My Pool Start Up..Why Are Leaves & Debris Going Back Into The Pool After Vacuuming?

by Shelley
(Stockton, CA)

90 degrees out today...Our pool not ready!

Step 1: Teach 14 yr old son to clean pool so you don't have to any more...yea right.

Step 1: Scoop out all winters layer of eucalyptus leaves before starting-handing him pole and net.

(Note: The strainer cover from bottom pool drain missing) Those leaves are dense and heavy to scoop out so he decides the sweep running will pick them up for him with its leaf net/bag.

Meanwhile, leaves being sucked down bottom drain hole.

For 3 days he did this.

Then he overdosed extreamly on some clarifier (thick blue stuff) Wonderful job son!

I took over operation - cleaned all canister filters/baskets and proceeded to manually remove debris with a manual vaccume hose.

Within 30 sec sucked debris is now shooting out pool side valve like you were sucking stuff up and it drains right back in to the pool.

It happens so fast I can't imagine it ever reached canister as it is a good 80-90 ft away.

Don't know how or what to do now.

Please help.

Thanks for the question Shelley

Yes, those wonderful eucalyptus leaves. I spent countless enjoyable hours scooping out thousands of pounds of those little beauties out of my customer's pools.

All the while getting sunburned. 1st and 2nd degree burns on my arms and neck from the Arizona summer sun.


First, and you probably know this already, but this is for those who may have a similar issue.

It's very important that you first scoop out as much debris as you can using a wide mouth leaf rake.

Not those little blue skimmers. They're useless.

You're dealing with pool water and the debris will not be too friendly. It'll float everywhere and not cooperate, so patience is necessary.

Pool filters are meant to filter the pool water from dirt and small piece of debris, not large chunks.

If chunks get in there, the filtration system will clog up quickly and you'll either need to backwash more frequently or actually take the filter apart and remove the large pieces of debris.

You also run the risk of clogging up the pool cleaner hose, vacuum hose, or pool plumbing on the suction side.

Leaves coming back through the returns means that they're not being trapped in the filter.

I would first ask what kind of filter do you have; sand, cartridge, or DE? The question says that you "cleaned all canister filters/baskets" so I will assume you have a cartridge filter.

But if this means that your vacuum hose or pool cleaner has a canister/filter in the hose, that needs to be clarified.

You're able to decrease the suction at the bottom drain using the bottom drain valve, so I would start there.

Be sure to open the skimmer valve all the way and keep the basket cleaned out. When the pool is free of debris you can readjust the valves and balance out the suction to the bottom drain and skimmer.

Again, scoop out as many leaves as you can. This is the most important step.

Clean out the filter and/or backwash. Keep an eye on the water level and don't allow it to get below the skimmer. You'll draw in air.

Keep the water level between 1/3 - 1/2 up from the bottom of the skimmer.

If you have a sand filter, you can vacuum to WASTE. If you're system is not set up to go directly into the sewer, you'll need to unroll your backwash hose.

Once you have all the debris out (or as much as you can) of the pool, cleaned the filter, backwashed or cleaned the cartridges, it will be time to clear up the pool water.

Because of the large amount of debris, there's probably no chlorine in the pool. This is when you'll need to take action against pool algae.

Swimming Pool Algae

Green Pool Water

Pool Shock

Swimming Pool Chlorine

There are charts on the chlorine pages to show how much you need for a good pool shock.

Keep the filtration system running 24/7.

If you decide to run your pool cleaner and it has a bag attached to it, as many Polaris models do, be sure to check it often as the bag will fill up very quickly.

It's basically trying to keep the filtration system clean while you're cleaning the pool and scooping out debris and leaves.

It does takes time and patience, especially when you're dealing with alot of debris.

Watch the pool filter pressure and be sure to backwash when it get over 8 - 10psi of your "just backwashed" pressure.

It just sounds like the pool filter was quickly overloaded with leaves and they had nowhere to go but back to the pool through the returns.

Hope this helps and let me know how it turns out for you.

Have a great and safe swimming season.


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Aug 27, 2016
How do you backwash a Pentair in ground filter system?
by: Dave

I have debris coming back through the side jets while vacuuming into the side port of the pool. I have one main skimmer basket, clean filters and skimmer basket(s). The basket on the pump is also clean. From my pump I have 2 pipws, one labeled vacuum and the other labeled skimmer. How do you backwash this type of setup? It is a Pentair Clean and Clear Plus cartridge filter.

Hi Dave. You have a cartridge filter. There's no backwash procedure. You need to manually remove the filter, spray it out and replace it. You can find your owner's manual online by putting in your make/model number.


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