July 30, 2023
min read
Maintenance & Care

How do swimming pool vacuums work? A step-by-step explanation.

Swimming pools provide endless hours of fun and relaxation in the summer months, but they also require regular maintenance to keep them clean and safe for use. A pool vacuum cleaner is one essential tool for any home swimming pool. But how exactly do these nifty devices work?

Tony Loxton
How do swimming pool vacuums work

In this article, we'll take a step-by-step look at the inner workings of home swimming pool vacuums, so you can better understand how to use them effectively and keep your pool crystal clear. So, let's dive in and explore the science behind these handy pool-cleaning machines!

How does a swimming pool vacuum work?

First, let's talk about the vacuum hose. The hose is typically attached to the vacuum head, the vacuum part that directly interacts with the pool surface. The other end of the hose is connected to the pump or filtration system of the pool.

When the vacuum is turned on, the pump creates suction through the pool vacuum hose, pulling debris and dirt from the pool floor and walls into the vacuum head. The debris is transferred through the hose into the pool's filter system.

The pool filter system is responsible for trapping and removing dirt and debris from the water. Various filters are used in home swimming pool vacuums, including cartridge and sand filters.

Cartridge filters have a porous cartridge that traps debris as water is pumped through it. Sand filters use a bed of sand to catch dirt and debris as water is forced through it. It's essential to regularly clean or replace the filter system to ensure maximum efficiency.

Steps for using a home swimming pool vacuum

Here are the steps for using a home swimming pool vacuum, whether it is a manual or automatic model:

  1. Prepare the vacuum for use: This may involve assembling the hose and attaching the proper filter. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for specific details on setting up your vacuum model.
  2. Start the vacuum: For manual vacuums, this may involve manually turning on the vacuum head or activating the suction through the hose. You will need to turn on the pool's pump and filter system for automatic vacuums and ensure the vacuum is correctly connected to the skimmer or suction line.
  3. Allow the vacuum to run for the recommended amount of time: This will depend on the size of your pool and the type of vacuum you use. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for guidance on how long to run the vacuum.
  4. Empty the filter bag or cartridge as needed: As the vacuum runs, it will collect dirt and debris in the filter bag or cartridge. You must periodically empty this container to ensure the vacuum operates efficiently.
  5. Shut off and disassemble the vacuum when finished: When the recommended run time has been reached, turn off the vacuum and the pool's pump and filter system. Then, disassemble the vacuum according to the manufacturer's instructions, carefully avoiding any debris or dirt that may have accumulated in the hose or on the vacuum head. Store the vacuum in a dry, protected area when not in use to prevent damage.

How often do you need to vacuum your pool?

The frequency with which you need to vacuum your pool will depend on several factors, including the size of the pool, the amount of debris that accumulates in the pool, and the type of vacuum you are using.

In general, it is recommended to vacuum your pool at least once a week and possibly more frequently if you have a lot of debris in your pool or if you use your pool often. Automatic pool vacuums can be set to run on a regular schedule, making it easier to maintain a consistent cleaning schedule.

It is also a good idea to vacuum your pool after heavy rain or wind storms, as these events can bring additional debris into the pool. Additionally, if you notice a buildup of dirt or debris on the floor or walls, it is a good idea to vacuum to remove it as soon as possible. This will help to keep your pool clean and ensure it is safe and enjoyable to swim in.

Tips for maintaining a home swimming pool vacuum

Here are some tips for maintaining your home swimming pool vacuum to ensure it is operating at its best:

  • Regularly clean and replace the filter system: The filter system is an essential part of your pool vacuum, as it is responsible for trapping and removing dirt and debris from the water. Be sure to clean or replace the filter to ensure maximum efficiency regularly.
  • Store the vacuum properly when not in use: To prevent damage to your vacuum, be sure to store it in a dry, protected area when not in use. This will help prevent the hose and other parts from damaging or degrading over time.
  • Troubleshoot common issues: If your pool vacuum is not performing as well as it should, there may be an issue that needs to be addressed. Common problems include clogged hoses, malfunctioning motors, and issues with the filter system. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions or seek assistance from a professional if you are having trouble troubleshooting the problem.

Swimming pool vacuum types

There are two types of swimming pool vacuum cleaners - manual and automatic:

Manual vacuums

These vacuums use a telescopic pole and require the user to push and guide the vacuum around the pool manually. They are the most basic and inexpensive type of vacuum and can be effective for smaller pools or spot cleaning. Handheld pool vacuums typically have a few key components: a vacuum head, a flexible hose, and a long handle.

The hose is attached to the vacuum head on one end and the water intake valve on the pool's skimmer box on the other. When the hose is filled with water, it generates suction that keeps the vacuum head pressed against the floor or walls as it moves along them. The telescopic pole handle allows the user to guide the vacuum around the pool manually. These vacuums are the most economical option and suitable for smaller pools or spot cleaning.

Advantages of manual pool vacuums

  • Lower cost: Manual pool vacuums are typically the most affordable.
  • No electricity required: Because they do not have motors or other electrical components, they can be used in areas with no electrical outlet nearby.
  • Easy to use: Manual pool vacuums are relatively simple and do not require special training or knowledge.

Disadvantages of manual pool vacuums

  • Time-consuming: Because the user has to push and guide the vacuum around the pool manually, it can take longer to clean the entire pool than an automatic or robotic vacuum.
  • Physical labour required: Using a manual pool vacuum can be physically demanding, requiring the user to push and manoeuvre the vacuum around the pool continually.
  • Limited cleaning capabilities: Manual pool vacuums are not as effective at removing fine debris and may not be as thorough in cleaning the entire pool as automatic or robotic vacuums
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Check out this detailed article that breaks down the different types of pool cleaners

Automatic vacuums

Back in the day, automatic cleaners could only stir up dirt and debris on the pool floor. The hope was that the mess would eventually make its way to the skimmer or main drain, where it could be removed. However, modern automatic pool cleaners offer a much more efficient way to keep your pool in top shape. These cleaners are designed to not only stir up debris but also to suction it up and filter it out of the water.

They are typically connected to the pool's existing filtration system, allowing them to easily and quickly remove dirt, leaves, and other debris from the water. Additionally, automatic pool vacuums can be programmed to run at specific intervals to ensure that your pool is always kept clean. Automatic cleaners are ideal for those who don’t have the time to do manual work.

There are three main types of automatic pool cleaners to choose from:

  1. Robotic pool cleaners are a popular choice for many pool owners because they operate independently of the pool pump and filtration system and do not require hose connections. They are powered by low-voltage electricity run through a ground fault interrupter circuit, which helps to protect against electrical accidents. One of the main benefits of using a robotic pool cleaner is the convenience factor. Drop the cleaner into the pool and let it do its job. Most models are equipped with tiny brushes and potent suction to remove a wide range of debris, including dirt, algae, and larger debris. Some high-end models can climb walls, scrub the waterline, and navigate stairs. Many robotic pool cleaners are designed with a strategic cleaning pat; some can even learn and adapt to your specific cleaning needs. Some models also offer optional quick clean or deep clean cycles to allow the pool owner to customise the cleaning process to their liking. While you will need to put the cleaner into the pool and remove it after each cleaning session, the actual cleaning process is fully automated.
  2. Suction-side pool cleaners use the water pumped or pushed back into the pool through a dedicated ""return or pressure-side"" line to power their movement. This return line can either be connected to the pool's existing filtration pump or an independent line specifically used for cleaning purposes and powered by a booster pump. They rely on water pressure and three separate ports to agitate and suction debris. The booster pump option can generate higher levels of pressure and can be set to a timer to automate the cleaning process fully. However, this convenience does come at a higher cost, both in terms of the initial purchase price and ongoing operating expenses.
  3. Suction pool vacuum cleaners use the suction power of the pool's filtration system to move around the pool and collect debris. They can be connected to the pool's skimmer or a dedicated suction line, and the cleaner's movement is propelled by the flow of water being sucked through it once the hose is connected and the filter pump is running. One of the main advantages of suction pool cleaners is their cost-efficiency. They are generally the most affordable type of cleaner on the market. However, they tend to have more moving parts that may need to be replaced over time, and their reliance on the pool filter to clean the water can lead to more frequent filter cleanings. Some models can also climb walls and have other features that vary by design. Overall, suction pool cleaners are a reliable and budget-friendly option for keeping your pool clean.

Pros of automatic pool vacuums:

  • Greater efficiency: Automatic pool vacuums are typically more efficient at cleaning the entire pool than manual vacuums.
  • Convenience: Automatic pool vacuums do not require any physical effort from the user, making them a convenient choice for those who don't want to spend a lot of time cleaning their pool.
  • Thorough cleaning: Automatic pool vacuums are generally more effective at removing fine debris and providing a thorough clean than manual vacuums.

Cons of automatic pool vacuums:

  • Higher cost: Automatic pool vacuums are generally more expensive than manual vacuums.
  • Maintenance: Automatic pool vacuums may require more maintenance, such as regularly cleaning or replacing the filter system.
  • Dependency on pool equipment: Automatic pool vacuums rely on the pool's filtration system and pump to operate, which can increase energy costs and put additional wear and tear on the equipment

In conclusion

Home swimming pool vacuums are an essential tool for keeping your pool clean and safe for swimming. By using suction to remove dirt and debris from the pool's surface and a filter system to trap and remove it from the water, pool vacuums make it easy to maintain a clean and healthy pool.

Whether you choose a manual, automatic, or robotic vacuum, following the manufacturer's instructions for the proper use and maintenance will help ensure that your pool vacuum is working at its best and helping keep it in top shape. So if you want to keep your pool looking its best, invest in a reliable pool vacuum and make it a regular part of your pool maintenance routine.

Tony Loxton
Founder & CEO of Poolz
Tony, a seasoned expert in sales, marketing, and technology, has propelled iconic brands like Mercedes Benz and Chanel. His mission with Poolz is to simplify the process of designing, building and owning a swimming pool by offering a platform that paves the way for smoother interactions between homeowners and pool industry professionals.
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