How Do Pool Vacuums Work?

how does a pool vacuum work

Maintaining your pool can be a long and tedious process that needs to be continually repeated. If you are a novice, this can be a weekend-long endeavor; if you’re a seasoned pool owner, these tedious steps can be achieved in short spurts throughout the week. The best pool cleaners can also make the difference between enjoying your pool as you intended, or spending the summer cleaning it.

A pool vacuum is one of the most important tools for keeping your pool clean and ensuring its longevity. The better you maintain your pool, the fewer large-scale maintenance projects you will need to take on. Pool vacuums work similarly to your average household vacuum cleaner, sucking in water rather than air. They clear debris out of your pool by sucking up and filtering out the dirt in your pool as they go.

Debris that falls into your pool typically sinks to the bottom, and as a result, gets missed by your pool’s filter system. A pool vacuum works along with the pool’s filter system to pick up debris that settled on the bottom of the pool. 

To better understand pool vacuums, let’s walk through how they work and the different types of pool vacuums.

How Pool Vacuums Work

To get a general understanding of how these vacuums work, here is an overview of how manual pool vacuums operate:

We mentioned earlier that the pool vacuum works with the pool’s filtration system to function. Remember that the filter system has a pump that sucks in water from the pool skimmers. This water then moves through a type of filter (depending on your filter, this is a sand, diatomaceous earth or DE, or cartridge filter) to remove the debris. The clean water returns to the pool via the water inlets.

When we use a pool vacuum, the water is not sucked in from the pool skimmers. The water is instead being sucked in through a pool hose that is plugged into your skimmer. This hose is connected to a vacuum head on a long pool pole. Once the water is sucked through the vacuum head at the bottom of the pool, the filter removes the dirt and returns the now-filtered water to the pool.

Differences Between Vacuum Types

There are three main types of pool vacuums. While they all perform the same function, they do so differently—and you may find you prefer one method over others.

Automatic Pool Vacuums

This type of vacuum is ideal if you want a middle ground between being involved in every step of a manual cleaning process and having some hands-off time. With automatic pool vacuums, you do all of the preparation and the vacuum does the cleaning.

Instead of connecting the vacuum head and pole to a pool hose, you connect it to your automatic pool vacuum cleaner (also known as a suction-side pool vacuum). Once connected to the head and hose, the vacuum moves around the bottom of the pool and vacuums the debris it finds. Think of it as a Roomba for your pool that you can leave running while you do other tasks. Once the vacuuming is completed, you need to disconnect everything and check if the filter needs backwashing.

There are a few downsides to automatic vacuums. They aren’t fully automated and they move in random patterns on your pool floor. This means they may repeatedly vacuum areas they’ve already cleaned and miss spots they haven’t gotten to.

Robot Pool Vacuums

Unlike automatic pool vacuums, a robot pool vacuum is nearly entirely automated. The most work you’ll need to do is to lower the device into your pool, plug it in, and let it do its thing.

The robot pool vacuum collects dirt within its own built-in filter, which is one way to keep a pool clean without a pump. The device knows where it has cleaned before, allowing it to intuitively cover your entire pool floor and even the walls. The majority of these types of vacuums can climb the walls all the way to the waterline, which streamlines your pool cleaning and gives you more time to do the things you love. When this vacuum finishes doing its thing, simply remove it from the pool and empty its filter.

Manual Vacuums

There’s nothing wrong with the old-fashioned way of cleaning a pool. While this vacuum may save you money upfront, it is a much more labor-intensive process to use than other vacuum types. With this vacuum, you are completing every step of the cleaning yourself.

Start by brushing the excess dirt off of the sides of the pool before connecting the pool vacuum hose to the head of the skimmer and pool pole. Then, manually operate the pool vacuum by moving it around the bottom of the pool to suck up the dirt and debris. The dirt is then moved through the pool’s filtration system.

Once all of the debris has been sucked into the filtration system, you must manually disconnect everything and backwash your pool filter. 

Choosing the Right One

The type of pool vacuum you select comes down to your personal preferences when it comes to your maintenance process. Depending on the additional features you want, there is not a huge price disparity between the different vacuum types. Some manual vacuums cost upwards of $1,399 and some robotic vacuums cost as little as $197. We recommend a robot pool vacuum or automatic pool vacuum if you prefer a vacuum that can function entirely on its own or for most of the process. 

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