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How to Use a Pool Vacuum? – An Ultimate Step By Step Guide

by  Lawrence -  Last updated on August 11, 2021
man vacuuming a pool

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Having a pool of your own is fantastic and being able to jump in and cool down whenever you want is a luxury.

But with a pool comes maintenance and cleaning. One way to make taking care of your pool easier is to use a pool vacuum.

How a Pool Vacuum Works

There are four types of pool cleaners that all use their own method of cleaning. All for methods utilize the breaking up and intake of dirt and algae, but require you to do different things to get them ready to go and do their job.

Suction Pool Vacuums

The most cost-effective option of all four models, suction pool vacuums work by using, well, suction. They connect to the skimmer of your pool or a suction line, and utilize your pool’s natural filtration system’s suction to help clean everything. These vacuums move in patterns, allowing you to guarantee that every spot of your pool will be cleaned.

Pressure Pool Vacuums

Also referred to as pressure-side pool vacuums, are powered by the pool’s filter pump. They use high pressure to stir up the debris that may be stuck to your pool’s walls, then suctions it into the collection bag. The pressure is also what propels the vacuum and prevents it from clogging. It can also work on a timer with a booster pump attached and can handle larger debris without issue.

Manual Pool Vacuum

The most similar to a regular vacuum is the manual pool vacuum. It has a vacuum hose, a vacuum head, and a telescoping pole, allowing you to vacuum both the surface of your pool and under the surface. This is the best option for those who have issues with algae or need to spot clean their pool.

Robotic Pool Vacuums

Working independently from the filtration system or pump of your pool, robotic pool vacuums require no hose connection. It utilizes both brushes and vacuum pressure to clean any mess or debris in your pool, and can clean almost any kind of debris. This option is also more energy efficient than other options, and is almost completely automated.

Preparations and Materials Needed

To make sure you have no issues once the pool vacuum is in the water, there are certain preparations that need to be done to your unit. This can take very little time, but will make a huge difference in performance.

Make Sure Your System Is Clear

You should always check before you use your vacuum to make sure everything is clear and free of obstructions. This includes both the vacuum and the hose itself. Treat the vacuum just like the vacuum you use to do your floors and look for anything that is leftover from the previous vacuuming session.

For the hose, you can line up one end to the pump to push any debris or air out. Put the other end of your hose in the pool and watch for bubbles. Once there are no bubbles coming out of the hose, you know the air is clear. Anything that has come out in your pool will be cleaned by your vacuum this time around.

Check Your Hose Connection

You need to make sure that the hose you are using, if the model requires a hose, is secure and in good shape. The hose needs to be free of cracks and holes. If there is any damage, you will need to replace it. Make sure the hose fits the vacuum and the connection to your pool.

Check Your Settings

It is important to make sure you check the settings of your pump to guarantee you are on the right setting for what you are doing. When you are vacuuming your pool, you want to have your pump on the waste setting. Then once it is done, you can switch it back to the filter position.

Read Your Manual

The manual that comes with the vacuum model you choose will give you more of an idea of how to prepare and run your machine. Because different models need different things to get it ready, this is a necessity.

Use A Water Clarifier

You can use water clarifiers like Flocculant after storms or when your water looks a little murky. This will cause anything in your water to sink to the bottom where it can easily be vacuumed up. It is recommended that you do this once every few months regardless, but you can do it as frequently as you want.

How to Use a Pool Vacuum

Because the robotic, pressure, and suction pool vacuum types are designed to work on their own, we will be focusing on the manual pool vacuum models.

Putting Your Vacuum Together

The first step in assembling your pool vacuum is to connect the head of the vacuum to one of the ends of your telescopic pole. The end should be clearly designated and make it easy for you to attach the vacuum head.

Once the vacuum is secured to the pole, you next need to attach one end of the vacuum hose to the head of the vacuum. After these three items are secured, you will want to place the head of the vacuum slowly into the pool, submerging it.

The head of the vacuum should be all the way at the bottom of the pool. The other end of the hose that is not attached to the head of the vacuum should be outside of the pool and not at all in the water. If your hose tends to slip, you will need to use a hose clamp.
You will then need to attach the hose end outside of the pool to the filter skimmer. If you are not familiar with that term, it is the part of the filter that allows water into the pool. This is not to be confused with where water is filtered out of your pool. You want this end of the hose to secure to the water intake nozzle.

Priming Your Vacuum

Once the attachment is made, it will send water through the hose and you will see air bubbles coming out of the vacuum head. You want to wait until there are no bubbles coming out, showing that you have water all through the hose and no air remaining.

If there is any air in the hose, the suction of your vacuum will be weaker. The more are, the less efficiently your vacuum will work. No air also means the sealing of the vacuum head to the pool.

You want to make sure that there is pressure and suction there and there is no other line open to the pump. If you have more than a single line open, the pump can suck up other particles and debris. This will make vacuuming your pool useless.

Connect your pool vacuum plate to the spot where the hose is against the return jet. You can use your hand to block the opening and then bring it to the skimmer to prevent any loss of suction.

If you do not have access to the vacuum plate, you can also take the basket out of the skimmer and block the end of the hose filled with water with your hand. The hose should be tightly slotted at the base of your pool’s skimmer.

Vacuum Your Pool

You can then begin the collection part of the process. This is where you will actually be vacuuming, allowing particles to be sucked up and out of your pool.

Double-check that your suction is good, there are no air bubbles, and that your pump is on the proper setting if you have a pump with that capability.

If you have a pool with different depths, you should start out on the shallowest part. Move slowly and work in sweeping strokes that are as wide as possible. You should also aim to slightly overlap each stroke of the vacuum to make sure nothing is missed.

It is important to remember to move slowly because the faster you move, the more particles you are stirring up. Once things are stirred up, your vacuum cannot get them and they will remain in your pool.

If you are noticing some clouding, that is normal from the movement. But if the clouding gets to be too much, you will need to stop and wait for the particles and debris to settle at the bottle yet again. This can sometimes take an hour or two, but it will be worth the time to get everything out of your pool.

You can also vacuum the surface of your pool to rid it of any floating algae and debris. There will be less suction power when doing this because of the placement of the vacuum head.

If you have any issues with the surface cleaning, you may need to reset the suction with your vacuum head at a higher point in the pool.

Suction, Robotic, and Pressure Vacuum Pool Cleaners

You will set up the suction vacuum cleaner the exact same way as the manual pool vacuum. The only real difference is once the vacuum is ready to go, the suction cleaner will move on its own, rather than you doing the movement.

Robotic pool vacuums are easy to set up because you simply need to buy it, set it up if any assembly is required, then plug it in. You then just drop it into your pool and let it do everything from there. Once it is done, you unplug it and pull it out of the pool until the next time it needs to be used.

A pressure pool vacuum is by far the most complicated to assemble and prep for use. That is because of the floating line needed and the wheels in which the vacuum moves on. It is recommended that for these types of pool vacuums, you look up a video to see just what is needed to set it all up.

Additional Tips After Vacuuming Your Pool

Sadly, once your vacuum is done, there is still more work needed. It is recommended that you take steps once the vacuum is done to get your pool as clean and ready as possible before use.

Use A Scrub Brush

It is important to make sure you are getting your entire pool clean. Some vacuums are not equipped to get the upper siding, near the edge of your pool. This is where a scrub brush comes in handy.

If you have a manual pool vacuum, you can use the telescoping pole from that and attach a scrub brush to the end. If not, you can but a separate brush to use on your pool.

You can then better get the walls of your pool where the water doesn’t reach and remove any debris or algae. If you have steps in your pool, you may want to use a brush on them as well before the vacuum is used to bring it into the water and help the filter and vacuum better get it later.

Don’t forget to use a hose or pressure washer to clean around your pool as well. It is preferable to do this before the vacuum is used in your pool in case anything end up in the pool, but you can do it after as well.

Keeping the area around your pool clean will help prevent the debris from ending up in the water.

Test Your Pool Water

You should regularly check your pool water to make sure you have the right levels of alkalinity, chlorine, and have a nice pH balance. You can get a test kit at any pool shop or online. There are also test strips that you can buy in bulk.

You can also get more advanced tests that go beyond the basics and test for other potential issues. This includes salt levels, phosphates, and contaminants like iron, calcium, and copper.

Testing for these allows you to both have a healthier pool, and keep the users of the pool healthier. The last thing you want is to get sick being in your own pool. It is recommended to do these tests, especially the copper test, at least once a month.

That is because it is easier to regulate the pool before the issues start, than to try and fix them after. If you are confused or unsure of any of the tests, go to your local pool store to get more expertise on the matter.

They will be able to tell you what to look for as signs of issues, what tests you need, and how to do them. They can also do the tests for you if you take a sample to them, for a fee of course. Do not be afraid to reach out to the experts, especially in the beginning, to better understand what you need to do to care for your pool.

Add the Necessary Chemicals

To correct any poor test results requires you to introduce the necessary chemicals and solutions. Your local pool store can help guide you on what you need to use and how much to get your pool as it should be.

Most pool companies will recommend that you use something like Pool Mate’s Metal Out. This will work as both a sequestrant and a stain inhibitor and does not cost very much money. It will help to take care of common pool issues like copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, and other metals you may have in your pool.

This isn’t just to protect the people swimming in the pool but to also keep it looking nice and clear. For example, copper can lead to algae growth, which is a pain to get rid of and something that instantly makes your pool look dingy and gross.

Take Care of Your Pool Vacuum

It is important to rinse off your vacuum once it is done cleaning. This should be done with water from the hose to make sure it is chemical-free. That will help to remove any chemicals still on it and avoid issues like corrosion. The vacuum should then be stored in a shed or other dry area once the water has dried off.

Don’t forget to do maintenance in addition to the rinsing off that may be needed on the vacuum. This is especially important if you have a non-manual pool vacuum because it is harder to tell how well it is working if you are not paying attention to it during the entire process.


Don’t pay for professional pool cleaners or miracle cleaners. Instead, go with a tried and true method of a pool vacuum and get the results you want yourself. By following the steps laid out in this guide, you can keep your pool clean with very little effort and lots of success. This will keep your pool usable and you will avoid having to miss out on precious days of enjoying a good swim.

Also Read: How Often Should I Vacuum My Pool?

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