Swimming Pool Blog

Top 5 Pool Cleaner Problems

by Sean Griffin, April 15, 2010

Top 5 Swimming Pool Cleaner Problems

suction pool cleanersKnowing and understanding how your pool cleaner operates and common problems that arise will give you the tools to make sure your cleaner is working 100%. A troubleshooting guide is usually found in the owners’ manual (see below) to assist you.  There are numerous cleaners out there and each make and model differs in design. Learning your cleaner's ins and outs will also assist you if you ever decide to upgrade or are in need of a new unit. Manufacturers improve on their cleaner designs on a yearly basis. The headaches you have with your unit might have been rethought and resolved on a newer model.  For a selection of the state of the art pool cleaners on the market check out our pool cleaner comparison page.

polaris 480 pool cleanersEvery pool is designed differently and your options as to the style of pool cleaner may be limited. There are pools that are plumbed with a designated pool cleaner return line. This gives you the option of running a pressure cleaner and to utilize a booster pump as an option. Other pools only have return lines that are ran off the same line so you would be a candidate for a suction cleaner that runs off the pool filter pump suction. Certain cleaners are designed for above ground units while others are designed for concrete, vinyl, or fiberglass finished in-ground pools. Pool builders often include a cleaner as part of the building agreement to get you started down the right path.

So you own a cleaner and you are having problems. Some of the most frequent issues can easily be attended to by the homeowner.  My cleaner gets stuck in the corner, the cleaner is tangled, and the cleaner will not move, are all very common issues regardless of what cleaner you own.

1. Pool Cleaner Hose gets Tangled

  • This could be a result of hanging the hose on a hook all winter, or wound up too tightly, which creates a memory. Spread the hose out in the sun.
  • Swivels not swiveling - check that all hose swivels are functioning properly.
  • Too much hose for the pool size. The cleaner should be able to reach the farthest point of the pool, plus 3 feet.
  • Hose floats are waterlogged, causing the hose to sink below the surface. Replace hose floats.

2. Pool Cleaner moves very slowly

  • Pressure or Suction cleaners need to have a clean pump basket and clean filter to operate at top speed.
  • Pressure cleaners have debris screens, usually at the wall attachment. Check these regularly, and clean.
  • Wheel bearings, Tires, Tracks all need to fit tightly and properly to prevent slippage.
  • Pressure cleaners need full pressure, obviously, check the feed hose for any leakage of water pressure.

3. Pool Cleaner does not move at all

  • Small sticks and stones can become lodged inside the throat of a pressure or suction cleaner.
  • If belt driven, like the Polaris 380, check that the drive belts have not snapped or become overly worn.
  • If booster pump driven, disconnect the cleaner at the wall, and ensure that good water pressure is coming out of the wall.
  • For suction cleaners, again, make sure that the pump and filter are cleaned.

4. Pool Cleaner gets stuck in one spot

  • Most pressure cleaners have a backup valve to prevent this, make sure that this is operating, every 3 minutes.
  • If your hose is too short for the pool, this can prevent the cleaner from turning.
  • Pressure cleaner wheels that are loose can cause spinning.
  • Suction cleaners can get stuck on high spots in pool plaster or on a drain cover. For the latter, a pool cleaner drain cover can be used.
  • Ladders are notorious cleaner traps. Most manufacturers have "ladder guards" that you can use to prevent this.

5. Pool Cleaner does not reach all areas of the pool

  • Pressure cleaners can track different patterns by making adjustments to the Thrust Jet on the rear
  • Ray-Vac cleaners have jets shooting out of the hose swivels. Adjusting this will change the cleaning pattern
  • If your cleaner gets stuck in the deep end, you could have a pressure problem. See item 2-3 above.
  • Suction cleaners may have an internal issue with their gear box which prevents full travel around the pool
  • Water flow from your pool returns can prevent pool cleaners travel into certain areas of the pool.
  • Most pool cleaners will not climb steps or reach loveseats.

All cleaners require some type of maintenance. There are some commonly replaced pool cleaner parts you should have on hand, or order when you need them.

For those homeowners who have tried cleaners that operate on the pool filtration system but still havn’t found the right cleaner for your pool you might want to consider a robotic cleaner. Robotic cleaners operate completely independent from the pool plumbing. A roaming filter that operates on a low voltage and can simply be plugged in and dropped into the pool. They have come down in price in recent years, and are now available for above ground pools at a lower price, ranging from $300 - $1500.

If you currently own a malfunctioning unit or are just considering adding an addition to the pool to help with the cleaning duties the right solution is out there. Know your cleaners limitations and take some time to research and explore all the current features available to get you on the right track.

Visit our other pool cleaner information pages: