuums work?

Why shouldn’t you vacuum on backwash?

The reason for this is that when the multiport valve is in the backwash setting the water flows from the pump into the bottom of the sand filter, rather than into the top as it does normally.

When you run the filter on backwash, the water passes through the sand or filter medium from the bottom, picking up trapped debris as it goes, and then expels the water containing the debris out of the waste pipe into the yard, down the drain or wherever your pool expels water to.

If you were to vacuum a pool on backwash then all of the dirt you pick up from the pool would get pushed through the layers of the sand before being expelled out of the system.

Some debris would inevitably get trapped in the bottom of the filter. Then, when you had finished vacuuming and you put the multiport valve back to filter, much of that dirt that had become trapped in the bottom of the sand filter would be pumped back into the pool. This would rather defeat the object of vacuuming the pool in the first place.

So in effect, vacuuming on backwash would have a similar effect to vacuuming on the waste setting of the multiport valve as the water containing the dirt and debris would be expelled from the pool system without going back into the pool. But it would add a pointless step with the water having to pass through the filter medium before being expelled from the system.

See my post Where does backwash water go for more information.

How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

What setting should my pool pump be on to vacuum?

There are only two settings on the multiport valve to use to vacuum a pool and which one you would use largely depends on how dirty the pool is.

Vacuum a pool on filter setting

This is the setting you will use most frequently. You would vacuum on this setting for your routine cleaning when the pool is not very dirty. When you use this setting the dirt is trapped in the sand, or whatever filter medium you have, and clean water returns to the pool via the return jets.

You would often then backwash the filter for a few minutes to clean out this dirt before returning to the filter setting.

Vacuum a pool on waste setting

You would generally only use this setting if the pool is very dirty, perhaps when you do the first clean of the year after the winter or if you had a period of very bad weather when lots of debris ended up in the pool. When to vacuum a pool to waste.

See my full guide How to vacuum a pool to waste to learn how to actually do it.

Can you backwash a pool while vacuuming?

I sometimes have to stop while I am vacuuming my pool on the filter setting (so the water is passing through the sand filter) because the suction begins to reduce. This is due to the sand in the filter becoming clogged which reduces the amount of water that can pass through the sand increasing the back pressure.

You can often tell if this is the problem as the reading on the pressure gauge is likely to be higher than normal because of it.

To restore the suction I switch off the pump and then move the multiport valve to the backwash setting. I then run the pump again for a few minutes to remove the dirt that is blocking the sand and then resume vacuuming once I have put the multiport valve back to the filter setting.

I leave the vacuum hose connected to the skimmer port while I do this so no air gets into the system and I can resume vacuuming straight away after the backwash. Read my full step-by-step backwash guide for further details.

Pool Maintenance Course

When I first bought my house with a swimming pool I knew nothing about how to clean and maintain it. I was recommended Swim University’s Pool Care Handbook and video course so I bought it and have never regretted it.

It was probably the best money I spent that year as I have saved thousands by doing it myself.

How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

My top 3 pool cleaning tools

These are the pool cleaning tools I have found the most useful since I have had my pool.

Step and corner vacuum brush

This is a really useful tool for getting into the areas that a standard vacuum head simply cannot reach. Aquatix Pro Pool Step & Corner Vacuum Brush

Leaf rake net

If, like me, you get plenty of leaves at the bottom of your pool then a good leaf rake/net is a must. The Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net gets under the leaves easily.

Robotic pool cleaner

These are quite expensive and it was a number of years before I bit the bullet and bought one. I have never regretted it. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is the most recommended pool cleaning robot on all of the pool forums. It not only cleans the bottom of the pool but also the sides and the waterline.

Further Articles

You may find the following articles useful, particularly if you are a new pool owner. I have tried to answer most of the questions that I had when I first bought my house which came with an in-ground pool with a sand filter system.

How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

Vacuuming your swimming pool is a great way to keep your pool clean and free of dirt and debris. Sure, it’s a little work, but the benefits of vacuuming are worth the effort: You’ll spend less time fighting algae, your pool water will stay balanced, and your chemicals will work more efficiently. Your pool will look nicer, too.

Ready to add vacuuming to your inground or above-ground pool maintenance routine? It’s easy. All you need is a few essential pieces of equipment and a good vacuuming technique.

Checklist: Pool Vacuuming Must-Haves

Before you vacuum your pool, you should make sure that you have everything you need to get the job done. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Vacuum head and telescopic pole. If you’ve got a swimming pool, chances are good you’ve already got a telescopic pole, plus interchangeable attachments like nets, skimmers, and brushes. Most swimming pool vacuum heads are designed to work with any telescopic pole.
  • Vacuum hose. The vacuum hose connects your vacuum head to your pool pump via the skimmer inlet, which provides debris-sucking power.
  • Vacuum plate. This is also called a “skimmer plate,” but don’t let the names confuse you. Whatever you call it, this piece of equipment connects the hose to the skimmer inlet.

Choosing the right vacuum head for your pool liner

A vinyl pool liner requires a vacuum equipped with a soft brush to prevent tears and damage. If you have a concrete or gunite swimming pool, choose a vacuum head that features wheels for easy movement.

Getting Started

Once you have all of your equipment ready, it’s time to get started. Follow the steps below to manually vacuum your above ground or inground swimming pool:

Step 1: Assemble your pool vacuum.

This is quick and easy to do. Simply attach the vacuum head to your telescoping pole (remember, it should snap on easily).

Step 2: Connect the vacuum hose.

Attach one end of the hose to the vacuum head and attach the other end to your skimmer using the vacuum plate. (Remember to take the skimmer basket off first!).

Pro tip: Before you connect the pool vacuum hose to the skimmer, you’ll need to blow the air out of it. The easiest way to do this is to hold the hose up against one of your pool’s jets until you no longer see air bubbles coming from the hose.

How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

Step 3: Choose your filter valve setting.

For light vacuuming, you can leave your multiport valve filter set to “Filter.” For bigger jobs and larger amounts of debris, set your filter system to the “Waste” setting, which does sends the water down the drain, rather than through the filter.

Refill as you go

When using your pool filter’s “Waste” setting, you might notice your pool water level dropping. To keep your pool properly filled, use a garden hose to ensure a steady stream of fresh water and keep your water level even.

Step 4: Start vacuuming.

Move the vacuum like you would a real vacuum on a rug, in slow linear passes (going too fast will just stir up the dirt without sucking it up). If the pool is especially dirty, you may have to stop and empty the pump strainer before continuing. Repeat the process as many times as you need to remove all debris from the floor of your pool.

Step 5: Disconnect, change filter settings, and do a final cleanup.

Once your pool is vacuumed to your satisfaction, you can disconnect your vacuum head and hoses. Make sure to clear out the bottom of the skimmer, too. If you changed your filter pump settings, make sure to change them back (and if you’re using a sand or DE filter, now’s the time to do a quick backwash). For a finishing touch, attach a brush to your telescoping pole and give the pool floor and sides a good scrubbing.

Pro tip: To ensure that your pool water remains balanced, test your water after you vacuum your pool.

Pool Vacuuming FAQs

How often should I vacuum my swimming pool?

In general, it’s a good idea to vacuum your pool once a week. You should also vacuum your swimming pool any time you notice large amounts of debris, dirt, or leaves on the floor of the pool (for example, your pool may need vacuuming after a heavy storm).

Why do I need to vacuum my pool if I have a robotic pool cleaner?

If you’ve ever seen your robotic pool cleaner push a pile of waterlogged leaves from one end of your swimming pool to the other, you know what we’re talking about: Robotic pool cleaners are great for light, day-to-day maintenance, but they’re not designed for heavy lifting. If debris isn’t removed promptly, it can wreak havoc on your water quality and lead to maintenance issues like algae. A pool vacuum makes short work of heavy debris, helping you keep your pool clean and inviting and preventing maintenance headaches.

Can vacuuming remove algae from a swimming pool?

Algae can be tough to remove, especially once it’s found a home in your swimming pool’s corners and crevices. While vacuuming alone probably can’t remove all of the algae in your pool, it does help with algae prevention: By promptly removing debris like leaves and other organic matter, you’re keeping your pool water clean and discouraging algae growth.

How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

Every swimming pool needs a manual vacuum even if you own an automatic cleaner. Automatic cleaners are such a time-saving piece of pool equipment, but some issues can come up that your automatic cleaner cannot clean.

THE TOP REASON TO VACUUM TO WASTE – ALGAE BLOOMS! The last thing you want to do is vacuum algae manually, which will contaminate your filter. Your pool will not clear up. In fact, the chances of your problem getting worse are very high. You’ll also need to vacuum to waste when there is a large amount of debris or leaves in the pool, usually at opening.

Vacuuming to WASTE can only be accomplished if a multiport valve controls your pool filter system. This position bypasses the filter and sends all the unwanted debris through the waste line.

Note: Vacuuming to WASTE drains the pool, so keep an eye on your water levels.

WHAT YOU NEED:

A Vacuum Hose -The length of the hose you need is based on the size of your pool.

A T-Pole – Telescoping Pole. Most T-Poles are standard sizes, and can easily attach to your vacuum head, a pool brush, or net.

A Skim-Vac. You need a skim-vac with most inground pools. A skim-vac utilizes the skimmer basket instead of the pump basket.

SET UP YOUR VACUUM:

Attach the vacuum head to the T-Pole

Connect the the vacuum head to the swivel end of the vacuum hose (where applicable)

Fully extend the T-Pole

Lower the vacuum head carefully to the bottom of the pool – try not to disturb any debris on the floor.

Connect the skim-vac to the other end of the hose.

Once attached, place over a return fitting to purge the air from the vac hose.

Keeping the skim vac close to the surface of the water, make your way to the skimmer without letting air back into the vac hose. Place the skim-vac into skimmer through the top, or the throat of the skimmer on top of the skimmer basket.

ONCE YOUR VACUUM IS SET UP:

Go to your equipment area and turn the pool pump off. Change the multiport valve to the “WASTE” position. Turn the pump on. Water is now being taken out of the pool.

If you have more than one skimmer, slowly close the valves. Ensure that the valve to the skimmer that the vacuum hose is connected to, is fully open.

Slowly close the Main Drain valve about halfway, this is the optimal setting for vacuuming.

Make sure the skim-vac did not come loose over the skimmer basket and is sealed securely over the basket.

Push the pole/vac/hose into the pool and release all the air out of the hose.

Open skimmer lid and place skim-vac over skimmer/skimmer basket. Do not put vacuum hose directly into skimmer hole—this will damage your plumbing over time.

TO VACUUM:

Begin slowly vacuuming in the shallow end, being careful not to stir up the debris.

Debris will be collecting in the skimmer basket under the skim-vac, and in the pump basket. Suction will decrease, decreasing the vacuums performance. If you notice a significant decrease in suction, stop vacuuming and turn the pool pump off. Clean the pump basket AND the skimmer basket Turn pump back on and resume vacuuming. Note: You may need to add water to the pool. Do not let your water line fall below your skimmer at any time.

Repeat as needed!

AFTER VACUUMING:

After vacuuming, turn the pool pump off and disconnect the skim-vac. Take out all of your vacuuming equipment and return to storage.

Clean the skimmer basket and the pump basket of all debris.

Blog for swimming pool owners, Care & Repair, Buyer's Guides and Pool Fun information

How to Vacuum a Pool to Waste

How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filterHello – just back from a long August vacation, and while away I received an email from a customer about their threadbare winter pool cover.

One drawback to the old mesh safety cover is that it lets in a lot of light and silt. Vacuuming in the spring is a large chore, especially since the DE filter was attached to a push-pull type of valve, with no option to ‘vacuum to waste’.

Vacuuming to Waste essentially means that the pump pushes the water into the filter valve, which diverts it straight into the waste line, bypassing the filter sand, grids or cartridges.

There are different ways to vacuum a pool to waste, depending on which type of filter valve you have – a multiport valve or a push-pull (also called slide) valve, or even no filter valve at all.

HOW TO VACUUM TO WASTE A POOL:

  1. Fill the pool before beginning, and run the hose while vacuuming.
  2. Shut off pump and switch the multiport valve to the Drain to Waste Position.
  3. Vacuum as fast as possible, the water level can drop fast.
  4. Stop vacuuming when the skimmer begins to suck air, allow the pool to refill.
  5. Move the backwash hose frequently to avoid erosion and oversaturation.

Vacuuming to Waste: Why and When

Vacuuming to waste is helpful when there is a lot of debris in the pool, especially silty dirt, that clogs up the filter quickly, requiring you to stop vacuuming to backwash or clean the filter. When one vacuums to waste, the water never enters the filter tank, but is jettisoned out the waste port, and exits through the backwash hose or pipe.

Vacuuming to Waste: How and What

Multiport Valve: How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

For multiport valves, those that have 6 settings, set the valve handle into the “Waste” or “Drain” position. Roll out the backwash hose if you have one, and begin vacuuming as fast as you can manage. Remember, the water level is dropping!

Push-Pull Valve:

Push pull valves use a piston with two disks, and have only two settings, Filter or Backwash. In the down position, the water is directed through the tank on Filter mode, returning to the pool after it exits the filter tank. In the up position, the water enters the waste line as it exits the filter. (Pac-Fab push-pull valves have a reverse operation, up for Filter, down for Backwash).

Since there is no “Drain” setting on a push pull valve, it would seem that there is no way to vacuum to waste on a filter with a slide valve – or is there?

For DE filters, you can remove the grid assembly and reassemble the filter tank tightly, being sure that the clamp is properly positioned and very tight. Open the air bleeder and set the push pull in the backwash position. Adjust your skimmer and main drain valves for maximum suction through the skimmer, and voila! you can vacuum the pool to waste. If the push pull plunger falls down, into the filter position, use vice-grips or a small wrench to hold it in place.How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

For Sand filters using a push pull valve, you can’t remove all of the sand. It would seem that there is no way to vacuum to waste a sand filter – or is there?

There is a method, but it can be dangerous, so read carefully. Remove the plunger from the slide valve housing or body by loosening the large union nut, small bolts or nuts on the top, under the handle. Clean off any lubricant inside the valve body. Then insert a rubber expansion plug, usually a #11 or #12, down into the valve body. Tighten it fully with pliers, and don’t stand over the plug, which would be dangerous if it blew out under pressure. Make sure the backwash hose is not kinked and open the filter air bleeder before starting pump. A straight sided pressure testing plug will hold stronger than a tapered winterizing expansion plug.

No Valve:

Cartridge filters don’t have a backwash valve at all, because you don’t backwash them, you remove them and spray them off with a garden hose. It would seem that there is no way to vacuum to waste with a cartridge filter – or is there?

Option #1 is to remove the filter lid, and remove the cartridge, and replace the lid securely, fully tightening the clamp. Remove the drain plug and thread in a 1.5″ hose adapter and backwash hose with a clamp. Run out the backwash hose to a storm drain or an area that won’t erode or oversaturate. Don’t flood the neighbors!

How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filterOption #2 is to install a 3-way valve in the pipe between the pump and filter. Pac-Fab 3-way valves are under $30, and the only other materials needed are a bit of pipe and some PVC glue and primer. Use a hacksaw to cut out about a 5 in. section of PVC pipe between the pump and filter, leaving 2-3″ of clear pipe on both sides to connect the new valve. You may need help to pull apart the pump and filter slightly as you glue the new valve into place. Reset the valve lid to allow the water to flow straight through the valve for normal filtration, or take a hard 90° turn and go out port #3. Glue a short piece of pipe to the valve, and clamp a length of backwash hose to the pipe. Turn the valve whenever you want to vacuum to waste on a cartridge pool filter, or when you need to lower the water from too much rain.

Some people are wondering if you can vacuum a pool on a backwash is not an irrational question. If you are new when it comes to pool maintenance, sometimes it can be complicated and hard.

Learning how to vacuum your pool efficiently properly is probably the most important thing to learn at first. a

Do you vacuum a pool on backwash or waste? Yes, you can. But it’ll be nonsense because the water would be pumped back through the filter. It’ll screen much dirt before passing out through the backwash hose. The dirt ends up back in the pool once your pump is back on the filter setting.

In this article, you will find everything you need to know about vacuuming your swimming pool and why you should not vacuum during backwash.

Why Shouldn’t You Vacuum On Backwash

When the multiport valve is in the backwash setting, the water flows from the pump. It will go into the bottom of the sand filter rather than going to the top as it usually does.

Then the water will pass through the sand or filter medium to the top and out of the waste pipe. As a result, it takes any dirt that has been trapped in the top layers of sand and expels it, therefore cleaning the sand.

If you plan to vacuum a pool on the backwash, all of the dirt you pick up from the pool will mainly get lodged in the bottom part.

It will stay there, and when you put the multiport valve back to filter, most of the first that had been trapped would be pumped back into the pool.

While doing so, all the water would go to the waste pipe, and it will drastically drop the water level at a very alarming rate. Just as it would when you deliberately vacuum it to waste when the pool becomes dirty.

Settings To Use To Vacuum A Pool

If you want to learn more about vacuuming your pool, you should be familiar with the different settings. There are only two settings to use when you want to vacuum a pool. To pick the right one, you should depend on how dirty the pool gets.

Filter Settings

The filter setting is the most common and generic. It is probably the most used setting for vacuums. You will use this setting for your routine cleaning when the pool is not so dirty.

Once this setting is applied, you will see the dirt is trapped in the sand or whatever filter medium you have.

It will clean the water and return it to the pool via return jets. You might need to backwash the filter often for a short time to clean the dirt before returning it to the filter settings.

Waste Settings

The waste settings are generally used if the pool is filthy. It will be perhaps the time when you do the first clean of the year after a long winter.

Or it might be the time after bad weather where there’s a lot of debris ended up in your pool. This setting will help you get rid of those and make sure your clean is clean and debris-free.

Backwash A Pool While Vacuuming

There are times when you are in the process of vacuuming your pool on the filter setting, and the suction begins to reduce.

It is due to the sand in your filter becoming clogged, reducing the amount of water that passes through the sand. It will increase the back pressure, and you can tell that this is the problem because the pressure gauge is higher than usual.

To restore the suction, turn off the pump and then move the multiport valve to the backwash setting.

After that, you can rerun the pump for a couple of minutes to remove the sand blocking the sand. Then you can resume vacuuming once you have the multiport valve back to the filter setting.

How To Vacuum Your Pool Properly

  1. If you have sand as a filter medium and trying to vacuum to waste, set the filter settings to waste options. It is recommended that you set the filter settings to waste whenever you have algae. This setting will vacuum the algae up and send it out through a backwash line. Just remember to vacuum as quickly as possible because the water will be exiting your pool quickly.
  2. On the other hand, you can leave the settings on the filter and turn on the pump to begin vacuuming. This setting will save the water, so you do not have to worry about losing it.
  3. Vacuum the pool the same way you vacuum your living room, pick up all the debris and algae as you go.
  4. After you finish vacuuming your pool, make sure to turn off your pump, take out all of your vacuuming tools, and put them in the storage.
  5. If you vacuum on a waste setting, you will need to turn your filter to the rinse setting. Turn on the pump, let it run for at least 30 seconds, and then turn it off. Do not forget to set the filter back to the filter setting after you are done with this.

Conclusion

Remember that it is essential to vacuum your pool from time to time manually. It is a crucial step in making sure you prevent any algae buildup.

Vacuuming your pool should always be part of your maintenance, either it can be daily or weekly. Learning to vacuum your pool is not hard as long as you know how to work on your equipment and how your pool operates.

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About Us

I have a pool and there have been so many questions. So I sat back and thought that I should document everything that I have learned over the years. Pools are great, but there are things you need to know. I hope you find some answers here on my blog. If there are any questions, feel free to shoot me an email.

How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

Are you a new pool owner or just new to sand filters? Don’t know what to do or how to backwash your pool sand filter? Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. We have prepared a simple step-by-step guide on how to backwash your pool sand filter. Not only that, we’ve also put aside some tips and tricks on when and when not to backwash your sand pool filter. Come on, time to dive in.

How to Backwash a Pool Sand Filter

  1. Turn off the pool pump
  2. Set the filter valve handle to the ‘Backwash’ position and ensure the handle locks in place
  3. Turn the pump on and backwash for 2 minutes or until the water in the sight glass (located on the filter) is running clear
  4. Turn off the pump
  5. Set the filter valve handle to the ‘Rinse’ position and ensure the handle locks in place
  6. Turn on the pump and run the rinse process for 1 minute or until the water in the sight glass is clear
  7. Turn off the pump
  8. Reset the filter valve to ‘Filter’ and ensure the handle locks into place
  9. Turn on the pump

All sand filters use the same basic mechanics: when set to ‘Filter’, water flows from the pool, through the filter, and back into the pool. The sand inside the filter system blocks debris, dirt, and oil. A typical sand filter multiport system has 6 different settings – ‘Filter’, ‘Backwash’, ‘Rinse’, ‘Circulate’, ‘Closed’, and ‘Waste’.

However, when you vacuum your pool, a concentrated level of dirt and debris get deposited into the sand – the result being that the sand becomes dirty and clogged with contaminants that, if left unchecked, will reduce the sand’s ability to filter and, ultimately, end up back in your pool, reduce the clarity of the pool water. Backwashing prevents this. Backwashing reverses the flow of water, lifts up and flushes the sand, and then expels the dirty water via a waste line into the ground or drain.

In order to prevent residual blow back into the pool, once you’ve finished backwashing it’s highly advisable to rinse the filter. Just as the backwash lifts and flushes the sand, the rinse resets the sand to its original position for optimum filtration.

How Often Should You Backwash a Pool Sand Filter?

As a general rule of thumb, you should backwash and rinse your filter about once a fortnight. The optimal time is right after you vacuum the pool. However, if your pool has had a lot more use than normal, it may be necessary to backwash once a week.

You can also tell when it is time for a backwash by checking the sand filter system’s pressure gauge. Normal operating pressures are between 50 and 75Kpa. When the sand gets dirty and clogged up, however, the pressure reading rises. If the Kpa pressure on the gauge is north of 80Kpa, it’s time to backwash.

Also, if leaves are prone to falling in your pool, more frequent back washing may be necessary since leaves, and other debris and contaminants will be entering your pool. We’ve also prepared an article dedicated on how to manually vacuum your pool to lessen the need for backwashing so be sure to check it out below.

When Shouldn’t You Backwash?

If your pool contains an unusually high level of dirt, for instance, as a result of a nearby construction site, an extended period of being untended and uncovered, or possibly from runoff caused by flooding, it may be advisable to by-pass the filter entirely. In some cases, it may be better to vacuum directly to ‘Waste’, and send the vacuumed water directly down the drain.

A Few Important Backwashing Tips

  • The one downside of sand filter back washing is that, because water is expelled from the system and sent into waste, is that it…well…wastes water. While this is unavoidable, the key to not overdoing the backwash process and flushing out more water than strictly necessary is to keep a careful eye on the colour and quality of the water in the sight glass.
  • Don’t backwash more than necessary, or for longer than necessary. Sand filter systems operate most efficiently in the middle of the filtration cycle. This is partly due to the positioning, at any given time, of the sand in the filter, and, partly, because of the cyclical build-up of collected dirt and debris in the filter. The net effect is that too much, or too frequent, backwashing actually reduces the sand filter’s efficiency.
  • Finally, make sure you always turn off the pump before you either move or reset the filter valve setting. If you don’t, you’re going to damage, and maybe destroy, the system.

Reduce the Need to Backwash

As we mentioned earlier, leaves and other debris can lead to you needing to backwash your pool sand filter more often or even dump the water out if the water gets too dirty. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is to invest in a good pool cover. We have a guide on how to buy and fit a pool cover and we think it’s a good read for anyone who wants to reduce the need to backwash their pool sand filter.

Do you want to learn more about how to choose the right Pool Cover to reduce the need for backwashing? Check out our comprensive guide for everything related to pool covers at the button below.

Make Backwashing Easier

Sometimes backwashing becomes difficult when the sand media becomes gunked up and the efficiency of your sand filter is reduced. If you have a fairly new sand filter or if it hasn’t been at least three years since you have installed/changed your sand filter media then it might be a good idea to give your sand a good soaking with some Water TechniX filter cleaning solution.

It’s a very simple to do. Simply take off the multiport valve, pour in a bottle of filter cleaning solution, allow it to do its magic for 24 hours (Remember, directly in the sand filter and not in your pool!), return the valve, backwash thoroughly and that should be it! Your sand filter’s elements should be good as new, or as close to it as possible! If that doesn’t work then it may be time to change out your sand for new one.

In the market for a pool filter? Check out Mr Pool Man’s Collection of Pool Filters here.

Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we’re here to help! Drop us a question down below and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

Tom Hintze

Head of eCommerce & Operations at Mr Pool Man,
Co-Founder at Water TechniX

Backwashing your D.E. filter can be a simple process by following a few quick and easy steps. But before we go through the steps to backwashing it is important to answer a few questions:

“What is backwashing?” – Backwashing a D.E. filter is simply reversing the flow of water inside your filter tank. When moving the backwash valve (explained in further detail below) the direction of the water in your tank is changed which allows for the dirt that has been collected to exit your tank.

“Why do we need to backwash?” – Similar to a vacuum cleaner, air conditioner filter, or your kid’s bedrooms, your pool filter collects dirt! Whenever the filter fills up with the dirt/debris it reduces the flow of water to your pool. Low flow = poor circulation which will lead to algae in the pool. Bottom line, the filter must be backwashed on a regular basis to ensure that your pool water is clear.

“When do we need to backwash?” – It is recommended to backwash your filter once every 4-6 weeks of regular use. Additionally, there are several instances that would require backwashing in between the normal monthly backwashing. 1.) If your filter has been running for 48 hours straight without stopping then you will need to perform a backwash. D.E. will “settle” onto your filter grids whenever it runs without stopping. This can cause a buildup of pressure even if your filter grids are clean. 2.) If an abnormal amount of dirt, dust, or debris enters your pool water you will probably need to go ahead and backwash. For example, a heavy rain washes sediment into the pool or a potted plant tips over into the pool. 3.) If the pool has had a heavy bather load for an extended period of time. For example, 10+ ppl swimming every day for a week. The amount of tanning oils, sweat, and hair products can clog up a DE filter.

Other than these exceptions you can plan on backwashing monthly. Be sure to check your filter pressure before and after backwashing. If your pressure remains higher than normal your filter may need to be disassembled and cleaned. Click here for more information on filter cleaning.

Now that you have some more information regarding backwashing let’s get down to it. Here are the steps to a standard backwash:

Step 1: Turn off pool equipment at the main power switch

Step 2: For slide valves – turn backwash handle and pull the valve piston straight up to the backwash position or for multiport valves – push handle down and rotate valve to the backwash position (see pictures A & B below)

Step 3: Turn equipment back ON

Step 4: Run equipment for approximately 60 seconds (the filter will be backwashing during this cycle). If you have a sight glass (picture C) you will be able to see the dirty water flushing to your sewer.

Step 5: Turn equipment OFF

Step 6: Return the valve to it’s original position NOTE: For slide valves be sure to lock it in the original position to ensure that it does not slide up during operation

Step 7: Turn equipment ON

Step 8: Repeat Steps 1-7 two more times, decreasing the amount of backwash time (60 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds)

Step 9: Once you have completed the 3-cycle backwash you must add Diatomaceous Earth, also known as DE, back into the filter. This is accomplished by slowly pouring the appropriate amount into the skimmer while the equipment is running. The DE will travel through the plumbing then into the filter. The filter is now recharged with D.E. – replacing the amount that was backwashed out.

Step 10: Bleed any air out of the filter tank. This is accomplished by opening the air bleed assembly on the top of your filter tank with the equipment running. Typically, a filter gauge will be on top of the assembly and it may rotate with the assembly when opening.

These are the basic steps to filter backwashing. It is possible that you could have a set-up different than what I have described here and, if so, please contact us. We are happy to help in any way that we can.

Thanks for reading and happy backwashing!

More Pool Maintenance Nuggets of Wisdom »

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Blue Science will work hand in hand with you to design a one-of-a-kind dream pool which perfectly complements your backyard environment. Give us a call today.

How to vacuum your pool and backwash the filter

Pool vacuums use the pool circulation pump’s suction to remove sediment from the pool floor and walls. The vacuum hose plugs into an inlet at the bottom of a skimmer well, diverting pump suction to the vacuum head, which you roll back and forth over the bottom of the pool. Sediment sucked up by the vacuum is drawn through the skimmer inlet and back to the pump. After the water is pressurized by the pump, one of two settings on the multiport filter valve determines the direction of flow.

Ordinary Pool Conditions

For routine vacuuming, the filter valve is left in the normal “Filter” position. This directs dirty vacuum water through the pool filter to remove the contaminants, then conveys filtered water through return lines back to the pool. The “Filter” setting is used for light to moderate levels of pool sediment. Because all water is returned to the pool, the overall water level is preserved.

Heavy Contamination

For higher levels of sediment, such as after treatment for an acute algae bloom, the multiport filter valve may be set to “Waste” or “Drain.” This setting bypasses the filter and diverts contaminated water to an external drain, instead, for disposal. This prevents clogging the filter with an overload of sediment. Because water is discharged down the drain when vacuuming to “Waste,” additional fresh water must be added to the pool to restore normal water level.

Like any product you buy for your home, a pool filter requires monitoring and maintenance to maximise its lifespan. If you need some advice on which filter to have installed on your pool, please first see our article “Sand VS Cartridge Filter- Which is Right For You?”.

It’s very exciting once your pool builder has handed back the keys and left your brand new fibreglass pool or spa sparkling and glistening without a worry in the world… But you must keep in mind that you do need to continue to look after the filtration system that has been initially setup by your pool or spa installer. Below we have some guides on how to keep your sand filter or cartridge filter clean and running efficiently after your handover.

Sand Filter

All sand filters require backwashing, whether the media is sand or glass. Backwashing involves releasing the dirty water from the waste line and resetting the sand/ glass bed. It is ideal to backwash your sand filter after vacuuming approximately once a week, to remove any remaining debris that has been left behind. Cloudy water may also be an indication that it is time to perform a backwash. For instructions on how to backwash your filter please see below.

How to Backwash your Sand Filter:

  • Turn off the pool pump
  • Turn the valve handle to “BACKWASH”
  • Start the pool pump
  • Backwash until water in sight glass is clear (approximately 2-3 minutes)
  • Turn off the pool pump again
  • Turn the valve handle to “RINSE”
  • Start the pool pump and operate for 30 seconds to one minute
  • Stop pool pump
  • Turn the valve handle to “FILTER”
  • Start the pool pump to return to normal filtering
  • Check the chemistry levels. Sometimes extra water and/ or chemistry may need to be added to the pool to replace what has been lost

To prevent damage to the pool pump and filter and for proper operation of the system, clean the pump strainer and skimmer baskets regularly.

The sand or glass itself needs to be changed every 3-5 years depending on the circumstances. The sand or glass may look okay from a distance, but the edges do become worn and don’t catch contaminants as easily after some time.

Cartridge Filter

Maintaining your cartridge filter is easy! To get the most out of your cartridges and cartridge filter, ensure you stay up to date with cleaning your cartridges and maintaining balanced pool water chemistry. The gauge on the filter will tell you when it is time to clean them (most have a red marker). At the least a minimum 2-4 times a year would be required depending on the pool size. It is also important to give the cartridges a hose down after a big storm or when there have been a lot of people in the pool. For instructions on how to keep your cartridge filter clean please see below.

  • Turn off the pool pump
  • Check that you do not have an automatic timer on the pump that may interrupt your cleaning cycle
  • Remove the cartridge from the filter via the easy grip handles
  • Check the cartridge for any rips or tears and if so, contact your local pool shop or service person to see if you require a replacement
  • Use a normal garden hose to wash away debris, by hosing top to bottom
  • If your cartridge appears to have a lot of remaining debris or algae you can soak the cartridge for between 1-8 hours in a simple solution that you can purchase from your local pool shop or service person. This will then require rinsing again as outlined in step 5
  • Once the cartridges are clean, return them to the filter and secure the lid firmly

Cartridges should last approximately 18 months to 3 years depending on the amount of usage and debris in the pool. At this point it is best to completely replace the cartridges to ensure the best health for both the filter and the pool.

Always check your manufacturer’s manual for the most up to date warranty and maintenance information.

Although filters do require some maintenance, they are the key to keeping your pool clean and clear all year round, so it is important to stay up to date with your routine cleaning. You may also find that if you do not look after your pool equipment, it will not last as long as it was made to. Should you need more information on pool filters one of our friendly Master Pools staff can help, simply contact us here or call us on (03) 8787 8873 make an appointment to visit our Fibreglass Pool and Spa Display Centre, Cranbourne West.

Have you recently completed a pool construction in South East Melbourne and don’t have time to worry about filter maintenance? Is your pool builder on the Mornington Peninsula and doesn’t provide an after-care solution? Whatever the situation, we can recommend pool service in Brighton, Moorabbin, Dandenong, Pakenham and Sorrento, as well as surrounding suburbs. To find out more please click here.

One of the simplest and most reliable ways to maintain healthy pool water throughout the year – especially in the busy summer season – and keep your filtration system clean is to backwash regularly.

Not exactly sure what that means? Well, as the name suggests, backwashing involves reversing the flow of water through your filter media, be it Zeoplus, sand, glass pearls or diatomaceous earth (DE). This dislodges dirt and debris that may have become trapped, and flushes it out through your multiport valve waste line.

Knowing when to backwash your filter is really important in keeping your pool water clean and filtration equipment in peak condition. The good news is that there are three common signs that indicate if and when your pool filter needs to be backwashed. They include:

  1. Water pressure – an increase in your PSI (per square inch) pressure reading is a sign that your pool’s filter is under strain, either through a blockage or, as we talked about here, faulty equipment
  2. Water flow – debris and contaminants clogging the filter media restricts the rate at which water can pass through the filter, reducing the flow of water into your pool
  3. Water clarity – cloudy water may indicate that the filter media is dirty or unable to catch the dirt and debris making its way into your pool

How often should I backwash my pool filter?

That’s a little like asking how long a piece of string is because it depends on how much you use your pool, if it is surrounded by overhanging trees or foliage, or prone to getting grass clippings in it when you mow the lawn.

That said, many pool owners backwash weekly as part of their summer maintenance routine, often after they vacuum to collect the remaining particles that are often stirred up.

Dirty pool filter media can increase the growth of algae, and put unwanted strain on your pump as it tries to push clean water through a clogged filter. Here are a few tips on how to spring clean your filter media, and why making the switch from sand to glass pearls can increase water quality.

FloVis Flow Meter

To ensure sufficient water flows to your pool’s filtration and sanitising equipment, consider investing in Waterco’s FloVis Flow Meter. Ideal for variable or multi-speed pool pumps, it’s easy quick to install, easy to read, and requires no calibration.

If you suspect that your pool filter is faulty, or the filter media needs replacing, give Swimart a call on 1300 991 104 or pop into your local Swimart pool and spa shop.

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