Vacuum Pool On Waste Or Filter? (The Best Advice!)

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Do You Vacuum Pool on Waste or Filter?

Your sand filter is there to keep your pool water clean and clear. But the filter needs some help. Algae and other contaminants accumulate on the pool sides, steps and bottom. You need to brush and vacuum the pool regularly. But Do You Vacuum Pool On Waste Or Filter?

Vacuum with the pool filter on “FILTER” mode if the floor has light powdery deposit but very little or no algae. Vacuum with the pool filter on “WASTE” mode if you see strands of algae or large solid debris on the pool floor. 

You do not want to clog up the pool filter media with algae and contaminants. The filter will not be able to take up the load. You will need to backwash more frequently. Backwashing will still result in a lot of pool water being expelled to the yard or a drain.

Save yourself and your pool filter the trouble. Just, vacuum to waste! 

Vacuum Pool On Waste Or Filter

What Is Waste Mode on Sand Filter?

Pool sand or DE filters come with a multiport valve (MPV). The valve typically has 7 positions or settings. The 7 settings are Filter, Backwash, Rinse, Waste, Recirculate, Winter & Closed. These settings direct the flow of water through the pool filter.

Your pool sand filter consists of a tank which has the filter media such as sand, glass or DE.

Water from the pool is pumped into the pool filter, by the pump. through the “inlet” pipe. The water from the filter can, then either go back to the pool through the “return” pipe or go out of the pool system through the “waste” pipe.

The “waste” pipe is either connected to the sewage (stormwater, if regulations permit) drain or a drain to sunlight. 

The Waste setting on the multiport valve allows the inlet water to bypass the filter media and go directly to the waste pipe. The vacuumed pool water, along with algae and other solid contaminants, goes out of the pool system.

Waste Mode

The filter media does not need to be overloaded with filtering large quantities of debris. Of course you lose some pool water, along with pool chemicals.

For more detailed information on all settings check out my post Pool Multiport Valve Settings (The Best Guide With Simple Schematics!).

Needless to say, you must use the Waste setting judiciously. 

Should You Vacuum or Backwash Your Pool First?

Vacuum to Filter Setting on MPV

You should backwash your pool filter before vacuuming if the reading on the filter pressure gauge is on the higher side, that is 15 psi or more. 

After backwashing and rinsing, the reading should have dropped to below 10 psi. The water coming back into the pool through the return jet should be pretty clear.

Backwashing before vacuuming the pool sand filter is a good idea if you are vacuuming to “Filter” setting on the multiport valve (MPV). Your pool filter will be ready to handle whatever debris the vacuuming will bring up. The pump will not be overloaded.

After vacuuming, you should check the reading on the filter pressure gauge once more. If it is lower than 15 psi, it means that your pool was reasonably clean before vacuuming. There is no need to backwash the filter again after vacuuming.

However, if the reading is, once again, on the higher side, that is 15 psi or more, you should Backwash the filter a second time. Looks like your pool was dirtier than you thought! 

Vacuum to Waste Setting on MPV

Now if your pool bottom is littered with large quantities of algae and other debris, then you are better off vacuuming to Waste. 

In this situation, it really does not matter whether you backwash the filter before or after vacuuming. The vacuumed water is going to bypass the filter media anyway!

The filter should be backwashed if the pressure gauge reading is 10 psi above the norm. You can do this before or after vacuuming. It’s up to your convenience.

If the pressure gauge reading is within the normal range, then you do not have to backwash, just because you vacuumed.

When Should You Vacuum To Waste?

Shocking your pool should be an essential part of your weekly pool maintenance activities. If your pool is cloudy use a pool clarifier or a pool flocculant. Follow this up with brushing and vacuuming. 

Vacuuming will get all the dead germs, bacteria & algae out of the pool water along with dust, dirt & debris. Following the routine, without fail, will keep your pool clean and clear. Vacuuming to Filter mode will get the job done.

Special Occasions

However, there can be special situations when your pool will be overloaded with algae, leaves and other contaminants. In such instances you will need to shock your pool, add pool flocculant, brush and vacuum to waste.

The amount of dirt and other contaminants in the pool can go up during:

  1. Summer: 

The pool gets used more during the peak summer months. Kids have summer breaks, the days are longer and it is hot! The coolest place to be in, without doubt, is the swimming pool.

Increased pool activity will increase the amount and size of contaminants. If you see a lot of solid debris on the pool floor, you are better off vacuuming with the multiport valve on the waste setting.

  1. After Storms:

Rain & Dust storms will dump a lot of dirt, dust & yard debris into the pool. The risk of “algae bloom” also goes up. 

If your pool has gone “green” then you will need to shock it, probably repeatedly, to turn it back to “blue”. 

When vacuuming out the dead algae, do not set your multiport valve on the filter position. You will just clog up the filter sand with algae, which will be extremely difficult to get rid of. Instead, vacuum with the multiport valve on the waste setting.

  1. Fall:

You & your family will not be using the pool too much during fall. But now you have dry leaves, bugs & insects being blown into your pool. They can be, and should be skimmed out as often as possible. But some will sink to the bottom.

They can be trapped by the filter, but they are large and will clog up the sand too frequently.  Vacuum with the multiport valve on the waste setting to get them out of the pool system without overloading the filter media.

Recommended Pool Vacuum & Sand Filters

Best Vacuum for Inground Pools

Hayward Poolvergnuegen 2-Wheel Suction PoolCleaner™ uses your existing pool pump and filter for power—simply plug it into the designated suction port or the skimmer for quick an easy setup.

Featuring patented self-adjusting turbine vanes, PoolCleaner™ delivers maximum power at any flow and allows passage of larger, more stubborn debris. Patented tire treads enhance climbing ability and obstacle maneuverability. Patented adjustable roller skirts allow the cleaner to maintain optimal suction on uneven surfaces and when encountering obstacles.

Multiple pre-programmed internal steering sequences ensure complete pool coverage—PoolCleaner™ travels 8 – 10 ft. before turning, and turns can range from 90 to 450 degrees.

You can order from Amazon using the link below:

Hayward W3PVS20GST Poolvergnuegen Suction Pool Cleaner for In-Ground Pools

Best Sand Filter

The Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter for in-ground swimming pools will provide you with hassle-free, effective filtration. The weather-proof tank is constructed of a tough, color-fast polymeric material.

Even water distribution over every square inch of sand is ensured by an integral top diffuser, self-cleaning under drain and 360 degree slotted laterals. Advanced full-flow technology reduces energy costs by achieving excellent filtration, so you can run your filter less.

Thorough backwashing allows for crystal-clear water. Filter is complete with tank, 7-way multi-port valve, sight glass and pressure gauge. 7-way Valve Positions: Filter, Waste, Winter, Closed, Backwash, Recirculation, Rinse.

You can order from Amazon using the link below:

Hayward Pro Series Pool Sand Filter

Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and helpful.

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