Pool Vacuum steps

Ken.chaffin

Member
May 20, 2020
20
Ohio
We have owned a pool for about a year and we have not found the sweet spot of how to effectively vacuuming the pool once you get past the priming the hose phase! What complicates it, is that we have a hot tub in the system as well. We have the following components within the system.

Returns: Pool, Hot Tub and Sun Ledge (with three bubblers) We then have .......
Valves: Skimmer, Hot tub and Main Drain

Our pool company explained it one time to us but not in very good detail and we didn't understand. Can anyone give us advice on what to have open, closed, and half open when using the pool vacuum to clean? Thank you so much in advance!
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
18,168
Northern NJ
My personal opinion is a suction side manual vacuum is an exercise in frustration and the worst type of cleaner you can have. Some folks make it work and in many pools it never works well.

Get yourself a robot cleaner for an early holiday present and use something modern.
 

UncleVanya

Member
Jun 15, 2019
7
Charlotte, NC
While my preference is as above (use a robotic cleaner) here's what I suggest:

1) partially close the main drain and hot tub skimmer valves. I suggest partially closing until you know how much suction you are generating. You may find fully closing one or both will be needed but that tuning will come later.

2) if you have a multispeed pump set it on a higher speed.

3) attach a hose and handle to the vac. Extend the handle. Place vac head in the water. If able get in the pool with everything as it's easier to start there.

4) Take the hose end not attached to vac and put it over a return under the water line. Air will bubble out of the vac head and the vac will float up then fall back down.

5) keeping the hose under water make your way to the skimmer where you plan to hook up.

[Choices: if you are directly connecting to the outlet tube without a basket in line (fine debris only nothing that can clog) then you would make sure to remove the basket before this point. Pick "6A" below.
If you are using basket and a vac plate that fits on top pick "6B" below. ]

6A) take the house through the skimmer weir (door) while keeping it below water or covering the opening to prevent air from leaking into the water filled hose. Turn the hose and insert deep inside to attach to the skimmer outlet tube (you may find this step easier if you get out and do this from the decking but keep the hose under water at all times or tightly covered to avoid air leaking in. ). The hose should sort of snap into place and skimmer action should halt. Water should flow through the hose now.

6B) set the vac plate on top of the basket and then quickly and without allowing loss of water in the hose attach to the plate fitting. Sometimes I do this through the service opening on the skimmer sometimes through the front. I find from above works better just due to bend radius. Note that if water levels are low the plate may cause the skimmer to suck air - move quickly to put the hose on before this causes issues. Or ensure water is higher than the level needed to avoid this.

7) with the hose attached and water flowing through it test suction by putting a finger (not your palm!) Near the vac opening under water. If you feel a suction and water flowing you are on the right track.

[Surface matters: make sure the vac is for your pool surface before this point. Vinyl needs a slightly different design than masonry etc. Also with vinyl be careful of too much suction. ]

8) Vac away. Periodically test suction as you go. If it drops off you may need to clean basket or filter.

[Sand Filter tip: if pool is really dirty you should vac to waste if you can deal with lowering water levels a little and refilling. Vac to waste bypasses the filter. ]

9) if suction gets weak be aware that backwashing or otherwise cleaning the filter will interrupt the suction entirely and you have to start over (w/removing air step 4).

Obviously if you have helping hands willing to tweak valve settings you can fine tune suction quickly. Otherwise it may be a trial and error thing.

I prefer a robot but they breakdown from time to time and knowing how the vac works is useful.
 
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Ken.chaffin

Member
May 20, 2020
20
Ohio
This has been such a helpful experience using this message board and we are BEYOND appreciative. Thank you!! When we are using the vacuum, what should we do with the pool return, and hot tub returns or does that even matter?
 

UncleVanya

Member
Jun 15, 2019
7
Charlotte, NC
This has been such a helpful experience using this message board and we are BEYOND appreciative. Thank you!! When we are using the vacuum, what should we do with the pool return, and hot tub returns or does that even matter?
I honestly don't know. Does changing the returns that are on change your pressure dramatically? I expect you want good return flow unless using the option to send to waste (which stops all return flow). The fine tuning of exact setting options could take a bit of experimenting. I'd start with leaving the returns setup normally.
 
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Spidey9000

Member
May 19, 2020
23
Long Island
After one summer of trying to vacuum with a manual hose, I realized it was an exercise in futility that had me wishing I didn't even have a pool. That fall I got a Hayward Tigershark robot vacuum based on recommendations from our pool guy. Ever since I just toss the vacuum in overnight and walk away. The only thing I have to do is hose off the filters when I take it out of the pool. I haven't had any problems with it until now, 11 years later. I'd say it was well worth the $900 I spent on it.
 
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Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
23,680
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
I got here kinda late.

I like to move my valves around and empty the spa into the pool, brushing all the while. That gets the huge majority of crud in the spa to the filter. Then I move things so it's drawing 100% from skimmer and returning 100% to spa. Then I fill the vacuum hose and plug it in. The extra length and smaller diameter reduce the flow a lot, so the spa takes a while to refill. I can usually get the whole pool vacuumed before it spills. And if not, it doesn't matter because I start at the spa end. What it means is I don't have the return jets moving things around while I'm trying to vacuum them up. What ever is in the water has a chance to settle. By the same token, it is also helpful to skim the surface real good before you start, or you'll be chasing a shadow with the vacuum. Ask me how I know.
 
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