The decision to get a pool naturally involves a great deal of research. From shapes and sizes, to colors and features, you go to painstaking effort to determine every detail. Now that it's installed, how do you keep your investment looking its best? Maintenance and regular cleaning are crucial to the longevity of your pool.
Not unlike your home, your pool is easier to keep clean if done consistently. The more time that passes between cleanings, the more effort it will take to get it back to sparkling. An automatic pool cleaner is your best tool for establishing a regular cleaning routine, but manual options are available as well for precision cleaning.
When first introduced, automatic pool cleaners simply served to agitate floor debris, with the expectation that it would eventually reach the skimmer or the main drain. Today, cleaners actually vacuum debris as well as circulate, providing a far more effective means to keep your pool pristine. Among the automatic pool cleaners, there are three main options – robotic, pressure (or pressure-side), and suction cleaners.
Each type of automatic pool cleaner has its own pros and cons, so you’ll need to determine what best works for your needs. When making your selection, the type of pool you have should be considered as well. Specifically, if you have a vinyl liner or above ground pool , talk to your local pool professional to make sure that the cleaner or vacuum you select is compatible.
Among the most popular cleaners available, robotic cleaners operate completely independent of the pool pump and filter system, requiring no hose connections. The cleaner’s autonomy from your pool equipment keeps it from consuming pressure and adding to overall pool costs, but it does require low-voltage electricity run through a ground fault interrupter circuit to operate.
Abilities of the robotic pool cleaner vary depending on the model, but all are fairly simple to operate. Just drop it in the pool and leave it to do its job. The cleaner will work its way around the pool surface, using small brushes and vacuum pressure to remove everything from dirt and algae to debris of all sizes.
The higher-end robotic cleaners can climb walls, work over stairs, and scrub all the way to the waterline. Many even scan your pool for a strategic path and learn a routine for regular cleaning. Optional quick clean or deep clean cycles let the pool owner determine their particular cleaning needs. You will have to put the unit in for each clean and remove it after, but otherwise the cleaning process is fully automated.
Water that is pushed or pumped back into the inground pool through a “return” provides the power for a pressure-side cleaner. This can be done through the existing returns powered by the pool’s filter pump or by an independent line dedicated to cleaning, known as a booster pump.
The basics are the same on both models – the cleaner relies on water pressure and three separate ports to stir up debris, propel the cleaner, and suction debris into a collection bag. The booster pump option uses higher pressure levels and can work with a time clock to fully automate the cleaning. This does make it more expensive to purchase and operate than its lower pressure counterpart. It’s common practice by some inground pool owners to leave a pressure side vacuum cleaner in their pool even when swimming rather than moving it in and out of the pool, though you can’t forget to empty the debris collection bag periodically.
As the name implies, suction pool vacuum cleaners rely on the suction side of the pool equipment to clean. They connect to the pool skimmer or a dedicated suction line and work around the pool collecting debris and sending it out through the pool’s filtration system.
The cleaner is propelled around the pool by the movement of the water being sucked through it once the hose is connected and the filter pump is running. Movement is automatic once connected, but it is random. Designs and features vary, including the ability of some models to climb walls.
Suction pool cleaners are the most cost-efficient cleaners, but they also tend to have more moving parts that need to be replaced over time. Additionally, their reliance on the pool filter to clean the water can create the need for more frequent filter cleanings.
Automatic cleaners can be indispensable in the continued maintenance of a pool, but some clean ups require a more hands-on approach. If a thunder storm or sand storm tosses an excessive amount of debris in your pool, or you are attempting to remove an algae problem, a manual pool vacuum is a necessity.
Manual pool vacuums typically consist of a vacuum head, a vacuum hose, and a telescoping pole. The hose is connected to the vacuum head at one end and the water intake nozzle on your pool skimmer at the other. With the vacuum head submerged and against the pool surface, once the hose fills with water, it creates suction that will hold the vacuum head tight against the pool floor or walls.
When researching options for various pool cleaner models and brands, remember that it is always advisable to rely on the knowledge of a local pool professional – your pool builder or a local pool retailer. They can provide invaluable perspective on the unique needs of your region and your pool.
Looking for the right cleaning system for your pool? Check out the options from these industry leaders: