How To Troubleshoot A Swimming Pool Vacuum


How To Troubleshoot A Swimming Pool Vacuum ~ Pool vacuums—automatic or not—are still machines. They either fail you or they don’t. As a pool owner, it’s important you learn how to troubleshoot your pool vacuum in times of need. 

A Must-Read: Best Pool Accessories

Types of Pool Cleaners / Vacuum

Back then, manual pool cleaners were the only choice. Now, pool owners can choose between automatic or manual pool cleaners. 

Manual Pool Vacuum

A manual pool vacuum works like a carpet vacuum, but for pools. You simply maneuver it around using your telepole, a long stick attached to the vacuum head. 

The mechanics for using a manual pool vacuum is very straightforward—no need for electricity nor batteries. You just simply connect the vacuum hose to your pool skimmer suction, then you can operate and move it around using the telepole. 

Tips For Troubleshooting A Manual Pool Vacuum 

Manual pool vacuums are the cheapest and the easiest to use. Because of their simple design, troubleshooting is not much needed when dealing with manual cleaners. 

When something DOES go wrong, it pays to be prepared. Thankfully, any problems you might encounter with a manual pool cleaner will most likely be simple ones. 

Take a look at some of these tips below: 

  • Move your manual vacuum slow and steady to avoid the telepole from accidentally detaching from the vacuum head
  • When cleaning near the center of the pool, make sure to adjust the telepole to reach the area better
  • In case the vacuum head gets stuck while you’re moving it, try tilting it slightly using the telepole. This way, one side of the vacuum head is a bit lifted from the pool floor
  • You can lower the chances of your cleaner getting stuck by controlling the water flow from the suction with a flow keeper valve. This works particularly well if you always find yourself using a long telepole

Automatic Pool Vacuum 

Unlike manual pool vacuums, automatic pool vacuums operate mostly on their own and don’t need human intervention in most cases. 

There are three types of automatic pool cleaners: 

  • Suction
  • Pressure
  • Robotic

Suction Pool Cleaner

The cheapest type among all automatic cleaners is the suction pool cleaner. You simply hook its hose up the skimmer line or vacuum line, then you can leave the rest to this little machine. 

Some are made differently than others. You can find suction cleaners equipped with wheels, rubber disks, and some can even climb walls. This is probably the reason why they’re popularly called ‘Kreepy Kraulys’. 

Keep in mind that using a suction cleaner has its drawbacks. Considering their price point, don’t be surprised if suction cleaners lack a bit of efficiency. 

They are automatic and do the job on cleaning, but they move randomly, merely flowing within the circulation of your pool. As a result, your suction cleaner may not pass through some areas of the pool. 

Tips For Troubleshooting A Suction Pool Cleaner

In some instances, your suction cleaner may need an intervention. Why is it not moving? How come it’s running so slow? Read on further to get some tips. 

Problem #1: My pool suction cleaner is not moving. 

Since air can disturb the flow of water, check if your hoses are all connected snug to each other. This is to make sure there are no air leaks disrupting your pool’s water flow. 

Try also checking the diaphragm of your cleaner. Sometimes, large debris or too many leaves can accumulate inside it, preventing your cleaner from functioning properly. 

Problem #2: My pool suction cleaner is moving so slow. 

Many factors can make your pool cleaner sluggish. It may be caused by a jammed pool filter, skimmer basket, or intake hole in the cleaner.

If cleaning them does not resolve this issue, inspect the wheels or tires of your cleaner. Are they worn out? If so, then it may be time for adjustments or even replacements. 

Problem #3: My pool suction cleaner doesn’t cover the whole pool. 

The first thing you should look into is your hose length. If it cannot stretch from the suction line to the end of the pool with a few extra feet to spare, then it’s a bit short. Simply attach extra hoses the next time you clean your pool. 

If that’s not the cause, then look into your return jets. The pressure from the return jets may be propelling your cleaner away from certain areas. Adjust the direction of your return jets to prevent this from happening.

Pressure Pool Cleaner 

Although newer in the market, pressure-side pool cleaners have become even more popular than suction cleaners in recent years. 

Pressure cleaners and suction cleaners get their names from which filtration side they are hooked up to. Suction cleaners are attached to skimmer or vacuum lines. On the other hand, pressure pool cleaners can be attached to return jets so they can move around the pool. 

In other words, pressure pool cleaners rely on the pressure in order to roll around in the pool. 

Tips For Troubleshooting A Pressure-side Pool Cleaner 

Despite being an automatic contraption, pressure pool cleaners still require a bit of monitoring in case something goes wrong. 

Below are some common problems with a pressure pool cleaner. 

Problem #1: My pressure pool cleaner is not moving. 

Pressure-side cleaners need about 27 – 30 psi to function properly. Check the wheels as well if there are any rocks or sand stuck in them. That said, watch out for tiny particles making their way inside the cleaner through the filter as well. 

Apart from checking these things, don’t forget to look inspect the booster pump is working properly. Plumbing lines may be blocked by debris, so you have to take those out. 

Leaking hoses may be causing your pool cleaner to malfunction as well. Apart from that, check if your o-ring and pipe connections are properly in place. 

Problem #2: My pressure pool cleaner is moving so slow. 

Check hoses that may be on airlock. You should also inspect your inline strainers for any debris disrupting the water flow. 

If solving these won’t work, check the wheels if they are still in good condition. 

Problem #3: My pressure pool cleaner doesn’t cover the whole pool. 

It may be because of a short hose length or the thrust jets. Instead of settling for the default 11 o’clock setting, try switching to 1 o’clock to set an opposite cleaning pattern. 

Sometimes, your pool cleaner can get stuck on steps or ladders. To remedy this, try installing ladder guards to create a barrier between the rails and your cleaner. 

Problem #4: The feed hose is tangled. 

First things first, adjust the hose length according to your pool size. A feed hose too long will only cause more problems such as tangling and clogging. 

Your feed hose should be floating, with swivels tightly snug while still rotating freely. 

It could be that one of your wheels may not be working. While the cleaner is off, rotate the wheels to make sure they all turn together.

Robotic Pool Cleaner 

Robotic pool cleaners are the epitome of automatic pool cleaners. They are independent and require the least amount of supervision. Plus, they are the most convenient to use because you don’t have to plug them through your pool’s filtration system. Simply put, you wouldn’t have to worry about connecting hoses, air locks, or clogging. 

To operate a robotic pool cleaner, you must plug it into a power outlet. Don’t worry about electrical shocks, though. They are designed for dealing with water, after all. 

Note that you need to keep the pool pump off until you’re finished with the robot cleaner. It’s better to let all the debris settle stagnantly for easier vacuuming. 

Tips For Troubleshooting A Robotic Pool Cleaner

The best thing about bot pool cleaners is their autonomy from your pool filter. You don’t have to worry about pool circulation, hose leaks and tangles, or water levels for the skimmer suction to function properly. 

What you do need to consider, though, is the electrical aspect of the cleaner. Other than that, there’s not much to think about except for the usual debris stuck in the crevices of your machine. 

Problem #1: My robotic cleaner is not moving. 

In most cases, your power supply has a light indicator. Make sure that the indicator is lit to confirm that your cleaner is receiving power. 

If it has power but the cleaner is still stagnant, then you have to check the cleaner itself.

Problem #2: My robotic cleaner is moving so slow. 

There are a number of reasons why this is so: 

  • Loose drive tracks 
  • Loose drive belts
  • Missing small parts that keep the tension on the belts and tracks
  • Worn out wheels

Problem #3: My robotic cleaner gets stuck. 

Only rarely do robot cleaners get stuck. But if ever they do, it’s usually on rough surfaced-pools or on ladders. 

Invest in a ladder guard in order to solve this problem. 

A Few Notes 

When doing your weekly cleaning routine, don’t forget to remove your vacuum before adding chemicals to the pool. Remember that even something as simple as putting chemicals can already damage your cleaner. 

Placing your cleaner right after chemical cleaning is not the way to go, either. Instead, what you should do is wait a few hours before putting the cleaner in the pool. 

Pool cleaners—manual or automatic—are built differently. There are different models within the same type of cleaner, too. Make sure you stick to the manual and contact your product company in case things get really tough to sort out through crowdsourcing or searching the internet for solutions.

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