Review: A & A in-floor cleaning system

Melt In The Sun

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Oct 29, 2009
3,899
Tucson, AZ
Since we're having a real slow day here at work, I figured I'd write up a review of my in-floor cleaning system. Every now and then TFP gets a new member who is building a pool and asking about these systems, so maybe this will be some help, both how the system is designed to function and how well it actually works.

We have a 6-zone system manufactured by A & A Manufacturing, out of Phoenix. It's essentially a copy of Paramount's design (or perhaps it's the other way around :) ). Here's a picture of the control valve; it's the short one in the bottom of the picture with the big yellow warning sticker:

Water enters through the visible pipe in the side. Inside, there is a set of gears that slowly rotates and directs the water to one of six pipes that exit the bottom of the unit; these aren't visible in the picture. I have 5 zones of pop-up heads in the floor of the pool; the sixth zone goes to three wall returns. My pool is rectangular; 3.5' on each side and 5.5' in the middle, with dual main drains at the deepest point. The pop-ups are supposed to kick up the light stuff so it will get sucked into the skimmer, and push the heavy stuff toward the drains.

As for debris environment, I live in the desert, with very little debris getting in the pool. The closest tree is three houses over, and we've gotten about ten leaves in the pool in the 10 months we've lived here. Here's a picture:

Most of the debris we get is dead grass and assorted garbage that is blown in by the wind, and a decent amount of sand and dust (and flakes of my disintegrating Kool deck, but that's another story :x ).

Things I Like:

1. It keeps the floor clean of lightweight debris. Always. Not that there is very much to start with, but I have never seen any leaves or grass on the bottom after it runs. I don't think it would cut it for sticks, acorns, or anything else non-fluttery. When the pump is not running, grass stems and the like will settle down to the bottom, but once it starts up they get kicked up and sucked into the skimmer.

2. It's fun to play with when we're swimming.

Things I Don't Like:

1. There's no way to turn it off. The control valve has a lever on the top of the lid that is supposed to allow me to stop the cycling and have it stay on one zone (the wall returns), but it does not work. The peg that is designed to stop the gears from turning is too short. I had to replace the lid last fall, and both had this problem. Dumb.

2. It does not do a great job with sand and dirt, of which I get plenty. The middle of the pool is clear, but all around the edges there are little piles of sand, where the jets push it up against the walls. I guess that most of the sand ends up in the drains, as it's supposed to, but there's enough that's pushed into piles that it is annoying.

3. It requires a decent-size pump, which can be expensive to run. 60 gpm/zone is generally what is recommended. This means if you run it on low speed (relying on testimony of others here; my pump is 1-speed), it won't clean anything. The heads still pop up, but there's not enough oomph to clean. The system has high head loss as well. When my wall return zone is running, my filter pressure runs about 15; when the cleaner zones are running it is anywhere from 20-23 depending on the zone. I'm guessing that using the cleaner heads adds about 10 psi, over what it would be if my returns were directly plumbed.

My Thoughts (as if I haven't rambled enough already :roll: ):

I think these systems are OK. If I were building, I would most certainly not install one. For a very low-debris pool such as mine, they work acceptably, but not anywhere near as well as a decent "mobile" automatic cleaner. For the price (generally around 5K, from what I've heard; I didn't install this pool), you could buy a whole army of robots :salut: that would do a better job in less time, with less energy use.

On the other hand, it sure is easy to use. It is always on, never has to be pulled out of the pool, etc. If simplicity is really important to you, it may satisfy you.

In my opinion, EVERY TIME these systems are installed, they should be plumbed separately from a set of normal wall returns, such that you can turn a 3-way valve to direct water to them when the pool needs cleaning. That way, most of the time you could run your system much more efficiently by just using the regular wall returns. One of these days I'm going to dig up all my pipes and fix that... :|

Oh, and by the way, it will not pick up drowned lizards, snakes, spiders, or scorpions :puker: . These sink to the bottom and stay there until my wife steps on them and screams.

Hope that helps somebody! :cheers:
 

dbyang

Member
Aug 17, 2010
13
tallahassee, florida
I recently built a pool, and decided against the in-floor cleaner for cost issues, and because I thought I wouldn't need it since I was getting a motorized cover. Now I am glad I didn't, because of what you pointed out. Also, my polaris picks up a lot a leaves, acorns, and pine needles when I don't close the cover. If the infloor cleaner just pushes it into the drain, then the filter would get filled up that much faster, and I would have to clean the cartridge sooner. Better to get the trash out of the system, then to sweep it into the filter. My $.02.
 

mud

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 31, 2010
73
My PV3 system is plumbed separately from the skimmer/pump/filter/return circuit. It runs on it's own 3/4 pump. It has worked well except for one dead spot in the deep end that's easy to brush toward the drain when the in-floor system is running.

I have a leaf catcher for the in-floor that works well, so far at least. We'll see how it works when the leaves really start dropping. I have been running it just 3 hours a day. I'll probably have to increase that when the leaves start falling.
 

kechefs

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 17, 2010
53
I love my infloor although we have a Paramount, I have not had to vacuum once this summer and the leaf catcher is emptied weekly. Their are 2 little spot that collect a little sand or dirt and a quick brush gets rid of that. I purchased new cartridges at the beginning of the season and have not had to clean them once. After cleaning the old ones around 30 times in 10 days thanks to the prior home owner.
 

ntrsandman

Well-known member
Jul 1, 2009
101
We have a Paramount PCC2000 system and has been working well for the past year. (New to us, pool 4-5 YO) It is plumbed rather strange: Skimmer, Pump, Valves, Pop-ups. I NEED to use a skimmer sock as small debris would get back to the pool the way it is plumbed. The main drain and debris basket go to the filter. I had to consult Paramount for info about pop-up placement, and get a stationary pop-up for the beach entry as it would spray water out of the pool when it rotated to certain positions. Other than buying pop-up tools and one pop-up, all is fine. Do not have leaf issues though, just dirt.
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,423
Pleasanton, CA
Melt,

Your #3 dislike is a very important point that I think sometimes gets neglected when a potential pool owner is considering in-floor cleaners. While they make life easier for the pool owner, they are most energy inefficient solution for cleaning a pool with a robotic being the most efficient.
 

sperok

Member
Oct 4, 2010
9
We have not had a great experience with our Paramount in-floor cleaner. This is a large pool (24x60, 65KGal) and we have had several issues with different pieces of equipment, so the competence of the pool builder and the owner (me) are certainly in question.

The Paramount system, as designed by Paramount for this pool, simply pushed all the debris in the pool to the wall at the deep end and left it sitting there. Paramount has come on site twice to observe and concluded that the only fix is to dig up the travertine deck and re-pipe because they made a mistake in the configuration. Currently there are two six-port controllers. On controller 1, ports 1, 2 & 3 drive heads starting at the shallow end. Ports 4, 5 & 6 are piped together and feed controller 2. Ports on Controller 2 drive the remaining heads in the middle and deep end of the pool. The problem, as explained to me by Paramount, is that 1/2 the run time is spent on the 3 ports in the shallow end and 1/2 the run time is spent on the balance of the system, resulting in the problem that we have. The solution they have proposed (since the controllers are embedded in a gunite vault in the walls of the spa) is to dig up the lines leading to/from the controllers and re-route them to give more flow to the deep end. The pool builder has not been real anxious to start this task (it is almost 2 years later now ...) and we are stuck with a floor cleaner that does not really work.

Also, as I understand the implementation for this pool, the floor cleaner is run by a pump independent of the pool filter pump. The floor cleaner suction is connected to the skimmer baskets, the pool filter pump to the main drain. This requires the pool filter and cleaner pumps both to be running to effectively clean the pool (light debris from the skimmers, heavier stuff from the main drain). I am not an expert, but this seems inefficient. If a single pump could provide sufficient pressure to the heads why not simply use one pump? This is a big operational cost issue, since turning over 65K Gallons of water means a lot of pump run time. Doubling up on pumping really hurts.

My hope is that the Paramount system will work once it is re-routed, but I would never buy another one unless the pool builder had installed at least 10 of them and was willing to put some sort of extra warranty in place (Paramount claims 99% coverage, but we are not close). I would also ask the pool builder to provide me with the expected run times of the filter pump and the cleaner pump so I could make an informed decision about the operational cost of this system. Rookie mistakes on my part.
 

y_not

Well-known member
Jul 24, 2012
1,086
Redmond, OR
Sperok,

Those are some really great comments, some excellent insight as to potential pitfalls and real world problems/design defects with these types of systems.
WOW!!! What a read.
Thank you for that useful information. While I would never, ever consider one of these systems. It's still great data to have.
Thank you!! :cheers:


Of note.....
If Paramount themselves actually came up with the design for your pool. Shouldn't at least some liability rest on their shoulders for their mistake? Worth looking into the fine print and such. Trade practices, law, etc..
If it were me, I'd be very upset. I'd just rip out the whole system, as much as I could. Then sell it and go with a cleaning bot. I wouldn't waste money on tearing up travertine decking and all that mess. BOY! What a job, even then there's still no guarantee it'll work correctly. Not to mention the pumping issue, $$ OUCH!
I wish you a good outcome with your endeavor as you undertake it.
 

Melt In The Sun

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Oct 29, 2009
3,899
Tucson, AZ
Figured I'd add an update since I keep referring people to this thread.

I now have a 2-speed pump, and run the pump on high for about 2 hours a day. The cleaner does not work at all on low (not enough pressure to pop the heads) and a couple hours on high is enough to keep the pool as clean as it ever was. As the kool deck around our pool continues to chip off and pile up in the corners of the pool, I find myself needing to vacuum semi-regularly.

I'm now on the 3rd set of valve gears since moving into the house 5 years ago. They're not prohibitively expensive (~$40) but it is a little annoying that they don't last longer.
 

elwood58

LifeTime Supporter
We are on our second pool with A&A In Floor Cleaning. This time I had them plumb a dedicated suction port into the side of my pool, as I like to drop my Hayward XL in from time to time, especially after a big dust storm. On our previous pool, we had to plug the Hayward XL into the skimmer, but lost skimmer while the vacuum was running.

For the most part the In Floor system does a good job. We have a large Channel Drain in the deepest area of our play pool. We also have two Quik Skim Skimmers, so most lighter debris does not get a chance to settle to the bottom.
 

Scotwil

New member
May 31, 2018
3
Hereford az
Thanks. I'm getting ready to build new pool in SE Az and trying to decide between A&A quick clean in floor or a pentair rebel suction side w/ dedicated vacuum line. Your post has given me more to think about. Thank you
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,267
Chandler AZ
Thanks. I'm getting ready to build new pool in SE Az and trying to decide between A&A quick clean in floor or a pentair rebel suction side w/ dedicated vacuum line. Your post has given me more to think about. Thank you
I have had the A&A infloor for 19 years.... and it works good. Being the original owner I have the life time warranty. But... If I were building a pool today, I would get a robot (probably in the $1000 range or less). Not a suction side or pressure side cleaner - and not an infloor. All 3 of the latter need the pump to be running on a high rpm when in use. A robot can run at any time - you don't need to run the pump at the same time. And a robot uses pennies a day to operate.

Couple a good robot with a variable speed pump - run the robot whenever you want to clean the bottom and sides - run the pump on low rpm to save on electrical costs. You may want to consider a SWG too.
 

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