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Automatic Cleaners - Suction-Side

The automatic pool cleaner is a device that leapt right into the hearts of pool owners and service technicians alike. In a genesis similar to that of human air flight, engineers and inventors have produced gadgets of fancy in the hopes of finding one that will fly. Several have achieved wide-spread use and acceptance by consumers and the service industry. These are described below and are broken into three categories; suction side cleaners, pressure side cleaners and robots.


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. Please visit our Swimming pool cleaners page for a complete list of suction side cleaners.


These cleaners attach to one of the suction ports at the pool. Usually, this port is the skimmer, or your pool may have a separate vacuum port where the cleaner's hose can attach. With the hose attached and the filter pump running, suction is created on the underside of the cleaner. The cleaner moves randomly, or 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 filter. Adjustments on the hose, the unit itself, and flow volume will create different cleaning patterns, so as to maximize pool coverage.


Cleaner moving slow?


Start by checking the pump basket for debris and making sure the filter is clean and water is flowing properly. Then I would check out the throat of the cleaner for any obstructions. Obstructions can also be found where the hose attaches to the suction line. Check hose for splits, obstructions or holes. If your pool has lots of leaves (trees), you'll want to have an in-line leaf trap to use with your suction cleaner.


Cleaner not cleaning the entire pool?


This can be caused by any number of reasons. The hoses could be too short. Another real 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.


Always rotate the wearable parts on the cleaners and replace those wearable parts when needed. These parts will prevent the need to replace more expensive components. 


Personally, I don't care much for the suction side cleaners. 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. That, or if the strainer basket becomes full, reduces filtration and puts more front pressure on the system by restricting the flow into the filter. 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 half the cost of  pressure side cleaners.


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