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Thread: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

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    Phil954's Avatar
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    Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    I just want to make sure I have this down correctly. I've read some information and watched some YouTube videos but I'm still not 100% confident.

    I practiced yesterday; connected the hose to the vacuum, placed it in the water, put the other end of the hose in front of the return jet to prime the hose and then connected it to the skimmer hole/connection. This is where I want to make sure I am doing the right stuff...

    Do I leave the filter and pump running as normal? I'm a bit nervous because it looks like when I did it this way, I lost around an inch off the water line, or maybe it was just my eyes.
    Pool: Plastered, Oblong, In Ground
    Measurements: 23' Length, 10' & 12' Width, 3' & 4 1/2' Depth
    Gallons: 5,457
    Filter: Cartridge
    Pump: 3/4 HP

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    You really shouldn't connect directly to the skimmer hole. Use a skimmer plate so you leave the basket in place to catch anything that gets vacuumed up that might clog the plumbing.

    You won't lose any water when the filter is in the normal filtration position.
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    Phil954's Avatar
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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    The skimmer plate would sit/lay on top of the skimmer basket?
    Pool: Plastered, Oblong, In Ground
    Measurements: 23' Length, 10' & 12' Width, 3' & 4 1/2' Depth
    Gallons: 5,457
    Filter: Cartridge
    Pump: 3/4 HP

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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    Yup, the plate sets directly on top of the basket.Look up in the Pool School section for the picture encyclopedia of pool equipment. Your basket collects the schmutz you want out of the pool and keeps it from entering the pipes (which could clog, ugh!). The vacuum plate sits on top of the basket while vacuuming and discharges into the basket, and the hose attaches to it.
    Do you have also a main drain, and valves that adjust the water between your skimmer and drain? If so (and not everyone does) do NOT at any time close both those off at once or you'll burn your pump out. But...you *can* adjust them so your pulling more water through the skimmer than the drain, and this can improve your vacuuming suction.
    Are you vacuuming to waste (it bypasses the filter and just shoots out a waste drain to the ground) or are you vacuuming into the filter? If you're not vacuuming to waste, you may need to backwash your filter to keep it free of schmutz and working well.
    I found many of the YouTube videos helpful when I was new to this, but it took me a few watchings before I realized they show stuff that wasn't applicable to my own equipment.
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    Phil954's Avatar
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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    As far as the valves, there are a few, but I'm not sure at the moment. I'll take a picture of all the pipes when I go back.
    I am vacuuming to the filter, and like yesterday I will drain it and clean the filter.
    Pool: Plastered, Oblong, In Ground
    Measurements: 23' Length, 10' & 12' Width, 3' & 4 1/2' Depth
    Gallons: 5,457
    Filter: Cartridge
    Pump: 3/4 HP

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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    Well, I disagree with much of what was posted above. I connect the hose direct to skimmer hole with basket removed. The vac plate just did not work, could not get good suction. Also, I switch all power to the skimmer and divert from main drain. Now having said this, I am not sucking up tons of junk. Occasional dead spider and light dirt, nothing large that will clog.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I should add, the first time I tried with the skimmer plate and had horrible success, I came here and asked questions. This is where I was told to not use the plate. Once I removed the plate I was golden.
    DIY 18x36 IG Vinyl Rectangle with 2 foot radius; Steel Walls. 8' steps w/t 2 step jets; 2 MD, 1 Skimmer, 2 returns; Hayward Pro Series 24 Inch 300# Sand Pool ; Hayward color logic 4.0 LED light; 2" PVC pipe 4 Jandy Valves, Hayward PL-P-4, SWCG

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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    On my father in laws pool we did as ssgumby describes. If we had leaves and such in the pool we'd attach a leaf catcher inline. It was basically a canister with a mesh bag in it that caught large debris. Worked like a charm.
    IG gunite/plaster pool/spa Started 1/17/14, Plastered 5/16/14
    Size: 12'-21'x39' free form, depth ranging from 4' to 7, attached 6 person spa with spillover.
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    Quote Originally Posted by ssgumby View Post
    Well, I disagree with much of what was posted above. I connect the hose direct to skimmer hole with basket removed. The vac plate just did not work, could not get good suction. Also, I switch all power to the skimmer and divert from main drain. Now having said this, I am not sucking up tons of junk. Occasional dead spider and light dirt, nothing large that will clog.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I should add, the first time I tried with the skimmer plate and had horrible success, I came here and asked questions. This is where I was told to not use the plate. Once I removed the plate I was golden.
    The plate can't make any difference. Same water flow with or without it. The only difference is that the basket is in the skimmer when you use the plate. I suspect you have a seal issue with your plate.
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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
    The plate can't make any difference. Same water flow with or without it. The only difference is that the basket is in the skimmer when you use the plate. I suspect you have a seal issue with your plate.
    Could be a seal, but it was brand new.
    DIY 18x36 IG Vinyl Rectangle with 2 foot radius; Steel Walls. 8' steps w/t 2 step jets; 2 MD, 1 Skimmer, 2 returns; Hayward Pro Series 24 Inch 300# Sand Pool ; Hayward color logic 4.0 LED light; 2" PVC pipe 4 Jandy Valves, Hayward PL-P-4, SWCG

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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    My plate never worked right either. I suck it all through the pipes to the pump. Leaves and all. Haven't had a clog yet. *knock on wood*
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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    The vacuum plate on my AGP/skimmer was worthless from the get go. I dip anything out that doesn't need to be in my filter/lines and vacuum the rest-dirt and bugs. Whatever works best for you.
    16x32x52" Steel Cornelius Miramar AGP Vinyl liner 13,100 gal. Buried 2 ft.
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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    I'd been wondering what those vacuum plates were for and now it looks like many people don't bother. I just clean up the leaves first. The basket by the pump catches the one or two I miss. I still want to try it next time I vacuum.
    20,000 gal in-ground plaster pool with sand filter. Replastered recently. Mostly adding bleach and acid. CYA was high when I took over.

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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    They have a lot of leaves in their pool so I would be nervous about the vacuum sucking up too many of the leaves and clogging something up. Also, I realized I should have started with a leaf net and not a skimmer. Trying to get the leaves off the bottom with the skimmer is working but taking a lot more time.
    Pool: Plastered, Oblong, In Ground
    Measurements: 23' Length, 10' & 12' Width, 3' & 4 1/2' Depth
    Gallons: 5,457
    Filter: Cartridge
    Pump: 3/4 HP

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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil954 View Post
    They have a lot of leaves in their pool so I would be nervous about the vacuum sucking up too many of the leaves and clogging something up. Also, I realized I should have started with a leaf net and not a skimmer. Trying to get the leaves off the bottom with the skimmer is working but taking a lot more time.
    Try one of these for lots of leaves.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002WKO8OK
    DIY 18x36 IG Vinyl Rectangle with 2 foot radius; Steel Walls. 8' steps w/t 2 step jets; 2 MD, 1 Skimmer, 2 returns; Hayward Pro Series 24 Inch 300# Sand Pool ; Hayward color logic 4.0 LED light; 2" PVC pipe 4 Jandy Valves, Hayward PL-P-4, SWCG

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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    Quote Originally Posted by ssgumby View Post
    Try one of these for lots of leaves.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002WKO8OK
    That's what I use. It works great and fast. It doesn't use much water. I can't see an increase in the pool level.
    20,000 gal in-ground plaster pool with sand filter. Replastered recently. Mostly adding bleach and acid. CYA was high when I took over.

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    Phil954's Avatar
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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    So, I tried to vacuum the pool yesterday and either I am doing something wrong or something isn't right. I did the step where you put the skimmer connected side of the hose up to the return jet to prime the hose, wait for the bubbles in the vacuum end to go away, then connect the hose to the skimmer, but I just don't seem to be getting suction. I tried it a couple of times thinking I was losing the prime when connecting the hose to the skimmer. I even put my hand over the skimmer hole to make sure there was actually suction (which there was), it just doesn't seem to be working or strong enough when I try to vacuum. Getting very frustrating and discouraging
    Pool: Plastered, Oblong, In Ground
    Measurements: 23' Length, 10' & 12' Width, 3' & 4 1/2' Depth
    Gallons: 5,457
    Filter: Cartridge
    Pump: 3/4 HP

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil954 View Post
    So, I tried to vacuum the pool yesterday and either I am doing something wrong or something isn't right. I did the step where you put the skimmer connected side of the hose up to the return jet to prime the hose, wait for the bubbles in the vacuum end to go away, then connect the hose to the skimmer, but I just don't seem to be getting suction. I tried it a couple of times thinking I was losing the prime when connecting the hose to the skimmer. I even put my hand over the skimmer hole to make sure there was actually suction (which there was), it just doesn't seem to be working or strong enough when I try to vacuum. Getting very frustrating and discouraging
    You should be able to tell pretty easily if the pump is losing prime by checking the pressure gauge. It will drop to practically nothing if the pump loses prime.

    Does your pool have a main drain or multiple skimmers? If you only have the one skimmer, you'll probably need an adjustable skimmer plate or drill a few holes in a standard plate to keep enough water going to the pump.
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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    It's one skimmer, and I didn't even use a plate, I connected directly to the skimmer connection.
    The pump was working fine because I could see the pressure at 10 like it normally is.
    Pool: Plastered, Oblong, In Ground
    Measurements: 23' Length, 10' & 12' Width, 3' & 4 1/2' Depth
    Gallons: 5,457
    Filter: Cartridge
    Pump: 3/4 HP

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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    My advice, as someone that vacuums pools for a living, would be to connect the hose directly into the hole at the bottom of the skimmer. Using a vac plate will only create a bunch of problems with getting a good seal, and you will have to disconnect it every time the basket fills up.

    I'm assuming this is the first time you are vacuuming this pool since it was opened, so there is a significant amount of debris in it. Yes it is possible to clog the pipes underground if you vacuum up too much too fast, especially if you suck up twigs. They won't travel around a bend or an elbow in the pipe, and other debris will get caught on them. Your best bet would be to get a leaf trap. A leaf trap is a canister that attaches to your vac hose that catches the leaves before they get to your skimmer. It will prevent clogs, and is easier to empty than the pump basket, which you would have to deal with if you didn't use a leaf trap.

    You said that you don't think you are getting enough suction. This could be caused by any number of things. I would start by checking to make sure that you have isolated the skimmer you are using by closing the valves to other skimmers or drains. You want all of the suction created by your pump to be pulling through the skimmer you are using to vac the pool. The valves you will need to close will be on the front side of the pump. If there are valves on the pipes after they come out of the top of the pump, they are return lines, and should be left open. If there aren't valves for other suction lines and skimmers, you should plug them while vacuuming to get the same effect.

    If you have checked the valves, and you have isolated the skimmer you are using, but you still aren't getting suction, I would check the pump basket. If it is full, it will restrict the flow through the pump, and if left that way long enough, will burn out your pump. This basket should be emptied after every time you vac the pool.

    It sounds like you aren't sure if you are losing prime or not. If you lose prime, the water coming out of your return jets will stop, or at the very least, drastically lose pressure. You can also tell by looking at your pump. If you can't see water moving through the pump, it probably means you have lost prime. Sometimes you will be able to see a trickle of water coming into the pump. This means you lost prime, but the pump is starting to pick it back up. Give it a minute, and you will see the trickle get bigger and bigger until the pump is full again, and suction comes back to the skimmer and you will again see pressure at the returns. I wouldn't rely on a pressure gauge alone to know if things are running right. They fail way too often to be reliable.

    If you have isolated the skimmer, the pump basket is empty, and you have good prime, I would recommend checking the pump impeller. If you remove the pump basket, you can reach down into the hole in the back of the housing. This is where the impeller pulls in the water. If debris somehow got past the basket, it often clogs up in here. Pull out as much as you can. WARNING: make sure you have shut off power to the pump completely. You don't want the timer to kick on while you have your fingers in the impeller.

    If you have tried all of this and still aren't getting good suction, chances are it is something that will require more extensive disassembly. It could be a filter issue, or a broken or collapsed pipe underground.

    I've given you a lot of information to process here, so feel free to ask questions if you need clarification on anything. Hope this helps. Good luck.
    TreeFiter

    Pool Technician
    Saugerties, NY

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    Re: Vacuuming A Pool Properly

    Quote Originally Posted by TreeFiter View Post
    If you have isolated the skimmer, the pump basket is empty, and you have good prime, I would recommend checking the pump impeller. If you remove the pump basket, you can reach down into the hole in the back of the housing. This is where the impeller pulls in the water. If debris somehow got past the basket, it often clogs up in here. Pull out as much as you can. WARNING: make sure you have shut off power to the pump completely. You don't want the timer to kick on while you have your fingers in the impeller.
    Thank you for this! It sounds like this is the last step for me to try since I have checked everything else you mentioned. Will try it asap and let you know.
    Pool: Plastered, Oblong, In Ground
    Measurements: 23' Length, 10' & 12' Width, 3' & 4 1/2' Depth
    Gallons: 5,457
    Filter: Cartridge
    Pump: 3/4 HP

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