Polaris 280 too slow moving and tipping to one side while running

nityntiy

Well-known member
May 17, 2016
56
Dallas, TX
My polaris 280 is not running very efficiently lately. Its too slow moving, gets stuck a lot, also it runs on one wheel tilted to one side for some reason. Sometimes it's pointing downwards with the back side up, doing all kind of crazy movements and positions. I replaced the back up valve and that didn't fix the issue.

Float valve looks ok and no leaks or water inside. RPM is too low, only around 20-22. No clogs or leaves in the skimmer. How can I increase the RPM? Any other tips?

It was working just fine during the Summer.
 

TO116

Well-known member
Jun 30, 2019
69
New Jersey
You can try a larger orifice plate in the wall port to adjust RPM. If the water is cold I noticed the hose would get stiff and make mine run strangely. Also, check the inline screen/filter if you have one.

It could also be something internal, like a bearing or the impeller.
 

HermanTX

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May 20, 2020
994
Katy TX
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The Polaris 280 has a couple of issues that affect its motion and balance.
Look at the backside and note the thrust jet. It can be adjusted to push up, down or right, left. refer to the manual. Also the position of float head which can be rotated (clockwise/counter clockwise) to have the unit sit upright. The next item is the position of the float closest to the backup valve. Basically you have to look at all 3 of these items to ensure the cleaner sits upright with all 3 wheels on the pool surface. Sometimes they can become loose or someone accidently turns one of them or moves the float.

With regard to rotation it is either the pump, tires or the gearing. Check the pump that it is not clogged with anything to ensure that is giving its maximum output. if the cleaner was working fine and it suddenly stops then that could be pump. However, if the pump is clear then it is most likely wear and tear on the cleaner moveable parts. The idler wheel and the tires are normally what wears out first and can affect rotation The idler wheel mates with the rubber tires. When was the last time those were inspected? If the tires are guey then for sure change them. Also, if the idler wheel is smooth (no treads on the wheel) then that needs to be changed.
The gearing is the other part that can wear out. There are several main parts such as the turbine and the mating bearings and how it fits into the wheels which have mating gear teeth. If any of the gears become worn or part of the gear teeth break then there will be reduced rotation to power the cleaner.

You can selectively try to fix each part such as tires and idler wheel after you ensure that the pump is working at full potential. Alternatively you can purchase a full repair kit which addresses all the replaceable items noted above. See my thread here. On Nov 2 #55. I felt it was more cost effective to rebuild my cleaner than to purchase a newer model or move to robot. That is my personal preference.

Hope this helps. Have attached manual for your reference.
 

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nityntiy

Well-known member
May 17, 2016
56
Dallas, TX
Thanks for the response HermanTX. I noticed the hose is kind of stiff that connects to the Polaris end. So even without the unit running it wont sit straight on ground. The backside is off the ground on idle position. I tried checking the jet spout and found no blockage there. Replaced the wheel gasket last year,got a new backup valve yesterday. If its the cold weather affecting the hose, not sure if replacing it will help for long. Now probably need to check the areas you specified.
I am not sure how old the unit is, but I have been using this for past 6 years now. Is it time to upgrade?

Also after reviewing the manual, I dont have an inline-filter assembly either. Seems like the previous owner removed it.
 
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HermanTX

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The backup valve does not really affect suction or forward movement performance unless it is leaking (my cap broke recently). If the gears in the backup valve wear or break then that only affects its ability to change the pattern. When in idle position mine also may sit funny (the other day I found it on the second step when the cycle ended) so you may not be able to determine its problem. It is best to watch it in action. If it tilts or slow, it is most likely the unit itself as I outlined. You could also put the hose laid out on your deck in the sun for a couple of hours as that makes them more flexible which could help determine if it is hose issue or a unit issue.
As I stated, pool cleaners are very personal preferences. Some really like robots, others like myself are very happy with a pressure side cleaner that is simple to maintain. Polaris does make a newer model called Quattro Sport which many say is great but it is quite expensive.
 

nityntiy

Well-known member
May 17, 2016
56
Dallas, TX
My back up valve failed, it was constantly getting stuck near the steps and leaking water always. It lasted little over 4 years anyways.
I never had to adjust the thrust settings, so I wonder why I have to do it now all of a sudden. Might need to check the float valve position and the one closest to backup valve as you suggested. Will update soon.
 

nityntiy

Well-known member
May 17, 2016
56
Dallas, TX
Ok I adjusted the valve next to the backup valve and now the floating issue seems to be fixed.But the pressure is too low that it gets stuck on walls (cant climb at all) and even the drain valve in the bottom prevents the movement. 20-22 rpm is not strong enough I guess.Tried removing the quick release connector, dont see any leak there either.
 

nityntiy

Well-known member
May 17, 2016
56
Dallas, TX
Took it to the pool store and had the cleaner inspected. Pretty much replaced the ball bearings, quick release valve, swivel joints and bunch of other stuff. but still my RPM is low. 22 per minute. Now they suggest it coulld be a leak somewhere in the plumbing maybe the basket next to the pump or the valves that control the backflow and stuff. I checked the o ring on the basket filter and found no issues. What else can I look for before calling a tech? Already spent $130 so far.
 

Saturn94

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Mar 11, 2015
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Have checked the hose swivels? I had an issue with performance and replacing the hose swivels fixed it. Apparently, they were leaking just enough to cause an issue (it wasn’t visually apparent to me).
 

nityntiy

Well-known member
May 17, 2016
56
Dallas, TX
6 wheel bearing, filter screen, pressure relief valve, black swivel, feed hose, - these are the items replaced. I took the hose along with the cleaner to the shop
 

HermanTX

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There are 3 other things to consider.
1) There is a hose on the inside called Water Management System. It connects where the water comes in (from the hose) to the turbine which drives the wheels. That could have a leak or partially plugged. It pulls off of the 2 attachments easy enough.
2) The other thing to review is the gears where the turbine spins the wheels. If they have broken or bent teeth then that will slow down the rotation. Also ensure they are properly engaged.
3) One last item, the tension wheel between the 2 big wheels. You can adjust the back large wheel to ensure it creates a good friction contact with tension wheel. The tension wheel is spring loaded.
hope this helps.
 
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nityntiy

Well-known member
May 17, 2016
56
Dallas, TX
The repair shop inspected all these and didn't find any issues. I am wondering if the water pressure is low on my return jet. If yes, how can I address that problem?
 

HermanTX

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The repair shop inspected all these and didn't find any issues. I am wondering if the water pressure is low on my return jet. If yes, how can I address that problem?
If all of that was verified, then suggest you go back to the pool store and have them show you that the wheels are spinning at the desired rotation. They should have checked that before returning it to you. That way you can ensure the cleaner is functioning before you start looking at your own pump and restrictor plate. BTW, do you have a restrictor plate in the Universal Wall Fitting in the wall of the pool? It should be blue. The ID is smaller than normal pipe ID. 1606953859820.png
1606953859820.png
 
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nityntiy

Well-known member
May 17, 2016
56
Dallas, TX
ok just noticed one of the swivels on the hose are leaking from the middle. Those are brand new but still leaking, I read so many others having the same issue on new items. Is it normal or bad design?
 

nityntiy

Well-known member
May 17, 2016
56
Dallas, TX
If all of that was verified, then suggest you go back to the pool store and have them show you that the wheels are spinning at the desired rotation. They should have checked that before returning it to you. That way you can ensure the cleaner is functioning before you start looking at your own pump and restrictor plate. BTW, do you have a restrictor plate in the Universal Wall Fitting in the wall of the pool? It should be blue. The ID is smaller than normal pipe ID. View attachment 170017
View attachment 170017
They test it using garden hose, so not sure if the pressure would be sufficient. But I am taking it back to the store now. I paid $130 for the repair and they didnt catch the leak.
I am not sure about the restrictor disk. I did see a blue circular disk attached to the backside of the fitting port that I unscrewed from the wall.

Just googled it, seems like that the one you talking about.
 
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Saturn94

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Mar 11, 2015
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ok just noticed one of the swivels on the hose are leaking from the middle. Those are brand new but still leaking, I read so many others having the same issue on new items. Is it normal or bad design?
The swivels are directional, so also make sure the small arrow on each swivel points in the direction of water flow.
 

Rocket J Squirrel

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ok just noticed one of the swivels on the hose are leaking from the middle. Those are brand new but still leaking, I read so many others having the same issue on new items. Is it normal or bad design?
Yes. It's normal and bad design. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a problem report for a pressure-side Polaris to which the words "they all do that" don't apply. :rolleyes:
 

Saturn94

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Mar 11, 2015
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SE Virginia
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Yes. It's normal and bad design. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a problem report for a pressure-side Polaris to which the words "they all do that" don't apply. :rolleyes:
That hasn’t been my experience with my 280.
 
Sounds like you're moving toward a fix, but here's one more thing it can be. My 380 was behaving just as you're describing, and its innards are pretty similar to the 280. The problem was the O-ring at the bottom of the feed tube where it plugs into the water control unit. See #30 in the 280 parts diagram here. That can leak if it's worn or - of course - missing. In my case, some "pool professional" had put a ring there that was way too thin. It looked fine, but leaked badly.

Someone else noted that in cold water, feed hose stiffness is a problem. Polaris videos even mention this. Mine started losing efficiency when the water hit 55F or so. At present it's 41F, and the robot doesn't do much at all. It heads for a wall and goes up and down in the same area because the hose is so stiff the robot can't drag it in a different direction.

Good luck on your detective work.