Manual and Automatic Pool Cleaners
Pool cleaners, also called pool vacs, are tools that help remove settled debris from the floor of your swimming pool. Vacuuming your pool should be part of your weekly maintenance program, but depending on your environment, how often the pool is used, and what type of cleaner you are using, it may be necessary to adjust how often you put them to work.
There are five basic types of pool cleaners on the market.
Manual - Suction Cleaners
Manual suction cleaners are the most common type of vacuum cleaners used in swimming pools.
When selecting a vacuum cleaner for your pool, keep in mind that when the pool is extremely dirty, as it can be sometimes during spring start-up, manual cleaning may be the best option.
This type of cleaner attaches to a standard pole and uses the suction of the pool's circulation system to sweep, usually by connecting a vacuum hose to the skimmer.
Suction created by water being pulled into the pump creates a vacuum that can pull debris into the filter system for later removal.
Manual - Venturi Cleaners (Leaf Baggers)
Venturi pool cleaners are primarily used to remove leaves and other larger, lightweight debris from the pool bottom.
They will attach to the telescopic pole and either connect to a garden hose or the return jets inside the pool, utilizing water pressure to create venturi suction.
By forcing water upward rapidly, a lifting current is created over the light debris and causes it to flow upward into the collecting bag.
Automatic - Suction Driven Cleaners
These cleaners connect to the swimming pool in the same manner as manual cleaners do, however they are designed to give vacuuming a more hands-off approach.
When properly connected, they are propelled through the water by a gentle "hopping" motion. This motion is commonly generated by a baffle or diaphragm cartridge built into the body of the cleaner. Above-ground versions simply hop around the pool, but in-ground varieties need to be able to move up slopes, so they are usually equipped with a float/ballast system to allow them to cover the different depths of the pool.
Although designs vary, the general concept remains the same. The vacuum cleaner roams around the swimming pool by itself.
Automatic - Pressure Driven Cleaners
Pressure driven cleaners harness the power of a booster pump or utilize the pressure from the return lines of the swimming pool. Like other venturi cleaners, they use this pressure to collect all swept debris into a bag or other collection container.
Water pressure is generally forced through the cleaner and used to propel it through the swimming pool, creating lift as it travels across the bottom. This forces debris into the collection area for easy removal.
Robotic (Electric) Pool Cleaners
Self-contained and self-propelled, these pool cleaners make pool sweeping a snap.
Powered electrically, they do not need to be connected to your circulation system, nor do they need their own booster pumps, or dedicated lines. They basically just plug in.
Many robotic cleaners are designed to clean both the bottom and the sidewalls of the swimming pool. Using tank-like treads and powerful suction, they climb slopes, walls, and may even be able to scrub the waterline. Other cleaners have wheels and can move up slopes but not up walls. If you are shopping for a robotic cleaner, make sure that you know what the cleaner is capable of before you buy!
Debris is usually collected internally and is easily removed from the cleaner for disposal when the job is done.