Guide to Handheld and Manual Pool Vacuums The Pros The Cons Types of Handheld Pool Vacuums FAQs

Guide to Handheld and Manual Pool Vacuums

A pool vacuum cleaner can help you keep leaves, mulch and algae from forming on the walls of your pool. A clean swimming pool means healthy pool water -- and that’s why a pool vacuum is a must-have for your pool maintenance toolkit. But which kind of pool vacuum is right for you?

There are two general types of pool vacuum cleaners: automatic and handheld.

You push around handheld or manual pool vacuums to pick up all of the debris, such as leaves and sticks, from the bottom and sides of your pool. An automatic pool cleaner is plugged in and vacuums without you having to push it.

Handheld Vacuum

Pros of Handheld Pool Cleaners

Handheld pool cleaners are a great addition to every home pool, as this type of cleaner is affordable and effective. Some benefits of using a handheld pool cleaner:

  • Concentrated power. A portable pool vacuum enables you to clean up specific areas of your pool, as opposed to waiting for an automatic pool vacuum to make its way to the leaves or dirt.
  • More affordable. Compared to automatic pool vacuums, handheld pool vacuums are much more affordable than their fancier, robotic counterparts. If you need a pool cleaner that won’t break the bank, handheld is definitely the way to go.
  • More powerful. Some handheld pool vacuums can deliver higher suction power than automatic pool vacuums.
  • Easy to use. Handheld pool vacuum cleaners are easy to use. You won’t have to worry about the complicated process of installing an automatic pool vacuum on your own, as manual pool cleaners do not require any installation and battery operated handheld pool cleaners do not need to be plugged into anything.
  • Exercise. Taking care of your pool can be healthy cardiovascular exercise.

Did You Know?

Many experienced pool owners use both an automatic and a handheld pool vacuum cleaner as part of their pool maintenance routine. Automatic pool vacuums are great to run regularly. However, when you need to clean up a specific part of your pool or need to clean up debris right away, a handheld vacuum cleaner can quickly and directly suck up the debris.

Cons of Handheld Pool Vacuums

Like all tools, there are some disadvantages of using a handheld pool vacuum over an automatic one:

  • Manual labor. Using a handheld pool vacuum is different from using an automatic pool vacuum, as you will not be able to set it up and let it work. You will need to physically run the vacuum over any spots with debris.
  • Slower. If you needed to vacuum all of the surfaces in your pool, it would probably take more time to use a handheld vacuum over an automatic one. You can’t start a handheld vacuum and let it run on its own in the way that you can with an automatic version.
Man Vacuuming Swimming Pool

Different Types of Handheld Pool Vacuums

There are different types of manual vacuums, here’s a guide what is available at each different price point.


Why You Need It:

A manual vacuum brush head attaches to your telescoping pool and is extremely affordable.

What to Look For:

High-quality construction. There are some very, very inexpensive plastic models that may not last more than a season.


Why You Need It:

There are many versions of battery-powered pool cleaners, including some very powerful models that can clean up even the dirtiest of pools.

What To Look For:

Make sure that the battery-powered handheld pool cleaner you buy has sufficient suction power to clean your pool. Opt for rechargeable batteries with longer operating times so you can clean your whole pool on a single charge.

FAQs: Handheld Pool Cleaners

I need to know how to use a pool vacuum cleaner. Where do I start?

Although using a portable pool vacuum is pretty straightforward, the steps vary depending on the type of handheld pool vacuum cleaner you have.

  • A manual vacuum brush is attached to the end of a telescoping pole, often with a mesh-like bag that catches the leaves.
  • A pump-powered handheld vacuum cleaner needs to be attached to your pump, either directly or through the filter.
  • A battery-operated pool vacuum needs to be charged before use. Depending on the model, you may not need to attach the vacuum to your telescoping pole, as it may have its own pole.

Once you set up your handheld pool vacuum cleaner, you simply run the vacuum over the debris and empty the leaf bag, as needed.

Can you tell me how to vacuum an above ground pool?

Using an above ground handheld pool vacuum is an important part of your pool maintenance routine. Start by skimming the top of your pool to remove floating leaves, bugs, and pollen so that you will not need to vacuum it up later. Next, you will need to attach your vacuum to your telescoping pole and put the vacuum into the water and vacuum the bottom of the pool.

Pro Tip: For above ground pools, you can stand in the pool to vacuum it. You don’t have to try to vacuum it by reaching over the sides of the pool.

Is there a special technique for how to vacuum an inground pool?

After skimming away debris from the pool’s surface and setting up your handheld pool vacuum, start by vacuuming the deep end of your pool and make your way toward the shallow end. Try to roll the vacuum head over the debris slowly and avoid stirring up the water, which could make the water cloudy.

Keep an eye on the filter basket and the filter pressure gauge. Sticks, leaves, and debris can build up and cause pressure to build up. This means that you need to empty filter baskets and backwash your pool to operate your vacuum safely without exceeding the pressure levels recommended by your pool pump manufacturer.

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