I vacuum swimming pools for a living, so what I’m about to tell you is based on 30 years of experience. I mention this because the interweb is full of articles from people, who clearly do not know what their talking about. This article: “How to Vacuum Pool” is loaded with simple straight forward insights and instructions.
I will also discuss what is needed for inground and above ground pools, cement/gunite pools, pools with vinyl liners, pools with various filter types.
I do weekly pool service for residential homeowners. So I take care of all the maintenance for them. I usually can’t even get them to empty a skimmer basket for me between visits, which is all I ask. So I only have 30 minutes to get the pool cleaned, and water properly balance. I bring this up, so you know, you only need to vacuum once a week, and that it should only take 10-20 minutes.
Pool Equipment Needed to Vacuum a Pool
All you need is a service pole, a vacuum head (to put on the service pole), and a vacuum hose (to attach to the vacuum head to the skimmer), that’s it.
- Service Pole
- Vacuum Head
- Vacuum Hose
You are going to want a good service pole to take care of all your pool maintenance, not just vacuuming. The pole is used for brushing, vacuuming, skimming, and leaf/debris netting. All service poles are telescoping, one pole slides inside the other, and once extended, you twist a locking nylon nut to lock the two poles in position.
Do yourself a favor, and don’t skimp here. Cheap aluminum poles will bend easy, and the locking nut will slip, and become a cause of aggravation. If you have a large above ground (over 21 round) or an inground pool with a deep end, you are going to want a pole about 16 feet long. I use a 24 footer that collapses to 12 feet.
I just seen a real reasonable listing on amazon for a 16 footer for under $70.00 with shipping included. amazon link. Either way, the Skimlite HD series is the way to go. I left a review on amazon while I was there.
*PRO TIP For people with liner pools, that’s everyone with an above ground pool, and many with inground pools. Keep in mind that the end of a service pole is sharp. Without a tool attached to the end of the pole, it can damage your liner real easy. Makes lovely little half moon cuts.
This simply clips onto the end of the service pole. It doesn’t hurt to keep a spare clip in the pool shed. There are many vacuum head types and shapes. Be sure and choose the appropriate head for your pool
Vacuum Heads for Above Ground Pools and All inground Pools with Vinyl Liners
It weighted, and has a spring to help keep the head flat to the bottom when moving it backwards.
It comes with that little blue nipple in the center, where the hose hooks up to restrict flow, just throw it out. I keep a few of these vacuum heads on the van.
I cut the brushes in 4-6 places, making one inch gaps in the brush, to vacuum pools with heavy algae. Like when opening an inground pool with a mesh pool cover. For regular maintenance, I leave all the brushes intact. It is 27 bucks on amazon, with free shipping for amazon prime members (free amazon prime trial).
Vacuum Heads for Cement/Gunite Pools
This head has wheels on it, and moves real easy across the pool surface. Keep in mind that the wheels are adjustable, so you can raise or lower the deck height, kind of like adjusting a lawn mower. These heads do a poor job of vacuuming algae, so it may be wise to also keep a vac head with brushes, just in case.
I never use a vacuum plate. A lot of people advocate using them. This plate goes over the skimmer basket, in the skimmer, and then you hook the vacuum hose up to it. I never use them, instead, I pull the skimmer basket out, and just stuff the hose cuff right in the hole in the bottom of the skimmer.
The only concern with not using one, is for people with inground pools, with inground plumbing. If your pool is losing tile, or has small stones in it, or chestnuts from trees, by-passing the basket when vacuuming could prove harmful to the inground plumbing. You don’t want to block up the skimmer line.
There is only one hose to recommend, the Haviland I-Helix. Just be sure to get one long enough for your pool. But not longer than you need, as the extra hose gets in the way. Buy the 1.5 inch diameter hose in what-ever length you need.
One thing to keep in mind, the cuff on one end of the hose twists. The end that twists always goes on the vacuum head. Otherwise you wont get good suction! I wrote a review of the I-helix vacuum hose, you can check it out here.
Before Vacuuming the Pool
You want all the suction your pump can muster, so before vacuuming the pool, make sure your filter is reasonably clean. Also, for people with more than one line going into the front of the pump, people with two skimmers, or a main drain line. Close or plug every suction line except the skimmer you will be connecting the vacuum hose to. This will ensure you are getting all the suction power available.
Loss of Suction During Vacuuming
If you lose suction while vacuuming, it means only one of two things. A. The filter is dirty, and needs to be cleaned, or B. Your line is clogged. If you have a very dirty pool, don’t be surprised if the filter needs to be cleaned or backwashed during vacuuming, possibly more than once.
If it looks like the vacuum head is moving or pushing debris around, rather than sucking it up, especially if you’re hovering right over a leaf, or small piece of debris, it means your loosing suction, or your moving too fast. Usually your losing suction.
Vacuuming the Pool
Alright, You have all the gear you need, you have inspected it for damage, its good, and feel like your ready to go. The pool is running. All suction lines are closed, except the one you are planning to hook the vacuum line up to.
First connect the vacuum head to the service pole. Then connect the spinny cuff side of your vacuum hose to the vacuum head (push it on firmly). Put everything into the pool, while holding onto the handle of the service pole, and the other side of the vacuum hose (vacuum head and hose are in the pool).
Before connecting the other end of the hose up to the skimmer, you have to prime the vacuum hose. That means you have to get all the air out of it. You can do this, one of two ways. The way most people do it, is by holding the end of the hose (still in your hand) over the return jet (eye-ball), forcing the hose to fill up with water, do this until you don’t see air bubbles come out the vacuum head side. Once all the air is out, you can connect it in the skimmer. The other way, the way I usually do it, I put the end still in my hand, over my mouth, and suck the air out of the hose. I watch the hose sink as it fills up with water. The only drawback to this is, you might end up with a mouth or lung full of water.
Always go through the opening of the skimmer, never go over the deck or top rail of your pool. If there was still a little bit of air in the line, you might hear your pump make a little noise as it clears the air out.
Now just vacuum the pool, moving the head across the floor. You can just go after the visible stuff, or methodically cover the entire bottom. Doing rows like your mowing the lawn. Some people find vacuuming the pool relaxing and therapeutic. They become very present, and in the now. Zen Like!
Advanced Pool Vacuuming (Side Vac)
A side vac (vacuum), is when you bring a service pump, and vacuum straight to waste. You hook the hose right up to the front of the pump you brought, and the water never goes back to the pool, just straight to waste via a waste hose.
I side vac most inground pools when I open them. They are so loaded with algae, silt, and dirt. The filter would take 2 weeks to clear the water in the pool, longer with a sand filter. So I vacuum it up, and blow it straight out of the pool. Sure you lose some water, but water replacement is healthy once a year.
The other time I do a side vac, is when the pool is green, or has been taken over by algae. I super shock the pool, then brush the ever living bag out of it. Let it settle for 24 hrs with the pump off, then come and side vac it straight to waste.
If you have a lot of leaves in the pool. On occasions when your cover has fallen into the pool, or the pool was never covered, etc… You are going to want a debris pot hooked up to the front of your side vac.
This debris pot will hold 6-10 times the amount of leaves your pool pump basket would.
It is a pain when vacuuming pools with a lot of debris, to keep stopping to empty the pump basket.
This is an MGK Pool’s Exclusive, and can still be had for the Sale Price of $169.00 + shipping in our online pool store.
Well I hope you enjoyed this one. If you had any aha moments, or oh darn, that makes sense moments. Please take a moment to like our page, or add to our comments your tips and tricks for vacuuming a pool.
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