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How to Backwash Your Pool Filter

Have you thanked your pool filter lately? This equipment works hard every day to keep your pool water crystal clear and safe to enjoy. Getting dirty is its job! But all that captured debris and dirt has to be removed periodically. That’s why you should regularly backwash your pool filter. Backwashing ejects dirt, debris, hair, and oils that your filter caught. We’ve broken down this simple and quick maintenance task into three easy steps.

Step One – Know The Right Time

Everyone’s backwashing schedule varies. For example, how much you use your pool or how much debris you experience makes a difference. A few signs it’s time for you to backwash your pool filter:

  • There’s weak flow coming out of your returns. You can actually feel this just by placing your hand in front.
  • Your pressure gauge is 10 psi (pounds per square inch) over your normal threshold.
  • Cloudy water may indicate that the filter is overloaded with gunk. However, make sure to do water testing first to confirm you don’t have a chemical imbalance or algae problem. (We help with this for FREE)!
  • After a heavy rain or strong winds that blew around debris, your filter has to work overtime. Make sure to backwash as well as skim, vacuum, and shock for a thorough clean.
Step Two – Kill Power, Change to Backwash, and Manually Clean

The first step in a backwash is safety! Because this is an electrical system, you want to turn it off at the breaker to ensure no power is flowing. If you left the pump running while changing the flow direction, you could damage the parts to the point where they have to be replaced. It’s like throwing your car from D to R while it’s in motion. Eeks!

Next, clean any baskets. Remove waste like leaves and grass. You might also give them a scrub or strong spray with a hose if they look grimy. Make sure to reinsert in the correct position.

Then check that your waste line is attached and directed to an appropriate spot. You may want to discharge backwash to an area away from your pool, especially if your pump is near your house foundation or surrounded by concrete.

Now turn the handle from filter to backwash. Thanks to this variable flow valve, all you are doing is changing the direction of the water. The pressure of this reverse flow is what cleans the filter during the backwash.

Step Three – Backwash and Rinse

Time to start the backwash! Flip the breaker back on and the backwash will automatically begin. All you have to do is wait approximately a minute. You can visually look at the discharge water to see when it’s flowing clean. Some models also have a sight glass – a small, clear container that allows you to see the water and judge when it’s clear.

Kill the power again, switch your valve to rinse mode, and turn the power on. Let the rinse cycle go for around 20 seconds. This step is to ensure that anything left over from the backwash doesn’t drift back into your pool. Lastly, cut power, switch back to filter mode, and turn it on again. If you have a sand filter, you are all set!

If you have a DE (diatomaceous earth) filter, your last step is to add more DE to your skimmer. This is because the backwash removes a portion of the DE. The size of your filter dictates the number of scoops. Just allow each one to dissolve in between or mix with equal parts water in a separate container and then add.

Our only warning is to never backwash when you have an algae problem. Because algae is microscopic, it can bypass the filter and recirculate in your system. Read our post on dealing with an algae bloom and always use vacuum-to-waste in this situation.

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