When Should You Backwash Your Pool?

Pools are where everyone escapes for the entirety of summer. You have your best friends, your favorite drinks, endless watermelon, and tanned skin that never ends. With all the fun pools bring they do require some care. When it comes to backwashing, when should you take care of this? 

If you are wondering how often you should backwash your pool, a good rule to follow is to backwash about every week. This is a simple process that does not take up too much time, but one that is essential in maintaining your pool, keeping your filter clean, and maintaining pressure with the filter. 

Having a pool is mostly all sunshine and laughs, but at the end of the day, there are a few things you have to ensure will help to get it through the season and last for many seasons thereafter. Backwashing your pool is something that you must do on a regular basis. Otherwise, your pool will turn into a nice backyard swamp. Continue reading to figure out what backwashing your pool is, when you should tackle this routine maintenance task, signs backwashing your pool is needed, and how long a backwash of your pool should take. 

What is Backwashing Your Pool? 

Everyone knows what it means to blow up a float, pour a drink, get some shade through a big umbrella, or even skim the pool. These are easy pool procedures that happen every week, if not every day. Although these are all great, they are not going to be the things that make or break the well-being of your pool and filter. When it comes to the nitty-gritty of pool care, you have to backwash, but what exactly does that mean? 

Backwashing the filter breaks apart all of that material and thrusts it out of a hose and into wherever you chose to dump the hose. This then leaves you with a clean filter and one that will work at a more efficient rate. 

If there is too much waste build-up in your filter, it can cause the filter to lose pressure, stop working, and can even damage the filter itself if you allow the waste to build up for long enough. After all, when I say backwash, I don’t mean grabbing the nearest mouthwash and gargling it loud enough for the neighbors to hear you. 

You know what a pool filter is, right? So a pool filter’s purpose is to remove gunk from your pool by pushing that waste into some type of porous medium (think, sand filter). However, this is not where your pool’s water cleaning journey ends. After continuous deposits of waste, there is build-up and it must be removed. This is where backwashing comes into play. 

When Do You Need to Backwash Your Pool? 

If you think about the use of your pool and how much waste is put into your water on a daily and weekly basis, you might be more inclined to backwash a bit more often than you already are. After all, all kinds of insects, dirt particles, dead skin cells, microorganisms, and hair are floating around your pool with every single use. 

After multiple uses, the only logical outcome would be that all of these things continue to contaminate your water. Now, this doesn’t mean that your water is just chock-full of the stuff, but it does mean that your filter is. 

When a filter is doing its job properly, it is pulling all of these things from your water and depositing them into a medium, which is where they stay (yay for clean water!). Over time though, the build-up can put a lot of strain on your filter and can cause other issues within your pool. This system needs proper care and maintenance to be effective. 

This is why you should backwash your pool once a week during heavy use and once every two weeks when it is not being used as often. Now, this is a very general rule of thumb, but is one that can be followed and will do nothing but good for your pool. 

This rate of backwashing may be a bit much for some pool owners, but the process is not one that puts significant strain on any part of your pool, therefore the only outcome of it is one that is positive. 

Besides pool usage, there are a few other factors that may play a part in determining how often you should backwash. For example, if your pool is located in an area that is surrounded by lots of trees, this means that you likely have much more debris in your pool than some others may have. You also might have a filtration system that accumulates debris faster or slower, this is also something that can help you customize your backwashing needs. 

If you are unsure of how often to backwash, simply give your local pool experts a call. There is never any shame in asking for a bit of advice and I promise they will be able to give you a straightforward answer after determining what the environment is like around your pool, the type of filter you have, and how much use your pool is getting. 

The experts are there for a reason, so if you question your own judgment, call on them for some guidance. Since backwashing a pool is essential for the short-term and long-term pool maintenance, knowing when and how to backwash your pool is an essential part of owning a pool.

How Do You Know that a Backwash for Your Pool is Needed? 

Outside of that general rule of backwashing every week, there is one indicator that is going to be a dead giveaway that your pool is in need of a backwash. If you have ever felt the pressure that pulls water from your pool and into the filter, you know that the suction is really quite strong. If you put your hand over the hole that leads to the filter, there is a chance you will have a tough time pulling it away if the pressure is really spot-on. 

However, if you notice that the filter basket is floating in that same chamber that leads to the filter, you should immediately know that you need to backwash the filter. 

When your water pressure starts to decrease, this usually means that your filter is too full of gunk to be able to push water through properly. This slows the flow rate and thus, decreases the water pressure. If your pressure is weak, this is a tell-tell sign that a backwash is in order. 

How to Backwash Your Pool

You know how often you should backwash and what signs to look for to reveal that a backwash is needed, but how exactly do you backwash? This is a process that many new pool owners are intimidated by, but trust me, after one time you will be an expert and it will be an old trick to you in no time. This is not something you have to call on the experts to do (although they absolutely will if you feel the need!) but is something you are more than capable of!

To backwash your pool, consider the following steps:

  1. Shut or plug the filtration system. You first want to make sure that you have the pump and filtration system either shut or plugged, depending on your filter. 
  2. Clamp the hose. Grab and clamp the hose that is used for backwashing and attach it snuggly. Be sure that it has been attached firmly so that you can proceed with assurance. 
  3. Select the “Backwash” setting. Once you have the hose clamped on, go to your filter and turn the handle to the “Backwash” setting. This should automatically start the backwash and you will see the water exit out of the hose. 
  4. Monitor the clear section of the filter. Keep an eye on the clear part of the filter at this time. This is important because the color of the water is what is going to dictate when you stop the backwash. 
  5. Run the backwash until completed. There is no set time for a backwash, only that you stop once the water runs clear through the filter. If you see clear water for an extended amount of time (30 seconds to 1 minute) then your backwash was successful and you can get back to your regularly scheduled programming with your pool!

Backwashing your pool is an easy way to keep your pool clean, your filter running smoothly, and your water free of any unwanted contaminants. Although it may seem like a foreign process, backwashing is an easy step in keeping your pool in tip-top shape for years to come. 

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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