Lemme preface this with a "I saw this on youtube so it must be true"
For years, I've done the "vacuum to waste" method of pool maint. esp when it comes to dealing with junk that I've sunk with flocculant. With both of my pools it seems like vacuuming **** off the bottom while the filter is running in filtration mode just causes a general redistribution of the **** after an hour or so (usually not quite to the same degree, but enough to make it look like I didn't vacuum), so to deal with this, I just put it on waste, pump a ton of water out in the yard, and then fill the pool back up.
Apparently I've been backwashing too often as well, but that's another story. Pool store says "probably once a week, and vacuum to waste". Yall know how that goes.
So, I was watching videos on youtube out of boredom the other day because watching other people clean pools is always more interesting than actual work, and I noticed that a lot of these guys don't do anything special when they're vacuuming, and one guy went out of his way to point out he was vacuuming into the filter.
then when done, backwash, rinse, profit.
So for the questions:
1) Is this a good idea/bad idea/indifferent? -would be nice not to waste that much water
2) If I can watch the clouds coming out the returns, is this a normal indication that my filter is jacked up? (one of my filters is right at a year old, 300lb hayward sand filter. The other is unknown/same size, and I've already penciled in a teardown of it after this season)
and 3) how often should I backwash the filter? It would seem, that after searching around on here and elsewhere on the 'net, the answer to that is when your pressure is ~8 psi above it's baseline. I've never seen mine go more than 2 high, and that's while running the filter after dropping the pool (hey, they're heavy, it happens some times).
Consulting other local pool owners, they've been doing it much the same way. I'd really like to avoid the swamp in the yard trick if possible though.