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Thread: In-Floor Pool cleaner? Best way to keep my pool clean?

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    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    Question In-Floor Pool cleaner? Best way to keep my pool clean?

    We are planning a new pool build, and I am having a tough time deciding on the best system for keeping the pool clean. We are still gathering quotes from builders, but my preferred builder did not see the need for an in-floor cleaner for our pool. Our planned pool is 40x14, rectangle, with a long ledge and small set of steps. Very clean lined and simple. Likely plaster. It is near several trees, so falling needles/leaves/grass clippings etc are a real concern. But we will have an automatic cover, so the pool will always be covered when not in use. The builder suggested a robotic cleaner would be better suited for the larger debris (as opposed to a lot of sand and dirt) and didn't think we had enough steps and nooks and crannies to require an in-floor system. He also believes more parts = more repairs, so keep the electronics as simple as you need them. But he is also very accommodating and willing to go with whatever we choose.

    My concerns with a robot are, of course, the aesthetics. But also the extra work. I cannot overstate this - we are not looking for another daily maintenance item.

    So how exactly does a robotic cleaner work. It plugs in - do I need an outlet somewhere nearby? Is it typically a concealed one in the ground near the pool (another aesthetics issue)? Do I have to plug and unplug the robot constantly, or can I just leave it plugged in all the times (except when company is over)? I assume I can't run it with the pool cover on. So do I need to open the pool, toss the robot in, leave it running for a few hours, then come back and take it out to close the pool? Do I have to empty it? Daily? More often than an in-floor cleaner?

    Some of these questions may seem silly, but I've never had to actually deal with the maintenance of a pool before. And I'd frankly like to continue to avoid dealing with as much maintenance as possible lol. But I also want a clean pool, so if the robot will do that BETTER than an in-floor system... well, I'm torn. If the in-floor system definitely cleans better, then sold. I haven't gotten a price on it yet, but everything I've read online says it is just a few thousand more, which seems worth it given the overall cost of the pool (ugh). But if it isn't suited to my pool shape/style/location, please let me know!

    And another question about in-floor systems - much of the marketing promotes in-floor systems ability to help a heated pool circulate and heat the water better and more evenly. Which is great, for the 3 months (tops) of the year I may occasionally switch on the heater. Being in the south, I will have the chiller turned on far more often in an attempt to keep the pool cool while it is sweltering outside. Does the in-floor system help as much with a chilled pool?

    I really appreciate any advice as I try to select the right system!

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Central Minnesota

    Re: In-Floor Pool cleaner? Best way to keep my pool clean?

    If you're looking for as little hassle as possible and want to deal with possibly more leaves that dust or dirt, a dedicated pressure side cleaner might be the best option.

    Return Side Pressure automatic swimming pool cleaner -- The PoolCleaner
    Polaris 360 Pressure Pool Cleaner | #1 Swimming Pool Cleaner Worldwide | Polaris Automatic Pool Cleaners Accessories

    Some require an extra booster pump to run, some do not.

    These types of cleaners are generally left in the pool all the time, unless you want them out of the way while swimming and for cleaning. This is part of their convenience. They also do a good job on larger debris such as leaves. The drawbacks is that your pump must be running (and also in some cases a second booster pump) to operate them meaning a higher operating cost. They also tend to be more tempermental in getting them set up correctly with flotation, flow and proper movement through the pool. You'll also likely be replacing parts sooner in these types of cleaners. You have to empty the filtration bags daily.

    Robots provide great cleaning ability in their own right. They do very well with small debris and a small to moderate amount of leaves. You don't have to run your circulation pump to operate them meaning lower operating costs. They do a great job at the waterline and physical agitation right at the pool surface. The drawbacks are the cords and power supply. Robots run off an external power supply that sits on your pool deck. You need to have a GFCI outlet installed near the pool. A cord runs from the PS to the robot. You can still run the robot with your autocover closed, but the power supply will have to be located on the open end of the pool (away from autocover reel). They have a higher up front cost and should be removed from the pool after their cleaning cycle is complete. Some users leave theirs in the pool for extended periods but this may lead to premature failure.

    Some recommended robot brands are Dolphin, Aquabot and Hayward.

    Both types can generally be self-serviced for minor repairs.

    Check out this Pool School article as well: Pool School - Automatic Pool Cleaners
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    TortugaCat's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Boston, MA

    Re: In-Floor Pool cleaner? Best way to keep my pool clean?

    We debated going with a cover and a robot, or an in-floor cleaning system. We didn't have the budget to do both. I don't need a cover for safety reasons (no kids), so I was primarily interested in heat and keeping the leaves out / pool clean. We have a short swim season in New England so I want to spend the most time possible actually swimming and not doing pool cleaning and maintenance (aside from proper water chemistry). My research suggested that the automatic covers break down often, and that the in-floor cleaners did not work that great.

    We went with the in-floor cleaning system and so far I have been pretty happy with it (aside from my issues related to my PBs equipment choices). I think it might need a little tweaking, but at most I end up with a few leaves in my pool which I can brush toward the drain. We had a big storm with 60 mile and hour winds and our pool was covered in leaves. The skimmers and in-floor canister got nearly all of them.

    I also like that it recirculates the hot water. I can tell the difference when I am in the pool with the heat on. We are thinking about getting a solar cover with a manual crank next year, as we really burned through the propane in September, but we really need to go through a full season to figure out how everything works.

    At the end of the day, we felt that there were enough good in-floor cleaner stories to justify giving it a try. If we end up not liking it, we can get a robot later, but vice versa isn't possible. So far we really like it, but we are still very new to owning a pool.

    Hope this helps!
    Pool + Spa in MA -- 40' x 16' gunite pool, 8' x 8' spa with spillover. PebbleSheen Ocean Blue. Vibrance Glass Nero 2" x 2" tile. SWG, Paramount in-floor cleaning system, 400 BTU Sta-Rite LP Gas Heater, ACT1500 Heat Pump, S7M120 Sta-Rite Modular Media Filter, IntelliPro XF 3.0 HP Pump, SuperMAX VS 2.2 HP Pump, AquaLink automation. LP gas firepit. 1700 sf stamped concrete patio.

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    duraleigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Sebring, Florida

    Re: In-Floor Pool cleaner? Best way to keep my pool clean?

    Robots get the most praise on the forum, by far.

    In-floor systems get the least and are the most problematic from the anecdotal evidence we get.

    Others are in between.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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