A Robot Cleaner to go with my pop-ups

NLandas

Active member
Mar 25, 2019
41
ARIZONA
Is it possible to run a robotic cleaner together with my pop-up cleaner. I see the effectiveness of the pop-up cleaner when it comes to surface cleaning but terrible when it comes to the bottom especially after a couple of windy days with a bit of dust. I have been wanting to do it as I start to get a little annoyed now when I see dirt (maybe old age?...lol).
So if it's possible, what do you guys recommend? Something that will do the job of getting the fine dirt/sand off my pool.
Thanks!
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
285
Gilbert, AZ
NL, there are a number of us on these boards that love our IFCS...I have done a bunch of analysis/adjustments on mine and am happy with its performance. But there are some who do not have success with IFCSs.

The IFCS popups are really dedicated to cleaning/sweeping only the BOTTOM/SIDES of your pool, I would never be happy with their “surface cleaning” which they really don’t provide. That is the function of the wall jets and skimmer suction. I suspect your system is not operating as intended or possibly is not “being operated” as intended.

There may be some missing/broken parts and/or a setup/cleaning schedule that may not be optimum. It may be that your IFCS was ineffectively designed. It’s possible you might be happy with your IFCS if those issues can be resolved.

A robot would definitely clean the bottom/sides of the pool if you get one...but then there would be NO need to operate the popups...you would only need to run the wall returns/skimmer (at a low power-efficient speed). However, be aware that some with robots have problems with the main drain cover on the pool’s bottom.
 
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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
11,450
Bedford, TX
NL,

I believe that jon is spot on... Those with well working IFCS love them, those that don't work, not so much..

From my point of view, if I were to move today into a house with an IFCS system, the first thing I would do is shut it off and buy a robot. I have been using robots over the past 10 or 12 years and can't envision using anything else.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

NLandas

Active member
Mar 25, 2019
41
ARIZONA
NL, there are a number of us on these boards that love our IFCS...I have done a bunch of analysis/adjustments on mine and am happy with its performance. But there are some who do not have success with IFCSs.

The IFCS popups are really dedicated to cleaning/sweeping only the BOTTOM/SIDES of your pool, I would never be happy with their “surface cleaning” which they really don’t provide. That is the function of the wall jets and skimmer suction. I suspect your system is not operating as intended or possibly is not “being operated” as intended.

There may be some missing/broken parts and/or a setup/cleaning schedule that may not be optimum. It may be that your IFCS was ineffectively designed. It’s possible you might be happy with your IFCS if those issues can be resolved.

A robot would definitely clean the bottom/sides of the pool if you get one...but then there would be NO need to operate the popups...you would only need to run the wall returns/skimmer (at a low power-efficient speed). However, be aware that some with robots have problems with the main drain cover on the pool’s bottom.
Thanks for the information Jon. It's just that the dirt sits on one part of the pool and it's not that it doesn't get the "sweeping" part of the IFCS, I watched and felt the heads rotate towards that part of the pool. I am happy though that the IFCS, with its high pressure, stir things up, debris floats, and my skimmers do their job. Not quite sure what analysis needs to be performed if my IFCS is functioning well or set up correctly as I sometimes felt it has something to do with the directions of the pop ups when it transitions from one section to another (29 pop ups into five sections).
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
285
Gilbert, AZ
NL, unfortunately there is not a fix-all for issues with IFCSs...pool size/shape/volume, manifold psi/head loss, pump schedule/rpm, suction(drain vs skimmer), skimmer action, drain type, popup type/location all will play a role. The problem you describe: dead zones (dirt in a particular part of the floor doesn’t get disturbed/swept), is one of the toughest because it points to a possible design issue.

It seems like you have already verified that the popups actually rotate and point to the problem area(s). Without knowing how your system is setup or how you run it...during the sweeping (popup operation), is your system already supplying the MAX available pressure at the cleaning manifold for popup operation (pressure at the manifold determines the “throw distance”, how far the popups can sweep). Things that are relatively straightforward and MIGHT apply: 1) increasing pump rpm during cleaning...this will increase manifold psi and throw distance, 2) ensure that all return paths besides the popups are closed (Venturi skimmer/wall returns/other?) during sweeping, 3) more expensive: replace popups in the problem zone(s) with A&A Venturi popup replacements. The “throw” for these popups should be further based on A&As claims, they are not available for my popups and I know no one who has verified this claim 4) most time consuming IF low manifold PSI IS a problem: rework pipes to improve manifold psi and popup throw distance @Dodger.

Sorry, dead zones are a tough problem for IFCSs, I believe especially in larger or odd-shaped pools. In larger pools, IFCSs are pushed to the limits because they have more area to cover and only the same amount of zones (5 or 6) to cover them. In addition, IFCSs depend on turnover to clean/filter dirt/small debris which compounds the problem for larger pools.
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,231
Chandler AZ
Are you the original owner of this pool? If so, call A&A and discuss the issue with them. They may send someone out - free of charge to original owner - to tweak the system a bit.

29 popups in 5 zones - so 6 popups in 4 zones and 5 popups in 1 zone? That's quite a few popups per zone - and will take a higher RPM (lots of water flow) to work well.

What RPM are you running the pump when using the infloor?
Are all other sources of return water to pool off when running the infloor?
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
285
Gilbert, AZ
Proavia, good point about being the original owner...I always forget about that but have taken advantage of it a number of times. I find that Shasta (my builder) charges me a technicians fee (a couple years ago $75) to assess the problem, even with the lifetime warranty. In my cases (last was a cracked manifold, “yeah it’s cracked”, haha), it was still well worth the cost to get it fixed.
 

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
517
Silicon Valley, CA
Not quite sure what analysis needs to be performed if my IFCS is functioning well or set up correctly as I sometimes felt it has something to do with the directions of the pop ups when it transitions from one section to another (29 pop ups into five sections).
The simplest analysis you can do is to record the pressure at each zone. If you have a pressure gauge on or near the IFCS valve, then read that one. If not, then read the filter pressure gauge. Be sure to catch the max pressure at each zone, as they may be different. You should see the pressure have an obvious up and down as the valve rotates from zone to zone.

If you report that back, we can advise if something looks amiss and what the next step would be.

BTW, I have a ton of pop-ups too: 8 in one zone, which is not in itself a problem. Total GPM requirement in each zone, based on nozzle size, is the important metric for sufficient back-pressure.
 

NLandas

Active member
Mar 25, 2019
41
ARIZONA
NL, unfortunately there is not a fix-all for issues with IFCSs...pool size/shape/volume, manifold psi/head loss, pump schedule/rpm, suction(drain vs skimmer), skimmer action, drain type, popup type/location all will play a role. The problem you describe: dead zones (dirt in a particular part of the floor doesn’t get disturbed/swept), is one of the toughest because it points to a possible design issue.

It seems like you have already verified that the popups actually rotate and point to the problem area(s). Without knowing how your system is setup or how you run it...during the sweeping (popup operation), is your system already supplying the MAX available pressure at the cleaning manifold for popup operation (pressure at the manifold determines the “throw distance”, how far the popups can sweep). Things that are relatively straightforward and MIGHT apply: 1) increasing pump rpm during cleaning...this will increase manifold psi and throw distance, 2) ensure that all return paths besides the popups are closed (Venturi skimmer/wall returns/other?) during sweeping, 3) more expensive: replace popups in the problem zone(s) with A&A Venturi popup replacements. The “throw” for these popups should be further based on A&As claims, they are not available for my popups and I know no one who has verified this claim 4) most time consuming IF low manifold PSI IS a problem: rework pipes to improve manifold psi and popup throw distance @Dodger.

Sorry, dead zones are a tough problem for IFCSs, I believe especially in larger or odd-shaped pools. In larger pools, IFCSs are pushed to the limits because they have more area to cover and only the same amount of zones (5 or 6) to cover them. In addition, IFCSs depend on turnover to clean/filter dirt/small debris which compounds the problem for larger pools.
Thank You Sir!
 

NLandas

Active member
Mar 25, 2019
41
ARIZONA
Are you the original owner of this pool? If so, call A&A and discuss the issue with them. They may send someone out - free of charge to original owner - to tweak the system a bit.

29 popups in 5 zones - so 6 popups in 4 zones and 5 popups in 1 zone? That's quite a few popups per zone - and will take a higher RPM (lots of water flow) to work well.

What RPM are you running the pump when using the infloor?
Are all other sources of return water to pool off when running the infloor?
Good Point Proavia....I didn't think they'd do that though they have given me replacements for my gears for the pop ups. I'll ask this weekend!
Thank You!
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,231
Chandler AZ
I've gotten replacement gears, pop-ups and a couple other things from them under warranty over the years too.

Another member here called them to discuss his issues and A&A wound up sending someone out to see the issues first hand. They did change some heads and make a few adjustments. In the end, he still wasn't completely satisfied with the infloor performance and eventually did buy a robot.

Again - what RPM are you running your infloor at and are all other return lines fully off during infloor cleaning operations?
 

NLandas

Active member
Mar 25, 2019
41
ARIZONA
I've gotten replacement gears, pop-ups and a couple other things from them under warranty over the years too.

Another member here called them to discuss his issues and A&A wound up sending someone out to see the issues first hand. They did change some heads and make a few adjustments. In the end, he still wasn't completely satisfied with the infloor performance and eventually did buy a robot.

Again - what RPM are you running your infloor at and are all other return lines fully off during infloor cleaning operations?
3200
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,231
Chandler AZ
3200 should be plenty fast enough - as long as the filter is pretty clean. I think I'm at 2800 for 3 hours a day. Rest of run time I'm at 1100.

Let us know what A&A has to say.
 
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jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
285
Gilbert, AZ
Proavia, did you see this discussion about the ecostar?


That particular post describes why it makes no sense for me to run my ecostar under 1200rpm...it’s really weird that no one else has the same “wattage floor” that mine seems to have. Yours doesn’t?

Nlandas, did you make sure no other return paths are open with the popups?
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,231
Chandler AZ
108 watts at 1100 rpm is what mine shows. Maybe a different in firmware versions? No idea what my version is.

I haven't looked at pump speeds vs wattage over the entire speed range.
 
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Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
517
Silicon Valley, CA
Another datapoint.... 3200rpm was not enough in my system. I had a 7-9psi head loss between filter and Caretaker (IFCS), which left several zones well below Jandy's 15psi min required at the Caretaker valve. This meant some zones' pop-ups didn't have enough flow to spray the full distance they were spec'd for, leaving dead spots.

This is why I think the pressure gauge reading is a better measure of whether the system is able to do its best cleaning.

As @jonpcar mentioned above, I added an external heater bypass which, even just slightly opened, reduced the head loss by more than half, plenty enough to increase the Caretaker pressure to spec.
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,231
Chandler AZ
My A&A infloor doesn't have a pressure gauge on/near the water valve. I believe the system dynamics are different than the Caretaker systems.

It's my belief that a heater bypass is essential to ensure optimum infloor operation.
 

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,310
Tucson
I have an A&A system. I am the original pool owner. A&A has made many efforts to improve the performance of my infloor system. They have adjusted and fine tuned the timing, suggested run times and rpm settings. They have replaced the main gear pack and valves, and replaced virtually all my heads with the newer Venturi type. A tech has been here on several occasions. All to no avail.

After 13 years, I have come to some conclusions. An infloor system works by simply moving dirt and debris around, until it comes to a main drain, where it’s picked up. In a traditional pool with a deep well with the drain at the bottom there is a gravity assist and the system can work quite well. However, in a play/sport pool with a relatively flat bottom, that debris just randomly blows around and around. If it winds up at the main drain, it’s just by luck. Proving this hypothesis has cost me thousands of dollars, several years, and many service calls by the A&A tech.

I could run the A&A system 24 hours a day, with the pump set on max rpm and it wouldn’t clean the pool like a 2 hour run of the robot. The Dolphin s300 cleans and brushes every part of the pool, up to and including the waterline, in two hours, and uses minimal electrical energy to do it.
 
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jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
285
Gilbert, AZ
Chief, yeah that’s THE horror story of these forums regarding IFCSs. And you are definitely right that IFCS effectiveness and efficiency are based on factors including those you mentioned. It’s unfortunate (and expensive as you point out), but it seems there are some IFCSs implementations that were setup for failure by design.
 

beez74

Member
Oct 15, 2018
20
Phoenix AZ
Mines the opposite.......My A&A system works great, I run it a few hours a day and have yet to need to do anything other than brush the walls a bit. I installed a Actuator valve and set up the system to run the in-floor a few hours at 70% then ramp down the RPMs to about 40% (think is what its set to) and run the skimmer only just to move water for about an hour and a half during the day with pretty good results. To be honest running my pool on skimmer only doesn't seem to do much of anything as far as cleaning the top of the pool unless its running at about 75%. I guess I got lucky with placement of heads and design based on others reviews of the system.
 

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