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Suction Side Cleaners: All Pool Types

These are cleaners that attach to the suction side of your plumbing. The suction side refers to the pipes and fittings that bring water out of the pool to be filtered; that water which is being "sucked" out of the pool by the filter pump. Usually this is the pool skimmer, although some older pools have a dedicated vacuum line.

A suction cleaner hose is attached into the hole in the skimmer beneath the basket, or you can use a SkimVac attachment to vacuum into your skimmer basket. Some pools have a dedicated suction cleaner line, a nice luxury to have. In these cases, you attach the cleaner directly to a wall fitting, usually located in the middle of the long side of the pool.

Suction pool cleaners include the Hayward PoolVac, Navigator, Aquabug, Kreepy Krauly, E-Z Vac, Baracuda Ranger, G4, and Polaris 150 and ATV, among others. These are divided in roughly two types, the flat, round disk or pulse type cleaner, and the hydro drive train powered types like the Hayward Navigator or Polaris ATV. Hydro drive cleaners are generally more powerful, faster cleaning and are silent.

How do Suction Cleaners work?

With the hose attached and the filter pump running, suction is created on the underside of the cleaner. The cleaner moves randomly but automatically around the pool with motion created by a device that gives a stop / start pulsing of water. As the unit travels, debris is sucked up through the neck and then the hose, past the suction port, through the pipe, and stops at the filter pump strainer basket, while smaller debris passes through to the poo filter.

Are Suction Cleaners any good?

They are the cheapest type of pool cleaner to buy, so it’s a valid question. One drawback is if you have only one skimmer, most skimming action is lost while your cleaner is hooked up. Secondly, unless the cleaner has an in-line strainer basket somewhere on its hose, the filter pump basket can get clogged up rather quickly. When inline or pump baskets become full, this reduces filtration by putting front pressure on the system and restricting the flow of water into the filter. Third, they aren’t exactly ‘automatic’, because you need to set it up, and then put it away 2-6 hours later, each time you use it, unless you had a dedicated skimmer or vacuum line, with a second skimmer to keep the pool clean.

My opinion is that having a suction side cleaner would be much better than having none at all, but less than what is possible. On the bright side, suction side cleaners are available for over half the cost of other cleaner types, and have lower maintenance costs.

Taking care of a Suction Cleaner?

There’s not much involved in daily maintenance to a suction cleaner, but here are a few tips.

  • Pull out of the pool before shocking the pool, or swimming in the pool.
  • Run the cleaner only as long as you need, 1-3 hrs daily, to reduce wear.
  • Store the head and hose carefully, out of the sun and out of harm’s way.
  • For longer storage, disconnect hose sections for storage and lay flat.

Suction cleaner moving slowly?

Start by checking the pump basket for debris and making sure the filter is clean and water is flowing properly. Holding the cleaner head underwater, so as to not suck air into the pump, turn over the cleaner and look into the throat of the cleaner for any obstructions. Check both ends of the hose for obstructions or clogging. Check hose connections and each hose section for splits, obstructions or holes. If your pool has lots of leaves (trees), you'll want to use an in-line leaf trap to use with your suction cleaner. Very heavy leaf volume may overwhelm a suction cleaner. In this case, use a leaf net first to scoop large debris [slowly] off of the pool bottom.

Suction cleaners are sold for both inground and aboveground pools. What this really means is that they are sized to the pool pump. If you have an aboveground pump, then your pump will not be powerful enough to move the inground model around the pool. Similarly, if you have a larger inground pool pump, it will overpower aboveground pool cleaners. Inground plaster pools definitely need to use the inground suction cleaner models which are built to stand up to a rough plaster surface.

Suction cleaner not cleaning the entire pool?

Some of the top reasons for this include: The hoses could be too short. Another common cause is the cleaner could be following the flow pattern of the water in the pool, in other words, strong flow from wall return jets will push the cleaner into a pattern. To fix this adjust the return port wall fittings, or add wall fittings to the return ports. It helps to point the fittings down or at a downward angle. If you pool doesn't have wall fittings at the return ports there are alternative wall fittings made by the manufactures to divert the flow. Using or adjusting hose weights or hose floats can also affect the cleaning pattern around a pool.

Adjustments to the hose, the head unit or cleaner itself, and flow volume will create different cleaning patterns, so as to maximize pool coverage. The more flow is generally better for speed and vacuum ability, however too much suction can cause the cleaner to move too fast and ‘fly’ around the pool, or get stuck on uneven areas of the pool floor, both resulting in poor cleaning.

Repairs to an automatic pool cleaner?

Most suction cleaners are the cheapest cleaners to own in terms of needed replacement parts. Some (Kreepy style) have only 1 moving part, and need very few replacement parts. Always rotate the wearable parts on the cleaners and replace those wearable parts when needed. Most suction cleaners will need less than $20 per year to stay operating at peak performance.

Generally speaking, the more parts a cleaner has, the more potential problems it can have. However, those cleaners with more parts typically also have more features or better performance (but not always).

To make your own pool cleaner repairs, all you need is possibly a screwdriver, and most cleaners need no tools at all for repair. Using the schematics, or exploded diagrams in our pool cleaner parts dept., you can see how the cleaner is assembled, and how to replace a part that is worn or broken.

Related Product Pages:

In-Line Leaf Strainer
Pool Cleaner Parts
Skimmer Vacuum Plate
Suction Pool Cleaners

Related Blog Posts:

How to select an automatic pool cleaner
Pool Cleaner Tune-Up - Kreepy Type Pool Cleaner repair
Selecting The Best Automatic Pool Cleaner for Inground Pools
Top 5 Pool Cleaner Problems