Being able to take a swim in your backyard whenever the mood strikes is what pool ownership is all about. However, maintenance is the nonglamorous side that comes along with having unfettered access to a swimming pool. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to make cleaning your pool easier.
A vacuum is one such tool. With the right pool vacuum in hand, you can remove the acorns, dirt, insects, leaves and sand that would otherwise clog your swimming pool’s filter and damage its pump. Some are manual while others are automatic. There are ones that depend on your pool’s pump and those that work independently.
If you own an above-ground swimming pool, get a vacuum with gentle brushes, and it should be a low-pressure model that doesn’t climb walls. With an in-ground pool, the options are limitless, and you can base your decision on other factors such as the spare time you have and the debris you commonly see.
Take a look at our lists of the best vacuums for swimming pools if you’re not sure where to begin. Since all pool vacuums are different, be sure to read our buyer’s guide. In the guide, you’ll get a breakdown of how each type of pool vacuum works as well as its pros and cons.
Best Pool Vacuums
Pool Vacuum Buying Guide
From ones that you must maneuver yourself to those that run almost autonomously, you have a lot of choices when it comes to swimming pool vacuums. In our buyer’s guide, we describe how each type of pool vacuum works, including pressure-side, suction-side, robotic and manual vacuums.
We also discuss other considerations you should make when choosing a pool vacuum. For instance, you must take into account the type of swimming pool you have – in-ground or above-ground. You also have to think about how much time you’re willing to devote to pool maintenance as well as the surrounding environment and the debris it brings.
Suction-Side Pool Vacuums
Suction-side swimming pool vacuums connect to the pool’s skimmer, using the filter pump’s suction power to move. To set up the suction-side vacuum, you’ll need to attach a long hose to the skimmer inlet. Sometimes, you must also flip over the vacuum before you submerge it to remove any air that would prevent it from sinking.
The majority of suction-side vacuums are of the inertia-driven variety. These vacuums move around your pool at random. Other suction-side vacuums are geared, moving in a methodical pattern. While inertia-driven suction-side vacuums do well at full-coverage cleaning, it does take them longer to clean your pool than geared versions.
Fine-sediment pickup is where suction-side pool vacuums really shine. They are usually equipped with brushes that scrub the surfaces of a pool, and their minimal amount of moving parts means suction-side vacuums last a long time. People gravitate toward these pool vacuums because they’re relatively inexpensive, easy to assemble and don’t have a filter to maintain.
One downside to suction-side vacuums is their propensity to burden a pool’s filter. Since the vacuum doesn’t have a filter or bag, the dirt and debris it suctions are trapped by the pool filter, which you’ll have to clean more often. Furthermore, if your swimming pool has one skimmer box, it won’t work while the vacuum is in operation.
Pressure-Side Pool Vacuums
Pressure-side pool vacuums attach to the outlet where water enters the swimming pool. Like suction-side vacuums, pressure-side pool cleaners require a hose to make that connection. However, there is no need to remove air before you let it loose because the air will flow out of the vacuum instead of becoming trapped in the pipes.
For a pressure-side pool vacuum to move, it must be connected to a pump. Typically, the vacuum will need its own pump (a booster pump) in order to be efficient, but it’s possible to run it off the pool’s pump depending on the specs of the pool, pump and vacuum.
Due to their large intake port and powerful performance, these pool vacuums are well-adept at removing large debris like acorns, insects and leaves. Since pressure-side vacuums come with a filter bag, they won’t overload your pool’s filtration system. In addition, pressure-side swimming pool vacuums clean faster than their suction-side counterparts.
While a filter bag is a positive, it also means another component to maintain. Pressure-side vacuums aren’t effective at getting rid of fine sediment, and their lack of brushes means they can’t scrub the floor of your pool. Since these pool vacuums use positive pressure to move, they are also unable to climb walls.
Robotic Pool Vacuums
Robots are a different breed of pool vacuums. They contain a low-voltage motor and come with a transformer, which supplies safe electricity to the vacuum. Robotic pool vacuums also have their own pump, which draws in water and generates the suction that moves them.
One of the major benefits of a robotic pool vacuum is its autonomous, time-saving nature. They are fast because they are programmed to choose the most efficient route. With the inclusion of a large inlet and various filters, robotic vacuums excel at removing large and fine debris. They’re also equipped with scrubbing brushes, and they can climb pool walls.
However, these pool vacuums aren’t designed to stay in the water 24/7. This means you have to remove them after every cleaning cycle. You also have filters to maintain regularly. Then, there is the cable. Some robotic vacuum cables are problematic. Those that don’t swivel will eventually tangle, rendering the robot useless until you straighten out the cable.
Manual Pool Vacuums
A manual pool vacuum has wheels, and you must push it yourself with a telescopic pole. Standard manual pool vacuums work by attaching a hose to the vacuum’s nozzle, submerging the hose to remove trapped air and then securing the hose to the pool’s intake.
There are also manual vacuums that run on the power of a rechargeable battery. Like standard manual vacuums, battery-operated pool vacuums are designed to be pushed around the swimming pool by a pole. These vacuums come in different nozzle shapes, and their battery runtime varies. However, all have a filter bag.
Manual pool vacuums are ideal for the budget-constrained shopper. Their small size allows them to reach into tight spaces. Setup is easy, and there are no cables with which to contend. The learning curve is non-existent, and the absence of complex moving parts equates to a long lifespan.
As with other pool vacuums, manual ones aren’t without their not-so-great points. Using a standard vacuum to clean a swimming pool can take a long time, and you’ll have to exert some physical effort. Battery-operated manual vacuums must be recharged, which means they aren’t always ready when needed, and they don’t do well for whole-pool cleaning.
How Often Should I Run My Pool Vacuum?
There is no single, across-the-board answer to this question as the frequency of vacuuming depends on how often your pool is used, the debris that tends to plague it and the type of pool vacuum you have. At the very least, you should vacuum your swimming pool once per week.
However, extra vacuuming is required when there are more debris in the pool than usual. You should also vacuum before you swim if the pool hasn’t been used in several weeks, and always vacuum it at the beginning and the end of swim season.
What Is the Difference Between a Low-Pressure and a High-Pressure Pool Vacuum?
The main difference between a low-pressure and a high-pressure pool vacuum is each one’s use of a pump. Low-pressure swimming pool vacuums do not need a booster pump to move because they rely on the flow of the returned water. On the other hand, high-pressure pool vacuums do need a booster pump of their own.
Low-pressure vacuums are easier to install. All you have to do is connect them to a return and make an adjustment or two to the vacuum’s flow rate. High-pressure vacuums are faster and more efficient, and those with a time clock will conveniently start and stop a cleaning cycle by themselves.
Do I Need a Special Vacuum for an Above-Ground Pool?
Usually, above-ground swimming pools are smaller than in-ground pools. Therefore, you don’t need one with a lot of reach. Above-ground pool vacuums do not require a heavy-duty pump either since they tend to be shallower than in-ground swimming pools – A low-pressure vacuum is the most appropriate choice for an above-ground pool.
If you’re in the market for an above-ground pool vacuum, there are two important points to factor into your decision. First, make sure the vacuum’s scrub brushes, if it has some, are safe to use on your pool’s liner. Finally, steer clear of vacuums that climb walls. Otherwise, you risk tearing the pool’s liner.
Pool Vacuums: Recap
If your swimming pool is situated near sand or dirt, you need a pool vacuum that removes fine debris. Suction-side and robotic pool vacuums do exceptionally well at fine-sediment suctioning. If your pool sits near a bunch of trees, a pressure-side or a robotic vacuum can handle leaves and other large debris.
Manual vacuums are the easiest to use, but they require the most physical effort. Some can be used to clean an entire pool if the swimming pool is small enough, but most are better suited for spot cleaning. Conversely, robotic pool vacuums save you a ton of time, but there is a learning curve involved.
There’s also the filter to consider. Really, there is no escaping filter maintenance. Pressure-side, robotic and battery-operated vacuums come with a filter cartridge and/or bag. Manual vacuums without a bag and suction-side vacuums may not have a filter, but they’ll put more strain on your pool’s filter, which means additional maintenance on your part.
Not every pool vacuum may be right for your swimming pool. Particularly when it comes to above-ground pools, you should stick with a vacuum such as a manual or a low-pressure suction-side one. No matter the type of pool vacuum, you’ll need to use it regularly to get the maximum benefit of its cleaning power.