Pool cleaning really come a long way from the days of spending hours on the side of the pool pushing the manual cleaner back and forth and trying to manipulate the vacuum head over to where all the dirt is sitting. I mean it works and all, but boy, was I super excited for my first automatic pool cleaner.
After starting at In The Swim back in 2002, we had just put in a new liner and filter system on our newly inherited 20 year old above ground pool. The next option was picking out an automatic pool cleaner. I instantly went for a suction side pool cleaner. I heard they were easy to install and we didn’t quite have the money to invest in a robotic cleaner just yet.
Upon purchasing my first pool cleaner I was excited to get home and use it. I opened the box to find an easy set up. The cleaner came with the main body already put together. All I had to do was connect hose sections and put on some weights along the hose line. Now the cleaner was ready for the pool.
I placed the pool cleaner in the far end of the pool, away from the skimmer. Then I walked the end of the hose to the return line and held it in from of the flow of water coming out. This is a quick method to prime the hose. As the water filled the empty hose the air blew out of the main body and the cleaner came up to the top of the water and then sank, as the air released and the water filled the hose line.
Then I took the end of the hose I was holding and moved over to the skimmer. I removed the lid and the skimmer basket. With the pump on I put the end of the hose through the front of the skimmer, and down into the skimmer hole.
Oh, and was it glorious; the pool was cleaning itself! The power of the pump had my cleaner moving instantly. That is just how easy it is to set up a suction cleaner. The cleaner moves around using the suction power of the pump.
We enjoyed our suction side cleaner for many years. But if you could imagine, the temptation of working at In The Swim with all the venders coming in each year showing us their upgraded robotic pool cleaners. The demonstrations are what got me.
Now, a suction side cleaner uses the filter system to deposit the debris, so it will only filter particles as small (in microns) as your filter system does. In general, a sand filter will only filter down to 20 microns or so; and some of the real fine debris gets thrown back into the pool. But, add a Robotic cleaner, filtering thousands of gallons per hour, down to 2-3 microns – it’s like having two filters running on the pool at the same time; super cleaning the water.
Well last year, spring arrived and we opened up the pool, and decided that we needed a new pool cleaner. The next week came and it was Christmas in May. I opened my new robotic pool cleaner box. Just a small instruction booklet with quick start instructions; the cleaner and a power supply box. The instructions said it is as easy as 1,2,3 and it really was.
All I had to do was put the cleaner in the water. Plug the power supply box into a grounded 110v outlet. (Be sure to keep the Power Supply Box 12’ away from the pools edge.) Plug the robot’s floating cable end into power supply box and press the start button. The cleaner I purchased had a 2 hour auto timer; in-ground cleaners have longer settings.
Honest to goodness I loved it from the start. It was like I owned the Cadillac of pool cleaners. Best money I ever spent. The cleaner was so strong that one day it picked up a dead frog. I had no idea it was even in the pool until I pulled the cleaner out of the water and the poor frog was stuck in the debris bag. For cleaning out the bag, it’s a breeze, just rinse it clean with the garden hose. It was a great investment and there are only a few wearable parts that need replacement every couple of years.
Another type of cleaner you can choose from are pressure side cleaners. These are powered by the pressure of the water being pushed through the filter from the pump, Like the Polaris 65, or the Polaris 360 cleaner. Inground pool pressure cleaners use a separate booster pump to power the cleaner, an advantage, being independent of the filter system, and using it’s own time clock.
Pressure cleaners also fairly easy to install, though more complicated than either suction or robotic. The cleaner normally includes a quick release valve that you install on to your return line or on a dedicated cleaner line. Install the hose end to the return line and turn the pump on. The cleaner will start moving around. Pressure cleaners work by shooting jets of water up into the debris bag. A venturi force is created and which sweeps the debris into the bag.
I hope my experiences with the different type of above ground pool cleaners assists you in picking out the automatic cleaner of your dreams. Remember we are here 24/7 to answer any of your questions.
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InTheSwim Staff Blogger