My Polaris 380 with many problems. Fix a little, Fix a lot or Replace? Need feedback.

getalegup

Member
May 24, 2019
17
Austin, TX
tl/dr How broken and/or underperforming should my Polaris 380 be before I fix, rebuild or replace it?

Long story:

My Polaris 380 has a lot of problems. I hope that this forum can help me decide whether to fix it or replace it.

1. The base assembly is broken. The rectangular tab that sits just above the tube of the Base Assembly (Part 39) just above where the base assembly protrudes through the Top Housing (Part 38)

2. The wheels are starting to deteriorate. They do not turn as fast as they should far less than 28 rpm.

3. The 3 water jets to shoot up through the Base Assembly hole but only about 1-1.5 ft

4. The Sweep Hoes (Part 35) does not wag like it should

5. The back-up mode still works but just contributes to tangling the Hoses

6. Speaking of hoses, one of the Swivel, Ball Bearing (Part 53) leaks a lot.

7. I have never disconnected the In Line Filter Assembly (Part 49) before cleaning our filter so I am sure my filter has some debris in it. I clean it once a year.

Little Fix?
From what I wrote above, I can clean in-line filter, replace at least one Swivel and make sure my skimmer basket, pump basket and pool filter are clean before I test the rpm again.
If my rpm goes back to normal, should I stop there? Can I assume that the water flow inside is strong enough to run or should I take it apart and check the hoses and the Water Management System (Part 28) for clogging and the Belts (Part 8), Ball Bearing (Part 5) and Gears (Parts 18 & 19) for wear?
Should I purchase a new Base Assembly (I see base and top as low as $59 from PoolZoom.com or just the base assembly as high as $78 from Leslie's. Or, can I patch it with something like Duct Tape, Fiberglass tape, some As Seen On TV Waterproof Tape?

Big Fix?
When does buying a rebuild kit really help? Some are from Polaris (Part 91009030 for $359+ on Amazon) which practically replaces half the body parts. Some are not from Polaris and are cheaper but don't replace as many parts. My experience with replacement parts on various things from cars to appliances is that the factory parts are more expensive than after-maket parts and that may or may not matter.
Has anyone been down this road? Can someone with experience chime in with the quality of Polaris vs after-market parts?

Replace a little?
I have seen working 5 year old and 2 month old Polaris 360s and 380s on Craigslist for $350-$400. And I've seen broken models sold for part for $100-$200. Maybe that is a potential middle step. It probable depends on the condition of the used Polaris

Replace a lot?
Does all this not matter and people who have been in my situation ended up better off replacing the Polaris with a new one?
 

BowserB

Silver Supporter
Jul 29, 2018
386
Katy, Texas
Someone's bound to say it, but this might be the time to switch from a noisy, high electricity using, poor performing booster pump and pressure side cleaner to a robot. Low voltage, silent operation, very low power demands and superior cleaning. Just ask for model recommendations. I bought the Maytronics M500, but the M400 has the same 3-brush setup without the unnecessary iPhone app. Many here use a less expensive Maytronics that also works very well. Or I have a "retired" Pentair pressure side cleaner, low mileage, low performance...that you can have just for coming to Houston to bring it down from the attic. I'll never use that again.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,253
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Mine is not a popular answer. (Nor an answer to your question. Just something to ponder.) I replaced my aging pressure-side vac with a suction-side vac. I had the pressure port converted to a suction port (back at the equipment pad) and got rid of the extra booster pump (good riddance!). Cleaning was the same. No more emptying the bag. No more tail spraying all over my yard and house. And, of course, no repairs necessary. I would to it again if I had it to do over.

Others here will tell you to get a robot. Still others might have experience with the repair questions you're asking. Sorry, I don't.
 
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getalegup

Member
May 24, 2019
17
Austin, TX
I replaced my aging pressure-side vac with a suction-side vac. I had the pressure port converted to a suction port (back at the equipment pad) and got rid of the extra booster pump (good riddance!). Cleaning was the same. No more emptying the bag. No more tail spraying all over my yard and house. And, of course, no repairs necessary. I would to it again if I had it to do over.
Thanks for you reply, Dirk. Below are some Amazon reviews of the Rebel. Have you had similar experiences? How long have you had it? How much to convert port? How do you deal with lot's of leaves?

From Amazon Review:

In less than a year after purchase, the Rebel lost its ability to climb out of the deep end of the pool into the shallow end. Correcting the problem required replacement of both the cogs and the wheels. Since it was purchased on Amazon, there was no warranty after only 60 days and so I had to purchase the parts. Still, it was cheaper than the retail price. Nevertheless, the short life of critical components, the shafting of online purchasers, and excessive retail price demanded by Pentair leave a sour taste.

Have had for a couple of years now and this pool vacuum works very well. Has never failed, occasionally gets clogged with wood chips. Would recommend getting a vortex leaf trap inline with the hose.

Great unit, but it needs a swivel to suction hose to prevent twisting. Also need to clean gears often
 

Rocket J Squirrel

Silver Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 7, 2018
1,009
Alamo, CA
Pool Size
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Liquid Chlorine
To more directly answer your question offer an opinion, I can only throw parts at my Polaris pressure sweep for so long. Polaris has cleverly designed their components not to last forever. Eventually all the parts need to be replaced and at that point, I toss it and buy a new one. For me, it's worth the money to be done with the never-ending repairs & parts replacements. IMHO, your 380 is at that stage.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,253
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I can't say I disagree with Rocket's MO. That will likely be mine.

Regarding the reviews, were those three different reviews? I've had mine for at least three years now. Not a single issue. I expect the tires to go first, but I haven't thought to even check them recently (they wear out like car tires).

The hose does swivel, so mine has never gotten twisted up. That could just be a simple matter of cleaning out the connection of the hose to the vac. If that connection is dirty, that would inhibit the swivel action. That happened to me once.

Mine hasn't gotten clogged yet. That has everything to do with what gets into your pool. My skimmer works well, so not much gets to the bottom. What does is not too big for my vac, so no clogs yet.

The efficiency of how they move has a lot to do with the flow rate. They come with a tool to help you adjust that rate. Too low and they won't perform: they won't climb or vacuum well. Too high and they'll climb right out of the water and then suck air. That one reviewer might have actually had a breakdown, but might just as well have not noticed their flow dropping because of a dirty filter! They might have bought all that repair stuff for no reason. I monitor flow rate year round (with my FlowVis) for several reasons, one of which is the vac performance. You can do the same with the pressure gauge on the filter.

I have a variable speed pump and an actuator on the three-way valve that controls flow from the vac and the skimmer. That actuator is automated. I used the included flow meter to dial in the exact amount of flow that optimizes my vac's performance (by adjusting the pump's RPMs during vac time). And I use the actuator to shut down most of the skimmer flow (but not all*) come vac time so that my vac doesn't have to compete for suction with the skimmer. When the vac isn't running, the actuator shuts down the vac and all the flow comes from the skimmer, which improves the skimming, which lessens the crud on the bottom! It's all related.

It's important to note that my Rebel works well for me in my pool because I went through the trouble and expense to plumb it and adjust it correctly, so that it works as well as it can. Plus, I don't have a huge amount of leaves get to the bottom, no sticks, no big chunks of anything. YMMV if your pool has cleaning needs mine doesn't.

* I don't close down the flow through skimmer during vac time because it's safer. And this is something important to consider when making a vac choice. When the pump is on and directed to a suction-side vac, that is an exposed suction port in your pool. One that could potentially entrap a swimmer underwater, or worse. By maintaining some suction through the skimmer, should someone get stuck to the vac, the suction would not entrap them, in the same way that dual drains can't entrap someone to the bottom, because the suction is coming from more than one place. This issue was the secondary reason I put an actuator on the three-way valve. I only run the vac in the middle of the night, the rest of the time, it is closed down 100% from suction, rendering it harmless to swimmers. I also take it out of the pool for a large group, just so swimmers can't come into contact with the vac or the hose. A pressure-side vac does not have this issue. Neither does a robot. You shouldn't run any vac with swimmers in the water, IMO, but you absolutely don't run a suction-side vac with anyone in the pool. I expect a huge number of suction-side vac users have no concept of that.
 

Homebrewale

Well-known member
Apr 21, 2020
354
Apex, NC
The rebuild kit listed in the OP doesn't replace half the parts. It replaces every part with the exception of the frame. I rebuilt my Polaris 380 with that kit. When it needed rebuilding again, I bought a robot instead.
 

getalegup

Member
May 24, 2019
17
Austin, TX
I bought the Maytronics M500, but the M400 has the same 3-brush setup without the unnecessary iPhone app. Many here use a less expensive Maytronics that also works very well. Or I have a "retired" Pentair pressure side cleaner, low mileage, low performance...that you can have just for coming to Houston to bring it down from the attic. I'll never use that again.
What has your experience been and how long have you been using the Maytronics M500?
 

Homebrewale

Well-known member
Apr 21, 2020
354
Apex, NC
I bought the Pentair Warrior SI. I just bought it back in May after the Polaris 380 was just not doing a decent job anymore. I found the Warrior cleans up finer dirt better than the Polaris. The fine dirt would go right though the netting on the Polaris bag. Now in my location, leaves are entering the pool more often, I find the Warrior isn't as good with them. I can watch leaves move out of the way as the robot approaches from the slight wake it must produce. Overall, it covers the bottom of the pool better than the Polaris but it isn't a huge difference. There is just more even coverage with the robot.
 
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red-beard

Gold Supporter
May 27, 2019
666
Houston, TX
The rebuild kit listed in the OP doesn't replace half the parts. It replaces every part with the exception of the frame. I rebuilt my Polaris 380 with that kit. When it needed rebuilding again, I bought a robot instead.
This is exactly my situation. And my result was exactly the same as Homebrew. My pool is cleaner, and I'm using less electricity. I opted for a Maytronics Dolphin Triton Plus which is the same as Dolphin S300i = Dolphin Active 30i = Pentair Prowler 930 = Dolphin Proteus DX5i = Doheny's Mercury = Dolphin T45. I like the multiple automation modes and the ability to switch it on remotely, so the pool is clean when I get home.

My pool is cleaner since all of the dust at the bottom that my 280 couldn't collect is gone. It uses so much less power.

If I had to do it again, I might have opted for the "S200" or one of the identical variations.

Here is a link to a site with the run-down on what is identical.

 
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