PEP Tech ...

Suction Cleaners Not So Simple

Suction pool cleaners are generally the least complicated and most inexpensive cleaners on the market. They are great for pools that typically get small to medium size debris and dirt. Their simplicity makes them one of the most popular types of cleaners in many areas, but sometimes their simplicity can be misleading.
Approximately 75% of all warranty issues are caused by improper installation. Most the time we just drop the cleaner in the pool, slap the hose on the suction line, watch the cleaner stop hopping around the pool, and walk away. Unfortunately there is a little bit more to properly installing a suction cleaner. It may not be rocket-science, but there are a few key things that need to be done.

  • Flow – Probably the #1 installation problem is flow. Virtually all suction cleaners come with a gauge and flow valve for a reason. Every suction cleaner has a “sweet spot” and using the gauge to find that flow is imperative. Obviously not enough flow and the cleaner simply isn’t going to do anything, but the problem we see the most often is too much flow! Sure it is impressive to see that cleaner whizzing around the pool at 100mph but besides not doing a good job it is going to cause premature breakdowns. Think of vacuuming a rug or carpet… would you run with the vacuum or do slow and steady passes? Besides not performing well the added tension on the parts will cause them to break down. Diaphragms torn around the top where they connect to the pipe, warn housings, warn bearings, warn-out gears, warn-out pods, and beat up A-frames are all common signs of too much flow.
  • Proper hose length – A new cleaner normally comes with 32 to 40 feet of hose sections. You do not need to use all of them in every pool! The basic rule of thumb is to use only enough hoses to reach from the skimmer (or dedicated suction line if available) to the furthest point of the pool plus one to two extra hose lengths depending on depth.
  • Hose Weights – Most cleaners come with one or two hose weights. The cleaner head and hoses are fairly buoyant, so often they will avoid the deep end of the pool if no hose weight is used. For deeper pools sometimes a second hose weight is needed. Refer to the owner’s manual for proper positioning of the hose weights.
  • Water return – Most suction cleaners are completely random. Even the cleaners that advertise as “smart” will be manipulated by the pool returns. All returns should normally be directed straight down. If there is no eyeball you can buy return diverters to make sure the water flow is directed downward. Returns pushing the water in a specific direction (like around in a circle) will push your cleaner to those exact same areas and cause it to miss other areas of the pool.

As always it is very important that you read the manufactures manual before installation and make sure you understand and follow the directions. These four points we touched on are just some general, common issues we most often come across. A properly installed suction cleaner can be a great and inexpensive option for many years.